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The Faceless Man

Reviewed by Mike Macabre

There are so many great horror movies to come out of Australia. Wolf Creek, The Loved Ones, Babadook and so many more originated from the land down under. And why not? With its breath-taking landscapes, awesome weather and great wildlife its one of the most idyllic places on earth. Yet, in the same breath, its unforgiving landscapes, extreme weather and downright terrifying wildlife is also the perfect setting for a horror movie, right?

James Di Martino‘s The Faceless Man is an Australian horror that has took the Oceanic region by storm. The critically-acclaimed ozploitation film has already won 6 major awards at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival including Best Director and Best Film. Now, it’s hitting the rest of the world. Cited as “one of the best films of 2019”, we just had to check it out.

Synopsis

Emily (Sophie Thurling) is a recovering cancer survivor of three years. Faced with her fear of getting sick again, her best friend Nina (Lorin Kauffeld) plans a weekend away. Six friends venture out to a country holiday house to party over a weekend. Cut off from the rest of the world they soon learn the inhabitants are unsettling red neck individuals who terrorize and humiliate travellers. At the same time a para-normal monster seen as The Faceless Man haunts the house pushing the friends to their limits.

Also starring Lucas Pittaway, Andy McPhee, Roger Ward, Albert Goikhman, Brendan Bacon and Daniel Reader.

The Faceless Man

The problem with debut features is they can often spiral out of control. New filmmakers want to show us what they can do and this can often lead to a disjointed storyline (as seen in our review of The Good Things Devils Do). Whilst Di Martino clearly has a lot of talent, The Faceless Man just has too much going on.

We have three significant storylines all interwoven into one. First of all there’s the group of friends being intimidated by the redneck locals. Second, there’s the Russian mob boss and his cronies looking for a suitcase full of drugs (which the friends have in their possession). Finally, you’ve got The Faceless Man terrorising them at the same time. These are some unlucky kids! Whilst each story is pretty good in its own right, blending them all into one feature just doesn’t really flow well.

However, there are a lot of positives to mention!

This movie is pretty gruesome with an array of makeup, prosthetics and, you guessed it, gore! There’s decapitations, hammers stuck in heads and heads blown off completely! Then there’s chainsaw dismemberment reminiscent of that scene in Scarface, and of course – blood EVERYWHERE. That being said, despite the effects being top notch there were one or two issues. For instance, you chop off a head you expect there to be SOME blood, right? At least a drop or two? Whilst the lack of blood in that sequence was painstakingly obvious, this doesn’t reflect in other parts of the movie. The attention to detail for the most part was phenomenal! Credit is definitely due to the makeup department for gifting us with this level of entertainment.

The Faceless Man

Whilst the three storylines were very different in nature, one thing that was consistent throughout was the trademark Aussie humour. There were some parts which were hilarious. Most of these involved Daniel Reader’s character, Barry. Whilst the light-heartened nature was welcomed, it didn’t really fit well with the creepy aesthetic of The Faceless Man segments.

Whilst the premise itself was pretty original, there were some aspects that were lifted straight out of Tarantino films. One of the most famous scenes in Reservoir Dogs (Michael Madsen dancing whilst torturing) was one such aspect. Admittedly, Reader’s dance moves were better, and the fact he was making a sandwich at the same time was pretty funny too. But, should it have been there? I don’t know. It was pretty funny… There was also the rape scene straight out of Pulp Fiction. Should that have been there? You guys can decide.

Overall, I think it’s safe to say that for a debut movie, this was pretty good. Di Marco has definitely got what it takes to put together a great film. Hopefully, his next feature will focus on one strong storyline rather than three interwoven ones. If he assembles a talented cast and the same makeup department I guarantee it’ll be one to look out for!

Check out the trailer here

What do you think of the movie? Like the sound of it? Seen it already? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or in the comments below!

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Animal Among Us

At Erebus Horror we all love a good creature feature! They tend to be fun, gory and allow upcoming filmmakers to show their mettle. Sometimes the creature doesn’t play the pivotal role, as seen in our review of ‘Monstrous’. Other times, it’s not actually a ‘creature’ at all! But with all instances, the movie can be hugely enjoyable providing it’s got a good storyline, stellar acting and effective use of budget. So where does Animal Among Us sit? Let’s find out!

Synopsis

Christian Oliver (“Sense8”, House of Good & Evil) and Larisa Oleynik (“Mad Men”, 10 Things I Hate About You) come face to face with hirsute terror in John Woodruff’s highly-anticipated horror throwback, Animal Among Us.

Fifteen years ago, two teenage girls were murdered at Merrymaker Campgrounds. The case was filed as an animal attack, the camp was condemned, and the killer never found. But something horrific still waits in those woods, ready to kill again.

Also starring Don Frye, Christine Donlon, Jonathan Murphy, Erin Daniels, Heather Tom, Jasmine Dustin, and Whitney Davis.

Animal Among Us

Cited as ‘Friday the 13th meets Dog Soldiers’, the movie opens with a distressed woman covered in blood and with no indication as to what’s happened. This then cuts to Oleynik in her role as ranger Anita. She drives into the Merrymaker Camp unaware she is being watched. From the creature’s POV we see her depart, before it raises a clawed hand in all its beautiful, b-movie goodness. The tone is set and the movie certainly doesn’t disappoint!

Review

So lets talk about the acting. Animal Among Us is perfectly cast with an array of talent who all give an outstanding performance. Each took their role to a whole new level. Anita’s driven and ambitious character is a stark contrast to sister Poppy’s (Donlon) cautious, yet seductive manner. Then we’ve got the suave, self-righteous Roland (Oliver) and tough, cigar-chomping Burl (Frye). Throw in a bit of humour courtesy of Jonathan Murphy’s character and you’ve got an exceptional lineup!

Animal Among Us

Now, storyline. It is a pretty good story. It’s well thought out and has a number of twists and turns along the way that keeps it from going stale. The only problem is the creature. I’m not going to give anything away, but what I will say is that the movie does risk disappointing a lot of monster enthusiasts who go into this hoping to see a ‘traditional’ creature-feature. However, does the unconventional approach take anything away from the movie? I wouldn’t say so. What I would say is selling the movie under the phrase ‘Friday the 13th meets Dog Soldiers’ is a bit misleading. I can kind of see Friday the 13th link (at a stretch) in that its set at a campsite… But Dog Soldiers? I have no idea where that link is.

Written by Jonathan Murphy. Produced by Murphy and Woodruff. Animal Among Us is available free and exclusive on Tubi from Uncork’d Entertainment

What do you think of the movie? Like the sound of it? Seen it already? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or in the comments below!

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The One Survivor of Conifer

The One Survivor Of Conifer is a post-apocalyptic thriller by Writer/Director Curt Dennis. What was initially intended as a crowd-funded short movie, Dennis and Producer Max Mir opted to make it a feature film after their campaign proved unsuccessful. Filmed in just 5 days and with only 11 crew members (including cast) the movie is a prime example of budget filmmaking.

Synopsis

Survival is tough when you think you’re the last person on Earth. From getting food, to water, to avoiding the Creatures lurking in the forest. But when Austin Biggs finds a child over his radio, he becomes more than just a vocal companion. Because if Austin can’t reach the child first – the Creatures will.

From the outset, the movie gives off some strong Castaway vibes. The main difference is instead of a tropical island, it’s London. Instead of Wilson the volleyball, it’s a teddy. Instead of Tom Hanks, it’s Johnny Maya. Yet, despite being the only actor on screen throughout the movie, Maya’s likeable, charismatic approach keeps us intrigued throughout. Yes, the whole premise is very ambiguous, but we can surmise that there has been some sort of disaster which has killed off the human race and for some reason Austin Biggs is still alive and monsters are lurking.

Admittedly, there are a few issues which can’t go unmentioned. From a storyline perspective, Austin Biggs is certainly no Bear Grylls when it comes to survival. There’s no fire, no sanitisation of water and despite having access to a sheltered building, Biggs opts to sleep outside at the mercy of the elements (and the monsters but we’ll come to that later). There’s also the issue of poor audio at times. Yet, the movie does have a number of great qualities.

Maya’s terrific depiction of loneliness, isolation and wavering mental health is a testament to his versatility as an actor. This, coupled with the vocal contributions of Jonah Paull, is a great incentive to watch the movie to the end. Whilst the storyline has borrowed heavily from the likes of Castaway (talking to an inanimate object) and Bird Box (blindfold requirement to stay alive) the movie does have its own unique elements. The only material proof that there are monsters lurking is the purple goo, but Biggs’ conversations and drawings tease this out further. Director Dennis certainly works within his means. Rather than opting for poor, low budget effects, he utilises these aforementioned traits to convince us of the monster’s presence.

Summary

Overall, The One Survivor Of Conifer is worth a watch. However, if you’re expecting action or jump scares you’ll be severely disappointed. If you enjoy character-driven storylines that require you to use your imagination then definitely check it out!

Check out the movie’s IMDB page here

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The Candy Witch

There’s something about urban legends that tends to resonate with the masses. Whether this be the mystery, intrigue or the peril they usually portray, many of these chilling tales of folklore have been around for generations. Some have regional variations, whilst others are a mosaic of legends; bits and pieces of different stories brought together to show a terrifying new image. The Candy Witch seems to fall into this category.

With a tagline of ‘Sweet dreams… forever!’ The synopsis states;

Two ghost hunters are called upon by a distressed family who claim they are being tormented by an evil spirit known in their local town as The Candy Witch. But as the mystery of her curse is uncovered, surprising and sinister turns are discovered around The Candy Witch’s identity. Their hardest case yet, can they solve this evil curse before more people are killed by the demonic spirit?

The Candy Witch

Now before we go into the review let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, there are a number of similarities with Candyman, the biggest being the Candy Witch’s hook-like weapon of choice; a sharpened candy cane (ingenious right?) And also a few other themes from popular culture (turning lights on/off which conceals/reveals the spirit for example) However, as mentioned previously, some of the best urban legends are a mishmash of horror tales. Whilst The Candy Witch adopts a number of these traits, it doesn’t lose its individuality in terms of storyline, location and unique delivery.

The movie itself starts out strongly. There’s a brief introduction to the turmoil of the O’Neil family, followed by a bit of a prelude which introduces ghost hunters Reece (Jon Callaway) and Kat (Abi Casson Thompson). The prelude in particular provides us with some great visual effects which sets the standard for the rest of the movie.

Liar

In terms of acting, The Candy Witch is comprised of a stellar cast who all bring a unique aspect to the movie. Admittedly, there are a few shaky performances here and there, but overall it was very good. Whilst Callaway plays a decent part he doesn’t really dominate the screen in a lead role, but he is supported by a convincing performance from Thompson. However, the accolade for acting performance has to go to The Candy Witch herself (Kate Lush). Whilst there isn’t a great deal of speech on her part, Lush brings the character to life through expression, mannerisms and good old fashioned jump scares (helped tremendously by the amazing cinematography)

The only critique I have is the number of Americanisms adopted throughout the movie. I get that the director is trying to appeal to the US market, but it feels to have sacrificed a level of authenticity in doing so, with the majority of the movie being set in Surrey, England. If some of these were dropped (as well as the questionable American accents that popped up every now and then…) I feel the movie would sell just as good, if not better. However, saying that, I completely understand the reasoning behind the ‘Candy’ Witch as the ‘Sweet’ Witch (as most Brits would call it) doesn’t have the same effect!

The Candy Witch

Overall though The Candy Witch is a fun, compelling splatterfest filled with inventive confectionary-related kills. I thought it was a great film and a great premise for an antagonist. I feel if there was extra work done to give the Candy Witch more of an initial, impactive scare, it could easily pave the way for a new horror icon.

From writer-director Rebecca J.Matthews (Pet Graveyard), and starring Kate Lush, Abi Casson Thompson, Heather Jackson and Richard D Myers, The Candy Witch serves up sweet death June 9 on DVD and Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment. Check out the trailer below!

You can check out the IMDB link here

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With the release of their latest hit fast approaching, Uncork’d Entertainment have released the following Behind the Scenes footage of The Dinner Party!

Have you checked out our review yet? Click here to have a read

Synopsis

A budding playwright and his wife attend a dinner party hosted by wealthy, cultural elites, who have promised to bankroll the writer’s latest play to Broadway, but, in fact, have darker designs in mind for the couple.

Directed by Miles Doleac, the movie stars Alli Hart and Mike Mayhall as the unsuspecting couple. Also starring Bill Sage, Lindsay Anne Williams, Miles Doleac, Sawandi Wilson and Kamille McCuin.

The Dinner Party will hit theaters June 5 (TBC), be available on DVD and Digital from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, Fandango Now, Xbox, Dish Network, Direct TV and through local cable providers.