Tag Archives for " Sci-fi horror "

April 17, 2020

Review : Sea Fever

Director: Neasa Hardiman

Starring:Hermione Corfield, Dougray Scott, Connie Nielsen, Ardalan Esmaili, Elie Boukaze, Olwen Fouér, Jack Hickey.

​Run Time: 89mins

​Well, it is just that typical thing you don’t get a watery creature feature for ages then two come along within months of each other as hot on the heels of Underwater we now have Sea Fever. However, while both have an Alien influence, this film is an entirely more low-key and lower budget affair.

Also, while Alien is an influence on proceedings, the greater influence here is The Thing. Due to most of the story unraveling on a single location, in this case, a trawler. And also, due to the story focusing more on the increasing tensions and paranoia of the crew due to the nature of the threat. In this case, the threat is a parasite that has got into the water supply after an attack on the vessel by a “giant squid,” which drives its victims mad before killing them.

Before we get to that, we are introduced to the various characters who will soon be imperiled. First is our lead Siobhan (Corfield), a young antisocial scientist who is assigned to a trawler for a study on fishing patterns. The rest of the crew aboard are for the fairly generic bunch who can generally be summed up in one line. We have the gruff sea captain (Scott), his stoic wife (Nielsen), a twinkly first mate (Hickey), an eccentric older cook (Fouére), and the young cocksure second engineer (Bouakaze). The exception to this is the chief engineer Omid (Esmaili), who, along with our lead, is fleshed out a bit more. Partly due to this and partly due to the fine performances of Esmali and Corfield, these are the two characters that end up standing out.

Despite the weakness in characterisation most of the cast is solid and as generic as the role may be, Scott plays his salty seadog role with a real relish that is enjoyable to see.

Narratively speaking, the film also goes down some familiar avenues. Although given the current global situation, a story that involves a scientist having to convince a sceptical audience of the scale of the danger they face hits home harder now than it might otherwise have done.

So far, you may have picked up the impression this a feature not worth your time. Here you would be wrong. Yes, there are overly familiar plot elements and some two-dimensional characters. But there are a lot of strength’s here too. Chief amongst them is director Hardiman sure knows how to crank up the tension. Once the threat becomes apparent, this becomes a claustrophobic, nail-biting watch with little let up until the end. Over its runtime, there are several stand-out scenes that crackle with tension. Including one where the crew has to check each other for possible infection. Sure it is much like the famous “blood test” sequence from The Thing, but it works a treat nevertheless.

Another highlight is the effects. Particularly the gore effects. There are certainly some quality moments of skin-crawling body horror on display. And be warned if you’re squeamish about eyes, then this might not be the watch for you. Plus, given the budget level, the creature effects are outstanding. Finally, the production design from Ray Ball provides another highlight as the ship effectively becomes a character in itself.

Overall: Despite its flaws in character and narrative, Sea Fever is an effective sea-faring sci-fi horror that is heavy on claustrophobic atmospherics as well as packing in some pleasingly nasty moments of body-horror making for a solid debut feature.


April 15, 2019

Episode 23 – Adam B. Stein & Zach Lipovsky Interview

Episode 23 – Adam B. Stein & Zach Lipovsky Interview

00:00 / 01:00:00

NHE host Scott Murphy chats to directors Adam B. Stein & Zach Lipovsky about their latest feature the post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror “Freaks” (interview begins at 2:54). The three chat extensively about the film from its earliest inspirations right through to the festival success it has enjoyed and is still enjoying.

Scott also chats to the Stein & Lipovsky about the casting of the film and how they attracted such big names as Bruce Dern and Emile Hirsch, the unique challenges of dealing with child actors as well as the differences between working on a personal project as opposed to being a director for hire on a project.

Away from the film Adam and Zach tell us all about how they became creative collaborators after meeting through film-making reality show “On the Lot” and how they feel their filmic skill-sets complement each other.

You can watch the trailer for “Freaks” here

“Freaks” will also be showing in following festivals in the remainder of April and into May:

Imagine Film Festival (Amsterdam) – April 19th

Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival – April 20th

Calgary Undeground Film Festival – April 24th

Windy City Horrorama (Chicago) – April 26-28th

Haapsalu International Horror & Fantasy Film Festival (Estonia) – April 24-28th

Newport Beach Film Festival – April 25th-May 2nd

December 28, 2018

Review: Bird Box

Director: Susanne Bier

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson

Run Time: 124 mins

Since arriving on Netflix, last Friday “Bird Box” has received mixed reviews. Which may have been the case no matter what but you wonder how much that has been influenced by the movie coming out in the same as “A Quiet Place” as this is essentially “A Blind Place” (mixed with a dash of “The Mist”). To be fair though the film is based on a 2014 novel and would have been in production at a similar time.

The comparison does it little favours as it lacks the nerve-shredding tension of that film. However, the same level of the tension would have been difficult to create here given the story structure here that interweaves two different time periods. In one of these Malorie (Sandra Bullock) attempts a treacherous river journey with her two children. We also flashback-and-forth to five years earlier where the unseen force that drives most of society to commit suicide first struck. Here is another key advantage “A Quiet Place” has as there is a tangible threat. The unseen deadly force in this movie being something that is much easier to make threatening in a novel than it is cinematically. Director Bier does, however, do an excellent job of making this invisible force seem ominous when it does strike. Bullock’s performance as Malorie also grounds the stories reality.

Malorie is by far the most rounded character and is given a genuine psychological depth. Many of the other characters we are introduced when the event first happens not so much. As Malorie finds herself stuck in a house with other survivors many of whom barely register. From the ones that do most are clichéd from the wide-eyed innocent Olympia (Danielle Macdonald) to the wearily stereotypical black comic relief character Charlie (Lil Rel Howery) to the asshole in every post-apocalyptic group Douglas (John Malkovich). There is however great fun to be had watching Malkovich play the asshole.

Not all the characters are poorly drawn though. Despite a short amount of screen time, Sarah Paulson makes an impression as Malorie’s sister Jessica, and it is a shame there relationship could not be further explored. Trevante Rhodes also impresses as Malorie’s love interest, Tom. Yes, the character is probably a tad too much on the saintly side, but the relationship between Tom and Malorie is the most convincing in the film and is quite touching as well.

There may be plenty of flaws in characterisation, and the plot logic is oft-times screwy, but there is also plenty to admire here. The premise is interesting, the whole thing is beautifully shot, and the story is never less than engaging.  Also, Malorie’s journey down the river with her two children is rung not just for all the suspense it is worth but for every emotion too. It would take a hard heart not to be moved by it by the time the story reaches its conclusion.

Overall: While not as great as you feel it could have been “Bird Box” still hits many of the right post-apocalyptic notes as well as providing some truly heartbreaking moments.