BONE TOMAHAWK (2015)

If there was any justice in this world this film would sweep the Oscars.  From best screenplay to best supporting actor, this film would win it all.  This first time effort is everything that a fan of cinema could ask for.  The direction is beautiful, the performances are career-defining and the script could be one of the best in the past few years.  S. Craig Zahler assembled a cast that fits perfectly into his harsh view of frontier life and the folly of a fool’s journey.  If you have not noticed, I love this film and live for this kind of release.  Its cross genre (western, horror) approach avoids the common pitfalls and offers a genuine experience.  Tones shift effortlessly, without jerking you out of the film.  The only movie that I could compare this to is last years magnum opus of revenge, Blue Ruin.  Not in its content, but in its passion and care.  Did I mention that this is a western starring Kurt Russell (as the badass sheriff), as a man of moral fortitude against a clan of cannibals?  I will not give away very much in my synopsis because the less you know…the better.

The story has a simple set up.  A band of blood thirsty natives invade a small town, kidnap a few citizens and set our heroes on their perilous journey.  One particular citizen that is taken is the wife of a local cowboy who has a damaged leg, this impediment drives the force of this film.  What follows is an unpredictable exercise in lyrical nihilism that is incomparable.

I could really go on and on, but I urge you to cough up 5 bucks and see for yourself.  The tragedy is that I was unable to see this in a cinema.  It is shot specifically to be seen this way and hate that most of us will never see it in its intended form.  The nature shots are sprawling and serve as a constant reminder of what our characters are against.  If you love westerns, italian cannibal flicks or just enjoy character driven stories, you should get something out of this movie.  One warning I have to give is that Bone Tomahawk is incredibly brutal and gory.  The violence is unflinching and never breaks for camp or exploitation.  The fx and gore are practical and only add to its realism.  All in all, this will (most likely) end up in my top 3 films this year.  It is currently available on VOD and limited theatrical release.

5/5 STARS

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)

It is back, we didn’t ask for it but it showed up anyways.  After 5 installments we all thought that this little cash cow had dried up and been put out to pasture.  No, I guess they thought that they could crank out one more low-brow entry in a series full of them.  I know its not cool to admit, but I kind of like this series.  What started as a pretty neat novelty, quickly became a cluster of dumb storylines and perfectly timed jump scares.  As movies, they are all shit.  But as a braindead activity in a theater, they work like gangbusters.

This sixth installment starts with (yet again) another family stumbling across tapes and past generational curses.  The dad finds some kind of 80s 3D camera and becomes obsessed with the strange footage he is picking up.  Like the others, it is revealed that the spirits communicating are evil beings and then a loud family yells for 90 minutes about ghosts.  You know the drill at this point.  Second (or 6th) verse, same as the first.

I enjoy picking on this franchise, but its not that bad.  The filmmakers seem to be having fun and the addition of 3D feels right out of the William Castle playbook.  The whole thing reminds me a lot of Jaws 3, especially in its attempt at reviving a dead series.  The story is gibberish, but the funhouse approach makes up for a lot of its faults.  If you have to go to a movies for Halloween, then give this mediocre novelty movie a chance.  Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension will be available 10/23 on limited release.  Thanks for reading !!!

2.5/5 STARS

THE LAST SHIFT (2015)

Siege films are one of the great, unsung genres of film that often gets overlooked.  Its usually overshadowed by its more popular labelS (Horror or Action).  A lot of folks forget that Night of the Living Dead, Assault on Precinct 13 and Demons all share the same plot lines.  I love this concept of peopled holed up together, trying to weather a storm or survive the night.  This setting creates a suspense and dramatic edge that few other styles capture.  The Last Shift is another strong entry into this subgenre.  It may not be wholly original (borrowing heavily from the three movies I mentioned earlier), but makes up for it in sheer creepiness.

The movie starts with a young, female officer named Jessica Loren showing up to her first day at work.  She is assigned to work the last shift at a closing precinct, while the rest of the department makes the transition to a new building.  Once there, she learns more about a satanic cult that reigned terror over their small town and took her father’s life.  We get a ride to madness revealing a villain who addresses himself as “The King of Hell”.

The plot is simple, but the director/co-writer (Anthony Diblasi) builds up each scare like a well mapped funhouse.  The imagery becomes increasingly darker as each set piece builds to the next, making the pace feel almost stressful.  What stands out most is the eerie sound design.  The film utilizes a looping sound style that makes the most mundane seem sinister.  There are a few things that feel cheap, but the budget and overall creepiness makes it all pretty forgivable.  I suggest that you give this little movie a shot and make sure to turn out all the lights and blare your surround sound.  The Last Shift is currently available on DVD.

3.5/5 STARS

ATTACK ON TITAN PT.1

I was curious about this film.  After attempting to watch the anime about three times, I eventually gave up and decided to just wait for the film.  The anime series seemed intriguing enough but just didn’t grab me.  I am sure that the show is as smart and entertaining as my friends say, but after seeing the film I find that hard to believe.  I dare to say that this could be a strong contender for worst film of 2016.  To put it plainly, its piss-poor and lazy.  From the uninspired monsters to the score that was a horrid combination of old fashioned Hollywood melodrama and laughable hard rock.  The actors hardly show up and the ones who do wouldn’t be fit for your local high school’s production of A Christmas Carol. Did I mention how thoroughly shitty this movie was?

Before I complain even more about the 90 minutes and $11 that were stolen from me tonight, let me attempt to describe the story.  We get an info dump about giant, man-eating monsters that live beyond the walls of the city.  These monsters are called Titans.  No one knows who they are, where they came from, etc…  We are then introduced to a handful of indistiguishable characters; a girl and 2 boys.  I am pretty sure that they have some kind of love triangle, but the writers didn’t care, so neither did I.  Out of nowhere, these Titans show back up and eat the city.  After this event we jump forward in time and the city is planning an assault to stop the monsters and reclaim the city.  After this setup its just a montage of sappy lines and quick edit battles that amount to nothing.

I am so disappointed by this film.  My hopes were to see a crazy, action film full of monsters and instead I got a cheap cash in.  There was no effort or care put into this production.  There might be a great film buried in this heap, we just need someone with a little passion to breath life into this colossal failure.   Attack on Titan is currently in limited release.

1/5 STARS