Tag Archives: horror

Devil Town: Our Infernal Interview with Nick Barrett

piuyfvbsjhgs1z4ixkmww8zfz7-hfyxado1tt5eisqc6npa2j5_o1xdezck5h3p4rdblj2gwwhfzjmupgctijf3hkwoowaut34jih51s0uy_hymq_cg5ivjyjx4gs8mrlscold2fgz5dat-j5fnkscyik2zbtd-2vf_adftpmbd54esgp0jtlfdranfhnlem5niid4ocLast week, CWR was given a chance to review Devil Town, a short film in the spirit of classic 60s horror.While Devil Town’s protagonist may have been unwittingly cornered, the fiendish flick’s creator was more than happy to speak with us about his inspiration. Here’s our interview with director Nick Barrett.


Could you tell us a bit about what inspired the story behind Devil Town?

As with most film ideas it’s usually a collision of different thoughts and influences. In Devil Town’s case I was given an old fashioned whistle as a present and just had it lying around my room, I kept picking it up and thinking why someone would pull it out of their pocket. I’m also a huge fan of the old fifties Twilight Zone as well and always loved their ‘containment’ episodes, ones that were set entirely in say a train station waiting room, a roadside café or, infamously enough, a plane journey at  20,000 feet. These kinds of shows were known as ‘bottle’ episodes (episodes designed to save money by using limited props, actors and locations) but they’re some of my favourites as well – and the concept lends itself perfectly to low budget shorts. When done well the viewer won’t even be aware of the contained environment, or it just becomes so integral to the narrative that it isn’t an issue – you can see it working brilliantly in recent films like The Invitation or Green Room or a TV show like Inside No 9.

Harold Pinter was a big inspiration too – the concept of a stranger invading another’s space, the power struggle between two characters, conflicting class systems, you see all that in things like The Homecoming, The Servant, The Birthday Party and The Caretaker – and I’m sure the concept of a rather sinister tramp was subliminally lifted from the great man’s work. Continue reading

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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

CWR’s Halloween Recommendations IV

Well my repellent readers, after a horrific hiatus Culture War Reporter’s is back from the grave to fight for your faithful following. And we start with one of my personal favorites, our fourth annual Halloween movie recommendations! Now let us feast!

The Perfect Host

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As a rule, I don’t consider “comedy horror” to be a legitimate subgenre of horror. Things are either scary or they’re funny and mashing ’em together in a movie usually makes sure that it’s neither. That said, 2010’s The Perfect Host may well change my mind about that. Imagine if Hannibal was a black comedy and you pretty much have this delightful hidden gem. We bear witness to an evening of strange events as a conman knocks on the wrong door and gets more than he bargains for. And since you’re wondering, yes, that is Niles from Fraiser. He actually makes a pretty compelling villain.

 They Look Like People

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This is, without a doubt, one of the single best movies I have ever seen.

I cannot sing its praises enough. I’d spend a whole blog post breaking down all the things that make it awesome, but I don’t want to give away a single second of it. Know only that a young man receives a surprise visit from a childhood friend. What follows is a slow-burning, subtle, and staggeringly realistic film in the vein of such masterpieces as Stoker and It Follows. Amazingly written, beautifully shot, and utterly compelling. If you watch literally nothing else on this list, watch this.

 We Are What We Are

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It’s about a family of cannibals. But you knew that. You’d know that from the trailers, from the first five minutes, or from having watched even an episode or two of X-Files. But fortunately, the folks behind We Are What We Are know that you know that, and spend their time making this film less about any cliched twist (though there is certainly an unexpected jolt at the end) and more about painting a vivid and haunting picture of American Gothic. Beautifully shot, amazingly acted, and with a much needed degree of self-awareness that raises this film head and shoulders above it’s just-for-the-fans brethren. Continue reading

In Ophelia‘s Seat: Anthony Garland Explains the Film’s Name, Length, and Even Its Genre

opheliaposterThis past Friday the short film Ophelia
began screening at the 2016 LA Shorts Fest. The piece touches on fear, expectation, pressure, and ambition through a the first few minutes of a job interview with the title character. I was able to view and review the film for myself not too long ago.

Answering a few questions himself is Anthony Garland, the director. Garland has acted in a number of small film and television roles, and assisted other directors in filming such music videos as Lana Del Ray’s “Summertime Sadness”.


garlandWhat did you want to be when you were seven-years-old?

THAT question! … A superhero. Super strength and invulnerability would be preferable but I definitely had to be able to fly. I was obviously past the age where you know that powers don’t exist, but I remember being pretty sure that I’d be the exception. I grew up reading comics before the characters had this cinematic renaissance; that was really my education in storytelling, art direction and frame composition.

What was the strangest question you’ve ever been asked in a job interview?

I’ve actually been relatively safe in interviews and auditions thus far… I feel like I’m the one asking the strange questions a lot of the time, but that’s deliberate! Just the nature of status and hierarchy, we forget that we’re all just individuals, regardless of position, and a job interview is as much for you as it is for the people that might hire you; so questions, however wacky, are a good way to set up a back and forth rather than sitting through an interrogation, which is what most bad interviews feel like.

Do you have any strategies when it comes to interviewing for a job [or auditioning for a role]? [How do you deal with pressure?]

Sure, and maybe this comes from having a background in acting, but so long as the focus is on something external, like engaging with the person opposite you by asking those questions, or really taking them in, then there’s no space to be self conscious. Continue reading

Ophelia: A Short Film Review

opheliaposterIn a world fraught with fears there are few experiences as anxiety-inducing as job interviews. While a failed date resolves in an extended period of loneliness a botched interview affects your very livelihood. In its first few moments Ophelia opens up with the titular character cautiously entering a derelict hallway, the sounds of her heels punctuating each step towards a room of other applicants.

Given the inherently terrifying nature of the event his piece depicts, director Anthony Garland fittingly chose to shoot the film like a horror movie. There’s a constant air of tension, which succeeds due to it never growing too overbearing. Ophelia‘s most unsettling moments might have been flashier and more overt in other hands, but there’s an admirable amount of restraint that extends from the cut from shot to shot [Garland also edited the film] to the sound direction.

As for the interview itself, the theme appears to grapple with the director’s chosen genre. If job interviews, like horror films, are frightening then how do we address and manage that fear? 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.]

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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)…

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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.”

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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

The Wolves that Live in Skin and Space: A Book Review

wolvesthatliveThe Wolves that Live in Skin and Space is Christopher Zeischegg’s, better known as adult performer Danny Wylde, second novel. It’s also a deeply personal one that he described as “an autobiography horror hybrid” in an interview I conducted with him last month.

Given the first person point of view used throughout and the idea that the events taking place were based on, or were actually, “things that were happening in [his] life at the time” it became impossible for this reader and reviewer not to make his way through the book without mentally hearing the words in Zeischegg’s voice. Upon finishing the final, chilling page I was forced to ask myself the question: Does this novel only succeed given a reader’s connection with Chris himself?

While knowing the author, either as a performer or otherwise, may add another dimension to reading it I ultimately decided that it wasn’t necessary, and may even be unadvised as far as fully experiencing The Wolves that Live in Skin and Space is concerned.
Continue reading