The Midnight Meat Train.

The Midnight Meat Train is a film I bought ages ago purely because of its title. I finally got round to watching this gore-fest, which, actually, is suprisingly decent.

Poster.

Poster.

The film follows an ambitious photographer, Leon (Bradley Cooper), who takes pictures of the city but gets criticised by an art dealer, Susan Hoff (Brooke Shields) for his images. Leon takes up this criticism and ventures out into the darkness of the city for better quality images. This leads to him finding the sharply dressed butcher, Mahogany (Vinnie Jones), who Leon believes to be the serial killer responsible for the frequency of missing people in the area. As Leon stalks Mahogany, he begins to uncover some dark secrets within the subway…

The film features a great turn by Vinne Jones as the silent butcher Mahogany. The character only utters one word during the whole film but the acts that the character does shows the audience how far from reality this character is. Like other great horror character – Leatherface, Michael Myers, Jason – their prowess comes from the fact that they are silent. They also display no emotion. Though, that being said, wearing a mask does help. Likewise, Mahogany has no emotion when he kills – a supernatural being of no human qualities. As the film progresses, we see why Mahogany kills, and it is quite disturbing.

There is some good acting from Bradley Cooper as he portrays Leon, who descends into the deep, dark depths of the subway as he uncovers the grisly murders. Throughout the film, Leon experiences a change in character as he becomes obsessed with the butcher. Near the end of the film, his life is dramatically altered and makes for a great ending.

The Hammer.

The Hammer.

The film is great in part for Vinnie Jones performance but also for the amount of gore there is. The director, Ryuhei Kitamura, uses gore for effect, especially in the final showdown between Mahogany and Leon, in which they fight next to slaughtered dead bodies. The killings by Mahogany, using a blunt, steel hammer, are brutal to watch and leave nothing to the viewers imagination. Also, Kitamura does well to show the claustrophobic conditions within the train mixed with the sense of dread and hopelessness.

One minor setback was Maya (Leslie Bibb), who I found quite annoying and hindered the film. The scenes with her and Leon dragged the film and I felt that her character didn’t really add to the film. Though she was Leon’s love, I felt that she wasn’t really there  to move the film on, just there to add conflict to Leon.

Overall, the Midnight Meat Train is a hidden gem, and does well in using the vast amounts of gore and the performance of Vinnie Jones to create a great horror film. Mahogany is a great horror villain and the way he kills people is testament to that. This is  a great film for lovers of gore, silent killers and meat.

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Dead Man’s Shoes.

Shane Meadow’s Dead Man’s Shoes is a gritty, real thriller set in central England. The film, made before Meadow’s This Is England, focuses on the lowlifes of a small town and how their life turns upside down following the return of Anthony’s brother, Richard (Paddy Considine). Richard wants revenge for what they did to Anthony, picking them off one by one in this disturbing piece of filmmaking.

Artwork Poster

Artwork Poster

Richard is brilliantly portrayed by Considine. He is a disturbed man who is not only pyschopathic but also remorseful. The final interchange of dialogue with him and another character is probably the best part of the film. In this scene, you see the real Richard, a guilt-ridden man who seeks one final thing. Considine plays Richard like a man who doesn’t fear death, a man who doesn’t really care about the outcomes.

Other characters to note include Anthony (Tony Kebbell) a mentally disabled man who is the reason why Richard seeks revenge. The events as to why Richard wants revenge are shown in snippets until the final, shocking reveal. The final reveal also shows Anthony’s path in the film.

The mixture of druggies and drug dealers are led by Sonny (Gary Stretch). Sonny resembles Sonny from the Godfather, and acts like him too. He is a no frills drug dealer, not afraid to use violence to get his needs. The showdown between him and Richard is no Kill Bill, just more natural and fits the film perfectly for what it should be.

Meadows directs the film using the backdrop of the bleak town, Matlock, as his canvas. The characters themselves add to the film, making the film more real than recorded. Meadows doesn’t use excessive violence in the film, however, the bits of violence seen in the film are both disturbing and believable. It resembles real life, from Meadows own experiences as a young boy growing up in the early 80s, making it more personal and believable.

Iconic Gas Mask

Iconic Gas Mask

There are some notable scenes including the image of Richard in a gas mask which is both disturbing and iconic. I also liked the scene in which the camera stops outside the door of the drug dealers room, observing through a window. It makes you feel like an observer into this horrific reality. Meadows’ filmmaking drags you into this brutal story of redemption. Richard’s acts of revenge mirrors the previous events on Anthony, not wholly mirrored, but you can still see the resemblance.

Dead Man’s Shoes is a gripping story with a personal touch from Meadows. The acting is superb and the whole film feels natural for it. The final scene with Considine is chilling and stays long in the mind. ‘You were supposed to be the monster – now I’m the fucking beast…’

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[REC] 2.

REC 2 was the highly anticipated sequel to the Spanish horror gem REC. Set in a flat in Barcelona, the original was great at maintaining the sense of claustrophobia and ‘no way out’, the with the place being quarantined for an infection.  The final 10 minutes of the original opened up new possibilities involving the ‘zombies’ and how the ‘infection’ came to be. It’s not easy for a sequel to maintain the level of it’s predecessor but REC 2 had an awful lot going for it.

Dude, I think you need to see a doctor...

Dude, I think you need to see a doctor…

REC 2 takes off just after the events in the original. A GEO team (a Special Operations Team) accompany Dr. Owen (Jonathan Mellor) who is part of the Ministry of Health into the quarantined apartment building. As they make their way up to the penthouse flat on the top floor, they encounter some of the infected. Dr. Owen uses a rosary to fight them off and it soon becomes clear to the frightened GEO team that ‘Dr. Owen’ isn’t really from the Ministry of Health. It also becomes evidently clear that the ‘infected’ have something unearthly about them….

The film starts off like a first person shooter. As they go up the spiral staircase towards the penthouse, the handheld camera gives the illusion that the viewer is part of the team. This is great and work effectively, especially in scenes where the infected are running towards the team. Also, for a film that lasts 85 minutes, things are going to hot up immediately. The infected, for a low budget film, look genuinely frightening. A notable scene involves an infected boy strapped down to a chair. The boy’s look and expressions seem very real and it makes for an intense view.

I also like the fact that the film went to other levels whilst maintaining the same fear. The introduction of Dr. Owen and his role in the film added an extra dimension and gave us additional fears. Also, expanding on the events in the first film gave the film, as mentioned earlier, and extra dimension. The infected are far more scarier when more things are revealed throughout the film. The quarantined apartment blocks, as with the first film, maintained the fear of claustrophobia. You’ll also never look at a spiral staircase the same way again.

No, I'll never succumb to Jebus!

No, I’ll never succumb to Jebus!

The film does well on these aspects but sadly, doesn’t live up to the original. The first 10-20 minutes are brilliant. They open up new possibilities and the twists does well at instilling fear. It is fast paced, tense and real. The rest of the film doesn’t live up to this apart from the finale. The addition of new characters near the middle of the film does nothing to advance the film. They are annoying and I didn’t feel any sympathy towards them. Also, the GEO team seem to be very inadequate fighters. Although they’ve never encountered anything like this before, surely they could shoot a bit better and not go crazy.

REC 2 has its flaws but nonetheless, still a great film. It encompasses what was good about the original and adds in extra twists. This makes for a great horror film (mainly for the first 10-20 minutes)! If you enjoyed REC, then you’ll enjoy this film, not to mention the unnatural side of things….

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Sinister.

Sinister is not your average horror film. It’s not a generic haunted house story from the Paranormal Activity hype that was short lived after a couple of sequels. It is something different, something genuinely scary and something fresh from an age of reboots and sequels.

Auditioning for the Exorcist remake.

Auditioning for the Exorcist remake.

Sinister starts off with a grainy 8mm video of a family being hung from a tree. This disturbing video sets the tone for the rest of the movie. After these events, Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), who is a true crime writer, moves into the house where the disturbing events happened. He keeps this a secret from his family and concentrates to write a book on the grisly events, waiting for his next big hit since his last one 10 years ago. As he explores the house, he finds some old 8mm video tapes in the attic. As he watches the video tapes, he comes closer to solving the murder case but also contending with the sinister figure; Baghuul.

Where was that lady in the whole film?

Where was that lady in the whole film?

The film does very well at building up tension. As soon as Ellison discovers and watches these disturbing video tapes, the ominous mood set by the beginning begins to build and build. Even though this is a horror, one could also say that this is a thriller, as Ellision delves deeper and deeper into the horrific murders trying to look for clues like an FBI agent.

Another thing I liked were the really disturbing 8mm video tapes. They start off with an innocent family occasion but ends in their horrific murders. The soundtrack is also very effective in creating this disturbed atomsphere. The use of these grainy homemade footage, like snuff films, reminded me of the Ring. The use of the disturbing footage in that film was just as effective as it was in this. There is one scene in the disturbing footage which was probably the most scariest bits of film I’ve seen in a long time.

The main antagonist is very secretive, and doesn’t show up a lot and I think this very good. It makes us, the audience, think of how the antagonist may be represented. That being said, the antagonist is seen in the homemade video tapes and resembles a Leatherface lookalike. Still creepy.

The premise for the film is very good, but I think I was only drawn in for the first half of the film. The second half doesn’t fully live up to that potential of horror movie greatness. The ominous build up is let down by a twist near the ending of the film which makes the film end on a bad note. The ending itself is not scary and let me down on my expectations.

Overall, I liked the film, the first half being pure horror whilst the second half was decent but didn’t leave a lasting impact on the viewer. The build up is great and the soundtrack only adds to the disturbed element.  Hell, whoever came up with the idea of having snuff films in the movie gets my vote.

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Poltergeist.

Poltergeist. A ghost that wreaks havoc by way of noises, throwing objects and physical harm. The basis for the Tobe Hooper 1982 film or should I say, Steven Speilberg’s 1982 film, who actually would’ve directed it except he was doing a film about a lost alien. So, anyway, I got round to watching this film after hearing that it was a ‘classic’ and ‘great’.

The majority of the film is based in a suburban family house inhabited by the Freelings. Steven (Craig T. Nelson), Diane (JoBeth Williams), Carol-Anne (Heather O’Rourke), Dana (Dominique Dunne) and Robbie (Oliver Robins). They are your average family except for little Carol-Anne who experiences paranormal activity within the house. She converses with the ghosts and they seem friendly. The whole family starts to see unusual things; chairs being stacked on top of each other, lights turning on and off, the T.V constantly buzzing etc. Just your normal friendly ghost.

Except one night, the ghosts inexplicably harm the family and abduct little Carol-Anne into their realm. It’s now up  to the family to rescue Carol-Anne. But will Carol-Anne wander into ‘the light’ and be taken away?

Poltergeist isn’t very scary. Even though directed by Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Tobe Hooper, the film is heavily influenced by Steven Speilberg, leaving the film more comedic and less scarier then it potentially could be. The ghosts look and feel cartoonish almost like those at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. They aren’t scary and it feels dated.

The acting is O.K and I thought Heather O’Rourke did quite well considering her age. The story was decent but I felt more horror could have been added in. If only Tobe Hooper was given full reins to this project. I know some people will like these types of film, sort of family-orientated horror/comedy but I didn’t enjoy this film. It starts off well, with the famous ‘They’re here!’, leaving the viewer wondering who ‘they’re’ means. But then it loses this mysterious aura and doesn’t offer much for horror fans.

There are some comedic moments within the film. In one scene, Steven Freeling tries to evade his boss’ eyes to what it going on in the house by getting his attention, meanwhile, a piano moves around in the background. These moments are disjointed and I think should have been omitted from the film. The filmmakers should have stuck to one option (horror or comedy) or at least carried the whole comedy theme through, but that also wouldn’t have worked, as the main story is about a little girl being abducted by evil ghosts. You can tell I’m beginning to get sick of this film…

The film is overrated and I feel quite dated. It doesn’t offer the scares and is more orientated towards the family market. Seeing Hooper’s name on the film excited me quite a bit about the prospects of this film but I feel he was held back by Speilberg. I found the film boring and was left disappointed by it.

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Moon.

Moon is a sci-fi film directed Duncan Jones. It follows Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell) who has been posted on the Moon for 3 years to mine helium-3 for Lunar Industries. As he is nearing the end of his shift, he starts to hallucinate and enter into a deranged state of mind. That is, until he uncovers a shocking revelation about himself and Lunar Industries.

The film starts off by introducing Sam Bell going about his daily routine in the pristine lunar base. He is accompanied by GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey), the intelligent computer that assists Sam in running the mining base. When Sam is about to finish his 3 year stint, he shows signs of paranoia and starts to hallucinate. After a terrible accident caused by a hallucination, he uncovers the work of Lunar Industries which raises questions about himself.

Sam Rockwell gives a great performance as this paranoid astronaut who realises that all isn’t what it seems. His whole world gets turned upside down when ‘someone’ reveals to him that he isn’t all that he is meant to be. Everything he’s known and loved isn’t what it seems. This causes the audience to question some of the things that they are seeing and who Sam Bell really is.

Duncan Jones directs his debut film with great steed with a great screenplay that he co-wrote. There are obvious references to Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. GERTY will delight film fans with the eloquent voice of Kevin Spacey but far more friendlier than HAL 9000. His emoticon screen is so adorable! During the film, there are great shots of space just like in 2001 accompanied by a Clint Mansell score. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is also referenced.

The whole feel of the film reminds me of 2001 and other great sci-fi classics. The great story will keep the viewers hooked. The only problem with the film is that it may seem slow and some may feel the tension just isn’t there. I did find this a problem and felt the story could have been changed so that the tension builds up gradually.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film and found the story really touching and engaging. I wholly recommend this film and it is a definite must have for any sci-fi lover. You’ll enjoy Rockwell’s performance, the 2001 references and the great story. Oh, and GERTY a.k.a Kevin Spacey.

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Drive

Jacket

Nicholas Winding Refn’s new film is a stylish one that pays tribute to the movies of the 70s and 80s. From the heros who had no names to the cars of that era which now get dusty sitting in someone’s garage. Drive is a film that is about driving. Simple. A man who is a stunt driver by day, a getaway driver by night. Leading a double life. But there is much more at stake as he fights to protect the people he loves

The Driver or Kid (Ryan Gosling) as he is sometimes referred to as, is a mysterious figure who keeps to himself. He seldom speaks, a man with few words, a man with no name. We see his daily routine at the beginning; driving round the streets of L.A, evading the police is second nature to him. His only real human connection comes in the form of Irene (Carey Mulligan), who is his neighbour. Through her and her son, we see the human  form of the Driver but things are not meant to be, as he must protect her when a job goes horribly wrong. Getaway Driver

The acting in this film is great. Ryan Gosling is superb as the mysterious Driver. He carries the film and the scenes of him wearing his scorpion jacket are great. His face carries no emotion when he is doing his job. You can really feel his presence when he is on screen. Though he speaks little, as Winding Refn said, his aura on screen is powerful and captivating.

Carey Mulligan is also wonderful as Irene, the innocent neighbour who gets caught up in the dark underworld of L.A. She portrays the innocence in the film which the Driver seeks to protect by any means.

Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman play mobsters who put the Driver and Irene’s life in danger when the job goes wrong. Brooks is great as the Bernie Rose, a selfless killer who has a thing for knives. Perlman also gives a good performance.

The first half of the film depicts the daily life of the Driver and his interactions with Irene and her son. But there comes a turning point when Irene’s husband comes home from prison and suddenly everything turns incredibly dark and violent. This is a very violent film and Refn doesn’t cut out the scenes depicting death. It turns incredibly violent during the second half of the film and it is very brutal. There is one scene in an elevator that is a great juxtaposition; beautiful and brutal.Chemistry

The film is also incredibly well shot and Refn gives us some great shots of L.A at night. The cinematography is excellent with some notable scenes that stick in your mind long after. The music choice is interesting and Refn also said that he wanted to mix the dark film with an electro-pop score. The effect gives a stylish feel to the film.

Overall, I enjoyed the film and thought this a well acted, superbly shot and well directed film. As soon as the bright pink title goes onto the screen and you see an emotionless Ryan Gosling in that jacket, you know it’s a special film.

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