2014 / Director. Trevor White.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
It's been an average day for me and I was uninspired when choosing a film to watch. Leaving the room to find something decent was not logical and so I saw JAMESY BOY sitting beside the TV and thought "Fuck It!". The title itself evoked thoughts of a gritty British thriller while the poster art suggested a hard-edged prison film. Neither are good comparisons. The film is rather dull, lifeless and routine. It tells the story of a teenage thug who's spent most of his life institutionalised with no foreseeable direction. Incarcerated in a tough prison he goes through a metamorphosis of sorts and takes guidance from the most feared and educated man in the place (Ving Rhames). His story is told though flashbacks of his life before jail and we're shown the junctions in his life, which he persistently misjudged. The flashback sequences make up the bulk of the film and they're painfully monotonous. This is a character who's difficult to relate to or emphasise with. He's simply a douchebag and no amount of redemption or rehabilitation changes that. The direction of the film is stodgy and the script never lifts beyond the typical prison movie tropes. Despite talent like James Woods, Mary Louise Parker and Ving Rhames the performances are lethargic and mechanical. I can't even comprehend what makes this "true story" worthy of attention. There's certainly nothing exceptional about his life and I can't imagine anyone being moved by his life. Hmmm... and now it's too late to watching something else. That was a waste of time.
I've been championing The Asylum and their schlocky splendour for years and I was all over the MEGA SHARK movies like a rat to a sewer pipe (I live for this stuff). SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE is nothing short of a B-Movie Masterpiece. It takes everything that was good about the first movie and amplifies it tenfold. Ian Ziering returns as the reluctant (and then not so reluctant) hero who returns to his home town of New York having just rid Los Angeles of a sharknado. As his plane descends across the city a new sharknado, much bigger than the last, strikes and he finds himself as the city's only hope of survival. Kicking ass alongside him is Vivica A Fox and with sharks raining down upon them, they're joined by a cavalcade of cameos such as: Billy Ray Cyrus, Matt Laurer, Al Roker, Parez Hilton, Kelly Osborne, Robert Hayes, Robert Klein, Andy Dick, Judd Hirsch, Jared Fogle, Richard Kind and Will Wheaton. And of course the god-awful Tara Reid returns but thankfully only in an extended cameo capacity.
Phew. The Asylum really nailed this one. They gauged the response to the first movie perfectly and delivered exactly what the genre fans wanted. The gore has been ramped up and humans pop all over the sidewalk. Heads splat, limbs fly and guts rain. Ian Ziering is a new b-movie hero on the scene and he plays it to perfection... actually his cheesy bravado and epic one-liners conjure thoughts of Bruce Campbell in EVIL DEAD. I had so much fun watching SHARKNADO 2 that it might just register on my 2014 top 10 list. It's a hell of a lot of fun and delivers precisely what it promises. Schlock-b-movie-creature-feature-brilliance! Bring on part 3.
2014 / Director. Robert Stromberg.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Studios have been exploiting the term "reimaging" for a few years under the guise of "originality". They seem to think that by taking beloved legacies and tweaking the stories into something alternative they are being creative... yeah, I don't buy it. It smacks of unoriginality to me and only highlights the fact that they are either strapped for new ideas or are too petrified to explore new ones. Mixed with greed, I suspect that it's the later (maybe both). And so MALEFICENT is the new reimagining of Disney's classic SLEEPING BEAUTY and switches the attention to the villainous character of Maleficent and offers a back story to her character and a reason for her evil tendencies. In doing so the story has been twisted and classic plot directions are thrown away for a weird story that casually skims over the all important "sleeping beauty" aspect of the Brothers Grimm's story and even does away with prince charming's significance to her curse. Oddly, despite the premise of being an origin/prequel story, MALEFICENT overlaps the actual SLEEPING BEAUTY story... it's almost an alternative universe. My first impression was that it relied too heavily on CGI. Much like the similarly aesthetic origin movie OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, they have created the entire world of these characters with computers and it is blatantly obvious. It looks so false for all of the wrong reasons. I want these worlds to leap off the screen because the actors are interacting with it all... not an impersonal and evident void that lies between the actors and their faux environment. You can see where they've being lit from and how far away they are from the green screen. I hate that stuff. But don't get me wrong because the world they've created is a wonderful and magical one... it's just that the traditionalist in me would much rather have seen MALEFICENT made as beautiful cel animated film, reminiscent of the original. But I digress... Angelina Jolie relishes the role and she's wonderful. Her character design is both beautiful and ghastly in equal measure and her actual gaunt physique lends it an added dose of horror. I don't like what they've done with her character. I dont like the liberties they've taken with the story and I don't like the overuse of CGI. Therefore it would be safe to assume that I didn't like it, right?? That's the weird thing... I DID enjoy it. Still trying to work out why!
1992 / Director. Albert Pyun. Movie # 13
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
DECEIT is one of Albert's forgotten sci-fi comedies. It rarely registers, even amongst Pyun fans, and never received a decent release. To my knowledge is went direct to video and has languished firmly in obscurity. I managed to track down a video transfer and watched it for the first time tonight... and I really enjoyed the shit out of it. To set the mood the film begins with the following title card:
"The following is CRUCIAL plot information needed to understand this motion picture. If for somer reason you fail to read all of this data in time, then you are really screwed because you’ll end up sitting there for two hours wondering what the hell is going on and realising that you’ve just thrown away hard earned money and one-hundred and thirty minutes of your life. So here is the crucial information."
Hilariously there IS NO crucial information proceeding that statement and the film begins with Norbert Weisser sitting against a cyclone fence drinking a bottle of bleach. This scene is supposed to be the all important plot information... but really... REALLY? It's clear from the get go that DECEIT is going to be one mental mind fuck... and that it is. It tells the story of two aliens who have come to earth to destroy it but get sidetracked by their insatiable desire for sex. This is what I consider to be "classic Pyun". Shot in only 3 days and using mostly one location, he made a bizarre minimalist science fiction comedy that is totally left of centre. The script was written by Kitty Chalmers (CYBORG) and it's riddled with sexually explicit dialogue and desperate attempts to get laid, which teeter on the edge of rape. The film's heroine spends the entire film in her underwear and delivers one dominant monologue after another. At one point she declares "I am so fucking confused!", which seems like a wink to the audience. Norbert Weisser and Scott Paulin (as the ever popular Brick Bardo) are as good as always and Pyun's direction is effortless. The set design is industrial, reminiscent of CYBORG, NEMESIS, OMEGA DOOM etc and is aesthetically wonderful. The lighting, colours and camera angles lend it a surreal and charismatic appeal. There are also a few nice little in jokes and references to other Pyun movies, which is a nice adage for the fans. If Albert were to remake DECEIT he could effectively pull it off as a one-take film, which he is becoming really damn good at. Tonight was my first time watching this one and I loved it. The poster art is a massive injustice. Who in their right mind would see that artwork and feel compelled to watch the movie?
2009 / Director. Anthony Waller.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
I promised myself that I would never watch NINE MILES DOWN so long as Everett De Roche was alive. He wrote the original screenplay and several attempts were made to film it. In fact John Carpenter was attached during the 90s but left to make ESCAPE FROM LA. The script was originally set in Australia but when it was sold to Anthony Waller, Everett was cut out of the project and the story was dramatically rewritten and relocated to the Sahara. The end product barely resembles Everett's original script (according to him) and when I asked him about the film, he felt deeply hurt by the while debacle. I made up my mind that I would not go near it so long as he lived. Sadly he passed away earlier this year and while I had no intentions of finding NINE MILES DOWN I came across a blu-ray copy for $4 in a store's bargain bin. I grabbed it and tonight I watched it. The story takes place on a remote drilling rig in the middle of the Sahara. Adrian Paul plays a security officer sent to check up on the staff when they fail to make contact. He arrives to find the place practically deserted, all dead aside from one female biologist. She reveals that the site had been taken over by a corporate research team who were intent on drilling deeper into the Earth than had ever been done before. Naturally they tapped into something evil and the crew killed each other following violent premonitions and visions. Yawn. Yes we've seen it all before. The story combines the location qualities of THE THING and explores themes similar to EVENT HORIZON and is a mirror image of SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK FOR MORE. I wish I could read Everett's original script because he was never one to succumb to cliche or generic formula. No wonder he felt screwed-over by Waller's involvement. Looking at NINE MILES DOWN without bias I do think that it's a good looking film. Waller has captured a stylish and effective atmosphere, although very routine and derivative. The score is far too overblown and tacky and the sound design goes for the cheap frights... I'm not a fan of director Anthony Waller and I think most people still hate him for AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS. I can certainly pay him some kudos for his visual flare, however his butchering of the story is clearly to the movie's detriment. There's loads of potential and having it set in Australia SHOULD have been the first point of order. It's a shame that Everett couldn't have his name removed from this one. It is NOT something he should be associated with.
2010 / Director. Anthony Fankhauser.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
One of the many mockbusters that The Asylum has produced is called PARANORMAL ENTITY (permission to lol). Obviously it was a cash-in on the success of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films and it was a clever profiteering considering the el-cheapo found-footage aspect of its production. A few years later they made a “prequel” called 8213: GACY HOUSE, which is branded as PARANORMAL ENTITY 2 in some countries. Why this was even promoted as a sequel or a prequel is beyond me, especially given the fact that the official title separates itself from a potential franchise. Oh and there's also the fact that it has no connection by way of storyline. I actually liked PARANORMAL ENTITY more than I should have. I loathe the trend of found-footage films and never took to the ACTIVITY films at all... and so a mockbuster appealed to me a lot more. As it was, the movie wasn't too bad. It played on all of the cliches and stuck to a tried and true formula and seemed to be creepy enough. The same cannot be said for this stupid second film. Despite being an Asylum production I was intrigued by its title and its concept. The premise is that a group of paranormal investigators walk into the former home of serial killer John Wayne Gacy and are never seen again (their footage is all that survived). So clearly that's a cool premise... unfortunately it loses all credibility within the first 2 minutes. Firstly the photo of the house on the poster art is NOT what Gacy's actual house looked like. Secondly his house was demolished. The movie establishes that a new house was built in its place and that Gacy still haunts the site... and so thirdly the house they use in the film is clearly MUCH older than the true crime. It cannot have possibly been constructed after his crimes. Fourthly, Gacy was executed in a federal prison and so there is no way that his spectre could possibly haunt his old home. The idiocies are astounding. And then there's the fact that the footage has been neatly edited into a fluent narrative for the viewer's sake. It's all so stupid. The acting is as terrible as you would expect it to be and the actual “Scares” are lame. Picture frames fall off the walls, voices mumble and the humans scream (and repeat). Where the first movie was quite good “for an Asylum flick”, this attempt to recreate the formula is a monumental turd. But hey don't take my word for it... the whole film is available for free. All you need to do is CLICK HERE if you dare.
I should also note that 2 additional “sequels” were also release... ANNALIESE: THE EXORCIST TAPES and 100 GHOST STREET: THE RETURN OF RICHARD SPECK. -- All available for FREE at Viewlorium.
2014 / Director. John Suits.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
I do not recommend watching THE SCRIBBLER while exhausted. I have been running on empty all day and tonight I chose this film poorly. That is not to say that it's a bad film (to the contrary) but it is to imply that my brain is completely fried from having watched it. It is a total mind fuck. The film takes place inside an apartment complex, which houses recovering mental patients. We follow a girl named Suki as she recuperates from an experimental electroshock therapy to rid her head of multiple personalities. She is given a portable device to continue her treatment and with each hit she begins to evolve and which of her personalities is her true self becomes ambiguous. A spate of suicides also plagues the apartment complex and a mysterious girl roaming the halls casts a whole other shadow over the story. THE SCRIBBLER didn't make a whole lot of sense to me while I watched it but as I reflect upon it now it is starting to pool together like liquid metal morphing into Robert Patrick. I enjoyed its perplexity and being in an exhausted state of mind I didn't bother myself with the comprehension. As soon as I realised how confounding it was going to be, I switched my brain off and let the aesthetic and the fantastic textures wash over me. I guess you could say that I basked in this film. The set design and colour schemes are gorgeous. The music is overstated but works nicely with the surrealism and the performances are good, although not outstanding by any means. If you're familiar with films like PRIMER or PHASMA EX MACHINA then you will have a good sense of THE SCRIBBLER. Throw in some thematic similarities with DARK CITY and THE MACHINIST and you've got a smouldering pot of mind-fuck. I cannot wait to watch it again with a clearer mind and a better comprehension of what I've already seen.
1989 / Director. Michele Soavi.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
The DEMONI series has been a complicated franchise with several stand-alone films being branded as sequels. THE OGRE is known as DEMONI 3 in some countries and THE SECT is referred to as DEMONI 4. Then there are a further 3 or 4 films, which found their way to video store shelves as DEMONI 5, 6 7 etc. None of these are actual sequels, nor do they share any similarities to the first two films. THE CHURCH is actually the only film with any connection. It was originally written as an official third instalment before it was re-written several times so that it could stand alone. Where the first two films were comical and frivolous gore-fests THE CHURCH is a far more distinguished affair. The film begins in medieval Germany where an order of priests massacre and entire village out of fear that they are cursed by the devil. They throw the hundreds of corpses in a giant pit and build a church over their burial. The film then moves forward to modern times where a historian removes a seal, which unleashes the spirits of the dead. The film's place in the DEMONI universe comes from its zombie-esque themes, cinematic artistry and behind the scenes talent... but that's where the connections end. This is a great Italian horror film, full of stylish cinematography, gothic ambience and a fantastic kinetic soundtrack. It's also a real slow burner and takes its time to build atmosphere. The true horror of the story isn't revealed until mid-way through and by this time the mystery and intrigue is well established. The imagery is often confronting and graphic and yet most of horrors depicted are implied and/or psychological... Sadly the film has slipped in to obscurity and is only celebrated amongst true horror devotees... the general movie-going public don't even know it exists. If you're one of those people then do yourself the favour and check it out. The new Viewlorium website has it available to stream, absolutely free. Click here and watch it now.
2014 / Director. John V Soto.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
I struggled with the first half of THE RECKONING. I found it dull and uninteresting. In fact it was like watching a dodgy Aussie version of NCIS... and then something happens and suddenly things become interesting. Everything that had previously felt arduous was significant all of a sudden. The film begins with a murder and an SD card found on the body. The card contains video footage of two runaway teenagers, one of which is terminally ill. While police sift through the footage back at the police station, two detectives simultaneously follow the video's trail as the details of the footage are fed to them. Step by step they find themselves hot on the trail of these two teens and racing against time to locate them, hoping that they haven't met with foul play. This story is actually damn good. I kept thinking that if it were in the hands of someone like David Fincher then it could have been exceptional. Sadly the filmmaking leaves a lot to be desired. The so called found footage is crap. The two teen performances are really stilted and borderline awful. The adult performances aren't too bad but nothing special and the cinematography is inconsistent. The camera always seems unsure whether it wants to be steady or hand-held. When it is steady it looks great but too much of the shaky bullshit interferes and I found myself disconnected from the story... what a shame because, as I mentioned, the story is great. It comes loaded with unexpected twists and revelations that are genuinely clever. All too often these types of thrillers become far-fetched in trying to keep to formula, but THE RECKONING's plot is very grounded. If an accomplished filmmaker were to take this film and remake it then that would be a great thing... but as it is, it's more like a quickly spin tv-movie.
2011 / Director. Francis Ford Coppola.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Following the late 90s legendary director Francis Ford Coppola disappeared from the Hollywood radar. After a decade of leave he returned with a modest little film called YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH. He has since made two more films, each also being low budget independent films. His most recent was TWIXT, a gothic surrealist horror film which serves as one almighty mind fuck. Val Kilmer stars as a famous author who visits a small town for a book signing. During his stay he learns that the area has a sinister history and that Edger Allan Poe once resided nearby. With an enthusiastic sheriff (Bruce Dern) eager to tell the story and share the prestige, Kilmer's character descends into a strange and hellish fantasy where his nights are tormented by vivid fantasies and his days bare a striking resemblance to his nightmares. Coppola has always has his hand in horror... from his notorious DEMENTIA 13 to BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA and a handful of other produced films such as CLOWNHOUSE, SLEEPY HOLLOW and JEEPERS CREEPERS. Returning to the genre with TWIXT he has relished the opportunity to experiment with ambiguity and ambience. Showcasing a bizarre and haunting set design he conjures the essence of Mario Bavo and Dario Argento. This beautiful looking film is designed to confuse and inspire. With a bluish hue, heavy mists and conspicuous green-screen he has crafted a world that we may recognise from our own nightmares. The story is perplexing and mostly illogical and I can't help but think that it's not supposed to make sense. It oddly begins with narration from Tom Waits casting a foreboding mystique within the introduction and then his voice is never heard from again. Equally odd is the closing of the film, which provides us with post titles to suggest truth to the story. It's all trickery and you can imagine Coppola clapping his hands proudly with laughter... after all the film was hatched from one of his own nightmares. Does it matter that TWIXT doesn't make sense? Nope. This is a film of pure imagery and texture. It was judge very harshly by most critics and audiences and I suppose I can understand their disappointment. I was personally swept up by the look of it and relished its dark and morbid themes. Call me sadistic but I love horror films that depict the violent deaths of children. There's something about the meshing of pure innocence with pure evil that attracts me to the material. TWIXT is a challenging film but its a good one. No doubt I stand alone in my appraisal but when have I ever given a fuck about that?
2001 / Director. David Atkins.
Review by Jarret Gahan.
Frank (Steve Martin) is a well to do guy, with a successful dentistry practice, his own home, flash car, an adoring girlfriend Jean (Laura Dern) and a suburban lifestyle that most would envy. However all that goes topsy-turvy the moment that Susan (Helen Bonham Carter) enters his surgery. Susan is the polar opposite of Frank’s girlfriend in every imaginable way, from her unkempt appearance to her devil may care attitude and the possibility she may very well be a junkie. A suspicion that soon is confirmed when she adjusts a prescription given to her by Frank from 5 to 50 doses of Demerol. Now this is where Frank, a seemingly moral upright kind of guy should report her to the authorities however this is the critical turning point for his character when he lets it slide in favour of a rendezvous with her the following morning at a scheduled root canal. It’s arguable initially whether he wanted to confront her personally about the misdemeanour or if he had secretly hoped for another encounter with this femme fatale. The latter becomes apparent once Susan fails to show for her appointment and Frank becomes infatuated. When the pair do meet again, things escalate fast and Frank’s world can never be the same.
Novocaine is at its core a thriller, taking elements of film noir blended with ever so slight screwball comedy to become a reasonably unique black comedy. Its film noir influence is not only present in plot of a law abiding citizen lured into a life of crime but right through to its storytelling techniques, be its non-conventional visual style with some incredible cinematography, its use of Frank’s narration throughout and many a common motif like Susan’s chainlike smoking. The characters themselves are possibly the best representation of taking a classic genre’s archetypes and modernising them, for example you have:
1) Frank – The flawed Hero
2) Susan & Jean – Femme Fatales
3) Lance - Hardboiled Detective
4) Duane - Jealous Husband
To be clear Duane (Scott Caan) isn't exactly a jealous husband, more the jealous brother of Susan though he does have an implied incestuous relationship with her hence the jealousy when she takes up with Frank. On that note Lance played by an uncredited Kevin Bacon, isn't exactly a hardboiled detective, he’s an actor shadowing Detective Lunt (Keith David) however he’s researching a part and subsequently partially method acting the role of a hardboiled detective. David Atkins’ screenplay is clever, toeing the line between humour and mystery, with rich developed characters, snappy dialogue and enough twists that it’ll keep you guessing as to which direction the film will turn next. All of the above is complemented by the beautiful title Novocaine, metaphoric in that Frank’s life had been numb until he met Susan and soon after that encounter the novocaine begins to wear off, allowing him to take control of his life.
Curiously this is Atkins’ sole feature-film directing credit, being such an impressive debut it’s a surprise that he hasn't gone to a successful career in the industry or at the very least directed another feature. That said Novocaine bodes well as both a debut and a swan song, a film that is rarely spoken of and hopefully in the years to come will outgrow its underrated status, to become widely remembered and worthy of study.
2014 / Director. Kevin Smith.
Review by Jarret Gahan.
Shock jock podcaster Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) is a seasoned traveller of North America, regularly scouring the country for oddballs to interview and exploit on his program ‘The Not-See Party’, co-anchored by Teddy Craft (Haley Joel Osment). It’s across the border though in Manitoba Canada that Wallace will finally met his match, in one rather charming hermit Howard Howe (Michael Parks). Howard has been a traveller himself, having sailed the world over he has many a tale to share and Wallace comfortably perched by a fireplace with a cup of tea is keen to hear every one of them. However story-time is abruptly cut short when Wallace having finished his tea falls to the ground mid-tale, it’s only the following day awakening in a wheelchair that Wallace realises that he himself has become part of the rich tapestry of Howard’s legend.
TUSK was bore from a Smodcast conversation between Writer/Director Kevin Smith and long-time collaborator Scott Mosier where the pair discussed a UK Gumtree classified on-air. By the end of the program Smith had fleshed out the advertisement into a film pitch and they asked their listeners to vote #walrusyes if Smith should pursue turning the concept into a film or #walrusno if he should leave it be. Lucky for us Smith’s loyal army of followers voted yes and the filmmaker has gone on to surprisingly craft his most original film in over fifteen years. Smith’s prior film RED STATE saw the filmmaker step out of his comfort zone to deliver an adequate thriller that seethed with promise but seemingly failed in its execution. TUSK finds Smith once again in unfamiliar territory but this time at the top of his game, perfectly blending genuine suspense with bad taste and an morbidly awkward sense of humour, his splicing of genre traits is comparable to that of the masterwork created by the film’s villain, Howard. The only fault to be picked in the fabric of the film is that of the character Guy Lapointe though it’s hard to distinguish whether it’s in the writing itself or the portrayal of the character by an unaccredited Hollywood A-Lister that is to blame. Guy is similar to Inspector Clouseau, from a screwball demeanour right down to the French accent, he’s over-the-top and somewhat out of place in what is predominately a tense well balanced horror comedy.
Smith has overcome his own self-referenced point and shoot aesthetic of his prior films by working with cinematographer James Laxton, together they have captured the mood of the script with subtle creeping camera movements, a textured glow and some stand-out compositions. Christopher Drake’s score is also a perfect companion to the film, moody yet understated and a true revelation coming from a first-time feature-film composer. The performances all aside from the A-Lister are solid but particular kudos need be paid to Michael Parks who manages to marry humour, menace and an endearing sensibility to his role as Howard Howe, a character worthy of going down in history as a genre icon.
With a career spanning just over two decades, the question has been asked whether Smith is still relevant in contemporary cinema and if he’s capable of delivering a good film outside of his own self-inflicted Askewniverse, the answer is TUSK and I’m voting #walrusyes.
2013 / Director. Eugenio Mira.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Elijah Wood's previous feature film was MANIAC in which the story was told from his point of view and rarely saw his face. He has followed that up with GRAND PIANO, a Hitchcockian style thriller which puts his face squarely in the centre of the frame for almost the entire duration. It's an interesting contrast and an equally challenging performance. Wood plays a classical pianist who has broken a five year absence to perform a one-off concert in memory of his lost mentor. A few moments into his first piece he finds a threatening message written on his sheet-music and learns that a sniper has a him in his firing line. With his girlfriend also threatened Woods character must play the entirety of his performance without a single wrong note. As the story unfolds with various twists and turns the murderous plot soon unravels and the tension mounts. I knew of the film before watching it but I had prepared myself for a thriller with a European flavour. I was expecting something in the vein of Polanski or Argento but following a promising first act the film becomes fairly standard. The frustrating thing is that there is so much to praise about the film. Elijah Wood's performance is excellent and his seemingly capable fingers flurry about the keys naturally, while he manages to deliver dialogue and exude fear. The cinematography is also excellent with sweeping wide shots and intimate close ups. The storyboarding of the film is all class and director Eugenio Mira has given GRAND PIANO an exquisite look. The textures and aesthetic are wonderful and the score is hypnotic. I assume the pieces to be original compositions (don't hold me to that). Where the movie flounders is in its inability to maintain a constant level of menace. There are gripping moments but not enough to sustain the plot consistently. John Cusack is also a frustrating factor. Cast as the villainous voice talking to Elijah Wood though an ear piece, he lacks charisma and mystique. In fact he really does phone this performance in. His familiar American accent also takes away so much of the European flavour that the film could have relished. With a short running time 80 minutes the film should have been a taut and edgy thriller but it played into too many conventions and feels soft around the edges. It's a shame. I enjoyed the first act but felt cheated during the final two.
2014 / Director. Kelly Dolen.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Vigilante films come and go and they're often accompanied by a backlash of criticism. The films that play more for entertainment value (LAW ABIDING CITIZEN, THE DARK KNIGHT, THE CROW) usually brush past unsuspecting critics and become part of the cinematic norm... but then there are those vigilante films, which cut close to home with their realism and manage to upset and frighten a lot of people. Films like DEATH WISH, FALLING DOWN and TAXI DRIVER reflect a deep seeded honesty, which most people can identify with, that proves to be too confronting for some. This new Australian film JOHN DOE: VIGILANTE somehow rests in the middle. Its chaotic and heightened reality lends it a far-fetched comic book aesthetic that's not too far removed from V FOR VENDETTA and yet the issues and crimes, of which it rallies against, are real. They are the same type of stories we see every day in newspaper headlines and the same type of crimes that enrage most of us whenever we read about them. The film tells the story of a vigilante killer called John Doe. He has waged a personal war against criminal re-offenders and flagrantly flaunts his actions for the tabloid-hungry media. Few people watching can argue with his plight and yet the moral ambiguity of what he is doing will resonate differently amongst viewers. The film itself isn't looking to solve any of society's problems but it is seeking a discussion. The message I took from the film is that the justice system is broken and something needs to be done about it. Of course this is an age old issue and we have countless vigilante films reflecting people's frustrations. Director Kelly Dolen and writer Stephen Coates have created a strange, violent and provocative action-thriller. Despite being set in Melbourne the film boasts an international appeal with it's excellent cinematography and elaborate action sequences. It also uses various international news anchor montage sequences to pitch its story above the usual Australian drivel. It's also very much a genre film and Australia always needs more of those. I found JOHN DOE: VIGILANTE challenging in different ways and upon reflection this was possibly due to it being both realistic in its message yet extravagant with its entertainment value. The one certainty is that it will get people talking. Do we agree with John Doe's plight? Would we do the same thing? Do things need to change? It's an important conversation and this film is a great spring board for it.