OLD STRANGERS (2022)
Derivative on purpose Italian horror finds five travelers on an RV trip crashing in the middle of nowhere. They happen upon a strange cabin, that turns out to be the sacrificial alter of a bizarre and bloodthirsty cult.
Flick is directed by Roberto De Feo and Paolo Strippoli from their script with Lucio Besana, David Bellini and Milo Tissone. Amusing it took five people to write the script for what is basically another variation on the cabin in the woods horror, but it shows with some definite idea overload. On the plus side, it has some effective and brutal violence, some unsettling sequences and some spooky and disturbing visuals. The cast are all fine and it at least has the respect to acknowledge it’s influences—a character refers to the cabin as “Sam Raimi’s house”—but when it comes down to it, we’ve seen it all before—many times. Between the spooky bits there are also some long dialogue sequences, with characters bickering and passing blame on each other for their predicament, and did we need another pregnant character for sympathetic effect? Last act veers off into a couple of different directions that are, like the rest of the movie, a mash-up of flicks we’ve already seen. It goes on a bit too long and gets quite convoluted before finally ending, thus losing what little grip it had. Overall, some effective moments, but maybe too many cooks adding too many ingredients to the homage soup for it’s own good. Flick is available on Netflix.
Flick finds a young couple, James (Owen Lawless) and artist Myra (Carmen Anello), traveling to a remote cabin in the woods…which is never a good idea in a horror movie…to work on repairing their relationship. The cabin was the home of James’ grandparents (Lynn Lowry and Bruce Smith), till his grandmother was murdered and his grandfather disappeared after going mad. How these two thought this was a good spot for date weekend is the film’s biggest mystery. Once there, Myra begins to hear voices and suffer time losses, while James gets bitten by a strange creature and begins to transform into something unearthly. Relationship problems are now the least of their worries.
Cabin in the woods horror is directed by Austin Snell from his script with Jake Jackson. It’s a noble effort and Snell directs it well enough despite the scatterbrained story. It’s hard to believe anyone would go to a cabin with such an unpleasant personal history, no matter how picturesque it might be. The scenes between the couple are done well and once things start to get going, there are a few spooky moments. It is somewhat atmospheric. The story is where the film has it’s biggest drawbacks. There is something supernatural going on at the cabin, but we never get any kind of explanation, or hint, as to what. If there is some kind of demonic presence, then what is the mutant fish creature that bites and ultimately transforms James? His grandfather apparently went mad, yet James turns into a monster. What exactly is going on here? We never find out. The climax was also a bit of a head scratcher, as it’s not clear if the grandparents returned, or Myra is seeing past events. Again, what exactly is going on here? On a technical level, the film looks good on a supposed $20,000 budget and the make-up FX are well done. There is also a cool electronic score by Joshua Luttrell that is very 80s. With a better script and story, Snell might deliver something solid. Here things are a bit too much of a mess, story-wise, to really click.
As for our cast, pretty Carmen Anello does a good job as Myra. She’s a likable character and she makes a good final girl. She comes across as a real person. The actress is also a trooper, as the credits list her as part of the SPFX make-up crew and also playing “Grandfather Creature.” On a low budget film like this, one can find themselves wearing many hats. Owen Lawless is fine as James. He and Anello have a decent chemistry and it is in the early scenes when the character’s are going through some emotional awkwardness, Lawless seems the most natural. Bruce Smith and Lynn Lowry play the grandparents and they are seen in flashbacks and possible hallucinations, it’s not clear.
Exposure isn’t a great movie, but it’s one where the effort is noticeable and adds some charm. It’s heart is in the right place and the filmmakers try hard. On a production level, it looks good on a low budget, has some solid make-up FX and the cast, especially lead Carmen Anello, are effective. The story is where the flick suffers, as it’s not ever clear as to what is actually going on here. Some of it, like creature James firing his nails at Myra like knives, gets a bit silly. This indie horror is still worth a look if you like low budget flicks and enjoy seeing filmmakers getting their movies made, even if not totally successfully.
Flick is available to stream on Amazon Prime and to buy on Scream Team Releasing’s website… https://screamteamreleasing.com/
Indie horror finds pretty McKenzie (Hattie Smith) and her brother Mark (Zac Titus) traveling with friends to the expansive Cinder Park to find their lost sister Marylyn (Maria Granberg). They are told by local bar owner, Leon (William Kircher) that Marylyn has gone through a portal in the woods that leads to an alternate dimension called “The Axiom”. Desperate to find her sister, McKenzie follows his directions, despite her disbelief and soon she and her friends find out The Axiom exists and it is a dangerous place indeed.
Alternate dimension spin on the traditional cabin in the woods horror…and there is a cabin…is written and directed by the aptly named Nicholas Woods. It’s a low budget indie, but one that tries to freshen up the traditional deep woods horror with some inventive twists. It has some effective moments, as our group of five meet some strange beings in this otherworldly place and experience delusion and madness amongst themselves. There is a vague explanation as to how this portal got there and director Woods knows not to let his ambitions exceed his budget. There is some effective violence and bloodshed and the sparse seen occupants of The Axiom are well rendered, mostly with practical effects. The cast try hard, with Hattie Smith making a very suitable final girl. Add in murder, betrayal and a last act that goes in an interestingly different direction and it’s an offbeat and imaginative effort that’s definitely worth a look. Also stars Taylor Flowers, Nicole Dambro and Michael Peter Harrison as Edgar, Darcy and Gerrik, respectively, the rest of the group of friends.
You can fInd The Axiom on Amazon Prime.
Wife and mother Laura (Yvonne Strahovski) is taking her two daughters Maddie (Abigail Pniowsky) and Kayla (Anna Pniowsky) up to the family’s remote cabin in the woods…always a bad sign…with husband Shawn (Justin Bruening) to join them later. Unfortunately, the three are not alone and soon find themselves stalked by a deranged masked individual.
While the film is nothing original story-wise and is reminiscent somewhat of Mike Flanagan’s Hush, it is still quite effective in it’s own right. It’s very well directed by Quinn Lasher from a script by Mike Scannell and is quite spooky and suspenseful, even though familiar. Lasher gets good use out of his remote woodland location and the large old cabin setting and evokes strong performances from his small cast. There is graphic violence though it is used sparingly and thus has impact. Strahovski is especially good in the final girl…final mom?…role and the Pniowsky sisters are impressive, too. The film wouldn’t work as well without an effective villain and the deranged individual who calls himself “John” (Ryan McDonald) is disturbing despite being derivative. He delivers his few lines of dialogue well and conveys a threatening presence behind his creepy mask. All in all, a solid horror/thriller now streaming on Netflix…where you can also stream Flanagan’s Hush for comparison.