The world’s first Romanian found-footage horror movie (and entirely in English), Be My Cat: A Film For Anne is a hard movie to find. I’d first heard of it pre-release, and then nothing ever seemed to come of it. I found it listed on Amazon Prime, but all I got was ‘this title is not available’ for no reason. Given that I also knew nothing of its director/star/editor/everything Adrian Tofei, this just added to the film’s overarching, morbid mystique.
I will say that this more than lives up to the WTFerry garnered by initial buzz. Even if you don’t believe me, this is likely to be one of the most unique horror movies you’ll ever have seen – regardless of (but perhaps bolstered by) its country of origin.
I think I’ve found the sweetest zombie movie in all of existence.
Not that it’s a rare gem. Little Monsters, a Hulu original film and an Aussie production, hits cinemas November 15th, and stars the Oscar-winning and always watchable genre queen Lupita Nyong’o.
The story actually follows obnoxious, selfish and overgrown child Dave (Alexander England), who is staying with his sister Tess (Kat Stewart) and her nerdy kindergartener son Felix (an impressively endearing Diesel La Torraca) after his longtime girlfriend dumps him. After taking a shining to Felix’s teacher Miss Caroline (Nyong’o, who gets to keep her Kenyan accent), he volunteers to help chaperone the class trip to some sort of farm/zoo/putt-putt golf combo. However, the group’s day out is thwarted by a sudden zombie outbreak, and they must team up with foul-mouthed drunkard children’s personality star Teddy McGiggles (Josh Gad) to keep everyone safe.
The Aussies have shown they do the zombie movie as great as the best of them (Wyrmwood), and are contenders for the splatter crown (The Furies, Wolf Creek). But writer-director Abe Forsythe has created a stinkin’ adorable – yet somehow comically dark – take on the subgenre.
I’ll get this out of the way now: Zombieland: Double Tap is absolutely worth the 10-year wait. The original Zombieland quickly became a modern cult classic in 2008, and the original quartet is back for a second run that is, in this lowly Englishwoman’s opinion, better than the first. And I fucking loved the first.
Just when you thought the zombie sub-genre was rotting in the water, along comes an intrepid little flick to revive it.
That would be Endzeit, helmed by Carolina Hellsgård and hailing all the way from Germany. Ignore any posters (including the one at the top of this post) that fool you into thinking it’s some kind of spunky Zombieland-esque comedy – this disquietingly quiet film is nuanced through slow-burn world-building and rounded, flawed – and sometimes maddening – characters.
Of which, we really mostly get the two: Eva (Maja Lehrer), the hard-nosed survivor getting the weaker ones in line to fix fences and green their thumbs; and Vivi (Swantje Kohlhof), the maudlin, meek waif who has the same terrified reaction we all would to a zombie attack. Each of the girls has an objective: Eva to get to the next city and Vivi to find her sister, but the two must cooperate and find a common wavelength to help each other survive.
Harpoon is a movie I’d been hearing about through its buzz on the recent festival circuit, and I’m happy it lived up to the hype.
That said, the less you know about it, the better, so all I’ll say on the plot is thus: a trio of friends (two best friends and the girlfriend of one of them) take a day trip on a boat to semi-begrudgingly celebrate a birthday.
In Bliss, we are told that Dezzy (Dora Madison Burge) is a talented artist. She lives in LA, cheats on her sort-of boyfriend, and mixes every kind of drug with alcohol every night instead of working on her commissioned piece – an impossible dream for many working artists – which is already weeks late. At a meeting with her agent (to which she is also late), she whines that ‘you know how it is’ and that she can’t live off of nothing (later we find she’d already been given a $10,000 advance that she’s ALREADY spent, despite constantly dodging her rent-seeking landlord). She’s self-important, yells at people during drug withdrawals, and is just an overall unreliable, manic, entitled, personal-bubble-dwelling arsehole.
Sounds like every pothead I’ve ever lived with.
Despite this, Burge seems to effortlessly make this hot mess compelling, enigmatic – at times, even sympathetic, as her life begins to unravel around her after taking a mysterious new hybrid drug at a party to relieve her creative block. And, since this is a horror movie, genre + mysterious substance = get ready for 90 minutes of insanity.
Every once in a while you come across a gem that lights a small fire under the horror tropes with which we’ve become comfortable. More often than not in my experience, it’s a movie with flaws – largely due to the the rough edges from budget constraints – which can be forgiven for the risks it’s bold enough to attempt. Artik, the debut by writer-director Tom Botchii Skowronski, is one such film.
Straight-edge mechanic Holton (Chase Williamson, freed from the underreaching smuggness of John Dies at the End) comes across an urchin-like boy (Gavin White) tagging the side wall of his shop with some surprisingly talented graffiti. The boy is near-mute, and gingerly accepts a candy bar before running away. When he returns, the boy shows him some drawings that make him fear for the child’s well-being, and he turns to his counsellor (Matt Mercer), who offers to pay a friendly visit to the boy’s parents (Jerry G. Angelo and the always-engaging Lauren Ashley Carter).
To say things don’t go as planned would be understating it.
Hallo to the 6th year running of my little horrorthon! It’s close to 2am on technically the morning of the 2nd of October here in the UK, and I’ve been up since 4 am the previous day whence I did far more than 10,000 steps while shopping and catching up with a transatlantic friend who had a layover in London, so none of this entry will be readable.
But onto movie number 1 of the month of all things spooky!
A relic from the era of WAP internet on impossibly small flip phones, Murder Party  is a fun throwback to millenium-era splatter and making the most of truly indie filmmaking production values. Written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, who would later go on to make the excellent Green Room, and starring the now-prolific writer-director-actor Macon Blair, this is a small movie, set in mostly one location, but efficiently paced amid buckets of inventive splatter and actual-laugh-out-loud humour.
Two years before fellow short Lights Out, there was another little horror preying on our fear of being alone in the dark. Ben Franklin’s eerie office slice Lock Up is a tense, fun 3 minutes, in which an everyman pencil-pusher realises that, under cover of mostly darkness, an empty office looks nightmarishly different.
Well-acted with some great makeup and some efficient editing, this is cautionary tale against all of you schlubs working late. Unless you get overtime or time off in lieu, don’t. They can’t make you!
I can safely say I’ve seen and/or heard every type of human be slaughtered in this naughtily gruesome comedy short.
More enjoyable to me than the mildly similar Deathgasm, Chris McInroy‘s SFX-laden Death Metal is a devilish treat for gorehounds. An adult slacker and musician is gifted an impressive guitar (literally fashioned from an axe), a cursed-object heirloom that promises its wielder infinite death-metalling power.
Unfortunately, our protagonist is too excited to stick around to hear the 3 simple rules [don’t play in daylight, don’t use it for money, don’t play it like you’re wanking], and bolts down to the park to start some mid-afternoon busking. No sooner does he do said penis-strumming move, than the axe flies out of his hands and literally shreds everything in sight in a gloriously gruesome never-ending POV shot.
Memorable, and not just for metalheads. But the music’s not half-bad, either.