In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best Horror of 2014

So, here we are again at the end of another year. I took a look back and threw together some faves, but I can’t help but feel that I’m missing something. There were a lot of horror titles that I didn’t get a chance to see, including Starry Eyes, The Borderlands, Kristy, Among The Living, Cooties, Berkshire County and Live, so this year feels a bit incomplete.

Sadly, the same goes for movie-going in general. I didn’t even do up a 2014 list for CAST because there were so many glaring omissions. Oh well, it just would have been Nightcrawler with a bunch of exclamation marks next to it anyway.

I don’t regret this though, as 2014 was a really great year for me creatively. I worked on a record number of projects and fulfilled a longtime dream of getting something into Toronto After Dark. And truth be told, I don’t think I watched less movies overall, just less new ones. The only thing I really cut out this year was gaming, but with Until Dawn and Uncharted 4 releasing next year, I plan to get back on that digital horse soon.

Anyhoo, here are my faves in no particular order.

It Follows
USA, Dir: David Robert Mitchell

I loved this flick. It's exactly the kind of thing I like to point to in regards to modern horror being alive and well. The success of its brilliant premise – that of a sexually transmitted haunting – was largely due to its classic urban legend-style simplicity. Anchored by a wonderful lead (Maika Monroe) and an unforgettable score by Disasterpiece, anybody who cares about horror should be flocking to theatres to see this when it releases wide in March.

The Babadook
Australia, Dir: Jennifer Kent

The massive hype about this film was well deserved. Used in tandem with all the great technical aspects that the genre has to offer, it was the perfect balance of psychological and supernatural horror. The story was much more layered than I was expecting, and actress Essie Davis was a real standout as the mother, Amelia. I really can’t wait to see where Kent goes from here.

The Guest
USA, Dir: Adam Wingard

Although this newest effort from Wingard & writing partner Simon Barrett was more of an eighties style action movie, damned if this wasn’t one of the most enjoyable films I saw at this year’s Midnight Madness. Dan Stevens is perfectly cast as the title character, emanating equal parts charm and menace. The synth accompaniment from Steve Moore was also another highlight in a year of great film scores.

The Harvest
USA, Dir: John McNaughton

I was really taken by McNaughton’s official return to the director’s chair after a ten-year absence. It's the type of story to which I really respond and the performances from young & old are stellar. I don’t know what kind of release this film is going to get, but I sure hope it doesn’t get buried like Joe Dante’s similarly themed (and rated) The Hole from five(!) years ago. Both films have a wonderful eighties, told-from-a-child’s-perspective sensibility that is severely lacking these days.

The Editor
Canada, Dir: Adams Brooks & Matthew Kennedy

I still have to smile knowing that this whole thing started out as a poster, just like the days of the home video boom that cultivated the very style that The Editor itself emulates. The movie is so much fun! Astron 6 infuses their comedic overtones into this love letter to Italian horror, creating a wonderfully absurd hybrid chock full of gore, girls and gut-busting ADR.

Honourable Mentions

I really dug Spring, Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead’s follow-up to 2012’s Resolution. First and foremost a romance – the popular byline is it’s a genre-centric Before Sunrise – I liked the character chemistry in this piece. Also, by moving their dialogue driven sensibilities from a stuffy cabin to the wonderful wide open vistas of Italy, Benson & Moorhead took a huge step forward visually.

2014 was good year for sequels, if you can believe it. The second installments of both The ABC’s of Death and Dead Snow eclipsed their predecessors and The Town That Dreaded Sundown was a beautifully shot, no-nonsense pseudo sequel that I think caught a lot of people off guard when it played Toronto After Dark.

At Fantasia this year, I caught a solid werewolf flick called Late Phases. It has a lot going for it, including a centered performance from Nick Damici and whacked-out creature effects from Bob Kurtzman. Think Silver Bullet by way of Bubba Ho-Tep!

Though its inclusion here maybe in part due to it still being fresh in my memory after playing Blood In The Snow, I was realy impressed with Nick Szostakiwskyj’s Black Mountain Side. Its pace will no doubt frustrate a good number of viewers, but I admired its commitment to the slow burn. I thought the cinematography was amazing and, in a real stroke of genius, the lack of a score only accentuated the isolation.

Worst of 2014? This might sound ridiculous, but I got nothing. I mean sure, Zombie TV was utter shit, but to be honest, I slept through most of it. No, seriously, I was really lucky this year, most likely due to staying away from mainstream fare. Although, even the few I did catch – Deliver Us From Evil for instance – were decent.

Lastly, I almost can’t believe it, but once again my list was largely domestic titles! Are we finally catching up with the rest of the world in terms of twenty-first century horror filmmaking?

I guess we’ll have to see what 2015 brings. Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Trailer Tuesdays: Terror Train

Well, the New Year is upon us, so the theme of this week's trailer seems fairly obvious. I've already done New Year's Evil, so here's Canadian eighties slasher Terror Train.

I think this movie is underrated. I love the conceit of the costume party, enabling the masked killer to roam around undeterred. And let's not forget Jamie Lee Curtis! And David Copperfield's somewhat perplexing one & only film role as - shockingly - a magician/red herring.

See you back here tomorrow for my Best of 2014 list.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

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Hey all! I hope you all had a good Christmas. Now that that 'nog soaked turkey is out of your system, here's some horror grue just in time for the New Year.

A Cautionary Tale.

Toronto filmmaker Justin McConnell just released his latest short film, Damned Selfie online. Here it is below.

The idea presented here is a good one. Although I generally look upon the practice of selfies with indifference, I have to admit it has gotten out of hand in recent years. Oh how it makes me grin that incremental narcissism could lead to such consequences.

Merry Phantasm.

Recently, Producer Don Coscarelli & director David Hartman gave us another look at their upcoming Phantasm sequel Ravager in a festive trailer/video Xmas card. Here it is below.

Phantasm: Ravager is set to release in 2015, and BOOOOOOOOY will it be great to see all the original cast (Reggie Bannister, A. Michael Baldwin and Angus Scrimm) returning once again.

Quarter-Minute Horrors.

Over the last few months, filmmaker Jaiden Frost has been releasing his horror short films on Instagram. This, of course, means they have to be serialized in fifteen second bits, which is somewhat problematic for creating tension, but it's a neat experiment that deserves respect. 

He's done three projects so far, which you can check out below. Although, it being Instagram, you may have better luck on your phone, by following mrjaidenfrost.

That's it for now. Be sure to check back in a few days for my 2014 wrap-up. See you then!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

40 Years Of Black Xmas.

To celebrate the fourtieth anniversary of Bob Clark's seminal slasher Black Christmas, Rue Morgue hosted a special screening at The Royal last Saturday.

It was a really great turnout. Due to its home court advantage, this film always plays somewhere at this time of year, but people still keep coming out in droves. I feel like it's an annual tradition for most, but there are still surprisingly always people in the audience that haven't seen it before.

Colin Geddes & Dave Alexander with Black Christmas star Art Hindle.

Apart from seeing the always amiable Art Hindle don “the coat”, it was also the release of a new limited edition print of the film crafted by none other than Ghoulish Gary Pullin.

Yulish, very yulish.

It's a thing of beauty to be sure.

Black Christmas is one of those films that I think gets better with age, and one I look forward to watching every year at this time - along with my other two traditions It's A Wonderful Life and Cosmic Christmas. I was going to come up with a list of fourty reasons why I adore this movie - and believe me, I would have no trouble coming up with that many - but I've got presents to wrap so, here are just a few...

I love the comedic beats of the film, from Sgt. Nash's bumblings to Jess & Phil messing with the two guys from the search party. It breaks up the dread and ever-present crawling danger that you feel from knowing there is some crazy dude hanging around in the attic the whole movie.

I love the happy-go-lucky attitude toward alcoholism. Barb nonchalantly cracks open a beer at the police station and the house mother Missus Mac has a bottle of sherry hidden away in every nook and cranny of the sorority house. Simpler times folks, when being a functional alcoholic was considered an endearing trait.

I love that wonderfully executed jump scare while Jess is running for the basement. I've seen this film screened three times now, and every single time it visibly startled someone in my vicinity.

I love the escalation. The characters are going about their business, coming in and out of 6 Belmont St, not knowing that the killer is right above their heads the entire time. The killer is picks off the residents one by one, until it's just Jess and the killer. Then she gets the call...

I love that it was shot in Toronto. It has so much character in this film. Even though they put American flags around the police station, Black Christmas is so obviously Canadian. Like pretty much every other film shot in Toronto around this time, it looks so damn cold. Pretty much anyone I've ever met from this movie (and others like Deadly Eyes) the thing they always remember is how fucking freezing it was. The cold sucks, but it looks good on film.

Oh, and I love this guy.

When he laughs, I laugh. Regular as clockwork.

Merry Black Christmas everyone!!!

*Event photo courtesy of Colin Geddes.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Trailer Tuesdays: Black Christmas

Only two days 'til Christmas. Here's the trailer for one of my all-time faves, festive or no.

I love that this Black Christmas trailer, at over four minutes long, is actually more of a digest. Fourty years ago this came out! Crazy. Check back tomorrow for coverage of the recent anniversary screening at The Royal.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

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Hey everyone! Hope you've got all your Christmas shopping done and are able to enjoy your last Sunday before St. Nick's annual visit. Here's are some horror morsels to chew on while you hang your stockings by the chimney with care.

Last Year, Year After Next.

A while ago, I posted about a Kickstarter campaign for a 5 vs 1 slasher game called Last Year. In it, five players - controlling characters of various genre tropes like jock, nerd etc - face off against a killer, also player controlled. Well, a few days ago, Last Year didn't only reach its goal of $50,000, but doubled it!

I'm sad this will only be available on Steam, but maybe if it does well, it will be ported to consoles. I'm happy about this development. With this and the two other upcoming slasher titles, Until Dawn and Summer Camp, it looks like this horror subgenre will be entering a renaissance.

Trailers, Trailers, Trailers.

This week saw a bunch of horror trailers hit the Web.

A third trailer hit for Steve Wolsh's slasher Muck.

I guess I'd like to see this for two reasons. One, to see Kane Hodder suit up as his sixth - or is it seventh? - maniacal killer and two, to find out why every woman in this movie is dressed in either a bikini or towel. Not a complaint, just a query.

Here's a trailer for Chris Denham's upcoming survivalist horror Preservation.

Denham's debut, 2008's Home Movie, was a solid found footage flick, so I'm looking forward to see him expand his act. Plus, it's got Kenny Cosgrove!

Lastly, here's a teaser for one of my favourite horrors I saw this year, It Follows.

This is a fantastic teaser that does what it is supposed to... TEASE. David Robert Mitchell's film has everything; a great hook, a great lead - Maika Monroe, who some of you may have just seen in The Guest - and a great score. Make sure you go see It Follows when it comes out in 2015.

Bundles of Terror.

With Xmas almost upon us, I figured I'd post this hilariously horrifying video, 20 Creepiest Children's Toys Ever Made. Seriously, some of these... Wow. Like #14, WTF???

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Charlie Brooker Christmas.

Th Black Mirror Xmas Special, White Christmas aired on Channel 4 this week, and was quickly devoured by yours truly.

While holed up in a mysterious cabin during a snowstorm. Matt (Jon Hamm) tries to get his quiet housemate Joe (Rafe Spall) to open up over Christmas dinner.

This seventy minutes of television – which even held against the lofty heights of Black Mirror’s previous episodes – was an exercise in master storytelling. Show creator Charlie Brooker is truly working on another creative level here. In keeping with the theme of the show, Brooker uses our obsession and reliance on technology to show humanity’s ugliest traits. The two pieces of tech showcased in White Christmas (Zed eyes and “Cookie” clones) are futuristic to be sure, but, as per usual, are presented in such a way that seems plausible. We in 2014 aren’t there yet, but are most certainly on a trajectory to get us there sooner rather than later. And that is half of what makes the show so chilling.

Aside from that, I just had to slow-clap how brilliantly the episode played out. Split into six parts, it actually functioned nicely as an anthology with Joe & Matt telling each other stories about how they wound up snowbound. What I found especially delicious about the episode was how the first two stories were actually well disguised exposition to payoff the conclusion. Brooker really is a mad genius. But it is more than just him. The direction - here by Retreat's Carl Tibbetts - and effects are always so slick and serve the story. Nothing ever feels trite or out of context.

Jon Hamm as Matt Trent in Black Mirror's White Christmas.

Hamm is so perfectly cast in this that I have to wonder if the role wasn’t specifically written for him. He delivered Brooker’s dialogue with an air of confidence and persuasiveness that served him as well here, as it has on seven seasons of Mad Men. I wonder if Matt Trent could perhaps be the great-grandson of Don Draper…

So, whether you are already a fan of Black Mirror, or never heard of it before, White Christmas is a must watch. Brooker’s newest parable is a clever, yet simple yarn about where we may be headed if technology continues to rule our lives.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Trailer Tuesdays: Roar

You ever hear about an old movie, and you're like ‘oh my God, I have to watch this now!’ Well, it happens to me quite a lot. Often said movie has something to do with rampaging animals, whether it be rats (Deadly Eyes), dogs (The Pack) or a tiger in a motherfuckin' hurricane (Burning Bright).

So, I was reading an interview (in Delirium magazine, issue #3) with director Ted Nicolau recently, where he recounted how in the late seventies he turned down a job on the Tippi Hedren picture Roar, due to unsafe conditions.

Wait a minute, what? A movie about lions terrorizing a family on a wildlife preserve? Uh, yes please.

I did an internet search and holy cats, copies are going for seventy-five bucks or more. So, save for watching this on YouTube, I've got some extensive hunting to do.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

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Hey all. I hope your holiday preparations are going smoothly. On the horrible side of things, here's what I have for you today.

Dawn Approaches.

Last week at the Sony Playstation press conference, more details were revealed about their upcoming horror title Until Dawn. Here's the newest trailer.

The interactive slasher featuring Hayden Panettierre looks like a cross between Heavy Rain & Friday the 13th, which you can imagine is of great interest to me. Set for release on the PS4 in mid-2015, I can't wait to get my hands on it. To see some actual gameplay, click here.

Indie Survival Guide.

A visible figure in Toronto's indie film scene is writer/director/producer Justin McConnell. This week, he announced his latest documentary project, Clapboard Jungle: Surviving The Independent Film Business

Combining his own experiences from over fifteen years in the business with an impressive list of interview subjects including Tom Holland, Brian Yuzna, Tom Savini and Dick Miller, Clapboard Jungle aims to be a user's guide to the world of indie film. Set for release sometime next year, the website is now live and can be viewed here.

Dark Pixels.

I came across the little 3D animated gem called Bogeyman this week.

Orchestrated by Andrew Lord and Ben Haworth, this passion project created between jobs is a perfect example of economy with wonderful use of visuals to convey story. Well done, guys.

Friday, December 12, 2014


I had my first Room Escape experience last week and it was good times. For those who don't know, Room Escapes are an activity that has gained popularity in the last few years and involves a group of people getting locked in a room and having to solve some sort of puzzle to get out within a certain amount of time, usually an hour.

At first, the rooms were fairly generic, but more recently certain themes based on genre tropes have emerged like you're held captive by a serial killer or you're trying to find an antidote to a zombie virus.

The one that four friends and I braved last weekend was called Claustrophobia. For some reason, my comrades saw fit to pick me as the leader, which meant I had to start the game chained to a wall. The scenario was right out of Saw, though fortunately we were able to get out - with seven minutes to spare! - without having lost any of our limbs. The organizers then told us that only thirty per cent of players succeed, so that was a nice boost to the self esteem.

Click to enlarge.

The popularity of Room Escapes have grown so much in the last six months that there are now several companies running rooms here now, with smaller group size scenarios - four to six instead of the initial eleven - that make things much more flexible. It's always better to play with your friends, kids.

We've all got the escape bug now, so our group will surely be getting locked up again in the near future. Here's a couple of others that have piqued our interest.

If any of these things are going on in your area, I highly recommend them. They are great little outings at a reasonable price - usually twenty to twenty-five bucks per person - and you've got a story to tell for weeks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Seven years ago today, I began this humble blog. So much has happened since 2007 that I decided to make a list – aptly seven items long – detailing the highlights about curating The Horror Section.

1) When I started THS, it was intended to be a VHS cover art archive. I spoke about this in my first few posts, but I was really frustrated with the state of film marketing and poster art at the time. The ten years previous to 2007, there had been some real half-assing going on and it was getting a little frustrating. I wanted to make sure that the great art of the seventies and eighties didn't wink out of existence. Fortunately, shortly after that time, the art of yore made a comeback. Fuelled by the wave of retro-style filmmakers like Ti West and Jason Eisener, among others, old was new again. This also brought renewed interest to a format that was many thought was down for the count. And I couldn't be happier.

A smattering of splattering.

2) One thing that THS has given me is a regular routine of writing. Sometimes you don't always feel like sitting in front of your computer screen, but after I got this going, I started to feel antsy if I hadn't posted for a few days. Sometimes it was a struggle to find things to write about – as I certainly haven't written about every horror flick I've seen – but weekly bits like Trailer Tuesdays, Coverbox Wednesdays and Sunday's Don't Kill the Messenger have certainly helped. Over the last seven years, I've kept up a loose regimen of at least three posts a week, and two hundred posts a year. And I haven't missed the latter yet.

3) As you have no doubt gathered, I own a ton of horror shit. Before the blog, it was an unorganized mass languishing in the dark pit underneath my parent's house. However, once I had the idea to archive my collection, it gave me the push I needed to get it all sorted. It took hours and hours of work – especially the posters, hoo boy – but my segment It Came From The Archives is now twenty-three episodes in. My goal for the New Year is now start cataloging on the non-horror ephemera, perhaps putting my long dormant Instagram to good use.

4) I've corresponded with so many wonderful people through the site. Whether they be fellow bloggers (like Stacie from Final Girl, Heather from Mermaid Heather and Cory from Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse) or fans just checking in with kind words, it makes everything sweeter. I've been happy to write guest posts for several different blogs as a result of stuff I've done here, and I've even had the occasional guest writer at THS as well – the most recent being Paul Corupe of I've had the pleasure of spreading the word about many indie projects over the years – some of which have even seen the light of day. It's a good feeling putting positivity out into the universe. It seems in short supply these days, so every little bit helps.

5) An extension of number four was gradually getting accredited for film festivals. I'd be covering them anyway, but saving some dough is always nice. I adore Fantasia, Toronto After Dark and most recently Blood In The Snow for the wonderful camaraderie they breed among horror scribes. There's nothing I like better than sitting in a pub, a pint of Moosehead at hand, and talking about film. I'm blessed to still be able to do this several times a month.

6) The thing I'm most proud of though are my short film accomplishments over the last few years. There is no way I would have had the courage or knowledge to attempt it if I hadn't honed my barely adequate skills here. With the immeasurable help of countless individuals I've had three short films (among other things) play on big screens across North America over the last three years. And I haven't yet been run out of town on a rail, which is an achievement in itself.

In addition to my own endeavours, I've also had the pleasure of working on projects from my filmmaker friends Chris NashMichael SchwartzMike Pereira and Darryl Shaw. If you don't know their names yet, I can assure you. You soon will.

7) The last thing is just having your thoughts all in one place. Memories fade, but if I ever forget the details of a particular horror film, I can look it up in an instant. I basically have my own personal History of Horror 2007-???? going here. I can map out trends. I can track projects from conception to release. I can plot a time line of a new genre director's career. Oh, and I love going into the analytics and seeing how people found the site. A few of my recent keyword favourites were “fucktown” and “santa smoking a joint”.

So, seven years down. Thanks to everyone who keeps looking in. I hope I can continue to provide interesting content. I have a few off-site projects on the go, but rest assured I'll always keep coming back to THS. Have a great rest of the week, kiddies!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

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Hello all! I'm hitting my first Escape Room in a few hours, so I'll be brief. Here's what I've got for you this week.


For years, a Toronto fixture has been a midnight marathon called Shock & Awe put on my cinephile Dion Ventress. Now, having worked in film and television production for years, he has now begun his latest endeavour - directing not only his first horror feature, but the first ever shot in Kosovo. But he needs your help. Here's the teaser below.

Dion's a cool cat, with an encyclopedic knowledge of cult film and all things weird, so if there's anybody I'd like to see make a film, it's him. Check out the IndieGogo page here.

Midnight, Park City, 2015.

This week, Sundance announced the slate of Midnight films screening this January. It looks like there are some doozies here.

Last year, Park City rocked the house with The Babadook. In 2015, it looks like Irish director Corin Hardy is set to bring similar scares in The Hallow, about a man who must protect his family after awakening evil beings during a agricultural survey. And it has Michael Smiley. I love that guy!

Corin Hardy's The Hallow

Rodney Ascher, who brought us the fascinating documentary Room 237 last year, is back with another doc/horror hybrid called The Nightmare. This one visually explores the terrifying affliction of night terrors and sleep paralysis through the eyes of eight subjects.

Eli Roth returns with a new thriller starring Keanu Reeves called Knock Knock about a married man set upon by two mischievous young girls - one of which is Ana de Armas from Blind Alley, so...

Lorenza Izzo, Keanu Reeves & Ana de Armas in Knock Knock.

What began as a ABC's of Death contest submission in 2011 has now become a feature film. This Canadian/New Zealand co-production, which looks like a wonderful marriage between Astron 6 and Peter Jackson, will finally see the light of day in Utah this January. Here's where it all started below.

To see the rest of Sundance 2015's recently announced lineup, check out The Wrap's rundown here.

Killer Comic.

I heard about this cool looking upcoming comic on Bloody Disgusting this week. Dark Horse will begin running a comic called Lady Killer next month.

The “Betty Draper meets Hannibal” thing is all I pretty much need to know. Although from the preview pages here, it looks more like “Draper meets The Professional” would have been more apt. Unless of course, she's eating her targets! Whichever. I'm in!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Bloody Shorts

In addition to the features, Blood In The Snow screened fifteen short films over the course of the weekend. I didn't see them all, but here are some highlights within the ones I did catch.

Jon Hyatt's Woods was a really well made effort. A new take on an old tale of woe, Hyatt created a well rounded universe in a small amount of time. The performances from Hyatt (who had to step in at the last minute after his lead dropped out the day before production) and Amy Marie Wallace were solid and anchored the piece nicely.

Like the aforementioned Queen of Blood, Torin Langen's retro-styled Malleus Maleficarum conveyed a lot without the use of dialogue. Set in a time where witch hunts are commonplace, one young man struggles to fit in with the grisly practices of his siblings.

Perhaps the best looking short I saw was Adam O'Brien's Insane. Though the story seemed familiar, it looked great and the production design was pretty flawless.

Lastly, I have to give shout outs to my filmmaker friends Mike Pereira and Darryl Shaw who both had shorts play this year.

Bias aside, I can safely say that these are their best works to date. Pereira moved away from his dialogue heavy tendencies, concentrating instead on letting visuals and sound drive his story. It gets a bit esoteric toward the end, but a well done offering nonetheless.

Shaw's unique dark romance with awesome production values and haunting performance by lead actress Dana Tartau fetched Greater Than the well deserved Best Short at this year's Bloody Awards.

It was a good year for shorts and further proof that genre cinema in Canada continues to thrive.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Power Of Restraint.

The closing film at Blood in The Snow this year was Nick Szostakiwskyj's Black Mountain Side.

After a group of archaeologists working in Northern Canada unearth an ancient structure, some of them start to fall ill with an unknown sickness. Did they uncover something else with their excavation?

I enjoyed this film quite a bit. It had a very slow pace, so the fact that it held my interest throughout really speaks to the skills of the filmmakers. It's not surprising, as the camerawork (which picked up Best Cinematography at the fest) always gave me something to look at. Whether it was the gorgeous wide shots of the compound or the fantastic long take during the climax, my eyes were always engrossed. Another bold, yet brilliant choice was the lack of music. Music is usually integral to a genre piece, but its absence here seemed to fuel the growing dread and paranoia felt by the characters.

Shane Twerdun in Black Mountain Side.

Now, comparisons to The Thing and The Shining were accurate, but the film that Black Mountain Side most closely mirrored was Larry Fessenden's 2006 flick The Last Winter... without the terrible ending. Szostakiwskyj's movie was heavily insular and didn't feel like it was in a rush to visualize its demons. I admire that. Some viewers may think that amounts to a lack of payoff, but I've seen other films go for it and fail – the aforementioned Winter and 2010's The Corridor being two examples – when discretion would have likely been the better option. I far prefer the way Black Mountain Side handled things in this particular case. I also like that gore was used sparingly to emphasize its effect.

I think my only real qualm was that some of the characters were a bit difficult to differentiate at times. Apart from Radio Guy (Shane Twerdun) and University Professor (Michael Dickson), most seemed to blend together. It really shows the brilliance of John Carpenter's masterpiece that he was able to make everyone distinct, in pretty much the same amount of screen time. What happens in Black Mountain Side was more like The Thing remake, where it seemed the cast were competing to see who could grow the best beard.

Actor Michael Dickson & producer Samantha McDonald.

Apart from that though, this was a solid thriller that effortlessly mixed science with the supernatural to reinforce the tried and true adage of “don't fuck with old stuff.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thy Will Be Done.

I was happy to hear Greg A. Sager’s Kingdom Come was playing Blood In The Snow this year.

A group of strangers wake up in an abandoned hospital with no memory of how they got there. It is not long before they realize there is something else trapped in there with them.

Okay, let’s start with the positives. Kingdom Come is a production designer’s dream. A recently (well, 2008) closed psychiatric hospital in Southern Ontario served as the location and was the movie’s best asset. It oozed atmosphere and the sheer size of the facility provided countless ominous hallways and shadowy corners to get lost in. This place was so expansive, the filmmakers only needed to use a fraction of the space allotted.

The design of The Gatekeepers (seen on the poster above) was terrific and really came to life on the performers. The final exterior sequence is also technically impressive and the filmmakers deserve a lot of credit for pulling that off – especially considering I know the tiny amount of time they had to get all that coverage.

The ensemble of nine or so actors is solid, even if some of the characters were a little stereotypical. The two leads Ry Barrett & Camille Hollet-French were especially good, and by the end I was glad they were the two carrying the weight of the material.

Ellie O'Brien (left), Camille Hollet-French & Ry Barrett in Kingdom Come.

The story however, is where things become problematic in Kingdom Come. The almost overt obviousness of the endgame makes me think it may have actually been intentional, but if so, I have to question the reasoning behind that. I mean, no one likes being an hour ahead of a narrative, am I right? There are a few flourishes here and there that made things interesting, but I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of ‘get to it’ coming on by the third act.

Speaking of which, the movie does get a little heavy handed toward the end. Putting a message in your movie is totally cool, even encouraged as it's one of the great tools of the medium, but spoon feeding said message is not particularly fun to partake in.

The cast & crew of Kingdom Come.

Regardless, Kingdom Come is a well made picture and this is, along with Black Fawn Films’ latest The Drownsman, proof positive that this current wave of Ontario genre filmmakers are expanding their reach. And once their scripts equal their ambition, I feel like the sky will be the limit.