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HORROR

Devil’s Gate (2017)

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Set in the small town of Devil’s GateDevil's Gate, North Dakota, the film examines the disappearance of a local woman and her young son. FBI Special agent Daria Francis helps the local sheriff search for answers. Partnering with a deputy, they track down the missing woman’s husband and find that nothing is as it seems.

Genre : Horror/SF
Country : USA/Canada

Cast :
Milo Ventimiglia : Jackson Pritchard
Amanda Schull : FBI Special agent Daria Francis
Shawn Ashmore : Colt

Director :
Clay Staub

My opinion on “Devil’s Gate”

“You both need to clear off my property,
or as god is my witnessI will not be responsible for what happens!
Colt, If she goes in there Maria and Jonah are as good as dead.”

An onrushing hot rod that suddenly breaks down near an awful looking, abandoned farm with lots of barbed wire and warning signs. There are squeaky doors and you can hear a howling wind while the person with car trouble is looking for someone who can help him. And then he experiences that awful moment. Something he did not see coming. I immediately sat straight up in my chair and expected an intense horror. Especially when the title of the film is “Devil’s gate”. The poor, dilapidated farmstead and the desolate environment immediately reminded me of “The Texas chainsaw massacre”. A no-man’s-land where a psychopathic, crazy family terrorizes and kills lost tourists so they can brew a hearty one-pan meal afterwards. To my disappointment, the movie title turned out to be the name of the town where the story takes place.

Devil's Gate

Lot of diversity in this movie.

To be honest, the first part of the movie was tremendously fascinating. A missing woman and her son. The F.B.I. Agente Daria (Amanda Schull) who, together with the local policeman Colt (Shawn Ashmore), investigates the disappearance of both persons. And the downright suspicious acting Jackson Pritchard (Milo Ventimiglia) where the two enforcers of the law finally arrive. And when the two law enforcement officers make a rather disconcerting discovery in the Jackson cellar, the film will take a completely different turn. That’s the biggest plus of this film. The surprise effect is huge. You are repeatedly misled. One moment you expect a sort of “Silence of the Lambs” serial killer scenario. Then you come to the conclusion that this film has an “X-Files” vibe. Such a movie you’d come across on some SyFy channel.

Devil's Gate

Great images. Weak story.

Unfortunately, the quality of this indie SF drops as the film progresses. I wasn’t interested in the religious aspect. The “an eye for an eye” principle was rather laughable. Despite the sometimes high-quality special effects and generally not so bad acting (with even a cameo of the Star Trek veteran Jonathan Frakes), this film didn’t really appeal to me. It seemed as if a whole arsenal of ideas and proposals were being collected and subsequently they didn’t know anymore which direction it should go. In the end it felt as if I had watched a pilot episode of the umpteenth television series. Devil’s gate” is such a film where the story doesn’t really match the footage when it comes to quality. Unfortunately. Because it had potential.

My rating 4/10
Links : IMDB

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HORROR

Prey | 20th Century Studios | Hulu

The origin story of the Predator in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Naru, a skilled female warrior, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.

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Genre:

Action, Drama, Horror

Release Date:

20222 (Hulu)

Director:

Dan Trachtenberg

Cast:

Amber Midthunder, Dane DiLiegro, Stefany Mathias

Plot Summary:

The origin story of the Predator in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Naru, a skilled female warrior, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.

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HORROR

Choose or Die – A Miss For Netflix

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Netflix’s home page suggestions can always be hit or miss, and unfortunately its latest release ‘Choose or Die’ falls into the category of the latter. Captivated by Asa Butterfield on the poster, I was curious to see what this film had to offer and begrudgingly it didn’t have a lot.

We follow Kayla, a broke student who has a lot to deal with in terms of her family situation and being the sole provider for herself and her mum. She then stumbles upon a retro video game from the 80s which forces her to choose and ultimately leads to various chain reactions of horrific events involving people close to her.

Lola Evans as Kayla and Asa Butterfield as Isaac

The premise of the film sounds interesting, however, I think it swings and misses quite early into the film’s first act. Eddie Marsan sets the tone and trail of interest for Choose or Die as we are introduced to this sadistic game and the chain of events it will inevitably pursue. 

Choose or Die doesn’t make it easy to empathise with its characters, finding any connection to Kayla or Isaac was difficult. This ‘are they aren’t they’ subplot lingers throughout the film’s narrative but adds nothing to the overarching story. The supporting characters, such as Thea and Laura, are much more interesting and genuinely have you intrigued as to what decisions they will make.

What stood out to me was the violent and gore-like scenes of 80s horrors, with some pretty good stomach churning special effects make-up. Those intense scenes, one involving a rat, had me genuinely glued to the screen, anticipating what may happen next. Choose or Die’s strongest component are the early moral decisions Kayla has to make and ultimately demonstrate Meakin’s passion for the horror genre.

Ioanna Kimbook as Grace in Choose or Die, seen here in the diner in one of the more grotesque decisive moments for Kayla

The way in which this film is shot, felt very “student-esque” with its lackluster camera movements and setting. The set design lacked little depth, except for Isaac’s room which is full of detail, therefore making the world feel small and less three dimensional. An element which pulled me out of this cinematic experience, was the fact that this was evidently filmed in the United Kingdom, and the cast contained predominantly a lot of British actors doing an American accent so I wasn’t fully immersed into this world. 

Meakins clearly uses his passion for the horror genre to influence this film’s dark tone, from it’s leading characters’ moral compass as well as the gorey visuals that inevitably come with those decisions. The whole world feels cold and derelict, be it the place in which Kayla cleans or the housing estate of which she lives in, this is an unwelcoming world that no-one wants to comfort you in. 

Choose or Die isn’t a film that will stick out as one that defined 2022, however I’m sure someone will take something away from this film, be it’s reference to 80s gaming or the violent and graphic elements that the director is clearly passionate about. 

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HORROR

Off Season – To Premiere Exclusively on Shudder

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Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium streaming service for horror, thriller and the supernatural, announced that OFFSEASON will be available exclusively to stream on the platform starting on Friday, June 10, 2022. As a Shudder exclusive, the platform will be the only subscription service that will carry the film in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Upon receiving a mysterious letter that her mother’s gravesite has been vandalized, in OFFSEASON, Marie (Donahue) quickly returns to the isolated offshore island where her late mother is buried. When she arrives, she discovers that the island is closing for the offseason with the bridges raised until Spring, leaving her stranded. One strange interaction with the local townspeople after another, Marie soon realizes that something is not quite right in this small town. She must unveil the mystery behind her mother’s troubled past in order to make it out alive.

Check out the film’s trailer below and read our review HERE as it debuted during SXSW 2021

Written and directed by Mickey Keating (Psychopaths), OFFSEASON stars Jocelin Donahue (Doctor Sleep), Joe Swanberg (The Rental, “Easy”), Richard Brake (3 From HellMandy), Melora Walters (The Pale Door, “Pen15”) and Jeremy Gardner (After MidnightThe Mind’s Eye).

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