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Docurary- New Release Review- Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, 1993

Available from the 1st January on Netflix UK

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At times Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer seems to be more about the struggles of making a documentary when surrounded by difficult people than about what is ultimately a tragic, crazy story about a woman who turned to murder. While Broomfield’s documentary is interesting- and never boring- it’s also nothing new when it comes to true crime docs. The most interesting moments are when we are shown what it’s really like to make a documentary and the struggles film makers face when talking to people who, well, just don’t want to talk.

Aileen Wuornos was somewhat a media headliner after being dubbed Americas first female serial killer. If this isn’t already enough of a story Nick Broomfield is forced to abandon the usual role of ‘watcher’ and dive head first in his attempts to interview the people surrounding this story- including Wournos herself. At times we watch uncomfortably as Broomfield argues and becomes impatient with his interviewees who seem less than willing to help out (despite being paid for their time!). It’s very raw, it’s very real, and it’s very interesting from the angle of the making of a documentary.

The Selling of a Serial Killer focuses on Wuornos who while working as a prostitute killed only her male clients and at the time of her arrest (and while committing these horrific crimes) was in a relationship with a woman. Things start to get crazier when a Christian woman adopts her. Arlene Pralle, now the mother of Wournos, comes across as a fascinatingly fake character and Broomfield makes no attempt to make her appear genuine. We see what’s there, and what’s there is undeniably troublesome. Finally we have Steve Glazer a guitar wielding lawyer/Pralle’s agent (?) who has the weirdest advert for his services- they can only be described as looking like they’ve been stolen from Saul Goodman. Together Pralle and Glazer seem to be in it for the money, between press deals and demanding money to be part of Broomfield’s documentary the whole thing is rather shady.

While Broomfield’s documentary breaks no new ground in terms of story telling or with documentary as a genre it’s still an interesting watch. It’s an up close look at people, a journey into the reality of corruption, betrayal, and crime.

2.5/ 5

Docu-rary 2016 – Making a Murderer- What is it? and why you should watch it.

Available now on Netflix

The Netflix original series, Making a Murderer, is making quite a splash across the globe. Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi’s documentary, that took ten years and complete immersion into the community to film is currently one of the most controversial documentaries. From Reddit to News reports to the Anonymous hacktivist group it’s hard to shy away from the blaring show of support and anger this documentary has stirred up.

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Now On Netflix Review- The Ninth Gate, 1999

Available Now on Netflix UK

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The Ninth Gate features Johnny Depp playing our protagonist, Dean Corso, the book dealer with a reputation. Dean sets out to verify and research a book called ‘The Nine Gates’ for a client who believes that out of the three copies that exists only one is real.

Roman Polanski’s film is drenched in mystery, and although it is a little bit goofy, it’s the kind of film that’s going to glue you to the screen. We’re just as confused as Dean Corso is through- out the whole film, who is this mysterious blonde (Emmanuelle Seigner) who keeps showing up? And why is there so much mystery, defensiveness and murder that follows these books around? The answer? Satan, of course.

This film is following in the footsteps of all satanic cult movies, when we meet the group responsible they’re dressed in long black robes and reading from this mysterious book in front of a  dramatically set- up bed where orgies take place, allegedly. Polanski ticks every box in the book to make sure we know this is a cult, and the most evil and corrupt one at that. It would be goofy, and it kind of is, but some how it still hits the mark.

This film seems to get crazier and crazier, but I kind of loved it. The Ninth Gate will drag you in with it’s mysteriousness and keep you watching because it’s kind of great.

4/5

Now On Netflix Review- Invaders From Mars, 1986

Available Now on Netflix UK

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Invaders from Mars is the kind of horror that’s fine for pretty much the whole family. It’s not overly terrifying or overly gruesome and if you take out the small amount of horror that is present you are left with a children’s film. Not that I’m slating Invaders from Mars for being that, it was one hell of a fun movie and I would probably watch it again.

I don’t know what’s wrong with this town but for some reason the only person who can tell that something’s wrong is a child, David (Hunter Carson), even though everyone is acting super weird and suspicious. Luckily the school nurse (Linda Magnuson) believes him and the two set out to save the day.

The plot is as simple as it could get, but since it worked for me I’m not going to say anything bad about that. Visually it’s a super fun film, there’s a lot going on but it’s never distracting- from cute/ terrifying aliens to the spaceship channeling disco ball landing there’s certainly a lot to look at in this film. It’s everything you would expect from an 80’s sci-fi horror flick.

3/5 – Pretty sure I almost took half a star away for the ending because it disappointed me greatly, but it’s an amusing sci-fi flick so what the hell- three stars!

Now On Netflix Review- Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, 1971,

Available Now on Netflix UK

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John D. Hancock’s low budget horror is a journey into paranoia and atmosphere of the creepiest kind. Okay, so it takes a while for this movie to really kick in but we’re treated to some wonderful psychological scares and spine- tingling visuals from the very beginning as we’re not sure if what we’re seeing is a result of Jessica’s recent stay in a mental ward or something far more terrifying.

The film will drip feed you daringly obvious signs as to where this movie is going but don’t be put off by that because as this film comes to an end there is some truly terrifying scenes. Jessica, played by Zohra Lampert is doing her best to over act everything but it kind of works with the knowledge of her characters unstable backstory.

You’ll be drowning in the mood of this film and absolutely suffocating on the ambiance, in the best possible way. In fact it’s probably Hancock’s brilliant building of these elements that makes this low- budget film so successful.

If you’re a fan of horror be sure to catch this!
4/5

New Release Review- The Curse of Downers Grove, 2015

Avaliable from 11th December on Netflix UK

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The Curse of Downers Grove begins with the vaguely interesting premise about a curse that kills one student a year before graduation day. We then quickly descend into a completely different film that has nothing to do with the curse until- I don’t know- the last minute maybe?

With the tag line; ‘HIGH SCHOOL CAN BE MURDER.’ you have to start wondering why add the curse in the movie at all. The Curse of Downers Grove is really about horrible jocks, who take drugs, vandalize and sexually assault women every chance they get. One in particular decides to take revenge on Chrissie Swanson (Bella Heathcote) who ripped his eye out in an act of self defense. The movie will use every trick it can think of to let you know just how terrible these boys are and it gets boring. We get it. They’re bad. Anything else going on?

Two of our protagonists Chrissie and her brother (Martin Spanjers) are fairly well rounded, unfortunately everyone else falls under a ‘we’re bad’/ ‘we’re good’ stereotype/ that one guy, who looks so much like young Heath Ledger that it was mildly distracting, who played ‘generic rom-com love interest’. That’s about it for this film. None of the acting was particularly great and neither was the story.

The Curse of Downers Grove is not one to watch. You’ll only end up sitting there wondering why everyone in this film is making unrealistic or stupid decisions.

1/5

Now On Netflix Review- Creep, 2014

Available now on Netflix UK

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Mark Duplass delivers an absolutely terrifying performance in Patrick Brice’s Creep.

Aaron (Patrick Brice) is a videographer looking for work and the answer immediately appears, because that’s how it works in horror films. Josef (Mark Duplass) is offering $1,000 for one day of filming. Aaron takes the job, but admits that the situation seems too good to be true. It is. Obviously.

The film, a found footage piece, lives up to it’s name with a ruthless atmosphere of unquestionable creepiness. Mark Duplass delivers the kind of performance you just can’t turn away from and his character, Josef, quickly becomes the star. While some parts are laugh- out- loud funny there’s always that creepy undertone that won’t go away, and that’s why this film succeeds in the way it does. It’s awkward and terrifying and sets itself apart from the sea of awful found footage films out there.

Creep shifts so seamlessly and quickly from funny to scary that it’s hard to know how to react, except for a deep disturbance you’re bound to feel. If you’re looking for a good found footage with lots of atmosphere then Creep is the one for you.

Extremely watchable, definitely one to catch.

4/5

Now On Netflix Review- Preservation, 2014

Available now on Netflix UK

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Utter trash.

Couple Wit and Mike (Wrenn Schmit/ Aaron Staton) decide to take a camping trip in an attempt to run from their problems, but things don’t go to plan when Mike’s brother Sean (Pablo Schreiber) ends up tagging along. Of course it’s probably a blessing in disguise as they’re soon being hunted by mysterious men and ex- military brother Sean is probably their best hope to get out of the woods alive.

Why? Why does everyone split up in horror films? It never, ever, works.

After seeing that Mike and Wit can make their way back to the car Sean decides to go back and save his dog.

It’s never a good sign when you kill of your best character half an hour in. Sean is quickly murdered, which is an endless disappointment because he was the only character with an interesting back story. Still, I watch on because I have a secret love for VOD trash.

There’s not an awful lot of mood or atmosphere in this film, it is what it is, which is a trashy survival- esque horror movie.

The ending ‘twist’ is an obvious cliche, you’ll work it out early on if you’re watching this movie with any kind of interest- but it is a cliche for a reason as it still works to add a disturbing layer as this film comes to an end.

2/5

Now On Netflix Review- Death Proof, 2007

Available Now on Netflix UK

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Tarantino’s Death Proof is a film with two intense acts. It’s a dialogue- packed, blood- splatter horror with a re-watch-ability that guarantees the same thrill every time you watch it.

Death Proof is often considered as Tarantino’s worst film and I cannot see why. It’s full to the brim with great imagery and while it has a whole load of Tarantino’s obsessions present (there’s no shortage of feet here), that doesn’t mean this film is weak. Yeah, it revolves around ‘hot babes’ partying and drug taking but behind that the film is ultimately a feminist piece- or at the very least pro- woman. In placing women in central roles Tarantino does quite a good job at representing these characters pretty fairly- every now and then they fall into an unfortunate stereotype but considering Death Proof often feels like it’s on the edge of being a parody or homage to earlier exploitation horror flicks then I’ll let that pass.

Visually it’s kind of strange, with a grainy film filter covering the screen and a weird moment of black and white right it the middle we could easily be fooled into thinking this film was made in the 70’s (even though it’s not)- but it kind of works. With bright colors and bold sets that jump out the screen in every other scene the filter acts as a buffer for our senses.

As this film comes to a close we’re treated to what I assume was about twenty minutes of an all- out intense car case, and I loved every minute of it. There’s no amazingly clever premise or ‘wow I can’t believe that’ twist behind Death Proof, it’s simply a silly, fun, intense horror flick that Tarantino succeeds in making an exciting watch.

4.5/5