Tiny Beam of Light

Shining a tiny beam of light on some great films you might not know existed (and the odd blockbuster too).

Prometheus (2012) dir: Ridley Scott

(Alien + Aliens) – (Alien3RC – Alien4 – AvP – AvPR) = – Prometheus

That’s really all I can say…

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Filed under: film, horror, Must Read, sci-fi, , , , , , , , ,

The Last Exorcism (2010) dir: Daniel Stamm

No new posts for a while – just caught up in the financing of my own movie – so haven’t had a chance to see much. Anyway, films I’ve seen which I thought were great were ‘Toy Story 3’, ‘Inception’, ‘The Secrets in Their Eyes’, not so good ‘Predators’.

‘The Last Exorcism’ is a documentary style film that follows preacher Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), a man whose faith in God is waning, a man who basically just preaches the word of God as a job to pay the bills and feed his family. In one neat scene he demonstrates to the documentary film crew following him that he can get his parishioners to say anything in a prayer and does so by throwing in a cooking recipe in between the hallelujahs. He also used to perform fake exorcisms and, when he hears that a child has been killed in a botched exorcism by some priests, he decides that he will expose their fraudulent nature and perhaps help those troubled families involved. So, with the film crew in tow, he sets off to Louisiana to help a pious farmer desperate to exorcise his daughter Nell (Ashley Bell). She sleepwalks, she has conversations in different voices with herself and she disembowels the farm animals.

Everything we see in the film is done as if it’s a real documentary, so the story is told via a single camera POV and, despite my initial reservations, it worked really well. At its core there is a great performance from Ashley Bell who is totally convincing as either a seriously troubled teenager with an abusive father making the whole thing up, or someone really possessed. I liked that it wasn’t particularly gory, but it was creepy, and that it more or less kept the documentary style consistent all the way through – so you never see the camera man or sound man, but you do hear them as they interact with the subjects of their documentary. Just as I thought the whole ending had totally copped out it still sprang a couple of surprises. And it made me jump.

Well put together, well acted and well told.

Filed under: documentary, film, horror, , ,

Carriers (2009) dir: Àlex & David Pastor

I have to admit that I have a bit of a penchant towards end of the world type movies – and there have been some particularly good ones over the last few years such as ‘Right at your door’ (2006). I tend to prefer those based in reality rather than say zombie flix, maybe because part of me is secretly going ‘what would I do if it was me in this position? Perhaps I can learn something here for when civilization does collapse and maybe survive!’

There was definitely some of this going on as I was watching ‘Carriers’. It opens with 4 friends mucking about on a road trip in a stolen car. Within moments we discover that they are survivors of a viral pandemic that has wiped out almost everybody. They live by a certain set of rules, one of which is that if someone is infected you leave them because they are as good as dead. Of course it all goes horribly wrong. If it’s you who gets infected – screw the rules! But I felt that it was all played out pretty truthfully, any person they came across was terrified of these four characters and vice versa. Who is infected and who is not? You can’t immediately tell and so fear leads to ‘ordinary’ people killing each other – dwindling the tiny human population further. The whole story was convincingly and economically told by writer/directors Àlex and David Pastor with good performances all round (I thought Christopher Meloni whom I hadn’t seen before was particularly good – he reminded me of Mark Strong).

Even with a pre James Tiberius Kirk Chris Pine the film criminally only took about $100K in the US and disappeared without a trace. Track it down!

Filed under: film, horror, sci-fi, thriller, , , , ,

Heartless (2009) dir: Philip Ridley

I had no preconceived expectations for this film whatsoever as I had no idea who Philip Ridley was so I sat down to watch with interest.  (Turns out he wrote ‘The Krays’, is a playwright and lyricist and is a very nice man who is passionate about film making.)

A Faustian story of Jamie (played by Jim Sturgess in a pretty committed performance), a young man with a heart shaped birth mark covering part of his face and upper body, who shuns direct contact with people but sees lizard type daemons dressed as hoodies on the streets of East London. These daemons go around viciously killing people.

Watching it I felt myself torn in different directions because the film is both pretty conventional and kind of obvious where it’s going to any horror fan, and yet unconventional at the same time with it’s setting and style. So watching it, I could feel myself going “this is not too good”, then something would happen and then I’d go “actually this is really good after all”, then something else would happen and it would be “oh man that’s annoying – you should watch more horror films mate” then boom “that’s pretty clever, I’m hooked!”.

Afterwards, I realised that I had missed some of the subtle details in the overall design and look of the film but other story elements were a bit obvious and I personally would have preferred the film to have ended differently – but that’s just me.  But you know what?  I really liked it! And it was great to see part of East London (Shoreditch to Bethnal Green) which I’m pretty familiar with. I even noticed that one particularly seedy looking location (where Jamie hooks up with a rent boy) is the exact spot where I often park (not to pick up rent boys I hasten to add but to go to one of the many great Vietnamese restaurants round the corner). Anyway, I digress.

Interesting supporting cast includes Luke Treadaway, Noel Clarke, Timothy Spall and the lovely Clémence Poésy. The always brilliant Eddie Marsan almost steals the movie as ‘Weapons Man’ (and is worth the price of admission alone) and Joseph Mawle is pretty creepy as ‘Papa B’.

I think it’s going to split an audience’s reaction (which is not necessarily a bad thing) – but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Filed under: film, horror, Not Heard Of, , , , , , , ,

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