M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Four of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2013 and going through September 30, 2014. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2013 and September 30, 2014 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on April 25, 2014. Available on digital download, On Demand, and DVD/Blu-ray!


Directed by Caradog W. James
Written by Caradog W. James
Starring Toby Stephens, Caity Lotz, Denis Lawson, Sam Hazeldine, Pooneh Hajimohammadi, & John Paul Macleod
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here

Reading the description of THE MACHINE and even seeing the trailer didn’t really fill me with hope, but upon viewing the film I found it to be like MOON and DISTRICT 9 before it–one of those low-scoped sci fi films that is the reason behind this big new wave of sci fi inundating us in theaters at the moment. It’s too bad that this film is small- scale, as it is a film that deserves to be experienced by more people, but in this case I guess THE MACHINE will be one of those surprises you happen upon on cable and wonder why you haven’t heard much about.

The film stars BLACK SAILS’ Toby Stephens as Vincent, an expert in artificial intelligence who strives to make robots that think and reason for themselves, but his experiments seem to lack a human quality that prohibits the machines from going crazy from the flood of the other humanistic qualities he puts into them. Soon he meets the adorable Ava (played by ARROW’s Black Canary herself, Caity Lotz), a fellow programmer who seems to have developed a way to counteract this imbalance, but before Ava and Vincent can make the perfect AI, Ava is killed and Vincent decides to use Ava as the basis for his first perfect robot that he calls The Machine. But the corporate head of the company Vincent works for, played by Denis Lawson (that’s right, muther-effin’ Wedge from STAR WARS is in this film!) wants Ava for a perfect killing machine, of course, and that’s where Ava is torn between the peaceful designs of her creator and the deadly intentions of her owner.

Even that description makes this film seem like an EVE OF DESTRUCTION clone or some other sci fi B-movie you wouldn’t give two blinks to, but aside from fantastic acting from all of the cast, the film is visually stunning. From the glowing blue eyes of the robots to the Giger-esque yet unique sets and machinery this film used; THE MACHINE is a beauty to lay eyes on. Director James does things with a simple warehouse with water on the floor that are gorgeously lit and fantastically choreographed. While the old JJ Abrams lens flare is used quite a bit in this film, it’s done so only during the AI scenes, differentiating them from the gritty human scenes. From the brutal fight scenes as Ava murderizes scores of foes to the quiet ones of Vincent exhausting himself in the lab, every scene looks fantastic and original.

Little details like the aforementioned subtle blue-eyed glow in the robots and the fact that the robots talk to one another in a garbled kind of techspeak sets this film apart as not your typical sci fi joint. Robot gone amok stories are a dime a dozen, but the filmmakers’ eye, the actors’ talent, and the imagination of both those behind the effects and the camera make this one unique and full of surprises. If you are hungry for good sci fi, THE MACHINE is going to satisfy your appetite and then some.

THE 2013-2014 COUNTDOWN!


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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