close
Reviews

FrightFest 2018 Review – Upgrade

Upgrade2

Upgrade PosterGrey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) has to adapt to an exciting and terrifying new way of life when he is fused with a computer chip called Stem. The chip is planted in his brain and in one simple command it can control the entirety of Grey’s body, giving him the strength and power to do almost anything he wants.

From director Leigh Whannel, Upgrade is what you get when you let one of the creators of Saw and Death Sentence combine the two to create a dazzling fusion of futuristic, violent revenge. It’s equally as sophisticated as it is gloriously gory, showcasing a visual display that seems impossible on its measly $5 million budget. You’ll feel every punch and love every second, eager to see Grey put a grisly end to those who have wronged him. From its to its hypnotic and pulsing soundtrack to its unbelievable moments of exquisitely choreographed combat, Upgrade is an action-horror treat that you’ll want to watch immediately after you’ve seen it.

Grey is a self-proclaimed hater of technology, criticising self-driven cars and expressing a hatred of intelligent computers. Thus, he is the perfect man to be fused with the smallest, smartest computer of them all. He becomes a symbol for the clash of humanity and technology, where only one can win. The film is a warning for society’s future and what could happen if technology gets out of control. Sure, the potential of being a badass ninja (sort of) is the ultimate cool and almost worth the fall of life as we know it, but in Upgrade there is an important and familiar, underlying reminder that creating something bigger than yourself and playing god, will have dangerous repercussions.

Upgrade oozes a contagious confidence as it grips you by the throat, straps you in and takes you for a ride that you’ll never want to get off of. There are plenty of surprises and even if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ll be pleased to learn that there’s a lot more to this story than the marketing suggests. What ensues is a complete blast, a perfect combination of sci-fi horror and well-timed humour. The first scenes where Grey realises his new abilities are bone-crunching for his victims and a joy for us. Marshall-Green brilliantly and hilariously conveys a man who is confused and terrified, shocked and excited about his new life and the possibilities it has opened up.

Upgrade is one of the best films of the year and it would be criminal to miss it. It’s stylish as hell and an example of a film that can wear its inspirations on its sleeve and still succeed as an excellent addition to an overflowing genre.

read more
Reviews

FrightFest 2018 Review: The Ranger

Ranger_4

THE-RANGEr-finalIn The Ranger, Jenn Wexler – the producer of films like Darling and Most Beautiful Island – makes an explosive feature directorial debut. Following in the footsteps of Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room and pinching plenty from ‘80s exploitation, The Ranger follows a group of young punks on the run from the police as they resort to hiding in a long-abandoned cabin in the woods (yes!).

The Ranger is not an example of flawless film-making and not everything works here. However, it’s a ton of fun, features some incredible moments of dialogue and has an ending to –  literally – die for. It’s a blast, if not something entirely standout.

The main problem with this punks vs maniac park ranger effort is the characters. Unlike the aforementioned Green Room, the punk kids are an annoying bunch. Their characterisation feels exaggerated into the stratosphere rather than credible, so you’re not going to want these kids to live. #TeamParkRanger. Of course, they’re supposed to ooze anarchy and embody an attitude that says “f- the police!”, “screw you society!” and “rules are for fools” (?), but, that sure doesn’t make it easy to spend time with them. Like the slashers of yesteryear, the fun is in watching them die and feeling very little empathy.

Leading lady Chloe Levine’s (The Transfiguration) Chelsea is described as the “tourist” of the bunch. She’s quietly coming to turns with returning to the cabin, a place she used to frequent in the summer with her uncle. She tells her punk rocker friends that he was mauled by a wolf and later found ripped to shreds. Punks being punks, that doesn’t scare them. They howl and scream, inviting the idea of terror to come knocking. Alas, it does.

Terror comes knocking in the form of The Ranger, a maniac protector of nature who will do anything to preserve the sanctity of his national park. Played masterfully by Jeremy Holm, he is 6ft of pure, subtle menace. His character is the perfect blend of Jason Voorhees and Anton Chigurgh; a killer with a thirst for blood and absolutely no remorse. He has some great one-liners, obsessively reciting the rules from the Park Ranger handbook. Who knew such a thing existed?

Ranger_Main

A standout moment comes when Mr Park Ranger challenges one of the kids to rip a bear trap off of his own foot in 10 seconds. It’s one of the film’s grisliest moments, before its bloodbath of a finale. It may not pack too much of a punch during its 77-minutes, but The Ranger is still an entertaining ’80s-throwback slasher and went it gets going, it really gets going.

read more
1 2 3 101
Page 1 of 101