Category Archives: science fiction

Devil Town: A Short Film Review

piuyfvbsjhgs1z4ixkmww8zfz7-hfyxado1tt5eisqc6npa2j5_o1xdezck5h3p4rdblj2gwwhfzjmupgctijf3hkwoowaut34jih51s0uy_hymq_cg5ivjyjx4gs8mrlscold2fgz5dat-j5fnkscyik2zbtd-2vf_adftpmbd54esgp0jtlfdranfhnlem5niid4ocWe open on a late afternoon as a ragged street preacher prophesies impending death and doom to disinterested passers-by. Among their number is Patrick Creedle (Matthew Hebden of Cartwheels and The Basil Brush Show), a character as fantastically despicable as his phone conversations are loud and abusive.

Which, for the record, is very.

Creedle steps into a local cafe for a coffee, unaware that the street preacher has followed him inside. Cornering Creedle at his table, Rime of the Ancient Mariner-style, the street preacher demands a few minutes of his captive’s time to relay a tale of creeping horror.

Hebden’s performance is definitely the highlight of the film, appearing instantly despicable without being cartoonish. He’s very much the self-absorbed ***hole that we know to well, and in his more sympathetic moments, Creedle could very much be us if we were caught on a bad day.

Our street preacher (Johnny Vivash of The Creature Below and The Collaborators) does a decent job of portraying a schizotypal vagrant who might not be quite as crazy as he first sounds. His insistence that a dark conspiracy is afoot grows increasingly eerie with every desperate whisper. Continue reading

Advertisements

Graffiti: A Short Film Review

afpostergraffitionlinebaja

Seven years after an unnamed apocalypse, lone survivor Edgar (along with his beloved puppy, K.O) wander a urban wasteland. Edgar spends his days scouring local buildings for supplies and marking contaminated zones with spray paint warnings and signals for help.

From the first frame the audience is taken on a brutal journey of brutal isolation as we follow Edgar (Orial Pla) through the cold and decaying cityscape, both depressing and still strangely beautiful. And that, right there, is perhaps the greatest charm of the film.

Director Lluís Quílez does a masterful job at creating a stark, bitter, but still utterly believable world. Quílez captures not only the grand sense of loss but the simple, even monotonous existence of his protagonist. Throughout I was constantly reminded of the feel of first half of I Am Legend (in the best possible way). Special kudos to Quílez for his research, as Edgar’s own warning symbols bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the FEMA marking system used during actual disasters.

14619

A fantastic job is done of showing the mundane, day-to-day “chores” of living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Which is something I’ve ironically always found to be one of the most interesting parts of the genre, but I’m weird like that.

02

Seriously- just look at this…

Continue reading

NEON: Our Illuminating Interview with Director Mark Blackman

neonThe week before last we at CWR were given the opportunity to review a sci-fi thriller short film called NEON. In addition to that director Mark J. Blackman was also kind enough to answer a few of our questions about his work. He did change my correct spelling of “favorite” to the British-Canadian “favourite” (because he and all his lobsterback brethren are a bunch of heathens) but we’ll try not to hold that against him.


NEON definitely presents some surprises with the development of the story. What was the inspiration behind the plot?

The truth is, NEON was a story that just wouldn’t die, based on a very graphic, stark image of a man silhouetted in the rain who had fallen from grace and was the epitome of a lonely heart.

I was trying to work out what this man wanted and what had got him into such an emotionally dire predicament.  I awoke in the middle of the night just knowing it was about love and shame: it was about keeping another out of love’s way for your own selfish desires – and then it all just clicked: the tone, the mood, the emotion, why it was raining, why he was bald and his place in the world around him.

I was developing another short to direct, a haunting medieval horror, but pitched this to my producer and exec. producer instead – we then spent a year developing the script and working out the best way to present a narrative that goes far beyond what shorts usually handle, as there’s an entire history and world-building element to NEON that is intrinsic to it working. Narratively, we knew we were taking a monumental risk in how we were presenting our story but we figured go big or go home. We went big.

We really enjoyed that NEON was able to present such a vibrant world on what I can only assume was a bit of a budget. In your experience as a creator, what are some of the challenges and rewards in making a short film like this?

NEON is the first film for a while that I’ve directed in such a meticulous manner. I usually like to direct and shoot more organically – a bit more ‘guerilla’ – and feel things out as we go along following rehearsals and workshopping – but NEON was not that sort of film at all.

With so much backstory and world-building to accomplish, every second counted. The way in which the script was written was VERY prescriptive and we even made an animatic of the entire film to check our timings throughout. Every moment was accounted for – every angle, reason for a shot… the timing of an actor’s blocking was rehearsed in my head a million times before the camera ever rolled.

Was it rewarding? It was and it wasn’t. I like to be surprised on set, I like to encourage improvisation and to find new details or moments that are unexpected delights as they can often make a scene. However, the ambitious nature of NEON meant we had less time to allow for such moments and, as such, it was quite the military operation schedule-wise. Having said that, it was the very ambition of what we were trying to achieve with the story and emotion, the cinematography and saga-esque nature to the film that made the process rewarding. Up until NEON I’d been making films with what I could, budget-wise, resource wise – films I could make with what I had access to. NEON was a film for which my producer and I said to ourselves: “What’s the film we want to make?” And we put our money into that. Continue reading

NEON: A Short Film Review

neon

In a grim and rain-soaked city, what begins as a couple’s phone conversation swiftly becomes a desperate negotiation for their future. NEON plunges us headfirst into a world of quiet desperation as we watch one man’s desperate bid for his own future against powers beyond our comprehension.

Or perhaps even a universe beyond our comprehension.

Director Mark J. Blackman (along with his team) makes spectacular use of special effects to give us a throbbing, vibrant world. Gorgeous panoramas of storm clouds and cityscapes, decrepit warehouses, and lonely streets all serve to make the setting as dynamic and alive as any of the film’s characters. Hell, based on a few of the clues dropped throughout the film, that might even be the case; the sometimes-indifferent, sometimes-capricious backdrop serving as a stand-in for the unnamed antagonists in play. Continue reading

Asimov, Vonnegut, & Wendy’s: I For One Welcome Our Robot Overlords

Last week saw an announcement from fast food chain Wendy’s that they’d be rolling out some 6,000 “self-service kiosks” in their restaurants. This follows rulings in California and New York that would gradually raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.00 an hour, and as you might imagine the connection has not been lost on people.

Of course, when I say “people”, I mean the ranks of bougie suburbanites who have been gleefully cackling over Wendy’s decision. It is these folks who I’d like to address directly today.

<Ahem>

****. You.

tumblr_nv8g3ppeac1rfd7lko1_400

Seriously, what kind of demented, spiteful people are you?

After decades of stagnant wages and crippling poverty. After years of broken promises and betrayals by their supposed liberal representatives. After months and months of fighting and campaigning finally the poor have a victory.

And your response to Wendy’s giving their jobs to robots is “Serves ’em right?”

Did I say **** you yet?

Well, **** you.

You guys sound like mustache-twirling caricatures from some turn-of-the-century political cartoon.

wall-street-3c-big

“Oh I say, my dear Montressor- that’ll show those filthy proles! Now let us adjourn to the smoking room for cigars and brandy!”

Livable wages?

What are they going to ask for next? An eight-hour work day? Paid lunches and sick leave?

Only for all your cantankerous whinging, you’re probably not some festering slumlord or monocled oil-tycoon. So why are you bent out of shape? Continue reading

How To Fix American Horror Story

Seems like just yesterday that I was extolling the virtues of a bold little show called American Horror Story.

In one of the most (unfairly) reviled and (fairly) stagnant genres, AHS was raising the bar. Ushering in a whole new flock of horror fans and giving the long-timers a much needed breath of fresh air. It offered intrinsically good stories and managed to offer cutting social justice commentary at the same time.

So what on earth happened?

We can debate where it all went wrong, but I don’t think anybody can deny that the show is suffering on all fronts, and not even the Evan Peters fanservice is enough to hold it together. [Spoilers from this point on. -Ed.]

tumblr_o4kbgtfe2b1v9nzhoo1_500

The dude’s the be-all-end-all, if the show’s female fans are to be believed

I could spend all day listing my litany of complaints about the past couple seasons- the skull-numbing boredom of AHS: Freak Show, the abysmally scattered and campy AHS: Hotel (I will never forgive Lady Gaga’s inclusion)…

tumblr_o43ruzpxd31uz0c9ao2_400

I **** you not, the woman’s so vain that her character seduced a gay guy and it was somehow supposed to be taken as her being “progressive”

…but you probably wouldn’t need me for any of that (again though, **** everything about Gaga’s role in this show).

What I’d like to do instead is offer my own armchair suggestions for recapturing that eldritch magic the first couple seasons had. Because I hope that maybe, just maybe, some bored writer will stumble across this piece and think “hey, that’s not a half bad idea!”

Because I’m also that vain.

Not as vain as Gaga though- Miss “I Need To Appear In A Different Crazy Outfit In Every ****ing Scene And Fondle My Harem of Identical Dudes.”

2e24d174f73f7b0a3b99060bd0ea4299

Okay, I promise I’m done.

So, anonymous and probably non-existent AHS employee who’ll probably never see this, here’s one horror fan’s humble recommendations for restoring one of his favorite shows to its former glory. Continue reading

“Hail Satan Gaiman” Or “Sympathy for the Devil”

Neil ****ing Gaiman.

Whimsical genius behind countless best-selling novels and comic books. Creative cadre to such literary giants as Terry Pratchett and Alan Moore. Champion of the plight of Syrian refugees. Perhaps one of the great authors of this time, with tales and yarns extending from the worlds of realism to science fiction to fantasy.

In many respects, a modern-day C.S. Lewis, with his ability to make the magical and divine seem every much as real and accessible as anything in the waking world.

Shame some folks don’t see it that way.

Specifically “One Million Moms”, which has created a petition for FOX to cancel Gaiman’s upcoming Lucifer TV series.

Now for the unaware, Lucifer is a comic book series spin-off of Gaiman’s fantastical masterpiece Sandman. Dealing largely with themes of free will and fate, the series sees its titular character abdicate his infernal throne and become a beach-bum in Australia.

The series has been loosely (but still earnestly) adapted by FOX, with the show’s premier airing at this year’s ComicCon and a three minute trailer released for the public at large. Continue reading