Double Feature: Dog Soldiers (2002) & Hell House LLC (2015)

Welcome to the next double feature! Something of a horror double feature as we start bouncing between Shudder and Netflix more (so more horror in the horizon..a lot more). The first to appear is a pairing of one movie that I’ve been wanting to watch the finally go on Shudder, Dog Soldiers and the second is a random choice by my husband, the first of three movies called Hell House LLC. Let’s check it out!

Dog Soldiers (2002)

Dog Soldiers

Director (and writer): Neil Marshall

Cast: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham, Thomas Lockyer, Darren Morfitt, Chris Robson, Leslie Simpson

A routine military exercise turns into a nightmare in the Scotland wilderness. – IMDB

Werewolf movies are rather hard to come by and its nice to see that here and there they do come up even if a lot of times, it sometimes still feels a bit lacking. Dog Soldiers has my praise for tackling this subgenre in horror films but at the same time, the movie itself is something of a slow-burn. It plays up on the unknown of who is hunting them and why this military team is at the location at the time and that takes a lot of time to build, probably longer than I’d have wanted.

There are some decent scenes and yet, while the script tries to give all the characters something more, its main players do dial down to 4 of the characters especially when they end up trapped in the house. The two military exercise leaders of sorts is Sean Pertwee’s character Sergeant Wells and Kevin McKidd’s character Private Cooper who takes over when Wells ends up injured rather seriously. The next two is a woman who lives in the area and knows of these odd events happening played by Emma Cleasby as a character of Megan who gives them a lot of the information as she saves them from the wilderness  while the last is a Captain who won’t talk about what happened but was involved in the last attack that killed his team pretty much.

Dog Soldiers itself has a decent premise. The story its trying to tell and the way they want to add in the twists and answer all those mysteries. Even some of the attack scenes and werewolf designs, despite its budget, still works alright. The biggest issue here dials down to execution where the first half seems to lag a little and when the reveal happens and things get serious (even though there were attack scenes and other scenes before that), it seems a little late in the game making the second half definitely stronger than the first.

Hell House LLC (2015)

Hell House LLC

Director (and writer): Stephen Cognetti

Cast: Gore Abrams, Alice Bahlke, Danny Bellini, Theodore Bouloukos, Jared Hacker, Ryan Jennifer Jones

Five years after an unexplained malfunction causes the death of 15 tour-goers and staff on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour, a documentary crew travels back to the scene of the tragedy to find out what really happened. – IMDB

Found footage films are always a somewhat interesting horror genre to see. They usually all reliant on the execution and finding how to create the right atmosphere. With Hell House LLC, its the first in what is now a 3 movie franchise. We’ll be looking at the other 2 later on as a double feature. This is an independent movie and yet somehow, found footage films are usually still very good with a smaller budget. This first movie does a great job in its execution and especially in using its cameras and background to have this lurking horror atmosphere. There are a few little jumpscares here and there but they are also very effective.

What does shine here is in the premise of looking back at this documentary that five crew members have joined together for their next haunted house tour in this abandoned hotel called Abaddon Hotel located in a small town . It shows the entire lead-up through the surveillance cameras and other filming cameras that document the whole making-of up to the night of the malfunction. It uses its lighting and darkness pretty well and also builds a decent lore with the story of the hotel and its previous hotel owner. It all makes sense but lacks enough information to keep it a mystery and how these characters one by one change in their own ways and it becomes a question of whether its because of the hotel and whatever seems to be haunting it or just the haunted house weighing down on them for other reasons. 

Overall, Hell House LLC is a strong found footage film. It has enough of a creepy factor and helps itself by having all these mysterious stories and how it brings in different horror elements in the background. There’s a change in the characters as well as the entire haunted house deal making it have a lot of opportunities to play with these suitable horror elements to appear amidst the haunted house props that also play well with the whole premise. Its one location makes Abaddon Hotel a worthy horror setting. Its definitely worth a watch if you  haven’t seen it yet!

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films?

Double Feature: The Marshes (2018) & Short Term 12 (2013)

Time for the next double feature! This time, its somewhat of an odd pairing as we quickly catch up on some movies

The Marshes (2018)

The Marshes

Director (and writer): Roger Scott

Cast: Dafna Kronental, Sam Delich, Matthew Cooper, Eddie Baroo

Deep in a remote marshland, three young biologists conduct research but when they encounter evil, science ends and survival begins. – IMDB

Australian horror films have definitely been more abundant in the last few years. The Marshes is an alright look into the survival horror in a remote area as it creates something of a legend that wanders this land that these three take as a campfire story in the first part as they stay longer in this area to conduct the research. However, there seems to be a lot of fluff in the beginning between the three at the start before any of the horror starts that makes it a little harder to first get into. However, once the horror does start, the setting allows for a good atmosphere to build. 

The wilderness, isolation and the outdoors marshlands is where The Marshes is at its most unique and most effective horror parts. It creates a lot of thrills as the cannibalistic threat hunts down the three biologists. There is a good amount of stealth and hiding and makes for some tension. Visually, the setting also is appealing along with some of the more gruesome death scenes are well executed as well. However, the characters themselves and the flow of events are fairly predictable. It lacks a bit of surprise and the characters and situation always feel slightly underdeveloped that its hard to truly care of the three characters as well. 

The Marshes is an okay horror thriller. It has its gruesome scenes and creates a human/monstrous threat which has its creepy elements. However, a lot of it feels like it falls flat whether because it follows some expected motions in horror films or simply that it takes a little long to introduce its threat and start the hiding. If anything, The Marshes does prove that marshlands are a great horror setting perhaps with a slightly better script. 

Short Term 12 (2013)

Short Term 12
Director (and writer): Destin Daniel Cretton

Cast: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Stephanie Beatriz, Rami Malek, Alex Calloway, Kevin Balmore, LaKeith Stanfield, Kaitlyn Dever

A 20-something supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend. – IMDB

Short Term 12 is a little indie hidden gem that shines out because of its cast of characters. While its central focal point is between two of the supervising staff members Grace and Mason, played by Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr respectively, as they embrace the next step in their life, the past troubles for Grace and her inability to talk about them ends up creating a wall in their relationship especially as her troubled past reveals itself slowly as she deals with a new teenager that lives at the facility, Jayden played by Kaitlyn Dever. 

There’s so much to love as Short Term 12 remembers to keep its story focused on its characters. While it can’t give stories for all its youths, it focuses on a few. As for the supervisors, it also gives a few characters that make for a fresh pair of eyes especially as Rami Malek is the new supervisor that enters this residential treatment facility and learns how to maneuver and find his purpose here. On the other hand, the more interesting story is the next youth that is getting ready to be released from the facility and transition back to the real world Marcus, played incredibly well by LaKeith Stanfield. Marcus might be somewhat of a supporting story here for the youths facing transition while on the other hand, another youth looks at his dependence on his objects that is taken away suddenly. 

Each of the stories for its youth as well as the connections to the supervisors shows both sides of the characters in this facility called Short Term 12. Adapted from a short film of the same name, this indie film definitely tells a great story with a good deal of character depth and development. Plus, a handful of the cast has gone a long way since their roles here: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., LaKeith Stanfield, Rami Malek. Short Term is a fantastic movie and well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yet. 

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films?

BITS 2019: Puppet Killer (2019)

BITS 2019 banner.jpg

Puppet Killer (2019)

Puppet Killer

Director: Lisa Ovies

Cast: Aleks Paunovic, Lee Majdoub, Lisa Durupt, Richard Harmon, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Kyle Cassie, Geoff Gustafson

While celebrating Christmas at a cabin in the woods, a group of high school students are stalked by a psychotic killer obsessed with horror movie icons. – IMDB

A lot of indie film concepts grow from wanting to make their own take while paying tribute to some great horror film that the team loves. In some ways, Puppet Killer is a film that like. Its script and scene choices put a lot of heart into having a killer that loves horror movies and is using them to execute and chase after this group of teenagers. We’ll be talking about the odd casting choices soon because that’s one of the head-scratchers here. Let’s not let the title mislead you though, Puppet Killer is the literal term that probably would have worked better as “Killer Puppet”, but it does somehow give it a little room for questioning whether the puppet was controlled by an actual human or not.

puppet Killer 2019

Just like creepy kids, puppets (or things in the same category like dolls) being alive can also be rather unnerving. As much as this is a horror comedy, there are some serious moments of tension and very effect atmosphere built up to make the scene pretty creepy. Its a bit crazy to think that a pink puppet that looks like The Muppets is scary because of its tiny size and its very catchy color but its the misleading elements of childhood and innocence that makes it even creepier to watch and not to mention the color contrast on screen that also gives it a lot of style. How the puppet moves and the way its revealed one step at a time to give it much more fleshed out kill scenes: all this is done with a lot of care and it all works very well.

Puppet Killer 2019

Now, we’re at the casting choice. While the acting itself is pretty decent, plus it has The 100‘s Richard Harmon in a supporting role and the Mexican-Canadian director & actress Gigi Saul Guerrero in a acting role, the casting choices are very odd as the characters themselves, especially the main character is a much older actor playing a teenager. There’s a whole inner debate of whether this was deliberate or its just working with what is available within the budget of this film. As much as that is a hurdle to get through in the school scenes at the beginning, the acting was done pretty well and along with the Puppet Killer executing the movie in a way that shifts over to the cabin in the woods rather quickly, its easy to gradually forget that this is a group of teenagers and when the horror hits, the whole set up and atmosphere places the initial “confusion” even more in the background.

Puppet Killer 2019

Puppet Killer is a fun little horror comedy romp. It has some well-executed scenes and definitely should appeal to those who can catch all its iconic horror movie moments. If you don’t, it might feel a little more random but as this film does build fairly good atmosphere, more and more so after its climax, its easy to overlook a few of its shortcomings. Plus, its an alternate Christmas movie choice and we can never have enough of those.

Puppet Killer has a screening in Blood in the Snow Festival on November 21st at 9:30pm. You can find more info HERE.

Game Warp Podcast: All the E3 Coverage!!

It just hit me that I actually hadn’t shared the Game Warp Podcast coverage!

These shows take a lot of energy and to edit and extends E3 for at least another week. Don’t get me wrong! I’m not complaining, just stating the fact. I already explained how it did cut into blogging time and I have to say that I am fairly recuperated from everything now. Also, if you want to get timely Game Warp Podcast videos, you can subscribe to the channel HERE! Help us out with growing the channel! There’s a ton of stuff there from playthroughs to impressions to demo/betas and event coverage and features.

Let’s just jump right into it!

Let’s start with the big shows as we take a look at the titles that were presented and some highlights of what we liked, didn’t like and frankly was a little disappointed with, when it applies.

E3 Impressions Part 1
EA, Xbox, Bethesda, Square Enix

E3 Impressions Part 2
Ubisoft, PC Gaming Show, Sony Playstation, Nintendo

For the next two shows, as per our tradition, we like to do our Top 10 Triple A Games and Top 10 Independent Games for this year’s E3.

That’s it for this E3’s coverage!
You can find the full coverage at That Moment In.

Netflix A-Z Double Feature: The Pill & Quartet

I know double features are a rarity in Netflix A-Z with the exception of Nymphomaniac Vol 1 & 2 ( review HERE). However, the season has been rather busy and I’ve been more obsessed with watching Gilmore Girls than actually watching movies. In fact, this one has a little cheating to it because the Q selection in general on Netflix is so tiny and I only wanted to watch something fun during the holiday season that I just decided to bring back the Q Selection.

Let’s start this.

The Pill (2011)

The Pill

Director and writer: J.C. Khoury

Cast: Noah Bean, Rachel Boston, Anna Chlumsky, Jean Brassard, Al Thompson, Dreama Walker

Worried that he has gotten the free-spirited Mindy pregnant after an unprotected one-night stand, Fred feigns romantic interest and sticks by her side for twelve hours to make sure she takes both doses of the morning-after pill. – IMDB

Its hard to pinpoint how I feel about The Pill. Its something I’ve been saying recently. Its more of an indifferent feeling that I have after watching it. While The Pill has a few rather nice moments, there is also something that lacks believability in it. Let’s break it down a little. For starters, Rachel Boston is fantastic as always as the free-spirited Mindy. Mindy is an intriguing character mostly because there’s a lot of color to her life as we learn about her during the day that she has to take her morning after pills in the company of Fred, played by Noah Bean. On the other hand, the issue I had more was that I didn’t think that Fred was a likable character. In fact, I wanted Mindy to see through his lies especially as he manipulated his way into staying with her during the day while the audience could easily see his intentions was only for his own protection to not have to deal with consequences. However, the story is more about him and his growth and recognition of what to do and what he wanted more than it was about Mindy. Perhaps this is where I think that the way it ended wasn’t necessary because it made the story feel much more generic than it may have been without that ending.

The Pill

There isn’t really much to talk about for The Pill. Its a rather straight forward story and somewhat predictable where its a boy meets girl, one night stand, a day together to get to know each other (probably more than expected from family party, etc.) and then he falls for her, she realizes what he’s been doing and he leaves and realizes how much of it was a mistake. A story like this can only be powered by charming characters and in reality, other than Mindy and at the start, the character felt a little off, Fred and especially his actual girlfriend Nelly was a little unbearable to watch. It helped as the movie went along that we saw Fred and his personality but it was hard to be sympathetic for him or feel like cheering him on. For me, The Pill just didn’t connect the way that it was intended.

Quartet (2012)

Quartet

Director: Dustin Hoffman

Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins

At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents. – IMDB

[Excerpts from review that I wrote in 2015. Full review HERE]

Quartet is a feel good movie under its little bits of drama, its mostly a comedy with some romantic nuances in it as well.  The older cast and location gives this a lovely little twist.  The setting itself is pretty nice.  This retirement home is located in a big elegant house and its interior design is really nice.  Its outside is surrounded by large green fields and forests. All this is paired with some dashing pieces of upbeat opera segments and orchestral music.  Its done with so much heart and charm that its hard to no like this even a little. Sure, its a little predictable.  I mean, it is a romantic comedy sort of thing but its a different feeling from what it usually is.

Quartet

The main cast here is with some rather colorful characters.  We have the two men: Reggie (played by Tom Courtenay) who has this silent gentlemanly charm to him while Billy Connolly’s character Wilf, is more open and straightforward with his words and actions.  At the same time, we have a lovable and forgetful Cissy, played by Pauline Collins, who can’t help but just make us laugh a little.  While Jean, is played by the remarkable Maggie Smith.  I loved her  in the Harry Potter movies and in Downton Abbey.  She always has to lovely little sarcasm and then a little elegance and in the most unexpected way a sweet and funny way at times.  She’s absolutely fantastic.  Here is no different.  In the retirement home, she breaks out of her little world that she’s used to and she sees these old folks, like Cissy learning these salsa dances which to her is completely crazy.  At the same time, this movie reminds us that love really has no age limit.  She acts exactly like a first date or feeling nervous about meeting an old love that we’ve never let go of.  But its about putting the past behind us and sometimes, stepping up and being more proud of who we are and embracing the person we’ve become. I think that is the main message here.

Netflix A-Z: Everything Before Us (2015)

I’m going to go on record right now to say that I’ve been looking forward to watch this since I first saw the trailer last year. Of course, things got busy and it kept slipping my mind to get this online to watch earlier but things always work out and it landed on Netflix! I’m not going to lie that this was part of the reason why Indie films was the theme for this round of A-Z. If you haven’t seen any videos of Wong Fu Productions, its probably because you haven’t been following me for that long. Or you just don’t care for it or you just missed the post. Whichever the reason is, I’m a huge fan of their short videos. My fave still goes out to this one that I did a post in my early days of blogging HERE.

Everything Before Us (2015)

Everything Before Us

Director: Wesley Chan & Philip Wang

Cast: Aaron Yoo, Brittany Ishibashi, Brandon Soo Hoo, Victoria Park, Randall Park, Ki Hong Lee, Chris Riedell, Joanna Sotomura, Katie Savoy

The Department of Emotional Integrity (DEI) documents all relationship activity. A ‘relationship score’ is given to keep people accountable for their choices. The score is public for all to see, and affects various aspects of daily life. Two couples, teenagers and early 30s, face different but intersecting challenges in their relationships within the rules of the DEI.-IMDB

 Everything Before Us takes an original take on love and relationships. Can you imagine if a Department of Emotional Integrity actually existed? Love wouldn’t be exactly love because now, an individual may force themselves to be happy in a relationship or stay in one to raise their score in order to keep a job or sustain a certain level of lifestyle. Its almost like the privileges of being a part of a club or being rich. Our relationships would affect our score and that score can affect getting a better job. Everything in a relationship and seeing a person is not about the person but they turn into a number. You can’t take risks and you are judged because of a number. The feelings would be overly calculated and maybe even coerced. Its on this foundation that we should start this review. Everything Before Us sets up a feasible system for us to view the parallel stories of a young couple about to experience a long distance relationship and a broken up couple that is reuniting to sort our their issues and ends up finding something more perhaps.

Everything Before Us

Everything Before Us may be an incredibly small film. Wong Fu Productions is kind of a big deal if you know about them. In my circle of friends, only a few do talk about their work. For me, I’ve been following them for a while so its amazing to see them make a film. They are really great at building meaningful and fun short films/snippets/scenarios and I’ve always wondered how it would turn out as a full feature. Everything Before Us is one that makes me want to see what they have planned in the future.

Like I said, its a small independent film and probably a lot of you haven’t heard of it before. But it does have some familiar faces. One of the more popular would be Aaron Yoo who has been in a lot of movies I adore like Disturbia and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. He does a fine job here as Ben. We follow his character for a lot of the movie as he suffers from the low EI score and has to figure all this out. Right next to him in  popularity would be Ki Hong Lee who has a smaller role as a teacher’s assistant is known recently for The Maze Runner movies. This role might a little empty as it felt slightly as a buffer role to just keep the story rolling. Also known to me was Brandon Soo Hoo who plays Seth, the boyfriend in the younger couple and I know him from Ender’s Game and the Netflix series From Dusk Till Dawn. I personally think Brandon Soo Hoo has some acting chops that needs to be refined over time but definitely the potential is there. And its obvious that he does a fine job here.

Everything Before Us

However, no romantic drama is about just one angle. Its how the couple do together. Brandon Soo Hoo’s Seth was opposite of Victoria Park’s Haley. Their young love is cute and fun but also deteriorates with lack of communication and distance and different goals. They took a risk bravely and never thought they would see their love end when they registered naively. However, they also demonstrate the true essence of how relationships should be. Its a chance and a risk. Its genuine and honest and its takes hard work to maintain. All of this is shown extremely well through the script and the characters themselves.

On the other hand, crossing their paths is the other couple who once used to be like them but not anymore and have moved on, Aaron Yoo’s Ben and Brittany Ishibashi’s Sara. The standout of this story goes to them. The story seems to focus on them a lot and maybe because they are closer to my age that I can relate more to where they are after separating and both trying hard to rebuild their lives and follow their own dreams and then having to face their past again. They have learned to control their feelings better and make better choices for the sake of their future in terms of their EI score but it is also an inner struggle for them. The way their relationship is shown is beautiful and bittersweet and filled with all sorts of memorable moments that tugs at our heartstrings a little.

Everything Before Us

In the end, nothing quite wraps up Everything Before Us like this quote in one of the last bits:

…you guys – try to make love easier. But you’re missing the whole point. It’s not supposed to be – – easy. It’s supposed to test you. Break you down and hurt like hell. And who you choose to go through that with – that’s whats really important.” -Ben (Aaron Yoo), Everything Before Us

Overall, Everything Before Us is a pretty great romantic drama bringing up a very good message on relationships and loved delivered with some charming characters that are real enough for us to relate to, whether its the younger couple jumping optimistically into a relationship or the adult couple healing and moving on from a relationship that meant a lot to them. While there are certain roles that felt slightly meaningless, there are other roles that help push the story forward in this meaningful and heartfelt story about two people, further enforcing that there is no risk management in the world of love and relationships.

Have you seen Everything Before Us?
Can you guess what movie is for F selection. Hint: Netflix Original Movie