Tag Archives for " sci-fi "

May 21, 2020

Review: Blood Machines (2019)

Blood-Machines-2019

Director: ​​Seth Ickerman

Starring:​ ​​Anders Heinrichsen, Christian Erickson,Elisa Lasowski, Joelle Berckmans, Natasha Cashman, Walter Dickerson

​Run Time: 50mins

​Right from the off, you know “Blood Machines” is going to be a unique prospect. Partly this comes down how it is being presented as the 50-minute film has been chopped into three chapters and is being dubbed as a “Shudder Original Experience.” Partly it comes down to its singular eyeball scorching visual style, which is both highly reminiscent of the 80s while also being its own thing.


Undoubtedly the first thing that strikes you about the project, which a sequel to Carpenter Brut’s music video “Turbo Killer,” is just quite how beautiful it is. This thing positively drips style. Every frame is like a psychedelic comic strip come to life. Moebius would be proud. As mentioned, there is a clear 80s influence both in the look (it is positively awash with neon) and Carpenter Brut’s pounding synth score, which adds a lot to the atmosphere of the piece.


It is clear from every aspect of the visual effects and production design that director Seth Ickerman (who was also visual effects supervisor and production designer on it) has put a great deal of thought into the look of this universe. And as in exercise in world-building, it is great. ​

However, to say, the project is narratively slight would be an underestimate. The plot, such as it is, focuses on two space hunters, Vascan (Anders Heinrichsen) and Lago (Christian Erickson), who encounter a tribe of female scavengers. One of whom, Corey (Elisa Lasowski), performs the miracle of birthing an AI female ghost from their spaceship. This event then leads the pair on an intergalactic chase.


To some extent, to say much more would spoil it but then again what constitutes as the plot here is largely beside the point. Instead Ickerman is  clearly more interested in hurtling the viewer through a surreal cosmic kaleidoscope. And as thrilling as that often is and as memorable as certain images are, there is part of you that can’t help but want a little more.


The accusation of “style over substance” is often over-used. As even directors who often get that tag (Argento, De Palma, Refn, etc.) frequently produce work that does have more going for that just the look, be it deranged plots, interesting characters, or a certain intensity. Here though, the majority of proceedings feel, in some ways, curiously flat, and the accusation does seem appropriate here.


Also, while most of the actors play their parts well and Elisa Lasowski, in particular, is a striking screen presence, but there is little that makes their characters stand out. A possible exception is Vascan, but that is only down to how unlikeable he is and not in a particularly memorable or interesting way. There is also something slightly grating about the “isn’t this so arty” use of female nudity.


 “Blood Machines” is great to look at, has a great soundtrack, and has a wonderfully surreal imagination to it. However, the lack of engagement elsewhere ultimately leaves it hollow, making it feel like an overextended music video. Which is frustrating as there tantalising hints at a greater mythology there that could have made it something great.


Overall: If you are willing to switch off your brain and let it all wash over you, you are in for a helluva trip. If you are looking for anything else, though, you may be in for a frustrating watch.

5.5/10


“Blood Machines” is available on Shudder now!

You can watch the trailer here

March 16, 2020

Episode 47 – Lorcan Finnegan

Episode 47 – Lorcan Finnegan

 
 
00:00 / 00:49:03
 
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NHE host Scott Murphy chats to writer/director Lorcan Finnegan about his second feature, “Vivarium.” A satirical sci-fi horror in the mode of the sci-horror of the 1970s which dissects the dark heart of suburban conformity.

In the interview (interview begins at 1:53), we talk to Lorcan about the inspirations behind the project, the long journey the project took from script to screen, and why he is attracted to ambiguous, puzzle narratives. We also delve into the unique design of the picture and how Lorcan dealt with the step up in budget and scale from his first movie.

Elsewhere in the interview, Lorcan also chats to us about how much he thinks about the audience when making a film, some of his favourite festival appearances. Finally, he lets us in on a couple of interesting projects he is working on next.

You can watch the trailer for “Vivarium” here

“Vivarium” is out on general release and digital from March 27th

July 19, 2019

Iron Sky: The Coming Race Interview Special

Iron Sky: The Coming Race Interview Special

 
 
00:00 / 00:40:36
 
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In a change-up from our regular fortnightly schedule, NHE presents an “Iron Sky: The Coming Race” Interview Special. Which sees NHE host Scott Murphy chat to director Timo Vuorensola and one of the stars of the film the legendary actor Udo Kier.

In our chat with Timo (interview begins at 2:16), he tells us about how the story for the sequel developed, the research into conspiracy theories he did for the movie and the legal issues which delayed the release of the picture. Plus, he gives us a taster of what to expect next from the Iron Sky Universe!

Following on from that in our talk with Udo (interview begins at 26:50) he explains what brought him back to the franchise, how it was pretending to act opposite himself and how he has managed to avoid being typecast as a genre actor over his 50+ year career.

Watch the trailer for “Iron Sky: The Coming Race” here

“Iron Sky: The Coming Race” is out now in U.S. Theatres and on VOD. You can also purchase it here

For all the latest Iron Sky Universe news you can head on over to the official website here

May 27, 2019

Episode 26 – Quarxx Interview

Episode 26 – Quarxx Interview

 
 
00:00 / 00:52:05
 
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NHE host Scott Murphy chats to director Quarxx about his debut feature “All The Gods in the Sky.” Over the course of the interview (interview begins at 3:06), Quarxx tells us about the short film the feature is based on and the curious and somewhat surreal origins of how the initial story for that short came about. Quarxx also recounts the epic year-long search for his lead actress for that original short which led him to all sorts of unexpected places before landing on model turned actress Melanie Gaydos for the part. Due, at first, to her unique look borne of a consequence of a rare genetic disorder (ectodermal dysplasia) which prevents teeth, nails, pores, cartilage, and bones from developing. He also explains how notable Belgian actor Jean-Luc Couchard came to be onboard with the project.

Away from the film, Quarxx tells us about his background in painting and photography, how he got into filmmaking and how his artistic background bleeds into his cinematic work.

Watch “All The Gods in the Sky” trailer here

“All the Gods in the Sky” is currently in theaters in France and is set to be screened at the 19th Edition of NIFFF (Neuchâtel International Fantastique Film Festival)  in July.

August 30, 2018

Review: Upgrade

Directed by: Leigh Whannell

Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Melanie Vallejo, Harrison Gilbertson, Benedict Hardie, Betty Gabriel

Run time: 100mins

 

“Upgrade” is the latest feature from Leigh Whannell. Surprisingly despite being a prolific horror screenwriter and co-creating two of the biggest horror franchises of the last 15 years in “Saw” and “Insidious”, this is only his second directorial feature.

Unlike a lot of his output, this film is not straight up horror instead it mashes up sci-fi, action, horror and even a bit of comedy too. You might think sticking all these elements would make the movie messy but Whannell manages to get away with it for the most part. That said if you have seen some of Whannell’s other work you will not be surprised by the level of nastiness on display.

The film starts with a neat touch with the production credits and the title being readout by a synthetic female voiceover, represented visually by sound waves. The story takes place in a near-future where technology controls nearly all aspects of life. It is a vision of the future that is both futuristic and retro as it calls to mind the look of various sci-fi actioners from the late 80’s/early 90’s, the film being particularly heavily indebted to Robocop.

The focus of the plot is technophobe Grey Trace (Marshall-Green), who spends his days repairing vintage cars for a dwindling clientele while his wife Asha (Vallejo) works for a tech company. After an idyllic opening between husband and wife, you know that tragedy is just around the corner. Right on cue, she is murdered and he is left paralyzed by a gang after the two survive a car crash. His only hope to walk again is an advanced experimental computer chip called STEM. The chip is provided by sinister tech billionaire Eron Keen (Gilbertson) who just so happen to be one of Trace’s clientele.

The chip, of course, not only allows Trace to walk but gives him superhuman reflexes and fighting skills. Meaning he can take revenge on his wife’s killers. As premises go it is one that has been seen a thousand times before. However, this is a movie that is more about execution than anything else and it does execute its action beats very well. There are several balletic and brutal fight sequences throughout that are as thrilling as they are entertaining. In fact, all the action choreography is excellent including a very well staged car chase near the end. The cinematography is also a real highlight with there being several visually sumptuous shots throughout the movie.

Character-wise it is hard to invest in anyone other than Trace himself. Trace might be your typical action hero in some regards but Marshall-Green manages to give him a depth and humour too. The only real issue with the character being the way he flip-flops from being terrified of what is happening to his body to a wise-cracking hero and back a little schizophrenically. Plot-wise it is nothing to write home about either but the film does deliver some nice twists near the very end.

 

Overall: An expertly paced retro cyber thriller that may not be particularly original but is an entertaining thrill-ride and provides plenty of brutal set-pieces that genre fans should lap up.

7/10