Cinepub


31 Days of Horror 2: Walled In by Jamie

Part of what I was hoping to uncover during this 31 Days of Halloween adventure were some hidden gems, some little seen movies that were actually deserving ofway more attention. When I saw Walled In on Netflix, I hoped that it might be one such film. The premise seemed interesting. It was abut someone who trapped people inside walls and the image on Netflix showed a screaming woman buried up to her waist in wall. Awesome, I thought, already imaging a twisted psychopath surrounded by people wailing in horror as they were trapped halfway inside walls.

Unfortunately, this was not the film I got. It in fact takes place 15 years or so after a maniac trapped people inside the walls of a building and suffocated them by pouring concrete in with them. The film is, in actuality, an attempt to be every other film, lifting plot points, shots and even sounds from other films. Sometimes it’s Nightmare on Elm Street, sometimes it’s Psycho, sometimes it‘s The Shining. Sometimes it’s the tale of a woman haunted by the ghosts of those who had died in this building before her, sometimes it’s the tale of a psychologically damaged person torturing and tormenting another out of a twisted sense of vengeance. Walled In is many, many things but the one thing it isn’t is good.

It’s boring, the acting is about one degree above that in Birdemic, the plot is nonsensical at best and I fell asleep a couple of times, leading me to have to rewind the damn thing to try and see what I’d missed which served to only prolong my misery. I’ll admit that there were a couple of moments where I found myself a little engaged by the plot but these were few and far between. Overall a deeply disappointing experience. One pint out of five. Laterz.

Walled In

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Holy Moly: Left Behind: The Movie by Jamie

It is my understanding that Kirk Cameron was once in an American TV show called ‘Growing Pains’ which, as far as I can tell, never played in the UK and for good reason. Just watching a video of the theme tune makes it seem as though it’d be a sickeningly sweet show were people have feelings and learns an important lesson. I could be wrong. It could all be about a serial killer who kills people by stretching them on a rack and his struggle to keep his family in the dark about his secret life. Still, that saccharine shit doesn’t really play over here in the UK. We prefer miserable or slightly dodgy characters in miserable or bizarre situations. Just look at some of our most popular sitcoms. Only Fools and Horses, One Foot In The Grave, Blackadder, Red Dwarf and Fawlty Towers. None of them have a sickeningly sweet character in them. The closest you’d really get is Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses but even he is pretty much a complete arsehole though his heart is often in kind of the right place.

Anyway, that got away from me a bit there. My point was I didn’t really become aware of Kirk Cameron until he started using TV and the internet to minister using his Way of the Master program or whatever the hell it is. I came to enjoy Kirk, not because he opened my heart to Jesus but because he was clearly a bit mental. Hell, he appeared in a number of my favourite YouTube videos such as ‘The Atheist’s Nightmare’.

Yes, it’s wonderful that God designed the banana so perfectly for human consumption. Except, of course, God didn’t make the banana that way. Man did through the same kind of guided evolution that we used to create domesticated animals and grains. Still good try. Also what if you don’t like bananas? What if you like pineapples? Does God hate you? Anyway, that’s all beside the point. My point is that I already had a pretty low opinion of Kirk Cameron (though his recent statement that jumping to the conclusion that all those birds falling out of the sky meant it was the end times was ridiculous raised it a little) before I decided to give this film a watch, but hey, I hadn’t seen him act so who knows? Maybe he’ll be good.

Well, he isn’t though I honestly couldn’t say if it’s because of the terrible script or just him. The movie is set at the beginning of Armageddon, the time that some Christians believe will signal the end of the world and the return of Jesus or something. It begins with all the believers being called up to heaven leaving their clothes behind and a bunch of confused people who have to clean up the mess caused by their sudden disappearance. Seriously, cars crash when their holy drivers are called away to paradise and all other manner of accidents occur. It’s a lot to clear away for us simple non-believers. Yeah, thanks for that God. Asshole.

Still, the film begins a little before that. We meet Buck (Kirk Cameron), the world’s most awesome reporter as he’s interviewing an Israeli scientist, Chaim Rosenzweig, about his miracle breakthrough in strains of wheat that will grow practically anywhere! Of course, two evil members of the evil UN want to get their hands on the wheat hoping it will lead to world peace and world unification and so it’s a bad thing in this particular film. The evil UN members basically bribe the scientist by promising that if he gives them the formula for the wheat, they’ll rebuild the Temple of Solomon in Israel, which they are apparently unaware is another sign of the end times. In doing this they’ll control the world’s food supply and therefore profit. Oh, evil UN members! Is there nothing you’ll do to unwittingly bring about the end of humanity?

Anyway during this interview a massive Arab air strike attacks Israel. Buck and Chaim escape to what seems to be an Israeli War Room which is out in this random patch of desert for some reason. Suddenly the jets start randomly exploding completely by themselves. Buck goes outside to report on these events and an old guy comes and babbles about something bibley.

There’s also this secondary plot about this pilot and his family. His wife’s a believer so she get’s raptured along with his son because children are all innocents in the eyes of God or something. So he’s left with his daughter who I think is a Christian’s idea of what a rock chick looks like. She has a nose piercing you see! Holy crap! I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she’d also done the pot! Anyway Buck meets the pilot on a plane whilst the rapture occurs and… Oh, Jesus fucking Christ. It’s so incredibly dull! Ugh, come on. Just push on.

So Buck goes and begins to uncover the truth behind the scriptures and the predictions of the bible whilst the pilot comes to terms with his wife and son’s disappearance, coming to terms with his own lost faith. Buck also finds out about the conspiracy regarding the special wheat and goes to the UN to try and save Chaim from making a terrible mistake. The new leader of the UN, Nicolae Carpathia, is outraged that the two evil UN members, who were apparently his mentors, where behind this evil scheme. He calls a meeting of the UN or something and Buck is brought in to watch because Carpathia wants him as his new media minister or something. Ugh… Not long now.

Anyway, Carpathia kills the shit out the two evil UN members in front of everyone else but then seems to erase everyone’s memory of it. Everyone apart from Buck’s because, you know, he’s awesome and that. Carpathia also announces that this will be the beginning of seven years of world peace which is the same amount of time that some Christians believe there’ll be troubles on Earth before Christ returns. Oh, and Carpathia is the Anti-Christ.

So there, you go. That’s Left Behind: The Movie. I haven’t read the book so I can’t compare it to that but I can say that it’s a pretty goddamn terrible film. It looks like it was made for television by someone who really, really fucking hates television. Like hated it so much that they wanted to punish it by making it appear on it’s screen. But no, apparently this thing was released in actual cinemas and watched by actual people. I mean… fuck.

There are a number of things I could say. I could go into how poorly written the thing is. Characters introduced without any earlier mention only to provide an ‘exciting’ thing to push the story forward. The terrible, terrible dialogue. For example, I’m fairly sure that if people suddenly disappeared, the people left behind wouldn’t watch their language quite as much as they do in this. For fuck’s sake people say heck instead of hell! Millions of people have just vanished and people are saying heck? It’s a world inhabited by Ned Fucking Flanders’! How the hell did anyone get Left Behind? Aside from that, the dialogue is just stilted and unnatural and often crammed uneasily with characters telling other characters that the bible is awesome or Buck is awesome.

I could mention the slightly smug attitude that characters have towards other nationalities or religions. It’s never expressly stated but you get the impression that everyone kinda looks down on the Jews or the Arabs in this film, happy in their security that, even though this is a work of fiction, they’re all good Christians who’re getting raptured right up to heaven when this shit goes down for real. I could go into the fact that the writer’s of this shit seem to have a bizarrely over-inflated notion of just how powerful the UN is. You honestly think they’re going to take over and create a one world government and end all war forever and ever? They couldn’t even stop the invasion of Iraq. The UN is a bunch of people sitting around and bickering with no real power to stop any major world power from doing what ever it wants. Seriously though, is a one world government such a terrible thing? Seemed to work out pretty well in Star Trek. Once we’d sorted out all the world’s problems and gotten together as brothers and sisters we could address the very pressing issue of finding hot alien women and fucking them. How is that not awesome?

I could even go into how terrible the acting was. Again, I’m not sure if it’s just because of the terrible script or the fact that these people have no acting chops. It was just awful. In fact, the only guy I really liked was the Anti-Christ. At least he looked like he was having some fun with his role. Everyone was just treating it so ridiculously seriously that it was laughable. As for the special effects, well, it was almost approaching “Birdemic” level during the initial air strike scene but this was made in 2000 or I assume a tiny budget so I have to cut it some slack. This movie was just painful to watch. Half a pint out of five for the Anti-Christ who, as I say, brought some entertainment to the whole horrible affair. Laterz.



Zombie Month Repost: Fido by Jamie

Originally posted 30th October, 2009.

FidoTitle 2

A newer entry into Halloweek today, the 2006 film about a boy and his zombie, Fido.



Zombie Month Repost: Pontypool by Jamie

Originally posted February 15th, 2010

Well, today is February 15th which means that, according to wikipedia, it is National Flag of Canada day which marks the day that the Canadians took down their old banner which featured the mighty Union Jack, symbol of the Great British Empire of old and chose a flag with a maple leaf on it instead. Seems like a bit of a step backwards but, you know, whatever.

Of course I kid Canada. ‘Tis a lovely flag and a lovely nation that just so happens to be home to my favourite film podcast, Film Junk. So it’s only right that we honour this day of proud heritage for the Canadian people by looking at one of the best damn Canadian films I have ever seen, the 2009 horror film, Pontypool.

Now, I don’t want to spoil this film but there are certain aspects that I simply can’t review without revealing a few little things that might be considered as spoilers so if you desperately want to see this film and haven’t gotten around to it yet then I would recommend you watch it before reading this review. Like I say, I’ll be trying to reveal as little as possible but I won’t be able to really write a review without revealing the cause of the events within the film. It’s up to you now if you read on. You have the power.

So Pontypool is named after the small town in Canada where it takes place. Perhaps the greatest thing about this film is that it takes place almost entirely in one location, a radio station where our main character, Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie), works as on-air talent. With him is his producer, Sydney Briar and her assistant Laurel Ann. Mazzy is a pretty fun character, a apparent former radio star who was known for having controversial opinions on things such as law enforcement who now finds himself in a small town, tin-pot radio station, constantly being told to try and reign his personality in a little.

The shit begins to hit the fan when the radio station receives a report from Ken Loney, a traffic reporter who travels the air in his Sunshine Chopper, of some extremely violent riots occurring outside the offices of Dr. Mendez. These riots soon spread throughout the town and it seems as though the rioters are somewhat dazed and confused, constantly repeating certain phrases over and over again. They also extremely violent, attacking people and apparently eating them as well.

Mazzy continues to broadcast, hoping to keep the people of Pontypool informed about the terrible events going on within the town but it soon becomes clear that the people within the radio station are quite possibly the only ones left unaffected by the strange things occurring outside. Or perhaps not. Laurel Ann suddenly seems to be incredibly confused, unable to string an entire sentence together and finally just repeating one word over and over again. Whilst this is going on, Dr. Mendez manages to find his way to the radio station and make his way inside. Upon seeing Laurel Ann he informs Grant and Sydney that it might be a good idea for them to get into the sound-proof booth and lock themselves inside away from the confused looking girl. He explains that she has been infected with a mysterious virus that is spreading around town which will cause her to hunt them and that their speech will attract her, hence locking themselves in the sound-proof booth.

That’s pretty much all the writing about the plot that I’ll do as things really start to take a turn for the worse from there. Instead I want to talk about the method by which the virus spreads itself. It is revealed throughout the course of the film that the virus is beginning to spread itself via speech, specifically the English language. There are certain words which are infected and the key is that understanding. Upon hearing an infected word and understanding it, the person becomes infected themselves. This causes them to repeat the infected word, apparently as some form of the body trying to fight the virus before finally succumbing to it and becoming aggressive whilst also trying to spread the infection.

It’s certainly a different way of trying to tackle a zombie-esque outbreak and one that’s incredibly effective. How do you fight an infection that can’t be stopped by things such as vaccines? Something that’s spread by such an intrinsic part of everyday human life as speech? I know I’d be screwed especially if the virus spread itself solely through the English language. I only know a spattering of unhelpful phrases in French and German and how to ask for a beer in Japanese. Yep, I’d either be fucked or incredibly drunk in a Japanese bar. I really hope for the later.

Perhaps one of my favourite aspects of this film are the comedic elements that are layered throughout it. There’s the revelation that Ken isn’t actually in a helicopter at all. The Sunshine Chopper is actually his Dodge Dart which he parks on top of a hill in order to give him an aerial view of the traffic situation below. There’s also an hilarious scene with the cast of a local theatre troupe who are putting on a musical version of Lawrence of Arabia. And I can’t talk about the humour of the film without mentioning the character of Grant Mazzy himself. The man’s brilliant and McHattie does an excellent job of portraying a man who clearly dislikes the idea of restraining himself on air.

Despite all this comedy, Pontypool remains a genuinely creepy movie. There’s an undercurrent of unease running through it, particularly early on in the film when it isn’t really clear exactly what’s going on, especially with Ken’s recurring reports on what’s going on outside. It’s a classic example of not revealing too much too soon and it’s masterfully done here. When the infection does reach the station, the film doesn’t shy away from the odd bit of gore and violence either, literally spraying the sound proof booth with blood at one point.

Unless you hadn’t guessed by now, I highly recommend Pontypool. It manages to achieve something that horror films rarely do these days, make me feel genuinely tense and that’s a very good thing indeed. Five pints out of five.



The Depress-A-Thon: Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father by Jamie

I’m not one for openly showing much in the way of emotion. There are times when I’ll waver between the ups and the downs but as for things like weeping openly, well, it just isn‘t me. This doesn’t seem to apply to movies however. I am, as I’m sure I’ve said before, a bit of a crier when it comes to film. For some reason the over-the-top reality of film just seems more realistic to me. I can’t explain why.

Then there are documentaries which are based on truly horrific real life events. They manage to combine the horror of having these things actually having happened and the over-the-top hyper reality of film. By mentioning the hyper reality of film I don’t in anyway mean that any part of these documentaries are not based in truth but rather I mean that the very nature of films means that you can have many years worth of tragic and terrible events condensed down into an hour and a half, making the experience that much more intense. Such is the case with the subject of today’s review, ‘Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father.’

Fuck. This film fucking broke me in ways that I didn’t think possible. It manages to be both a beautiful tribute to a human being that the people in his life genuinely seemed to love and an horrific recounting of a series of tragic events and for that I must say I was truly blown away. The film managed to strike such a perfect balance between two different parts of the story that just seemed to highlight and intensify both.

Right, now I suppose I should go some small way into explaining the basic story of the film without giving away too much. This could be difficult but is absolutely necessary because you simply have to see this film. Might as well just get that out of the way up front. Ok, so the story then. The basic premise is that the film maker, Kurt Kuenne, had a childhood friend, Andrew Bagby, who is murdered by his ex-girlfriend, Shirley Jane Turner. Kuenne decides to travel to visit and interview various friends and relatives of Andrew in an effort to create a kind of video scrap-book for his infant son so he can get an idea of the kind of man that the father he would never know was. Wow. That was a tortuous sentence.

So yeah, that’s all I can really reveal about the plot of the film without giving away many of the twists and turns that cause the emotion to run so high whilst watching this film. What I can say is that the director is certainly a film maker of some talent. He uses some pretty interesting editing techniques to just ramp things up at the appropriate times. In particular his use of dialogue from the various interviews and statements from those involved repeatedly throughout the film in order to massively emphasis a specific point is especially effective.

I’d also be somewhat remiss if I didn’t mention the true heroes of this film David and Kathleen Bagby, Andrew’s parents. Some of the things they go through in this film will have you on the very verge of disbelief. They seem to have the patience of saints despite the horrific trials they are put through on an almost daily basis. And the way they deal with the events of the film at the very end is truly, truly heroic.

If there is one complaint about this film that I could have, it’s this. The director narrates the film and there was something about it that just kept reminding me about the Primus song ‘Mephisto & Kevin’ from the South Park Chef Aid album. I’ve since re-listened to the song and the voices don’t sound that familiar, there’s just something about the talking style and delivery that seems quite reminiscent of it. It’s not really a criticism of the film, just something that bugged me slightly. It’s definitely a problem with me and not the film.

Well, it’s gonna have to be a short one today because going any deeper into it would risk revealing some of the plot points of this truly fantastic film. Was it depressing? Yes, massively so. Did it make me cry? I’m not ashamed to say that it did. Would I watch it again? Surprisingly, yes. There are certainly some films that have been featured in The Depress-A-Thon which I always be hesitant to watch again. The primary examples being ‘Threads’ and ‘Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door’. Still despite this being as depressing as it is, it is also a truly wonderful tribute not only to Andrew but also his truly amazing parents and, for that at least, it is certainly worth watching again. Five pints out of five.



Review: Pontypool by Jamie

Well, today is February 15th which means that, according to wikipedia, it is National Flag of Canada day which marks the day that the Canadians took down their old banner which featured the mighty Union Jack, symbol of the Great British Empire of old and chose a flag with a maple leaf on it instead. Seems like a bit of a step backwards but, you know, whatever.

Of course I kid Canada. ‘Tis a lovely flag and a lovely nation that just so happens to be home to my favourite film podcast, Film Junk. So it’s only right that we honour this day of proud heritage for the Canadian people by looking at one of the best damn Canadian films I have ever seen, the 2009 horror film, Pontypool.

Now, I don’t want to spoil this film but there are certain aspects that I simply can’t review without revealing a few little things that might be considered as spoilers so if you desperately want to see this film and haven’t gotten around to it yet then I would recommend you watch it before reading this review. Like I say, I’ll be trying to reveal as little as possible but I won’t be able to really write a review without revealing the cause of the events within the film. It’s up to you now if you read on. You have the power.

So Pontypool is named after the small town in Canada where it takes place. Perhaps the greatest thing about this film is that it takes place almost entirely in one location, a radio station where our main character, Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie), works as on-air talent. With him is his producer, Sydney Briar and her assistant Laurel Ann. Mazzy is a pretty fun character, a apparent former radio star who was known for having controversial opinions on things such as law enforcement who now finds himself in a small town, tin-pot radio station, constantly being told to try and reign his personality in a little.

The shit begins to hit the fan when the radio station receives a report from Ken Loney, a traffic reporter who travels the air in his Sunshine Chopper, of some extremely violent riots occurring outside the offices of Dr. Mendez. These riots soon spread throughout the town and it seems as though the rioters are somewhat dazed and confused, constantly repeating certain phrases over and over again. They also extremely violent, attacking people and apparently eating them as well.

Mazzy continues to broadcast, hoping to keep the people of Pontypool informed about the terrible events going on within the town but it soon becomes clear that the people within the radio station are quite possibly the only ones left unaffected by the strange things occurring outside. Or perhaps not. Laurel Ann suddenly seems to be incredibly confused, unable to string an entire sentence together and finally just repeating one word over and over again. Whilst this is going on, Dr. Mendez manages to find his way to the radio station and make his way inside. Upon seeing Laurel Ann he informs Grant and Sydney that it might be a good idea for them to get into the sound-proof booth and lock themselves inside away from the confused looking girl. He explains that she has been infected with a mysterious virus that is spreading around town which will cause her to hunt them and that their speech will attract her, hence locking themselves in the sound-proof booth.

That’s pretty much all the writing about the plot that I’ll do as things really start to take a turn for the worse from there. Instead I want to talk about the method by which the virus spreads itself. It is revealed throughout the course of the film that the virus is beginning to spread itself via speech, specifically the English language. There are certain words which are infected and the key is that understanding. Upon hearing an infected word and understanding it, the person becomes infected themselves. This causes them to repeat the infected word, apparently as some form of the body trying to fight the virus before finally succumbing to it and becoming aggressive whilst also trying to spread the infection.

It’s certainly a different way of trying to tackle a zombie-esque outbreak and one that’s incredibly effective. How do you fight an infection that can’t be stopped by things such as vaccines? Something that’s spread by such an intrinsic part of everyday human life as speech? I know I’d be screwed especially if the virus spread itself solely through the English language. I only know a spattering of unhelpful phrases in French and German and how to ask for a beer in Japanese. Yep, I’d either be fucked or incredibly drunk in a Japanese bar. I really hope for the later.

Perhaps one of my favourite aspects of this film are the comedic elements that are layered throughout it. There’s the revelation that Ken isn’t actually in a helicopter at all. The Sunshine Chopper is actually his Dodge Dart which he parks on top of a hill in order to give him an aerial view of the traffic situation below. There’s also an hilarious scene with the cast of a local theatre troupe who are putting on a musical version of Lawrence of Arabia. And I can’t talk about the humour of the film without mentioning the character of Grant Mazzy himself. The man’s brilliant and McHattie does an excellent job of portraying a man who clearly dislikes the idea of restraining himself on air.

Despite all this comedy, Pontypool remains a genuinely creepy movie. There’s an undercurrent of unease running through it, particularly early on in the film when it isn’t really clear exactly what’s going on, especially with Ken’s recurring reports on what’s going on outside. It’s a classic example of not revealing too much too soon and it’s masterfully done here. When the infection does reach the station, the film doesn’t shy away from the odd bit of gore and violence either, literally spraying the sound proof booth with blood at one point.

Unless you hadn’t guessed by now, I highly recommend Pontypool. It manages to achieve something that horror films rarely do these days, make me feel genuinely tense and that’s a very good thing indeed. Five pints out of five.



Halloweek: Fido by Jamie

FidoTitle 2

A newer entry into Halloweek today, the 2006 film about a boy and his zombie, Fido.




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