White Collar Hooligan 2: England Away – 2013

white collar 2 posterMike Jacobs thinks he’s safe in Witness Protection in Spain. However, when he’s spotted at an England game, a deadly game of cat and mouse between London, Marbella and New York ensues.

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Stars

What we think: British filmmaker Paul Tanter is back with the follow up to 2012′s Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan.

Time has passed, and Mike Jacobs (Nevern) is trying his best to live a normal life after helping to put known criminals behind bars.

He’s living abroad under a new identity, doesn’t have to worry too much about money, has a legitimate business and is in the arms of his girlfriend Katie.

However, he’s still having to look over his shoulder and is far from comfortable, trying his best not to let on to Katie that things might not be as good as they could be.

When he discovers that one of the big king pins he helped put away has been killed he assumes that the end of witness protection is over and he can return home, but he couldn’t be further from the truth.

When he’s spotted at a live match things turn from bad to worse when someone he double crossed wants revenge, and they take the one thing he loves the most.

The task is simple, get £2m in four days or Katie ends up dead, leaving Mike with no option but to track down his so called friend Eddie for help.

Tanter keeps true to the film’s grittiness and violence that for me made the first film a success. This time its more revenge thriller and shows just what a desperate man will do when the backed into a corner.

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It’s clear to see that Tanter likes to work with those he knows can deliver a good performance, and he’s collaborated with Simon Phillips on more than one occasion, the beautiful Rita Ramnani has also featured regularly in past films as has Nick Nevern. It’s a winning formula that always seems to pay off, with a group of actors that are making positive impressions in British film.

The story and script are tight, with Mike jetting off to New York (seemingly just for the day) to corner Eddie into helping him get the cash he needs to save Katie from a villain that could almost be modelled on a familiar Chelsea owner.

There is even a cameo appearance by Vas Blackwood as The Pro who helps Mike and Eddie plan a job which will lead them to steal enough cash to make up the £2m owed.

Tanter made great use of the locations, none more so than in New York where one continuous camera shot establishes just what an eye he has for film making.

With a jaw dropping ending that paves the way for the trilogy to be completed its another successful film in the armoury of Paul Tanter.

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Session 9 – 2001

session9 posterTensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back.

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What we think:

Few horror films have had much of an impact on me in terms of getting inside your head, I don’t go in much for blood splatter and gore.

I’m not a huge fan of the mainstream horror films, although some have been enjoyable. It’s always the hidden gems that really have an impact that make you want to sleep with the light on.

Forget torture porn, something which I fail to see any benefit from, watching a group of stereotypical teens getting ripped to shreds is not my idea of a great horror film.

I want to be impressed and terrified not disgusted and repulsed.

That’s why Session 9 is probably my favourite horror film (running close with the original Halloween), I had to watch this a couple times over the course of a few weeks as there were things I missed and questions I wanted answering?

Written and directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist) it focuses on an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital (what could possibly go wrong).

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When one of the crew stumbles on some old tapes that are recorded sessions (1-9) with a one of the former patients it leads to a series of disturbing and unnerving events for the crew.

The cast list includes C.S.I Miami’s David Caruso, Josh Lucas and popular Brit actor Peter Mullan, who for me was the show stealer and the one who is most affected by the events that take place within the film.

The location is perfect, what could be better than a dilapidated mental hospital, even in the daylight is rises out of the ground like a terrifying sculpture. And that’s before you even get inside.

During the tour round, we see long shots of corridors and enclosed rooms where all kinds of things had been going on, then the voices start and the tension slowly begins to rise.

Anderson’s script is tight enough that you can engage in the characters personalities, there is something not right with all of them, but certainly some more than others.

The most attention grabbing parts of the film is the unraveling of the session tapes which Mike (Stephen Gevedon) gets his hands on, clearly addicted to finding out who the mysterious Simon is.

There are a few twists and turns but it will hold your attention all the way to the bitter end of which is the most shocking revelation of all.

Anderson proves that little is needed in terms of dousing the screen with buckets of blood, he locates the things that really do scare people and gets chills running down your spine.

You’ll certainly be reaching for the light switch after this.

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Visit the IMDb page for Session 9

Please feel free to leave a comment about this film, we would love to know what you think and we’ll do our best to respond!

The Raven – 2012

raven posterWhen a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s works, a young Baltimore detective joins forces with Poe to stop him from making his stories a reality.

Directed

Stars

What we think: I’ve never really been a massive fan of John Cusack, I find him a bit tenuous and someone who slightly over acts.

The Raven gives him the chance to over act to his heart’s content, as he plays poet Edgar Allan Poe who is drawn into the world and mind of a serial killer.

The film is set in 18th century Maryland where the flamboyant Edgar Allan Poe is busy churning out poems and gruesome stories that he desperately tries to get published in the local paper, although frustratingly as he experiences no one really knows or cares who he is?

This leads to large quantities of booze and lots of shouting and aggression at anyone who stands in his way.

When a series of killings alert the local police, Detective Fields (Luke Evans) is called in to investigate, and when it’s discovered that the killings are in some way a copy of Poe’s illustrious work the man himself is tasked with assisting.

Visually the film is very good and is in keeping with the traditions of the 18th century, dark and slightly gothic it certainly gives the sense of a disturbed horror film.

The killer is masked for the majority until the reveal, but clues are dropped as to the identity giving the viewer the chance to play detective. Although you probably don’t need to be Inspector Morse to figure it out.

When Poe’s beloved fiancé Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve) is kidnapped and buried alive it adds a whole new twist to the plot.

The killer is making this a personal vendetta against Poe who seems at a loss to who could be targeting him in such a horrific way, it then becomes a race against time as the killer leaves clues on his victims for Poe to follow that will lead him to a theatrical conclusion.

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I found the film to echo Se7en, in that both Fields and Poe are being taunted by a sadistic killer who is clearly making a bold statement with his work, that involve a huge swinging blade, being buried into a wall and having your tongue cut out.

Also a young beautiful woman is at the killers mercy, can Poe race against time to save her?

Cusack does an admirable job in fairness to him and his portrayal of Poe is an accurate reincarnation. Brendan Gleeson who despite limited screen time still manages to command a presence that has to be respected, and here as Emily’s father he gives off a burning sense of desperation.

The rest of the cast amble a long and certainly don’t set any fires alight, it’s an OK film and it does have the thrills but nothing that is going to set pulses racing.

When you turn it off you just let out one big long “Meh!”

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Please feel free to leave a comment about this film, we would love to know what you think and we’ll do our best to respond!

Sleep Tight – 2013

sleep-tight-movie-poster-2010-1020735230You wake day after day to the comfort and security of your home. But how safe is it really?

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What we think: Jaume Balagueró brought terror to our screens with [Rec] in 2007, a tightly filmed horror set inside the walls of an apartment block over run with flesh eating zombies.

In Sleep Tight Balagueró again goes back inside an apartment block, this time the zombies are replaced by normal residents and a concierge with a sinister secret.

César (Luis Tosar) is unhappy, and has been pretty much all his life, from the opening shot we see him standing on a ledge high above the streets preparing himself to drop to the concrete below.

He goes about his daily business with meticulous routine greeting the residents with a wry smile and engaging them in conversation day to day, but deep down he loathes it.

It seems that his quest is to make others just as unhappy as he is, with main target being the gorgeous Clara (Marta Etura). Initially César seems pleasant enough, he’s polite and courteous and is always making himself available to those who need his help, whether it’s from feeding dogs to fumigating apartments.

It’s when we finally see him under Clara’s bed lying in wait that you realize that Balagueró is about to deliver us a 21st century boogieman. The lengths that César will go to to put Clara in harm’s way will leave you with your jaw open. The idea being that he wants to break her, “we’ll wipe that smile off her face,” he tells his bed ridden mother in hospital.

This almost nods right away to a Hitchcockian feel to the film, think of César as the Spanish version of Norman Bates without the dress, although at one point he does toy with the idea of using a large kitchen knife.

During his torment of poor Clara he infests her house with bugs, injects things into her moisturizing products and even goes so far as to sleep in the same bed, with a little help from chloroform.

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It would be unfair to explain anything more as it would give too much of the story away, and when Clara’s boyfriend Marcos arrives on the scene things only get worse. During the film you almost feel sorry for César and you’d be guilty for feeling anything but admiration towards him, at his dedication the very least.

It’s a voyeuristic nightmare, more so for the audience as Clara doesn’t really have much of a clue what is going on. Even when César is caught in the apartment during one of the films more gripping scenes he has an embarrassed excuse.

Balagueró proves to critics that he can capture as much tension and suspense through conventional cameras as opposed to the point of view of a hand held camcorder, which he used so effectively throughout [Rec] and its sequel.

Sleep Tight is an edgy slow burning thriller, a different take on the horror genre that will leave you gasping after the final act.

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Visit the IMDb page for Sleep Tight

Please feel free to leave a comment about this film, we would love to know what you think and we’ll do our best to respond!

Sinister – 2012

sinister posterA true-crime writer finds a cache of 8mm home movies films that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose career dates back to the 1960s.

Directed

Stars

What we think: Has the found footage genre been done to death? Some would very much say it has, yet they keep on churning the films out. One thing to note with many of these is the budget, films like Paranormal Activity and Insidious were made for a pittance yet generated millions at the box office.

This is the same for Sinister, made for $3m it grossed almost $80m and was one of the surprise hits of last year, of course films like this are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I love a good scare now and again and here I wasn’t disappointed.

Ethan Hawke is the clear standout in this one, here he plays true crime writer Ellison Oswalt who is looking for his next big thing to thrust him into the limelight. He and his family move into a house which he tells them is only a few doors down from a gruesome murder of a family who were all hung from a tree in their back garden.

When he finds a box in his attic containing reels of super 8 film and a camera he soon discovers more grisly murders and that somehow they are all linked to each other. Add to that a mysterious figure who appears in all the films and you have a character who goes a little stir crazy in trying to uncover the truth.

His family are desperate to leave, not happy with the current surroundings they are thrown into even more turmoil when its revealed that the house Oswalt said was two doors down is actually the house they are living in at the moment, don’t you just hate when that happens?

Director Scott Derrickson builds solid amounts of tension throughout, most disturbing are the super 8 films that show a number of families being killed off (you’ll never look at a lawn mower in the same light again). But then you have the same old horror cliché’s slipping back into it, things going bump in the night which leave you waiting for that revealing moment which comes with a consistent bang.

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that this might not actually be classed as found footage, certainly not in the same vein as maybe Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch Project. We’re not viewing anything from the point of view that the characters in this are dead….yet, and the resulting film is their story. But it is ‘found footage’, in that Oswalt has uncovered these films in his attic.

What makes Sinister that bit more unnerving is the somber mood, lighting and camera angles. Not quite giving us the full picture we have to let our imagination stay a few steps ahead of us. The musical score then connects everything together to give us a real horror treat.

Hawke gives a solid performance, he’s a man very much on the edge and that fame is the answer to his future. He’ll succeed at whatever the cost, and the cost is ultimately a big one. The end reveal some might have seen coming a mile off, personally I wasn’t expecting it so it was a good finish to a film that had rattled the nerves a few times.

Produced by the same team that brought us Paranormal Activity and Insidious, it’s a low budget success that shows big budget horrors how it should be done.

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Visit the IMDb page for Sinister

Please feel free to leave a comment about this film, we would love to know what you think and we’ll do our best to respond!