Thursday 26 September 2013

The Cabining (2013)

(Online Screener Copy)

Directed by Steve Kopera

Written by Mike Kopera, Steve Kopera and David Silverman

Stars: Steve Kopera, Bo Kiester, Angela Relucio, Melissa Mars, Luce Rains,Richard Riehle, Michael Rademacher, Chuck Saale, Joesph Barone, Jackson Thompson, Alice Sherman.

Thanks so much to Bo Kiester for sending me a private screener link for The Cabining a spunky and sharp horror comedy from The Kopera brothers.

I wanted to start by reminding readers how tough it can be to strike a decent balance between horror and comedy without one side over shadowing the other or it purely falling flat on its face. I'm glad to say that for the most part this movie is a successful hybrid of the macabre and the mortally hilarious with just a few jokes falling flat. 

The story involves hapless duo Todd and Bruce two young guys desperate to make a movie - a horror movie no less. Fresh out of decent ideas and shunted at every turn, Todd is warned by his uncle 'give me a decent script within two weeks or lose my funding!' - harsh. So off Todd and Bruce go to a relaxation facility for artists (which happens to be a creepy resort in the middle of nowheresville) to gain a better perspective on their film. 

Soon after their arrival Todd and Bruce's new companions as well as employees of the resort start to meet ther grisly ends by a number of apparent accidents (banana skin leading to impalement is one to watch out for!) and this likeable pairing may end up six feet under before they get a single script idea committed to paper!!!

This film is dead set to please fans of wacky horror comedy's such as Tucker and Dale Vs Evil (although please take note that The Cabining is very much it's own film) and it's as maliciously entertaining as it is very very funny. Two things make this movie work so well and that's excellent writing and some brilliant comedic performances. It may be cliche to herald Mike Kopera as 'Todd' and Bo Kiester as 'Bruce' as the stand outs but hey, they were cast as the leads for a reason! Mikes portrayal of the down beaten, luckless Todd is pitch perfect and some of his deadpan lines made me laugh out loud. He's an intelligent guy in a bastard of a situation and this is so well conveyed albeit in a hilarious manner. In contrast Bo Kiester throws himself into the role of bumbling, insanely enthusiastic Bruce with gusto - the type of guy you could love but just want to strangle in equal measure. That said I really did not pick up on any poor performances, everyone did a great job in their varied and offbeat roles.

You will also note an exceptional knowledge of the slasher sub genre from the filmmakers as Todd and Bruce discuss making their movie and what element to include. This knowledge is also evident in the movie itself with lots of horror movie tropes thrown in and some sly winks and nods. I can tell this film was a blast to make. 

I would LOVE to see a follow up movie with the same characters in a new adventure I think there's much scope for a series here. In the meantime when you get your chance to catch The Cabining you need to take it! Find out more about the movie over at Facebook and it's official website!

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Among Friends (2012)

Directed by Danielle Harris

Written by Alyssa Lobit

Stars: Christopher Backus, Jennifer Blanc, AJ Bowen, Dana Daurey, Brianne Davis, Kane Hodder, Kamala Jones, Alyssa Lobit, Chris Meyer

Release: August 27 2013, DVD (USA)

Among Friends marks scream queen Danielle Harris' directorial debut of a feature length movie and boy was it worth waiting for. My DVD finally popped through the door last week and due to other commitments I had to delay watching it just slightly - until now.

The basic premise of the movies sees a group of old friends attending an 80s themed murder mystery party at their fairly new friend Bernadette's house. Cue for Danielle and co to go crazy with the costumes, think bright colours, big hair and vivacious make up. Another friend of the group, Lily, is strangely absent but not letting this stop the fun the group are sent off to search the house for clues by Bernadette. Upon their rendezvous back in the dining room, the gang hit the drink and oh man will they wish they hadn't. Soon they are all paralysed from the waist down and our hostess from hell Bernadette has them just where she wants them; helpless and stuck at the dinner table. It seems Bernie (don't call her that to her face!) isn't all that she seems and has building up a psychotic personal vendetta against the friends whom she has learnt to be vicious, lying, cheating backstabbing...and sometimes worse. Bernadette wants to play a few party games with the gang and we are certainly not talking pass the parcel. As secret video footage is presented to the group, exposing all manner of indiscretions, Bernadette uses a cruel set of rules in order to maim her 'friends' in horrifying ways such as scalping and hacking away at fingers. 

I was really impressed at the performances in Among Friends. I firstly wanted to apologise to Kamala Jones as I rather ignorantly wrote her character off as the weakest of the bunch after the first few scenes. Not at all fair of me and hell was I proven wrong. The character of Sarah was 100% my favorite by the end of the film, she wasn't a perfect person by any means (who is?) but when she really starts to come into her own she shows a resilience and courage as well as humanity that perhaps doesn't exist or isn't seen from the others. That said the fact that Jules (played by the stunning Brianne Davis) is off her head on drugs for the films length may be an indicator that she could have acted differently if she had a clear head. Who knows, either way Brianne plays Jules to the hilt, a fun, wacky and definitely conflicted character. All I will say regarding Jennifer Blanc is that she gives a wicked performance (that's not me calling her acting bad by the way) watch the film and you will get my drift. AJ Bowen as the supposedly clean former drug addict Adam gives a squirm inducing performance as he nervously looks around the room for a good deal of the film before a dark secret involving himself sets the scene for the films most grotesque attack. Special mention to writer Alyssa Lobits portrayal of Bernadette, a woman so far off the deep end its unreal. Alyssa makes an ever smiling, pretty lady in a great dress an absolute monster and I loved every minute of it. 

I know there has been some disappointment for some with the ending or lack thereof  but personally I loved the final shot before the end credits. I thought it worked really well especially since the basic lesson there is that when salvation is in your grasp...Keep your mouth SHUT. The freeze frame also worked wonders for me and although, fair enough, part of me wanted to see exactly what happened next I also enjoyed the ambiguity of it all. Another tip...stay around for the full end credits....

A film not without its flaws, this is a first time effort and perhaps the film could have been a bit longer and some more secrets exposed about the friends would have certainly elevated the motives of Bernadette to a more believable level. However on the plus side, Among Friends makes for the perfect Friday night viewing; its fun, mean spirited and shows a great deal of promise for Danielle Harris directorial career, something very much highlighted by a drug induced scene featuring Jules. Pick up a copy right HERE and knock yourself out.