Sunday, September 20, 2015

Candidate #17

(October 2014)

"I am safe in the arms
Of my master, my king,
On the last day, I will follow,
My soul, I will bring…”

Anthony DiBlasi has become something of a regular ¡Q horror! fixture ever since his excellent adaptation of Clive Barker’s Dread slotted itself neatly into the 2010 final rundown. (His Cassadaga was a 2012 Candidate. Additionally, he also Executive Produced Ryuhei Kitamura’s The Midnight Meat Train adaptation, which settled comfortably into the 2008 final rundown.)
He’s back ‘round these parts with Late Shift, where rookie cop Jessica Loren (Juliana Harkavy) is given her first assignment: be the sole officer on-site at a police station that’s being shut down in favor of a brand new one.
And since we’re here hip-deep in this year’s ¡Q horror! Candidate rundown, then you know that Jessica’s first shift on the job goes spectacularly awry as only one can in a horror movie…

It’s an interesting take DiBlasi has on the traditional haunted house set-up, where the protagonist spends a portion of the running time wandering the (supposedly) empty halls and rooms of the structure, while the weird goings-on begin to gradually escalate in frequency and intensity.
So, yes, the manner in which Last Shift unfolds will be familiar to the long-time horrorhead, but, there is also a lot to be said for a masterful execution of this kind of horror film, and Last Shift is a chillingly efficient take, with well-timed and disturbingly executed funhouse scare/set pieces strewn about the film’s nearly hour-and-a-half running time.

“Missy, if you can’t handle one night alone in an empty police station, then I think you picked the wrong line of work.”

(Last Shift OS and Blu-ray cover art courtesy of

Friday, September 18, 2015

Candidate #16

(January 2001)

"Wendigo is hungry. Always hungry. Its hunger, never satisfied.”

When I first saw Larry Fessenden’s The Last Winter, I had already been aware of both Habit and Wendigo, but had never had the opportunity to nail either one down for a proper watch.
Having been deeply impressed by The Last Winter (which grabbed itself a ¡Qué Horror! 2008 slot) I subsequently increased my efforts to see both of Fessenden’s earlier films, without much success.
Until now.

Just in time for the upcoming Blu-ray release of “The Larry Fessenden Collection” (more on that later), Wendigo glided right up to me, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, “Hey, look at me! I’m an awesome horror movie!”
And Wendigo was absolutely right.

In a teeny nutshell, Jake Weber and Patricia Clarkson get away from the city with their son (played by Malcolm in the Middle’s Dewey, Erik Per Sullivan), with spectacularly horrible results.
And while that’s all I’ll say as far as what the film is about--at any rate, some of you may be able to glean some of its thematic preoccupations from the title alone--I will go on the record as saying it makes for an excellent companion piece/double bill with The Last Winter, and, if anything, has made me even more antsy to finally see Habit.
Which may become significantly easier, with the upcoming Collection, which will feature Fessenden’s No Telling, Habit, Wendigo, and The Last Winter, all remastered in high-definition. The Collection will be released on October 20, to celebrate 30 years of Glass Eye Pix, Fessenden’s indie production company that has also brought us Jim Mickle’s Stake Land, Ti West’s The House of the Devil, and Adrián García Bogliano’s Late Phases (to name a select ¡Q horror! few).

So, yeah. Wendigo.
See it. Or wait for The Larry Fessenden Collection.
I know I will…

(Wendigo DVD cover art courtesy of

Monday, September 14, 2015

Candidate #15

(July 2014)

As with Nacho Vigalondo's Open Windows, Unfriended takes place entirely on a computer screen, this time, belonging to one Blaire Lily (Shelley Hennig, currently on MTV's Teen Wolf).
But while Vigalondo’s effort gets wildly ambitious as it unspools, Unfriended chooses to keep its narrative space controlled, and ultimately, it’s this choice that allows it to keep a tight focus on the horror movie shenanigans that ensue.

Directed by Leo Gabriadze from a script by Nelson Greaves, Unfriended has some heavy producing hitters in the forms of Timur Bekmambetov and Jason Blum.
It’s also an interesting double bill with fellow ¡Q horror! 2015 candidate, Some Kind of Hate, sharing some of its thematic concerns like the casually cruel emotional violence the youth can so callowly and callously inflict on each other.

(Unfriended Netherlands OS courtesy of

Candidate #14

(May 2015)

"Why are we f*cking waiting in the greenhouse?
"This is f*ckin’ bullshit.”

Bullied loner Lincoln (Ronen Rubinstein) is sent to the Mind’s Eye Academy, a place to “reset,” where troubled youth can work through their issues, so as to “destroy the impulses” that brought them there in the first place.
But since this is a horror film and not some After School Special, it’s safe to say things do not go to plan.
The feature debut of director (and co-writer) Adam Egypt Mortimer, Some Kind of Hate is a brutal depiction of how petty and cruel the youth can be. While I’ll avoid getting into exactly what the film is about, I will say it plays like a wicked, vicious inversion of fellow ¡Q horror! 2015 candidate Jamie Marks Is Dead (in which Rubinstein also, incidentally enough, appears).

As an aside, familiar genre face Noah Segan shows up here in a supporting role, and doubles as an Executive Producer.

This one isn’t inclined to pull punches, so be warned…

Parting Shot: I also highly recommend Mortimer’s comic book, the whacked-out science fiction opus, Ballistic, with art by Darick Robertson.

(Some Kind of Hate OS courtesy of