ABC Film Challenge – Horror – S – Slumber (2017) Movie Review

Director: Jonathan Hopkins

Writer: Richard Hobley, Jonathan Hopkins (Screenplay)

Starring: Maggie Q, Will Kemp, Sophia Wiseman, Kristen Bush, Sam Troughton, Lucas Bond, Honor Kneafsey

Plot: A sleep doctor tries to protect a family from a demon that feeds on people in their nightmares.

Tagline – Welcome to the Original Nightmare

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Standard Horror

Story: Slumber starts when a young girl sees her brother have such a horrific night terror, he ends up falling out a window and dying, years later Alice (Q) has devoted her life to studying night terrors, with her latest clients the Morgan family, Sarah (Bush), Charlie (Throughton), Daniel (Bond) and Emily (Kneafsey) are coming to get help for the whole family having the same night terror of a demon coming for them in their sleep.

The deeper Alice gets into the case, the more she learns about something called a Night Hag, which haunts people’s dreams until it takes the soul of the victim, now her own family has become the target of this demon.

Thoughts on Slumber

Characters – Alice lost her brother when she was a child to night terrors, this has seen her become an expert on the study, trying to help everyone she can deal with the struggles, she does still suffer herself and when a whole family comes to her for help, she must relive the nightmares of her childhood, she must decide whether to put her own family before the one in need, when the demon comes for her family. Tom is the husband of Alice, who does get concerned by the actions through the film, he wants to protect their daughter and needs her to step away from this case. Niamh is the daughter of Alice, who could become the target of the hag, while the Morgan family are the family that are being haunted by hag, they need help and being left feeling helpless.

PerformancesMaggie Q is the biggest name in this film and even she can’t get much out of her character, the performances in this film are poor, with nobody making an impact with this becoming a bland from a character point of view.

StoryThe story here follows a family that are suffering night terrors, which even after getting more help, find themselves helpless to a demon that haunts sleepwalkers. While this story could easily be one of the scariest ideas you could image in horror, it ends up falling flat with us needing to balance too many characters to get the true scare factor, we don’t meet an ‘expert’ until way too late into the film and then a flash bang, it is over, we lose all the creepy ideas that could come from the horror involved here.

HorrorThe horror could be scary, only the film fails to capture the horror involved within the idea, with most being something is happening, scream a lot, help, it’s over.

SettingsThe film uses the home settings to show how it starts, while it does move the actions to a specialist facility, where it happens again, only we don’t seem to make a major point about this.

Special EffectsThe effects turn to shaky cam more than showing us what is causing the horror, with most being left to our imagination.

Scene of the Movie – The opening sequence does make us feel like we are going to have a great horror experience.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The fact we don’t.

Final Thoughts This is a horror that fails to use the potential is has been given, becoming a mostly bland horror about night terrors.

Overall: Bland Horror.

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – R – Redwood (2017) Movie Review

Director: Tom Paton

Writer: Tom Paton (Screenplay)

Starring: Mike Beckingham, Tatjana Nardone, Nicholas Brendon, Muzz Khan, Luke D’Silva, Jessica-Jane Stafford, Nick Sadler

Plot: A couple hiking out in the woods, disturb a nest of vampires.

Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Vampire 101

Story: Redwood starts as a couple Josh (Beckingham) and Beth (Nardone) head away for a hiking trip to get back to nature before Josh start his treatment for leukaemia, the pair meet ranger Steve (Khan) who warns them to stay on the path and the two set off on their adventure.

The couple see a chance at a shortcut up the mountain, which sees them go off the trail where they run into bloodthirsty vampires forcing them to battle to survive.

Thoughts on Redwood

Characters – Josh is a workaholic that has just discovered he has leukaemia, which sees him want to do more open to nature, which sees this hiking trip come about, he is dealing with everything well believing everything is under control and he suggests the shortcut off the trail. Beth is the supportive girlfriend that is getting scared about what is happening to Josh, wanting to get the most out of their time in case the treatment doesn’t work. Vincent and Steve are both rangers that are met on the way up the mountain, both have the same warning about staying on the trail.

PerformancesMike Beckingham and Tatjana Nardone both are solid enough through the film, we get the ideas of how their relationship is facing a new problem, with how they are both trying to stay strong. Anybody we meet is simply a cameo like performance.

StoryThe story here follows a couple that head off on a hiking trip on a mountain range only to head off the trail and find themselves facing off against vampires. This is a typical type of story which follows a couple making the mistake of going of the trail, there really isn’t much more to the story, we do have the relationship strain between a couple when one could become terminally ill. Once we get to the vampire side of the story, we just don’t get very much going on because by the time we get to the vampire side of the story, it is just running without doing much. We don’t get much out of this story by the end.

HorrorThe horror in the film does feel weak because we have a couple of moments which is mostly just running, with the emotional drama seeming to take centre stage.

SettingsThe film is set in a mountain range which shows us just how far the couple have gone to get back to nature, it could have mystery about it.

Special EffectsThe effects are simple when it comes to the vampire creations, we don’t need too many effects either.

Scene of the Movie – Getting to the top.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too much talking.

Final Thoughts This is a poor vampire movie that tries to do something bigger, but ends up dragging along way too long.

Overall: Forgettable Vampire Movie.

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – K – The Keeping Hours (2017) Movie Review

Director: Karen Moncrieff

Writer: Rebecca Sonnenshine (Screenplay)

Starring: Lee Pace, Carrie Coon, Sander Thomas, Ray Baker, Amy Smart, Julian LaTourelle, Ana Ortiz

Plot: 10 years after the death of their son, a divorced couple is suddenly reunited by supernatural events that offer them a chance at forgiveness

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Fantasy Lives 101

Story: The Keeping Hours starts on what should have been the best day of Mark (Pace) and Elizabeth’s (Coon) life, which ends in tragedy. Ten years later the two are divorced living very different lives, when Mark looking to sell their home, gets a visit from their dead son Jacob (Thomas).

Once Mark convinces Elizabeth that Jacob has returned the two get to spend more time with him, without being able to touch him, only being left with one question, why has Jacob really returned to them.

Thoughts on The Keeping Hours

Characters – Mark was ready for a picture-perfect life until tragedy changed that, now focused on his work, caring for his sick father. He wants to sell the final part of the memory of his own son, until he gets to spend time he never imagined with him, when he returns, this also gives him a chance to rebuild his marriage with Elizabeth too. Elizabeth was ready for her picture perfect life until the crash, she has moved on by starting a new family and becoming a celebrated author, she can’t resistant the chance to spend more time with her lost son again, both parents do put their own futures on the line with the decision to spend time with Jacob. Jacob is the son that dies in an accident, he returns to his parents, but for what reason.

PerformancesLee Pace and Carrie Coon in the leading roles are both strong showing how difficult it would have been to lose a child and what it would be like to get them back to fill the void of them. Sander Thomas as the child is all he needs to, not looking scared for the couple of moments he needs to.

StoryThe story here follows a couple that have their lives ruined by tragedy and have gone their own separate ways, when they get a chance to see their son again, they find themselves trying spend time with him, while trying to learn why he returned to him. This does get to offer a chance to ask the question about whether you would spend time with a lost child, if it can’t be explained to just why they returned. The question might well be interesting, the pace of the story does seem to plod along without getting going, we get hints a horror story, that just doesn’t happen and the fantasy idea sees the parents given up everything they have worked for, including Elizabeth ignoring her own new children.

Fantasy/HorrorThe fantasy side of the film does show us just how the child returns back from the dead, we get the fantasy elements which hint what might not be real, the horror in the film does get hinted, with a couple of moments, just don’t seem to follow through.

SettingsThe film uses the house as the setting which shows us the memories the parents would have in that home, even after being away from the location for years.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are used to highlight the fantasy elements in the film, usually just lights flying around in the scenes.

Scene of the Movie – The first visit.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does hint at a horror moment, only to get forgotten.

Final Thoughts This is a fantasy horror that doesn’t hit the high levels that it could, even if it does ask the big question about whether somebody would do if they got a chance at seeing a child again.

Overall: Basic fantasy.

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – G – Gnaw (2017) Movie Review

Director: Haylar Garcia

Writer: Jim Brennan, Haylar Garcia, Kathryn Gould (Screenplay)

Starring: Penelope Mitchell, Kyle Gass, Chris Johnson, Sally Kirkland, Graham Emmons, Susan Bellone, Erin Graham

Plot: Jennifer Conrad is a small-town girl starting over in the big city. Fleeing an abusive relationship, all she wants is a chance to begin again. But it is hard to start over when something is eating you while you sleep . . . one painful bite at a time.

Tagline – Eat…Prey…Love

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Slow Build, Great Ending

Story: Gnaw starts when Jennifer Conrad (Mitchell) escapes from her abusive husband, to start a new life in a small apartment complex, where the handyman Terry (Gass) takes her under his wing, trying to make her feel welcome. When one of the neighbours spends hours crying at night before killing herself.

Jennifer must deal with her ex-husband Boyd (Johnson) finding her, just as she gets a pet turtle and more painfully an uncomfortable bite, which just seems to keep getting worse.

Thoughts on Gnaw

Characters – Jennifer has been struck in an abusive relationship which she has gotten the courage to leave behind her, this does leave her in a small apartment complex where she must try to start a new life. Things seem positive, when she bumps into an old friend who wants to help her get a job, only things start going badly after her neighbour’s suicide and bites which appear on her skin, with no explanation behind them. She must face her own past, deal with a problem before moving on with her own life. Terry Lumley is the friendly handyman that offers Jennifer all the support while staying the apartments. Boyd is the abusive ex-husband and police officers, making it harder for Jennifer to escape him, he has always put her down and wants to keep his control over her. Claudette runs the apartments she doesn’t get on with anybody, just wants to see money coming in.

PerformancesPenelope Mitchell in the leading role is the star of the show here, being able to show the pain she is running from and the hope she is fighting for. Kyle Gass is the next best thing in the film, where he does bring moments of laughter in his kind natured character. The rest of the cast do a solid job without being tested with what they have to do.

StoryThe story here follows an abuse victim that is trying to escape her own life’s pain only to find herself dealing with the latest problem which has come her way in the form of a bite. This story does manage to show us how difficult getting out of an abusive relationship can be for the victim, where starting a new life can take more time than people believe, this side of the story is the strongest part because it shows the real horrors of Jennifer’s life. When we get into the mystery about the bites, it does go on the routine way, until we learn the truth, which makes both sides of the story get connected nicely.

HorrorThe horror side of the film mixes the reality of being abused by a partner with the unknown of mysterious bites being found on the body and why they are there.

SettingsMost of the film remains in the hotel complex which is a place where people go to start life again.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the effects we see what happens with the bites getting worse and the revel of what is behind it.

Scene of the Movie – The showdown in the room.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The job interview.

Final Thoughts This is a nice slow build horror that tries to reflect the ideas of the horror being in real life rather than needing supernatural elements.

Overall: Horror that tests the reality of life.

Martial Problems (2017) Movie Review

Director: Dia Taylor

Writer: Julian Barbor (Screenplay) Chris Akers, Julian Barbor (Characters)

Starring: Nick Capper, Callum Gault, Aleis Duffy, Neil Goldsmith, Jonathan Hearns, Rachel Trainor

Plot: On the eve of his eviction, Ian’s home becomes invaded by Clarke, an unscrupulous gardener who recounts the events of his failed marriage in an attempt to bring closure to Ian’s prior engagement that failed to go the distance.

Tagline – Let your past make you better not bitter.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Marital Problems starts when Ian (Gault) looks like he is about to be kicked out of his home, which changes when a gardener Clarke (Capper) moves in to tell him the story of his own failed marriage, which will give Ian a chance to look back at his relationship which ending caused his life to spiral out of control.

As the two men go through their stories of their struggles in love, they learn that sometimes not everything is meant to be and maybe it is time to take life in a new direction.

Thoughts on Martial Problems

Characters – Ian has broken up with his fiancée, which has seen him lose his job and see his life spiral out of control, to the level where he might be losing his home, he gets to spend time with Clarke where he gets to unload his troubles and look to get back on his feet. Clarke is the gardener that comes into Ian’s life and does through his own story of failure in love with his married that fell apart, showing how he never really got his own life together. McManus is a handy man that helps with the house, friends with Clarke

PerformancesNick Capper, Callum Gault and Neil Goldsmith have great chemistry, they feel like we are watching the three lads talk about their struggling relationship.

StoryThe story follows two men that meet randomly and start talking about their failed relationships as we get to see how they are dealing with the problems and talking about it can finally help them getting out of the struggles. This story does give us a spotlight into the ideas of how men can react differently to failed relationships, how they sometimes just need someone to talk to, even if the story takes thing in another direction, which will bring an added comedy to everything.

ComedyThe comedy comes from different moments of reaction along with a spin on the story, it will get laughs along the way, while balancing the more serious side to everything involved.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the relationships, how they started and how they have left the men aimless in life, stuck in a house they are both about to lose.

Scene of the Movie – Janey’s visit.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The timeline of the relationships can be slightly misleading.

Final Thoughts This is a strong look at how people deal with breakups, it has laughs, relatable characters and reflection which would change how life looks.