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FrightFest 2019 Review: The Wind

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In this supernatural western set in the 1800s, a young woman is haunted by her past and, possibly, a demon while she reminisces about times gone by while her husband is away.

Directed by Emma Tammi, The Wind is an assured debut and, although it may not be so admired by those that like their horror more extreme, it is a welcome difference from popular modern horrors like It, Annabelle and Pet Sematary. Tammi follows in the footsteps of directors like Robert Eggers and Ari Aster, preferring her horror to stand the test of time, rather than embrace short and sweet moments of shock.

This is certainly a horror film more reminiscent of The Witch than The Conjuring, so don’t expect there to be jump scares galore on anything extremely, overtly frightening. This film’s horror lies in its eerie atmosphere and the sense of loneliness that is felt by Lizzy Macklin (Caitlin Gerard). Her isolation is filled with dread as there is literally nobody around. She can scream and run, but there’s no one here to help her. It’s immediately, easily scary to place yourself in her position and imagine what you would do if your husband disbelieved your fears that feel so real.

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It’s a slow-burning, complex horror-drama that weaves seamlessly between the past and present as Lizzy remembers her time spent with the pregnant Emma (Julia Goldani Telles) whilst she is alone. She is soon haunted by whispering voices that travel on the wind and begins to believe there is a demon after her. The film’s moments of physical terror are quite impressive, feeling like a welcome explosion in the film’s subtle darkness. A moment with the reverend is a stand-out; if a little over-the-top for a film that has been so consistently slow and steady.

It’s all set to a score that is wonderfully menacing and puts a horrifying twist on the music typically heard in westerns. The desolate landscape becomes drenched by sinister strings that heighten the film’s suspense, perfectly mimicking Lizzy’s descent into possible madness. Her journey is an emotional and heart-felt one, ultimately portraying a woman’s fight to be believed and Gerard does well to embody the necessary amount of emotion and strength needed to convey such an important character.

The Wind is a worthy take on western-horror, but my main fear is that it is overall rather forgettable. It doesn’t quite manage to pack the long-standing and chilling punch that it so admirably tries to land and doesn’t hit the horrifying heights of the aforementioned The Witch or Ari Aster’s efforts with Hereditary and Midsommar. The Wind is a spooky 80 minutes, but it eventually succumbs to cliched horror tropes and that prevents it from being truly significant.

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FrightFest 2018 Review: The Cleaning Lady

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Poster-TheCleaningLadyIn director Jon Knautz‘s The Cleaning Lady the lonely Alice (Alexis Kendra) befriends Shelly (Rachel Alig), a woman scarred by burns. The two develop a friendship where they are both equally saving the other from very different types of pain.

At first I was worried that this film’s story would be too predictable; the scarred lady will get too close to the pretty blonde, developing an obsessive relationship that leaves one of them dead. I was only partly correct. Instead of falling down an entirely expected rabbit hole, The Cleaning Lady only toys with the idea. There is a lack of surprise in the story which is a little disappointing, but learning about Shelly’s back-story in neat exposition does offer a few moments of intrigue.

Both the leading ladies are complex and interesting, mainly steering away from cliches associated with female characters. Sure, it’s a little under-whelming to see a woman sick with love and another hindered with supposed imperfections – women do care about more than just their romantic relationships and their beauty, you know? – but perhaps this film’s grounding in horror can be transferred to more than just its jump scares. There is a certain horror in the sadness of these women that perhaps urges us to remember that, as women (and men, of course), we can find happiness outside of these stereotypical preconceptions of joy.

The similarities and differences between Alice and Shelly feel a little cliché – they’re both broken, scarred and tormented – but, Kendra and Alig’s performances feel real. The friendship becomes touching, the conversations between the two feel sweet and credible, which is enough to generate the desired empathy from us, the audience. There are times where it feels shallow, but there is certainly a worthy sentiment below the superficiality.

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Of course, these moments of friendship only feel like warning signs, because this is a horror film, so the happiness can only last so long.

The Cleaning Lady has one heck of a nauseating opening scene, so it’s a shame when you realise that nothing in the main body of the film can live up to this immediately icky beginning. Except maybe when you realise where it’s going… OK, I’ve said to much. It does feel like much of the film is spent waiting for something to happen and, even though it’s a meagre 90 minutes long, there are times when it feels a lot longer.

The film feels like a horror fairytale, where a twinkling soundtrack works well against the foreboding visuals to enhance a clash between the dark and the light, good and evil. There are no scenes of real terror – although, Shelly’s childhood is filled with a generous helping of its own, twisted horror – but, The Cleaning Lady‘s own obsession with jealousy, envy, abuse, toxic attachments and the idea of being saved, do offer an element of thematic horror.

The Cleaning Lady is a decent, almost all-women-led semi-slasher – which is quite the mouthful, but you get what I mean. It’s creepy and strange, led by a couple of great actresses, so add it to your never-ending watch lists.

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THE PASS – THE BEST OF STAGE-TO-SCREEN

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Whether it’s a classic musical or a ground-breaking play, works written for the stage don’t always successfully translate to the big screen. Those that do, however, shine with such potential that makes for some of the most well adapted stage-to-screen films of all time, and in time, fundamentally earn the title of being classics in their own right.

To celebrate the release of one the most beautifully transitioned plays to film, The Pass, coming to DVD April 10th, we are taking a look at an array of the most thought-provoking and attention-grabbing plays which were resuited for the big screen.

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Chords in Conversation: Aaron Poole Talks us into ‘The Void’

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Canadian actor Aaron Poole has had a rich career working in both film and TV, but his latest role has taken him to a place he’s never entered: The Void. In The Void, Aaron plays Daniel Carter; a police officer tasked with protecting the civilians inside a hospital when a group of hooded figures surround the building. As madness starts to ensue within the building too, Daniel must tackle the physical nightmares inside and outside, plus an inner turmoil that is equally as difficult to handle.

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Features

An Adult’s Guide to Animation

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Seoul Station – a thrilling tale of a zombie outbreak in South Korea – isn’t your typical animated fare – it features gut-munching zombies, brutal violence and white knuckle tension. Definitely not one for the kids, but why should kids have all the fun? Putting the Disneys, Pixars and Ghiblis of the world to one side for a moment, here are a selection of animated films that run the gamut from outrageous and erotic to surreal and irreverent; you should perhaps watch when the little ones are tucked in bed!

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Alice Lowe Guest Curates a SHUDDERsome List

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Since Alice Lowe’s directorial debut, Prevenge, first debuted as the curtain opener for Critic’s Week at the Venice Film Festival, it went on to screen at many a key festival around the world including Toronto, Dinard, Sitges and London. Now, ahead of the film’s February 10th, 2017 release, Kaleidoscope are currently taking the film, and Lowe, on a 16 venue preview Q&A tour.

With Prevenge all set to release in a couple of week’s time, Lowe took a moment to curate a list of her top horror films you can catch on AMC’s streaming service SHUDDER.

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Cinema Chords’ Trip to 139 Copeland Road

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With a friend in tow, I took a trip to 139 Copeland Road in Peckham to experience an hour-long immersive horror experience. Other than knowing that I would partake in a séance with a medium in the hope of connecting with the ghosts of the past, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. As a lover of horror, it was something I wasn’t going to say no to, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling a little bit nervous…..

Upon arrival we met a few more folk who were looking to join in the fun and had a group of 6 in total. Plus Michael, a researcher who has been delving into the past of 139 Copeland Road and a Medium, who desires to contact the spirit of a past resident called Mary Collins. Mary Collins died in a mysterious fire along with her two children in 139 Copeland Road and it is believed that her ghost haunts the house. Spooky!

The initial introduction and description of the house’s past was a great little set-up that had everyone in the group looking a little bit fearful. We were given the opportunity to read about past séances in the house– real or not, who knows? –  which further increased the sense of dread around the group. Adding to the fact that house was freezing cold and lit by candles, this was becoming perfectly spooky.

I don’t want to spoil the experience for those who are planning to take a trip to 139 Copeland Road, but I will say that it is certainly not for the faint-hearted or those who are afraid of the dark. You will have to walk around a rickety old house where the lights mysteriously turn on and off with no explanation, forcing you to wander around by torchlight. Be careful to watch your step. It’s unnerving, because this is not a film. This is real. If you want to feel genuinely worried and paranoid about what’s lurking in the dark, then this is the event for you.

The show does well at escalating the tension from the time of the séance and the events that follow, but there were a few moments that were a little bit silly towards the end. It becomes slowly clearer that all is most definitely not what it seems, but this is a show and you should know that you’re going to be a victim of some simple audience manipulation.

If you want to feel like the star of a horror movie, then 139 Copeland Road is the place to be. It’s tense, unpredictable and genuinely unnerving; an experience to rival the scariest of horror movies.

You can visit 139 Copeland Road up until 30th November 2016. You can buy tickets for the end here. Check out the trailer below.

 

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