PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY HAS BEGUN ON “STRANGERS”

Strangers
Strangers
They’re baaaaaaack….

From the press release:

KINCAID, KENTUCKY, June 22, 2017 – Aviron Pictures and The Fyzz Facility Pictures announced today that principal photography on STRANGERS, a horror film inspired by the 2008 smash hit THE STRANGERS, has begun in Northern Kentucky. The film is directed by Johannes Roberts (47 METERS DOWN) from a script written by Bryan Bertino (THE STRANGERS) and Ben Ketai (THE FOREST). The film stars Emmy Award® nominated Christina Hendricks (“MAD MEN”), Martin Henderson (THE RING), Bailee Madison (“ONCE UPON A TIME”) and Lewis Pullman (AFTERMATH). The Fyzz Facility’s James Harris, Mark Lane, Wayne Marc Godfrey and Robert Jones will produce. The Fyzz are also fully financing. Intrepid Pictures’ Trevor Macy, who produced THE STRANGERS, will serve as Executive Producer. Jon D. Wagner serves as line producer. BLOOM is handling international sales.

In STRANGERS, a family’s road trip takes a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it mysteriously deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive.

“I’m honored to get to bring a fresh perspective to the terrifying concept depicted in THE STRANGERS, this time with a whole family in isolation fighting together for survival,” says director Roberts. “We’re excited to bring our masked villains to a whole new generation and hope that fans of the original will welcome seeing them terrorize unsuspecting innocents once again – but this time in a trailer park.”

Joining Roberts on the film is director of photography Ryan Samul (COLD IN JULY), production designer Freddy Waff (BONE TOMAHAWK) and costume designer Carla Shivener (“CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR”).

Johannes Roberts is repped by CAA.

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Film Review – SiREN

Image from the horror thriller film “SiREN” a Chiller Films release. Photo courtesy of Chiller Films.
Image from the horror thriller film “SiREN” a Chiller Films release. Photo courtesy of Chiller Films.

LISTEN to Freddy’s interview with star Hannah Fierman here.

SiREN is a very fun monster movie based on the short “Amateur Night” from V/H/S. In this feature length version, director Gregg Bishop takes the simple idea of the wolf in sheep’s clothing and adds a whole slew of hints at a much larger world full of mystical adventure and threats. Hannah Fierman returns as “Lily” the sweetheart of a monster who has big eyes and bigger teeth. Justin Welborn (The Signal) really shines as the villain of the story, the human/inhuman trafficker “Mr. Nyx.” Nyx runs an anything goes Eyes Wide Shut style club in a mansion in the middle of the woods of the southern town of Garden City. When groom to be “Jonah” rolls in with his groomsmen to celebrate his bachelor party, the excrement makes physical contact with a hydro-electric powered oscillating air current distribution device.

Stephen Caudill as Sheriff Boone from the horror thriller film “SiREN” a Chiller Films release. Photo courtesy of Chiller Films.
Stephen Caudill as Sheriff Boone from the horror thriller film “SiREN” a Chiller Films release. Photo courtesy of Chiller Films.

At first, the foursome of the groom and his men come off as templates of The Hangover gang, but the writers manage to give them a little more depth as the story progresses. All of our leading men turn in solidly charming performances. It doesn’t hurt that the creators of SiREN don’t settle for a simple douchebags in peril storyline. They give what could otherwise be a forgettable film an edge by including a veritable Star Wars Cantina of supporting creatures and weird patrons at Nyx’s club. Brittany S. Hall as “Ash” is a particular standout. The reveal of her character’s special talent suggests a magical world supporting the action of our immediate scenario.

Hannah Fierman as Lily in the horror thriller film “SiREN” a Chiller Films release. Photo courtesy of Chiller Films.
Hannah Fierman as Lily in the horror thriller film “SiREN” a Chiller Films release. Photo courtesy of Chiller Films.

SiREN has a magical quality that makes it a worthwhile offering. The visual effects are good and the action sequences are exciting and creatively composed. Bishop’s previous (and first) feature Dance of the Dead (2008) was a blast and SiREN has really whetted my appetite for what he’ll do next.

 

 

 

 

****/*****

siren_chiller_films_1620x2400TITLE: SiREN

IN THEATERS:  December 2, 2016

ON VOD, DIGITAL HD AND DVD: December 6, 2016

DIRECTOR:  Gregg Bishop

WRITERS:  Based on a short by David Bruckner.  Written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski

CAST:  Chase Williamson, Justin Welborn, Michael Aaron Milligan, Hayes Mercure, Randy McDowell, Hannah Fierman

SYNOPSIS: SiREN is a horror-thriller about Jonah, an apprehensive groom-to-be whose bachelor party turns into a nightmare when he frees a seemingly innocent victimized girl locked up in a supernatural sex club. Her ruthless handler and proprietor of the sex club will stop at nothing to re-capture his prize. Jonah struggles to rescue the girl only to discover it is he who needs to be rescued as he comes to the realization that she is a dangerous fabled predator who has chosen him as her mate.

GENRE: Horror, Thriller

DISTRIBUTOR: Chiller Films

Film Review – Los Parecidos (The Similars)

115In Los Parecidos (The Similars) writer/director Isaac Ezban has created a loving tribute to the horror and sci-fi masterpieces of 1960s TV and film. The setup will be familiar to anyone who has ever seen an episode of “The Twilight Zone”. Onscreen text establishes that it’s October 2, 1968 as a rainstorm wails outside a remote bus station. A male actor delivers a voiceover narration in a clipped baritone in the sale of Rod Serling introducing one of the story’s ancillary characters “Martin”. Martin works the ticket counter and reads nudie magazines and listens to the radio to pass the time. A young man with shaggy hair and one hell of a beard “Ulises” is frantically trying to get to Mexico City as his wife is in labor in a hospital there. A young woman fleeing her abusive husband arrives; she too is trying to get to Mexico City to escape her abuser. An indigenous woman (possibly Mayan or Aztec) is also in the station. She is agitated and seems to be praying or performing some sort of religious rite in the corner. Meanwhile, as other characters arrive at the station, something truly bizarre begins to unfold as Martin spontaneously grows a beard and starts to morph into Ulises’ twin. From this point, paranoia and fear take over the proceedings as our stranded cast of characters try to deduce what is going on and who is responsible for it.4-copy

Fans of “The Twilight Zone” will appreciate The Similars. The vignetted photography and use of filters create a vintage look and Edy Lan’s musical score is a perfect homage to the work of Bernard Herrmann. This film really feels like a lost episode of the TV series that inspired it. Like Serling, Ezban works some political and classist themes into his story that add complexity and depth to what could otherwise be a bizarre black comedy. This film is a must see for fans of vintage sci-fi and horror and hopefully the beginning of a resurgence of this style of storytelling.

****/*****

the-similars-poster04THE SIMILARS (“LOS PARECIDOS”) – XLrator Media
VOD DATE: November 15, 2016
iTunes & Digital  November 22, 2016
DIRECTED BY: Isaac Ezban
CAST: Gustavo Sánchez Parra, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Fernando Becerril, Humberto Busto
SYNOPSIS: On the rainy night of October 2, 1968, eight people waiting in a remote bus station for a bus heading to Mexico City start experiencing a strange phenomenon. Threatened by paranoia and fear, the strangers show the best and worst of themselves as they try to unravel the mysterious condition that is invading each of them like a virus.
GENRE: Sci-Fi
DISTRIBUTOR: XLrator Media

Interview with Nick Jongerius – director of THE WINDMILL

Nick Jongerius
Nick Jongerius
FREDDY: Thanks for answering our questions. I really enjoyed The Windmill!

NICK JONGERIUS: Thank you very much! Really appreciate the attention and hopefully I’ve answered your questions to your satisfaction.

F: Besides the climax of 1931’s Frankenstein, I can’t think of a windmill being an important set piece in a horror film. You’ve built an entire film around one. Why?

NJ: Hahaha. There is a small part for a windmill in Sleepy Hollow, but I guess you are right. I think windmills have followed me my whole life. I was born on a street called the Saw Windmill street, which was near an old creepy windmill. Where I live now there are a lot of windmills too. They kind of creep me out, because they stand tall in the field and have no windows. If a swinging blade hits you, you will likely die. I really liked the idea of this thing that creeps me to be the arena for my feature debut.

F: The Windmill successfully blends classic tropes of slasher films, “The Twilight Zone,” and traditional ghost stories and legends. I feel like the “dark and stormy night” style of storytelling is in short supply these days, so what inspired you to bring it back?

NJ: Thanks. I hear what you are saying and I agree. Chris Mitchell (screenwriter) and I really love the old Amicus movies and Agatha Christie. These stories in which strangers get stuck with one another and once the shit hits they realize they have something in common. In that sense this film is definitely a throwback to these old movies. I like characters who are outspoken and differ from each other. It gives tension in a group and the horror elements change the dynamics constantly. The film is also an homage to old Grimm Fairytales. I really like horror films with lots of fantasy elements in them. For me realistic horror is hard to watch (and to make). I like the work of Guillermo del Toro or Tim Burton where you know the horror is contained in this unrealistic but interesting world.

F: This is the first English language film that you’ve directed (the rest were Dutch). Why did you choose to work in English for The Windmill?

NJ: It is really hard to make a horror film in the Netherlands. There is just not enough interest in them. People here tend to dislike horror films set in their own language. It might have something to do with the fact that we as Dutch are really down to earth and not too superstitious about ghosts, fantasy or anything of the sort. We produced Frankenstein’s Army and saw the potential of getting interesting concepts made in English, which opens up the world as your market.

F: You’ve assembled an outstanding cast in The Windmill. This isn’t necessarily true of most slashers, and I really appreciate the push back against the dumbing down of the genre that you and filmmakers like you are making by taking the process seriously. When so many production companies see horror film projects as a means to a quick ROI, why is good casting so important?

NJ: Well, I really appreciate it. I worked really hard on getting the cast right. I spend a lot of my time on set with the actors. It was key for me that the performances were at their highest level. I had such an amazing cast who gave so much and brought so much to the table. It’s really hard for actors to play in a horror film. So much is created afterwards in sound design, editing, etc. An actor really needs to trust a director on a project like this. In the casting process I really went for performance above anything. I also assembled the team like a football coach. It needed to be a team. Individual performance is nothing if you as an actor are not a team player. Acting is about reacting, and you can only do that if your fellow actor is willing to help you during a scene. We talked a lot and had extensive talks as a group and me with the actors individually.

F: Do you believe in the devil, and if so what sort of deal would you like to make with him?

NJ: I’m a big fan of Stephen King and I learned though his books that you should never make deals with shady people. It will always backfire.

F: What three adjectives would the cast and crew of The Windmill use to describe you?

NJ: Oofff. That’s a good one. I guess a lot was probably done behind my back 😉 but I would say: demanding, intense and a little strange.

F: What would you love to find laying around on a movie set?

NJ: A suitcase filled with non-traceable money.

F: What onset disaster has ever happened to you?

NJ: On this film every kill scene was an onset disaster. I got a lot of grey hairs from making them. This was because we had everything against us… remote locations, everything needed to be in-camera and it was all set at night. In the end I love every scene and I think our SFX team Rob’s Prop Shop did an amazing job.

F: What are the most important qualities in a screenplay?

NJ: All the clichés… great characters, interesting story arcs, but the most important thing I guess is that you as a director have to fall in love with it. You have to be willing to defend it ’til the death.

F: Remakes of horror and sci-fi films are big business and often draw a whole new generation to classic stories. If you were asked to direct a remake of a horror or sci-fi film, which would you choose and why?

NJ: Scanners. I just love that movie and think that with the right approach it could have potential for a remake. There are so many story elements in it that could click with a future audience.

F: What is your most memorable experience working in TV or film?

NJ: Apart from this film I worked on a Dutch youth drama series where an adopted girl on high school hears that she needs to leave the country because of regulations. We follow her on her last days at school and eventually she leaves. It was based on a true story and the episodes got immense response. It was heartbreaking and one of the things I’m still very proud of.

F: What’s the strangest project that you’ve ever worked on?

NJ: I did a commercial for a pizza brand where we literally took a whole day of shooting for two shots of people driving a car. The script was bad, the client was constantly on our case and it rained the entire day while it needed to be sunny. It was not a good day.

F: What’s the funniest advice your filmmaking mentor ever gave you?

NJ: I wish I met a funny filmmaking mentor. They are all so serious here in Holland!

Thank you so much to Nick Jongerius for answering all of our questions! You can read my review of The Windmill here.

Film Review: The Windmill

Image from the horror film “THE WINDMILL” an XLrator Media release. Photo courtesy of XLrator Media.
Image from the horror film “THE WINDMILL” an XLrator Media release. Photo courtesy of XLrator Media.

The Windmill is a slasher film and a spooky supernatural tale in the tradition of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and countless campfire tales. The film is very good and certain to please a wide variety of horror fans. It’s gruesome and gory, yet restrained when it benefits the eerie atmosphere. The acting is top shelf too, featuring the always expert Noah Taylor (“Game of Thrones”, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as the troubled doctor Nicholas and Charlotte Beaumont (“Broadchurch”, Jupiter Ascending) in the lead role of Jennifer. Jennifer is an Australian fugitive on the run in Amsterdam. She ends up with Nicholas and a diverse cast of characters on a tour bus in the back country of Holland. When their bus breaks down near a dilapidated ancient windmill, all hell breaks loose and the passengers begin to disappear one by one as is the tradition of any good slasher film.

(L-R) Bart Klever as Abe, Fiona Hampton as Ruby, Adam Thomas Wright as Curt, Patrick Baladi as Douglas, Charlotte Beaumont as Jennifer, and Noah Taylor as Nicholas in the horror film “THE WINDMILL” an XLrator Media release. Photo courtesy of XLrator Media.
(L-R) Bart Klever as Abe, Fiona Hampton as Ruby, Adam Thomas Wright as Curt, Patrick Baladi as Douglas, Charlotte Beaumont as Jennifer, and Noah Taylor as Nicholas in the horror film “THE WINDMILL” an XLrator Media release. Photo courtesy of XLrator Media.

What sets The Windmill apart from most slashers is the care taken in creating atmosphere. Who knew Holland’s countryside could be so ghostly and weird? The surroundings are evocative of sets from classic monster movies, but with enough grimy realism to make them worthy of being inhabited by modern characters. The story is given some additional depth by implementing the classic Serling-esque trope of anti-heroes as acceptable targets for supernatural punishment/redemption. Our protagonists all have checkered pasts that ultimately led them to the windmill. This trope can be tired and cliche in the wrong hands, but director Nick Jongerius makes it work. The backstories are presented in a variety of ways, and I was curious to learn more about each character as their individual stories unfolded. None of it played as filler; all of it made each character more absorbing than the typical victim in a “dead teenager movie”. The diverse cast and care in craft make The Windmill a cut above most recent horror releases.

You can read my interview with director Nick Jongerius here.

Kenan Raven as The Miller in the horror film “THE WINDMILL” an XLrator Media release. Photo courtesy of XLrator Media
Kenan Raven as The Miller in the horror film “THE WINDMILL” an XLrator Media release. Photo courtesy of XLrator Media

****/*****


the-windmill-b1-70x100cm-fl-rgb-02

THE WINDMILL IN THEATERS: October 28, 2016 AVAILABLE ON VOD AND ITUNES: October 25, 2016 DIRECTED BY: Nick Jongerius WRITTEN BY: Nick Jongerius, Chris W. Mitchell, Suzy Quid CAST: Charlotte Beaumont, Bart Klever, Patrick Baladi, Ben Batt, Fiona Hampton, Tanroh Ishida, Adam Thomas Wright and Noah Taylor SYNOPSIS: A group of unsuspecting tourists awaken a mysterious evil while on a trip through the Dutch countryside.

 


Five Best Horror Flicks Featuring Games

Video games and movies have always had a bit of a tenuous relationship—video games and horror movies even more so. While they’ve definitely been done with varying degrees of success, there are plenty of horror flicks that have either based their plots or their kills around a variety of games. Here are five horror movies that have called it “game over” for their characters.


ExistenZ

Somehow David Cronenberg was able to take his trademark body horror and apply it to the video game world. In ExistenZ, Jennifer Jason Leigh is a VR game designer that creates games for grotesque bio-organic consoles known as “game pods.” She goes on the lam with a security guard (Jude Law) as they try to escape the assassins of a rival company in a world where you can never quite tell what’s real. Equal parts Videodrome and Mulholland Drive, ExistenZ is definitely one of the weirder entries in Cronenberg’s filmography, but it remains an overlooked classic of modern technological horror that has been called “a game culture masterpiece.”

Wishmaster 2

Wishmaster 2 is an almost impressively bad straight-to-video sequel for the 1997 film Wishmaster. The plot doesn’t make any sense and the acting is positively terrible, but we’d be lying if we said that it didn’t include some innovative kill scenes. While the movie doesn’t actively revolve around games, it uses a casino to great effect as the evil Djinn sets up shop collecting souls by granting the wishes of casino patrons in horrifyingly misconstrued ways. Among these is a hilarious CG roulette wheel that sprouts blades and becomes a spinning wheel of death. There are also slot machines that deliver their payouts through the bodies of their players. The use of a real-life casino is a novel and unique setting, especially now when gaming scares are typically found online with horror based slot-themes based on scary supernatural creatures. The original Wishmaster was produced by Wes Craven and became sort of a cult classic of low-budget bad horror movies. But Wishmaster 2? It managed to top the original with terrible special effects and even worse acting, making it a must-see for B-horror aficionados.

Hellraiser: Hellworld

The eighth installment came at a time when most had pretty much given up on the series, but this straight-to-video release offers a somewhat new take on the Cenobite lore. This 2005 movie revolves around a group of kids that become obsessed with a game based on the actual Hellraiser series called Hellworld in a very meta self-referencing plot device. Sadly, the video game is barely featured, because most of the movie takes place at a party that’s a real-life meetup of players for the game where they’re set upon by the Cenobites. This one is for Clive Barker completists only.

Stay Alive

2006’s Stay Alive functions on the basic idea of a video game where if you die in the game, you die in real life. Admirably, the movie sticks to its guns and spends much of its time in the fictional game and features kill scenes about as good as a PG-13 film can offer. There are some surprising actors in this including Frankie Muniz from Malcolm in the Middle and Adam Goldberg, most recently seen in the first season of FX’s series adaptation of Fargo. Bonus points to Stay Alive for naming its main character “Loomis” in a clear reference to the character from Halloween.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

Like Wishmaster 2, this movie didn’t so much revolve around games as it happened to use them well in its set pieces. By this point in the franchise, Freddy had become much more of a punchline, reveling in over-the-top slapstick and a ton of terrible one liners. There’s a reason that it’s widely considered the worst in the franchise, but there’s still lots to love, including some hilarious kills. One of the best remembered scenes from Final Nightmare is definitely the death of Spencer (Breckin Meyer). Played out in a 16-bit style video game, Freddy antagonizes his victim through the game from the comfort of a chair with a game controller. And, of course, he utters equally awful and classic lines like “Now I’m playing with power!” and “I beat my high score.” The entire sequence is downright hysterical and that alone makes Final Nightmare worth a look.

Surveillance and Privacy Horrors in 13 Cameras

13-cameras-poster

Your home is meant to be a safe haven, protecting you from the dangers of the outside world. However, with today’s technology, home invaders can easily find ways to break in without actually breaking in. The 2015 film, 13 Cameras, shows us how the horrors of a home invasion can be made real through simple video surveillance.

 

In 13 Cameras, a creepy and sweaty landlord, Gerald, played by Neville Archambault, fixes up a starter home and installs tiny hidden cameras around the house, from the shower to the bedroom and even inside the toilet bowl. He rents this house out to a newlywed and young couple, Ryan and Claire (P.J. McCabe and Brianne Moncrief, respectively) and parents-to-be. Gerald constantly watches and gawks at the couple through his television screens as they go about their daily lives, and we experience the creeping horror of 24/7 video surveillance as it invades the spaces we consider to be most private.

 

There have actually been multiple real-life accounts of non-consenting video surveillance, of course. In August of 2015, a couple in Toronto found themselves victims to this very crime. While watching Netflix, their webcam was hacked and they were sent intimate pictures of themselves in the following days. Any wireless device can easily and unknowingly be hacked and used against you. However, 13 Cameras offers a new perspective on a different threat. Although not exactly common, landlords spying on tenants can be a real and plausible threat – something that can even happen to you.

 

Writer and director, Victor Zarcoff, does a great job of displaying the right amount of found footage, making sure not to overuse this format throughout the film. The film succeeds in this format, avoiding full Paranormal Activity style and opting for a sense of voyeurism through Gerald’s point of view. Archambault plays a terrific creepy and ominous landlord with his various mannerisms, such as his heavy breathing and sparse dialogue. It is also worth noting that McCabe and Moncrief play a believable couple going through the motions of becoming a family. Despite the actors’ noteworthy performances, the film itself seems to lose its plot towards the finale.

 

Nevertheless, 13 Cameras’ overarching message seems to be clear for any audience. In the modern world of today, technology plays an important part of our daily lives. However, there are always those who use technology for much more threatening reasons and it’s important to be aware of the lengths someone will go to in order to invade your privacy. If you have a security system it’s always smart to avoid reusing passwords, or using strong password generators like this site suggests, plus keeping your system software up to date and being aware of the cameras on your electronics, such as on your phone or laptop, in order to safeguard against malicious intruders.

 

Gerald is a huge example of a threat you can’t see and it is important to be aware of sure-fire ways to protect yourself against an invasion of privacy in your own home. When Gerald is shopping for cameras, the store clerk rambles on about how tiny cameras can be nowadays, illustrating how easy it can be for someone to spy on you. So, be careful the next time you’re watching Netflix or deciding to rent a place to live. You never know who may be watching.