Dave Wain’s essential breakdown of this week’s cavalcade of straight-to-disc treats. Step inside the DTV Junkyard…
I took home Misconduct the other day, the directorial debut of Shintaro Shimosawa, a guy who’s perhaps best known for producing the very recommendable remake of The Grudge with Sarah Michelle Gellar. It was a run-of-the-mill thriller, helped along by some fine performances from Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino, but as the credits rolled and I saw ‘written by Simon Boyes and Adam Mason’, and I did the eyebrow-raised double-take of incredulity.
If that pair of names don’t immediately trigger a lightbulb of realisation, Boyes and Mason were responsible for some excellent slices of low budget British horror in the middle of the last decade with Broken and The Devil’s Chair, before the lure of America came calling and they shot the Twilight Zone-esque Blood River. Sadly, aside for the eternally delayed Not Safe for Work, much of their output has escaped a UK release, which makes the debut of HANGMAN all the more exciting.
When Aaron (Jeremy Sisto) and his wife Beth (Kate Ashfield) return home from a family holiday with their two children, they discover that not only was their house broken into, but the intruder had been living there, eating their food and sleeping in their beds. Shaken, they clean the house and make plans to install a security system. Distraught and traumatised, the family begins to notice odd occurrences around the property. Is this simply an after-effect from the crime, or is something else going on?
Told largely from the perspective of closed circuit television, it’s an aspect of Hangman that’s successful in the same way that Paranormal Activity worked so well, albeit that Mason’s film is a tangible version of the ghostly franchise, with the threat being human and not supernatural. Those cold-hearted cynics among you will get in line to tell me about the plausibility of the concept, and with Aaron and Beth’s house hardly being a sprawling mansion, it’s true that you have to question the likelihood of a perpetrator being able to hide away alongside the family.
Nagging doubts aside though, Hangman has a deliciously sinister tone about it, helped immeasurably by an intruder whose face is hidden at all times, while he’s prone to bouts of ghastly wailing. Sisto as always is an excellent and dependable bit of casting, while the Brit Ashfield is just perfect here, as they manage to run an unquestionably realistic family unit. For a feature that takes its time, twisting the tension in steady increments, the final reel does seem a little rushed as we’re treated to a whole host of cataclysmic occurrences in a short time; it’s a minor gripe though, and one that shouldn’t overshadow a very effective horror movie.
Another week, another Asylum movie; this time it’s a journey into disaster territory, which, if David Michael Latt’s company could be said to have a forte, then it’s undoubtedly this. You don’t believe me do you? Honestly, some of the best pictures to come from the maligned conveyor belt of grot have been features like Astreroid vs Earth, Apocalypse Pompeii and Airline Disaster. Other movies not beginning with ‘A’ are available.
When a discredited L.A Seismologist warns of an impending 12.7 earthquake, no one takes her seriously. Abandoned by her peers, she faces a race against time to get her family to safety before the shifting Teutonic plates break Los Angeles apart!
It’s a mockbusting debut for John Baumgartner here, and he does a fine job with this low budget feature. As with any film made for a princely sum, its success is dependent largely on its pace, and San Andreas Quake rips along at a decent speed with Jhey Castles perfecting her Asylum schtick as Molly the Seismologist, while a special mention is due to Grace Van Dien (Casper’s kid) as her narky step-daughter Ali. The CGI here is good enough not to be a distraction, and for the five English pounds it’ll cost you to snag this schlocky little number, I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed.
So, man kidnaps woman, holds her hostage, does degrading things; stop me when you finish yawning. Well, let me stifle that moment of involuntary disinterest, as HONEYMOON is a truly disturbing piece of cinema from Mexico with a remarkably artistic flavour. Jorge, an eccentric and lonely medical doctor kidnaps Isabel, his beautiful neighbour, and submits her to a gruesome conditioning experiment to make her his woman. But, appearance can be deceptive, as his neighbour turns out to have a greater instinct for survival than he expected.
There’s so many aspects of Diego Cohen’s film that really grab you by the collar of your faded cult movie t-shirt and pull you into this murky world of depravity; not that you’d initially think so given the rather jaunty opening score and largely dialogue free opening quarter of an hour. Admittedly the feature that begins to pan out would be lovingly cast as torture porn by publications like the Daily Mail, but there’s so much more to it than such an offensive soundbite.
Predominantly a two-hander, the burgeoning relationship between Jorge and Isabel is a fascinating watch, culminating with the skinning of a finger which has to go down as potentially the most puke inducing moment of horror I’ve seen this year. There’s more to it that just gore though, as the mental and emotional battle of wills that weaves itself through the spine of the picture is hypnotic to watch – and draining, as come the end credits you may need a lie down, although Cohen’s movie will be a long time leaving your psyche.
All of this week’s discs were released in the UK on the 26th September 2016
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