We’ll deviate from a full length feature this week and discuss the short horror film Ax. Ax marks the directorial debut for Michael Coulombe (a script supervisor by trade), and I think he did a pretty darn good job. Wait…I called this a horror film, didn’t I? Well, I suppose you could call it a horror. You could also call it a psychological thriller. There are indeed heavy elements of both. Either way you spin it, I liked what I saw. The short film Ax follows a man’s inner struggle after the realization that he has just done something horrific. Clocking in at just under nine minutes, it was short and sweet. You’ll hear no complaints from me though. Nine minutes was enough to find myself wrapped up in the story. Efficient, wouldn’t you say?
Here’s the thing that I THINK I’ve come to realize in regards to short films. They are short. Why do I sound like a broken record? Because as it is a short film, there is an immediate challenge for the director to get his thoughts and actions across on screen quickly. There is no luxury of 90 minutes. There is….whatever, anywhere between 8-15 minutes (as a broad guess) to get your story out there, and to make it good to boot. It sounds daunting to me, but I think Ax does what it’s supposed to do in the allotted time.
Coulombe’s film is well written: eloquent and straight forward. The scenery is absolutely beautiful and immediately gives you the sense that the main character is not only alone in the woods, but alone in his own mind as well. The story builds nicely to a dreadful climax and I gave a slight cringe after seeing the terrible events transpire.
On the flip side of the coin, the timing of the acting was just a touch off during some key scenes, but not so much off that I got pissed and threw my remote into the fish tank. It was noticeable, but not detrimental to the overall story.
Again, it’s a short watch so you have to be quick to like it or not like it. I liked it, and I’m giving it a potent 6 out of 10 cleavers.
We can expect to see more from Michael Coulombe. He is the founder of Bear Claw Films and co-founder of the Big Bear Horror Festival, now in its fourth year. If you want to learn more about his upcoming projects, head over to bearclawfilms.com. You can also help fund his latest project, The Beauty of Death, at indiegogo. Go now and follow that project on Twitter @Evilgrows and his film company @_bearclawfilms_.
You can watch the full short HERE!
As most of you know, I am not one to review many shorts, but I was recently introduced to a film titled Ax written and directed by Michael Coulombe. I had no idea what the premise or plot was for this film, so I went in blind and ended up pleasantly surprised.
Ax is a short film about a man who is questioning his own sanity. “What drives a man to madness?” is the question you hear him asking himself throughout the film. There is not much acting in this film, and the plot is simple…a man is asking himself what the fuck is going on in his own mind. I would describe this film as eloquently written, yet somewhat disturbing…which to me is a great combination.
Being a short film, and the fact that there is no real acting or dialogue between the characters, this review just like the film, will be short. With that said, I will leave it at this: Michael Coulombe did an amazing job on this film. The monologue within the mind of the lead character was well written. I highly recommend taking about eight or ten minutes out of your day to check out this film.
I give Ax 6.5 out of 10 cleavers and I ask that each of you give it a chance just like I did.
I’ve been dying to get these reviews up all week. We started out the site with some um….less than entertaining titles, do we’re due for a frightful kick in the nuts. So we checked out The Houses October Built, and my stomach is still queasy. The title, the plot, the subtle scares: all of these things contributed to what I’m absolutely calling one of my favorite horror movies I’ve seen in a hot minute.
Let’s keep it short and sweet. A group of friends sets out to find the ultimate extreme in haunted house attractions. They’ve got an RV, booze, and a camera. Game fuckin' on. Bullet list: engage.
· I absolutely welcome the found-footage subgenre and tiny variations thereof. Critics will bitch and moan about oversaturation and unoriginality. Me thinks they’re watching the wrong shit.
· I dig a slow burn, albeit usually a risky venture. Houses did it perfectly. Part of the fun of this movie is really just them checking out the haunts and meeting weirdos. I will be so bold as to say that there wasn’t a dull moment. The progression of what they experience all builds nicely to a freakishly macabre ending.
· Nostalgia factor is through the roof for me. As long as I can remember, I have loved Halloween and all that comes with it. I decorate my house, I make my wife watch scary movies, and I definitely try to find local attractions to enjoy: haunted walking tours, houses, whatever. Give it all to me. **Name Drop alert** This year I was able to hop over to New Orleans and check out The House of Shock and their final year of scaring the masses. This movie immediately took me back to it and reminded me how much fun (and frightening) haunted attractions are. For the writers to tap into that…not just for me, but for everyone out there who’s ever been to a haunted house, was absolutely brilliant.
· Hmmm…honestly, I’m struggling to find something negative about the film. I’d have to really try to find something to fault, and then it’d just be nitpicking and bullshitting for the sake of trying to maintain bias. It was just good. Jesus, how else can I say it?!
Writers Bobby Roe, Jason Zada, & Zack Andrews have absolutely outdone themselves with this film. In my keeping up with social media, it’s already blatantly obvious that what they’ve created is an instant cult classic. The movie was crafted wonderfully, and really showed off with a disturbingly ominous ending. They stripped away any unnecessary garbage and put out a simple, scary-as-hell movie. I’m sure there are great things on the horizon for this team, and you better believe Reelbloody will have its eyes on them henceforth. Without a shadow of a doubt, it’s an easy 8 out of 10 cleavers, and I’m really just not trying to be such a fanboy about it J
Check out the imdb here and their twitter page @HousesOctBuilt. Go watch the movie already!!!!!
So one night I am at home bored. Nothing on TV, no work to do, the wife was out with some friends, so I start browsing trailers for upcoming horror films. Somehow I came across a trailer that blew me away... The Houses October Built. This is a film directed by Bobby Roe; that is another one of the "handheld camera" films. I have said many times that I am growing tired of this style, but I loved this plot so much, I did not care.
I think the main reason I wanted to see this film so badly is because it relates to me in a huge way. Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved visiting the haunted houses around Halloween time. However, the older I got, the more bored I became. At a youthful 37 years old, I still go to these haunted houses, but I am never scared. Yea, I may jump here and there, but SCARED....never. This movie is about a group that goes on a road trip to find the scariest haunts all over the United States. Sounds like fun, and I am tempted someday to do this myself.
Well, along the way, you get some good haunts and some good moments in the film. Of course at times it may get slow, but it does not bother me because it helps keep the film’s "realistic vibe" going. Like always, I will not give away too much of the ending, but let me say that they save the best haunt for the end...or is it a haunt? The ending leaves you thinking one way, but then again, you start questioning a few aspects of it. I will not ask these questions here, but I will say this... WATCH THE FILM!!! It may not go on your all-time greatest list, but I promise you without a doubt it is well worth a watch.
I give The Houses October Built 7 cleavers out of 10!!!
Peace and Have a Happy and Horror Filled Holiday!!!
Well that was fun, wasn't it?! This week we checked out The Devil's Carnival, written by Terrance Zdunich (rocked the role of Lucifer and also wrote and starred in Repo! The Genetic Opera) and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (he also directed Saw II, III, IV, and Repo!). I have to say, for all the gore and scare factor that this horror movie really isn't (and purposefully so...it needs not a bit of it), it's replaced and undoubtedly supassed by a ton of literary fun and well executied Rock Opera.
I'll be honest: it's probably the band geek in me that makes me love this feature (as I did with Repo!). In my opinion, it just seems like a step-up in the game to do a horror/musical mixed-genre film. I mean you're essentially getting 2 layers of entertainment; 3 if you cound spotting cameos like Bill Moseley and Dayton Callie (of recent SoA fame).
The last short story (I should mention here that the three short stories in the movie are based off of Aesop's Fables) got a little more serious and reminded me that it wasn't just a fun loving, dance-and-sing-along.
This was probably a deviation from the norm for me. I mean I loved it and as stated above, never one to turn away from music and dancing in cinema, but for the most part I'm usually looking for lots of blood, guts, and unhealthy amounts of unnecessary nekkidness. This gave me none of that, but I was definitely entertained from start to finish. Who can argue with that?!
At 55 minutes, it's definitely a short watch. Couple that with the fact that not once did I even think about looking at my watch, and the 55 minutes goes by like 15. With the sequel The Devil's Carnival: Alleluia! forthcoming, this served not only as a great film, but also a huge teaser of what's to come.
I give this one 7 out of 10 cleavers. And if you could hear me read this review aloud, I'm actually singing it with brilliant theatrical gusto.
Can I get an AMEN, ya'll?!
Here's the link to the imdb for more details, and the twitters for Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrance Zdunich. GO and tell them they kick much ass!!
Dancing around my cubicle with makeup on,
This week my assignment was to check out some 55-minute "horror/musical" titled The Devil's Carnival. It was written by Terrance Zdunich (who also played the role of Lucifer) and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman. These names may not stick out in your head, but let me give you a tiny resume on them. Zdunich wrote and starred in Repo! The Genetic Opera while Darren L. Bousman directed the movies Saw II, III, and IV. These dudes know what the hell they're doing, so I will leave it at that.
Okay, on to The Devil's Carnival. Have you ever seen something so weird that you had to keep looking at it? Something so odd, that you called or texted all your friends to immediately look at it. That is what this film is in my opinion. The premise is simple; three souls are sent to hell after their death and they are forced to face their earthly sins in the afterlife. The film is broken into three short stories. If you have become a fan of our site and learned my style, you know that I try my best not to give away too much of the movie; I am anti-spoiler. With that said, the third and final story was my favorite of the three and I think it was the closing I needed to really be able to form my opinion of this film.
I will close with this...if you came up to me and say "Hey, go check out this 55 minute movie...it is a horror musical", I would either slap you in the face, or do something a little less rude and tell you to go fuck yourself, however, I really and truly do recommend this film to you. It is extremely unique and weird, but I like it. I really do. I give The Devil's Carnival 6.5 cleavers out of 10.
Again, take the time to check this film out. It is worth it!
Sincerely from the Dirty South,
It's a funny thing, the way a movie can scare you. For some, it's watching someone lost in the woods or stranded by the side of the road. For others, it's watching a crazed ax murderer or maybe even being the B in an A-B-C. For me, for THIS movie, the fear lies within the main character's struggle to protect his daughter. Yep, I'm becoming a softy I guess?
So that I can say I at least put out a little factual info instead of 100% all my own awesome opinion, it's worth mentioning that this movie was written and directed by Ciaran Foy (currently directing Sinister 2). Citadel was his first full length feature film and I'd say that by all accounts, he did quite well. To drill this down to a ridiculously shortened summary: it's about a man who overcomes his agoraphobia in order to protect his daughter from evil, apartment dwelling children.
Wait, what?! Evil...apartment...dwelling...children? Fuck yes. Sound cheesy maybe? Initially I thought so too, but the more I stared at the movie icon, the more it kept begging for me to watch it. It's the kind of thing you'd read about and be 100% convinced that there's no way to effectively pull that off. I insist you watch the movie because I believe you'll be most pleasantly surprised.
New format here: lists of "woohoo" and "meh".
-The atmosphere: bleak, colorless, depressing...sets a great tone for the whole movie
-The location. I don't know about you, but when I'm disconnected from a setting, I tend to be a little more edge-of-my-seat and uneasy. We generally take comfort in what is familiar to us, so the fact that this is a foreign film adds to the creepy factor for me.
-As mentioned earlier, I really dug the aspect of the father overcoming his fears to save his daughter. I suppose that as a new parent, it was easy for me to imagine being in that situation, albeit desperate and ominous.
-I won't lie. There's a part of me (typical American) that wanted the movie to be a little more harsh and graphic. Not that it would have made it scarier, but it certainly would have contributed to the viewer's investment in the characters. To see his wife suffer more (no spoiler there...the synopsis on imdb basically divulges the same info) or to get a better eye on those crazy, creepy children would have been great. Maybe that's just me?
-The ending. I don't want to spoil it for those wanting to check it out (you def should), but the ending was a little shitty. The method by which dear ol' dad escapes and puts an end to the reign of young terror left much to be desired.
So...yep, all that to say that I really did like the movie overall and would definitely recommend you check it out. I'd have to give the movie 3 of 5 cleavers for being original, creating an environment that absolutely breeds discomfort, and for a surprisingly stripped down, creepy-ass storyline.
Here's the imdb for movie info, the movie's FB, and Ciaran's twitter!
Have you ever seen the synopsis for a movie and thought to yourself, "Oh yea, this is gonna be great!" only to be let down within the first 30 minutes? Well, this happened to me this week. I checked out a film called Citadel. No, it was not about a college in Charleston, SC for military kids, it is an Irish film written and directed by Ciaran Foy. Citadel is about a father who teams up with what I call an insane priest to save his daughter from a gang of violent, demented kids. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, here are my thoughts:
I will start by saying that I really wanted to like this movie...I did. The first few minutes you get a little action and then you're like "Okay, here we go." I spent the next 15 minutes of boredom only trying to convince myself that the main character was not played by John Mayer because if I didn't find something to keep me interested, I would have fallen asleep. Listen, this movie is not a total shitfest, it isn't. I think the problem is, it just was not MY cup of tea. I have spoken with people who liked it, and I did not immediately want to hurl things at their faces...I understood.
I hate giving away too much of a plot in my reviews, but let me just give you some idea what to expect in this film:
-John Mayer lookalike's daughter is kidnapped
-His wife was killed a year prior
-A lot of scenes where you wonder if the production crew could not afford lights
-A bunch of evil little asshole kids that live in a shithole apartment complex.
That is all I will say at this point. Again, I am not saying to avoid this movie, it is not THAT BAD, but I just personally would never see it again myself.
I give Citadel 2 out of 5 cleavers, but like I said, go see it for yourself; you may disagree with me.
Here's the imdb to the movie, the director's twitter, and the movie's FB.
I honestly don't have a ton of couch time with short films. That said, I would imagine that it's pretty difficult to be able to fit a nice, neat, story line within the allotted timeframe. Red Rose manages to create a simple and effective story...so much so that you do find yourself invested in the main character, if only for 15 or so minutes. I'd never dare tell someone how to craft their art (I'm not a complete asshole), but if I didn't provide ANYTHING at all to consider, what benefit are we? Check out a couple things I wondered about:
1) The supporting acting left a little to be desired. I imagine a tight timeline and limited budget may have contributed. That said, Addy was great.
2) Pizza: The girls fixed their plates, but then left. Maybe they could simply be finishing their meal and not starting it?
3) It seemed as if the actor was hesitatnt in the shovel scene, so it came off as almost slow motion, but it was effective nonetheless. Maybe a non-harmful prop for full-on head bashing could be used?
Overall, I'd have to say that I give this film 2.5 cleavers of 5. I think the ground work is there for a fantastic short film, but a few tweaks are needed to create an atmosphere the viewer can sink their teeth into a little more.
If I did my research, this looks to be the first effort for Jeffrey Parker, and a valiant one it was! Keep plugging away and let us know what we may be able to do to help further your successes.
All that considered, I should reiterate that we don't claim to be pros or anythng other than pure horror enthusiasts for what we feel is a good eye for measuring and offering insight into horror flicks that we're lucky enough to get to see. Reelbloody is GRATEFUL for the chance to have reviewed this film and we were happy to do it, so many thanks to Jeffrey and staff for the opportunity!
Go watch the movie HERE and check out its FB page HERE!
It is extremely rare that I take the time to watch a horror short, or shorts in general for that matter. I stay extremely busy and to be honest, 98% of the shorts I have ever take the time to check out have no even kept my attention enough to finish it. With that said, I was recently asked to check out a short horror film called Red Rose. Written and directed by Jeffrey D. Parker, Red Rose was able to keep my attention for the full 14-15 minutes.
The synopsis of Red Rose on IMDB reads like this: "A death row inmate escapes prison the night before his execution to exact revenge on the retired investigator who helped seal his sentence many years earlier only to find his young teenage daughter and her protective canine home all alone." Well, that pretty much explains it. The story may seem like something you have seen before, but they do a good job of fitting it into a short version.
Now, never have I claimed to be a film or acting expert, but I will say that the only and I mean ONLY negative thing I could find in this film was the acting just seemed like that: acting. The characters seemed to be very scripted and that took a little from it, but again, who am I to critique people doing something that I myself would probably suck at?
In closing, I recommend checking out Red Rose. Whether you are bored at home or sitting at your computer in the office and have 15 minutes or so to unwind, give it a shot. For a short, I give Red Rose three cleavers out of five.
Peace out ya'll
You can watch the film HERE or see the film's FB page HERE!