Vic’s Review – “FEAR” (Short) (2014) What are YOU afraid of?

Jesse Rabideau in Steve Kahn's "FEAR"

Jesse Rabideau in Steve Kahn’s “FEAR”

What’s it About?

A woman struggles with little things that build to mammoth proportions.

“FEAR” 

Written and Directed by Steve Kahn

By Vic

FEAR / noun
1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc.,whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

“Fear” from writer and director Steve Kahn, is a tight and effective short that is full of mood and ingenuity. Kahn’s film, if not seen as overtly horror, is easily a work of psychological proportions since he deftly explores what the emotion of fear may really be. Kahn propels us into a very off kilter and nightmarish story that is examined by very commendable film techniques.

His main lead actress, the very pretty Jesse Rabideau (who has great eyes), carries the short in it’s entirety and does so, for the most part, with serious intent and equanimity. Her composure, while preparing to take a bath in a sterile looking and very bright bathroom, does not hold up as she begins to experience some strange things. Or are they strange at all? Could she just be the nervous type? Does she react with fear when certain things, that we see as mundane, occur? These are questions that are explored as the short progresses.

Kahn smartly interjects very nifty and calculating things into the 14 minute short. He establishes claustrophobia with the tiny confines of the bathroom. He sets up isolation with his lead by having her home alone, taking a bath, with only her small dog nearby. He cuts in shots of leaky faucets, drains, mirrors and a small black radio to build the suspense.

While Rabideau undresses and begins to bath and shave her legs, Kahn begins his manipulations and causes her to begin to show and express fear, doubt and uncertainty. He manuevers around the bathroom using cues right out of a Hitchcock film (Psycho being the one we immediately think of), Rabideau herself, is reminiscent of the ill fated Marion Crane. A curtain, a woman un-dressing, blood going down a drain and even facial close up’s of our lead actress all are made alarmingly and convincingly substantial.

Well, things escalate and Rabideau finds herself suffering from a very spooky time trying to take a bath. Even as Tears for Fears’ reverential song, “Pale Shelter” plays on her radio, it is apparent that she is very uncomfortable with the situation, yet nothing apparently manifests itself. Even as she looks into the mirror (as this point we hear bits of the opening overture of Kubrick’s “The Shining”), we expect to see something that will frighten us. But for Kahn’s film, it is what we do not see and how our protagonist reacts to that. As she tries to bath she still sees and hears things like radio static and whispering. (gotta gives kudos to playing “Hurricane” from MS MR, too)

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Kahn frenetically wraps up the short as Rabideau ventures outside the bathroom into a house that is right out of a nightmare. It is dark and only lit up by sporadic bursts of lightning. Here, Kahn puts Rabideau through her paces as she crawls in utter despair around the light deprived dwelling. The short continues to explore what this all means by not handing us a play by play breakdown but by leaving all of these things to our imagination. Is she alone in the house? Is she hallucinating? Why is she so terrified?

Rabideau, who falls a bit flat with some line delivery, still shows us how well she can emote and express fear. Kahn handles everything in the short with commendable capability and when the lines blur he shows us that not everything can be explained and wrapped up tidily.

“Fear” is an impressive short with big ideas and it is slick looking and edited with the the right running length to tell it’s simple story about one woman’s night of manifesting that raw and primal emotion that is always within our psyche: Fear.

Enjoy the Trailer Below!

TEARS for FEARS /  PALE SHELTER

MS MR /  HURRICANE

5 Awesome “Behind The Scenes” Pics: Gallery Three

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Hey, gang! Here is Vic’s Movie Den’s Third gallery of very cool“Behind the Scenes” pics. (Not to be confused with my “On The Set” posts) They are scanned pics from various movie books that I own and / or borrow from the library.

Others are those I come across on the internet, to share with you all. I hope you enjoy them!

Vic

"Ok, kid. 30 seconds with the hat, but that's IT"

“Ok, kid. 30 seconds with the hat, but that’s IT”

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Even at this size, they still look bad ass.

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Bruce the Shark working on his tan

Heath Ledger hanging tight on the set of "The Dark Knight"

Heath Ledger hanging tight on the set of “The Dark Knight”

"Can you read my mind?" - "Yeah, I've been up here for 2 hours. Let's get this shot over with!"

“Can you read my mind?” – “Yeah, I’ve been up here for 2 hours. Let’s get this shot over with!”

BONUS PICS - 

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Ridley Scott inspecting the make up work on his “Engineer”

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Why work out when you can just have it all glued on?

Hope you all enjoyed the Pics, gang. Gallery Four is Coming Soon!

Vic’s Review – “Wer” (2013) Making Werewolves Scary Again

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What’s it About?

A defense attorney begins to suspect that there might be more to her client, who is charged with the murders of a vacationing family, than meets the eye.

“Wer”

Directed by William Brent Bell

How is director Bill Brent’s horror crime thriller, “Wer,” not more well known? More of a household name? Well, it could be for any number of reasons but in the grand scheme of things, I think the film is going to gain even more  momentum through word of mouth and good praise down the line. The movie is from 2013 and like many diamonds in the rough that are little known, the movie is both equally impressive and captivating.

Despite that, the movie still continues to be over-looked and missed, even by genre fans who gravitate (mostly through no fault of their own) to other hokey, cliche ridden and trite outings. “Wer” succeeds in making the beasties in the film, which are werewolves, scary and aggressive again. Something that has been way overdue and sorely missed.

Brent, who helmed the universally panned “Devil’s Due,” and his writer Matthew Peterman (Stay Alive) manage to piece together a very perilous movie at breakneck speed with danger and mystery lingering in just about every frame. The film, which appears on the surface, to be a found footage film, is more like a precarious exercise in the latest cinema verite tactics that is emulated to no end. But done here to good effect.

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An American family vacationing in France is horrifically mauled by what appears to be a wild and treacherous animal. The sole survivor is the wife and mother of the deceased (Stephanie Lemelin), who is left terribly scarred and disfigured by the attack. French Police Captain Klaus Pistor (Sebastian Roche) is brought in to investigate the murders as the crime gets frenzied national and international attention (There are sufficient talking head moments, here).

Pistor believes that the murders may actually be the work of a powerfully insane man and not an animal.  They eventually find a suspect that may match the forensic evidence found on the victims and the crime scene. They bring in loner Talan Gwynek (Brian Scott O’Conner). Talan is a very large, tall and hairy individual who apparently suffers from a debilitating genetic dis-order, which gives Talan a wildly and beastly visage that many fear.

Public defender and Attorney Kate Moore, played by A.J. Cook, is brought in with her team to defend Talan, who appears to have been unable to realize and carry out the mutilations. Along with Kate, there is an old flame named Gavin (Simon Quarterman of The Scorpion King) and Erik (Vik Sahay of Chuck). Gavin is tied to Kate and there is some tension between him and Erik, who has a bit of a sordid history of his own which Gavin discovers, to use later, for his advantage. First and foremost, is the investigation and Kate is determined and passionate about proving the shackled and imprisoned Talan innocent of the ghastly attacks on the young family.

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Bell pulls no punches and approaches the investigation like a very capable crime thriller that leaves no stone un-turned. There are meetings, procedures, autopsies and even interviews with Talan’s mother (There is a land dispute subplot here as well that involves Mrs Gwynek and Captain Pistor). Gavin tries to prove that Talan suffers from a rare type of dis-order that affects the person, in a violent way, during the cycle of the full moon. Bell smartly uses, news clips, surveillance, video recording, internet grabs and several POV sequences to tell the story in an interesting and linear way. But, as it’s heart there is a creature feature to be had and Bell delivers. The set up of “Wer” is just the icing on the cake. Bell kicks the suspense and tension right into overdrive and presents a very visceral, inventive and satisfying monster flick.

After a discovery is made towards the last act of the film, “Wer” stays consistently interesting, brutal and very well paced. The movie becomes part “The Fugitive” and part “Wolf.” There is an exceptional chase sequence in the city involving Talan and 2 dozen Police Officers, which is refreshing to watch especially with this type of movie. The action set pieces are well cut and flow nicely while keeping overt gore to a minimum. Something that was very reminiscent of the recent found footage movie, “Afflicted,” which also took place overseas.

Now let’s get to the “werewolf” part of this movie. (The word is only used twice, I believe). It is very well done, and even if the finale concentrates more on the action and trying to reconcile Talan’s and Gavin’s eventual fates, the movie by then has done a commendable job. “Wer” makes the mythology about werewolves very real and solid, displaying the respect it deserves. It deftly makes you forget you are watching a type of found footage film with some great practical make up FX and little to no CGI to muck things up. Just about every scene in “Wer” is concise, creepy and threatening, much to our joy.

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It is a well acted and presented thriller that makes so many subtle winks and references for fans of the genre while not having every character going around delivering hokey “werewolfisms.” “Wer” never insults our intelligence. The character arcs are nicely wrapped up with Gavin being the one character that changes the most, throughout. His menace comes right through even when initially introduced as a passive and quirky personality. This, in turn, makes all of the performances gel, especially between O’Conner and Cook who have a significant chemistry and when they are both on screen the suspense is through the roof.

So, in closing, gang, “Wer” is definitely worth your time and I tried to keep most of this review spoiler free. There is a lot to enjoy in this movie which helps to revert the werewolf film into a compelling, forceful and symbolic little indie horror. It does indeed make them scary again with this convincing and sometimes weighty approach. Enjoy!

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Vic’s Review – “Jessabelle” (2014)

Jessabelle-Poster

What’s it About?

Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return — and has no intention of letting her escape.

“Jessabelle” 

Directed by Kevin Greutert

5 out of 10

If you enjoy a backwoods bayou thriller with some J-horror thrown in for good measure then you may not go too wrong with the latest in the roulette wheel of low budget indie horror named “Jessabelle,” from director Kevin Greutert (Saw VI, Saw 3D) and writer Robert Ben Garant (Herbie Fully Loaded).  It is a southern fried spook story  (Think “Skeleton Key” meets “The Changeling”) that just about tosses in every cliche, supernatural circumstance and manipulation to keep it going.

Somewhere on the surface there is a decent, if not remarkable, story to be told here among the picturesque trappings. But, ultimately, the movie gets bogged down in the very mire that permeates the watery slivers of mystery and dread that flows through-out Greutert’s film. What works is the gothic / voodoo imagery but little else. There is just way too many things here we have all seen before that prevents it from being or becoming unique and substantial.

Actress Sarah Snook (Who has great eyes which she emotes with wonderfully) who plays Jessabelle, is recovering from a terrible auto accident that resulted in the death of her unborn child and fiance (Is there no other way to die in these films?). With no one else to turn to, and without the use of her legs, she is forced to live temporarily with her surly, liquor abusing and widowed father, Leon (David Andrews of T3 and Fight Club). He settles her into her mother’s old room, which is cordoned off with a large cabinet for some reason. Once Jessabelle adjusts to her new surroundings and connects with a childhood friend, named Preston (Mark Webber), she comes across a batch of old and dusty VHS tapes of her deceased mother, Kate (Joelle Carter of Justified).

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Missing the connection she never really had with Kate, Jessabelle immerses herself in the maternal but strange messages left by her mother on the VHS tapes. Apparently, Kate, is a tarot card specialist and gives Jessabelle “readings” from beyond. Leon finds out and totally freaks out exclaiming to Jessabelle that her mother’s cancer had consumed her and she did not know what she was doing recording the vignettes which appeared to be directly meant, oddly, for Jessabelle. During all of this time, we are pummeled with fake out, psychological scares and frights. None of which are very inventive or exclusive.

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We have seen it all at one time or another: The apparition in the mirror, the nightmares, things going bump, J-horror inspired ghouls and liquor bottles flying around. It’s all here. While the film takes a step back with the out-right gore, the movie does establish a mood and some atmosphere that balances out the more pedestrian scares, through-out. (Let’s not forget the loud musical jumps that amount to absolutely nada).

Greutert’s movie is a split film. What he tries to accomplish with the fore-mentioned atmosphere is commendable. There are nice shots of the bayou, dilapidated southern houses, trailers, and foliage. Then there is some well placed mood like when Jessabelle tries to desperately find out why she is having these horrific things happen to her. But when we are about to examine the mysterious prospects of the riddle, we then get the stereo-typical horror shenanigans. For example: We are treated to a ghoulish scare in the bathtub, because THAT’S never been done.

What had me flustered was that Greutert didn’t need to resort to all of these machinations. He almost had a pretty solid framework for a psychological character study about loss and grief interwoven with a stylish gothic conundrum. Too bad. There were one too many fake outs where we are left rolling our eyes at the whole “everything is in her head” routine. SHE sees these funky things but the rest of the world does not. Yawn.

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I must admit, I was still curious to see how the film would end. Why is Jessabelle seeing these things? What is the real message behind the VHS messages from Kate? Why is Preston, who is married, so willing to help Jessabelle out all the time? Who is the wet ghost chick that keeps popping up? (There is a subplot which involves the skeletal remains of an infant and some adultery but it is fleeting). Well, Greutert does manage to wrap things up quite nicely but it is too little too late. You would have already made up your mind on the film by the time it concludes. The twist is rather hokey but a not a total loss, it’s just that we had to suffer such banalities to get there and when we do, by the final shot and twist, we kind of just sigh and shrug rather than exclaim it’s ingenuity.

Oh well, there is always the next low budget ghost story to consider from that never ending assembly-line of horror flicks. “Jessabelle” is an almost decent time waster if you are depleted of good to average genre films to watch. It is mostly uneventful and lazy in many parts with too many unsettled and unrealized ideas and themes.  The southern mood and creepy atmosphere is not enough, sadly, in the case of “Jessabelle.” Consider a rental before purchase! (Or just re-watch “Jug Face”)

Vic

Fright-Rags Launches Pre-orders for T-Shirts from “The Exorcist III”

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 Fright-Rags launches pre-orders on 4 demonic designs from The Exorcist III


Pre-orders available now: 
http://bit.ly/1zMl3tl

The Exorcist is often cited as one of the greatest horror films of all time, but many fans were just as disturbed by The Exorcist III. William Peter Blatty’s criminally-overlooked 1990 film is finally being given its due with four new shirts from Fright-Rags.

Fright-Rags is offering a pair of limited edition designs from Justin Osbourn (limited to 500) and Christopher Lovell (limited to 300). Both are available on unisex shirts and girls shirts. The collection also includes the first printing of two more T-shirts: Coki Greenway’s depiction of a scene from the finale and Jeff Zornow’s capturing of one of the film’s most terrifying moments.

All four demonic designs are now available for pre-order at Fright-Rags.com, with products expected to ship in early December. These items may sell out during the pre-order period, so don’t miss your chance to possess them.

In case you missed it, Fright-Rags’ The Terminator 30th anniversary collection is still available for pre-order, along with designs from dozens of other genre favorites.

Here Are The Images Below - 

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Fright-Rags to Celebrate 30 Years of “The Terminator”

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Celebrate 30 years of “The Terminator” with mask and shirts from Fright-Rags

Pre-orders now live: http://bit.ly/1rqn8C2

In October of 1984, James Cameron’s The Terminator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger took the world by storm, and cinema hasn’t been the same since. Fright-Rags is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the landmark sci-fi/action film with a collection of officially-licensed shirts and more.

Fright-Rags’ The Terminator limited edition box set is perhaps the company’s most impressive effort to date. The pièce de résistance is a Ben Cooper-style T-800 Endo-skeleton vacu-form mask with light-up eyes. The set also includes an exclusive shirt designed by Justin Osbourn. Both items come packaged in a collector’s box with window. This box set is strictly limited to 1,000 pieces.

Outside of the box set, there are three more The Terminator shirts up for grabs. Francis Minoza’s explosive, two-sided design is limited to 300 and available on unisex shirts, girls shirts or hoodies. Christopher Lovell’s take on the T-800 can be purchased as unisex or girls. Kyle Crawford’s Japanese-inspired print comes on unisex, girls and baseball tees.

Go to Fright-Rags.com if you want to live. Pre-orders are live, and the limited edition items will be terminated once they sell out. Orders are expected to ship in early December for arrival in time for the holidays.

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John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982) Lobby Cards

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The Thing” (1982)

Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills.

Starring Kurt Russell

Directed by John Carpenter

Written by Bill Lancaster and Based on the Novella “Who Goes There” By John W. Campbell

Music by Ennio Morricone

Photographed by Dean Cundey A.S.C.

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Bonus “On The Set” Pics -

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Jeff Imada, Russell and Carpenter On The Set of “Escape from LA”

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John Carpenter on the set of “Elvis”

John Carpenter directs Actor Kurt Russell on the set of "Escape from New York"  from 1981

John Carpenter directs Actor Kurt Russell on the set of “Escape from New York” from 1981

Hope you enjoyed the post, everyone. I hope to see you all with fresh content and new movie reviews very soon! Thanks for your patience and for checking into “The Den!”

Vic