Saturday, 23 May 2020

DANIEL ISN'T REAL (full review at Screen Realm)

Daniel Isn’t Real is another unassuming horror movie from Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah’s production house, SpectreVision, the company that brought us Mandy, The Greasy Strangler and most recently, The Color Out of Space. It is the second feature from director Adam Egypt Mortimer and is based on the novel In This Way I Was Saved by co-writer Brian DeLeeuw.

After a traumatic experience in his early childhood and the separation of his parents, lonely kid Luke invents an imaginary friend, Daniel. All is well at first, it seems. Luke has a playmate and blame taker, until Daniel coerces Luke into harming his mother. After which, Daniel is banished.

Some years later, Luke is just starting college and living out of home for the first time. His mother is struggling with her mental health and a troubling incident serves as the catalyst for
Luke (Miles Robbins) to recall Daniel (Patrick Schwarzenegger) to his life. As before, everything is well initially, as Daniel gives Luke some much needed confidence and positive affirmation, helping him in his fledgling relationship with artist Cassie (Sasha Lane). However it will come as no surprise to tell you that, before long, Daniel reveals his intentions are far more sinister.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

IMDB: Daniel Isn't Real

Saturday, 9 May 2020

BLOOD QUANTUM (full review at Screen Realm)

Blood Quantum is an Indigenous Canadian horror movie and the second feature from Mi’gmaq director Jeff Barnaby, following up his 2013 debut Rhymes For Young Ghouls. It screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (T.I.F.F.) in 2019 and is currently streaming on Shudder in the U.S.

Blood Quantum is set on the Red Crow Reservation in 1981 and opens with local police chief Traylor (Michael Greyeyes), doing his rounds, as weird things start to happen. When Traylor is called back to the police station to bail out his son, Joseph (Forrest Goodluck), and his friend Lysol / Alan (Kiowa Gordon) it becomes increasingly apparent that the zombie apocalypse is unfolding around them. In an interesting twist to the established zombie rules, it transpires the Indigenous population are immune to zombie infection. So as the zombie threat starts to take hold, the First Nations people establish Red Crow Reservation as a safe haven and start to take in survivors from the general populace, who are not immune. Of course, it’s not all plain sailing for the Indigenous population, as they are still as vulnerable as anybody else to being torn apart by a zombie horde. But it does give them an advantage.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

IMDB: Blood Quantum

Saturday, 2 May 2020


So for the last month I very much enjoyed the daily Flash Fiction Challenge, set by Writers Victoria here in Melbourne. It was open to everyone and the simple rules were to compose a short story in no more than thirty words, using the featured word of the day. It was a great, fun challenge and you should check out Writers Victoria and all the daily winners here:

Confession time: I forgot all about the challenge for the first nine days, but once I started it was impossible to stop. I built it into my daily isolation routine and it helped me feel productive during this weird time. The Flash Fiction Challenge also gave my brain a creative boost which helped me focus on other projects. On 10th April I won the daily challenge with the second story I wrote, Lens, which was very exciting.

The upshot is that I enjoyed writing these weird tales so much it seemed like shame to let them evaporate over on Twitter. So I've compiled them all here on my blog, in lieu of me ever getting my own website sorted for my film and fiction writing. I've also included a few stories that I wrote, but didn't post, because I had several tries at the brief. Any feedback is gratefully received and if you feel inclined to provide it you can find me on Twitter and Instagram.

So here for your perusal, are twenty-seven weird tales of intrigue. Where the strange and the mundane cross-pollinate. Where the terrifying and the bizarre shake hands with the boring and the everyday. Where Sasquatch hold medical degrees. Where the Martian Internet delivers internationally. Where cannibals lament the lack of good cookery guidance.

Do you dare read on...*

9 April 2020
Thing is, a flamethrower only got 3 settings: off, ‘gentle flame,’ and a third one no sumbitch Martian raygun stands a chance against… burnt to a goddamned crisp.

10 April 2020
I’m telling you, there’s absolutely no way to tell without the Monster Lens. Look through here:  human… human… human… monster. See? I told you. Monsters everywhere. Now get my clipboard.

11 April 2020
The myopic Small Business Manager is the real villain.  Said my business plan was ‘ill conceived’. Said I should stick to Frankenstein’s Monster. But Frankenstein’s Bistro would’ve been way cooler.

12 April 2020
Summoning a multi-dimensional convergence looks easy on paper, I’ll grant you that. But get your sums wrong and you’ll be sponging liquefied necromancer’s out of your carpet for a week.

13 April 2020
If there is a downside to vampirism, and I’ll be honest here… it’s the teeth. They’re too dang sharp. And they make it impossible to eat a piece of fruit.

14 April 2020
“Bullseye!” he shouted, and Dr Bigfoot lay unconscious before him.  Now to search his office. If he found it, everyone at Sasquatch Hospital would be shocked by his terrible secret.

15 April 2020
My first order from the Martian Internet. My heart was pounding. At last, my X-Ray Glasses! A sticker on the front caught my eye… ‘not suitable for humanoid perception.’

15 April 2020
The room hummed with anticipatory conversation. He tapped his glass near the microphone, the shrill pitch gathering attention. “Assembled guests, it is my great pleasure to introduce... The Invisible Man.”

16 April 2020
Do you have time to talk about our many-tentacled Lord and Saviour? Technically we’re a ‘peripheral religion,’ despite the fact we’ve seen the steepest sacrificial incline in the country.

17 April 2020
The Boss was pretty vague when he said “take him out.” Plus, it was only my second day as a henchman, you know? So I bought him a nice meal.

17 April 2020
There’s no instruction manual for an Alien autopsy. Did you know their cranial fluid sacs are poisonous? Now that you mention it, health and safety here is a bit vague.

18 April 2020
We’ve had our top scientists researching it for months. Unfortunately, most of the good animals were already copyrighted for military-industrial complex purposes. So my team devised… guinea pigs with lasers.

19 April 2020
I cannot emphasize this enough: don’t let your mind drift when summoning a Kraken. We do not want sea beasts in our city. Their Trip Advisor reviews are always scathing. 

20 April 2020
It’s the Abominable Snowman’s fault. ‘Building a media presence’, he says. Hogging the spotlight, is more like it. We’re not all like that, but Very Pleasant Snowman doesn’t sell newspapers.

21 April 2020
There’s no justice. Decency holds no sway with those deficient in it. The only thing these motherfuckers understand is money and bureaucracy. Well, that and wasps… go get the wasps.

22 April 2020
Our intrepid expedition to the Centre of the Earth found no dinosaurs, nor cyclops. Instead, at planet’s core we found yolk. Assembled guests, we are living on a Cosmic Egg.

22 April 2020
At The Centre For Advanced Demonology we offer many courses including: Premium Acolyte Selection, Possession For Beginners and Pre-Apocalypse Cardio. For enrolment contact us via pentagram manifestation or email.

23 April 2020
For this month’s book club we’re reading The Necronomicon (unabridged). You should be able to find it in the Warlock’s lair, an adjacent unfriendly dimension or that bookshop at the airport.

24 April 2020
Well sir, there really is no objective measure to quantify a King Kong attack. The aftermath is always tough. If it’s not infrastructure destruction then it’s the dang banana shortages.

25 April 2020
The insurance company determined the Roswell crash was due to a loose rivet in the quantum light accelerator. The Earthlings live-autopsied the crew. Official cause of death: Primitive Curiosity.

26 April 2020
His vision drove everything: it put up the compound, erected the effigy, authored the loveliest blood incantations. But clarity of purpose eventually deserted him and, sadly, the apocalypse was postponed.

27 April 2020
The newspapers call it teleportation, but that’s distorting the truth. Technically, I rip you apart on a sub-atomic level, before replicating you perfectly in another location. Basically, you’re a photocopy.

28 April 2020
He gathered, via a medical acquaintance, that the human brain was 73% water. But this one definitely tasted dry. Cannibal recipes are notoriously obtuse. He was also out of basil. 

29 April 2020
Cops caught me red handed, gouging the eyeballs out of shop mannequins with a spork. Judge said I was fixated, but I prefer to use the term ‘enthusiastically detail focussed.’

30 April 2020
Their focus was all wrong. Dracula’s a businessman like anyone else. They should’ve just stuck to Evil Castle property values. They were estate agents, their souls were damned already. 

30 April 2020
Got shitcanned from my job. ‘Dangerous lack of focus’ they said. I was on my phone for 5 minutes, a famous vampire hunter got bit and that’s MY fault, somehow?

30 April 2020
It all came into focus after just one dinner. The Loch Ness Monster is no ‘monster’ at all. He is a gentleman. A charming, erudite and deeply misunderstood Mesozoic reptile

*(please read on)

EXTRACTION (full review at Screen Realm)

Extraction is the debut movie from stunt coordinator-turned-director Sam Hargrave and was written by Joe Russo, one half of the Russo Brothers, best known for their work on Marvel’s Avengers and Captain America movies. Extraction is based on the graphic novel Ciudad which was also written by the Russo Brothers and Ande Parks, with art by Fernando León González.

Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) is an Australian mercenary, hired to rescue and return Ovi Mahajan (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of a Bangladeshi drug lord who has been kidnapped by a rival. Tyler is haunted by tragedy and is courting a death wish. With the city of Dhaka on lockdown, Tyler faces off against corrupt cops, rival drug gang members and shady special forces operative Saju (Randeep Hooda), who is also after Ovi. Tyler must locate Ovi and then escape to their extraction point.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

IMDB: Extraction

Friday, 17 April 2020

VIVARIUM (full review at Screen Realm)

Vivarium is a science fiction / horror mystery and is the second feature from director / co-writer Lorcan Finnegan. It’s being released to VOD from 16 April 2020.

Young couple, Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) and Gemma (Imogen Poots), are desperate to get into the housing market, so they go to meet with the agent handling the sales of the Yonder housing estate. Martin (Jonathan Aris), the agent, is a strange individual and their encounter is bizarre. However, in the interests of compromise and with a nothing-ventured-nothing-gained philosophy, Tom and Gemma agree to view a house.

They arrive at the uniformly designed estate and it becomes readily apparent that Yonder is not what Tom and Gemma are looking for. Martin’s strange behaviour culminates in him abandoning the viewing, so Tom and Gemma set off for home, only to find they are unable to make their way out of the estate.  After driving around for hours, they discover themselves back where they started, in front of the house they were viewing. With no other choice available they must spend the night in Yonder. From this point on Vivarium descends into surreal nightmare, as the days become circular and logic defying.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

IMDB: Vivarium

Thursday, 2 April 2020

STAR TREK: PICARD (full review at Screen Realm)

Star Trek: Picard is a ten part series created by CBS All Access and is streaming on Amazon Prime Video in most countries outside of the USA, including Australia. The series sees Patrick Stewart returning to the Star Trek universe and to the iconic role of Jean-Luc Picard - the role that made him a household name.

Please note: there are mild spoilers ahead for Picard, and larger spoilers for Star Trek: Nemesis.

In the year 2399, Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is retired from the United Federation Of Planets (Starfleet) and has taken charge at his family vineyard, Château Picard.

In his final mission for Starfleet, Picard was due to oversee the mass evacuation of Romulus, which was under threat of destruction from a nearby Supernova. At the same time, a violent uprising of synthetic lifeforms on Mars resulted in the banning of all synthetic life and research, and the sidelining of the Starfleet rescue armada. Picard’s alternate rescue plan was rejected by Starfleet and his acrimonious resignation was the result. 

Then, many years into retirement, Picard is contacted by a young woman named Dahj (Isa Briones) who has been attacked by agents from the Romulan secret service, the Tal Shiar. Not knowing why she was targeted, Dahj turns to Picard for protection and help in finding her twin sister Soji (also played by Isa Briones). This sets the series in motion as Picard must come out of retirement, put together a crew and head out on a mission that involves a captured Borg Cube, a shadowy Romulan black ops unit known as the Zhat Vash, and in the grand tradition of The Next Generation, some philosophical pondering on human nature and what it means to be alive.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

IMDB: Star Trek: Picard

THE PLATFORM (EL HOYO) (full review at Screen Realm)

‘There are three types of person: Those at the top, those at the bottom and those who fall.’ So begins The Platform (El Hoyo), a Spanish science fiction horror movie and the debut feature from director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia. Proving to be a fan favourite at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, The Platform is now streaming globally on Netflix.

Goreng (Ivan Massagué) wakes up in a cell. Opposite, his cell mate Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor), an older man who seems to have been there for a while, explains the situation. The facility is known as The Hole and its grey, brutalist architecture is divided up into an unknown, but massive number of levels. They can be observed via an opening in the centre of the cell through which a platform travels daily. The platform contains the inmates’ food allowance. The catch? There is only one serving for the entire facility. So the inmates’ only source of food is what those above leave for them.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

IMDB: The Platform