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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MOVIE REVIEW: GRACE & GRIT (Thriller/Drama)

Played at the August 2017 FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival to rave reviews.

by Kierston Drier

A dramatic and emotional roller coaster of a film, Grace and Grit directed by Olivia Applegate and Blair Bomar, is a strong cinematic endeavour. Following one woman who battles with two different personas inside her, we see the passionate internal battle of torn emotional soul. Our heroine stands at the crossroads of a broken and abusive relationship, fighting within herself as to stay or leave. Stay, and attempt to turn something broken into something beautiful, or leave fueled with anger and fury. A detailed portrait of human complexity, this piece will make you feel and think.

 

The actresses who play Grace (Blair Bomar), Grit  (Olivia Grace Applegate) and the “Woman” (Kelly Frye) are to be commended for their strong, tense and compelling performances. Superbly cast, the performances alone make this film a must-see.

 

Grace and Grit is an emotional gut-punch, because the real struggle of the film is not the relationship the woman has with her abusive partner, but the relationship she has with herself. Her equally torn sides each speak with their own twisted but compelling logic. It is hard to choose a side, and hard to look away as our heroine is swept up in the emotional chaos within her. Striking, bold and emotionally ambitious, Grace and Grit is not to be missed.

GRACE & GRIT, 3min, USA, Thriller/Drama
Directed by Olivia ApplegateA twisted celebration of me, myself and I.

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Film Review: MIDNIGHT WALK (Australia) Thriller

Played at the November 2016 Best of Under 5 Minute FEEDBACK Film Festival.

MIDNIGHT WALK, 4min., Australia, Thriller
Directed by Mathilde Nocquet

Midnight, hidden by sunglasses and a badass vinyl disguise, a mysterious brunette is looking for her victim. Plunged into darkness, a car park is the stage of her next murder.

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

A highly stylized, hyper-glam look at fashion at any cost, MIDNIGHT WALK is genre-splicing experiments in theatrics. Part comedy, part thriller, part How-To video, our hero, the gorgeous, fashion savvy Midnight, armored in outfit that could be found on any high-end sensationalized fashion-art show prowls and underground garage, following an unsuspecting victim.

 

Despite large look-at-me visuals, this film has a simple and unstated backdrop, no doubt to accentuate the dramatic and fantastical heroine.

 

MIDNIGHT WALK has some exceptional scenographic and visual design. It’s genre is completely unto itself, being an exceptionally unique piece with a utterly intoxicating and original voice, it straddles several cinematic areas.

 

The twist at the end- the goal our murderous fashionesta has for stalking her victim is worth every minute of this bright escape-ist cinematic romp.

 

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Film Review: DEADLY VIEW (Ireland) Mystery Thriller

Played at the November 2016 Best of Under 5 Minute FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERDEADLY VIEW, 3min., Ireland, Thriller/Mystery
Directed by Malcolm Willis

Just before dawn, a dark suspicious man drives to a desolate location where he carries a large black bag containing an unknown object, together with a spade, from the boot.

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

DEADLY VIEW will trap you instantly with its’ dark, ominous pathetic fallacy. Set against ominous clouds, a mysterious brooding hero drives high up into a secluded mountain. Once at the top of a high peak he pulls something large and bulky out of his trunk- something covered in a thick black garbage bag. Worried? Me too. The beautiful Irish landscape, from which our film comes from, carries some specific weight in this piece, as our hero takes out tools and begins to dig, clank and hack his way in the earth.

 

So the surprise at the end of this punchy three minute piece is truly delightful, when the man finishes his work and takes a seat in the mountain top at his new, recently installed swivel chair. He spins on the mountains, utterly free, with the joy of a child at Christmas. The world he belongs to instantly brightens.

 

A special nod must be made to the beauty of the landscape and to the well chosen actor who can play both dark and sinister, and joyfully child-like. Also the smooth execution of a the classic bait-and-switch which issues delight from any audience. This lovely, humor-fixed short definitely speaks to anyone familiar with the Irish landscape- certainly a view to die for.

 

 

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Short Film Movie Review: ARTIFICIAL (20min, Spain, Sci-Fi/Thriller)

ARTIFICIAL was the winner of Best Cinematography at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in January 2016. 

ARTIFICIAL, 20min, Spain, Sci-Fi/Thriller
Directed by Luis Espinosa

A man goes to a job interview. What he doesn’t know is that he has already been selected. CORPSA offers to pay him 80,000 Euros if he agrees to be cloned. But more than just a lot of money depends on his decision.

Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco:

I’ve always found Science Fiction to be a tricky genre in the film industry. People seem to either love it or hate it most of the time. I’ve never been sure if that’s because of how expensive it is to produce a good sci-fi film, or because people have a hard time wrapping their heads around them, but the genre often provokes a lot of mixed reviews. That’s the only explanation I could find for the audience’s reaction to Artificial. During moderation people seemed a bit at a loss for what to say about their experience, whereas I wasn’t sure how anyone could have helped but fall in love with it.

Harkening back to a recent Indie sci-fi favourite, Ex-Machina, David P. Sanudo manages to simplify Alex Garland’s original concept and cause an even bigger impact. By condensing the films’ twists and turns into a smaller time span, Sanudo, the mastermind behind Artificial, keeps the audience constantly on their toes. 20 minutes pass by in an instant as you constantly try to figure out what’s actually happening and then get slammed with more shocking information just as you think you’ve figured it all out.

Connoisseurs of Spanish cinema will easily recognize Aitor Mazo and be disappointed to hear this was his final performance. Suffice to say hiswork in this short film was no less impressive than those of his blockbusters. It’s heartwarming to know the famous star passed away after such a great contribution to independent cinema, but it’s always sad to lose such a valuable component to the International film scene.

Fans of Spanish cinema and science fiction alike will appreciate this film for its simplicity in the face of such complex, and deeply philosophical concepts. Sanudo’s use of the ever familiar job interview setting also appeals to a less tech obsessed audience and provides an interesting fantasy relief to a commonly nerve-racking situation. With a thought provoking storyline, excellent performances and amazing production quality, Artificial certainly deserves every award it has won. Hats off to David Sanudo and his team for such an impressive final tribute to one of Spain’s cinema greats.

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Movie Review: I Confess (1953) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

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I CONFESS MOVIE POSTER
I CONFESS, 1953
Classic Movie Review

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Starring Montgomery Cliff, Anne Baxter, Karl Malden
Review by Steve Painter

SYNOPSIS:

Refusing to give into police investigators’ questions of suspicion, due to the seal of confession, a priest becomes the prime suspect in a murder.

REVIEW:

Alfred Hitchcock was notorious for loathing actors. He once famously remarked that actors should be “treated like cattle.” His least favorite kind of actors were those who used “The Method” technique pioneered by Stanislavski and taught by Lee Strasberg at The Actors’ Studio. Despite his dislike for method actors, one of Hitchcock’s best films starred one of the greatest Method technicians. The movie was I Confess (1953), and its star was Montgomery Clift.

I Confess is not one of Hitchcock’s well known movies. This is hard to believe considering that the cast includes Clift, Anne Baxter and Karl Malden. The story is also top notch. Its premise involves the binding nature of the confession on Catholic priests.

The story begins as the church’s groundskeeper, Otto, happens to get in an argument one night with a man, Villette, who he gardens for on the weekends. Otto wants Villette’s money, but the he won’t give it to him, so Otto kills Villette.

The only witnesses to the murder are two young girls who say that they saw a man wearing a cassock walking from the scene. A small note about the cassock needs to be inserted here. Not only does the cassock play a large role in the movie’s story, but it played an even bigger role in the movie’s filming. Quebec was the only city Hitchcock could find where priests still wore cassocks. So, the cast and crew shot most of the movie on location in Quebec.

Feeling remorse, Otto heads to the confessional. There Father Logan, played by Clift, hears Otto confess to the murder of the rich lawyer Villette. Of course, being a priest who is bound to keep confessions a secret, Father Logan can not go to the police.

The suspense becomes enhanced when it is learned that Father Logan has become the prime suspect in the murder. Hitchcock has created his trademark “innocent man accused” situation. He then ratchets up the suspense like only he can.

We learn that before becoming a priest, Father Logan had been a war hero who had fallen for Anne Baxter’s character, Ruth. The two were lovers before World War II, but Logan never wrote her during the war. When he returns he finds Ruth. The two spend the day together and get caught in a rainstorm, while on an island. They spend the night in a gazebo. In the morning, a man appears and he asks Logan why he spent the night with a married woman.

From here on the man, who happens to be Villette, begins to blackmail Ruth. When Father Logan comes to view the body the day after hearing Otto’s confession, he spots Ruth who tells him that she was being blackmailed by Villette.

Karl Malden’s Inspector Larrue sees the two talking and begins to investigate their relationship. He figures out that Ruth still loves Logan and that she was being blackmailed by Villette. Putting two and two together he accuses Logan of the murder. The climax of the movie occurs in the courtroom where all the major players are. Otto sits in his seat, smugly knowing that Logan will not break his vow. Ruth knows Logan is innocent, but can’t provide any proof. Worst of all, Logan knows who the real killer is, but can’t say anything about it.

I will stop the plot summary here, as I don’t want the end of the movie to be ruined. This great story is also filmed brilliantly. The murder is pointed out to us during one of the best opening sequences Hitchcock ever did. This movie should really be on more lists of the best movies made by Alfred Hitchcock. It is a worthwhile watch for any fan of Hitchcock, Baxter or Clift.

 

 

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Movie Review: MARNIE (1964) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

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MARNIE, 1964
Horror/Thriller Movie Review
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Starring Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery
Review by Steven Painter

7.2/10 IMDB fan rating

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SYNOPSIS:

Mark marries Marnie although she is a habitual thief and has serious psychological problems, and tries to help her confront and resolve them

REVIEW:

There are many gems Alfred Hitchcock made that do not get the fanfare other movies of his have gotten. From the 1940s, Foreign Correspondent is underappreciated. In the 1950s it is Strangers on a Train. In the 1960s that movie is Marnie (1964).

Marnie is Hitchcock at his psychological best and probably the last great movie of his career. It is certainly the final movie of an era. It would be the last time Hitch worked with cinematographer Robert Burks, who would die soon after finishing the picture from a heart attack, and legendary composer Bernard Herrmann. The two had artistic differences.

The bad thing about this is that when Hitchcock had a difference of opinion with someone – they left the Hitchcock production company. It happened to Ingrid Bergman and it happened during this movie to Ian Hunter. The screenwriter had worked on several Hitchcock pictures, but disapproved of the rape scene in the novel version of Marnie. He voiced his displeasure over the scene to Hitch and Hitch severed relations with the screenwriter. It was only later that Hunter learned the only reason why Hitch wanted to make the movie was because of the rape scene.

Marnie can be looked at as the last great Alfred Hitchcock movie. It is a fitting tribute to a career that spanned more than four decades up to this point.

Tippi Hedren returns to the screen as Margaret Edgar, also known as Marnie. The original choice for the role was Grace Kelly, but at this time she was Princess of Monaco and it would have looked bad if a princess was playing a kleptomaniac. So Hedren got the role of the psychologically confused kleptomaniac.

Using different names and appearances, Marnie moves from job to job, stealing money from her employers before moving on to another town. One job she takes is with publisher Mark Rutland, played wonderfully by Sean Connery. Mark happens to recognize Marnie’s features from a previous business encounter. He becomes fascinated by her and tries to move in on her romantically. She ignores him as the only love she has ever felt in her life has come from stealing money.

She steals money from Mark’s company and makes a dash for it. Mark discovers the loss and balances it. He then takes off to find out who this wild girl really is. He tracks Marnie down at some stables she frequents, as horseback riding is one of her escapes. He then uses blackmail as a technique to get her to marry him.

The wonderful idea of marriage backfires on Mark as Marnie is cold to any sort of sexual advances. When Mark forces himself on her during their honeymoon, in Hitchcock’s favorite scene, she attempts suicide.

Unable to understand Marnie and still fascinated by her, Mark investigates her past. He ends up bringing Marnie to her mother, Bernice. The mother and daughter have always had a frigid relationship. In one of the best climaxes in all of Hitchcock, it is revealed in stunning detail why Marnie is so cold sexually, why she and her mother express little love for each other and why she despises the color red. The atmosphere around this movie is what makes it great. Credit must be given to Robert Burks for creating the camera angles and photographing exactly what Hitchcock had in his mind when reading the novel written by Winston Graham. Credit has also got to be paid to Bernard Herrmann for his magnificent score. It was the last time the two would work together, but it is probably the best overall score Herrmann gave to Hitchcock. The Vertigo and Psycho ones stand out, but Marnie has a score that perfectly expresses through music the atmosphere on screen.

Marnie is a complex movie. I could go on for paragraphs and paragraphs about all the little interesting things contained in it, but I’ll leave you to discover that for yourself. Robin Wood, the film theorist, proclaimed that if you don’t like Marnie then you aren’t a fan of Hitchcock. Then he went a step further and said if you don’t like Marnie then you aren’t a fan of movies. I fully agree with his statements.

 

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