Fantasia 2018: Nightmare Cinema (World Premiere 2018)

Nightmare Cinema is a 2018 horror anthology featuring nightmare stories told by five renowned directors. It was an opening film at the Fantasia Festival and the screening was preceded by the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Joe Dante, one of the five directors of this film.

Nightmare Cinema (2018)

Nightmare Cinema

Director: Mick Garris, Alejandro Brugués, Joe Dante, Ryuhei Kitamura, David Slade

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Eric Nelsen, Sara Elizabeth Withers, Zarah Mahler, Mark Grossman, Richard Chamberlain, Maurice Benard, Elizabeth Reaser, Adam Godley, Orson Chaplin, Faly Rakotohavana

Are you ready to enter the world of The Projectionist in the old Rialto Theatre? This Nightmare Cinema brings 5 complete strangers where their darkest fears are the focal point of the story on screen. This anthology features five decent lengths short stories pieces that each have their homage to a nice variety of horror genres but adds in their own twist to make it more modernized or more entertaining or even more intense.

Nightmare Cinema

The opening segment takes no time to introduce us we follow a young girl into the theatre where she sees a movie with her name as the main feature called “The Thing in the Woods”. Directed by Alejandro Brugués, an Argentinian director known for his work in Juan of the Dead and The ABCs of Death 2 segment, this segment pays tribute to the 80s slashers that many still love. As with many slashers, there is a campiness to it as well as a dark humor that surrounds it with both great effects and well-timed moments. Probably the least serious and frightening of the five tales but also a great way to start off this anthology especially with this genre being one of the most popular in the horror subgenres. There is an artistry to the way it is filmed and even the way the story is written with a fantastic twist which honestly is what makes it stand out.

The second segment follows with “Mirari”, directed by the ever so renowned Joe Dante as he takes the audience to the horrors of plastic surgery and boy, do things go horrifyingly bad. While the story does keep you guessing for most of the film, it is the one that feels more mysterious and suspenseful because of the premise. It plays on the obvious expectations that the audience will have, knowing that there is no way that this plastic surgery won’t go wrong. What keeps the audience under the wraps is when it becomes apparent that the people around our victim all become rather sinister.

Nightmare Cinema

The third segment “Mashit”, directed by Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura, known for The Midnight Meat Train among many films, enters the world of a Catholic school and possession. Its bloody and eerie. Some scenes brings up memories of The Exorcist if it was done in this day and age with some outstanding effects that will send a chill down your spine. There are a lot of elements that work here including creepy children and scary makeup. The best part here is the use of light with the hallways covered in sinister colors and then adding in this gloomy backdrop that highlights the bloody parts. However, some parts do get a little overboard and ticks those over the top boxes a little too much.

The penultimate segment is directed by David Slade, the man behind the disturbing indie film, Hard Candy as he presents “This Way To Egress”. Not surprising to see that this story follows a mother of two who visits a psychiatrist office who believes she is going crazy. Her world falls into this ugly reality. This is helped by the stylish black and white feature especially making it more psychologically disturbing as you wonder whether the world are full of monsters or her mind is turning everything into monsters. It straddles the line of truth and fiction while tackling some serious subjects as her story unfolds. While it never quite hits the disturbing levels of Hard Candy, This Way to Egress does pack an effective punch and amps up on the tension as we near the end of this anthology. Nightmare Cinema

The final segment “Dead” along with the intermission segments with The Projectionist is directed by Mick Garris. A great finale to wrap up the anthology as it takes a look at some The Sixth Sense area where a young boy wakes up from being dead for essentially 17 minutes to realize that he can see the lost souls. There is much more to the story than that but the dead are all creepy. There is a great amount of tension arising from the circumstance that he is put in. Dead ends the anthology packing quite the punch. However, the films merit is in creating this character, The Projectionist, portrayed by Mickey Rourke who is a mysterious fellow as we see him more and more in the intermissions between segments as he hints towards what this Nightmare Cinema is all about and well, the final scene shows that there is potential for these stories to just keep on going.

As with any horror anthology, it is about the sum of its parts as much as it is about the big picture. Each of the five stories here pack in some homage to a certain genre and boast the talent of the director and their artistry. Both the cinematography and the atmosphere is top of the line. The soundtrack also builds the mood and tension for each of these scenarios. Even when the story feels like it takes it a little too far or gets a little silly, these elements pulls it back into place. The structure of the horror anthology though is where it stands out because it goes from something more comedic like The Thing in the Woods and builds up both the seriousness and the intensity so that when you reach the final segment Dead, it is pretty much an intense segment from start to finish. With the vast amount of horror subgenres here, there is bound to be something for every horror fan.

Review also posted to That Moment In

Halloween Marathon: 30 Days of Night (2007)

If you don’t already know, I’m a huge vampire fan. I love vampires to bits, except for Twilight series.  I watch everything else pretty much.  This was somewhat of a spontaneous buy when I felt that I wanted to add a vampire flick in and bought 30 Days of Night from the bargain bin. I’m not familiar with what this is about but the synopsis on the box seemed interesting enough.  To my surprise, David Slade, director of Hard Candy, is also the director of this one.

30 days of night posterDirector: David Slade

Cast: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster, Mark Boone Junior, Mark Rendall

In Alaska, there is one month where everyone lives in complete darkness.  Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) is preparing to go into that month, when killings are found right before they plunge into darkness.  The town is suddenly cut off of power and they find that they are now hunted by species that want their blood (aka vampires).  They thrive on the darkness that surrounds them and Eben with his younger brother Jake (Mark Rendall), separated wife Stella (Melissa George) and a small group of survivors must find a way to survive through the 30 days.

I like horror thrillers and I like vampires.  I also even like the actress Melissa George.  30 Days of Night is a fun flick.  There’s really nothing deep about it and most of it is pretty predictable. Maybe its because I was pretty much brain dead by the time I turned this on but it was pretty good.  The vampires was different in appearance and they looked really creepy.  They looked downright evil and they portrayed them speaking in a foreign/unknown language.  Interesting for sure.  This was adapted from a graphic novel (that I haven’t read) so it had its decent load of blood and gore.

30 Days of Night movie image Josh Hartnett and Melissa George

I’m not big on darkness so when movies focus on putting their setting in dark areas, I feel the horror in itself already. This town is covered in snow so I think the reality of it is that snow does reflect and has this nice hue and the camera kind of captured that.  I felt the movie was shot well.  There was one particular scene that I really enjoyed when it did this bird’s view over top and scanned the area while stuff was going on down in the town.  That was a pretty awesome scene.

30 days of night 2

Its been a few days since I’ve seen 30 Days of Night.  Nothing really is in my mind except a jumble of numbers ( I work with numbers).  I just remember a few scenes that I really liked.  There was some blood, some thrills, and some lengthy predictable parts.  An average horror thriller, but one that I enjoyed enough 🙂 At least the vampires are done really well.  That already works for me quite well.  The DVD box said that this was the scariest vampire movie or something, its not, ok? Stop false advertising, please.  That all that really bothered me.  I try to keep my expectations at a minimum whenever I go into anything that I haven’t heard of prior.

Are you into vampire movies? Which is your fave? Have you seen this one before?  Did you ever read the graphic novel this was based on?

Halloween Marathon: Hard Candy (2005)

Hard Candy is one of those thriller flicks that I’ve been meaning to watch.  I was going to a few weeks ago on Netflix and then there were sound problems that never got resolved (I checked back a few times).  So, after my review on The Loved Ones (click HERE if you haven’t read it) invoked this huge comment from Gary at With a Friend Like Gary, he told me that one that is done a whole lot better is Hard Candy.  With that said, I ran out and found a copy of it over the weekend and finally popped it in my laptop the night before and finished it yesterday evening.  Lets check it out!

hard candy posterDirector: David Slade

Cast: Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson, Sandra Oh

After weeks of chat, a 14 year old teenager Hayley (Ellen Page) agrees to meet Jeff Patrick Wilson), a photographer in his 30s for coffee.  Coffee turns into a visit to Jeff’s place which spirals out of control.  Soon, Hayley is in control of the situation as tries to make Jeff admit to her suspicions of him being a pedophile and connected to the recent disappearance of a young girl with in her own way.

**I’m not sure how many people have seen this even though its been released since 2005. However, just in case, I tried to keep the synopsis as spoiler free as possible.  I don’t know how to do better than that.  However, if you do intend to see this, I suggest you just skip the reviews and watch it with a clear mind.  You’ll enjoy it even more, I promise! Plus, its a spoiler alert in case my write up actually reveals more than you want to know.**

Hard Candy

Hard Candy is one of those psychological thrillers that makes the audience finish and still be thinking and it just lingers for a while in our thoughts.  It soaks in a little and then I just went WOW! Its a controversial movie but thats also what makes it thought provoking.  I don’t do it often, but I turned on the special features and started listening to the mindset behind the writer, producer and director.  Hard Candy is engrossing and at various parts, hits a disturbing messed up level but in this quiet crazy way.

hard candy ellen page 2

There is just so much great to talk about in this movie.  The cast was perfect.  I personally love Ellen Page a lot.  I loved her as Juno and after seeing this, I’m convinced that she can do any role.  Hayley is the character that subconsciously and eventually consciously controls the situation. As much as the dialogue was very well-written, it was enhanced by the close up shots that brought out their emotions during silence.  They acted with their body language and emoted with their eyes.  The tone of the voice depending on the context and it was a lot of between the lines even as Hayley was talking to Jeff.

hard candy patrick wilson

Now, talking about Patrick Wilson as Jeff, is actually pretty impressive.  I’m sure if I saw it in 2005 when his only previous role was Phantom of the Opera as the dull and boring Raoul, this would’ve been even more impressive.  Jeff is also a really tough role to play because as much as the roles seem clear between Hayley and Jeff, there are moments where they aren’t and thats when Patrick Wilson has to do a Jeff that at times, the audience will sympathize for him but at other times, wonder if there is that possibility that he is a child predator.

hard candy ellen patrick

Aside from amazing performances, I’d have to say that I really liked the use of silence and sound. Its the little details that the director paid attention to that brings out the suspense even more.  The colors and lighting that they use also creates a good atmosphere.  There was a really good balance in everything.  However, there was one thing that bothered me a little in the beginning and that was the camera shots.  I understood eventually it was probably to enhance the feeling of chaos as to move it uncontrollably at times when there was conflict but the first time that happened, it was a bit dizzy to look at.

I can talk all day about how great the movie is but if you haven’t seen it, its really awesome! Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson are amazing as the lead characters.  The story is well-written and the dialogue draws you in.  The suspense grows as you watch every minute as you start wondering who to trust, if this is right or wrong, and at times, it hits the mentally disturbing part.  Its a thought provoking thriller and you’ll probably spend some time digesting the content as I am while I’m writing this up.  Still, Hard Candy is an amazing movie and I urge each of you to watch it if you haven’t already.

I’d also like to send out a huge thanks to Gary for giving me the final push to see Hard Candy! Head on over to check out his blog.  I put the link on the top with his name 🙂