All posts by Darren Lucas

Big Film fan and general entertainment fan

The Devil’s Hour – Frightfest Review

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The Devil’s Hour – Frightfest Review

Director: Johnny Allan

Writer: Tom Moran (Screenplay)

Cast

Plot: Lucy (Jessica Raine), is woken every night by terrifying visions at exactly 3.33 am: the devil’s hour. Her eight-year-old son is withdrawn and emotionless. Her mother speaks to empty chairs. Lucy’s house is haunted by the echoes of a life that isn’t her own.

Runtime: 58 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Devil’s Hour starts as child protective service officer Lucy Chambers (Raine) finds herself waking at 3.33 am every night. It starts with her son Isaac also being awake. Elsewhere, DI Ravi Dhillon (Patel) is investigating a murder with his partner DS Nick Holness (Ferns).

As Lucy continues on her own job, her visions and past start to give her warnings. Meanwhile, Ravi sees a connection in his case, with a previous unsolved missing person case.

Verdict on The Devil’s Hour

The Devil’s Hour Episode One gives us an excellent introduction to our two main characters. This sees us learn about Lucy and her struggles, along with her career which sees her put into stressful situations. Ravi shows us a detective that can think outside the box, as he looks for answers.

This first episode leaves us wanting more, as the mystery is only just beginning. There is plenty to digest and you could easily spend time focusing on the clues we are given. Jessica Raine, Nikesh Patel and Alex Ferns are great to watch, as we see the dynamic their characters must play out.

Where to Watch: The Devil’s Hour will debut in October on Amazon Prime Video.

Final Thoughts The Devil’s Hour leaves you wanting more and wanting to see how the mystery unfolds.

A Wounded Fawn (2022) Frightfest Movie Review

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A Wounded Fawn – Movie Review

Director: Travis Stevens

Writer: Nathan Faudree, Travis Stevens (Screenplay)

Cast

Plot: A serial killer brings an unsuspecting new victim on a weekend getaway to add another body to his ever-growing count. She’s buying into his faux charms, and he’s eagerly lusting for blood. What could possibly go wrong?

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: A Wounded Fawn starts as antique dealer Bruce Ernst (Ruben) makes sure he gets his latest artefact. Meanwhile, Meredith (Lind) has agreed to go on her first weekend away with Bruce, as their blossoming romance looks to start.

It isn’t long after arriving at the cabin, that Meredith starts seeing a woman wandering around in the shadows. As Meredith starts feeling uncomfortable, she looks to leave, but Bruce isn’t going to let that happen.

Verdict on A Wounded Fawn

Characters

Meredith is an art dealer who has been through an abusive relationship. She is trying to get back on her feet in the dating world, with Bruce being the first man she has got close to. Meredith starts seeing a woman around the home, putting herself in the correct mindset of wanting to leave.

Bruce Ernst is an antique dealer and serial killer. He uses his charm to get close to his victims, seemingly being controlled by a figure to commit these crimes. Bruce finds himself going on a journey, he never expected as he looks to make Meredith his latest victim.

Performances

Josh Ruben takes the role of the serial killer and while everything seems routine in the performance. It is the second half of the film where he shines with his performances, becoming a much more physical performance. Sarah Lind the second lead role is strong bringing a character to life with an insecure side.

Story

The story follows a serial killer that has selected his next victim only for him to find not everything is going to go as planned.

This story goes in a very different direction than expected, which is nice to see, as it ends up down a twisted path of insanity. It isn’t afraid to hold back and is a story that focuses heavily on what we learn early on. This does also feel like one that we could re-watch to pick up on more little clues along the way.

Themes

A Wounded Fawn is a horror that doesn’t hold back on anything. It uses a type of horror that leans towards the haunting warning before going into a bigger blood-soaked style moment. The effects are used extremely well to bring us into the visceral injuries inflicted. A remote weekend cabin is used for the prime location, which helps create the isolation the killer requires.

Final Thoughts A Wounded Fawn is visceral blood-soaked mayhem.

The Summoned (2022) Frightfest Movie Review

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The Summoned – Frightfest Movie Review

Director: Mark Meir

Writer: Yuri Baranovsky (Screenplay)

Cast

Plot: Two high-profile couples are forced to examine the cost of success when they’re invited to an exclusive self-help retreat with a sinister side.

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Summoned starts when the two couples, Elijah (Johnson) and Joplyn (Fitzpatrick) and Tara (Gulner) and Joe (Chacon) head to an exclusive self-help retreat. Dr Frost (Stuart) is known for having unusual methods and it isn’t long before they start coming out.

Elijah starts suffering nightmares, as he continues to feel out of place here. The other three have celebrity status and his insecurities start to come through.

Verdict on The Summoned

Characters

Elijah has agreed to head to the self-help retreat, he is joined by his musician girlfriend. He wants to settle down, get married and have a family, but Joplyn isn’t ready for that. Elijah shows his discomfort around the celebrities at the retreat, as he starts seeing his relationship unravel.

Joplyn is Elijah’s girlfriend and famous singer, she knows the rest of the people at the retreat. She doesn’t want to settle down as he does and over the course of the weekend, she reveals more about why.

Tara and Joe are the other couple on the retreat, an actress and author with great success. They are looking to get divorced and are often at each other’s throats over the course of the weekend.

Performances

J. Quinton Johnson in the leading role is great, while the story goes in a different direction. It is easy to see the similarities of feeling out of place that Daniel Kaluuya did in ‘Get Out’.

Emma Fitzpatrick, Angela Gulner and Salvador Chacon are great in the supporting roles, each star gets to bring something different to the table as the story unfolds.

Story

The story follows a pair of couples that head to a self-help retreat, only for it not to be everything it seems for one of the newest members of the retreat.

This story gets to dive into the idea that people will need help. The celebrity status people have would lead to them needing to be away from the world. It is easy to compare this to a more serious version of ‘Ready or Not’. Where the newest member of the retreat needs to understand what the others want from him.

The way everything plays out is kept smooth, as we see how Elijah must adapt to his surroundings. With the sinister side of the story coming through with his actions.

Themes

The Summoned is a horror thriller that uses the remote self-help retreat as the key location. It shows that there is no easy escape and any problems between the couples are here to be addressed and not just run from. The traditional nightmare sequences work well to make Elijah feel uncomfortable throughout his time there. In the horror side of the film, it is more about why they are at the retreat, with clever wordplay leading into what is happening.

Final Thoughts The Summoned is an unsettling getaway for couples.

The Harbinger (2022) Frightfest Movie Review

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The Harbinger – Frightfest Movie Review

Director: Andy Mitton

Writer: Andy Mitton (Screenplay)

Cast

  • Emily Davis (The Plagiarists)
  • Gabby Beans
  • Laura Heisler
  • Jay Dunn (We Go On)
  • Stephanie Roth Haberle (Philadelphia)

Plot: Monique ventures out of quarantine to visit an old friend who’s plagued by nightmares. She finds herself drawn into a hellish dreamscape where she must face her greatest fears – or risk never having existed at all.

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Harbinger starts as Mavis (Davis) finds herself struggling to hold her life together during a pandemic. She has nobody around her, with one neighbour Jason (Dunn) convincing her to talk to an old friend Monique (Beans).

Monique heads to Mavis’s apartment as she starts to learn about the dreams Mavis has been suffering through. It doesn’t take long before Monique starts seeing the shadowy figure lurking around the apartment. They need to figure out what it wants if they are going to make it out.

Verdict on The Harbinger

Characters

Monique comes to visit her friend in the big city, risking her health during the pandemic. She knows she needs to quarantine afterwards but finds herself trapped in the apartment after an outbreak in the building. It isn’t long before she starts seeing a figure in her nightmares, one that has a habit of trapping people in their dreams. Monique must face her past if she is going to escape the nightmare she has been placed in.

Mavis is a lonely woman struggling to find anything in her life during the lockdowns. She has been suffering horrendous nightmares that she can’t wake up from and turns to Monique for a friend to talk to. Mavis has tried anything to escape her nightmares, hoping a friend gives her a charge to recover.

In the supporting cast, we meet Monique’s family who has their own fear about the pandemic. There are also the other residents in the building Mavis lives in, who have their own judgement on her.

Performances

Gabby Beans in the leading role is strong, as we see her go through so much uncertainty and a range of emotions as the horror is unfolding. She makes us feel as uneasy as her character. Emily Davis brings us a character that is on the edge of her mind, showing us the side effects of everything that is going on.

Story

The story follows two friends that reunite during a pandemic, only to learn they are going through a nightmare experience. As they continue the spiral down the unknown, they must figure out how to escape the nightmare.

In this story, we get to see how the pandemic created new motivation for horror. It shows that people have their minds playing tricks on them. although, it also highlights how the unknown will control people’s lives. The nightmares that Monique goes through, keep us guessing as to what is happening throughout the story.

Themes

The Harbinger is a horror movie that dives into nightmares people can go through. It brings a figure that you would never want to meet to life or in dreams. The movie wants to use the reflection of isolation during the lockdowns in the pandemic to create uncertainty in the minds of the characters. The locations are used well because they end up sending Monique on her journey, which gives her a chance to solve what is happening.

Final Thoughts The Harbinger is a creepy horror, that is fuelled by your own nightmares.

Night of the Bastard (2022) Frightfest Movie Review

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Night of the Bastard – Frightfest Movie Review

Director: Erik Boccio

Writer: Christian Ackerman, Bhuck Foster (Screenplay)

Writer: Erik Boccio (Story)

Cast

  • London May (The Dark Knight Rises)
  • Mya Hudson
  • Hannah Pierce
  • Henry Mortensen (Crimson Tide)
  • Victoria Goodhart (Incubus)

Plot: After an injured young woman takes refuge in his secluded home, a gruff recluse must fight off a bloodthirsty cult and an insatiable sorceress to save both of their lives. A battle to survive becomes a gripping race against the clock to escape a perverse ritual of blood and flesh.

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Night of the Bastard starts when Kiera (Hudson) is camping in the remote desert with two friends. They stumble across reclusive Reed (May) who chases them off his land, only to send them straight into the path of a bloodthirsty cult.

After the leader of the cult Claire (Pierce) attacks Kiera and her friends, Kiera takes refuge with Reed. The unlikely pair must work together to fight through the night to survive the attack, as Kiera learns what the group want.

Verdict on Night of the Bastard

Characters

Reed is a reclusive man living in the desert away from the world. he chases Kiera and her friends off his land as well as hating blood. When his home comes under attack, he does reluctantly help Kiera fight back. We don’t seem to learn much about why he is so reclusive though.

Kiera is camping with her friends when the trip gets interrupted. She gets hurt and seeks refuge from Reed. Kiera has a bigger reason to fight to survive, wanting to get back to her son, despite being wounded, she will not give up fighting.

Claire is a high priestess that has planned for tonight to be the big moment for her following. She terrorises Reed and Kiera with her cult, as we wait to see what she has in store for the two.

In the supporting characters, we get the rest of the cult who have their own different obstacles for the pair to overcome.

Performances

London May is great in the reclusive role, he shows the weaknesses in the character, as well as his determination. We see how hard he will fight to save the people around him.

Mya Hudson as a younger character in need of help, unwilling to give up either, shines. She stands up to the cult and Reed to make sure her character is as strong as possible.

Hannah Pierce as the leader of the cult brings a seductive tone to her character that makes her dominate the surrounding area. The rest of the supporting cast do well as the different members you would expect to see in a cult.

Story

The story follows two strangers that must band together to fight back against a bloodthirsty cult who are willing to kill for what they want.

This story feels like a thrown back to the cults outnumbering the innocent who wants to escape. It never holds back on the twisted ideas the cult offers up and most importantly sees the different struggles the victims must overcome.

There are plenty of twisted ideas in play here. As an opening sequence shows us what the cult is capable of. It creates a guessing game, which the violence plays along with nicely, even if the outcome doesn’t make complete sense.

Themes

Night of the Bastard is an action horror that never holds back on the violence, despite having a character who is afraid of blood. It uses the cult numbers as the biggest threat, as it is clear they have their own beliefs. The remote location helps the cult but doesn’t really explain why Reed is out there in the first place. When it comes to seeing everything unfold, it does have a relentless nature, once everybody is unleashed to do what they want.

Final ThoughtsNight of the Bastard is a blood-soaked cult-infested movie.

The Eyes Below (2022) Frightfest Movie Review

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The Eyes Below – Frightfest Movie Review

Director: Alexis Bruchon

Writer: Alexis Bruchon (Screenplay)

Cast

  • Vinicius Coelho
  • Pauline Morel

Plot: A lawyer is trapped in his bed by a supernatural creature that appears under the bed covers.

Runtime: 1 Hour 17 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Eyes Below starts as lawyer Eugene (Coelho) finds himself struggling with night terrors, after seeing a shadow figure in his home. Eugene starts trying to put the pieces together after the figure, which sees him searching through his work and questioning his faith.

As each encounter becomes more terrifying, Eugene finds himself battling the unknown to make it through the night.

Verdict on The Eyes Below

Characters

Eugene is a man trying to have a normal night’s sleep, he is awoken by the figure in his bedroom. At first, he sees it more as an optical illusion, but when it returns, he finds himself dealing with something more sinister. Eugene doesn’t speak a world through the film, knowing there isn’t anyone to call out to for help.

Performances

Vinicius Coelho is excellent in the leading role, taking on an almost silent performance, relying only on screams. It is a performance where you can see the clogs turning in his character’s mind, as he looks for answers.

Story

The story follows a man that finds himself trapped by an unexpected threat in his own bedroom. One that starts off lurking before becoming one he must fight off to survive.

The story is kept to the minimum here, relying on the tension to drive things forward. It is simple because it relies solely on the idea of trying to survive a threat coming from when you believe you are safest, asleep in your own bed. The story does an excellent job at creating clues that are needed to solve what is going on.

Themes

The Eyes Below is an atmospheric horror thriller that brings horror to the character’s bed. Using a mixture of sleep paralysis, optical illusions and night terrors to create the nightmare experience Eugene goes through. The movie is kept nearly entirely in the character’s bedroom and uses music to build up the tension and play out the horrors. With no real words being used, only screams or reactions. The lighting plays into the terror, as like Eugene, we can’t see in the shadows.

Final Thoughts The Eyes Below is an excellent horror which is filled with tension, suspense and atmosphere.

Tiny Cinema (2022) Frightfest Movie Review

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Tiny Cinema – Frightfest Movie Review

Director: Tyler Cornack

Writer: Tyler Cornack, Ryan Koch, William Morean (Screenplay)

Cast

  • Austin Lewis
  • Shelby Dash
  • Paul Ford

Plot: A mysterious stranger tells the twisted tale of seemingly unconnected strangers caught in a series of otherworldly events whose lives will change in incredible ways forever.

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict on Tiny Cinema

Game Night

Game Night starts as the Thompson’s game night sends the husband down a spiral of obsession about who she is. This consumes him putting everyone’s life in danger until the next Game Night, when he releases everything. In what is a strange start, this first chapter does show obsession over everything consuming a life. 3/5

Edna

Edna follows a young woman Edna who has been struggling with her own identity in her path of loneliness. As Edna faces a potential suicide attempt, she discovers a dead body, taking it home to be her man in life. Edna tries to have a perfect life, but this only leaves her getting tired of who he really is. In a story that is warning about being careful what you wish for, the darkly comedic side of this short chapter works very well. 4/5

Bust!

Bust! Starts as three friends rob a grocery store, before jumping back one week early. Here, we learn why the friends are in this situation, being driven by one’s personal problems. This sends the friends down an unusual path to help their friend with his problem. In what is an odd story, to say the least, it shows the weird things people do for friendship. 2/5

Deep Impact

Deep Impact starts as a delivery man must make a delivery to a remote location. Here he will discover a man that claims to be him from the future, wanting his DNA to escape. As the driver must figure out what to believe, he is left with an awkward situation to escape. This is yet another odd story, that plays into the concepts of what would you do in this situation. 3/5

Motherf*ckers

Motherf*ckers follows four gangsters whose poker game takes a twisted turn. Where a joke comment gets taken to literal. This is easily the shortest story involved, that never really gets going. 1/5

Daddy’s Home

Daddy’s Home follows a couple on their first date, which takes an uncomfortable turn when the lady makes a proposal. This sees the man snort the ashes of her father and sees him slowly transform into a mix of dad jokes and uncomfortable discussions. Daddy’s Home might well be the most disturbing and strangely enjoyable of the series of stories we see. 5/5

Final Thoughts Tiny Cinema has enough twisted tales to keep the audience happy. Like most anthologies, we have the good and bad, but the same disturbing tone throughout.

Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin (2022) Frightfest Movie Review

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Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin – Frightfest Movie Review

Director: Dima Ballin, Kat Ellinger

Plot: Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin tells the story of one of Eurocult cinema’s most singular voices. Deeply misunderstood and widely misrepresented, during his decades-long career as a film director (1958-2009), Rollin’s work received absolutely no recognition in his native country of France and was completely unknown anywhere else. In the nineties, because of home video, Rollin attained a marginal cult status in niche English-speaking genre circles.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict on Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin

Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin is a documentary exploring the career of French director Jean Rollin. It explores his unique erotic depiction of vampires, which was against the trend in France at the time.

The documentary sees fans of his work and people who worked with him discuss their brightest memories of his work. It follows through his whole career and sees how he never managed to get the mainstream success many believe he should have.

Whenever you get to explore a director and their work, it is fascinating to see, even if the films aren’t from a genre you enjoy. This showed how Jean Rollin looked to evolve as cinema did and despite how the audience reacted upon release. The cult following he gained upon home release showed how horror movies will always find an audience.

Final ThoughtsOrchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin is an interesting documentary about a cult horror director.

Hounded (2022) Frightfest Movie Review

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Hounded – Frightfest Movie Review

Director: Tommy Boulding

Writer: Ray Bogdanovich, Dean Lines (Screenplay)

Cast

Plot: A stately home robbery takes an evil turn one night when a gang of young thieves are caught by the owners of the house and then hunted across the estate for the proprietor’s entertainment

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Hounded starts as Chaz (Pullar-Latchman) and his crew Vix (Traylen), Leon (Junior) and Todd (Coles) rob stately manor homes. Chaz wants to walk away from the life of crime, but it talked into one more job. As the group enter the home, the residents reveal themselves to be hidden in the home. They taser the thieves and release them into the countryside.

As the four are released, they discover they have become the latest targets in a twisted hunting game for Katherine Redwick (Bond) and her family. The four must band together to escape the hunt or take a stand and fight back.

Verdict on Hounded

Characters

Chaz is the leader of a small group of thieves, he has only been in this world until he can pay for his brother’s education. He keeps the jobs simple and is about to walk away before accepting one last job. Chaz uses his smarts to keep the jobs simple, including this latest one, get in and get out. He looks to guide his friends to safety after they become captured.

Chaz has a loyal crew, Leon, Vix and Todd who follow his rules to get the job done. On the run, he thinks one step ahead of the hunters. The crew have their strengths and weaknesses which are shown in their unity.

Katherine Redwick is leading the family hunt, it is her home that gets broken into and it is her yearly tradition to hunt. She remains calm when things don’t get to plan and remains determined to complete the traditions.

In the supporting characters, we get the rest of the hunters. It is played out like a teaching method for the youngest member of the group. Others of the group start showing their impatience, explaining why Katherine is the leader.

Performances

Malachi Pullar-Latchman is great in the leading role, he shows the leadership skills needed for the role and the loyalty his character has. He shows good chemistry with the rest of the crew Hannah Traylen, Nobuse Junior and Ross Coles.

Samantha Bond is a delight to watch as the lead hunter, she brings the rich entitled character to life. The calmness she brings to the table adds plenty to the movie too.

Story

The story follows a group of thieves that find the tables turned on them, as they become the latest game in the rich family’s hunt.

One of the easiest films to compare this to would be ‘Don’t Breathe’ without a twisted turn of events. The idea that the thieves have everything turned on them and need to run and survive is seen in this. Having the hunt taking place in the open countryside during the day is interesting. As it shows the horror of being hunted down like in ‘The Hunt’ without having the cover of darkness.

There is also a clear message about walking away when you have a chance and not pushing your luck. This is seen in the Chaz character who was reluctant about this latest job.

Themes

Hounded is an action horror that blends ‘The Hunt’ and ‘Don’t Breathe’ together to bring us an open area hunt on thieves. The open countryside shows different obstacles the group must overcome to survive while having the dogs hunt them down. There seems to be a poke at the rich who like fox hunting, with this having the message that they will find a way around the bans.

Where to Watch: Signature Entertainment presents Hounded on Digital Platforms on 31st October

Final Thoughts Hounded is an unsettling human hunting movie.