Xenophobia (2019)

Director: Joe Castro, Thomas J Churchill, Steven J Escobar

Writer: Joe Castro, Thomas J Churchill, Steven J Escobar (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Renton, Manu Intiraymi, Rachel Sterling, Brinke Stevens, Angie Stevenson, Kelly Lynn Reiter, Nick Principe

Plot: Six complete strangers recall the details of their individual experiences with alien forces-sharing the terrifying stories of their abductions and possessions.


Tagline – Fear the Aliens

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Nice Little Alien Anthology

Story: Xenophobia starts as we head to an alien support group after Eric (Powell) has his own experience of the unexplained. The group has been meeting for years and to make him feel welcome, they let him know about their own experiences, first up is Becky (Renton) who on a camping trip with her husband and dogs get a visit that will change the world forever.

The next story follows a new member Karen (Stevens) who believes her daughter has been abducted by aliens after receiving a worrying video message, we follow the night which led up to the disappearance of the daughter, which is filled with strange occurrences.

The third story comes from Kara (Sterling) who has been running from her abusive husband, to a hide away for women of abuse, with Adrian (Perez) leading the protection for the women, only for them to find themselves stuck in a world they couldn’t have imagined.

Thoughts on Xenophobia

PerformancesWhen we look at the performances in the film we get the type of performances we are expecting in the b-movie style of movies, we have moments that are over the top, while others bring us the grounded performance we need.

StoryThe story here is an anthology of alien encounters that are connected by the support group, each member does have their own story, which gives us a chance to break down the different stories. First up was Pinnacles which might be one of the quickest stories, but it does let us see just how a typical alien encounter might come about, it is simple and does what it needs to, to send Eric to the support group. Doomsday is one that starts like you would imagine, only to go down a very different path which will shock along the way. Star Child is the story that embraces the b-movie style the movie gets through, it does feel like the campiest of the anthology. The Sullivan House is the biggest of the stories, it has a bigger message going on, which is all the more interesting despite the clear alien heading their way at some point. For an overall anthology this is on the similar levels as the VHS film only for it to only focus on aliens, each one will have a different look.

Sci-FiThe sci-fi side of this film focuses on the different aliens that are visiting the humans, each one does have a unique look which is great to see, something different.

SettingsThe film does give us the normal locations for alien encounters, be it a remote house, the woods or a cabin in the woods, yeah nothing overly difficult, but they do work.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are a mixed bag, the practical ones all look great, which is nice to see, certain CGI moments do just look out of place though.


Scene of the Movie – The Sullivan House.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The CGI moments are weak.

Final Thoughts This is an entertaining alien anthology film, it is nice that they are all connected in some way which helps with the meeting, rather than just having random stories.

Overall: Anthology to enjoy.

Rating

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – Z – Zulu (2013)

Director: Jerome Salle

Writer: Julien Rappeneau, Jerome Salle (Screenplay) Caryl Ferey (Book)

Starring: Orlando Bloom, Forest Whitaker, Conrad Kemp, Inge Beckmann, Tinarie van Wyk Loots, Regardt van den Bergh

 

Plot: Policemen Ali Sokhela and Brian Epkeen investigate the brutal murder of a young white woman, apparently provoked by the availability of a new illegal drug and somehow connected to the disappearance of black street children.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gritty Crime Drama

 

Story: Zulu starts when a young woman is murdered, police officer Ali Sokhela (Forest) and his team that includes the washed up Brian Epkeen (Bloom) and rookie Dan Fletcher (Kemp) must start to investigate the case.

As the investigation deepens Brian must hold himself together while Ali must face his demons from his past which becomes deadly as they fall into an illegal drug dealing ring with a new devasting drug on the market.

 

Thoughts on Zulu

 

Characters – Brian Epkeen is a washed-up police officer, he is great at solving crimes, he tends to have a different woman every night, which has made him distant from his son. He never looks professional but will always do the right thing for his team. Ali Sokhela is scared by his childhood in the racial torn country, now he is a captain in the police force which sees him needing to forgive the men his father fought against to work in the same team, he does have connections which helps him through the city, with his own demons he must locate the killer. Dan is a rookie officer that is part of the team, his innocence isn’t ready to be in the field with the seasoned vets. Ruby is Brian’s ex-wife that hates him and that Brian hassle when he feels like it.

PerformancesOrlando Bloom does show us that he can still be a leading man, an edgy side to his character is a big plus too, we could happily watch more of his work here. Forest Whitaker is great too, he has the darker backstory which pushes him into his decisions and hits the accent. The rest of the cast don’t get as much screen time as he does, but you do feel like they hired a lot of local talent which helps make the film feel authentic.

StoryThe story follows two cops, one with a dark past because of his skin colour as a child, the other lives in darkness because of his addiction that must use their skills to solve a crime which starts simple enough until things get out of hand to a much bigger problem running through the city. This does feel gritty with how we investigate things, it doesn’t hold back with what happens to the characters and shows us just how far the criminal underworld will go to keep a secret. While this doesn’t rely on twists to get the final outcome, it does show us just how far these two would go to solve a crime and bring the criminals to justice.

CrimeThe crime world we enter here shows us just how both sides in a drug war are waging against each other, we get bodies piling up that will only increase the battle with a racial tension that just increases the tension between the twos.

SettingsThe film is set in South Africa, we get to see how difficult the drug war is with the racial tension still between the people in the city.


Scene of the Movie –
Brian’s escape plan.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The scene where the head turns up, there is such a pointless line here.

Final ThoughtsThis is a gritty crime drama that shows us the harsh reality of the drug world, the two cops must overcome demons that will put them through a major test to get to the bottom of a crime.

 

Overall: Crime fans surprise.

Rating

 

 

The Faceless Man (2019)

Director: James Di Martino

Writer: James Di Martino (Screenplay)

Starring: Sophie Thurling, Lucas Pittaway, Andy McPhee, Roger Ward, Albert Goikhman, Brendan Bacon, Daniel Reader

 

Plot: Emily is a recovering cancer survivor of three years. Faced with her fear of getting sick again, her best friend Nina plans a weekend away. Six friends venture out to a country holiday house to party over a weekend. Cut off from the rest of the world they soon learn the inhabitants are unsettling red neck individuals who terrorize and humiliate travelers. At the same time a para-normal monster seen as the faceless man haunts the house pushing the friends to their limits.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Splatter-fest

 

Story: The Faceless Man starts when Emily (Thurling) a recovering cancer survivor who has starting to put her life back together is spending a weekend away with friends, Nina (Kauffeld), Kyle (Pittaway), Brad (Facciolo), Dave (Astifo) and Chad (Walia) are having a weekend away for parties.

It isn’t long before the group of friends have upset the local rednecks who decide to terrorize them, a ruthless drug dealer Viktor Nov (Goikhman) searching for them, while Emily is dealing with her own insecurities about her recover, which manifests itself in a faceless figure haunting her.

 

Thoughts on The Faceless Man

 

Characters – Emily is a cancer survivor, she made it with friends, not family and has just started to put her life back together, despite having the fear that one day it would return, which appears to her in living nightmares including a faceless man figure, out of the group of friends this is the only character that gets much outside the generics traits we learn, we have the friend that wants more of a relationship, the one that will push the limits of drugging people, a few jokers and the best friend who can’t handle their substances. Eddie is the owner of the rented house, he comes off creepy to the city slickers as he puts it, he doesn’t want trouble in his property and will deal with anybody that causes it. Viktor Nov is the ruthless drug dealer that has been hunting for his drugs which have a connection to the group of friends, he uses his muscle to kill anybody that disrespects him.

PerformancesSophie Thurling in the leading role is one of the highlights in the film, seeing Sophie balance the mindset of her character through the film will keep us wondering just what will happen next, Albert Goikhman as the ruthless drug dealer is fun to watch, we always know something violent is going to happen when he is on the screen. Andy McPhee does bring the awkward local to life well too.

StoryThe story follows a group of friends that want to go on a drink & drug filled party weekend, only to end up in a town that isn’t happy with this lifestyle and that want to send a message to them, while we also see one character haunted by a terrifying looking faceless man. This story does have plenty going on, which works in and against it because you could easily drop one of the side stories and still have an enjoyable horror movie, but mixing them together does add to the mystery of what will happen next, because it does feel like nobody is safe from what is going on. We could have had more development on the group of friends, as it they end up coming off like your usual slasher cast. With the different arcs we do get plenty of violence which is what the film wants to pay respect to the Ozploitation era of cinema, which will help understand the tone of the film.

HorrorThe most impressive part of the horror in this film comes from the Faceless Man himself, it comes early in creepy moments, but the reveal of the creature is one of the most terrifying figures in horror this year.

SettingsThe film is set in a small town location, with most of the action happening in the one house picked for the party, it shows how things can get out of hand and how uninvited guests can cause more problems in life.

Special EffectsThe effects to create the Faceless Man are brilliant, he will scare you, where this film also shines is by letting us imagine the damage being down, with the chainsaw scene being played out longer than needed, which only adds to the horror being inflicted.


Scene of the Movie –
The Faceless Man, first full reveal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The group of friends are not that interesting.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror film built of paying respect to the Ozploitation era of cinema, it brings us plenty of blood and keeps us guessing along the way.

 

Overall: Ozploitation has returned.

Rating