HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE HERETICS (2017)

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THE HERETICS (2017)

Creepy flick finds a pretty young woman named Gloria (Nina Kiri) kidnapped by a cult for some sort of ceremony. They commit mass suicide leaving Gloria a blood spattered survivor. Five years later she’s still haunted by the events, living with her mother, Ruth (Nina Richmond) and going to group therapy where she’s met her girlfriend Joan (Jorja Cadence). Just when she thinks things might be getting better, she’s kidnapped by Thomas (Ry Barrett) a former cult member who claims he’s trying to save her. He warns her that not all the cult members are dead and she is key to the birth of their deity. While Joan and Ruth begin to search for her, Gloria begins a horrifying transformation in a secluded cabin that no one may be able to save her from.

Horror is written and directed by Chad Archibald (Bite, Ejecta) from a story Jayme Laforest. As illustrated by his work in Bite, Archibald can come up with some creepy and disturbing stuff and does so again here. He seems to have a penchant for body horror as captive Gloria begins to transform before would-be savior Thomas’ eyes. The second half of the movie especially has some unsettling stuff as cult members resurface and an unearthly ceremony begins again. The cabin in the woods setting is a much used trope, but Archibald gets good use out of it and shows he has a very effective visual style, too. There are some very unsettling scenes here and there are also a few surprises and reveals as characters are not who they seem and flashbacks fill us in on more details of what happened to Gloria five years ago. It’s a spooky and atmospheric flick that provides some memorable images and a few shocking moments. It also has some violent and gory scenes and the FX portraying them are well done. It’s not perfect. We can see a few things coming and lead Nina Kiri is sadly reduced to a damsel in distress in the second half where earlier on she seemed like she was capable of giving the character some depth. Too bad, Gloria seems to sit on the sidelines during a time when her character is proving crucial. That aside, this is an effective horror from filmmaker Chad Archibald.

The cast was on point for the most part. Lead Nina Kiri was good at portraying an emotionally damaged young woman trying to heal from a horrific experience. She gives Gloria a sense of tragedy when her transformation starts and it’s too bad she isn’t given much to do in the second half, but sit in a chair and looked hurt and bewildered. Ry Barret is somewhat likable as the ex-cultist who fell for the victim. He gives Thomas a sense of inner pain and torment and a touch of nobility. He also remains a tad creepy and that works in the context of the story. Jorja Cadence is the real show steal-er. Her Joan seems like a strong, determined woman at the start, but certain revelations about her take the character to a whole new level and the actress is up for the task. She plays it well and avoids camp or going over-the-top. Rounding out is Nina Richmond, who is solid as Gloria’s caring and concerned mother.

Overall, this was a very creepy and effective flick from a director who is showing some potential both atmospherically and visually. He has a feel for body horror and uses it effectively as his last two films dealt with physical transformation. He has a good visual eye and was able to use some familiar tropes effectively. Aside from a few issues, this was an unsettling horror and makes for a spooky night on the couch.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 pairs of antlers, perfect for that cult ceremony mask you always wanted.

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“THE HERETICS” GETS A POSTER and TRAILER!

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The Heretics is an interesting looking upcoming occult horror directed by Chad Archibald (Bite) from a script by Bite scribe Jayme LaForest. The spooky looking flick now has a trailer and poster to intrigue us, though no U.S. release date as of yet. It does look like it has some creepy potential. Right now it’s making the rounds at festivals and hopefully this Canadian chiller finds a distributor soon!

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source: Youtube/ Arrow in the head.com

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: BITE (2015)

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BITE (2015)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Flick starts out with three pretty friends Casey (Elma Begovic), Jill (Annette Wozniak) and Kristen (Denise Yuen) traveling to a tropical island to celebrate Casey’s engagement. The girls are coerced into to going to a secluded spot deep in the jungle by a stranger and while in this little spot of paradise, Casey is bitten by something while swimming in a pool of water. Once home, as Casey starts to have cold feet about her wedding, she starts to feel sick and thinks the bite is infected. But each day Casey appears sicker and starts to change physically. Worse still, she discovers she’s pregnant…but with what?

Basically this is a female version of David Cronenberg’s The Fly, but with the female lead there is an the added caveat that she is also pregnant. As directed by Chad Archibald from a script by Jayme Laforest, it is still an effective little movie despite the obvious comparisons with Cronenberg’s classic. The film has similar elements, as Casey starts to physically degenerate like loosing her hair and pulling her own nails off. She also can spit corrosive digestive fluids like Brundle-Fly and uses it against people who piss her off like he did. It still works well enough, especially as Casey starts turning her apartment into a nest/nursery with thousands of gelatinous eggs all over the floor, walls and ceiling with Casey herself starting to look like some slimy otherworldly creature. We feel for her and even if we didn’t, Archibald, gives the film a very unsettling look and atmosphere and it is consistently grotesque without going too over-the-top. And that’s where it really works, as this touch of restraint keeps it from getting laughably disgusting and instead remains effectively disturbing. There are some flaws. Casey, even in her more creature-like form, has a jealous spat with Jill over attention towards her fiancé Jared (Jordan Grey). It’s a tad silly and obviously doesn’t bode well for Jill, though does lead to the violent final confrontation between Jared and insectiod future wife. Also, as numerous characters remark about the smell coming from Casey’s apartment, why aren’t the authorities ever called? For a low budget film, though, the make-up effects are well done. Not up to Chris Walas’ standards on The Fly but still very effective. Keeping most of the action confined to Casey’s apartment also serves the budget and works in putting us in there with the gruesomely transforming woman on a more personal level.

A small cast and they are all pretty good for fairly unknowns. Elma Begovic does really well as Casey and is actually stronger once in make-up and having to wade around in thousands of slimy eggs. She’s fairly likable as the uncertain fiancé to start, but seems to really rise to the challenge of acting out this grotesque situation that gets increasingly worse. A real trooper considering all she does. Wozniak plays the scheming bitch part well as Jill and Denise Yuen’s Kristen is solid as the more compassionate and caring of Casey’s two friends. Finally, Jordan Grey rounds out as the workaholic Jared, who is a bit too involved in his own life to notice something is really wrong with Casey…until it’s too late. An efficient cast to help make the flick work.

Despite the glaring similarity to David Cronenberg’s classic The Fly this film still remains an effective little horror. Director Chad Archibald, whose story Laforest’s script is based on, keeps the film creepy and icky enough to make it still work. He gets help from a solid performance from his leading lady, who rises to the challenge of acting from under prosthetics and slime for most of the movie. The film has atmosphere and is solid on a production level for a low budget film with high aspirations. Derivative…yes, but still effective and entertaining.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 slimy eggs

bite rating

 

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