Sunday, 30 June 2013

THE CONJURING - A review by Paul Worts

Director James Wan is rapidly becoming Hollywood’s go-to man for superior supernatural fright flicks. Sandwiched in between the genuinely creepy INSIDIOUS - and the eagerly awaited sequel INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 - we have THE CONJURING, a film which delivers such a proficient stream of jolt shocks you could strap it to Baron Frankenstein’s monster and bring it to life.

Based on the case files of the real-life married demonologists / paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), the film gives us an interpretation of the alleged events which occurred when the Warren’s were called upon to help the Perron family (mum and dad played by Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) who encounter ‘bumps in the night’ on an increasingly threatening scale in their secluded farmhouse in the 1970’s.
Once again Wan demonstrates his clinical affinity for staging spooky set-pieces and he pulls off some genuine spine-tingling moments and real jump-out-of-your-seat scares. In this he is aided considerably by a sound mix which infuses proceedings with an insistent dread and then cranks the ‘boo!’ cues up to ‘11’ on the volume dial.  Director of photography John Leonetti (INSIDIOUS) provides a crisp widescreen canvas in which to judiciously cloak the screen in the kind of primal darkness where you just know that lighting a match or flicking on a torch will suddenly reveal something unholy.

Friday, 14 June 2013

An Interview with HATCHET III director BJ McDonnell by Paul Worts

On board the good ship HATCHET there’s a new captain on deck for the third instalment in the franchise. Previous captain, and creator of swamp slaughterer Victor Crowley, Adam Green, has this time entrusted able shipmate and camera operator BJ McDonnell from the previous two instalments to take the helm on HATCHET III. On the morning after the Hollywood premiere, BJ very kindly found the time to talk to me about his fascinating career path to date and his experiences navigating through Victor Crowley’s swamps on his feature film directorial debut.

My first question is one that probably every horror fan in the UK wants the answer to BJ: Is Adam Green a complete c**t or what?

BJ: He’s a massive c**t!

I thought so, the truth will out.
BJ: No, he’s cool. It was pretty cool of him to give me the chance to do a directing gig – cos he knew I wanted to direct. It was really very thoughtful of him to do that and I’m really thankful for that opportunity, it was a great stepping stone for me. (cont'd...

Monday, 3 June 2013

SWEET VENGEANCE - A review by Paul Worts

Directed by Logan Miller, Starring: Ed Harris, Jason Isaacs, January Jones, Eduardo Noriega   Western, US, 2012, approx. 91mins, cert 15.
Released in UK on DVD by Entertainment One on the 3rd June 2013.

In the late 1800’s, newlyweds Miguel (Educardo Noriega) and Sarah (January Jones) are struggling to cultivate their piece of land in the unforgiving dusty plains of the Old West. Times are tough, and it doesn’t help when sheep from the nearby flock of fundamentalist preacher Prophet Josiah (Jason Isaacs) stray onto their land and nibble away their meagre crops. The townsfolk aren’t remotely supportive either; the bank manager siphons half their savings; the local shopkeeper is a peeping tom; whilst Sheriff Kingfisher is more than happy to turn a blind eye to all manner of wrong-doing.
But that’s not the half of it in this deliciously twisted tongue-in-cheek take on the Western...

The Prophet Josiah’s moral code is as flexible as a double-jointed contortionist, and no one is seemingly above judgement in his deluded world-view. On top of this there’s a new sheriff riding (and waltzing) into town to replace ineffectual Sheriff Kingfisher. Enter Cornelius Jackson (Ed Harris), a maverick law keeper destined to lock horns with Josiah. “You’re a queer man” remarks a nonplussed Josiah, to which Jackson replies: “Unusual, I prefer unusual: never queer”.  
Compared to Tarantino’s near three hour long DJANGO UNCHAINED, director Logan Miller unfurls this rip-roaring romp in an admirably succinct 85 minutes (the end credits bump the running time up to 91 minutes). The narrative shifts faster than a thoroughbred colt bolting from a glue-maker, and corpses soon start to pile up as revenge becomes the order of the day.

Miller injects unexpected moments of casual violence like mule kicks which punctuate the ripe dialogue and even riper characters. Against this backdrop the main leads are clearly relishing the chance to play along with the deliriously over-the-top screenplay. Ed Harris’ barnstorming performance as quirky Sheriff Jackson is simply extraordinary, and he pulls off several jaw-dropping scenes which practically steal the show. Not that he hasn’t got some stiff competition from Jason Isaacs. Delivering lines such as: “Now you will hang there in shame until the sun dries your scrawny testicles into leather hide...” Isaacs gives us a character which makes Lucius Malfoy from the HARRY POTTER franchise seem positively cuddly in comparison. And at the heart of the story we have January Jones’ Sarah, who strides convincingly through her challenging and pivotal role with measured assurance. 
Compared to the events which precede it, the dénouement in comparison feels a tad conventional and downbeat. But perhaps this is just a testament to how much fun the twin brother team of director Logan and writer Noah (Miller) have provided us with in the interim.

This review was originally published on the FrightFest website.