Double Feature: Submerged (2016) & Eden Lake (2008)

Welcome to today’s double feature!

I’m trying out to have these themed double features every once in a while when I can. This time, we’re pairing two indie horror thrillers. The first I had never really heard anything of before and honestly watched it as a filler one night when I was working on other things and Eden Lake was one I had both recommendations and dislikes of it which has me intrigued as to how I would feel about it.

Submerged (2016)

Submerged

Director: Steven C. Miller

Cast: Jonathan Bennett, Talulah Riley, Rosa Salazar, Samuel Hunt, Cody Christian, Giles Matthey, Denzel Whitaker, Willa Ford, Mario Van Peebles

A young woman and her friends, who’ve been targeted by kidnappers, must do everything they can to survive after their limo is forced off the road and plunged into a canal. – IMDB

*sigh* I honestly don’t know how to write up this review right now. There is no extent of how indifferent I feel about Submerged. Its clear to say that at some point,  particularly the male lead of Mean Girls that Jonathan Bennett had a lovely peak in his career. Then he did some odd roles in other teen comedies like Love Wrecked (review) with Amanda Bynes for example, then he ended up with some Hallmark films like A Christmas Kiss II (review) & A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale (review). Its been a staple of my last two years of Christmas marathon, however as generic as those two were, they were never disappointing. Finally, we see Jonathan Bennett in a thriller so I was down to give it a chance and well, guess what, this one was disappointing. I can’t say that his character was disappointing but rather the thriller itself was not incredibly standout. The ending itself felt like it was out of nowhere a little and didn’t quite fit into the story as it was really to give the twist. Maybe there were hints along the way, but then it doesn’t give me that particular motivation to go rewatch it either.

Submerged

The story sets up itself in the trapped in the car concept, which is a good premise since we don’t seem to have a lot of substance to those parts. And then it alternates between the past to what leads to it. Fact is, the characters here doesn’t quite give us anyone to cheer for. Jonathan Bennett’s character has a little bit of development and back story however, at some point, it seems to want the viewers to believe in who is involved and then turn it around at the ending. As I mentioned, the twist is out of nowhere but then, somehow the lack of interest from the start to that point just wasn’t engaging enough to care about it.

Overall, Submerged is yet another disappointing thriller that takes a rather formulaic approach for a not too frequently used premise and yet never gives us engaging characters to make the out of nowhere final twist feel worth it.

Eden Lake (2008)

 

eden lake

Director (and writer): James Watkins

Cast: Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender, Jack O’Connell, Jumayn Hunter, Thomas Turgoose, James Burrows

Refusing to let anything spoil their romantic weekend break, a young couple confront a gang of loutish youths with terrifyingly brutal consequences. – IMDB

Eden Lake is one of those films that are a little harder to review. Its one of the earlier Michael Fassbender films before he has the fame nowadays. In this horror thriller, it takes a slow beginning but ends up picking up the pace quite a bit as the story takes a turn for the worse with menacing kids lead by a kid who craves the violence. Him and his crew of other teens start chasing this couple down who first starts off with stealing their car and ends up chasing them and causing his dog to die, turning into something vengeful. The story does take many turns from bad to worse to completely intense. To be fair, Michael Fassbender’s character does play more of a supporting character role as Kelly Reilly takes on something of a stronger woman here as she tries to make her escape. In one way, I didn’t feel quite as immersed in the beginning however as the disturbing characters and events starting happening in quicker frequency, it definitely had me on the edge of my seat hoping that Kelly Reilly’s character would get out.

eden lake

On the other hand, while I do agree that the villainous teen leader, Brett definitely was convincing in his extremities that started out quite vengeful, it is also quite a terrifying thought as the days went by after I saw Eden Lake. Perhaps that is the terror here is that a vacation going array can be in this sort of everyday sort of situation. Kids are meant to be portrayed in horror/thrillers as innocent, defenseless or even annoying in some cases, however, these kids are out of the ordinary and we never quite get a reason why Brett acts that way throughout but we do see that the idea of peer pressure and wanting to belong in this alpha group makes these other kids who are doing things they don’t particularly want to out of fear. Its one of those movies that do have quite a lot of thought behind a normal survival horror story set in the middle of nowhere on vacation. And as I think about it more, the more I feel that it worked very well.

Overall, Eden Lake is a rather slow burn tension building horror thriller. For both the setting and the increasing extreme moments here, it sets a very psychological survival and escape experience that might start off feeling like not so much but definitely ends up being more than that in leaps and bounds. As an ending note, I’m not too sure how I feel about the ending but its one those things where you either like it or you don’t.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen Submerged and/or Eden Lake? Thoughts?

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Book Blitz: Screams You Hear by James Morris (Giveaway Included)

Screams You Hear

Screams You Hear
By James Morris

Check out my review here.

Screams You Hear

Genre: Horror/YA
Publication Date: January 8, 2018

Book Blurb

Murder and madness infect a small town.

For sixteen-year-old Ruthie Stroud, life on tiny Hemlock Island in the Pacific Northwest is an endless sea of boring green, in a place where everybody knows everybody’s business and nothing ever happens. Then her world is ripped apart when her parents divorce and a new man enters her mother’s life. But worse is yet to come.

When she drifts ashore on the mainland, hideously burned, Ruthie has a harrowing tale to tell. It begins with the murder of a family. It ends with her being the sole survivor of a cataclysm that sweeps her little island. As a detective attempts to unravel Ruthie’s story of murder and madness, only one horrifying conclusion can be drawn: whatever was isolated on remote Hemlock Island may now have come to the mainland. Is Ruthie safe? Is anyone?

Goodreads

Excerpt:
Chapter 1

I wake to pain, pain beyond comprehension, my skin on fire, only to find myself in a hospital bed, my arms bandaged, and wires snaking into machines. The burns are covered in white gauze and every motion, no matter how small, sends my nerves screaming. The air is heavy against my skin. And that smell. I can still smell the bitterness of my singed hair. I feel my head, expecting strands of hair, thick and wavy, but it’s gone. There are only splotches of emptiness, a topography of touch that alarms me. I wonder if it will ever grow back.

Tendrils of anxiety course through me, pulsing steadily. I need to wake up from whatever this is.

In spite of the pain, I caress my face and I have no eyebrows. Only stubble. No matter where I touch, my skin isn’t soft; it’s leather, a mask that rests too tightly against my skull. It’s like my skin is both expanding and contracting, pushing and pulling.

In the cyclone of terror, I remember. I remember everything.

I wish I didn’t. I wish it all away.

Around the room, there are no mirrors, and I know it’s no accident. It’s small comfort. I don’t want to see myself. I may never look in a mirror again. It’s only me and a bed, and colorful murals of elephants and giraffes on the wall, their cartoon smiles mocking me. I must be in the children’s wing, even though I’m sixteen. Next to me, an IV recedes into my vein. To my left is a button. It could be to call for assistance. Or to adjust the bed. But I think it’s something else. I think it’s for pain.

I could press it and disappear into numbness.

I could press it and just drift.

But there is something about pain. It’s the price of being alive.

The button is my litmus test.

I am stronger than my pain. I need to focus on something—anything. I need to distract myself.

I am not my pain.

I am Ruthie Stroud. I live at— wait—not anymore. I have a brother—no, not anymore.

I shut my eyes. I can’t shut them hard enough. Through the darkness, I still see fire. My world engulfed with flickering orange and reds. And the all-encompassing heat, heat beyond boiling, bordering on oblivion. Melting.

My last memory is coming ashore on the mainland, alone and fiercely tired. I didn’t walk, didn’t run. I moved, floating, held aloft by the most invisible of strings, my eyes on the horizon, people on the edges of my vision. Adults. I felt their gaze. The air was cool and moist and my skin so hot. Moving and moving; people staring. I hear them, words like police and 911 and oh my God. They surround me, a horde. They’re feral creatures, circling, their faces distorted. They are coming for me. I have no escape.

I scream and my world goes dark.

Ruthie?”

I open my eyes. A woman stands in the hospital room doorway. Her skin is the color of teak, her black hair pulled into a tight ponytail, and without a uniform, she’s clearly no nurse. I look down her button-down shirt and a badge is attached to her belt, a gun holstered at her side.

She says, not unkindly, “I’m Detective Perez from the Washington State Police.”

I knew the cops would get involved, even though they’re late. Far too late.

She waits for me to invite her in. “May I?”

I nod and my skin crinkles and cracks. She enters, pulling a chair beside my bed and sits down. Her brown eyes rest on me and then dart away. She can’t bear to look. I must seem a monster. She asks, “How are you feeling?”

I don’t know how to answer that question.

I’m sorry,” she says.

Down the hall, I hear a child scream. From surgery or fear, I don’t know. I think fight the pain, fight the pain.

She speaks to me in soothing tones. “I need to ask you a few questions. About what happened. Can you talk?”

My mouth is dry, my throat sore, my vocal chords thrashed. I’d forgotten how much I screamed. I feel my skin wrinkle into deep crevices as I move my jaw, and it’s an effort to form words. Even my tongue feels burned; this strange muscle in my mouth. “Is my dad coming?”

He’s on his way.” We share a bit of silence and I stare at the woman she is, the beautiful woman I will never be, and she says, “I’d like to start at the beginning. And if there’s ever a point where you need to stop, just let me know, okay?”

There’s just one thing,” and I clear my throat. I force her to find my eyes. To see. To look. To understand.

What’s that?”

Don’t judge me,” I tell her. “I did what I had to.”

Purchase on Amazon

About the Author

James Morris

James Morris is a television writer who now works in digital media. He is the author of the young adult thriller What Lies Within, the dystopian love story Melophobia, the young adult suspense Feel Me Fall, and the young adult horror Screams You Hear. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching ‘House Hunters Renovation’, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles. Catch him at jamesmorriswriter.com.

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GIVEAWAY:
1 PRINT COPY OF SCREAMS YOU HEAR

Link

Book Blitz Organized by:

Screams You Hear by James Morris

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

Screams You Hear
by James Morris

Screams You Hear

For sixteen-year-old Ruthie Stroud, life on tiny Hemlock Island in the Pacific Northwest is an endless sea of boring green, in a place where everybody knows everybody’s business and nothing ever happens. Then her world is ripped apart when her parents divorce and a new man enters her mother’s life. But worse is yet to come.

When she drifts ashore on the mainland, hideously burned, Ruthie has a harrowing tale to tell. It begins with the murder of a family. It ends with her being the sole survivor of a cataclysm that sweeps her little island. As a detective attempts to unravel Ruthie’s story of murder and madness, only one horrifying conclusion can be drawn: whatever was isolated on remote Hemlock Island may now have come to the mainland. Is Ruthie safe? Is anyone? – Goodreads

Screams You Hear is something of a deceptive experience. Its starts off perfectly harmless, not the premise per se but rather that it reminded me of a few ideas from this and that from movies and books but as the story progresses, it manages to make its small group of teens very personable while intermittently putting in the now as we see the main character, Ruthie talks about a bit of how she feels now after all the events she has been through to the officer listening to her. Perhaps the only downfall was not being able to create the uniqueness in the beginning to keep me quite as captured as I was once the story really got rolling however, it might also be deliberate to let our guards down so the shocking turnouts as the story progressed would be more unpredictable.

James Morris creates some incredible characters here, much like watching a horror film with the normal group of teens from the nerds to the jocks. There will be characters that you want to cheer for and others that you don’t as much.  However, what makes for some great thrills is the setting on a quarantined island and the detailed descriptions of each scenario which truly can build the tense and creeping atmosphere while building up the picture of the horrifying situations with our own imagination. There is a fine line between being overly descriptive and the right amount of description situation for whichever genre and story that is being told. The author here definitely has found a nice balance.

Being that this one is a thriller, its hard to dive very deeply into the story itself in fear of ruining the twists that this book has to offer. However, in terms of the premise itself, it had quite a few nice traits to it. For one, it had something of a survival element which gave the young characters room to grow. It allowed us to look deeper into the survivor’s outlook after the quarantine. It had some zombie movie elements, which gave me flashbacks of stories like Train to Busan, where they saw the town go to hell and had to use their own observations to slowly piece together what these new-formed enemies were capable of and how they could strategize to escape. As the characters looked over the shoulders, we were also scared for their lives especially since we knew that our main character is the only one who pretty much makes it out and wonders how the others had their demise.

Thrillers are hard to put together. However, James Morris does a great job here. Overall, Screams You Hear has a lot of great elements. The beginning starts off a little familiar and it does seem like the book has some scattered parts that do remind me of other horror films I’ve seen, however, his skillful writing particularly in the descriptions and pacing does help build atmosphere and the characters while giving us just enough to picture each dangerous scene one after another. Nothing is more powerful than our imagination and he does a great job and making sure that our minds are racing with every decision and plot twist that Screams You Hear throws at us. Consider me thrilled! Highly recommend!

Book received by:

Movies and Tea #3 – Event Horizon

Elwood and I head in to the 3rd movie of Paul W.S. Anderson’s career, Event Horizon.

Event Horizon might not have grabbed its audiences when it was first released but it sure has gathered quite a cult following since then. Probably the movie that inspired us to dive into this director’s career as we look at how Event Horizon stands for ourselves and so much more.

Head over to Movies and Tea Podcast to check it out!

Movies and Tea

Having finally achived commercial sucess with the release of Mortal Kombat Paul W.S. Anderson turned down the chance of directing the ill-advised sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation along with offers to direct the first X-Men movie. Instead Anderson choose the option to make an R-rated horror instead.

Unquestionably a risky move on Anderson’s part and ultimatly a vision which would feel the wrath of the censors sheers when his initial cut recived the kiss of death NC-17 Rating from the MPAA.

The film itself equal parts blue collar sci-fi and homage to his favourite horror films as a rescue crew uncover the secrets of this intersteller marie celeste of the title. The film intitally bombed at the box office only to find a significant cult following since its release especially as critics and audience have returned to re-evaluate Anderson’s filmography.

Continuing our own season long re-evaluation of Anderson’s filmography on this…

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Double Feature: Mayhem (2017) & Newness (2017)

Double feature time!

Can I just say how excited I am to talk about these two movies? By far, the most excited I’ve felt in a while. I might actually discuss Newness and films of that sort in a video, once that initial video gets edited…

Let’s just get right to it then!

Mayhem (2017)

Mayhem

Director: Joe Lynch

Cast: Steven Yeun, Samara Weaving, Steven Brand, Caroline Chikezie, Kerry Fox, Dallas Roberts, Mark Frost, André Eriksen

A virus spreads through an office complex causing white collar workers to act out their worst impulses. – IMDB

Over the top violence is what Mayhem is all about. Its extreme and over the top and every bit of it is just all kinds of fun. It goes way out of control. Its makes us wonder how much people repress their feelings at work and just how a virus like this would just be absolutely nuts. For what the film wants to achieve, it definitely seems like they got there.

mayhem 2017

Their two leads played by Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving are incredibly awesome. Just because they each had their own objective and eventually also grew to trust each other despite the virus in their systems. Plus to find their emotions amplified without any barriers gave them their own credibility. The best comparison I had when I was watching this captivated was the movie was structured like The Raid, where they started at the bottom floor and worked their way to the protected yet infected shareholders at the top to get what they deserved. Except this was much more comedic. This gave them the opportunity to defeat one person or barrier after the next and many times it was playing on events that happened at the beginning of the movie before everyone’s virus started kicking in. Mayhem may have its predictable bits that a story like usually has but the non stop action and crazy spiral of events makes it hard to turn away from. Its entertainment at its very best.

Overall, Mayhem is a definite worthy watch if you are into this type of bloody and violent horror comedy. Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving are great as the leads but that doesn’t take away from the myriad of supporting character they need to get through that represent the exaggerated roles in the company as they move up the corporate ladder.

Newness (2017)

Newness

Director: Drake Doremus

Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Laia Costa, Danny Huston, Courtney Eaton, Matthew Gray Gubler, Pom Klementieff

In contemporary Los Angeles, two millennials navigating a social media-driven hookup culture begin a relationship that pushes both emotional and physical boundaries. – IMDB

I love movies like these ones and Drake Doremus seems to have hit a winner with this one, especially when compared to the previous movie of his that I reviewed called Equals (review). With Newness, it takes us on a journey through the relationship of millenials trapped in the world of online dating. Perhaps this story might not hit the chords for a lot of people on every level but at some level, it will highlight its rawness and realness of relationships whether it be the struggle to communicate and be open about their feelings or whether its about knowing whether you have crossed the line from liking to loving someone and perhaps for some, its learning when you are willing to settle down instead of always searching for what this movie is called, Newness. I personally have a soft spot for this type of movie topic, especially when it rides the border of being in the steamy romance category while still delivering a deeper message.

newness

While I do enjoy a lot of the films that Nicholas Hoult has been a part of, I can’t say I’m a big fan of his acting. However, in Newness, it feels like he grasped the role in such a believable way. In fact, I’d go to the extent to say to date, its my favorite role of his. It helps in romance movies that the actress is also doing a fantastic job in portraying her role. Laia Costa literally stole the show. She felt real and we watched Marty and Gabi grow on screen and find ways for their relationship to work and create a balance for their desires and struggles but still remain together. Their characters weren’t perfect. They made mistakes and had to get through it together. Fact is, it made them real and genuine. They were also paired up with some great supporting roles. Gabi meets this rich divorced man called Larry, played by Danny Huston who wakes her up a little on his perspective of relationships. While Marty has talks with his best friend, Paul who shares a lot of insight on his thoughts on relationships. Different characters at different stages in life giving their own perspective on relationships as these two tried to work out their own was what it needed.

Newness probably isn’t for everybody. It deserves a bit of an open mind on this subject and probably a more forgiving view on the trial and errors of the path the two main characters take. Romance films have been pretty lackluster of late but Newness is definitely one of my new favorites. In my mind, Newness is about the bumpy road in relationships and finding the same pacing as your other half until you reach the same page. People change as they go through the different things in their own lives and the people they meet and we don’t all have a defined road map of how to navigate relationships, love and all the feelings that go in between. Newness may be about millenials (which I apparently am considered) but it delivers a much deeper aspect of relationships, much less about the events but what these decisions did for the characters to allow them to develop. I love a great story with fantastic character development and Newness had all of that.

On a side note: Its peaked my interest on Drake Doremus’ directorial efforts to take a look as it seems on a quick glance that he has a love for making romantic films of all kinds.

Double Feature: Bug (2006) & You Get Me (2017)

 Another double feature here today! Tax season makes for a lot of background film watching. Gotta get something positive from the boring tax preparation, right? 😉

Two odd and random choices for myself since these two are two films that I wasn’t particularly completely invested in which was great for the criteria of being a background film. The first is 2006’s psychological thriller Bug with one of the debut roles of Michael Shannon played alongside Ashley Judd. Followed up by Netflix Original You Get Me starring Bella Thorne in a role outside of her normal bitchy high school girl, which is replaced by an obsessive character. I guess in some psychological way, these two do have something in common.

Let’s check it out!

Bug (2006)

bug

Director: William Friedkin

Cast: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Harry Connick Jr., Lynn Collins, Brian F. O’Byrne

An unhinged war veteran holes up with a lonely woman in a spooky Oklahoma motel room. The line between reality and delusion is blurred as they discover a bug infestation. – IMDB

Where do I even start with Bug? In a completely spontaneous viewing, I checked out Bug on Shudder. What started out with something of generic story of a lady, played by Ashley Judd, hiding away from her ex,, played by Harry Connick Jr.  after he was released from prison and meets a stranger, played by Michael Shannon who she ends up falling in love with. Its easy to chalk this movie away in its opening moments but as the plot thickens once we start see the relationship between Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon gets deeper, it gets so much more thrilling than the threat of Harry Connick Jr’s character showing up. Although, I do have to say that I thought Harry Connick Jr did such a great job at being the ex. I’ve only seen him in some romantic drama with Sandra Bullock. I think it was Hope Floats (review).

The question here really lies in whether you believe Michael Shannon’s character and the conspiracy theory that he believes in…or is it the reality? The movie does a great job as his crazy actions expand to where Ashley Judd’s character believes it also. As they get more unhinged, the blur in reality and delusion (as mentioned in the summary above) is the key element of the psychological thriller and its executed in a pretty competent way. Right up to the end, even when some extra characters come into the scene, it proves the theory and then denies it and its just a crazy trip you take with these characters. Whatever you want to make of the ending will depend on how you would analyze the whole thing and get out of the movies.

Props here goes to both the wonderful cast here. It always baffles me how underrated Michael Shannon is because in every role I’ve seen him in, he just does a great job. Convincing and believeable role. The story is thrilling and full of questions and as these questions bug these characters, we are wondering what is the same thing and the reality and delusion. The more I think about it, the more I want to watch it again and see if I can pick up something else.

You Get Me (2017)

you get me

Director: Brent Bonacorso

Cast: Taylor John Smith, Bella Thorne, Halston Sage, Nash Grier, Anna Akana

Tyler’s crazy in love with his perfect girlfriend Ali, but when a big fight makes him and Ali break up, he lands in the arms of sexy out-of-towner Holly who shows him a night he’s gonna remember. The next morning he finds that not only is Ali taking him back, but Holly is a new student at their school and is dead set on her new man. – IMDB

I’m definitely in a 50/50 feeling for this one. I guess it explains how I’ve never been more certain about giving this one a 2.5/5 on Letterboxd. You  Get Me isn’t particularly innovative. It leans into a lot of predictable territory. However, the execution isn’t all bad. They do some nice shots and a good progression from some sweet moments in the beginning that spirals more and more out of control. I’d have to say that a lot of the greatness in this movie is that to date (from what I’ve seen, haven’t seen The Babysitter yet), I feel like Bella Thorne delivers one of her best performances. She’s always been a fairly one dimensional actress where she is the bitchy self-centred teenage girl role. This time, she dumps the bitchy and brings in the crazy and man, she definitely delivers it.

Sure, You Get Me never really hits the dangerous levels because it doesn’t seem like it would step into something so extreme, even though Netflix Originals usually do get some extreme if they wanted. There are some nice sexy scenes. Other than Bella Thorne standing out and Taylor John Smith being okay as the male lead since he is a decently attractive dude, I wasn’t too on board with the monologues he did. It felt so unnecessary and preachy about life and whatever. It wasn’t his acting that bothered me but just the script for that part. It was trying too hard to be deeper than the movie actually was. There are some thrilling moments but unfortunately, its one that is easy to watch and had a few tense moments but still never reaches the potential it could have reached as it didn’t break out of the predictable territory.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen Bug and/or You Get Me?

Double Feature: Seoul Station (2016) & Audition (1999)

Welcome to a Friday edition of Double Feature!

My initial plan at the beginning of the year was that Fridays would be for sharing my dive into Asian cinema (more particularly Hong Kong films) but hey, I’m a fan of all kinds of movies so as I ease back into the Asian cinema world, I’m heading into another Shudder double feature with Audition (1999) recommended to me by my fantastic co-host Elwood and the prequel of one of my favorite zombie movies, Seoul Station. Japanese and Korean double feature. This one is all kinds of different tags for why it works as a double feature already.

I’ve heard good stuff for both of these movies so I’m excited to check them out!

Seoul Station (2016)

seoul station

Director (and writer): Sang-ho Yeon

Voice Cast: Ryu Seung-ryong, Shim Eun-kyung, Lee Joon

Several groups of people try to survive a zombie pandemic that unleashes itself in downtown Seoul. – IMDB

With the massive success of Train to Busan (review), its hard to pass up the prequel that started the story. Seoul Station takes us back to where it all started pretty much. Although, who did bite the poor homeless man? We never will know how it started but Seoul Station focuses on a few people whose lives are intertwined and are escaping for their lives as the people around them are infested and attack the people around them. These clueless characters learn about what the zombies are capable of and that well, they are actually the undead. Seoul Station has its good and bad. Is it quite as good as Train to Busan? No, its pretty far from the tension and the story pacing and characters. However, that isn’t saying that its a particularly bad animated prequel. It does a good job to set the stage of what its successor can go from and builds an understanding of how the zombies in this world work. Of course, there’s still a lot more to learn in Train to Busan as movies like to make zombies evolve.

Seoul Station doesn’t have quite the exceptional characters to love. The main girl is made to be weak and whiny but somehow makes it through a lot of close calls. Her boyfriend that is on a separate area as they track each other time to meet up is pretty useless as well and makes a lot of bad calls and doesn’t have the guts. However, he is paired up with an older man who is tough as nails. There’s a whole story behind this and that leads up to the plot twist at the end. The story is somewhat generic but the twist was a surprise although the final twist was quite predictable. Where I find it excels is in its art. The movement and speed of the zombies have this blur behind it which is a lovely touch added in to make something of a motion blur and that works wonders for the aesthetics and effect. The areas and the zombie itself are creepy to look at. The tone of the movie and the backdrop here are done incredibly well also.

Overall, Seoul Station might not offer a unique zombie story and has its surprises and some rather predictable moments. However, it delivers on its art and visuals in this animated feature. Not quite as memorable as its successor but still worth a watch to lay the foundation for the next film.

Audition (1999)

Audition

Director: Takashi Miike

Cast: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura, Renji Ishibashi, Miyuki Matsuda

A widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all. – IMDB

In many ways, I can see how Audition is a great horror film. In fact, its quite the psychological journey. Messed up and what not the further you dive into the plot. In fact, the ending is so weird that it kind of goes through a confusing phase. I still can’t quit figure out what went on. As psychological as it all was, it was one of those situations that never felt right to begin with. Auditioning for girls for a role that fitted into what this widower wanted, not sure I’m okay with that since it feels pretty contrived and manipulative in the first place. Nothing good comes from that. Then the girl herself was really weird to begin with but apparently Aoyama (played by Ryo Ishibashi) saw something in her.

The story has many layers and to be fair, it works for the most part. I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of Audition. There are some solid atmosphere here and the pacing is fairly good. The cinematography and sound design is great in boosting the atmosphere. The star of the show probably did have to go to the girl here played by Eihi Shiina who was so creepy and mysterious. The final moments however kind of did it for me. What started out as psychological turned into this torture porn that turned my stomach a little and I’m usually not so easily disturbed by it. If that was the intention, it definitely achieved its goal but for myself, I felt like it didn’t fit in so well.

I can’t quite pinpoint what I felt let me down for Audition but it just didn’t feel like it ever reached the potential before heading in directions I wasn’t too fond of. I do acknowledge it has some great character and a lot of mystery and atmospheric horror. But something just didn’t work completely for myself.

That’s it for this Asian Horror double feature!
I anticipated watching both of these quite a bit but both of them let me down just a little.
I can definitely see their merit but it just wasn’t exactly for me particularly Audition.

Have you seen these two? Thoughts?