Dave Wain’s essential breakdown of this week’s cavalcade of straight-to-disc treats. Step inside the DTV Junkyard…
Contrary to opinion, I’m not against the work carried out by DTV-orientated UK film distributors, who, despite my regular rants at the declining quality of their acquisitions, are I’m sure striving to release the best product they can. While I’m reliably quick to call out the misfires, it’s paramount to also shower praise upon those that deserve it, and gathering pace on the rails as a British distro to bow down to are the fine folk at Matchbox Films.
On a budget smaller than the majority of their contemporaries, this year has seen them pick up Chris Mitchell’s excellent The Pool, as well as critical darling Last Shift. Add to these the satisfyingly decent Clinger, Beast Within and I Survived a Zombie Holocaust, and in the space of six months they’ve added a tidy array of quality to a home that already includes such grade-A British indie’s like Stalled and Community.
Their latest release is another low-key acquisition that seems to have floated largely under the radar since its Mile High Horror Festival premiere late last year. EVEN LAMBS HAVE TEETH finds Sloane (Kirsten Prout) and Katie (Tiera Skovbye) heading to an Organic Farm for a few weeks during the summer to gain some work experience. With New York City a short bus journey away, it seems the perfect place to save a little cash, and hopefully sneak away to Big Apple on the weekend to spend their hard earned money. However, before they can put their cunning plan into practice, they inadvertently find themselves at the mercy of a small-town family of psychopaths.
It’s difficult to definitively place Terry Miles’ film in a specific genre. The opening fifteen or so minutes is riotously funny; Sloane is such a witty, sassy character, and with Katie as her straight-edge foil, this twosome endear themselves with lightning quick speed. The double-take appearance of the title card after twenty-two minutes marks a watershed moment for the picture, and though it does retain an increasingly darker comedic edge, its descent into rape / revenge territory is genuinely unsettling. Inbred yokels aren’t exactly a new concept in the horror genre, but here these “Deliverance fucktards” as Sloane so eloquently calls them, are dispatched with a wincingly violent ferocity which certainly earns the movie its top-end certification. At a little over seventy minutes minus credits, Even Lambs Have Teeth is a brisk and dizzying fusion of blood and belly-laughs, all underpinned by an unrelenting streak of vengeance that’s hard to forget.
If the latest Blumhouse movie to hit the direct-to-video market had a fraction of the ambition as our previous title, it may well have prevented this critic from sliding off his sofa in a barely-conscious state of weary boredom. They’re output is alarmingly schizophrenic, from the ecstasy of Paranormal Activity, Sinister and Lords of Salem to the sleepwalking mundanity of Mercy, The Gallows and Jessabelle. Ah, speaking of Jessabelle, it’s the director of that snoozefest, Kevin Greutert, who takes the reins of VISIONS, which is out this week from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
Leaving her hectic city lifestyle behind, young mother-to-be Eveleigh (Isla Fisher), joins her husband David (Anson Mount) at their beautiful new vineyard home, only to be plagued by terrifying noises and visions of a sinister hooded figure. Desperate to prove her sanity, Eveleigh hunts down locals to reveal the haunted history of the vineyard in which she now resides. But when the pieces come together, the answer is far different – and more dangerous to her and her baby – then she could have ever imagined.
Despite its pleasing vistas and countryside setting, not to mention the always likeable Isla Fisher and the excellent Gillian Jacobs in attendance, Visions somehow manages to take bland to a new level. The thing is, there’s probably an audience for schlock like this, the same way that there’s a willing mob eager to lap up the soulless pictures that the studios pump out with alarming regularity. For hardcore horror aficionados though, this is Lifetime Channel fare in its meandering banality, with the only scare tactics employed being those of IMPOSSIBLY LOUD SOUND EFFECTS which are telegraphed in with the subtlety of a meat cleaver; it’s the equivalent of someone standing behind your chair banging two garbage bin lids together intermittently, occasionally pausing to say “Scared ya, right?”. Inoffensive, sporadically engaging and mercifully short, this is another Blumhouse destined for the bargain bin.