If there’s anything redeeming about the otherwise ordinary Chernobyl Diaries, it’s that it proves a film about tragic urban exploring doesn’t need to be “found footage” to work. It doesn’t work well, though Chernobyl does provide sporadic suspense and claustrophobia that is pulled off slightly better than found sootage [sic] disasters such as the Tunnel and Grave Encounters. Like those films, the characters knowingly place themselves in a hazardous situation. In Chernobyl, the danger is mostly wild dogs and radiation. Hell, one or the other would have been enough, right? The curious ill-fated group is later confronted by mutant humanoids–likely a result of radiation–who come out of nowhere. And there may have been ghosts in there too. This wasn’t clear with all the other distractions in this inept attempt at R rated horror. [rating: $3] –Kenyon
A muddled mess is this “collection” of found footage within found footage. Although, sometimes it’s impossible to know if some scenes are supposed to be found footage from the camera or just the character’s viewpoint to see what they see (the lines are crossed when a stooge wears glasses with a built in video cam). Either way, the idea of characters finding VHS tapes with bizarre recordings is there, but it’s way too poorly executed to have any soul or substance. Basically V/H/S is groups of people being moronic and/or immature and then getting sliced up for no reason other than shock value. The forced interference effects of the shaky cams hinder any chance of this possessing authenticity. More like S/H/T or M/E/S/S. [rating: $1] – Kenyon
Could be the next level in “found footage.” just worried it’s gonna be six pieces of crap with things popping out to scare you for the hell of it, like in GRAVE ENCOUNTERS. oh man now THAT was a piece of WORK! but in all seriousness V/H/S does have potential to be SICK. limited opening October 5, 2012.
“Oh look at you, c’mere, i’m not gonna hurt you, oh wow you’re beautiful, c’mere baby…AHHHHH it’s gonna break my arm…ahhh now it’s broken!” This is roughly what a scientist, who was allowed to be amongst a crew searching for the origin of humans, says to an alien mutant species that resembles a huge worm. IDIOT! See, people like to touch things. Makes it seem more real or something. Did it seem real enough when you got YOUR ASS HANDED TO YOU BY A WORM?! Good thing that worm and the rest of Prometheus is visually spectacular. [rating: $8] –Kenyon
Following his award-winning music documentary Unsigned (2011), director Edward Payson’s latest film The Cohasset Snuff Film is a “found footage” story regarding a teenager who murdered three classmates in a quiet town. The title alone suggests something shocking, as Payson strives to show the dark side of life. He has already accomplished this with works such as the gory-dramedy The Itch. On the horizon is the action-comic revenge film Fury: The Tales of Ronan Pierce, co-directed with Kevin McCarthy and featuring Kane Hodder, known for his role as Jason Vorhees. Payson, a native of New Hampshire, discusses his work, Hodder and why he chooses his own film content to be free of boundaries.
MLFD: Are you psyched to be working with Kane Hodder? How’d that happen?
Payson: Working with Kane on Fury was great. This is a person I had looked up to for a very long time. It was very surreal. A year ago I was having Kane sign my Jason Goes to Hell poster and this year I was able to have him act in our film. It was an incredible feeling. He was a true professional, easy going and had a great sense of humor.
Are some people automatically ignoring The Cohasset Snuff Film because they are afraid of the word “snuff”? Judging by the trailer and what I’ve read, is it more on the sensitive and serious side?
We really haven’t begun the actual marketing on The Cohasset Snuff Film but I think so far people are generally excited. There are fake downloads for the film on Youtube already that random people posted. We are being called by Cohasset officials talking about how people are in a panic in the small town. I don’t really think the word “snuff” caused us a problem. I think the true horror fans are who we are going for with this and a simple word won’t keep them away unless that word is “Twilight.”
“I love the Evil Dead. Do I want a remake, NO”
What did you think of the original snuff film from the 1970s?
I love 70’s snuff movies. I don’t think the original Snuff film was that great. Some films I look at from that era that really were perceived as “snuff” were Cannibal Holocaust and Faces of Death. These films changed the game. They made people sick. People didn’t know how to deal with what they were seeing. It was pure shock factor. This is what I am going for.
Your favorite/most influential horror films ever?
I have a rather long list of favorite or influential horror films but I will keep it to a few. I really the work of George Romero. The Dead Series is my favorite classic trilogy. I remember sitting in my dad’s basement workshop watching Night of the Living Dead on a small 2″ by 5″ black and white television with my brother at 10 years old. My father was a huge horror fan and really introduced me to the genre. I was seeing R-rated horror films in theaters more than I would see Disney Films. As far as modern horror films with the exception of “The Splat Pack” namely Eli Roth, Adam Green, James Wan and Rob Zombie, I really haven’t been into mainstream horror of the last 10 years besides films coming from Korea. I Saw the Devil was one of the best films I have ever seen. It was masterful in story, acting and execution. These amazing films are coming from Korea and all we get in America are horrible remakes.
What do you think about the Evil Dead getting remade?
I love the Evil Dead. Do I want a remake, NO. I think it all has to do with money. These movies are not made to be good. They are made to bank off the name recognition from the first film. I am totally against remakes and re-imagining classic films. It is getting out of control. Soon I think every ten years a film will get rebooted if it makes money. It is sad original ideas are looked down upon and go unmade.
“I don’t cut away when I think the audience will be squeamish”
What are the projected dates for your two upcoming films?
As of now we are releasing The Cohasset Snuff Film on Halloween 2012 and Fury we don’t have a specific release date because the film is still in post [production] and we have animation and effects which are going to take a very long time, but you will see it in 2013.
Is this your full time job? Are you able to make a living off this? What else do you spend time on?
Right now this is all I do. I had a full time job before editing and making how-to videos. Unfortunately the company downsized and I ended up getting laid off. Now I am just like any other independent artist trying to get by on side gigs and small videos here and there between features.
What’s it like in Los Angeles, as far as the indie horror film industry goes?
Los Angeles is the place to be for Independent Film. Places like Cinefamily in Hollywood will show independent films all the time, sometimes for free. There are always special screenings in and around L.A. and plenty of people to talk film with. I love it.
As a director, what makes your vision unique?
I believe in not compromising your vision no matter what. Most of my films are not just about the characters. They are also about the cruel world in which they live. I want people to experience the ugliness in the world so I don’t cut away when I think the audience will be squeamish. I let them experience every agonizing second. The world is not pretty and that is the picture I like to paint.
For more, go to>> www.anantiheroproduction.com
The Cabin in the Woods (2012) Following months of buzz and high expectations, Cabin mostly succeeds in adding fresh life to horror. Not that it’s entirely horror. While making references to classic backwoods horror films (Evil Dead, et al), Cabin is a horror-thriller COMEDY that embraces witty satire. An evil unicorn sticking its horn where it doesn’t belong? That’s rich. Shoot, maybe it’s supposed to be straightforward comedy.
It turns out the big surprise twist is that among the young adults visiting a remote cabin there is a purposely token stoner who proves he’s the most logical, insightful and smart. Plus, he always has weed on him in the form of a joint or in a bong converted from a travel coffee mug.
Cabin in the Woods shows ambition, for sure. And there’s plenty going on to cause suspense, including a slightly overblown apocalyptic scenario. The effects look great, there are surprises and original ideas that build on old ones.
Still, too many questions remain. Why don’t the people underground who manipulate the cabin take this heavy situation more seriously? Why was “Merman” underused? Where can you get one of those coffee mug bongs? Perhaps answers to this fun pro-marijuana film will be answered in a prequel. [rating: $7] –Kenyon
The Woman in Black(2012) Lead character Arthur Kipps has got some balls. Even more so, some GUTS. He sticks around a remote U.K village in the early 1900s to investigate why young kids keep dying. This culminates with submerging himself into quicksand-like mud to recover a body that must be re-united with the body of the corpse’s mother. Eureka! He mainly does this because he’s afraid that when his own son arrives to the village, his son will meet the same fate as previous children. Yea, well, too bad these kids are easily hypnotized by the “woman in black.”
The film delivers its story, scares and climax overly cautious, going nowhere outside the mystery-suspense-ghost story box. Woman provides rich cinematography, but settles on the expected. That’s probably because it would rather pander to the general audience. The result is a snug mixture of the Others (for time period and ghost and big old house), House of the Devil (for the single person wandering around a secluded shadowy big house) and the Orphanage (for the typical ghosts of children helping you solve the mystery of who murdered them or whatever). Whatever INDEED! Good day sir……i said good DAY! [rating: $5] – Kenyon