IN FEAR (2013)
I’ll give director and writer Jeremy Lovering a lot of credit for giving this little thriller some really nice atmosphere, tension and suspense despite the fact that it is basically about a couple, Tom and Lucy (Iain Caestecker and Alice Englert), lost in the Irish countryside in a maze of rural roads looking for an elusive hotel. Obviously they come to realize their predicament is being manipulated and soon a masked figure keeps appearing in and around the road as they drive. And while the film is never boring in itself…though it can be frustrating as the constant driving in circles gets tiresome…the story is very dull and routine. It also remains somewhat vague as to the definitive reason for all this cruel game playing with the young lovers. It could be a fascination with Lucy based on the opening scene, or there is also reason to believe it was simply a disagreement in a pub over a spilt beer caused by Tom, that raised the ire of a deranged local. We Irish (I am proudly half) take our pints very seriously. Some other bumps in Lovering’s ride are that the couple’s arguing gets a bit annoying at times, the mysterious figure seems to defy the constraints of time and distance in his appearances and activities and a frustratingly ambiguous ending when we deserved a more satisfying climax after all we’ve sat through. Overall, it is still worth a look. Lovering shows lots of potential, the performances are good, but even from the deranged individuals point of view, it seems like a lot of effort and work just over a spilt beer which, if I understand the dialog correctly, was replaced after some arguing anyway. Doesn’t live up to the hype and praise, but certainly worth a watch. Also stars Allen Leech.
THE INVOKING (2013)
Odd and sometimes effective little movie about a young woman, Sam (Trin Miller), who takes some friends up to a house she has just inherited after the death of her aunt. After arriving, strange things start to occur as it appears the house holds suppressed and hidden memories for Sam that start bubbling to the surface now that she has returned to a place she doesn’t remember ever being at…or is it something far more sinister? Writer/director Jeremy Berg gives the film some nice touches and some atmosphere and the cast are adequate if not a bit uneven in their performances. But what starts as a mildly intriguing psychological thriller degenerates into a routine blood bath in it’s last act and the big reveal as to what actually occurred to Sam in that house as a little girl, is also routine as well. We’ve seen it all before and the climax just serves more to give it a shock ending then to actual serve the story which has veered off course in the last 10-15 minutes to suddenly turn into a slasher. It’s an OK flick overall and hopefully Berg can build on what he does right here with tighter focus and a bit more imagination in his stories. Also stars Brandon Anthony, D’Angelo Midili, Andi Norris and Josh Truax.
70s English horror written and directed by Pete Walker is a very bizarre, strange and sometimes gruesome flick that didn’t totally grab me, but didn’t loose my attention either. The film starts out in 1957 where it appears a couple (Rupert Davies and Sheila Keith) has been convicted of murder and do to the nature of their crimes, are sentenced to a psychiatric hospital. We then move forward to the 70s and the couple’s one daughter Jackie (Deborah Fairfax) is a grown woman now and younger daughter Debbie (Kim Butcher) is a 15 year old…who looks more like 25…delinquent. Jackie is trying to care for her troublesome half-sister, who has just been released from a convent, and her parents who have been declared cured and released, but things start to fall apart when mom starts her old habits of tarot card reading and cannibalism. Worse still, Jackie is just a step-daughter to dear old mum, but Debbie seems like a chip off the murderous block who appears perfectly happy to carry on family traditions…can Jackie escape the family reunion from hell? I’m not all that familiar with the films of British exploitation director Walker, but this is one of his more infamous titles and by today’s standards it’s more campy then scary, though still has some disturbing moments. The performances are a bit over the top at times adding to the campy, nostalgic flavor and it is rather slow paced for under 90 minutes with it only getting really disturbing in it’s last act. There is plenty of gore, but some definite lapses in logic as well. Not sure I would trust the British medical system for letting an obviously deranged woman free as ‘cured’. Overall, it’s an amusing watch and maybe some of the camp is deliberate, but it basically serves as an oddball diversion with some disturbing sequences that still work and others that make you chuckle and didn’t quite impact me like it’s reputation suggests it did audiences in the 70s. For a film about murderous old geezers, it seemed a bit dry when all is said and done.