Monday, December 9, 2013
One word: Atmosphere.
For whatever reason, a film that started out as Sader Ridge ended up with the much more horror-centric, cinema-friendly "The Invoking". I for one, prefer a title that isn't so obvious, and therefore found the Sader Ridge title more to my liking. That said, whatever the title may be, it is a film that should be sought out and watched - and one that I was pleased to have the opportunity to see while it is still on the festival circuit.
A few words about Eric. At once peculiar, his quiet demeanor and reclusive nature is unnerving, only adding to the dread that seems to creep up on you throughout this quiet film. He seems to know more than he is telling, and even with prodding by Sam, he is still reluctant to say much. He makes himself available to the group even when it's more than clear that the two other men aren't too thrilled with him being around.
Almost immediately after arriving, Sam begins to have some distracting and downright disturbing feelings being in the house. She hears Caitlin saying prayers out loud at night, and witnesses on several occasions arguments and interactions between her friends that don't actually happen. Is she realizing repressed memories? Or is something in the house trying to tell her something?
While checking out the grounds, the four visitors run into the property line adjacent to what is called Sader Ridge and though Mark and Sam aren't too enthused, Caitlin and Roman talk them into crawling over the barb wire fence and checking things out. As darkness falls, the group somehow gets separated and Mark ends up lost in the woods and Sam's visions take on a life of their own.
There are eventually some moments of sheer terror that are shocking and unexpected yet deserved. In a film like this there feels like there has to be a reward for waiting for something to happen, and we are compensated nicely here. When a plot isn't completely obvious and holds back on gruesome effects (there is very little gore), it really is so much more focused and effective.
But although the ending doesn't completely tie things up in a nice neat bow, it feels right. A short running length helps things move along, but again I have to mention we are trucking along at a turtle's pace.
But the ominous sense of dread that wraps itself around the entire film more than makes up for any lack of action and gore. In my book, atmosphere far outweighs blood and guts, and we've got the former in droves.
Keep your eye on this production company, The October People. I have a feeling we'll be seeing more quality work from them in the future. At least I certainly hope so!
Monday, December 2, 2013
Ever heard of Stull, Kansas? Probably not, but this small town just a stone’s throw from Topeka was the inspiration for the 2013 film Nothing Left to Fear, produced by Guns N’ Roses guitarist, Slash; although you’d probably never guess that after watching it.
Nothing Left to Fear follows a picture perfect family of two daughters, Rebecca (Rebekah Brandes) and Mary (Jennifer Stone), a young son (Carter Cabassa), and sunny mother Wendy (Anne Heche) and her husband Dan (James Tupper, Heche's real-life partner as well) who has been chosen as the town’s new pastor. The family is instantly welcomed into the tight-knit community, receiving almost a little too much hospitality.
Dan is replacing the revered Pastor Kingsman, played by one of my favorite genre actors, Clancy Brown (Pet Sematary 2, Hellbenders, TV's Sleepy Hollow). While Kingsman takes Dan under his wing as he predecessor, Rebecca is getting to know the town hottie, Noah (Ethan Peck). Behind closed doors we are able to see that things are not as pleasant and peaceful as they seem, and Kingsman is encouraging some dark task upon Noah, who, naturally, plays it cool around his sweetheart.
At the same time, sister Mary has become the target of some strange events, and is being plagued by nightmares of the neighbors crowding silently outside her windows, and slack-jawed, hollow-eyed demons. It isn’t until she is kidnapped from the local carnival and subjected to a mysterious occult ritual that she becomes one of these hellions, and the sinister nature of the town is revealed.
That is pretty much the extent of the legend, other than a few additional creepy little tidbits that will vary from whom you hear the story. The Hellmouth of Stull has also inspired the 2001 film Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal and an episode of Supernatural.
Nothing Left to Fear is both director Anthony Leonardi III and writer Jonathan W.C. Mills' first feature film, and this could be the reason why the whole movie felt very awkward to me. The editing (sight and sound) left me feeling confused and detached from the narrative—which is easy to do when there is hardly a plot to grasp, at all.
A myriad of interesting ideas are neglected and the result is a bland, muddled mush with cheesy CGI and flat characters.
Friday, November 29, 2013
We've reached the final part of my thankful posts here in part 3. I'm thankful for all the blessings in my life, but certainly one of the things I hold most dear is my love of the genre that defines who I am, makes me happy when I'm down, and gives me the fulfillment in life that many people lack. Horror in its many forms is the light at the end of my tunnel and the very marrow of my existence.
And with that sentiment, I give you the remainder of my list of gratefulness....
*For now, follow us on Twitter: @fearthecrypt, Facebook, and online at http://www.fearthecrypt.com/
NOX ARCANA and MIDNIGHT SYNDICATE. And of course you can buy both on Amazon.com and iTunes.
I'm also hoping she doesn't flip out for my posting her pic! :)
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving!! As we Americans celebrate turkey day, I hope everyone has at least one thing they are thankful for in their lives. I've got tons, including my humble list of horror thank you's! If you missed part one, click HERE.
And here's the second of three parts...
(If the link doesn't work I'm sorry, it seems this film is top secret and all the links to the teaser trailer are constantly being taken down all the time.)
*Stay tuned for the final third of my thank you's!!
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
All over social media, I've been seeing these posts throughout November in which people post day by day things they are thankful for, as in "Nov 15: I'm thankful for Starbucks gingerbread lattes, they make my entire existence worthwhile!" Now, I'm not one to look down on that, and I'm certainly all about joining in any kind of meme or list-a-thon, so I thought I'd do something similar here on Fascination with Fear. But I'm not going to do day-by-day postings, I'm just doing the whole damn thing at once. As in, there are thirty days in November - hence, I'm posting thirty things I'm thankful for, with a horror twist.
I'm already eternally thankful for the big three: my husband, family and friends. And everyone already knows how much I love my cats, Bob Marley, spaghetti, and the Outer Banks. That's all common knowledge, so I'm not boring you with any of that. What follows is a list of things that make me the happiest about horror, whether it is a single film or a sub-genre, a character or a book I love....it's all here. This is how this horror fan says how grateful I am to be a part of this wonderful genre we all know and love.
I'll be back with part two......
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Writer/director Chad Crawford Kinkle has created a tale that besides fitting into the horror genre really gives us a slice of life that most of us thankfully aren't privy to and perhaps even have a primal fear of on many levels. Many of us consider ourselves poor - complaining that we don't have enough money to take that vacation to Jamaica or even to make this month's rent. But I'm talking destitute here. Not enough food to eat. Defecating in a bucket. Washing clothes in the local river by hand. Scraping up road kill off the highway for dinner.
In the poverty-striken back woods of an unnamed location (could be Tennessee, could be eastern Georgia...who knows?), several families make up a community that live by their own set of rules and principles. Strangest of all is their primary focus on what the "pit" wants. Yes, a real pit. A hole in the ground with a deep, percolating puddle of muddy goo that apparently speaks to one of the townsfolk, demanding human sacrifices on random occasions to keep the little colony of residents "safe". Said resident is Dawai (Sean Bridgers, The Woman), who has a keen understanding of what the pit is asking for and in turn makes a jug face - quite literally he crafts a piece of pottery with the face of the requested sacrifice on it.
Once we meet Ada's parents - the hardened Loriss (Sean Young) and community leader and lead moonshine-maker Sustin (Larry Fessenden, a legend in the genre!), it's obvious that Ada has a rough time. She is their only daughter and has been promised to one of the only men left to choose from - a chubby dolt named Bodey (Mathieu Whitman). As preparations are made for their "joining", Ada finds out two things. One, she's pregnant with her brother's child. And two: she is the next ritual sacrifice. She finds the jug with her face on it and promptly stows it away in the woods, hiding it so it cannot be used.
I hate to give away more plot details, as the story itself is sparse. But meager as it may be, it packs a punch in the short running time. There are frights in here that have nothing to do with the ominous pit of death. In one scene, Lorris is determined to make sure Ada is still a virgin and hasn't disgraced the family before her joining. She forces her to sit on the toilet and spread her legs while she does an exam ten times more thorough than the gynecologist ever thought of. And as Ada hesitates and squirms, her mother burns her inner thigh with a cigarette. And the scene when Sustin and Ada are in town selling their moonshine to a local store -Sustin stops to pick up a dead possum off the road for supper....Gah!
Most of us cannot imagine living like this. Without our comfortable houses and apartments, countless mobile devices, that new Jeep Wrangler, and a drive thru at Taco Bell in our lives it would be unthinkable. To scrape together a dinner of roadkill and a romp with a sibling? Unheard of. These are the things that made me the most uncomfortable watching Jug Face. Oh yes, there is blood. The pit demands sacrifice to keep things in the community in line, and when we do get that there is some nice gore for the blood-hounds out there.
There is much to be said about the truly excellent performances by the lead roles here. Lauren Ashley Carter is perfect as Ada, a down-trodden teenager with no future but a big heart. Scenes in which she cares for her mute grandfather are touching and yet difficult to watch due to the reprehensible conditions the old man is living in. I can't imagine Carter not having a nice career in front of her. Her unusual yet pretty features make her like the girl next door. (Albeit maybe the anorexic book-worm next door, but you get my drift.)
Part of the film's charm, if we can call it that, is the fact that the characters aren't caricatures of backwoods hicks. Of course there is the obvious "village idiot" language that screams hillbilly, but the people are genuine, not freaks ready to cut your heart out if you cross onto their property. You can feel honest sympathy for them and the gloomy lifestyle that they lead because regardless of their tax-bracket, they are earnest in their poverty and never once take on a woe-is-me attitude. They just accept life as it comes. Oh, and they worship and live by the rules of a supernatural pit of doom. But hey, to each his own.
I'll be interested in seeing what Chad Crawford Kinkle has in store for us next. It's obvious his heart and soul went into Jug Face, and if his next idea is as original as this one, we should be in for a real treat.