ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – F – Fire in the Sky (1993)

Director: Robert Lieberman

Writer: Tracy Torme (Screenplay) Travis Walton (Book)

Starring: D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick, Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg, Henry Thomas, Bradley Gregg, James Garner

 

Plot: An Arizona logger mysteriously disappears for five days in an alleged encounter with a flying saucer in 1975.


Tagline – For five days, a man was borrowed. The story that Travis Walton and five other witnesses told is so unbelievable, so unimaginable, that it has become the most famous case of UFO abduction ever recorded.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: That One Scene Shines

 

Story: Fire in the Sky starts as five loggers Mike (Patrick), Allan (Sheffer), David (Berg), Greg (Thomas) and Bobby (Gregg) return to town in a panic with a story to tell the authorities, which brings in Sheriff Frank Watters (Garner). The story the guys tell is the they investigated a mysterious light in the woods which took Travis (Sweeney).

With the search going on for Travis, Mike and the crew find themselves prime suspects in a cover up, until Travis returns with his own account of the story.

 

Thoughts on Fire in the Sky

 

Characters – Travis Walton was a logger that went missing for five days, he doesn’t remember at first what happened, but the truth ill haunt him for the rest of his life as he remembers being taken by aliens. Mike Rogers is the best friend of Travis’ that doesn’t know how to handle his disappearance and his reappearance, but knows that nothing was done by the men in his crew. Frank Watters is the sheriff trying to prove this is a hoax or a cover up depending which side of the events are. The characters are based on the real people which does help make this feel like a good real story to follow.

PerformancesThe performances across the board are good, with D.B. Sweeney showing the pure terror needed during the abduction scene. Robert Patrick works well in his role where he could easily be the lead of the film. James Garner brings an extra bit of class to the performances too.

StoryThe story follows one of the most famous and detailed encounters from alien abduction in history. The story first treats the events like a murder cover up which is wonderful to watch on the screen because we don’t need to watch a full abduction routine which we do see later in the film. the story balances the ideas of what could be truth and what people would want the truth to be too.

Fantasy/Mystery/Sci-Fi The fantasy part of this film comes from what you want to believe about the events, because there is no proof it is real, this adds the mystery too which does also circle around the truth too. The sci-fi side of the film comes from the moment in space which shows what the aliens did to Travis.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the small town location where the events happened which does keep us understand how the town would react to the situation.

Special EffectsThe effects are spared for the final moments of the film where we see what happened to Travis, they all look great too.


Scene of the Movie –
Memories nightmare

That Moment That Annoyed Me I was expecting more from the alien abduction side of things.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good sci-fi film, it does balance the event between what could have happened, what is believed to have happened and leaves you to make up your own mind, with a sequence in the ship which will be haunting.

 

Overall: A sci-fi film that hasn’t dated like others

Rating

 

 

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Fanged Up (2018)

Director: Christian James

Writer: Daniel O’Reilly, Nick Nevern, Dan Palmer (Screenplay)

Starring: Daniel O’Reilly, Danielle Harold, Stu Bennett, Vas Blackwood, Stephen Marcus, Steven Berkoff, Lauren Socha

 

Plot: A young rogue is thrown into prison for the weekend, unaware that the guards are blood-sucking vampires and the inmates are their victims.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bloody Hilarious

 

Story: Fanged Up starts when loud mouth Jimmy Ragsdale (O’Reilly) gets into a fight he ends up being locked up over the weekend, the prison environment seems strange for Jimmy with his Russian cellmate Victor Stanczyk (Bennett) who does offer to help him, even with the strange habits the prison had adopted including midnight meals.

Elsewhere in the prison new doctor Katie Makepeace (Harold) has her first job and isn’t used to the routines set out by the Governor Payne (Berkoff). It doesn’t take long for Jimmy to learn that the guards are vampires and along with his ex-girlfriend Katie and a few inmates including Victor, Shifty (Blackwood) and Reeves (Marcus) the battle to survive the bloody thirsty monsters comes to light.

 

Thoughts on Fanged Up

 

Characters – Jimmy is your typical cockney geezer, he talks too much with his mouth always gets him in trouble and this time he lands him in jail. In prison he wants be the tough guy, he isn’t a tough guy, now he must use his cockney lingo to survive the horrors. I will say that Jimmy could be a character you enjoy or one that could get on your nerves though, depending how you react to cockney figures. Katie is the brand-new doctor for the prison, she is taking her first role as a solo doctor, it doesn’t take long for her to clash heads with the Governor and she joins the prisoners in the battle to survive. Victor is the big tough Russian inmate that befriends Jimmy even if part of their conversations get lost in translation. Shifty is the prisoner that can get you anything on the inside, nice guy that helps lead the path to a way out, not much of a fighter though. Governor Payne is the head vampire that has been controlling and planning events in the prison waiting for a certain day to arrive.

PerformancesDaniel O’Reilly takes the leading role in this film, the character feels like it should be early Danny Dyer and while he does balance through the thin line of funny and annoying, you will be liking his character by the end of the film. Danielle Harold is our leading lady and the film even addresses her beauty in the doctor role, she does everything to make her character standout through the film. Stu Bennett was the biggest surprise for me, I know he has gone into acting after wrestling and this type of movie works for him. I do think he pulls the Russian accent off and is a character we did want to see more of. Vas Blackwood is good in this role too and to be honest everyone does a good job through the film.

StoryThe story can be bottled down to one simple line ‘Prisoners vs Vampires’ this is how simple the story is to follow. The idea is an idea we have seen elements to before, anything revolving around vampires needs to take a fresh approach, much like 30 Days of Night bought us to a location that is always dark for 30 days, this brings us to a location for the story to follow criminals that can be used as food for the vampires. We get a thin romance angle, which could easily be dropped and still give the main story the same effect, but otherwise this is a vampire story than can be enjoyed by the fans.

Comedy/HorrorThe comedy is hit more often than it misses, we get plenty of bad moves from Jimmy which give us the laughs, a few pop culture references which hit for the time being too. When we look at the horror side of the film we are studying the inclusion of the vampires and whether we would be scared by them, the characters would be, but they are not to the same level of scare as the classic vampires.

SettingsThe film takes place in the prison, this does feel fresh for the vampire genre and using a singular location where the vampires can prey does add to the idea of their calculated nature when it comes to hunting.

Special EffectsThe special effects do work for the film, most of them tend to be blood baths which is fine as long as they are consistent through the film, which they are.


Scene of the Movie –
Jimmy meets Victor.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have liked Victor to get more screen time.

Final ThoughtsIf you like vampire comedy, if you are British or like British comedy, this one is for you, it will make you laugh more than it will make you scream and you will have a good time watching this.

 

Overall: Blood soaked comedy you can sink your teeth into.

Rating

 

 

Face of Evil (2016)

Director: Vito Dinatolo

Writer: Vito Dinatolo (Screenplay)

Starring: Scott Baxter, Chad Bishop, Jamie Bernadette, Janet Roth, James Hutchinson, Christopher Thorpe, Charmane Star

 

Plot: A war vet returns home, but a mysterious epidemic breaks out and infects his friends… The nightmare has just begun.


Tagline – What’s your demon?

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Clever Horror Thriller

 

Story: Face of Evil starts when Jay (Baxter) returns from his time in the services, his house is a mess, but his friends are there to welcome him home with a party. It isn’t long before the party takes an unwelcome twist and now Jay must face his infected friends out to kill him.

With his home invaded he must work with his sister Katy (Bernadette) to escape and team up with his former Sarge (Bishop) to fight the infected and learn the truth.

 

Thoughts on Face of Evil

 

Characters – Jay is the returning war vet, life isn’t what he remembers and after a night of partying things take a turn as he must team up with his Sarge to fight infected running riot in the streets. Sarge is the former brother in arms of Jay, he helps him through the infected streets be prepared for being discovered along the way. Katy is the sister of Jay that has helped throw the party, she is one that gets caught up with Jay needing to help her survive.

PerformancesIt would be fair to say Scott Baxter is the star of this movie, he appears in nearly every scene and it is his position through each situation that he gets to show us. Chad Bishop is good once he appears making us want to see what his character does next. While the rest of the performances are good, we don’t get too much time with them to see them standing out.

StoryThe story follows a war veteran that must battle the infected across the home town, it shows how the deeper he gets the bigger the threat. This mostly follows one man who interacts with people along the way, which helps guide him to his final destination and the answers he is looking for. It would be fair to say the story gives hints to the conclusion of the film, which if you pick up on, you will get the end, otherwise this might not hit all the marks for the audience.

HorrorThe horror side of the film is the journey Jay must go through during this night, be it the infected chasing him or learning what is causing the infection to spread.

SettingsThe film is set in one city which shows how Jay and Sarge search for answers while alluding the infected.

Special EffectsThe effects are simple and you can see the budget holding certain parts being held back, most are the infected look and bullet splatter.


Scene of the Movie –
The final act.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The early house scenes can be hard to follow in the darkness.

Final ThoughtsThis is a clever thriller that does take time to get going, it does show us where things are going, but it does deliver on a surprise and important message.

 

Overall: Thriller that keeps you thinking.

Rating

 

 

The Forest of the Lost Souls (2018)

Director: Jose Pedro Lopes

Writer: Jose Pedro Lopes (Screenplay)

Starring: Daniela Love, Jorge Mota, Mafalda Banquart, Ligia Roque, Lilla Lopes, Tiago Jacome

 

Plot: The Forest of the Lost Souls is a dense and remote forest, Portugal’s most popular place for suicide. In a summer morning, two strangers meet within the woods.


Tagline – Sadness will last forever.

Runtime: 1 Hour 11 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hauntingly Beautiful

 

Story: The Forest of the Lost Souls starts as we learn about the Portuguese forest of the lost souls, the place where people go to commit suicide. Ricardo (Mota) a middle-aged man is there for his first attempt, he runs into young lady Carolina (Love) who has been here before and the two discuss their reasons for being in the forest this time around.

We learn that one of these two has a secret and alternative motives for being the forest, and now they are searching for more victims, Filipa (Banquart) whose sister was one of the victims of the forest becomes the latest target.

 

Thoughts on The Forest of the Lost Souls

 

Characters – Carolina is the young woman wondering around the forest, she has the back up plans in case she can’t go through with her suicide attempt, we don’t learn too much about why she is there from her conversation with Ricardo. Ricardo is the middle-aged man that is in the forest, this is his first time here and he hasn’t planned for the situation if he couldn’t get through it, he tries to talk Carolina out of her plan, while also learning to plan for his own decision. Filipa has seen her sister take her life, part of a family that is getting stalked by a mysterious person.

PerformancesThe cast keeps us down to only six people that even have lines, Daneila Love and Jorge Mota give us the best performances because the interactions between the two keep us on edge to learn motive behind their actions.

StoryThe story is broken into three chapters, the opening sequences which shows us how the forest can be used for the suicide, the second and most interesting on follow the two different generations discussing the idea of suicide, the final one which shows the motives of one of them, even if we don’t learn the complete reasoning behind everything. these chapters keep the pace flowing and the mystery waiting, it is give a dark and disturbing feeling of unease throughout.

Horror/MysteryThe horror comes from the realization of one of the characters motives and what they go onto do. The mystery comes from wondering what the motives are for going this way with this character.

SettingsThe settings a beautiful, they show us how bleak the forest can make people feel like this would be the right place for suicide.

Special EffectsThe effects are used lightly, mostly with use of camera to film the darker scenes.


Scene of the Movie –
Reading the note.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not learning the complete truth by the end.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very interesting, beautiful and bleak horror movie which will ask big questions about how to tackle suicide in the darkest places.

 

Overall: Horror fans to go and enjoy.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – F – Force Majeure (2014)

Director: Ruben Ostlund

Writer: Ruben Ostlund (Screenplay)

Starring: Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergren, Vincent Wettergren, Kristofer Hivju, Fanni Metelius

 

Plot: A family vacationing in the French Alps is confronted with a devastating avalanche.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not What I Was Expecting

 

Story: Force Majeure starts as our family Tomas (Kuhnke), Ebba (Kongsli), Vera (Wettergren), Harry (Wettergren) on their skiing holiday, this does feel like the first time they have come together in a while and as the holiday continues the strain they are experiencing becomes clear.

When an avalanche comes towards the family but fails to hit them, Tomas finds himself running from it leaving Ebba with the kids, this puts a new strain on their marriage which gets put to the test for the rest of the trip as Ebba challenges Tomas to accept his weaknesses and mistake during the moment of crisis.

 

Thoughts on Force Majeure

 

Characters – Tomas is the father of the family, it looks like he does spend a lot of time working and being attached to his phone away from the family and this trip is his chance to prove he loves them all but it is his mistake that leaves him even more distant from the family. Ebba is the mother that does seem to care the kids the most as in spending all the time with them, she gets frustrated with Tomas after the incident challenging to prove he does care. The kids don’t get too much introduction and we also have the family friends or holiday makers that give their thoughts on what happened.

PerformanceThe performances are all good through the film with the couple feeling natural the friends all coming off natural as well as the discussion being natural.

StoryGoing into this movie I was expecting a disaster movie or at least a family trying to survive after an avalanche, well I was made to look stupid here, this is a comedy drama about one man’s reaction of a potential disaster and needing to rebuild the trust in the relationship with his family. When you look at the film the way it was meant to be watched you can also see the qualities because you are left to wonder what your own reaction could be and what you would think of your loved ones if they react the same as Tomas.

ComedyThis is mostly a comedy drama so it doesn’t turn in a laugh a minute film but gives you a giggle at small moments while also tackling a serious question.

SettingsThe film is set entirely on the French Alps resorts be in it in the hotel or on the slopes which shows us just how this one week to bring the family closer could push them further apart.

Special EffectsThe effects are only used on one scene at that is the avalanche moment which shows us what we could be facing and the fear it would create.

Scene of the Movie – The avalanche.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This is my personal pick and it is mostly the frustration of expecting a different movie.

Tagline – The Consequences in the fear and flight situation

Final ThoughtsThis is a good comedy drama looking at the serious idea of what would happen if you faced disaster with your family, would you make the correct decision which is a nice twist on the disaster movie because they usually bring families back together.

 

Overall: Nice twist on the disaster movie.

Rating