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    'Dat Gypsy Magic' just became my new catchphrase. No, It's not a quote from this film, I just couldn't stop saying it whilst watching this movie. Don't know how applicable it'll become to everyday life, but I'm gonna try and make it stick.

     This film is not your average horror film, and it instantly shows. From the very beginning it's confusing as to who the real 'bad guys' are. Pikey justice was theme of this one, but said "justice" is being served to the seemingly innocent protagonist and his ultra protective mother, making for an immense grey area that blankets most of the flick. The plot is a ride, to put it lightly. Scenes of ancient Irish occult and pagan ritualism are all through this one as the "hunters" use it to find the "hunted". A battle of magical wills is waged that won this viewer over with it's seeming realism and dark nature. The casting is great as well, tortured, gritty and lifelike characters populate this film and do wonders for what could have merely been a cheesy cult oriented picture. Not to leave out the filming style, which did more than its fair share for the ambiance of this film, darkening up the joint with a desperate and impoverished feel that resonates straight through until the films end. There are a few unexplained bits as far as the legend and magical practices go that could have been followed up on a bit more to really sell the story, but considering the thickness of some of the Irish accents in this one, I may have never completely understood anyways.

      Violence and make-up, I'll give it a ground rule double, versus a home-run. The violence, by itself, is fantastic.....uber-bloody and viciously realistic. But the make-up on the monster character, or as I like to call it "Chupahulkenstein", was a weird mix of prosthetics and tripped out visual effects, interesting but a bit distracting at the same time. He looked damn cool at times, but others he was blurry and obviously computer altered, taking me out of the movie world they worked so hard to create and into over analyzing critic mode.

      In closing, I'd like to thank Bloody Disgusting for helping to release all these new, original and fun Indie and Foreign horror flicks. And also thank Netflix for picking up what seems to be the bulk of their catalogue. It's making this reviewer one satisfied horror junkie.

7.5/10 detached retinas


The Pack

     They tricked me! I thought this was going to be a French version of your classic pack of biker/werewolves (because that's apparently the only fringe group of people a werewolf can blend in with) chasing a young girl across the countryside. But instead what I got was a movie about some sort of age old curse in which the people whom the earth has swallowed become its bloodsucking, blind, subterranean zombie-like minions and require blood sacrifice to satiate their gore-starved mother Earth. There are some pretty silly and stereotypical bikers in this film, but no werewolves......which, looking back, was just fine by me.

     The premise, as I earlier mentioned, has a certain ancient feel to it, almost the sort of thing fairy tales are based around. But it works well in a modern setting, brought to life by an engaging and easily likable lead character. Her interactions with what appeared to be the French Benicio del Toro and the few other sparsely placed humans throughout this films landscape, are as resembling of the real world as one would expect from a movie about underground dwelling, curse zombie, mutants, and maybe more so.

    The gore is great, although sparse, at first. They don't try to push it and risk losing the audience with unnecessary violence, but when the blood does start flowing, it's in rivers.....not drops. All very well done too; dismemberings, exploding torsos and general zombie-esque carnage is represented, right through until this films twist riddled ending.

    This ones kinda hard to give a number to, considering the sum of its parts seems to be greater than the final product. The math just doesn't add up. I liked this movie, but not as much as my earlier comments in this review may lead one to believe. There was maybe one or two unnamed things keeping me from 'loving' this film, but I've yet to put my finger on 'em.....just thought you should know.

6.5/10 detached retinas


Mum & Dad

   If I was forced to come up with a one word descriptive word to sum up this British torture horror flop, it would be "Ugly". This film tries it level best to make the viewer uncomfortable, and generally succeeds with that. But there seemed to me to be a real lack of any other redeeming elements within the film. If you're going to make torture flicks for a horror market that is currently over saturated with forgettable films, you had better find a way to push the envelope, either by going for the gusto and really shocking your viewers, or by at least writing a highly engaging script. This film failed to do either.

  The concept for this film centers around a "family" that captures, tortures and tries to assimilate new members into their sadistic fold. The family comes complete with a violent and vindictive mother figure, a perverse overweight and mouth breathing father figure, a completely brainwashed and starved for attention sister, a mentally broken and submissive brother along with a few other "siblings" who are sparingly seen throughout the film. These characters have recently come across a new possible addition to the "family" and this film is the story of her struggle to survive. The characters aren't horribly developed, although they are a bit over the top, and maybe even a little uninspired. The real problem with the story is in its lack of structure. The film just seems to be a series of scenarios bent on disturbing the audience rather than being a cohesive or driven tale. Their victim is sympathetic, don't get me wrong, but not enough so to really drive the development of the plot. Once the films climax rolls around, there's more relief felt in knowing this movie is almost over than is felt for the protagonist being free of her torturous bonds.

  The gore was just as dull and uninspired as the rest of this flick. This film has gross out moments, but they all have been seen done far better in other, more moving and genre defining films. Jerking off into a what I think was either a kidney, or maybe a liver....doesn't compare to the 'decapitated head giving head' scene in High Tension. The physical torture the heroine is meant to endure doesn't compare to anything endured by the casts of the Hostel or Saw franchises...much less the what the lead victim in Martyrs is forced to suffer through. There's some semi worthy content here, but not enough to drag this film past anything more than average.

  I was really hoping for a good British horror comedy when I began this film, but was obviously disappointed by the half-assed and all together far too average, borderline torture porn I got. Oh well, I've said it before and will again, many times I'm sure....."they can't all be winners".

5/10 detached retinas


Phase 7

    My girlfriend has been on my case to watch this movie for months now, and I didn't want to. From the description given, it sounded like it was going to be a rip-off of the [rec] movies, and not a very good one at that. But, I've got to give it to Jen (my lovely lady), she picked a winner. This flick is anything but a rip-off. It's funny, endearing, edgy and wildly entertaining.

    It didn't take us getting very far into this movie for me to see how wrong my initial gut feelings were about this film. The characters were immediately relatable and had great on screen chemistry with each other, be they central figures or just passing interactions. And the story, despite its slight similarities to other viral outbreak and quarantine oriented scripts, had plenty of its own moxie to get viewers interested early, and to keep them interested throughout the films progression. It's not a zombie film, so most of the drama between characters is derived from the human reaction in the face of extreme stress and emergency situations. And, comedic relief aside, they did a fantastic job of portraying the cut-throatedness of humanity and the basic breakdowns of social order that one may experience in such a scenario. The comedic elements were fantastic too, a great mix of slapstick and dialogue driven wit that flourished even through the language barrier (this film is Argentinian and was subtitled). All around a great flick from both the plot and acting standpoints.

    The violence was more than satisfactory as well. The lack of any kind of zombie/plague monster characters didn't slow the roll of this one at all, considering the tenants of the quarantined building did a fantastic job of killing each other off without them. Your basic, modern, person versus person violence peppers this one, knife wounds, shotgun blasted bodies and heads and other sorts of well done gore are all through this picture. It doesn't even begin to disappoint from this angle. I just hope that when the shit finally does hit the fan, the people surrounding me, aren't of the same nature as the folks in this one or two of the main characters.

    All I have to say in closing this one out, is 'thank you', to Jen for making me watch this unassuming little Argentinian gem. Sometimes I get so caught up in the fact that everyone seems to be trying to bank on the success of already established films, that I don't give a good film a chance due to the fact it might be a rip-off. Glad we gave this one a shot....finally.

8/10 detached retinas


Devils Playground

   "Parkour Zombies in London" might have been a better title for this English outbreak flick. At the very least naming it that would have cleared up any confusion as to which Devils Playground it was.

    There's virtually no new ideas within this film, everything in it has been done time and time again. But, if originality were a criteria for success in zombie films, then 98 percent of them would fail. This movie does what it does, original or not, fairly well. Good characters, interesting enough dialogue/ human interaction and plenty of interest worthy plot points and twists to keep the viewer engaged for most of this movie. Danny Dyer (Severance, Doghouse, Dead Cert), Jaime Murray (Botched, The Deaths of Ian Stone) head up a cast of memory teasing British B-rates that do the job as well as can be expected. As far as script and star power is concerned, there's not a lot of allure here nor is there any large turn offs.

   Now the zombies are definitely the most remarkable part of this one, but not for any traditional reasons. Their uniqueness lies in that they are born of performance enhancing drug trials gone wrong, making them not only fast and vicious, but prone to unnecessary stunts. As you watch this movie, you will notice, as I did, that the ghouls always seem to take the most athletically challenging route to get to the victims, i.e. vaulting a dumpster they could just run around, or leaping down two flights of stairs, and virtually every time there is a wall around, they choose to do a a footplant or jump kick off of it......All of this is fairly amusing, but given the general seriousness of the rest of the film, it's also very distracting. The make up is generic, at best, featuring your run of the mill overly discolored veins popping out on all of the infected and decent bites and other fiend attack related wounds. The one main disappointment I had with the violence was the feeding piles, usually you find the best gore work within these scenes in zombie films. But this move chose to cop out and cover up all the happenings with the writhings of way too many ghouls. Disappointing.

 This film isn't going to make any converts out of those who don't enjoy zombie horror, but it's not going to too badly disappoint those who already are, either.  All in all, just another movie that's kinda takin' up space.

6/10 detached retinas