Note: All stills were provided by Arrow Video. Check out more Arrow Video information at https://conta.cc/3kVxOw1. Free trials are currently available!
This review is thanks to Arrow Video, a UK-based film restoring and distributing company, also now dabbling in streaming services. Not only do they sell DVDs and Blu-Ray of giallo classics, Japanese kaiju, and horror staples, they sell the massively under-appreciated, Blade of the Axe,………..to Europeans and in the UK. Bummer, but I’m glad it’s getting out there. (European/UK friends! You’ve been called upon!)
“We are a true indie SVOD service created and run by people that love cult films of all kinds. We relish the opportunity of finding new ways to champion movies we are excited about. We want to get these often rarely seen – but fantastic – stories to a wider audience whilst developing a strong community with likeminded fans.
ARROW is building on our decades of experience in the Cult film and physical media worlds. We believe in film, from horror to action to westerns to the truly bizarre. We are using our experience as a distributor and our recent digital presence to deliver a very different SVOD service in ARROW.
Our approach to supporting each release on ARROW includes looking to supplement the feature films with hours of additional content that paints a fuller story of the filmmakers, genres and the movies themselves. We commission stunning artwork from some of the best illustrators and artists from around the world and work as closely as we can with the filmmakers themselves in how their film is released.“
So, how ‘bout that streaming/movie?
Well, I was given the film, The Deeper You Dig, to try it out. Thank you, Arrow for the opportunity to try your digital wares, let’s get into the film.
Teenage daughter Echo and mother Ivy have a closer-than-close relationship. It seems like in the small town in this isolated wilderness, they have bonded tightly together.
However, Echo is murdered by loner and recluse, Kurt, after a sledding accident gone awry.
Kurt attempts to hide the body, but cannot escape the ghost of Echo and the suspicion of Ivy. As Ivy grows closer to Kurt and the secrets he hides, the line of sanity begins to blur…
Okay, I’m going to say this straight-up so we can move past it. Stiff, awkward acting. For a family (like real-honest family) who made this movie, it seems so bland and muted with their acting. I get the “art-house” feel they were going for (and, in some ways, succeed in), but it falls like damp corrugated cardboard in some really emotional scenes.
In fact, the flat affect was sometimes so pronounced, I laughed during times I think were meant to be higher tension scenes (SEE: when Echo’s ghost first shows up and says, “‘Sup…”).
However, alien-Saltine-cracker-acting aside…there are really fantastic moments, both visually and writing-wise. The build up is a slow-burn, but so visually engaging and fun to watch, it’s a genuine treat. The movie asks to be viewed with a deeper sincerity than your average indie. With the budget being low, they did some really interesting shots and transitions, especially as the story became more surreal and cerebral.
Some might find the soundtrack lacking, but I found the natural sounds instead of music a pure aesthetic delight that grounded me more to the setting surrounding these characters and the role that isolation played within the story. Most of the score was diegetic, so it brought you closer into the story, and was very simplistic, rustic, and raw. It matched the austere scenes of Northern winters and as the seasons blurred into themselves, muted by the pain of a mother losing her daughter and maybe her sanity (along with Kurt).
Also, because I’m a stickler for this, the effects were really good. I was surprised at how naturally they flowed. I’m a huge //ahem// advocate, let’s say, for practical effects, but these CG effects (mixed with practical and clever edits) were really fluid within the scenes. Honestly better than some bigger budget movies in the theater, so terrific job and kudos.
I’m not going to spoil the end. I wasn’t a super fan of the very, very end choice, but I appreciated the journey and where we ended up.
Brain Roll Juice:
There’s a lot of symbolism here. Tarot cards. Coldness. Isolation. Sleds…
But let’s just talk about teenager girls, or more aptly, teenage ghosts. Zelda Adams plays Echo, the Girl Who Sleds at Midnight, and subsequently becomes a ghost. But not any ghost, a teenage ghost.
There were times I probably wasn’t meant to laugh at her complete nonchalance and angsty detachment, but I did…and maybe that’s not a bad thing.
It’s a refreshing, different take from your normal haunting. She isn’t some mid-century waif that died from tuberculosis or a broken-heart when her fiance didn’t come back from The War (pick one). While she’s still vengeful, she’s a modern teenage hipster – annoying her killer with her hipster music, scoffing at his inadequacies, and blandly there to torment him into madness.
She has nowhere else to go and just like a teenager on a court-appointed weekend with her estranged father, she will make him feel every uncomfortable second between them one-hundred-fold. She will make damn sure he knows she isn’t happy with this at all.
Maybe it’s because he really is her dad in real life, but the chemistry works so well in this movie. That ambivalent resentment and biting apathy Adams instills in this ghost is not one like the creepy, hell-bent Sadako, but a numbly sarcastic ghoul, belittling her killer’s every action and reaction, kicking him when he’s down and keeping him there.
And…it’s sometimes really funny.
An indie, sometimes surreal, film that makes a few refreshing choices. Not for a bad movie night with friends, but a much better date movie than Roller Gator. If you want something a little deeper, then you might dig this movie. (3.5 / 5)
Once again, check out more Arrow Video information at https://conta.cc/3kVxOw1. Free trials, check it out, a lot of fun movies on there for horror and other genres.
Movies n TV
Consecration, a Film Review
Consecration is a 2023 horror mystery movie directed by Christopher Smith, who also co-wrote the script with Laurie Cook.
Consecration is a 2023 horror mystery movie directed by Christopher Smith, who also co-wrote the script with Laurie Cook. This R-Rated film includes Jena Malone, Danny Huston, and Janet Suzman as its starring cast. The film is currently available on AMC+ and Shudder.
After her brother dies, Grace (Jena Malone) goes to Scotland to investigate the circumstances. At every step of the way, Mount Saviour Convent seems to interfere with her investigation. Father Romero (Danny Huston) seems eager to help her, even if Mother Superior (Janet Suzman) resists her, but a strange fear seems to direct their actions. Worse yet, Grace endures visions of the past, present, and future.
What I Liked
A surprise performance steals the movie for me, that being Eilidh Fisher’s Meg. This nun-in-training remains consistently inconsistent, forever making me unsure of what to expect. With uncertainty and mystery at the heart of the film, Meg expresses that instability by keeping Grace and the viewer on edge.
Mother Superior and Father Romero have perfect friction with each other. Both manage the supernatural situation in their own way, acting as enemies and supporters toward Grace as needed. This friction also adds to the uncertainty that surrounds Grace’s investigation.
The mystery itself surprises me, though there is barely enough to add the context one needs for this mystery. However, it still earns credit for creativity and deception. Most twists and reveals become apparent and often underwhelm me, but Consecration deserves credit for catching me off guard.
Consecration showcases some alluring visuals, CGI not included. The setting and designs really add to the movies. At times, these visuals purposely contrast their environment as the narrative requires. Usually, it complements the central vision. The film gives off a pleasant aesthetic throughout its runtime–barring the CGI.
As a horror, Consecration has haunting moments. The mystery remains the central selling point. However, it leaves the viewer in constant uncertainty that helps the horror thrive.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Self-harm and suicide reoccur throughout the film, across several scenes and characters. Aside from ensuring the audience remains uncertain of events, there are no larger discussions or much focus on the issue.
Child abuse defines the backstory of certain characters. Unlike the point mentioned above, this earns more of a narrative focus. However, it’s still not exactly the point of the mystery. Don’t expect the film to explore this with sensitivity or depth. If these seem like dealbreakers, Consecration might be a skip.
What I Dislike
I briefly touched on a CGI problem, which hinders the otherwise interesting and alluring practical visuals. There are no ways to understate how distractingly bad one scene’s CGI is and how it upsets that quality. This scene, no spoilers, happens to be the most open use of CGI. There are other CGI moments, but none distract or hinder like that first scene.
The monster reveal underwhelms in a specific way. The twist perfectly aligns and sets up the foundation for this reveal to make the monster work. However, several reshoots add context to prior scenes to show this “demon” in action, and it somewhat upsets the effectiveness of those scenes.
Thoren Ferguson’s DCI Harris shows up sporadically throughout the film. He acts as the force of law, often hostile but completely underutilized. I suspect DCI Harris had a larger role, but somehow this plot was reduced. I assume this because he plays an important scene at the end that doesn’t seem earned. This isn’t to undermine Ferguson’s performance, as he does everything he can with what he’s given.
Consecration hooked me in and kept me engaged throughout its runtime. While the horror is middling, it has merit. The mystery remains the strength of the film, though it’s somewhat underdeveloped. If your mystery films tend to keep you in suspense through shifty characters and secret religious orders are your thing, Consecration might evoke your interest.
(3 / 5)
Movies n TV
You Reap What You Woe
Episode five of Tim Burton’s Wednesday was very busy. A lot is going on here, and most of it is quite fun. So let’s not waste any time getting into it.
First, we must discuss the fate of poor Eugene. If you’ll recall, the last episode ended with Wednesday finding him in the woods, covered in blood.
Despite Principal Weem’s insistence that he’s resting up and healing, he’s actually in a coma in the local ICU. But maybe she has reason to gloss over that unfortunate fact. It’s parents’ weekend, after all. Probably not the best time to admit that a student was grievously injured.
While there are certainly some Nevermore students who are happy to see their parents, none of our main characters are among them. We know that Wednesday isn’t thrilled to see her family, as she’s still resentful that they left her there.
Still, she’s not exactly pleased when Gomez is arrested for the murder of a man named Garrett. This devastates the family and forces Morticia to reveal a secret she’s been keeping from Wednesday.
Morticia also finally gets a chance to talk about Wednesday’s visions with her. She tells her that Goody Addams, who’s made psychic contact with Wednesday several times, is there to teach her about her visions. But Goody Addams is also super vengeful, and not to be trusted. I wonder why.
While much of the episode is about freeing Gomez from jail, the subplots are no less interesting.
Let’s start with Enid. As we know from the first episode, she has yet to grow into her full werewolf potential. If she can’t do this, she’ll be shunned by her kind and likely abandoned by her family pack. Her mother wants to help her, by sending her to a summer camp meant to help werewolves wolf out. Enid refers to these as conversion therapy camps. Which is clearly a problem.
The story that shook me was Bianca. She’s outright afraid when her mother shows up. And the reason is soon made clear.
Her mother is part of a cult called the Morning Song. Bianca’s mother is married to the leader. She’s been using her siren song to trap people in the cult. But her powers are fading. She wants Bianca to come take her place. If she doesn’t, she’ll reveal a terrible secret of how Bianca got into Nevermore Academy in the first place.
I honestly don’t have a lot of bad things to say about this episode. Except that wolf out is a ridiculous term and I cannot take anyone who uses it seriously at all. The characters were fun, the storyline was interesting, and it was satisfying to start getting answers. It helped that this episode included some real-world bad guys, like conversion therapy and cults. If every other episode of this season had been as good as this one, the show would be top marks from me all around.
This episode was a dramatic example of exactly how parents can fail at their job of raising their kids. And, thankfully, how they can succeed. We see Enid’s mom refusing to let her grow at her own pace. We see Sheriff Galpin ignore a clear cry for help from his son Tyler. We see Bianca’s mother, involved in a cult, using her child for her siren powers. And of course, we don’t see Xavier’s parents at all.
But we also see Morticia being a good mom to a difficult kid who’s rebelling against her. We see Enid’s father supporting her, exactly as she is. We see Eugene’s moms by his side at the hospital. At the bedside of their son, they are still able to give comfort to Wednesday. That is some strength right there.
Overall, this was a fun episode. We got some answers and were introduced to even more questions. I had fun watching it, and I’m looking forward to the next episode.
(4 / 5)
Movies n TV
Solace, a Film Review
Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film stars Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Morgan and Abbie Cornish.
Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film includes Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, and Colin Farrell. As of this review, it is currently available to Netflix and Hulu subscribers.
As a string of murders leave FBI agents Joe Merriwether (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish) perplexed, Joe turns to an old FBI contact and friend, Dr. John Clancy. Dr. Clancy possesses psychic abilities that make him an essential asset, but tragedies in his personal life leave him distant and broken. Fearing a person with similar gifts as himself, Dr. Clancy cannot help but lend his assistance.
What I Like
This cast is great, with notable legends living up to their reputation. While by no means career-highlighting performances, they work well together and provide a weight that pushes past lackluster character roles.
As the main character, Anthony Hopkins’s Dr. Clancy stands out above the rest. Given the most screen time and plot relevance, this opinion comes easily. His role has the most opportunity to make us care for his character.
Solace creates fun and engaging scenes that tie directly to the characters’ psychic abilities, adding tension in unique ways. While other movies with psychics utilize similar strategies to convey this power–the movie Next comes to mind–the scenes add variety to otherwise lackluster cinematography. This decision also adds a somewhat strategic nature to the psychic battles.
Originally intended to be a sequel to Seven, this idea, thankfully, does not follow through to the final product. The story behind that is the typical Hollywood shuffle and brand recognition. I can’t exactly figure out a place to put this interesting fact, but the choice remains a benefit to the film.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Slight spoilers ahead! Read this section with that in mind.
A closeted man contracts AIDS and infects his wife. As this goes into rather old homophobia and fears, I felt it needed mentioning. Considering the film’s release date, 2016 (US), the plot point feels uninspired.
Some gratuitous sex scenes tie into the above reveal. The dramatic reveal and voyeuristic nudity (of the wife) make for an odd viewing experience. When the reveal isn’t shocking, it doesn’t exactly add much weight to the elongated scenes.
What I Dislike
There are no tactful ways to go about the low effort of the film. It’s surreal to see the names attached, the concepts addressed, and how it all fumbles. I imagine this discrepancy has something to do with the original sequel idea, but that remains speculation. Ultimately, the film feels awkwardly low budget for the cast it possesses.
Adding to this weakness are the underdeveloped characters and rushed plotlines. The film feels unfocused in direction, revealing things as they become relevant with fluctuating degrees of foreshadowing. Some of these revelations work, with some speculation, but adding them all together makes Solace weaker as a film.
This film isn’t scary, despite the premise being extremely promising. The idea of a potentially psychic killer does evoke a lot of possibilities, added with the exceptional cast, and it seems destined for success. Yet, the horror is middling at best.
Solace wants to be more and achieves some success in certain areas, but its inability to build and support these ideas hinders the overall quality. Perhaps Solace desires to upstage the twists of the typical mystery thriller that makes the film grasp too many new and interesting ideas. Regardless of the reason, the film suffers, and the viewing experience becomes underwhelming.
For a thriller killer, Solace doesn’t hold much water to competition. While the cast performs their roles perfectly and works well with each other, the notable weaknesses in writing and lackluster visuals don’t do the acting justice. A surprisingly exciting cast becomes a disappointing letdown. (2 / 5)