Writer / Director Darryl Shaw sent me an E-mail about his one independent full-length motion picture, that he made a few years back, in hopes of getting some attention for a "re-release" ...as well he should as this film is worth being seen. An engineer is fooling around with androids in an attempt to recreate a dinner party which marked the loss of the love of his life and he wants to figure out what he did wrong. But the androids are not cooperating. On a $30k budget, Darryl has managed to create a film that's well above average for that price range. The mostly unknown actors overplay their caricatures perfectly, the dialogue is sharp and full of quotable lines ("I fu*king hate fishing, Ermie"), Jeff Sinasac plays the lead character with complete seriousness as the world around him is collapsing into chaos, the story is full and keeps the viewer wondering what's going to happen next. Low-budget, psychotronic filmmaking at it's best, this film is a campy, gore fest that is fun, entertaining and manages quite a few giggles along the way. Bravo!
Rotten Tomatoes = 48 / 40
Personal = 6.3
A young boy goes to a secluded medical center in an attempt to cure his auto-immune disorder that prevents him from living outside a sterile, isolated environment. The trick for this film is to get to the end. Up to that point, I was getting increasingly frustrated; the contrived practice of parents dismissing everything their child says due to medication, nightmares, hallucinations ...that gets really old. There were some other seemingly obvious problems, as well. But once the
is revealed, it all makes sense. Needed more impact but not bad.
One Cut of the Dead 
aka Kamera wo tomeruna! Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 82
Personal = 5.9
A goofy, Japanese, gimmick film that had its ups and downs. The first 37 mins is a single shot short film of a crew making a zombie movie when real zombies show up. Then the film jumps back in time and we see this crew preparing to present the aforementioned film live on TV. Now we get to watch the slapstick antics of the crew trying to pull this off. Technically, this was all phenomenally well choreographed and fun to watch ...especially the opening film which was very entertaining. What follows really depends on your sense of humor, which I found humorous but not as funny as most, I guess.
November Criminals 
Rotten Tomatoes = 0 / 23
Personal = 5.3
Two high school students deal with the murder of a friend while in the midst of starting a romantic relationship. Contrary to the trailer, this film is about the relationship. In fact, the murder, and subsequent investigation, is simply used as a tool to create tension within this new relationship. It's predictable and it's never given any priority status within the story. The two leads are cute, extremely likable and the story is honest and real. In that, they did a fantastic job. But, I expected a murder mystery thriller and got a romance that will be appearing on the Lifetime channel soon, me thinks.
Dark Light 
SPOILER WARNING: Trailer details practically the entire movie in 2 mins. Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 6.3
After moving into her late mother's home in the country, a woman discovers there are monsters in the walls ...and they've taken her daughter. There are no morons in this film, which is a big plus in my book. Everyone acted intelligently and normally and the brisk pace made it fairly good entertainment despite it being weak in other areas. Beyond the unique, albeit absurd premise, there's nothing new here and no real surprises but is was competently constructed, played out well and had a couple jump scares that practically knocked me out of my chair. Enjoyable entertainment, if you're not too critical.
Rotten Tomatoes = 36 / 81
Personal = 5.9
A girl, living in poverty with a criminally, abusive boyfriend, is recruited to be an assassin for Russia. This is an exciting film with a lot of problems. We have over-the-top fight sequences ala
with her taking out 40 guys at a time in highly choreographed action sequences which seemed at odds with the serious espionage drama being established. Don't get me wrong ...they were great. Just felt like i was watching two different movies. Also, Sasha Luss' performance as Anna was void any charisma or personality making her, and by association, the film, somewhat flat and lifeless. Good, but not great.
The Divine Fury 
aka Saja Rotten Tomatoes = 36 / 90
Personal = 6.6
An MMA hero, who rejected God as a child when his father was killed, finds himself the central figure in a war between an exorcist and a black bishop. Although somewhat long-winded, this was a compelling story with extremely rich and likable characters. As such, it's firmly character driven with less scares and action than you'd expect but still very effective with what they had. No surprises with everything playing out just as you'd expect but certainly worth a watch and, with a modicum of violence, and practically no bad language, fairly suitable for young teens ...if they don't scare too easily.
The Super 
aka Saja Rotten Tomatoes = 40 / 68
Personal = 5.4
An ex-cop, now straddled with taking care of two daughters due to the death of his wife, takes a job as a super in a major hotel just as guests are mysteriously disappearing. The characters in this film really don't have much charisma. As such, it's awfully hard to generate any concern of empathy for them. That, and a complete lack of any humor in the film, makes the whole thing rather dark and lifeless. Its saving grace is a great twist that really got things going ...although in retrospect, I probably should have seen it coming. Overall, generally entertaining but nothing special.