Tag Archives: Horror

‘I See You’: Someone’s watching me

I See You is a puzzle movie where revealing the exact horror sub-genres it sticks with to the end, or even to its halfway point, constitutes as a spoiler. Penned by American actor-turned-writer Devon Graye (Dexter, The Flash), directed by Brit Adam Randall (who helmed Netflix Original sci-fi iBoy) and starring Helen Hunt and Jon Tenney, the Ohio-filmed movie benefits from knowing as little as possible, beyond the basic premise that concerns a series of abductions in a small town coinciding with the apparent haunting of a family’s home.

That said, there’s still plenty to discuss without giving the game away. Speaking to SciFiNow at last summer’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, Adam Randall (carefully) told us about his film…

Full interview for SciFiNow

How Robert Eggers made this year’s strangest film

Upon its release in 2016, Robert Eggers’ debut feature, The Witch, spooked audiences across the world with its slow-burn dread and terrifying portrayals of possession.

What truly set it apart as a period horror, though, was an exquisite sense of historical detail when it came to its 1630s New England setting: notably, the particulars of the language its characters used to communicate and process the terrors they faced. Visually speaking – although shot digitally – it often harkened back to some of cinema’s earliest days. It’s no surprise that Eggers has since been attached to remake the influential Nosferatu.

But the writer-director’s follow-up to The Witch isn’t the silent-horror classic: it’s something altogether trickier to define. With his second feature, The Lighthouse, Eggers has in fact enlisted the help of Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe – two of the most idiosyncratic stars of their respective generations – for a two-hander set on a New England island in the 1890s…

Full interview for Huck

Gwen (William McGregor, 2018)

We may not yet be in a full-blown renaissance of folk horror, a subgenre particularly popular in British cinema in the 1970s, but several recent high-profile offerings indicate a burgeoning interest in films eschewing traditional monsters and boogeymen for stories of the land, community traditions, and, occasionally, religion driving hysteria and hauntings.

Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England and Kill List flirt with folk horror in both period and contemporary contexts; Ari Aster’s Midsommar has an isolated Swedish village’s rituals causing terror; and Robert Eggers’ The Witch has the explicit subtitle A New-England Folktale. Gwen, the debut feature from TV veteran William McGregor (Poldark), fits neatly into this scene in terms of its use of landscape and how its writer/director flirts with macabre folklore to fuel a near-suffocating sense of dread…

Full review for Little White Lies

William McGregor on the ‘slow burn, anti-capitalist folk horror’ of ‘Gwen’

No one’s having an especially good time in Gwen, a gothic tale with a rural focus where the most tender moment involves someone applying blood to their cheeks as blusher.

In mid-19th century Snowdonia, north Wales, a young girl, Gwen (Eleanor Worthington-Cox), tries to hold her home together. Her father’s failure to return from war has her and her little sister, Mari (Jodie Innes), concerned. Her stern mother (Maxine Peake) has developed a strange illness, the farm’s crops are rotting, their closest neighbours have mysteriously died, and a ruthless mining company is looking to seize their land.

Gwen is the debut feature of William McGregor, a writer-director with various prize-winning shorts and acclaimed TV runs to his name, including Poldark (2015-). His breakthrough effort, co-financed by the BFI, is a tricky film to define, but he has a very specific way of describing it for prospective viewers. “A slow burn, anti-capitalist folk horror would be the best description,” he says. “You have to add that caveat because if you tell people it’s only folk horror, they might go in with slightly different expectations”…

Full interview for the BFI

I See You (Adam Randall, 2019)

Written by Devon Graye and directed by Adam Randall, I See You flirts with multiple genres across its runtime, keeping viewers guessing as to the exact nature of what they’re watching. Wildly different modes of horror and thriller storytelling are presented across the film. The protagonist(s) you think you’re following may not retain that status for the whole thing.

To compare it to other notable horror hits of late may provide an accurate sense of the film’s tone or plot, but that would only apply to a certain section of the story or the mood for just part of the film, rather than a precise picture of the whole. That said, ‘Hereditary meets Don’t Breathe’, with shades of Scott Derrickson’s forays into detective-led horror, wouldn’t be a terribly erroneous description…

Full review for SciFiNow

The Furies (Tony D’Aquino, 2019)

The Furies is a curious mix of slashers, The Running Man and Predators. Kayla (Airlie Dodds) is kidnapped, waking up in a coffin-like box in the Australian wilderness. Meeting a few other young women who barely know more about their mysterious circumstances, Kayla tries to both locate her fellow kidnapped friend and evade the grotesque masked maniacs hunting them. An epilepsy-sufferer, Kayla has fits that reveal that the women’s armed pursuers may be tracking their movements through implanted cameras. And they may not be the only ones watching this most dangerous game…

Full review for SciFiNow

Zoo (Antonio Tublen, 2018)

When films open with establishing shots of a city, it’s normally to evoke a sense of place for a story that will, presumably, mostly take place there. When a horror opens this way, it can also be a way of setting up locations for third-act set-pieces.

Zoo, written, directed, edited and scored by Antonio Tublen, disobeys this. It establishes that London is the broad setting for its zombie outbreak story, but the actual film takes place almost entirely within the confines of one couple’s flat. And when it doesn’t, the shots are relegated to the immediate surroundings of their home – e.g. wreckage just across the street or fleeting glimpses of their floor’s corridor. It’s almost as though its characters are confined like animals in a… well, you get the idea…

Full review for SciFiNow

‘Anna and the Apocalypse’ interview: horror comedy musical is “The Breakfast Club meets Gremlins”

By all accounts, Anna And The Apocalypse would appear to be the world’s first feature-length zombie comedy musical set in high school… and at Christmas… in Scotland. Shot around the likes of Port Glasgow, Greenock and Falkirk, the film premiered to considerable buzz at last year’s Fantastic Fest in the US and is now making its way into cinemas nationwide to unleash some festive fear…

Full interview for SciFiNow
This is an extract from a bigger print-exclusive Anna and the Apocalypse feature in SciFiNow #152

Isa Mazzei and Daniel Goldhaber on Blumhouse’s ‘Cam’ and being sex-work positive

A multiple prize-winner at this year’s prestigious Fantasia Festival, the Blumhouse-produced Cam, now available on Netflix UK, is one of 2018’s most interesting horror films for numerous reasons.

First of all, the film, set in the world of webcam shows, is among the most sex work-positive fiction features to date from any genre, and a crucial pop culture asset in a time when sex workers worldwide are under threat, thanks to livelihood-threatening legislation from various governments.

Secondly, Cam is one of the few films with sex work at its centre that’s actually written by a former sex worker. Debut screenwriter and producer Isa Mazzei had a similar camming career to that of the film’s protagonist, Alice (online alias Lola, played by the spellbinding Madeline Brewer of The Handmaid’s Tale).

Thirdly, although the film is directed by Daniel Goldhaber (his debut feature), it is credited as ‘A film by Isa Mazzei and Daniel Goldhaber’. Despite taking on specific roles (Mazzei is the sole screenwriter), the pair are adamant Cam is a 100 per cent joint vision, making it a particularly fascinating case study in a climate where who gets to tell what stories is under more scrutiny than ever.

Cam follows Alice, who makes a living as a camgirl on a popular chatroom site, but withholds sharing the details of her career with her mother (Melora Walters) – until she cracks the top 50 ranking of the platform’s performers. Around the time she does, she suddenly finds she’s been locked out of her account. Someone else is broadcasting from it, though: a doppelgänger of Alice/Lola, who veers into content that goes beyond the rules Alice had set for herself. In a bitter twist, the imposter Lola’s shows help her channel become one of the most popular on the site. With the exception of a fan who seems strangely attuned to what’s going on, no one seems able to help Alice stop Lola, forcing her down a path of creative and eventually violent improvisations.

While they were in London for the film’s UK premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, we sat down with Mazzei and Goldhaber for a fascinating, extensive conversation concerning, among other things, what their film says about our relationship to technology, making such a sex work-positive movie, working with Blumhouse and their thoughts on Jason Blum’s recent comments about women in horror filmmaking, the curious influence of documentarian Frederick Wiseman on the film’s storytelling, working with star Madeline Brewer and how to successfully collaborate with people to empower underrepresented voices, creating a new cinematic language to tell their horror tale, and their unique partnership that dismisses traditional notions of auteur theory…

Full interview for VODzilla.co