Tag Archives for " Psychological Thriller "

March 27, 2020

Review: Daniel Isn’t Real

Daniel_Isnt_Real

Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer

Starring: ​Patrick Schwarzenegger, Miles Robbins, Sasha Lane, Mary Stuart Masterson, Hannah Marks, Chuk Iwuji

Run Time: 100mins

Adam Egypt Mortimer's second feature arrives on streaming with a lot of hype in horror circles following a successful festival circuit run, even picking up an award at the prestigious Sitges festival. The question does it live up to the hype? The answer is well, sort of.

Certainly, it has an interesting conceit as a violent interaction with his mentally ill mother (Masterson) resurrects our leads Luke (Robbins) childhood imaginary friend Daniel (Schwarzenneger) back into his life. Initially, Daniel seems to spur him but quickly becomes increasingly more malevolent. Of course, while this does end up taking us into some very Fight Club-esque territory, the twist here is Luke always knows Daniel is a product of his mind and a possible symptom of schizophrenia. Or is he? As from the off, there is a suggestion something else is going on. More of which later.

Before we get to that, though, we open with Luke as a boy (Griffin Robert Faulkner) and see how Daniel first came into Luke's life after he witnesses the aftermath of a violent crime. This opening stretch is strong, effectively showing the bond between the two and anchored by Masterson's performance as the mother who at first welcomes her child's imaginary playmate before becoming increasingly more fearful of its influence. It is only a shame we don't have more time with Masterson's character, which is effectively sidelined after the first act.

Masterson's character is not only one to be sidelined, though, as, outside the central pairing of Luke and Daniel, few of the characters really register. This lack of character development is a real shame as it wastes the talents of a decent ensemble. It is particularly egregious in the case of Sasha Lane, who, while doing the best with what she has got, is confined to the generic role of feisty/quirky love interest.

Luckily, given few others are given oxygen, both Robbins and Schwarzenegger are excellent in their respective roles. Robbins is convincing throughout Luke's evolution from college recluse to swaggering intellectual to fearing for his mind. Schwarzenegger is the real show-stealer though initially imbuing Daniel with a toxic oily charm before becoming progressively more unhinged. Sure it is an exercise in scenery-chewing but eminently watchable one.

Another major plus is the horror itself, as there are some decent scares throughout. Mortimer is clearly in his element here. While many of the narrative beats feel generic, the visual horror elements feel unique. Even if some feel reminiscent of "Jacob's Ladder," there are several surreal, nightmarish images here that are likely to linger in the memory long after viewing them. The action in the third act also takes a pleasingly surreal bent that may split audiences but, for this reviewer, really worked. Mortimer should also be commended for his tackling of mental illness, which, largely, avoids feeling exploitative in the way it so often is in horror films.

Overall: A frustrating watch as "Daniel Isn't Real" is a good horror film that feels like it should be a great one. As the movie's compelling lead performances and memorable visuals can't quite overcome generic story elements and two-dimensional characters.

​6/10

​"Daniel Isn't Real" is now available on Shudder

June 24, 2019

Episode 28 – Chelsea Stardust Interview

Episode 28 – Chelsea Stardust Interview

 
 
00:00 / 01:04:19
 
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NHE host Scott Murphy chats to director Chelsea Stardust about her debut feature “All That We Destroy” AND her second feature “Satanic Panic”, both of which premiered within weeks of each other. Over the course of the interview (interview begins at 2:00), Chelsea talks us through how exactly she managed her schedule given they overlap of the the two projects as well as the development, casting and shoot of each film. Plus how she came to be onboard both pictures and her excitement at “Satanic Panic” being produced by the freshly resurrected Fangoria and scripted by Grady Hendrix (Paperbacks From Hell)!

We also chat to Chelsea about her long filmmaking apprenticeship working as an assistant to the likes of Ivan Reitman, Judd Apatow and horror mega-producer Jason Blum (who she worked alongside for 5 years) before she got her directing break through Crypt TV. Also, we hear from Chelsea if it was at all weird having her debut produced by her former employer Blumhouse!

You can checkout the trailer for “All That We Destroy” here

“Satanic Panic” will next be shown at Montreal’s Fantasia Fest (July 11th-August 1st) and is also set to be released in theaters, digital HD and VOD in on September 6th .

March 4, 2019

Episode 20 – Matt Palmer Interview

Episode 20 – Matt Palmer Interview

 
 
00:00 / 01:15:57
 
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NHE host Scott Murphy chats to director Matt Palmer about his debut feature “Calibre.” Over the course, this hour-long conversation Scott and Matt (Interview starts at 3:35) go into every facet of what it took to get “Calibre” on the screen and how it got scooped up by streaming giant Netflix. Also, Matt tells us how it felt to receive the Michael Powell Award, have his film tweeted about by horror legend Stephen King, as well as the overwhelmingly positive response, has received.

Away from “Calibre” Scott and Matt discuss one of Matt’s other roles as curator of “All Night Horror Madness,” a semi-regular horror movie marathon held at the Cameo cinema in this pod’s home city of Edinburgh. There is plenty of more fun horror chat in there too but to say any more would spoil the fun!

Finally we also give a shout-out to the Scream Scene podcast another great horror podcast you should all check out! (Promo at 2:38)

Watch “Calibre” here

Buy Tickets for The All Night Cult Movie Experience here

Check out the Scream Scene Podcast here

Download New Horror Express:

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November 30, 2018

Review – Cam

Film by: Daniel Goldhaber & Isa Mazzei

Starring: Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters

Run Time: 94mins

“Cam” is the latest hyped horror to hit Netflix and is said to be “freaking everyone out.” It has certainly been a strong year in horror for the streaming giant with the likes of “Veronica,” “Cargo” and “Apostle” all getting decent receptions. That is also before we even get to the success of TV show “The Haunting of Hill House.” Shall “Cam” be another horror hit for the company? Early reactions suggest so.

The premise of the movie is a relatively simple one of stolen identity. Telling the story of Alice (Madeline Brewer) an intelligent, ambitious young woman who does camgirl shows, under the pseudonym Lola_Lola, in her house and hopes of becoming the most-watched girl on the site using a variety of shock tactics to so. Just as she appears to be going up the rankings, she discovers she has been replaced on her show by a woman who is the exact double of her. She then sets out to find out how this could happen and who this woman is. It is a very Hitchcockian set-up but one that is made to feel current due to the filmmakers, unusually the film is credited to both director Daniel Goldhaber and writer Isa Mazzei, clever use of technology.

Not that any of this arrives until the end of the first act as the opening half an hour or so merely focuses on Alice’s life and her cam show performances. A smart move on the filmmaker’s part as it grounds Alice’s reality and makes us root for her once the stolen identity plot. This component is essential to making the movie work as the story largely rests on Brewer’s shoulders. A factor she deals with well in what is an excellent performance.

These early scenes are filmed with an almost documentarian eye and realistically paints that world. Not that this should be surprising given as writer Mazzei’s own camgirl experiences. Also while it could be argued how feminist the film there is a clear subversion of the male gaze going on here. As all the camshow scenes are not in the least titillating instead portraying the often grimy reality of it. Particularly the opening scene where Alice fakes a suicide with some of her online admirers actively baying her into it.   The cam scenes are also visually interesting as their Day-Glo surrealism contrasts well with the documentary look of the real world scenes.

If there are drawbacks here, it is you get the sense the filmmakers did not quite know how to wrap this mystery up as the conclusion leaves far more questions than answer. Not that everything has to be cut and dry, just that there is something slightly unsatisfying about the ending. There are also times it feels merely like an extended “Black Mirror” episode. Regarding the actual horror as well you feel that the filmmakers could have added more scares or cranked up the suspense more. Although it is telling that some of the most horrifying scenes are Alice’s real-world interactions with men who know or find out she is a sex worker.

Overall: A decent film with an excellent central performance which gives a fascinating look at the world of camming as well as delivering an intriguing central mystery even if it does not entirely pay off on its excellent initial set-up.

6.5/10

November 5, 2018

Episode 12 – Robert Krzykowski Interview

Episode 12 – Robert Krzykowski Interview

 
 

00:00 / 00:52:58
 

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In our latest episode NHE host Scott Murphy talks with writer/director Robert Krzykowski. Scott talks to Robert about his debut feature “The Man who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot” about how he came up with the idea of the movie, the design of the film, how he assembled his all-star cast and how it is very much not the grindhouse picture you would expect from that title. Aside from the film our host also talks to Robert about how he got into filmmaking, his comic “Elsie Hooper,” his possibly unexpected directorial influences and much, much more…

September 10, 2018

Episode 9 – Ben Young Interview

Episode 9 – Ben Young Interview

 
 

00:00 / 00:55:49
 

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This month on New Horror Express we talk to Australian film director Ben Young. We talk a lot about his new film “Extinction” as well as his feature debut “Hounds of Love” which was a breakout hit last year. As well as going into the shoots of both movies we also talk about the contrasts on working on a big budget set as opposed to an indie one, working on other’s material as opposed to your own and whether there is any difference in communicating with “name” actors. It should also be noted that at the point this interview was recorded “Extinction” had not been released yet so the interview delves into greater detail on “Hounds of Love”. Ben and I discuss the look of the movie, how he captured period detail, the stir it caused in Australia and his confusion with the movie been given the horror tag. As well as those two movies we talk about how he got into filmmaking, influences and he gives a tease on his latest project 31 AD2: The Future is Us.

Also you would like to check out either “Extinction” or “Hounds of Love” click the links below. Just don’t rush off to watch them before you  listen to Ben’s fascinating thoughts on the films!

“Extinction”

“Hounds of Love”

August 13, 2018

Episode 8 – Luke Shanahan Interview

Episode 8 – Luke Shanahan Interview

 
 

00:00 / 00:55:13
 

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In this month’s episode we talk to Australian film director Luke Shanahan. We talk to him extensively about his new movie Rabbit. We delve into how the film was conceived, the look, the score, how it differs from the “typical Australian horror” and much more besides. Away from “Rabbit” we discuss Shanahan’s influences as well as his directorial career so far and upcoming projects he is working on. in another fun-[packed NHE interview you definitely want to tune in for!!