Tag Archives: Rule Brittania!

CREEP

creep3 Stars  2004/18/85m

“Your journey terminates here.”

Director / Writer: Christopher Smith / Cast: Franka Potente, Vas Blackwood, Jeremy Sheffield, Paul Rattray, Kelly Scott, Sean Harris.

Body Count: 10


Ahh…London Underground. Cancelled trains, bizarre aromas (I once saw a guy attempting to piss through the window into the gap between carriages), tube mice, people cramming themselves in like sardines and sub-human psycho killers. On reflection, I think I’d rather deal with the latter.

Chris Smith’s gritty creature-feature-cum-slasher kicks off with a relatively nightmarish concept: London it-girl Kate (Potente) rushes from a late night party to see if she can track down George Clooney, who is rumoured to be somewhere close by. A moment’s resting of her eyes and Kate wakes up on a deserted platform having missed the last train of the night. Worse still, she’s now locked in the station.

When an empty train does turn up, Kate hops on and is almost immediately plunged into darkness and then attacked by a sleazy acquaintance of hers, Guy (the excellent Sheffield). She is temporarily rescued by the intervention of an unseen figure who drags Guy away and (unbeknownst to her) has also murdered the train driver.

From this point, the film turns into a series of thwarted escape attempts. Kate purchases the assistance of a homeless couple who live in a ‘rabbit warren’ of tunnels and she finally joins forces with captive sanitation worker George (Blackwood). The two pool their resources and strike back against the killer, a dim-dwelling troglodyte with the super-scary name of…Craig, who is the implied product of some dodgy secret science experiment that was taking place under the station.

The inferences surrounding the killer’s origins dampen the grisly ambience and subtract much of his initial menace but Smith liberally dishes out the grue when required and really puts Kate through the grinder, having her crawl around within inches of rats and swimming through sewage, ending with a chucklesome note when she finally makes it back to safety.

Creep maybe indebted to the likes of Deathline with echoes of Mimic, but comes into its own in terms of its unpleasant nature and classic Brit-grit. Unfortunately, the premise does not afford an 85 minute film, so much as a segment in an anthology. The mission statement was to do the same for the tube as Psycho did for showers and, thanks to keying in on some of those trapped in an endless maze nightmare motifs, said mission is at the very least part accomplished.

Blurbs-of-interest: Smith later directed Severence; Potente had already starred in the German medical-slasher Anatomy; Sheffield later appeared in The Children.

RED MIST

redmistRED MIST

2.5 Stars  2008/18/82m

“Do not resuscitate.”

A.k.a. Freakdog

Director: Paddy Breathnach / Writer: Spence Wright / Cast: Arielle Kebbel, Sarah Carter, Andrew Lee Potts, Stephen Dillane, Alex Wyndham, Martin Compston, Katie McGrath, Christina Chong, Michael Jibson, MyAnna Buring.

Body Count: 8

Dire-logue: “So, Kenneth is somehow taking over people’s bodies and killing us one at a time – have I got that right?”


When I picked Red Mist off the shelf and saw that it was “from the director of Shrooms” I almost involuntarily squawked “yuck!” and slammed it back from whence it came. However, due to this stupid penchant for slasher completism I have, I Lovefilmed it and it turned up just t’other day. The good news is that it’s way better than the tripe-fest that was Shrooms, although the director still has a thing for passing off British/Irish productions as American (accents n’ all…) but that’s alright, I can see why he’d do it. In fact, despite similarities to old 80’s horrors Out of the Body and Aenigma, Red Mist is pretty damn promising, it just kinda gets a few things wrong… Read on…

A group of uniformally popular and good looking interns at a hospital upset weirdo self-harmer Kenneth (also good looking considering his status), who confesses he has video footage of one of them pocketing drugs from the pharmacy for recreational purposes and their resolve is to ply him with booze and drugs, unknowingly inducing an epileptic fit that descends the lad into a coma, which they cover up by dumping the body outside ER and driving away. All but nice girl Catherine (Kebbel) exhale with relief when told of his condition and that, due to expired insurance and no relatives, his life support will be turned off soon. Guilt-ridden Catherine does some research and discovers an untested phase one drug that may help and doses Kenneth on it.

redmist1This is where things become ambitious but also a bit shit. Wonderdrug allows Kenneth to possess individuals and use them as his weaponry to kill the med students responsible: one girl gets her head slammed in a car door by the security guard while a sexy nurse force feeds nasty ringleader Sean with acid. Some of the other kills occur off screen while Catherine runs about trying to convince people of what’s going on until she herself is possessed and later wakes up in the woods unaware of what she might or might not have done…

Some sub-lot blurb about a selfish doctor trying to steal Catherine’s glory provides a little resistance come the end but by this time Red Mist has slid too far down its self inflicted slope and the contrived “it’s not done” ending, similar to that in Breathnach’s earlier film, is a groaner. It’d work better as a straight-up revenge slasher and only feels rushed in its present state, with many characters quickly dispensed with rather than given their due comeuppance for their early nastiness. A good try with a good cast and ideas but too little in terms of pay-off.

redmist2Blurbs-of-interest: Arielle Kebbel was in Reeker and The Grudge 2; Sarah Carter was in Final Destination 2; Katie McGrath was the lead in the TV show SlasherMyAnna Buring was one of the potholers in The Descent.

CrappyCrappy

killerkillerKILLERKILLER

1 Stars  2006/75m

“The public calls them murderers. The papers call them monsters. She calls them prey.”

Director/Writer: Pat Higgins / Cast: Cy Henty, Dutch Dore-Boize, Danielle Laws, Richard Collins, James Kavaz, Nick Page, Scott Denyer, Danny James, Rami Hilmi.

Body Count: 9


Bizarre no-budget indie project, which begins with the all-too familiar scenario of a babysitter being stalked around a London townhouse. Into the kitchen… up the stairs… into the bathroom as she disrobes for a shower, turns around to find a masked killer poised with a knife and…

…whips out twin blades and does him in! This witty intro aside, Killerkiller plays out like a stage-adaptation once we meet eight incarcerated murderers who wake up to find their prison-slash-institute has no guards, no locks, and somebody who is offing them one by one. How and why they are there – don’t bother asking.

Mucho testosterone-fuelled dialogue later, we discover that blondie babysitter is some sort of demon who is zapping them temporarily into relative nightmares (all about their past crimes) and passing ultimate judgment over them. It might’ve worked if the expenditure was in double figures – but it ain’t so it ends up as one of the longer 75 minute stints to experience.

Suffer (because of) the little children

thechildrenTHE CHILDREN

4 Stars  2008/18/81m

“You brought them into the world. They will take you out.”

Director: Tom Shankland / Writers: Paul Andrew Williams & Tom Shankland / Cast: Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy Sheffield, Rachel Shelley, Hannah Tointon, Eva Sayer, Raffiella Brooks, Jake Hathaway, William Howes.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: Casey – “Have you ever heard of feminism?” Jonah – “Has it got anything to do with self-absorbed lazing around?”


Those of us who don’t have children can’t always understand the behaviours of those who do, it’s more evident if your brothers and sisters have kids. They become over-sensitive to their surroundings, potential influences and would happily see you burnt at the stake before admitting their offspring was the one who actually scribbled all over the wallpaper.

In Tom Shankland’s entirely chilling story, two ‘picture perfect’ families gather to ring in New Year’s at a secluded mock-tudor neo-mansion in a snowy December. Elaine and Jonah have brought their kids Miranda and autistic Paulie, as well as Elaine’s teen daughter Casey to her sister Chloe (bit of a showy bitch) and brother-in-law Robbie’s place, where they want to home school their Kodak-kids Nicky and Leah. It’s all catalogue-shine and barely contained quips as the sisters try to out-Mom each other to prove who’s best, while Jonah chisels away at Robbie in the hope of an investment for importing some Chinese herbs or something, and Casey just wants to be able to use her phone.

children1The little kids, all under 10, are acting a bit weird. They feel sick and we see that there are icky, multiplying germs around them. The joyous facade begins to fall apart at the seams when the family cat vanishes and the kids all go haywire over lunch, soon escalating into the death of hunky dad Robbie in what’s been made to look like a sledging accident but is anything but! Chloe goes ape and Casey begins to suspect the children as they fail to emote, unless their crying and whining is to trick the next schmuck into wandering into their trap!

The Children has a bold sense of grit – common in British horror – and doesn’t shy away from showing its criticism of modern ‘over-parenting’ as some of the adults simply won’t accept their kids are anything but angelic cherubs from heaven and would rather blame anything or anyone else for the unfolding terror, namely Casey. It also doesn’t shy away from the deaths of the kids at the hands of their parents as self defence becomes the only option (though why they don’t just knock them out with a golf club and lock them away, I’m not sure). (Some of) the children are killed quite mercilessly, the kind of thing you just don’t see on your TV! It’s a brave step, one that would sink a film of a larger, starrier proportions, but as a micro-budgeted indie flick, who’s gonna notice?

children2Definitely not one to show pregnant cousin Sally or those X4-driving Mums outside school, they’re likely to get more violent than anything shown on screen at the mere suggestion of killer kids getting killed back! Shankland, who directed W Delta Z (Waz), is a talented helmer, making great use of the sparse landscape and doe-eyed psychopaths as they glare at their doomed makers. It’s slash that doesn’t really adhere to being slash but still kinda is, albeit with a 28 Days Later type creepy ending. Additional points for the presence of bona fide eye-candy Sheffield.

Blurbs-of-interest: Jeremy Sheffield played Guy in Creep; Rachel Shelley was the heroine in Lighthouse.

STAGKNIGHT

stagknightSTAGKNIGHT

3 Stars  2007/79m

“Sex, drugs, guns and one killer knight out…”

Director: Simon Cathcart / Writers: Simon Cathcart & Rob Mercer / Cast: Simeon Willis, James Hillier, Jocelyn Osorio, Sandra Dickinson, Martin Bayfied, Simon Cathcart, Brian McNeill, Joe Montana, J.C. Mac, Jason Hyde, Harry Athwal, Tony Tang, Danielle Mason, Santos De Castro.

Body Count: 11

First-rate Fatality: Sword through the mouth and out the arse! Ouch.


Recently, I had the disctinct displeasure of watching a Brit-slasher flick called Small Town Folk. It was a vignette stretched to feature length that required a stretch of patience to get through it. So, when sitting down to watch StagKnight last night I had similar reservations.

Blissfully, StagKnight looks like Halloween by comparison. Evidently shot with next to no budget in place, financial constraints are compensated for by a quirky sense of humour and a central premise so very simple it’s a wonder nobody has ever tackled  it in horror before now.

stagknight2

Dorky historian Brian’s stag night with the Weekend Warriors’ paintball team is taking place around the back of nowhere at an inn owned by sub-wiccan Fay (Dickinson) and her Egor-like son William (ex-rugby giant Bayfield). She tricks the group into performing a chant that resurrects a Templar Knight and subsequently opens up access to a cauldron of eternal life-serum or some such twaddle. It’s never made clear really. But we’re strictly here for the slashing…

After they’re bored of the strippers and pranks, the guys opt for a nightgame of Paintball and split into two teams to enter the woods where, of course, our Templar Knight is waiting with his big sword. Meanwhile, reluctant stripper Blossom is cast early into the nightmare when she and the crazy driver crash into the Knight’s tomb and she escapes wearing an important artefact that will assist in Fay’s plan to get to the cauldron.

The Knight soon begins taking out the players in a variety of ways until the inevitable showdown in the tomb. Victims are impaled, skewered, have their faces punched to oblivion and choked on paintballs. It’s impressive but the dim lighting and CG-mist makes things difficult to see from time to time and we never get a really good look at the Knight himself.

stagknight

Bayfield and Dickinson are good, as is Willis as Brian and James Hillier as the sleazy exec-type. The crowded background cast have less to do with their one-note roles, including Korean guy, American guy, comedy Indian guy and camp gay bloke, but serve their purpose as Knight-fodder well enough for it not to matter. With a larger wad of cash at its disposal, StagKnight could have been on a par with Shaun of the Dead and is currently in limbo awaiting a DVD release. At least it never tempts you to hit fast forward which is more than can be said for a lot of contemporary horror comedies. A fun little timewaster and maybe a predecessor to HenKnight with a gun-toting bride?

Blurb-of-interest: James Hillier was Spencer in Long Time Dead.

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