Another Cabin, Another Lake

he's out there 2018

HE’S OUT THERE

3.5 Stars  2018/15/89m

“Terror is lurking.”

Director: Quinn Lasher / Writer: Mike Scannell / Cast: Yvonne Strahovski, Anna Pniowsky, Abigail Pniowsky, Ryan McDonald, Justin Bruening, Julian Bailey.

Body Count: 2


Originally slated for a theatrical release (under the title Scarecrow), this part-slasher home invasion flick ended up dropping on to DVD with a name change for director Dennis Iliadis as well. Beware some spoilers.

In a similar vein to HushHe’s Out There plays out like the third reel of any given stalk n’ slasher, once the string of luckless victims are done away with and the masked killer goes up against his main foe. In this case, said foe is perfect mom Laura (Strahovski – who played a sexy serial killer in Dexter), who drives out to the family’s lakeside weekend cottage with her two young daughters, with dad following a few hours behind because of some business meeting.

The only neighbor springs up to help with a dodgy padlock and a couple of sentences about the boy who used to live in the family’s house who disappeared without a trace. Mom unpacks, the kids run and play and find a string trail that leads them into the woods where (revealed later), they find a creepy tea party setup, and younger daughter Maddie eats one of the cupcakes, which makes her sick. She throws up a tiny note with ‘hello’ written on it.

he's out there 2018

It dawns on Laura that they’re not alone in their tranquil surroundings and the fear kicks in. Many an IMDb review bemoans that squealy children as a major downer, but I didn’t mind them so much. There’s a reason females are always tormented in movies like this, if all the genders were switched you’d have the same reviewers calling the characters pussies for not facing off directly with the killer. The kid in The Babadook is also a thousand times worse.

When dad shows up, he’s also lured into the trees to meet a nasty end, as does the neighbor, who returns later and finds an abandoned car, leaving mother and daughters to fend for themselves when the masked fiend breaches the house. In a non-turn of events, he is the missing kid, he has no apparent motive other than some bizarro tea party mock-up with real body parts, but has been watching them come and go for years, planning his attack, which is a creepy little touch.

he's out there 2018

The film comes to an efficient showdown that doesn’t drag itself out too much, but why she didn’t reverse the fucking car over him when she had the opportunity is a mystery perhaps left for some far-off sequel in which teens come to explore the murder site and, well, you know…

Derivative in the extreme; There is nothing to be seen here you haven’t seen before, just tossed around the salad bowl and served in a different order. Higher than average production values crank things upward enough to make it worth your while, even if there are zero surprises and a lot of reliance on cliches and ridiculously good fortune for the maniac.

Didn’t we have a lovely day the day we went to Snape Island?

tower of evil 1972 aka horror of snape island

TOWER OF EVIL

2.5 Stars  1972/18/90m

“They came, they saw, they died!”

A.k.a. Horror on Snape IslandBeyond the Fog

Director: Jim O’Connolly / Writer: Heorge Baxt / Cast: Bryant Haliday, Jill Haworth, Mark Edwards, Jack Watson, Anna Palk, Derek Fowlds, Dennis Price, Anthony Valentine, Gary Hamilton, George Coulouris, Candace Glendenning.

Body Count: 9


This way ahead of its time British chiller bears more than just a passing similarity to the later and greater Hell Night.

When a hysterical naked young woman stabs a sailor dead on fog-surrounded Snape Island, she is brought back to the mainland with an old relic that is of interest to the academics, who stage a trip there to learn more, while the girl is quizzed about the gory murders of her three American friends. Seven folks take a short vacation there only to have it crashed by a shadowy killer who, it turns out, is the son of the stabbed sailor, driven crazy by the loss of his wife.

Very slow moving, which can test your patience, but things kick into gear in the second half and there’s even a formidable final girl sequence.

Blurb-of-interest: Jack Watson was in Pete Walker’s Schizo four years later.

Game On.

slashers 2001

SLASHERS

3 Stars  2001/18/99m

“Are you game?”

A.k.a. $la$her$

Director/Writer: Maurice Devereaux / Cast: Sarah Joslyn Crowder, Tony Curtis Blondell, Kieran Keller, Carolina Pla, Jerry Sprio, Sofia De Medeiros, Neil Napier, Chris Piggins, Claudine Shiraishi.

Body Count: 12


Part of the short lived death-on-reality-TV fad, Slashers appeared around the same time as KolobosMy Little EyeVoyeur.com, and everyone’s favourite, Halloween: Resurrection. I remember not being too psyched based on the video box and premise, but this turned out to be a fun little cheapie (with a budget of around $165,000), which passed the reigns of moral responsibility to the Japanese, known for putting contestants through hell on various game shows.

Six American contestants are invited on to the country’s most popular export, where the aim of the game is to stay alive for 90 minutes in a maze of various sets, while three professional maniacs hunt you down. Survive, and they bag the $12 million prize. Simples.

Despite the low-end production values, Slashers is cleverly engineered to look as it it’s one long continuous take once the poor schmucks have entered the maze. They bicker amongst themselves until numbers fall following encounters with any of the trio of loons: Chainsaw Charlie, Dr Ripper, and newcomer Preacherman (who actually flops big time). The American contestants fight back with more force than the usual homeland contestants and secure $2 million bonuses for each slasher permanently defeated, but political martyr Megan doesn’t want to resort to violence to escape.

Some shonky FX work here and there is kinda endearing and with a big budget, this probably could’ve been something of a hit at the height of the reality TV cycle.

Blurb-of-interest: Neil Napier was in Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain.

See No Evil

eyes of crystal 2004 occhi di cristallo

EYES OF CRYSTAL

3.5 Stars  2004/18/108m

A.k.a. Occhi di Cristallo

Director/Writer: Eros Puglielli / Writers: Luca Di Fulvio, Gabriella Blasi, Franco Ferrini / Cast: Luigi Lo Cascio, Lucia Jimenez, Jose Angel Egido, Simon Andreu, Carmelo Gomez, Ernestina Chavdorova Shinova, Eusebio Poncela, Branimir Petev Milandinov.

Body Count: 8


A late-to-the-party giallo which features a mystery taxidermist hacking up people in an effort to make a human doll, a la Pieces, but with about a million times as much class.

Homicide detectives Amaldi and Frese, who are undisciplined and violent and weathered respectively, find themselves in the centre of a whirlppol of seemingly unrelated events after the triple shooting of a pair of young lovers and a peeping Tom in a field. But what has it got to do with student Giudetta’s apparent obsessed stalker, and their ex-cop friend Ajaccio, who is in hospital suffering flashbacks to a fatal fire at the orphanage he grew up in?

All the staples of giallo are present and accounted for: Opera, sex, eyeballs, and a lot of blood. The latter is subdued enough to avoid looking excessive and stupid, and Puglielli keeps his film engaging considering the almost two-hour run time and non-stratospheric body count, never shying away from visual flourishes and striking shots littered throughout.

As always, all of the random threads eventually come together, while the killer’s motive is cloudy and bizarre, the film is slick and successful in its attempts to resurrect the ways of olde.

Blurb-of-interest: Eusebio Poncela was in Black Serenade.

 

Hear No Evil

hush 2016

HUSH

4 Stars  2016/82m

“Silence can be killer.”

Director/Writer: Mike Flanagan / Writer: Katie Siegel / Cast: Katie Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan.

Body Count: 3


The overriding aspect of the best slasher films that has always won me over is when a final girl, on her last legs, weary from battle, finally summons enough energy to rise up against her tormentor, turning the tables on him and surviving. I mean, it’s just awesome, especially when the killer has been a sadistic bully (I mean, really, which killer isn’t?), stretching out his reign of terror in favour of the quick stab and move on.

Mike Flanagan is having his moment, and reportedly came up with this idea with star (and future wife) Siegel on one of their early dates. Sandwiched between the over rated Oculus, and the better-than-expected Ouija: Origin of EvilHush was picked up for Netflix exclusivity and (to date) has sat there ever since, yet to be released on DVD, which is either genius or madness, given it’s higher-than-average IMDb rating.

A kind of meta-slasher opus, deaf mute writer Maddie lives alone (‘cept a cat named Bitch) in a wooded area where she’s struggling to finish her second book, paralysed between seven possible endings. When her neighbour Sarah hammers frantically on her window, Maddie neither sees nor hears her, and she is knifed to death by a masked and slingshot-wielding loon, who notices Maddie’s condition and decides to make her his next target.

hush 2016

While Maddie procrastinates, toying with FaceTiming her ex, taking a call from her sister, the killer has broken in and taken her phone, which he then photographs her with and sends the pictures to her, each time coming closer. Once aware of his presence, she tries to persuade him to go, by writing a message that she hasn’t seen his face so won’t tell, to which he removes his mask and tells her she’s next.

Parts of Hush lose the sound to force the viewer into Maddie’s shoes, as she relies on her other senses to try various escape plans. I wondered if the film would perhaps me more effective (but maybe less commercially viable) if it featured no sound whatsoever, locking the viewer into the nightmare of not knowing when the killer may be approaching. As it is, we hear some things Maddie doesn’t, notice what she doesn’t in the background, but root harder for her because of her disability.

hush 2016

There are only two murder victims in the film, which has an entire cast of five, but that doesn’t negate its position as a slasher flick, just one that strictly limits itself to the experience of one character, rather than following the killer as he goes – and both kills are quite savage.

Things crank up to Haute Tension levels of shouting at the screen as blood loss from an earlier wound looks like it might end her before the killer does, but she finally levels the field by attacking the killer’s senses (one method I was waiting for her to choose from the start!)

hush 2-16

An exceptional slasher film variant, beautifully made and completely engaging even with lengthy scenes where no words are spoken. While I didn’t enjoy Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House (which featured Siegel) as much as I’d hoped, he’s definitely building a sizeable platform for himself in the genre and elevating his projects from their disposable, often overlooked roots.

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