IT CAME FROM BELOW gives us a new spin to an old favourite, the swamp creature. When Jesse (Purvis) and Sam’s (Watkins) father dies, they decide to find answers about a creature that their father believed lived in the caves. With two friends, Joanna (Banks) and Marty (Taplin), the group set about learning the truth.
Our hero of the story, Jesse, is conflicted about the creature her father saw but is dedicated to proving him right. Sam and Joanna, however, are not convinced while Marty is open to the possibility. What they ultimately confront is a monstrous creature which sounds like a T-Rex crossed with Godzilla.
The acting from the main cast is relatable and their adventure is believable, Each character has their own motivation for following Jesse and Sam into the cave and when they venture deep into the darkness the claustrophobic atmosphere elevates their irritation, causing the group to split up,
IT CAME FROM BELOW has a simple story with a complicated world behind it. Written by Dan Allen and Sam Ashurst, the screenplay builds the tension well but lets the viewer down with the lack of answers. While we do follow Jesse, who only knows what her father has told her, the creature in the cave’s origins is only alluded to despite her father surviving with a diary of information. The teasing of an answer is shown through flashbacks of him on his deathbed, but the payoff is more emotional and psychological than the film alludes.
The strength of the film is the quality of the visuals and sound designs. Allen definitely has a style and a voice within the genre. Through his use of sound, light, and editing the he offers a classic and effective horror film. The use of the echo of drips and reverb while the four friends hike through the open woods gives an ominous and unsettling atmosphere.
IT CAME FROM BELOW is better than Allen’s first feature, but still has some story elements that need improving. While I don’t subscribe to ‘babying’ the audience, we are given very little information aside from the character's personal conviction that her father was right. This may be enough for some, but I could not help but wanting (or needing) more.
It Came From Below is available digitally from Sep 7, 2021.
Focussing on family for many years after, the video of his defeat goes viral when it is shared through forums in the late ’90s. When the public demands a re-match his chance at redemption comes knocking on his door.
Like many of these films, family is as important as the sport is itself. The love of this sport is shown through Flanery, as he is himself a black belt in karate and Brazilian jujitsu. But it’s the small but impressive cast that provides relatability in the film. Wife Layla (Bowden), their son Kyd (Charlie T Flanery), and best friend Rosco (Compte) are Kelly’s drive and support throughout the film. The heart-warming aspect of a man with impressive talent within jujitsu, feeling as though he can’t provide for his family, is Kelley’s main drive.
Set during the 1990s the film uses the interview style of narration well. It feels like a mixture between a sports documentary and a fictional film. It adds to the amazing cast's humble and loving nature, mirroring Kelley’s character. This clever writing and visual style add to the emotion you feel for Kelley and his needs as the film goes on. Finally, in the end, it’s the attachment to Kelley that brings the story home.
Not only is Flanery amazing in his portrayal of Mickey Kelley, but his part in writing the screenplay is commendable. It is a well-paced film that brings highs and lows in what feels like Kelley’s life story. The themes of resilience and purpose are strong throughout and maintain the idea that Kelley is not only good at jujitsu but also a good person. A ‘hero’ you want to see do well.
While at times it can come across too strong that he is a good person, such as the beginnings of his relationship with Layla, the encounter between Kelley and Mason (Quaid), or the story of how he became friends with Rosco. It does still feel necessary to explain why Kelley is the way he is. His motivations and ideals are just as important as the story itself. And as the supporting cast mirrors our hero, the subtle transformation of Mason’s opinion of Kelley, solidifies him as a true champion. To put himself through what he has needs to be explained to understand him better. And ultimately, they achieved that.
Overall, BORN A CHAMPION finds itself up there with some of the great sport-action dramas. It proves itself by mixing the love of the sport with family, hardship, and resilience. Alex Ranarivelo and Sean Patrick Flanery are a great team and bring this simple yet heart-warming story to our screen.
Born a Champion is available on DVD through Eagle Entertainment on September 9, 2021.
2021 | DIR: ILANTHIRAYAN ALAN ARUMUGAM | STARS: KABIR SINGH, ALBERT FISHER, PENNYANNE LACE, OZZIE DEVRISH, MARCO SINIGAGLIA, KOREY WILLIAMS, VINOD MOHANA SUNDARAM, TAHLIA JADE HOLT and CRAIG INGHAM | REVIEW BY SAMANTHA HOWSON
Kiran (Singh), our protagonist, gets a maintenance job working at the cemetery and funeral home when one day he is possessed by a vengeful soul. The mystery of the events is slowly revealed as we find out more about what links all these people together.
The acting by Kabir Singh was brilliant and really showcased his ability to switch between the relatable Kiran to the possessed spirit. The other actors were also considerable in their roles such as Ozzie Devrish, Marco Sinigaglia, Korey Williams, Vinod Mohana Sundaram, and Tahlia Jade Holt; but played characters within the story that were unnecessary. While others were underutilized, such as Pennyanne Lace and Craig Ingham.
The non-linear storytelling, involving flashbacks to fill the gaps in the story, made it disjointed and created confusing elements that then needed to be established. It felt a lot like a murder mystery television show where the flashbacks are revealed as the suspect finally tells his side of the story. But in this case, it was more of an attempt to feel empathy for Kiran and his unfortunate predicament. Because of this, the scenes with his girlfriend, unfortunately, didn’t land. The flashbacks also stunted the momentum and was unbalanced. Some scenes went too quickly to establish emotion, and other scenes went too long for no addition to the story.
The cinematography was really well done, and it had great elements of show don’t tell throughout. The supernatural effects were also visually exciting and really added to the overall tone of the film. The wrathful soul itself wasn’t shown too much and it worked in the story's favour. In particular, the crematorium scenes were exciting, and would have been great to see more of the fire and ash element.
I wouldn’t call AIYAI: WRATHFUL SOUL a horror film; it is more of a supernatural thriller. The suspense and visual anxiety of the film add to the slow reveal of the mystery at its core. It has some great visuals and story elements throughout but is unfortunately stunted due to the complicated and unbalanced editing. For a directorial debut, Ilanthirayan Alan Arumugam mixes genres of thriller, mystery, and drama to create a very solid first film.