Saturday, December 21, 2013

¡Qué horror! 2014
Candidate #5

(January 2013) 

After having given us Mulberry Street and Stake Land, the dynamic duo of Nick Damici and Jim Mickle--as co-writers, with Mickle in the directorial chair--take on an English-language remake of Jorge Michel Grau’s Somos Lo Que Hay. 
Now, while I was not as enamored of Somos Lo Que Hay as others, I was floored by Mickle and Damici’s take on the material, producing what is, undoubtedly, the best film they’ve crafted thus far.
To call it a remake would quite possibly be misleading though, as it does a whole lot more than simply transplant the narrative from Mexico to the Catskills, but rather, it essentially just takes the core idea (a family of cannibals trying to exist in contemporary society) and then deviates significantly from the original.

Mickle and Damici’s We Are What We Are is an excellently measured piece that takes a look at the collision of religion, tradition, and the always complex and complicated bonds of family, as triggered by the devastating effects of a torrential storm.
It’s a tortured family drama dressed up in one of Buffalo Bill’s cast-off “suits”; there’s the inherent and underlying gruesomeness of the idea that wraps around it, but what really matters is what’s beneath it--the troubled, beating heart of family.

There’s an excellent cast here, which includes Michael Parks, Bill Sage, Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn) and Stake Land alumna Kelly McGillis, with a brief appearance by Larry Fessenden (yay!).
The central performances that need to be highlighted though, are those by Martha Marcy May Marlene’s Julia Garner and Ambyr Childers, who bring a haunted, wan translucency to the Parker girls, poor unfortunates burdened with the responsibilities of tradition that they may not want in the first place.

 “It’s a family drama with horrific backdrop. But I don’t think of it as a horror movie, and I hate that we have to classify things or put things in specific genres in order for it to be seen as something. So for marketing purposes, I hope people see it as a horror film and then when they see it go, ‘That wasn’t really a horror movie.’”
--Jim Mickle

Parting Shot: What’s interesting in the wake of We Are What We Are are the discussions for a prequel and a sequel, the latter to be handled by Jorge Michel Grau.
Now that sounds, errr… yummy…

(We Are What We Are OS courtesy of

¡Qué horror! 2014
Candidate #4

(March 2012)

“Nicole. She’s the one girl I keep trying to remember. But I… I think she’s the problem. I think she’s the reason I am the way I am, right?

Christopher Denham (from Sound of My Voice and ¡Q horror! 2013 title The Bay) is photographer Kevin Wolfe, a man desperate for some sort of genuine human connection with the opposite sex, but who may very well be his own worst enemy, as a traumatic past could prove to be the reason for his constant failure at relationships.

With Denham also acting as co-producer, Forgetting the Girl is director Nate Taylor’s impressive feature debut. Working from a screenplay by Peter Moore Smith, Taylor gives us a well-crafted exercise in measured suspense, as Kevin goes about his life, and we begin to see just how dysfunctional it actually is.

Forgetting the Girl is an exceedingly commendable freshman feature effort from Taylor that is about, among other things, memory (and the lengths we go to eradicate the possible pain they may contain) and the madnesses we enable within each other.

Parting Shot 1: Props for the use of VNV Nation’s haunting “Illusion” over the end credits roll.

Parting Shot 2: A review of The Bay lurks in the Archive.

(Forgetting the Girl OS courtesy of

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ecomic Bundle Offer

What if there was only one superhuman in the whole world?
What if the world was about to end as predicted in the Book of Revelation?
What can one superman do to hold back the hand of the Almighty? 

In celebration of Thanksgiving, Flipreads is offering the first 4 issues of the ecomic format of Bathala: Apokalypsis as a bundle, so if you haven't checked it out yet, you can do so by going here for details.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

(Bathala artwork by Ian Sta. Maria.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013


For all you mighty fine folk who plan to be at the Bayanihan Center tomorrow, November 16, for this year’s NovKon, I’d also like to announce that a ‘Verse preview book will be available (in rather limited supply, so if you want to get your hands on one, please be sure to materialize at the venue early). 

This was all done very ninja-like by the mighty fine Ian Sta. Maria (thus, the limited supply being made available tomorrow), and features previews of some upcoming ‘Verse stuff, including two new DAKILA story arcs, the 3-issue Buwan (by the mighty fine Jason Confesor) and the 3-issue Metronom (by the mighty fine Nonie Cruzado).
Buwan focuses on our young superhero’s not-so-simple lovelife, while Metronom chronicles events inextricably tied to KADASIG.

And, speaking of…
There’re also early glimpses of the continuation of KADASIG: The Skeleton at the Feast (by the mighty fine Djinn Tallada) and a preview of a KADASIG Interlude story by the ersatz ninja, Mr. Sta. Maria.

Plus, as announced earlier here, tomorrow will also see the launch of Δ: A Vision of Dust 3 and URIEL: Hekhalot 2A.

So there we go.
Hope to see all you mighty fine folk at the Bayanihan Center this Saturday.

you can’t drink just six,


Sunday, November 10, 2013


For all you mighty fine folk who plan to be at the Bayanihan Center this Saturday, November 16, for this year’s NovKon, these are the new ‘Verse titles that are launching:

URIEL: Hekhalot
Issue 2A (of 4)
By David Hontiveros and Michael Urbano

Uriel is a mighty arel, held in reverence and awe by his fellow arelim, feared and despised by the shedim hordes.
And right now, his fate and existence lies in the hands of his seven-year-old mortal charge, Maleck de los Santos.

Uriel has been betrayed by the corrupted (and quite possibly insane) kerub, Malael.
He will eventually find his way to Maleck, in whose body he needs to heal his grievous injuries.
But first, he must escape his demonic captors…

Δ: A Vision of Dust
Issue 3 (of 4)
By David Hontiveros and Xerx Javier

In the many rooms of the House that is the World, there are arelim and shedim. Most men know them as angels and demons.

Unlike the arelim (who cannot breed within their species), the three different classes of shedim have interbred incessantly since their inception, producing all manner of demonic get.

Lora is one such offspring.
She is the third point of our triangle.

The nephil half-brothers Miguel and Lucio have now allied themselves with the runaway succubus, Lora.
But Lucio’s father, the Morningson, has expressed an interest in Lora and the strange condition she finds herself in…

So there we go.
Hope to see all you mighty fine folk at the Bayanihan Center this Saturday.

you can’t drink just six,


Thursday, October 31, 2013

¡Qué horror! 2014
Candidate #3

(November 2012)

It's a familiar set-up: the Dades (Milo Ventimiglia, also serving as an Executive Producer, and Person of Interest’s Sarah Shahi) are living out in the country. Their marriage isn’t in the best of places. Meanwhile, the arrival of a stranger (Sara Paxton, no stranger to ¡Q horror! territory due to Dennis Iliadis’ The Last House on the Left remake and Ti West’s The Innkeepers) throws things even more of out of whack, and Static’s tale begins in earnest.

Though this is largely an entry in the home invasion sub-genre, there’s more that goes on here, courtesy of director Todd Levin, working from a story and screenplay credited to himself and three other individuals (Gabriel Cowan, Andrew Orci, and John Suits).
And while a home invasion entry is certainly nothing new these days, not to mention that where Static ends up also isn’t particularly new, the execution is nonetheless commendable. Also, there’s a certain slant that’s given to the proceedings that is admittedly an uncommon angle.
We also get to briefly see Lost’s William Mapother, so that’s always a plus.

To say more would unduly spoil things, so the best I can say is, stay alert and observant; you may, after all, get an inkling of where the film is going before the climax.

Parting Shot: A review of The Last House on the Left remake (incidentally a ¡Q horror! 2009 title) lurks in the Archive.

(Static OS courtesy of; DVD cover art courtesy of

¡Qué horror! 2014
Candidate #2

(August 2013)

In a bid to become a counselor at Camp Kaya, troubled Gillian (Degrassi: The Next Generation’s Annie Clark) needs to spend two nights camping out by herself on an isolated island: the titular “solo.”

Of course, given that this is a horror movie and not some teen romantic comedy romp, things go horribly wrong for Gillian, and instead of hooking up with the boy of her dreams, instead she…
Well… let’s leave that for the viewing, yeah?

Writer/director Isaac Cravit’s debut feature is a commendable exercise in suspense with a most excellent appearance by Daniel Kash (Aliens’ own Spunkmeyer, seen more recently in Alphas, as Rachel’s pops, and in Orphan Black, which I've yet to set my peepers on).
For those of you who need yet another horror movie reason not to go camping, well, you can now add Solo to the list…

(Solo OS courtesy of

¡Qué horror! 2014
Candidate #1

(May 2013)

America. 2022.

Unemployment is at 1%.
Crime is at an all-time low.
Violence barely exists.

With one exception…

That exception is The Annual Purge, a 12-hour orgy of chaos and destruction sanctioned by the U.S Government, during which “… any and all crime, including murder, [is] legal.”
The thinking here is, if you can just keep all that rage and all those violent tendencies bottled up inside yourself for 364 days, then you’ll have the Purge in which to vent all of it without any legal repercussions whatsoever.
Hate your boss? That bullying head cheerleader? Your wife who cheated on you with your best friend? The barber who gave you that sadass haircut?
There’s always the Purge…

Brought to us by James DeMonaco (who co-wrote Skinwalkers, of which I must admit, I was not a fan), The Purge is a hard-hitting, tense little exercise in cautionary horror that manages to give one pause to consider the nature of violence and the costs of a “stable” form of governance.
99 out of every 100 people may have a job, but this is a world where doing the right thing just makes you an idiot who brings down grief on the heads of those you care about, as well as your own, a world where anyone killed during the Purge is considered a “sacrifice to make [America] a safer place.”

Of ¡Q horror! note: Rhys Wakefield, as the “Polite Leader,” plays an even bigger douchebag here than he did in last year’s ¡Q horror! title, +1.
Lena Headey (familiar to ¡Q horror! territory due to The Brøken) is also in this one, though sadly, she does not get to deploy any of her Many Bitch Faces of Cersei Lannister here. And as we all know, she’s a bloody expert at those…
Ah, well.
Can’t win ‘em all…

“Blessed be the New Founding Fathers for letting us Purge and cleanse our souls, Blessed be America, a nation reborn.”

Parting Shot: Reviews of The Brøken and +1 can be found lurking in the Archives.

(The Purge OS’ courtesy of

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Brief Look at Bron/Broen and Its International Spawn

I found a significant portion of the first season of the original Bron/Broen excellent and riveting procedural television. Even with the issues I ultimately have with it, I think it’s a better freshman season than that of Forbrydelsen. (Although I do think the second season of Forbrydelsen is better than Bron’s first season.)

My issues with Bron’s season one? That point in the narrative when the apparently socio-politically motivated serial killer turns out to be… something else. (For those who’ve yet to see Bron, I shall steer clear of spoilers.)
That plot point wasn’t a deal-breaker, but it did impact on my view of the season as a whole.

So when news first broke that FX was mounting an American version--The Bridge, trading the Sweden/Denmark settings for US/Mexico--I was naturally curious.
And as I got further into The Bridge, I appreciated those elements of the American iteration that skillfully exploited the US/Mexico dichotomy to bolster its storytelling. These were, I felt, among the show’s strengths, angles and story beats that weren’t imported from Bron.
I felt this so strongly that I hoped The Bridge wouldn’t copy that pivotal plot detour that, at least for me, marred Bron somewhat.

Sadly, they did. (Every time I’d see a variation of a familiar Bron beat play out on The Bridge, gradually edging the narrative ever closer to that damned plot twist, I’d sigh and go--in an internal Scandinavianish voice--“Åh nej!”)
But then, after getting the basic plot skeleton of Bron out of the way, in the tail end of the first season, The Bridge displayed a side of itself that promised to be a riveting show in its own right, away from the long, formidable shadow of Bron.

Though Bron’s leads are, for me, still the best and purest distillations of the main characters (Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia originated the roles, after all), Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir acquit themselves well, particularly Kruger, who had the unenviable task of walking in the footsteps of Helin’s Saga Norén.
The welcome surprise of The Bridge was its supporting cast, in particular, Jame Gumb/Buffalo Bill himself, Ted Levine, who brings a gruff, paternal charm to the proceedings as Hank Wade, and Matthew Lillard, as addict douchebag reporter Daniel Frye. Plus the quirky oddness of Lyle Lovett’s Monte P. Flagman, who I sincerely hope we see more of in the second season.

So, yeah, while , interestingly enough, the weaker sections of The Bridge are the parts where they tried to stay too faithful to Bron,* by the time the thirteenth episode winds up, it’s with a show that promises to be something far more interesting in its sophomore season--its own exotic narrative creature, removed from its Scandinavian roots.

Meanwhile, as I was enjoying my journey on The Bridge, I was also looking forward to the Sky English/French iteration, The Tunnel; this version’s initial dump site: the Channel Tunnel.
And here we are with the first episode aired…

It’s still too early to tell how this will ultimately shape up, but it’s a promising start. Though it does follow the same general structure of Bron’s first episode, there are also some slight deviations.
My biggest takeaway from episode 1? That haunting theme song (“The End of Time”), with vocals by Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Plus, it’s a bit bizarre to see Stannis Baratheon himself on the case… (Every now and then, I'd half-expect Carice van Houten's Red Woman to come traipsing out of the woodwork.)
Stephen Dillane's “Karl Roebuck” character, by the way, seems to have become an even bigger man-whore in this iteration. While in Bron, the character has three children in a current marriage and one child from a previous one, and in The Bridge, two and one, in The Tunnel, he’s got five kids from three different mums…

Here’s to 9 more episodes of The Tunnel, and here’s to hoping it revels in its Britishness/Frenchness, and doesn’t take that same plot detour its predecessors chose to take.

Doubleplus, there’s also the second season of Bron to look forward to (four episodes have already aired in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Iceland).

* I should point out, in all fairness, that I nevertheless appreciated the efforts of The Bridge writers to tighten up the plot elements taken from Bron, as well as delineating more clearly, the characters and their relationships with one another.

(Bron DVD cover art courtesy of; The Bridge OS courtesy of; The Tunnel image courtesy of