Film Review: THE DARKNESS KEEPER, (Spain, Thriller/Suspense)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

 

A suspense thriller with a more family-friendly theme, THE DARKNESS KEEPER is a brilliant tale of a young girl who manages to trap the spirit of Darkness that haunts and frightens her. After the disappearance of her father, our young heroine is determined to keep the Darkness she traps from coming for anyone else she loves, like her mother. But her capture of the Darkness brings even more darkness to find her.

 

Wonderfully cast and performed and hosting wonderful special effects, what makes THE DARKNESS KEEPER really stand out is the depth of its many layers. It is at once, a family piece, a suspense thriller and the charming story of a child’s’ coming of age and coming to terms with the complex world around her. Shockingly bright and beautifully composed, THE DARKNESS KEEPER is a complex, delicate portrayal of childhood, fear, and acceptance that the world is never divided so clearly into black and white. A suspense thriller story with the twist of a surprisingly happy ending. A piece to please the heart.

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Film Review: STUDDED NIGHTMARE, (Canada, Horror)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

 

A true horror film which delivers in every classic sense, STUDDED NIGHTMARE recounts the tale of a couple who rehome a chair that belonged to a man who used it to hang himself. The chair seems innocent enough, but when used by the new owners it plagues them with horrific images and terrifying thoughts. Despite their attempts to get rid of their new item, it mysterious draws them back to it. But with each use of the chair, their visions get more extreme and their behaviors more deadly.

 

Terrifying and dramatic, this is a true horror- it delivers on shock, suspense and gore. Sharp, intense and undeniably creepy, it’s a stomach-churning story to thrill any horror-loving fan.

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Film Review: MY BODY, (Germany, Horror)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

 

MY BODY is a six-minute short coming out of Germany. Uncanny in an almost unknowable way, this is a film that chronicles the breakdown of one mans’ mind as he deals with a body in his living room. It’s up to the audience to decide if the bizarre visions and terrifying world of our hero is his strange reality or the disintegration of his own mind. Haunted by shadows and spiders that weave their way through his home, our hero must make a twisted peace with his circumstances, including coming to terms with the body in a bag in his home.

 

The peace is simply shot, although it boasts excellent performances and editing. it is nevertheless a chilling and skin-crawling film to watch, as it slowly dissects one man’s struggle with reality. A chilling, thrilling short indeed.

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Film Review: LIZ DRIVES, (Australia, Horror)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

An eight-minute gut-punch of a horror-thriller, LIZ DRIVES, is an Australian film by director Mia’Kate Russel. Liz drives with her sister (and a nurse) to a tense reunion with their mother when they pull over to get gum in a near-deserted road. But Liz’s sister is stopped by a distressed looking man who ushers her quickly into his car. Horrified as she watched the action play out from a distance, Liz sees a bloodied and screaming woman in the backseat of the man’s car- before he gets her sister in the vehicle and speeds off. Horrified Liz follows, but the car chase turns deadly when the other car veers off to avoid her and crashes.

When Liz rushes to the crashed vehicle, she finds the driver dead- along with her sister and the other woman in the back seat. The scene also reveals the other woman holding a screaming newborn. What Liz believed to be an abduction from afar, may very well have been her sister offering to help a terrified man trying to find assistance for his partner in labor.

 

This piece is a thriller on the surface- the fear and terror of the basic set up are palpable and tense. The gore associated with horror films is also present. But what is really terrifying isn’t the surface level plot- it is the implication. Real horror comes from the realization that our main characters assumptions of the situation may have lead to the untimely death of the young family.

Horror is born out of the gut-wrenching knowledge that the small infant screaming at the end of the film is now without parents- and Liz herself has a tense relationship with her own mother. Horror is created not by what has happened- but what will happen now. Liz has lost her sister, but she is also responsible for it. More subtly, there is a social message behind this piece. The main male character is a minority actor, and all other performers appear to be caucasian. All performances are excellent.  This specific choice in casting is notable as it cannot be divided from the ultimate message of the film. What appeared to Liz to be the abduction of a caucasian woman by a minority man, was, in reality, a young family. There are multiple levels of horror to LIZ DRIVES, which make is highly sophisticated for a film so short and so simple.

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Film Review: ANTICA, (Canada, Horror/Thriller)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

A slow burn of a horror film that takes its time to build suspense and heart-racing panic. ANTICA follows the journey of one, solitary man working a night shift where everything is slowly going wrong. Minor workplace injuries and misfortunes build tension as our hero gradually realises something isn’t right. As he continues his shift in an otherwise empty warehouse he begins to realize he might not be alone. What ensues is a creeping, tantalizing and utterly uncomfortably series of events that bring our hero to the terrifying realization that he may not be the only one skulking around on the job.

 

What is truly fascinating about this horror-thriller work, is that creates fear, unease and anxiety with no words, and only one performer. The editing, sound, lighting, and setting create the uncanniness that drives the terror for the audience just as much as the excellent performance by our hero. Another fantastic element of this film is the inversion of the classic horror tropes. So often our horror film sets up a scenario with beautiful but naive youngster heading off on a misguided adventure with ill-thought-out plans and a failure to read the warning signs. ANTICA doesn’t take this route at all- our hero is a middle-aged everyman, in a familiar setting and going about a well-known routine. It is more horrifying when one is endangered in the place they know than when they wander into the unknown and discover danger there.

 

ANTICA takes its time to terrify you, but it is well worth the wait.

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Film Review: SPEECHLESS, (USA, Horror/Thriller)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

 

We have all feared monsters in our closets as children. But what if the monster does not live in your closet- but outside your door, forever waiting to get in. SPEECHLESS tells the story of a young boy writing notes and passing them under the doorway from his room to the hallway- and getting answered back my a monster clawing to get in. Yet when the door finally opens, it is his mother who opens the door and refuses to believe his tales. Not only that but she chides him for his inability to grow up and stop being afraid of fairytales. Monsters, it seems, come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

 

SPEECHLESS has two areas of interest- one is its effective use of sound. From the scratching of the crayon on the paper, our hero uses to communicate- to the lack of noise he makes when he finally confronts the monster- the sound is a spine-tingling presence in the work. The other area of note is the subversion of the classic trope of the monster being in the child’s’ closet. Instead, this monster roams free outside the child’s’ bedroom- conceivably in the hall. Instead of the monster being trapped in the closet- the child is trapped in their bedroom. The inversion of the classic trope creates a new sense of panic for our hero, who has literally no way to escape his fate.

 

SPEECHLESS is a simple but incredibly effective horror film- for it generates fear on multiple levels- fear of the unknown, fear of the known, fear of not being believed- fear of sound and fear of silence. A chilling and thrilling short indeed.

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