Escape From Tomorrow (2013)

Escape From Tomorrow is made interesting by the very way that it was shot. Escape from Tomorrow is a feature length film shot almost entirely in Disney World/Land without permission from Disney.  Just the fact that they were able to make this is a crazy thought, even more so that it has received such a wide release, even being shown in theaters and added to Netflix. The spectacle of seeing a dark horror movie filmed in Disney World is the reason to watch it, but the question is; Does Escape From Tomorrow have any depth or entertainment value beyond the production gimmick?

Well sadly the answer is; not really.

The story follows Jim, the father in your typical Disney going family. Jim is a sexual deviant who stalks a pair of young french girls around the park and the mother is nagging and annoying. The two children completely lack any traces of character.

Escape From Tomorrow manages to have fairly good cinematography for a large amount of the film which is especially impressive considering how it was shot, with many real people walking around and the general chaos of the park around them. There are some shots that they spent a very long time planning to achieve. The effort is valiant and doesn’t go unnoticed, but then there are particularly awful looking scenes. There are a handful of scenes that would horrible on their own, and are highlighted more so by the overall nice presentation of the rest of the film. More than one scene has the actors very obviously and poorly green screened into B-roll footage of the amusement park and it does not look passable at all.

Escape From Tomorrow is full of really bad acting. The best acting you can find in this film is passable, while the worst actually comes from the lead actor. He is consistently terrible throughout. By the end of the film I had actual become accustomed to the bad acting and stopped being as distracting, but adjusting to the bad does not make it good.

Escape From Tomorrow attempts to be a creepy screwed up horror film, but largely fails. The “scares” are too few and far between and when they do pop up they often fall flat. The closest the film got to be effective from a horror standpoint was actually the opening credits which managed to provide a genuinely surprising moment, but this one solid moment was cheapened when it was revisited later on in the film, to lesser effect.

The film seems very unsure of the tone that it wants to convey. It presents itself as a cerebral horror film, but then it throws comedic elements at you which don’t mix well. In the end both elements miss their mark and what few moments could have been funny, are muddled and ruined by the confused tones of the movie.

The Pacing is dreadful. Escape From Tomorrow has a meandering plot that kills far too much time following the characters as they walk around the park, go on rides, and do absolutely nothing of any importance. The movie wastes time and feels as though much of it was shot without purpose other than stretching out what probably should have been a 20 minute short film into a feature length film. As a 20 minute short this concept may have actually worked better. A more condensed runtime would have helped Escape From Tomorrow as most of the time it will have you waiting for something to happen, and when it does happen, it will likely disappoint. It also doesn’t help that pretty much all of the set pieces and interesting moments are given away in the trailer.

The gimmick is interesting but the film fails to impress beyond the fact that it actually got made and released the way it was produced. I would only recommend it to those who are seriously interested in the concept of a film shot guerrilla style in Disney world, otherwise definitely stay away. The concept is incredibly intriguing, but a much stronger plot and acting would have been needed to stop this film from being a disappointment.

Movie Recommendation of the Week #9

point blank poster

The premise of Point Blank isn’t anything terribly original. A man’s wife gets kidnapped and now he’s trying to get her back. While the film isn’t wholly inventive, it is executed well.

Be aware that this is more of a soft recommendation than usual. Point blank isn’t great or even very memorable, but it is an entertaining french action thriller, that most people probably haven’t seen.

This is not something that you need to go out of your way to watch. It is currently on Netflix, or if you happen across it, then give it a watch. Point Blank is a harmless entertaining movie, and sometimes that’s all you want.

Movie Recommendation of the Week #8

weekly movie recommendation-clue

By Sam Kench

clue

Clue is our movie recommendation for this week.

Yes this is a movie based off of the board game Clue. You wouldn’t expect a movie based on a board game to be any good, but this movie is surprisingly fantastic.

Perfect Comedy – This is honestly one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. The absolutely amazing cast paired with the writing of John Landis, the comedy genius who brought us classics like The Blues Brothers. Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, everyone, in this movie is perfectly cast, and hilarious.

Alternate Endings –  Make sure you watch the version of the film that includes the alternate endings. Any release of this film without the endings is a disgrace to this masterpiece. As a riff on the board game, where each time you play there is a different killer with a different weapon, the movie has a series of alternate endings, each one is clever and hysterically funny, if you don’t see all the endings then you are really missing out.

With its premise you just wouldn’t think this movie would work, but it does and it manages to be one of the absolute best comedies ever put to screen. Go watch it right away.

Valentine’s Day special

By Sam Kench

This is a dark and surreal drama called “Rose-Tinted” for Valentine’s Day Please give it a watch and leave some feedback

Mulholland Drive came with an interesting little sheet called David Lynch’s seven keys to unlocking this feature. I figured I’d do a similar thing since this short is very weird. These will explain some of the mystery so if you’d rather leave it ambiguous and not know, don’t read any further.  So here it is “Sam Kench’s 6 keys to unlocking Rose-Tinted”

1.) Look closely – Pay close attention to what is on screen. There are foreshadowing elements hidden in the background as well as in single frames spliced into earlier scenes, fight club style.

2.) Open your mind – Things are not what they seem, nor are they occurring in chronological order. Be aware that the audience sees things from the main character’s point of view, and the character may not be the most sane person.

3.) Repetition is the key – Certain lines of dialogue, actions, and even camera movements are repeated throughout the short, find the repetition and things should begin to make more sense.

4.) Important objects – Important objects include the owl, the glasses, and the mask. Pay attention to these objects as they carry great importance.

5.) Be a consistent watcher/chess fanatic – The writing on the main characters arm can really only be understood if you are either a continuous watcher of my videos, or if you are an extreme fanatic. The WWLHD written on the arm stands for What Would Liam Henry Do as muttered by the main character. Liam Henry is a person who has been name dropped in the punch line of more than one joke on my sketch show Yes Son That is a Lion. Liam Henry is a real person and he is a competitive chess player. The main character discovers the WWLHD directly before playing chess against the mask.

6.) The other acronym – The other acronym in the video can be seen on the envelope where the main character finds the note. On the sender line of the envelope the letters S.S.C are written. S.S.C. stands for Shaun’s Sub-Conscious. This acronym is visible immediately before the main character receives a phone call harassing him. The other end of the call is his subconscious attacking him for the all the things he doesn’t like about himself.

Movie Recommendation of the Week #6

assault on precinct 13 poster

assault on precinct 13 poster

Assault on Precinct 13

For some reason a lot of people seem to think that Halloween was John Carpenter’s first movie. It was actually his 3rd feature length film and it wasn’t even his first great film.

Assault on Precinct 13 was John Carpenter’s 2nd feature film and it came out in 1976, two years before Halloween in 1978.

The movie’s title is actually a big misconception. The assault doesn’t take place on Precinct 13, nor is there a Precinct 13 anywhere in the movie. The precinct in the movie is actually Precinct 9, District 13. John Carpenter’s original title was “The Anderson Alamo”, he later changed it to “The Siege”, but the movie distributors changed the title when they released it to “Assault on Precinct 13”, because they thought it sounded cool, and they were just not bothered to check their details.

Reasons to watch:

John Carpenter is in great form – Even though this isn’t a horror movie, it has Carpenter’s signature dark and foreboding style. It’s an action thriller (idealized as a western) that has a horror like atmosphere that works surprisingly well.

Great action – While there may not be a ton of action, what is there is great. The effects are fantastic. This is back in the 70’s so we have all the glorious assaultsquibs that sadly aren’t as prevalent in more modern films. The action is well shot, well performed, and is very intense.

Good characters – The acting is very good and the characters are very well rounded. The character development is done surprisingly well.

It seems like the kind of movie where you wouldn’t care about the characters, but John Carpenter did a great job as writer/director making the characters napoleon wilsonlikable and relate-able. They are believable in the situation and the good guys are fun to root for.

One character in particular is just so damn cool. Partially because of the excellent writing and partially because of the fantastic performance given by Darwin Joston. That character is Napoleon Wilson. This character is so Goddamn cool, he has to be on a list of coolest movie characters, but I feel he often goes overlooked.

It’s an overlooked classic – Assault on Precinct 13 is one of John Carpenter’s best films and it really is a classic.

Homeland Season 2 review

homeland season2

By Sam Kench

CLICK HERE to read my review of Season 1 first.

homeland season2So I just went through Season 2 of “Homeland“. Very quickly I might add. I watched the entirety of season 2 in just a few days. This show really got me hooked.

Homeland quickly became one of my favorite shows after the first season, and season 2 only cemented that place for it.

Even from the first season I was skeptical about the lifespan of this show. The concept, while fascinating, seems very limited, meaning that it could run out of steam if not handled correctly. Thankfully the excellent writing stopped that from happening for the first two seasons. I only remain worried about the future of the show because of the network it is run by.

I’m going to compare this to “Breaking Bad” real quick. “Breaking Bad” ended. It had a conclusion. That show knew when to gracefully bow out. Now I’m not saying that “Homeland” should end yet, just that when the time comes, I hope Showtime has the decency to lay it to rest, instead of running it into the ground. Showtime shows have a history of starting out great and then ended as mediocre versions of their former selves like “Dexter” and “Weeds” which both started great.

The second season of “Homeland” doesn’t change the style of the show, which is a good thing. The pacing is a little faster, not to say that it was slow the first season, but there was considerably more action this time around.

homeland season2aThe acting remains some of the highest caliber TV acting I’ve ever seen. Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, and Mandy Patinkin all give award worthy performances. The son is still bad, the daughter is even better this time around and is again, very impressive. The wife however got more annoying. She reminds me of one of the really annoying women from Mad Men.

A couple character I neglected to mention from the first season are the surveillance guys. There are two surveillance guys on the show named Virgil and Max. They are both good, Virgil provides a little comic relief without being distracting to the story, and Max is a very interesting character. The actor does a good job at giving him a strange aura while making him a cool character at the same time. There is a new major character introduced and that is Peter Quinn. When he got introduced I was just hoping he wouldn’t be like Joey Quinn who got added to Dexter. Peter Quinn takes a few episodes to warm up to, but he is a good addition to the cast.

homeland season2b

It is very interesting to see how the characters change over the course of the show. Especially Nicholas Brody played by Damian Lewis. This character has one of the most complex character arcs ever put into a TV show. His allegiances will be tested on both sides and seeing where he ends up is truly gripping.

Something good to note, is that the two seasons flow well together. They don’t feel seperated, and it doesn’t take any extra time to re-establish people or events from the previous season. Something that really annoys me in TV shows, is when the show feels the need to over explain everything to the audience. JJ Abrams’ shows are the worst at this. “Homeland” doesn’t hold your hand. They explain what they need to, but trust that the audience is smart enough, and perceptive enough to hold their own. Which at least to me, makes the viewing experience much more enjoyable.

The second season of Homeland remained just as fantastic as the first and I can not wait to go through the 3rd season.

“Crooked Letter Crooked Letter” by Tom Franklin

crooked letter crooked letter by tom franklin

crooked letter crooked letter by tom franklin

From the first paragraph of “Crooked Letter Crooked Letter”, Tom Franklin had me hooked. I was so captured by the characters in his novel I didn’t want to put it down. At the same time, I didn’t want it to end, and I put it aside a few times to make it last longer.

When you reach the last page, this quote will really ring true;

“You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.” ― Paul Sweeney

Description from the publisher:

“In the 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood pals in a small town in rural Mississippi. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry was the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother. But then Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie and she was never seen or heard from again. He never confessed . . . and was never charged.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry lives a solitary, shunned existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has become the town constable. And now another girl has disappeared, forcing two men who once called each other “friend” to confront a past they’ve buried for decades.”

Scavenging trailer

Scavenging

Check out this trailer for my upcoming series:

Scavenging is a post-apocalyptic show starring Adam Cassie and Andrew Fortier and was written and directed by myself. The first episode will be released on the Brickwall Productions youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpp5qug5n5UuhHyXd782sQg?feature=watch

Subscribe to the channel to be notified when the first episode is released in the near future.

Macabre Month of Horror 2013 movie review #26 – The Butterfly Effect (2004)

eric stoltz

posterThe Butterfly Effect is a landmark film. It marks Ashton Kutchers only good performance outside of That 70’s Show. Ashton is not usually a very god actor, but he does a great job here. Some people are turned off from the movie, thinking that Ashton Kutcher isn’t able to do a dramatic performance, but he does manage a solid performance here.

The concept and story of the Butterfly Effect is very complicated. The difficult script is handled intelligently and the story is incredibly strong. There are a few little plot-holes but they are completely forgivable. Mostly just simple things that the character could have done differently. Here’s an example SPOILER ALERT in the reality where he is a college fratboy and he has the girl and everything is practically perfect, except for the fact that he kills Tommy which lands him in prison. So there is no reason why after he gets things settled and goes to the reality after the prison that he can’t have another go. In the logic set up by the movie he should be able to go back to that reality and try it again, and this time he just doesn’t kill Tommy. He knows that Tommy is there now, so he could get the police, or restrain himself, or even just walk a different way and everything would be all set and ethan supleehunky dory from then on. Another moment that always annoyed me was when he was in the prison and he makes the marks appear on his hands to convince his cellmate to help him. He makes marks appear in the center of his hands by going back to when he was a  little kid and stabbing his hands on something in the classroom. So there are a couple of problems here, first off I think that if in the middle of a class a kid stabbed himself in the hands something different would happen. The movie is about how little tiny actions can change everything, and I would call impaling your hands a pretty f*cking big action. I think that would change the course of his life and he would end up somewhere different than in the prison, and the big thing is that even if he did still end up in the prison, the marks wouldn’t have just suddenly, in this reality the marks would have been there since he was a child and thus the cellmate wouldn’t see anything different.  END SPOILER. These little things don’t take too much away from the movie. As long as you don’t think about it too much. Time travel movies almost always have little plot holes and inconsistencies so just don’t think too much about it.

The acting it very good overall. Ashton Kutcher actually gives a very good performance and the rest of the cast is great for the most part. Amy Smart does a fine job, but her younger counterpart actually steals the show from her. For a young actress, her performance is great. The character is very dark and tormented but she pulls it off in a nice subtle way. The actress, Irene Gorovaia tier 2ended her career after this film. She did two films before the butterfly effect and none afterwards. She went on to be a dancer so, follow your dreams I guess, if that is what she really wanted to do. The guy who plays Evan at age 13 does a great job as well, unfortunately the same can not be said for the youngest tier of actors. There are 3 ages for most characters. There’s college, high school, and elementary school. The youngest group of actors for the elementary school age is definitely the weakest. The only one that really has a big part at this age is Evan and this actor is terrible. His expressions and line readings are always way off target. He makes light of very dark situation and is very bad. He completely took me out of the movie. Upon doing research for this review I found out that the same kid also played the son in 3:10 to Yuma and he was dreadful in that as well. This guy is a bad actor.young evan

One particularly strange thing i noticed is that in the credits there is an actor credited as playing “Evan at 3” and there is no point in the movie where we see Evan at age, not even in the directors cut. to make matters just a little bit weirder the actor, J. Jackson Kocela, has no picture on IMDB nor does he have any other acting credits. I was unable to find any outside information on the guy other than the Butterfly Effect credit. It’s a strange little mystery.

There is some twisted subject material in this film. The Butterfly Effect deals with some heavy elements. Here’s a quick rundown on some of the most disturbing and messed up moments in the movie. SPOILER Child Pornography/pedophilia, dog burning, a woman and her baby being killed, a little girl being blown up, a man eric stoltzbecoming a quadriplegic, prison rape, child murder, and in the director’s cut there is a fetus committing suicide. Yeah there is a lot of twisted depraved subject matter crammed into this not terribly long movie. It’s only 113 minutes long and with all that scarring material in there you could potentially be traumatized every couple of minutes.

All the messed up material is handled very maturely. The directors understood perfectly that sometimes what is implied is more effective than what is blatantly shown. A perfect example of this is when the mother and child are blown up. There is an explosive in a mailbox and the mother and child are approaching. The situation is intense enough just from that, but it really comes to a head when you see the baby’s hand grasp the edge of the mailbox. They don’t need to show the explosion. We just cut to a shot of the kids reacting as one of the harshest explosions can be heard from off screen resulting in a quick flash. That is good film making.butterfly effect prison

END SPOILER

The Butterfly Effect is a very competent film. The script is fantastic but it is not airtight. There are little inconsistencies, character errors, and plot holes, but most of those can be forgiven. The Butterfly Effect is highly engrossing and a very very god movie. It’s not much of a horror film, more of a thriller, but it is certainly disturbing. The first I watched the movie Eric Stoltz creeped me out. The second time around not so much, but his character is still messed up. The Butterfly Effect is a great film and i highly recommend it.

Macabre Month of Horror 2013 movie review #11’Session 9′ (2001)

session 9

session 9 poster“Session 9” is directed by Brad Anderson, the same guy who made the Machinist. I accidentally happened to watch both these movies in the same night before I knew who Brad Anderson was.

“Session 9” is about a group of asbestos removers who are doing their thing in an insane asylum. The movie was shot in a real insane asylum. I’ve actually been to this place and it’s creepy as hell. It’s a great location to film a movie.

The cinematography is fantastic. They really know how to film this place. The way you see the asylum on screen is pretty much exactly how it is in real life, so the location does most of the work for them. I almost feel as though the location could have been better utilized by a stronger script.session 9

The story is not terribly strong. The characters and performances are unremarkable. The twists near the end of the movie, never really come to fruition, and leave you feeling unfulfilled.

The main problem I have with the film, is that it doesn’t go far enough. It never quite crosses that line into horror territory. The film is presented with a number of opportunities to turn into a horror film, but it plays it too safe, and ends up suffering for it. Session 9 frequently borders on creepy but doesn’t make the plunge.

The ending of the film feels a little bit rushed and sloppy. The twist is not well constructed, and the fallout of it, is unremarkable. The film builds excellent tension, but there’s just no worthwhile payoff. It doesn’t end up amounting to much.session 9 2

The direction and cinematography of Session 9 are very well done. The film can be engrossing, but might leave you wanting more.

CLICK HERE if you want to check it out on DVD. Keep checking back all October long for a new horror review everyday, with this year’s Macabre Month of Horror.