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    Blumhouse Producing “HOME” from “LAST HOUSE” director

    While unquestionably a hit maker, producer Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions must also be lauded for their eye in working with very neat genre filmmakers. Hopefully this is the year we’ll finally see their collaboration with THE STRANGERS director Bryan Bertino, and now Blumhouse is backing HOME, a new film from Dennis Iliadis, the director who helmed THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT remake and last year’s very cool pop-art party horror PLUS ONE. 

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  • First Look: Christopher Denham’s “PRESERVATION”

    While sales news (often confused with distribution announcements) is rarely interesting in general, sometimes it gives us the first look at a very exciting project. Example: PRESERVATION, the new film from actor/filmmaker Christopher Denham, who starred in the fantastic SOUND OF MY VOICE, as well as wrote and directed the undervalued and possibly eeriest of contemporary found footage films, HOME MOVIE. XYZ Films, the production company and sales agency behind the likes of THE RAID 2, SPRING (from RESOLUTION directors Benson & Moorhead) and much more have taken world sales rights for PRESERVATION in anticipation of the upcoming European Film Market and an early glimpse, as well as synopsis on the movie is out.

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    “DEAD SNOW; RED VS. DEAD” (Sundance Movie Review)

    Fake it till you make it; whether you put any stock in the old adage or not, it seems to have worked wonders for Norwegian filmmaker, Tommy Wirkola. Having broken through with a film based on a great concept that rarely results in something great (Nazi Zombies), Wirkola had cultivated a true fanbase. Still, and without discounting the undoubtedly hard work that goes into crafting a feature film, the director received much (justified) criticism for over-relying on stylistic influence and homage, particularly to the comedic horror of Sam Raimi and early Peter Jackson. In the intervening five years however—which saw him hit Hollywood with the goofy good time HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS—the filmmaker seems to have honed his horror-comedy craft, developing his own style, confronting his past shortcomings and delivering a film both worthy of its base idea and a packed house.

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    “A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT” (Sundance Movie Review)

    In Bad City, evil is relative. The fictional Iranian town, which exists only in a dreamy, anamorphic black-and-white, houses a small population which runs the spectrum of its namesake quality. And who’s to say who is worse than anyone else? Writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour is. Is a sleazy, coked-up, aggressive pimp any more terrible than who he employs? Is the silent vampire stalking the streets any less terrible because we love her?  Well, yes, but not in light of their actions. In A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, the embodiment of evil is lack of connection.

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    “WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS” (Sundance Movie Review)

    Is it the cyclical nature of things that’s responsible for one of our most overexposed monsters to return in two revelatory films at 2014’s Sundance? Jim Jarmusch’s ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE finds almost everything vampires have embodied in cinema in a lyrical, self-aware hangout led by two of our most poetic and appropriately vampiric actors, Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton. Meanwhile, Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement’s brilliantly comedic WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS also encompasses most everything considered a vampire archetype, but in what’s easily one of the funniest horror-comedies in ages. Where plenty of morose vampires have contemplated their endless existence, these four bloodsucking flatmates in New Zealand attempt to keep up with it all, and give the viewer a gory, goofy time doing so.

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    “THE VOICES” (Sundance Movie Review)

    What’s the worst thing you’ve ever laughed at? It’s doubtful that THE VOICES tops it sure, but Marjane Satrapi’s film is playing with a similar sentiment in its pop-color focus on a mentally imbalanced man (Ryan Reynolds) spurred to kill by his talking cat. Awash with pink factory machinery, bright yellow windbreakers, chatty severed heads and cheery disposition utterly twisting the grim, gruesome content out of whack, THE VOICES is surely not for everyone. Those with a predilection for a little prodding outside their comfort zone and a willingness to chuckle at some terrible things will likely find it a tasteless, special little exercise.

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    Haunted Mirror and Eeerie Imagery Tease “OCULUS”

    Thanks to a fantastic response from last year’s TIFF, and of course the unsettling ABSENTIA, Mike Flanagan’s OCULUS is one of the most eagerly anticipated horror films of the year. Hitting this April, the tease has begun, and our first glimpse bears a storybook resemblance, introducing the viewer to the legend of this accursed artifact that haunts the film.

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    “THE RAID 2″ (Sundance Movie Review)

    It’s unlikely there exists a 2014 movie with more spectacular bloodshed than THE RAID 2. Of course, that statement is a nightmare to those of a queasy nature, or with little constitution for ultraviolence. But anyone fearful THE RAID itself could not be topped, or that its sequel ballooning to a 147-minute runtime would do it a disservice, should begin to feel something in their shoulders. Not hype per se, but more like the thrilling anticipation that permeates the entire movie, as if gearing up to do something truly heart-pounding. As if the movie itself is an opponent. As if you’re waiting for its first punch. You’ll never see it coming, nor the second, or third, or the hammer, or the bat. THE RAID 2 forces its viewer to feel it all, leaving us bruised, exhausted and elated.

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    “LIFE AFTER BETH” (Sundance Movie Review)

    Somewhere, perhaps even at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, there is a film that’s like LIFE AFTER BETH, but with no zombies. That version is likely anyone’s idea of a “Sundance” movie; essentially, an indie about a devastating break-up. When you consider that alternative, it makes the unique, intimate LIFE AFTER BETH even better and its slot in the festival’s U.S. Dramatic Competition truly satisfying. With horror— at least to this writer and I imagine many readers—is the best way to tell this type of story. Instead of a drab stab at realism, we’re treated to the sometimes sweet, oftentimes icky, intensely funny and cutting chronicle of getting on.

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    “COOTIES” (Sundance Movie Review)

    COOTIES may very well have one of the great opening title sequences. An exhaustive, repulsive and painfully up close document of the process that makes a chicken a chicken nugget, its nature may also very well prime the viewer for something COOTIES doesn’t seem too interested in being outside of the introduction: subversive and gross. And while the film is at points a very funny one, the ever-present reluctance to deliver on true carnage or amplify the bits of satire peppered throughout also make it a lacking one.

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    Notes on “COLD IN JULY” and “THE GUEST” at Sundance

    While “genre-heavy” in lineup, the 2014 Sundance Film Festival is not particularly confined to horror. In fact, a couple of this year’s most highly anticipated films see two of our brightest “new” horror filmmakers transition from one slice of pulp to another, carrying previous themes and aesthetics over to energizing, high quality thrillers that will be of no less interest to their, and our, fans.  Directors Jim Mickle and Adam Wingard, and their respective partners-in-crime (an apt term, here) Nick Damici and Simon Barrett have crafted two synth-driven, colorful, Carpenter font-using pictures that inadvertently turned into a fantastic double feature in Park City.  

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