BARE BONES: ARTIK (2019)

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ARTIK (2019)

Artik (Jerry G. Angelo) is a man who lives on a sunflower farm and likes to draw comics. He’s also a man who likes to imprison children to work on the farm and kill people. He’s trying to teach his son (Gavin White) the serial killer trade, until his son befriends a stranger (Chase Williamson) who starts to open the boy’s eyes about his dad’s “hobby”…and by that we don’t mean the comics.

Film is actually well directed by Tom Botchii Skowronski from his own script. It has some disturbing moments and some gruesome violence, as we watch a man teaching a boy to become a killer. We add in that boy coming of age and having conflict over what he is seeing, especially when he makes a friend who crosses the brutal Artik’s path. It adds an intriguing element to a familiar tale. Sure, we’ve seen countless serial killer flicks before and the serial killer mentoring a youth has been done already in Bereavement, but Skowronski presents it well and gets really good performances out of his cast. He gives the scenes of violence some impact and intensity and the film doesn’t wear out it’s welcome at just under 80 minutes. Worth a look. Also stars indie horror familiar face Lauren Ashley Carter as Artik’s demented partner (wife?) Flin.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: 14 CAMERAS (2018)

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14 CAMERAS (2018)

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Sequel to 13 Cameras is again written by Victor Zarcoff, though directing chores have been handed off to Seth Fuller and Scott Hussion. Follow-up takes place years later with creepy landlord Gerald (Neville Archambault) continuing his stalker ways and filling his properties with hidden cameras, watching the occupants and occasionally kidnapping female ones that suit his fancy. He’s upped his game and now streams the footage on the web and charges other creeps to watch it. He still has Claire (Brianne Moncrief) captive and raises her young son “Jr.” (Gavin White) as his own. His current targets are a vacationing family, with their daughter, pretty college student Molly (Brytnee Ratledge) and her hot, flirty friend Danielle (Amber Midthunder) as the objects of his gross attention. Things get complicated when his footage attracts like-minded individuals and he now has competition for making Danielle one of his collection.

New directors, Fuller and Hussion, keep this second installment creepy, and sometimes violent, as the scenario is opened up a bit to focus on not only Gerald’s disturbing habits, but having Claire and her son in captivity. Claire is almost used to her life in what looks like a bomb shelter dug into the desert floor and tries to convince new roommates, like athletic and pretty Sarah (Chelsea Edmundson), that escape attempts are not a good idea…and to a degree they are not. Pervert Gerald has set his sights on pretty, flirtatious Danielle and his intrusions into the house and in her belongings conveniently get blamed on Molly’s teen brother Kyle (John-Paul Howard). It’s creepy and very unsettling to follow mouth-breather Gerald as he watches the girls shower and romp around in bikini’s and then sell the footage…and a pair of Danielle’s panties…to his creepy subscribers. Things start to fall apart for the deranged landlord when “Jr.” starts to get curious about his “dad’s” activities and one of Gerald’s subscribers starts a bidding war for Danielle. It’s very disturbing to watch unfold and even though it shares some of the first film’s flaws…like gimp-legged Gerald getting out of occupied houses unseen…it has the viewer squirming in their seat enough to work. The idea of being watched in the privacy of your own home and having that privacy invaded is a concept that still hasn’t warn out it’s effectiveness. Add to that, the idea of having your most private moments sold to deviates on the dark web is equally as chilling. This flick makes good use of both scenarios.

Once again Neville Archambault paints a disturbing individual as the vile Gerald. He is a pervert and a deviate and has no moral compass whatsoever. His activities make your skin crawl and feel sympathy for those under the watchful eye of his hidden cameras, especially those who find themselves bound and gagged in the back of his truck. In this installment he even finds a way to make money off his sick behavior from like-minded creeps…and apparently, there are a lot of them. Brianne Moncrief is solid as the captive Claire. She’s pretty much given up all hope of escape and is accepting of her life in captivity, though when it comes to reuniting with the son she barely knows, it ignites a bit of fight in her. Amber Midthunder is very likable as the lively and playful Danielle. She is the type of girl that gets attention, though the wrongest kind here. The cast portraying family members are all fine in support with Brytnee Ratledge as Molly, John-Paul Howard as Molly’s high school student brother Kyle, Lora Martinez-Cunningham (Sicario, Fender Bender) as their hot mom Lori and Hank Rogerson as their dad Arthur. Whether it was intentional or not, it made the older and pervy Gerald even creepier that he ignores sexy mom Lori and goes after co-ed Danielle, who’s still a teenager. Last, but not least,┬áChelsea Edmundson is effective as the strong-willed captive Sarah and Gavin White, equally so, as “Jr” who is becoming quite the nosy young man.

Sequel adds up to pretty much an equal as while it shared some of 13 Camera’s flaws, it was also very disturbing and unsettling. Gerald is proving to be a very effective and creepy character in his second outing and Neville Archambault really makes him realistic and scary. The flick has a good cast and the makers took the first movie’s concept and opened it up a bit with Gerald now taking his perversions to the dark web and profiting on them from others of his ilk. An effective second film in this franchise and directed well by Hussion and Fuller.

-MonsterZero NJ

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