THE CORRIDOR (2011) Review

Directed by Evan Kelly
Written by Josh MacDonald
Starring Matthew Amyotte, Nigel Bennett, Stephen Chambers, David Patrick Flemming, James Gilbert, Glen Matthews

Find out when and where to see this film on THE CORRIDOR website!

There are a lot of films out there today dissecting what it means to be a man in this day and age. From buddy comedies like STEPBROTHERS to dramatic feats of cinema like FIGHT CLUB, modern man has been cast as nothing more than a grown up child—gorging themselves on life’s treasures and throwing tantrums and acting out when life serves up lemons. THE CORRIDOR looks at similar themes as a quintet of college friends get together ten years after one of them has a mental breakdown. For much of the movie, the film focuses on the initial event and the power of the relationships these men share despite the fact that they haven’t seen each other in years. Then for the latter half of the film, the focus is on completely and utterly annihilating those relationships. Though it’s obviously filmed on the budgetary low, it’s this attention to the rise and fall of this relationship between these men that makes THE CORRIDOR one of the most terrifying new films of the year.

A trip to a cabin in the woods seems like a good idea for these five guys. It’s a chance to shoot the shit, play football, watch football, ride snow mobiles, complain about the wife and kids, and pound brewskis. Director Evan Kelly is patient with tossing out the weirdness right off the bat and instead focuses on the strengths and insecurities of these guys, but not in a way that makes it obvious that these insecurities will be played upon later in the film. And these guys are a pretty likable bunch, making it easy to forget this is a horror film, but when the crew stumble across a strange energy field in the middle of the woods, the viewer is quickly reminded that this is a horror film.

The horrifying last portion of THE CORRIDOR mixes modern pop psychology with the darkest of humor as these men are reduced to monsters tearing each other apart. The film not only scares but makes you think about the fragility and maybe the futility of male relations by showing man at its most animalistic. Not the feel good film of the year, for sure, but THE CORRIDOR definitely is a small indie film that packs a wallop with an ending that is both heartfelt and melancholy all at once. THE CORRIDOR is making its way around the festival circuit. Find out when and where to see this film on THE CORRIDOR website!

NIGHTBEAST (1982) Review

Directed by Don Dohler
Written by Don Dohler
Starring Tom Griffith, Jamie Zemarel, Karen Kardian, George Stover, Don Liefert

Don’t get me wrong. This is a bad movie. But sometimes, bad movies can be so bad they travel around the world of bad and somehow end up being kind of good. I’m sure some older readers will remember this 80’s schlocker about an alien who crash lands in a country town and disintegrates anyone and everyone in his path for no apparent reason. I’m sure there might even be some who would admit to being scared of the creature in this film. If NIGHTBEAST wasn’t on MSK3K, it should have. It has all the makings of a candidate for the show. Even if it wasn’t on that show, NIGHTBEAST is the type of movie to watch with buddies and beer and ridicule the hell out of. Troma is sponsoring the re-release of NIGHTBEAST with some slick new packaging and a pretty clean transfer. Though some scenes are pretty dark and grainy still, I guarantee it’s the best this film has ever looked.

Amateur acting, cheap effects, and a sloppy script doesn’t help NIGHTBEAST. The actors in this film deliver lines like they’re reading mattress tags. Tom Griffith plays Sheriff Cinder, who battles the beast without an ounce of muscle and a grey afro more akin to Fredric Douglas than William Katt despite his Caucasian-ness. Lisa Kent, played by the mulletted Karin Kardian, shares a love scene with the sheriff in the latter half of the movie that is more frightening than all of the alien attacks combined. Though their performances are wooden, I was morbidly fascinated by these two actors. The rest of the cast shouldn’t waste time picking out an Oscar outfit either, but it’s the amateur delivery of the lines that makes this film all the more appealing to me. I’m just sick that way, I guess.

NIGHTBEAST does have some fun moments of gore as the beast doesn’t just disintegrate his prey, he likes to rip appendages and heads off as well. There are some gory shots of goodness in this one, celebrating the scope director / writer Don Dohler was going for. The script basically follows the structure of JAWS in that folks are trying to evacuate the town due to the menace. A few adventurous types and a few stubborn and drunk ones decide to stay behind. Of course, they meet the beast who is pretty impressive in pictures, but it’s obvious fairly early on that it’s just a hairless ape mask repainted and sporting a glued on set of uneven teeth. All in all, NIGHTBEAST is drive-in, beer-swilling, audience-heckling fun. Don’t go in expecting to be scared. But if you’re looking to laugh at a senseless schlocker, NIGHTBEAST will fit the bill nicely.

DAWNING (2009) Review

Directed by Gregg Holtgrewe
Written by Gregg Holtgrewe & Matthew Wilkins
Starring David Coral, Jonas Goslow, Christine Kellogg-Darrin, Daniel Jay Salmen, & Najarra Townsend
Find out more info on this film here and more on Facebook here!

DAWNING is one of those horror films I love to see. It’s a low budgeteer relies on smart writing in order to amp up scares and not necessarily make it obvious that the film was done on the cheap. While there is actually one location this film is shot in, it’s never obvious or restricting. In that, DAWNING is a successful indie horror film, done for cheap but in a way that never broadcasts it.

DAWNING centers around a brother and sister, Chris and Aurora, as they return to their family home after an extended period of time away. The family has its demons. Father is a recovering alcoholic and mother seems to have left the family for an extended period of time. The vacation at the cabin in the woods starts out pleasant, but it is filled with tension. No one of the family wants to talk about the difficulties they’ve inflicted upon each other to spoil the pleasantries, but when the family dog is found dead, emotions flare and the demons just below the surface start to show themselves. Soon a stranger shows up to the home telling the family that there is something evil in the woods and that no one will survive the night.

Director Gregg Holtgrewe does a great job of building tension in DAWNING. Though some of the actors fall a bit short in delivering the performances required for such a focused character piece, the story does flow pretty well and by the time the stranger shows up, I did care for the family enough to hope they came out alive. Though this film is admirable in that it worked well within its budgetary restraints, I found the ending of DAWNING to be frustrating. Though I won’t reveal it here, the lack of resolution or clear definition of the threat out in the woods in the end, though creative, left me wanting a bit more. That said, filmmakers who attempt to make films way out of their budgetary restraints (ahem, I’m talking to you SyFy filmmakers of DINOSHARK and the like) could learn a lot from what Holtgrewe does with so little in DAWNING. A dark woods and some patience proves to be a while lot more intense than a badly CGI-ed shark any old day.