Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Audiodrome #20: Wendigo

For this month’s Audiodrome - my music in film column over at Paracinema - I spin Michelle DiBucci's score for Wendigo (2001). Weaving together creepy Native American folklore, childhood fantasy, and nods to Algernon Blackwood’s weird tales of cosmic/elemental terror, Wendigo is an unsettling psychological tale with dark fairytale subtext. It tells of a family beset by a chain of tragic events which may or may not be presided over by an ancient, dark force of nature that skulks through the forests surrounding their cabin in Upstate New York. 

The suitably atmospheric score, courtesy of Michelle DiBucci, combines Native American percussion, chanting, flutes, strings and a children’s choir to highlight the tragic aspects of the story. DuBucci said she wanted to create a collage of sound worlds that would “fade in and out of one another like a reoccurring dream whose images are never far from the surface of the imagination.”

Head over to Paracinema to read the full article

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Short Film Showcase: All the Colours of You

Dir. Paul Synnott

A woman hurts herself in the bathroom, but seems to show no signs of pain. How long will it take before the damage catches up with her? Shot on Super-8 film, Paul Synnott’s short film is a haunting and quietly upsetting rumination on the horror of human psychology. While the narrative is akin to peering into someone else’s nightmare, it is vaguely linear in form, and as it progresses, feelings of dread and unease reach out from dark, dank depths...

Up close and personal camerawork proves very unsettling, disarming even, as we’re privy to a very private and painful moment. The lasting effect is a lingering, creepy one, as though we’ve intruded somewhere we oughtn’t have. Shades of early Polanski (think Repulsion) and even a touch of Hooper (some of the editing calls to mind the opening of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) hint at Synnott’s influences, while the Super 8 film gives it the look and feel of something we shouldn’t be witnessing. Something unclean. Unsafe. Certain moments recall the short films of David Lynch (Darkened Room and Premonition Following an Evil Deed in particular), so murky and surreal they appear. Synnott deftly creates striking imagery: the woman emerging from a darkened doorway, a bulging, panicked eyeball in close-up, a disembodied hand reaching around a door – all the while maintaining a near suffocating sense of foreboding.

The dank atmospherics are shot through with burnished stylisation, while the obscure narrative reflects the fractured mind-space of the protagonist. It’s an interesting and disquieting approach to depicting the myriad thoughts and anxieties of a singular moment; a blood-dark moment, and all the fear encapsulated within it.

Unnerving and weirdly beautiful, All the Colours of You is a haunting mood-piece of a film. Watch it here. Follow Paul Synnott on Twitter and check out his blog Radio Morgue.  

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The Complex

Dir. Hideo Nakata

The Complex sees Hideo Nakata (Ring, Ring 2, Dark Water) return to familiar territory with an intriguingly structured ghost story which tells of a young woman who discovers her apartment building is haunted by former residents.

Unfurling in a slow-burning fashion typical of Nakata’s work, it promises much – an engrossing story, a creepy atmosphere, nightmarish imagery, a plot full of twists and turns and carefully maintained tension – but sadly it never veers too far from a well-trodden path that’s all too familiar to fans of recent Japanese horror cinema.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Frankenstein (TV Miniseries)

Dir. Kevin Connor

Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic novel Frankenstein tells of a scientist who plays God by creating life from death, and the dire consequences that befall him as a result. Its potent themes of science, religion and morality have ensured its relevance to this day, and, with a plethora of adaptations throughout the years, it has become a permanent fixture of horror cinema.

This rather lacklustre TV adaptation comes courtesy of Kevin Connor, the man behind titles such as Amicus anthology From Beyond the Grave, The Land that Time Forgot and schlocky backwoods slasher Motel Hell. It comes as something of a surprise then, that this version of the classic chiller is so weak and uninspired.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review.

Jack the Ripper Reborn in 'Razors'

British director Ian Powell is to revive the legend of Jack the Ripper in Razors, a new horror film which will begin filming in London's oldest asylum in February 2014. Intended as the first in a new horror franchise centring on the discovery of the knives used by Jack the Ripper, Razors tells of Ruth Walker, a young screenwriter who is invited to stay at London’s oldest asylum and compete with five others to write the ultimate horror film. The recently discovered knives believed to be used by The Ripper have come into Ruth’s possession and she brings them with her, hoping they’ll provide morbid inspiration. When the knives go missing, the Ripper returns to haunt the corridors of the ancient asylum and the young screenwriters must unlock the asylum’s bloody secrets and unravel mysteries from their own dark pasts if they are to survive.

The film will be the second feature from production company Magic Mask Pictures, who specialise in visually striking high concept fantasy-horror films, such as Powell's debut feature Seeing Heaven, the atmospheric tale of a young male escort who is haunted by a mysterious masked stranger while searching for his twin brother.

Razors director and co-writer Ian Powell said of the project: “We are thrilled to be bringing to life a story so full of possibilities in such an exciting and significant location. The film springs from an outline I wrote back in 2008, and we have been developing a mythology that will carry on into the other films in the series, as the knives that have been used to trap the Ripper within the walls of the asylum are stolen by successive characters, thus allowing his spirit to wreak havoc in various locals… including being transported to America, which is where many believe the Ripper ended up.”

Co-writer Karl Ward added: “We are hugely aware of the possibilities of such an evocative location, dating as it does from 1831, and intend to work Blair Witch style with a small cast and crew, literally living the film, and making the most of the building’s very real atmosphere.”

Magic Mask pictures are currently casting the film, but have already secured some notable creatives including David and Donatella nominee Alessio Valori A.I.C. Cinematographer Alessio, who also shot Powell’s Seeing Heaven, has come up with a creative lighting scheme for the film utilising mostly torches, lanterns and candles, as well as the daylight that filters through the asylum’s boarded up windows. Powell observed “The terror here springs from the effect of having characters isolated in such a vast locale, lit by bubbles of light, whilst all around them are shadows and darkness, out of which a face from Victorian times could loom at any moment. Part of the concept of the film is that the characters are transported back to the atmosphere of the Ripper’s time and find the Whitechapel of the 1880’s literally coming alive around them in terms of light and sound.”

Razors will also utilise the skills of many students from London’s SAE institute, who will be getting their first feature film credit, including young producer Amma Djan. Magic Mask has also launched a Kickstarter campaign to generate top-up funding for the film. They will be taking a product reel to Cannes 2014 and intend the film for a UK cinema release on Halloween 2014.

Keep up to date with the production of Razors on Twitter and Facebook, and check out the official website for more information.