Category Archives: UK Cinema

Malevolent

malevolent

In this, the year of our lord 2019, I would really, really, really like for horror movies to be better. And from what I hear, some recent ones actually are better, but MALEVOLENT is not one of those horror movies. Nope, it is instead a literal paint-by-numbers, “ah, yes, I know what’s going to happen after 10 minutes”, “oh, right, I remember this from movie X” kind of flick. Which, admittedly, is sometimes what one is looking for, but dammit, I so was not and I am grrr-bunnies. *sad-face* MALEVOLENT is a Netflix film, so I knew the risks inherent going in, but gah. I know Netflix can do better than this ghost story/slasher/serial killer hybrid monster.

So, the movie throws us into the action immediately, which is fun – no boring buildups or get to know the one-dimensional characters bullshit. This is something of which I def approve. We’ve got a brother & sister going to Uni in Glasgow in 1986 (I’m really not sure why the year was an important factor; this literally could have been any point in time. The only explanation I have for them making sure to tell us the year is so the characters won’t have cell phones to call for help.) Anyway, brother and sister – Jackson & Angela – and their friends/significant others, Beth & Elliot, run a fake paranormal investigation/ghostbusting service to make extra money (or in Jackson’s case to pay off scary mobster guys for reasons unknown). They go to people’s houses and Angela pretends to have the psychic touch while the others videotape the encounter, smooth-talk the people they’re conning, and fake voices, etc. with tape recorders. People praise them as heroic wonders, and they’re apparently making big bucks (but not enough to pay off the pimps or whoever Jackson owes). No harm, no foul, right? (Except for Jackson when the drug dealer dudes try to smash his face in.)

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This is Jackson. We dislike him greatly.

BUT apparently, Jackson & Angela’s mum actually was psychic. No one believed her, though, and it drove her crazy eventually, and she killed herself. Jackson is still super pissed about all that (understandable) but it’s turned him into an abusive dick to his sister (not understandable & totally not cool, and honestly, the entire movie I was waiting for her to punch him in the face. She never did though and I was very sad. Again.) After the first case we see them do at the beginning of the film, Angela suddenly finds herself…seeing things and hearing voices! *gasps* The fake psychic has become a real psychic (ghost-seer?). Clearly, Angela can’t tell anyone about this though because it would, like, totally ruin the fakeness of their con which would be tragic.

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Freakin’ heroes, I tell ya.

The next case they get is one Angela desperately does NOT want to do because it’s at some freaky murder house where a bunch of little girls were serial killed. If I could suddenly see dead people, I’d probably ixnay that one too.  But Jackson is an asshole, and he & Beth are going to be dead people themselves if he doesn’t pay back the Scottish mafia or whatever, so he tells Angela to suck it up because they are so totes doing this. I really hate him. Soooo, it’s off to the murder house they go! Huzzah! And, surprise, surprise, there are a bunch of dead little girls trying to tell them something, everything goes horribly, and people die. The End.

malevolent-trailer
Little dead girls everywhere.

Questions I have about this film:

  • Why was the part with the loan shark/mafia/pimps necessary? It was pretty pointless as a way to get Jackson to take the job Angela didn’t want because Jackson is a little bitch and would’ve taken the job anyway, duh. Adding in that 2-minute scene where he gets bashed in the face with a pipe, while satisfying, was absolutely unneeded.
  • Why exactly is Jackson an abusive bastard to his sister? Being devastated by the loss of his mom would be one thing but treating his sister like dirt, peppered with the “you know I love you, right? You’re so awesome” – like, literal textbook definition of abuse – is totally another. How are these things even correlated? Did mom like Angela better? Is it because he owes Gramps money so Gramps likes Angela better? So mystified…
  • If ghosts are real and not in people’s minds, then how did these guys fake ghostbusting actually work? People were praising them as having saved them & stuff, which would make sense if the ghost activity was all in the people’s heads, but since it’s been ascertained that ghosts do indeed exist in this universe – how did they manage to achieve this?? They seemed to have not a single complaint.
  • Do you think you could’ve made it less obvious who the killer was? Is there a reason you made it so obvious so early on?
  • Why? Just why? *sighs*

If you need a movie on in the background while you work, this one will work in a pinch but otherwise, you might want to skip it. Formulaic + annoying AF characters + no mystery + no scares = not a very fun time. Def better ghost stories out there. Go watch them instead. Totes.

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The Second Coming: Brought To You In Low Definition

Second Coming

So the cool thing about The Second Coming: Brought To You In Low Definition is that it was filmed on VHS, resulting in an interesting vintage look and feel to the film (like do you remember the quality of VHS?? So spotty!). Unfortunately, that’s really the only good thing I can say about this one. I have absolutely no idea what the point of this film was.

I mean, the tagline reads: “Two 20 some-things, Halibar & Peggy, meet and bond trying to find the owner of a lost cat.”, and this is true…I guess…They DO meet when Halibar finds a lost stuffed animal in the shape of the kitten that he spends some time talking with and whom Peggy helps him return to it’s owner. Whether this stuffed animal is supposed to be a “live actual cat”, I don’t know. They certainly treat it as such. After returning the stuffed animal to it’s owner though, nothing happens except a whole lot of boredom and really uncomfortably strange bits that go on too long. You know what, let’s go back to the beginning…

Second Coming

When a film opens with two people pissing on each other in a non-erotic way whilst taking a bath together, it’s probably a good sign that the film you’re about to watch is not going to be up there in the best of the best category. When the same film continues on so that one of your main characters gets constipated, decides his “poos are like his babies” and then talks to them while on the toilet, it’s definitely a sign that you’re in iffy territory. When said film has no plot and is absolutely non-linear, just random moments, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s on the “not so wonderful” end of the spectrum…except in this case where it does. Random moments are awesome. Random moments where a grown man hugs a child he doesn’t know for 5 minutes straight in silence; decides he’s Jesus and dances in his underwear to remixed gospel music for 5+ minutes (including pole dancing whilst wearing socks and sandals); decides he’s the next Hitler and pens a second Mein Kampf; and is obsessed with his bowels? Really, really not so awesome.

A big part of the problem here was that each of these bits went on for WAY too long – like that dying sketch on SNL that just won’t end. You think you’re “sexy Jesus”? Fabulous. I don’t need to watch you dance in your underwear for more than 5+ minutes though especially when there’s no point to it. Which is the main problem I have with this film – there’s no point. Nothing happens. No one evolves. Two people get together but it’s not an actual relationship, more of someone taking care of a child. Nothing moves forward (or sideways or anyways). It’s just two people (but mainly one guy) acting like a very annoying, whiny man-child with delusions of grandeur. It’s not experimental. It’s not avant-garde. It’s not artsy. It’s not ANYTHING. And therein lies the problem.

Second Coming 1

This scene happened approximately 8 times and lasted 5 minutes each time…


While very cool with the filming on the VHS, there were still issues with the cinematography – long shots that didn’t match with close-ups, too many uncreative camera angles – it was stagnant. I wish I could say more about this film, better things about this film, but I really can’t. I love that someone had the passion to create a film in the first place; it’s hard work, I know. I think the writer/director here would benefit greatly from a bit more mentoring and learning, and I think it would be interesting to see what he brings in the future.

But yeah…

The Last Road

Last Road

“Set in a troubled town in the center of England, life is tough for Toby, a local fighter down on his luck. His mother is an invalid; the town hates him and a particularly nasty businessman has plans for him that will tear his life apart. One day, after losing a crucial fight, a stranger only known as ‘The Collector’ arrives to take him away and drop him in the middle of an unforgiving landscape, where he will either sink or swim. Toby realizes that he has died and landed in a cruel holding pattern between heaven and hell, where he must find his own way, or be forever stuck going in circles.”

Directed by John Wheeler and starring Aaron Long, Simon Sokowlowski, Laura Marklew, Sarah Jane Whittaker and MacKenzie Arnold Williams, The Last Road is an unfortunately messy film that has a solid premise but poor execution. It’s wonderful that the scenery is dark and moody and gorgeous to look at, because trying to follow the story line proves difficult at times. The movie seems to be trying its damnedest to be abstract but it never quite succeeds. Instead we get a loose plot line of a man-child stuck in a type of purgatory, walking aimlessly and suffering different encounters that are supposed to have deeper meanings than what they appear as. Some of these meetings do just that while others…not so much…And after Toby’s first 30 or so minutes in this purgatory, one’s patience starts to wear thin as the journey grows ever the more tedious.

Then there’s the matter of the acting. It’s interesting – the women all did a fine job. They weren’t outstanding but neither were they terrible. They did what they were supposed to and played their parts well. It was only some of the men actors that I took issue with – for example, there was a character that was a former military officer of some kind who died of a dug overdose who seemed to have trouble expressing emotion. And then there was Toby (Aaron Long) himself. When he was playing just straight forward, little to no emotion, a chill kind of boxer/fighter/wrestling guy, he did a not bad job. But in any scene where emotion was required (particularly a negative emotion like anger or sadness) the poor guy couldn’t emote to save his life. It almost seemed as if it was just that melodrama wasn’t his thing so, “okay but whatever”. Regardless of motive or inspiration behind it, it was distracting. His death scene was one of the more horrible I’ve witnessed (just as an fyi, I feel bad saying that because I myself SUCK at death scenes. I am SO bad, lol) but at the same time, it wasn’t him alone. It was the entire scene. Every person in the frame was doing poorly and the way the shots were handled could have been better (too much cutting to the guy sitting in the corner of the ring, too much on the face of Toby and it was just TOO long). *sighs* Look, nobody here was Paris Hilton, okay? People just seemed to have trouble expressing passionate emotions is all.

Moving on…Fight choreography. This one was interesting. The fights in the ring – the wrestling – I thought were rather well done. I used to be a huge wrestling fan and not just of pro but I’d sometimes help a friend run sound for local amateur matches too. I was REALLY into it. So I was impressed with what happened inside the ring. But outside? I…I just…I have no idea what happened there…Fights were slow and sloppy and the moves were so very obvious. I absolutely understand the importance of safety first but comparing the fights inside the ring to outside is like comparing apples to oranges – entirely different creatures. I’m quite curious as to why that was.

Independent films are always fun beasts. Often they’re lo-budget and people are working 8 different jobs and it’s a helluva lot of fun. So sometimes things can get overlooked. It happens. But the continuity here in this film was horrible enough that SOMEBODY should have noticed. Having a cigarette be different lengths in a scene is one thing. Having someone lose his teeth, then turn around immediately after and still have them is something altogether different. I saw makeup errors, errors on marks and the such. Some of it is unavoidable if you’re working with a lo-budget true. But others, like the teeth thing, can easily be avoided. (And I realize there’s a chance the teeth thing might have been on purpose but it still doesn’t make sense if something from earlier is taken into account so…). If you can’t figure out how to make it work, don’t do it. You’ll be better off for it.

“Okay”, you’re saying to yourself, “she obviously hated The Last Road.” Well, no. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t entirely like it but neither did I hate it. There was some cool stuff thrown in there too. There’s a part where, after Toby’s death, he goes back home to see his mum. Except he can’t actually SEE her. He can, however, see the sheets of the bed bunched up around her (she’s an invalid) and see her shadow. Then there’s Toby’s dog, Prince. Prince is Toby’s absolute best mate. He’d do anything for that dog and the relationship there is touching to watch. As I said previously, the wrestling bits were fun to watch and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous to behold. And the concept behind the piece is a good one, a fascinating one – it just needs some work…

Want to find out more about The Last Road to decide whether you want to take the journey? Visit their website or IMDB page to get the scoop!