FANTASIA20 REVIEW: Clapboard Jungle [2020]

The reality doesn’t always live up to the dream. If you know anything about the independent film world, it won’t be surprising to discover the project writer/director Justin McConnell is hoping to get off the ground at the start of Clapboard Jungle isn’t going to be much further along in its pre-production process four years later. That’s the nature of the beast. You’re going to have moments of elation when it appears that funds have come through and the inevitable spiral downward when those plans evaporate. You’re going to hit…

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REVIEW: Chopping Mall [1986]

Absolutely nothing can go wrong. Only a 1980s horror could have a killer robot plot and intentionally gloss over artificial intelligence themes for lightning. Who wants a ton of exposition talking about hubristic irony when you can let Mother Nature provide a malfunction? Rather than show humanity as its own worst enemy flying too close to the sun, supernaturally sci-fi-inspired sentries wreak havoc with little more than a bolt of electricity flipping the switch that transforms these programmed protectors into autonomous predators. Now all you need is a few sex-crazed…

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FANTASIA17 REVIEW: Replace [2017]

“I thought this was just a painkiller” There’s a captivating science fiction horror concept at the back of director Norbert Keil and co-writer Richard Stanley‘s Replace with the question: how far would you be willing to go for your youth? Do you crave longevity? Vanity? Rebirth? What would you sacrifice for it? Memory? Sanity? Life itself as the past becomes a voluntary casualty of the future? This stuff is ripe for body horror grotesquery, philosophical query, and hubristic intent. And in some respects Keil and Stanley’s film touches upon each…

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REVIEW: Sun Choke [2016]

“I think you need to clear your mind” Something happened to Janie (Sarah Hagan). Something bad. This cataclysmic event—wherein quick flashes of screams by the pool mixing with bloody red liquid screens of abstraction are all we ever see—has led her to an agreed upon house arrest. Cared for by long-time nanny Irma (Barbara Crampton), this young woman must fulfill psychological tests with colored pencils and flowers, engage in yoga centering techniques, and consume a regimented series of medication. Every day she gets better. Every day she’s more like herself.…

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FANTASIA16 REVIEW: Little Sister [2016]

“It took God six days to create the universe. You should be able to get your act together in five.” Saying Zach Clark‘s Little Sister being called a comedy does a disservice to the film seems like a slight on the genre. I know. But I don’t mean it that way. What this label does—even if it’s clarified with the word “dark”—is build an expectation that’s able to hurt the film’s true appeal. Clark and Melodie Sisk‘s script is definitely a drama first: a tough familial drama consisting of broken…

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REVIEW: We Are Still Here [2015]

“The house needs a family” Sometimes the spirits clinging to your old home prove the least of your worries. Just ask the Sacchettis (Barbara Crampton‘s Anne and Andrew Sensenig‘s Paul). Attempting to restart their lives after the tragic death of their son months earlier, the couple moves to Aylesbury for peace, quiet, and a former mortuary turned residential property with a price-tag they couldn’t resist. She’s the spiritualist of the two, feeling a presence that could only be her boy Bobby comforting her. He’s the pragmatist, responding in kind with…

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REVIEW: You’re Next [2013]

“Will you just die already? This is hard enough for me!” Disappointment that the hype surrounding director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett’s film You’re Next was proving impossible to achieve set in about halfway through. I expected what many called an entertainingly fresh horror thriller with comedic flourishes, but all I saw was the usual home invasion tropes and by-the-numbers carnage courtesy of animal-masked predators and their unsuspecting, family weekend attendee prey. Then something happens to change its tone completely as attractive Aussie plus-one Erin (Sharni Vinson) rolls away…

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