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Under The RadarFilm4 FrightFest 2013: Sunday and Monday

Posted on Wednesday August 28, 2013, 09:13 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Film4 FrightFest 2013: Sunday and Monday

Sunday is a day of subdued slow-burners in the Empire Leicester Square's main screen. Maybe the assumption was hangovers after Saturday night. Fair enough, actually. Kick-off then is Missionary by Anthony DiBlasi (Dread, Cassadaga), which we're told began its conceptual life as a slasher film, but has reached the screen as something more interesting. Mitch Ryan stars as Elder Kevin Brock, a Mormon-in-training who develops a fatal attraction for Dawn Olivieri's single mom and her young son. Cue a tense escalation of stalkerish behaviour, which starts with an innocuous football game, takes in a beheading, and climaxes with guns in a scrapyard. The Mormon set-up is interestingly handled: careful not to demonise the entire religion, and taking time to make its elders likeably normal (Jordan Woods Robinson is seen sneaking out to a forbidden baseball game, for example). Even Ryan initially seems like a guy you wouldn't particularly mind finding on your doorstep with a Watchtower. It all goes a bit...

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Under The RadarFilm4 FrightFest 2013: Thursday and Friday

Posted on Saturday August 24, 2013, 19:34 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Film4 FrightFest 2013: Thursday and Friday

2013's Film4 FrightFest kicks off on Thursday night with an impromptu introduction from Bobcat Goldthwait, here with his film Willow Creek, playing on Saturday and Sunday. "Most of you thought I was dead," he says. "The rest of you are trying to figure out who I am." Not true, Bob. We loved God Bless America. "All stories are horror stories," he goes on, citing the New Testament and Grown Ups 2 as examples. "Lincoln is about a guy getting his brains blown out," he points out, "but they cut away before the good part."

The Dead 2: India, the fest's opening movie, does not cut away from the brain splattering, but like its predecessor, also written, directed and produced by The Ford Brothers, it's got a lot more going for it than that. Cards on the table: zombies bore the arse off me, so I didn't come to this film predisposed to love it. That said, I did really like

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Under The RadarBloody Cuts In Conversation

Posted on Friday May 17, 2013, 10:33 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar



Debuting in June 2011, Bloody Cuts is an anthology series of horror shorts (as well as the name of the production company) aiming for thirteen instalments, of which eight have surfaced so far. Available to watch free on the Bloody Cuts website, the films have attracted hundreds of thousands of views online, successfully hit the festival circuit, and picked up glowing notices from far and wide. With their most ambitious project to date, the award-winning Don't Move, recently added to the online roster, Empire spoke to the collective's Jonny Franklin, who gave us a taste of Bloody Cuts' history and a glimpse of the future...
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Under The RadarEuropean Film Awards 2012

Posted on Sunday December 2, 2012, 00:05 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
European Film Awards 2012

A bit of context before the ceremony: this year’s European Film Awards are taking place in the beautiful surroundings of Valletta, Malta, following a couple of weeks of quiet (and not so quiet) ructions within Malta’s own modest film establishment. Despite a record year for domestic applications to the Malta Film Fund, it transpires that no visiting productions at all are currently scheduled to shoot in Malta next year. Cue bitter recriminations and accusations of incompetence and financial mismanagement from Film Service Providers Malta – a collection of production service companies responsible for managing most foreign productions filmed in Malta over the last ten years – towards controversial Malta Film Commissioner Peter Busuttil. Finance Minister Tonio Fenech dismissed the spat as a “personality clash,” but it’s a claim angrily denied by FSPM.
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Under The RadarNight Visions 2012: Silje Reinamo and Thale

Posted on Sunday November 4, 2012, 14:39 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2012: Silje Reinamo and Thale

Home-grown Scandinavian films are in relatively short supply at this year’s Night Visions in Helsinki: the Audience Award went to Dredd (although it was a close call between that and Bobcat Goldthwait's excellent God Bless America). One of the very best films of the festival however, is the beautifully enigmatic and eerie Norwegian entry Thale [tah-lay], directed by Aleksander Nordaas and starring Silje Reinåmo.

It’s the story of a forest sprite who’s been kept separated from her kind for some years, until the death of her human guardian and the arrival at her cabin-in-the-woods of Erlend Nervold and Jon Sigve Skard: a dryly hum...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2012: Juan Martinez Moreno and Attack of the Werewolves

Posted on Saturday November 3, 2012, 14:26 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2012: Juan Martinez Moreno and Attack of the Werewolves


A couple of weeks ago, you may have noticed a DVD called Attack of the Werewolves sneak, unheralded, onto the lower shelves of your local supermarket. If you immediately dismissed it, given that unprepossessing straight-to-video debut and its underwhelming cover, nobody could blame you. But you’re missing out, because Attack of the Werewolves – re-titled in the UK from Lobos De Arga (Wolves of Arga), and playing gangbusters to super-enthusiastic Night Visions audiences under its American moniker A Game of Werewolves - is in fact a great little Spanish-language horror comedy that’s well worth ninety minutes of your time.

There’s a section in Laurie Lee’s Cider With Rosie where a man leaves his village and makes his successful way in the world. He returns home years later, and they kill him...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2012: The Paperboy & The ABCs of Death

Posted on Friday November 2, 2012, 11:38 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar



In context, the biggest mystery in the slow burning, slightly mental literary crime tale The Paperboy is why it's playing at this festival. Lee Daniel's directorial follow-up to Precious, starring Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman and John Cusack, isn't an obvious fit for its horror surroundings, but by the end, in all its deep-south, swamp-gothic murder melodrama, it just about starts to make sense.

Regardless of where it's playing, it's a more-or-less worthwhile, atmospheric film. It feels self-consciously 'quality', but it's not as hammer-blow heavy-handed as Precious, its sultry southern atmosphere is effectively oppressive, and the performances are all-round pretty good, although it's hard to quite take Kidman as white-trash intent on marrying her prison-inmate penpal. Efron takes his shirt off a lot (and, at one point, gets bi...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2012: The Bay

Posted on Thursday November 1, 2012, 09:24 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2012: The Bay

Helsinki, it seems, doesn't go much for Hallowe'en. They see it as a kind of affected American import like we do in the UK - in fact they're even less convinced by it, since the shops don't appear to be full of tat like ours. I've yet to see a "sexy Edward Scissorhands" costume. Nevertheless, the long established horror and fantasy festival Night Visions kicks off on an appropriate October 31. There's already been some preamble, with guests John Waters and Paul Verhoeven taking to the stage of the Maxim theatre.
Empire arrives in time to bump into Joel Murray - brother of Bill - here representing Bobcat Goldthwait's God Bless America. He tells me that Goldthwait once had a collection of thousands of wind-up toys, lining his guest bedroom, which would autonomously move at any given time during the night. He then apparently replac...

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Under The RadarSan Sebastian Film Festival: First Report

Posted on Tuesday September 25, 2012, 20:04 by Damon Wise in Under The Radar
San Sebastian Film Festival: First Report

The 60th San Sebastian kicked off on Friday with Arbitrage, a surprising choice for opener since it sees the financial crisis through the eyes of Wall Street banker (Richard Gere) who is involved in a fatal car crash while in negotiations to sell his deeply fraudulent company. Austerity measures are big in San Sebastian this year – the whole Basque region is closing down tomorrow as part of a mass regional protest – but the presence of stars Gere and Susan Sarandon perhaps diverted a bit of attention from the film's somewhat kid-gloves treatment of the rich and immoral. Hollywood types are big round here, and even Oliver Stone's tepid Savages – which barely caused a stir in the US and was dismissed almost entirely in the UK – found a good reception here.

Otherwise, San Sebastian remains an excellent catch-up festival (not to mention a great place to get a steal on the upcoming London Film Festival). Such films included...

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Under The RadarTIFF 2012: The Impossible and Song For Marion

Posted on Saturday September 15, 2012, 20:24 by Damon Wise in Under The Radar
TIFF 2012: The Impossible and Song For Marion

The Impossible was one of two films that, though well received by the public, were subjected to a number of swipes by some of the more heartless critics. Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, director of the supernatural thriller The Orphanage, it is a spectacular and very direct film that perhaps succeeds too successfully in what it sets out to do, since there are no genre trimmings, next to no action-based subplots or any nuances to “read” into. For me, it worked perfectly, but others complained that there wasn't much to it. Seeing as it tells the story of a very real family of five whose lives where changed forever by the Thailand tsunami of 2004, I thought that was a tad unfair.

Another criticism was that the film was in some way “Hollywoodised” and an insult to the local people killed in this tragic event, but, personally, I thought it worked having a very ordinary western family as the focus (the original family seem to have ...

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