Zombies & Sharks Debuts With Haunted Houses, Bigfoots, Scarecrows, Hillbillies, Astronauts In Trouble, A Santa With An Axe, & A Blindfolded Bullock!
Hey Comicon-ers! I’m ML Miller and I’m ecstatic to announce my new weekly column “Zombies & Sharks” on Comicon.com focusing on all things horror!
Some of you might remember checking out my macabre musings under the guise of Ambush Bug over at Ain’t It Cool News. While my web locale might have changed, my opinions about horror have not—there are great horror films out there to enjoy. Sometimes you just have to sift through the minutiae to find them. And that’s where I come in. Expect in depth views on the good, the bad, and the futt-bugly in horror from the past, present, and future, high to low to no budget, and from domestic to international and beyond. I’ll also be interviewing some of the biggest and best names in horror from time to time. If it’s horror, I’ll check it out and report back to you about it right here!
Lesson of the week: If there’s a lesson to be learned from this sampling of horror films, it’s that “Editing is your friend.” Much of the films below would have been exponentially better had there been some smart scene snipping here and there. A good edit and a solid editor can make or break a film, as exemplified below.
So sit back, pull the covers up to your nose, ignore that strange noise coming from the closet, and enjoy the fresh batch of horror I have on tap for you today!
This Week’s Films!
CHEROKEE CREEK (2018)
CHRISTMAS BLOOD (2017)
BEHIND THE WALLS (2018)
RUST CREEK (2018)
BIRD BOX (2018)
THE LANDING (2017)
And finally…Alter’s GOODNIGHT, GRACIE!
Available On Demand and digital download on Vudu, iTunes and Google Play!
CHEROKEE CREEK (2018)
Directed by Todd Jenkins
Written by Jarrett Bigelow, Billy Blair, Araceli Jenkins, Todd Jenkins (original story concept), Todd Jenkins (screenplay)
Starring Billy Blair, Todd Jenkins, Justin Armstrong, Olivia Sabini, Justin Duncan, Terry Dale Parks, Ray Nicholas Hosack, Nellie Sciutto, Jeff Swearingen, Jason P. Kendall, Anthony Phoenix, Steve Mokate, Natasha Richards, Ashley Moore, Natalie Jones, CG Lewis, Jason Duffy Klemm, Elizabeth Jenkins, James Yeager, Teresa mark, Colin Bradley Lewis, Xlcr Moon, Jinx Jenkins, Jean Tuite
Find out more about this film here
CHEROKEE CREEK is a lowbrow, raunchy, horror comedy…and there’s nothing wrong with that!
A group of bros get together for a bachelor party in the woods, not knowing that these very woods are the stomping grounds for Bigfoot! Gross-out humor, gratuitous gore, and of course, strippers stripping in the woods ensue.
Those who have followed my reviews before know that I am a huge Bigfoot enthusiast. I want to believe in the cryptid, but until proof exists, I must be satisfied by obsessively watching any and all Squatchploitation films made. CHEROKEE CREEK isn’t going to go down as one of the best Bigfoot films, but it is entertaining nevertheless. This low budget feature relies mainly on comedy and less on actual scares. Most of the comedy lands soundly in a gory and gross sort of way, utilizing farts, bodily fluids, gratuitous male and female nudity, and plenty of swears to convey the chortles. If you are the easily offendable type, you might want to steer clear, but those who don’t take things too seriously will find something to laugh about.
That said, CHEROKEE CREEK’s script is overindulgent and in need of a solid edit. Many scenes simply go on too long and while it might be fun for the cast and those who know them, there were scenes that made me want to fast forward through all of the pointless talkity-talk. A nip and tuck here and there would have made this film a bit more digestible as it weighs in at just under two hours. With a half hour of less dialog that goes nowhere, the action would pop a bit more and the story would have felt less meandering.
I appreciated CHEROKEE CREEK’s gory bits (and there are quite a few of them between the lengthy conversational parts) and some of the grossout humor worked for me. Most of the acting is better than average than what one would expect from such a low budgeter, specifically from writer/director/actor Todd Jenkins and writer/actor Billy Blair who both deliver comedy and more serious lines quite deftly. The Bigfoot costume is pretty standard and fits rather baggily onto the actor playing it. The beast does get some screentime, but only in quick, dimly lit cuts which optimizes the effectiveness of it. CHEROKEE CREEK is not going to be for everyone. Bigfoot enthusiasts and those who prefer their horror comedy with the emphasis on comedy of the raunchier side will be the target audience here.
Available On Demand from Artsploitation Films!
CHRISTMAS BLOOD (2017)
Directed by Reinert Kiil
Written by Reinert Kiil
Starring Ida Malene Smith Bakke, Solje Bergman, Sølje Bergmann, Asbjørn Buarøy, May Lydia Eidstø, Helene Eidsvåg, Florence Eilertsen, Thomas Felberg, Ingvild Flikkerud, Sindre Olav Fredriksen, Jan-Magne Gaare, Trond Grosberghaugen, Jon-André Hakvåg, Stig Henrik Hoff, Haddy Jallow, Yassmine Johansen, Bente Julie Kiil, Reinert Kiil, Frank Kjosås, Sondre Krogtoft Larsen, Andreas Nonaas, Børge Pettersen, Julia Schacht, Karoline Stemre, Kylie Stephenson, Truls Svendsen, Marte Sæteren, Sigmund Sæverud, Eric Vorenholt, Nina Winther
Find out more about this film here!
I know the season has passed, but this year, a ton of new holiday horror films dropped, so I figured, better late than never and maybe this is something you can plan ahead to check out next holiday season or for that After the Holidays X-Mas party.
Reinert Kiil has seen HALLOWEEN, but I’m pretty sure, he’s hoping anyone who plans on watching CHRISTMAS BLOOD hasn’t. The film is an almost beat-for-beat remake of the Carpenter classic—too close to be a true homage, yet not different enough to innovate. Still, in a strange way, the film still managed to entertain me, though maybe not in the way the filmmakers intended.
A serial killer who dresses as Santa and murders those who fit his naughty list is finally captured after a 13 year killing spree and institutionalized. Six years later on Christmas Eve, the patient escapes to wreak havoc once again on a small Norwegian town. Meanwhile, a group of youthful gals get together to cheer up their friend who has just lost her mother, not knowing that the killer is making a b-line to crash the party. Mean-meanwhile, a weathered cop who brought the killer in the first time (you know he’s down and out because he wears his sunglasses at night and has a beard) pairs up with a rookie cop (you know he’s a rookie because he get nauseous every time he sees blood) team up to end the killer’s rampage for good.
CHRISTMAS BLOOD sort of reminds me of an off Broadway or High School interpretation of a classic play. All of the right beats are there, everything is just mimicked on a much smaller level. You have to work a little harder than to simply change the holiday in order to try to make your film original, but CHRISTMAS BLOOD plot point by plot point apes the story of the original HALLOWEEN. It does all of this pretty well and there is a sort of low-fi charm to the whole thing as the makers of this film really seem to have done their homework not only by watching HALLOWEEN over and over, but also making the film rife with all kinds of action, detective, and horror movie clichés from American movies from the 80’s era. Because of this, there is a sort of charm I cannot deny to CHRISTMAS BLOOD, as if the filmmakers hoped that their Norwegian audience never saw HALLOWEEN and that it wouldn’t get out to the world so that the copy-catting could be noticed. There are quite a few decent jump scares and a lot of the same formulaic frights one experienced with the Carpenter classic are done again here with a sort of style. There is one scene that really is effective involving a mute victim attempting to flee the killer Santa and silently screaming in the cold night air. But that’s about it when it comes to originality reached with this one.
There are some downright inexplicable moments in the film as the partying girls apparently use Tinder to find a couple of dudes to simply hang out and party with them. The two losers show up and while most of the girls make fun of the guys, the gals end up getting wasted and with the lack of better looking guys around, they end up making out and shagging them. Sure it adds some gratuitous T&A and sex to the mix, but given that these girls are played as somewhat smart and independent, it’s interesting that the story would take them into such a risqué direction. It was just out of character given the way the gals were portrayed in the earlier portion of the film. CHRISTMAS BLOOD also has a runtime that is a little under two-hours—a runtime much too long for a slasher film and some of these gratuitous sex scenes and meandering plot points about who is sleeping with who could have been cut to make a leaner and more effective slasher.
That said, for HALLOWEEN ripoffs, CHRISTMAS BLOOD has a lot of charm. The kills are quite gruesome, though much of the film is filmed in almost complete darkness, so some of the action is obscured by shadows. CHRISTMAS BLOOD exists as an oddity, as if HALLOWEEN dressed up for a Christmas party and spoke Norwegian the entire time. It’s weird enough to entertain, but nothing very original.
Available On Demand from Uncork’d Entertainment!
BEHIND THE WALLS (2018)
Directed by James Kondelik & Jon Kondelik
Written by James Kondelik & Jon Kondelik
Starring Vanessa Angel, Reggie Lee, Lew Temple, Hutch Dano, Jayne Taini, Joe Hursley, Taylor Autumn Bertman, Bailey Spry, Tim Soergel, Mason Mahay, Joseph Gilbert, Ryan Feldman
Find out more about this film here!
A strong ending, solid effects, and some decent performances manage to make BEHIND THE WALLS stand out in a glut of haunted house films that have been released in recent years.
A family attempting to outrun an abusive past move into a house with horrifying secrets of its own. Vanessa Angel (KINGPIN) stars as the beleaguered mother of three who is trying to get away from her abusive husband (Lew Temple) and make a new life for herself. But almost immediately after moving in, something otherworldly seems to be rumbling just beyond the walls of their new home.
James and Jon Kondelik have put together quite an effective little haunted house story with some twists that make BEHIND THE WALLS not your typical film in the subgenre. Sure there are kids talking to unseen people, things move on their own, and voices come from out of the ether as with most haunted house stories, but as the story proceeds and the family gets more and more entwined with the house, I found the physical manifestations of the horrors that lurk in the shadows to be quite effective. This culminates in an epic climax full of amorphous blobs of innards and musculature and undulating tentacles stretching out from the dark. The buildup is quite long, but Angel and her co-stars carry the plot respectfully, including a decent performance from Hutch Dano as her eldest son, and a menacing performance by Lew Temple as the real world threat to the family.
While the climax has a few editing glitches here and there, making the wrap-up feel rather rushed, the Kondeliks have delivered a solid haunted house film that refreshingly veers into Lovecraftian unknowns and Cronenbergian body horror with BEHIND THE WALLS. Though familiar, the filmmakers have injected enough gory grossness to make this one stand apart from the regular haunted house herd.
Available On Demand from Uncork’d Entertainment!
Directed by Stuart Stone
Written by Adam Rodness & Stuart Stone
Starring Hannah Gordon, Mike Taylor, Umed Amin, Maaor Ziv, Jason J. Thomas, Derek Christoff, Andy Dynes, Austin Duffy, Sammi Barber, & Poe the Crow!
Having grown up in the Midwest, I have a special spot in my dark heart for cornfield horror, SCARECROWS (not to be mistaken for 1988 film with the same name) is full of clichés and time-worn turns, but still manages to entertain due to a quick pace, some solid gore, and a few twisted story turns.
A group of college kids decide to get drunk, high, and go fooling around in a cornfield on the outskirts of town, not knowing that the farmer has a penchant for stringing up hapless victims on crosses and raising them in his cornfield as living scarecrows.
Instead of having scarecrows awaken from their slumber, which is the usual route scarecrow horror films go, SCARECROWS 2017 goes the more traditional slasher route. Kids make bonehead decisions like going off on their own to take a crap, investigate strange sounds, and of course make out and get drunk, making it easy for the evil farmer to pick them off one by one. Anyone who has seen a single FRIDAY THE 13TH film will be screaming at their TV at the idiotic moves these kids make as the story goes on in order to raise the body count. I will say that the way these kids are dispatched is quite gruesome, with their lips sewn shut and their bodies left to dehydrate and be pecked apart by crows in the middle of the cornfield. The absolutely bleak ending is also well done, leaving one with a true sense of horror as the credits roll.
I can’t say I saw anything new with SCARECROWS, but I was never bored. Despite the fact that the players seem like they’ve never seen a horror movie in their life, the film moves at an active clip and actually has a few one liners that made me laugh quite a bit. This film recently gained a bit of notoriety as it seems to have inspired some kids to take drugs and go wandering in cornfields. I don’t know if this is true, coincidence, or just hype to sell the movie, but it does give a bit of real-world heft to the film.
New in select theaters and On Demand from IFC Midnight!
RUST CREEK (2018)
Directed by Jen McGowan
Written by Julie Lipson (screenplay), Stu Pollard (story)
Starring Hermione Corfield, Jay Paulson, Micah Hauptman, Sean O’Bryan, Jeremy Glazer, Daniel R. Hill, John Marshall Jones, Laura Guzman, Denise Dal Vera, Jake Kidwell, Virginia Schneider
Find out more about this film here!
RUST CREEK is basically a woodland survival thriller that never ventures into the territory of rape/revenge, but there is enough threat of such to suggest that the worst could happen at any minute to our wayward protagonist who wanders into unfamiliar territory. It’s a story that horror viewers are going to be familiar with, but it does what it does very well despite the familiarity of concept.
Sawyer (Hermione Corfield) is an optimistic student, looking to drive to Washington DC during her Thanksgiving break for a job interview. After taking a wrong turn, she finds herself lost in the backwoods of Kentucky and the target of Hollister and Buck (Micah Hauptman & Daniel R. Hill) a pair of good ol’ boys with bad intentions in mind. Wounded and afraid, Sawyer flees into the wilderness and happens upon a meth-cooking loner in the woods named Lloyd (Jay Paulson). But can Lloyd be trusted to help her get away from her hunters before they track her down?
From I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE to LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, to the more recent REVENGE, the premise of a woman forced to survive out of her element against nature and pursing men is a well trodden path in horror cinema. Usually, I find these types of films difficult to digest, as the focus is often unhealthily and distastefully on the rape itself for the first portion of the film, with the revenge sometimes shoehorned in at the end to justify some kind of female empowerment angle. While the act of rape is not introduced in RUST CREEK, the threat is ever-present. Sawyer doesn’t give her attackers the chance to victimize her as she flees into the wild early on, and most of the film is Sawyer using her wits and gumption to avoid her pursuers. The danger level, though, is kept at a high level, mostly due to some strong acting by Hermione Corfield and Micah Hauptman (who plays a considerably devious backwoods bastard). Jay Paulson, who plays Lloyd, the meth dealer with a heart of gold, is strong here as well, making the unlikely pairing of Sawyer and Lloyd believable and even worth rooting for.
The main problem with RUST CREEK is that it is a bit long in the tooth in terms of runtime. A few cuts here and there would have made for a much tighter story and while the middle section, where Sawyer gets to know Lloyd and his meth dealing ways is interesting, a paring down of those in between scenes might have made RUST CREEK a more satisfying watch. The performances are strong. The threat is heavy. The scenery and action within it are captured by director Jen McGowan quite beautifully and deadly all at once. And while I have seen this scenario play out too many times before, I was invested all the way through. RUST CREEK doesn’t reinvent the genre, but it does what it does quite exceptionally.
Newly added to Netflix!
BIRD BOX (2018)
Directed by Susanne Bier
Written by Eric Heisserer (screenplay), Josh Malerman (novel)
Starring Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, Jacki Weaver, Rosa Salazar, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery, Tom Hollander, Machine Gun Kelly, BD Wong, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Vivien Lyra Blair, Julian Edwards, Parminder Nagra, Rebecca Pidgeon, Amy Gumenick, Taylor Handley, Happy Anderson, Aden Calderon, Chanon Finley, Frank Mottek, Kyle Beatty, Ashley Alva, David Dastmalchian, Keith Jardine, Kristopher Logan
I must admit, upon watching the BIRD BOX trailer, I already had a horrible bad taste in my mouth. Seeing Sandra Bullock sternly scold two kids about never taking off their blindfolds not only reminded me of the far superior film A QUIET PLACE, but also the ridonkulous rules droned on about for the god awful BYE BYE MAN. But after witnessing the memes on Twitter, the idiots who got hurt doing the “Bird Box Challenge,” and hearing about the film from basically everyone, I decided to bite the bullet and check it out.
Turns out I’m not a fan. And no, it’s not because it’s popular, and not because the monster isn’t shown at the end. I’ll get into it deeper after the synopsis.
Mal (Sandra Bullock) is a middle aged pregnant woman who has some issues. She is a downright difficult to get along with (save her sister played by Sarah Paulson) and is not really jazzed about having a kid either. After hearing rumors of an insanity virus occurring in Russia, Mal and her sister get out of an appointment with her doctor to find the “virus” has spread to America. Turns out there are some kind of creatures that create suicidal feelings in most who see them and make those who are mentally unstable into their devout followers. All you have to do is glance at the creature and you go suicidal. So after a pretty decent outbreak scene, Mal finds herself holed up in a secured house with a self-described asshole (John Malkovich), a noble former military man (Trevante Rhodes), a punk rocker, a rookie cop, an old lady, and another pregnant woman. The group do the usual in these types of apocalyptic films and basically prove that we can’t get along with one another, no matter what the threat outside is. Meanwhile, the film flips its timeline to show Bullock, now with two children named Boy and Girl, trying to make their way down a river to a safe haven they hear about on the radio.
Whew, long synopsis and a long film to match it. A lot goes on in BIRD BOX and I understand why folks get into it since it really requires some kind of commitment to watch, ringing in at almost two hours (too long for a survival thriller horror film). First let’s start with the good. Despite the fact that the other characters are written pretty cardboardly and simply exist to push the plot along with hurdles and tragedy, Bullock’s Mal is written pretty well. The reason I didn’t name the other characters in the synopsis is that they only function to interact with Bullock in some way up until it is time for them to die. But Bullock’s acting is pretty strong, as is Trevante Rhodes’ character Tom, who is the closest thing to a character the rest of this film has. I guess you can include Malkovich’s Douglas in there, but while he is often set up as wrong, his reluctance to let in strangers, willingness to sacrifice others for his safety, and overall selfish attitude is usually right, despite the fact that he is set up as a sort of villain character.
These three characters work in this film and sort of follow the classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD trope with Bullock playing the Barbara role, Rhodes playing the Ben role, and Malkovich in the jerk Henry role, who doesn’t want to come up from the basement. Again, Henry is right in NOTLD, proving that the basement is the safest place in the same way Malkovich’s Douglas is right not to trust everyone who knocks at their door—still both are portrayed as jerks despite their good survival instincts. This makes for a sort of morally ambiguous theme going on in BIRD BOX, where the voice of reason is spoken by an asshole, well played by Malkovich.
The main problem with BIRD BOX is that it’s focus is wrong. While the story is split in two, the more interesting one should be the survival trek along the river to safety, but it isn’t. Because of the fun interplay between the fleshed out and cardboard characters, the interesting bits happen in the house with all of the survivors. Because we see Bullock alone with the two kids rushing down a river to salvation, it’s pretty safe to assume everyone else has died—and that undercuts those scenes immensely when you know 90% of the cast you’re watching is going to bite it. Even with the characters underwritten, it’s hard to invest with soon-to-be corpses. The river bits simply aren’t very interesting. It’s just Bullock rowing and occasionally running into the side of the river or survivors. Had this been the focus and the challenge been amplified in some way, with much less shown about the survivors in the home in the past, I think it would have been a stronger movie.
Another thing that drove me nuts about this film was that it completely missed its chance to do with sight what A QUIET PLACE did with sound. What made A QUIET PLACE work so well was that the silent bits were front and center. The silence was a part of the film—a major part and key to the survival of the leads. In BIRD BOX, we get occasional quicklets of scenes behind the blindfold, but the film is cut so erratically that there is no tension from this POV. For a film to rest so firmly on the blindfold concept, a criminal amount of time is spent never seeing the world around through the blindfold. No, I’m not asking for an entire movie shown through this lens, but remember the way DON’T BREATHE used sight and lack of it to build tension? None of that is utilized here and it’s a horribly missed opportunity to tell a different kind of story, robbing the viewer of one of the senses usually used in a cinematic experience.
The next paragraph contains SPOILERS so skip it if you haven’t seen the film yet.
Bullock’s Mal wore me down and by the end of the film, I really loathed the character. Her arc is supposed to be that she is coming to grips with motherhood, but she does it so slow it just makes Bullock out to be the biggest asshole of the group. She names the kids Boy and Girl in the film, seemingly so she doesn’t get so attached to them that it won’t hurt her if they die. While this might feel like an interesting character trait, it is downright abusive to these kids to not have names—especially given the dire situation they are in and having a name might actually help if the kids are in danger. One of the kids is Bullock’s and the other is the other pregnant woman had, but since the other mother died, Mal has to take care of both. Now, Tom lives quite a long time after the group and given his speeches about living taking precedence over surviving, it seems horribly out of character for Tom to sit by and let Mal dehumanize these kids for FIVE YEARS!
When Mal and the kids finally make it to the sanctuary, they meet the doctor who Mal meets with in the beginning, and it is then and only then that Mal gives the kids names—after they have gotten used to being called Boy and Girl, after Mal is face to face with a woman who in the beginning suggested she wasn’t fit to be a mother… While this final scene is supposed to be a major turning point for Bullock’s character, it seems more like she is trying to save face in front of the doctor by naming them on the fly. Hell, Mal doesn’t even name the kid after a Disney princess as her birth mother wanted and instead names her Olivia after her mother!?!?! Ingenuine shit like this, thinly veiled as a character turning point left me with the sourest of tastes in my mouth as the credits rolled. END SPOILER!
My final complaint in this long list of complaints is about the monsters. It’s completely vague as to how it effects one person to the next. The monsters make you suicidal, except when it doesn’t. I guess they are saying that if one is mentally unstable, you can withstand the suicidal ideation and become a follower of the monsters, forcing others to look at the monsters and I guess, either become a follower or commit suicide. I don’t care if the monsters are seen or not, I just want some consistency with their power. The birds too work only when convenient to the plot, sometimes chirping their beaks off when a the monster or its followers are around in some scenes, but staying calm around those who threaten the group are right next to them! Again, the inconsistency of the rules of the danger make this a hard film to wrap your head around.
So what we get here is an overhyped remake of M. Night Shamalyan’s THE HAPPENING (one of the worst movies ever) with bits of THE MIST, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, and of course A QUIET PLACE tossed in. The film is shot anti-dynamically in a sort of sitcom/soap opera flat fashion, is littered with decent actors in throwaway cardboard roles, and the path the story takes is filled with missteps. SPOILER AGAIN. Let’s not even talk about how low stakes the river scenes are. They are hyped up to be the worst-est rapids to ever be rapid, but are easily commanded by Bullock and brats, despite the fact that the kids could have never been taught to swim (I mean, when would that have happened in the five years they were blindfolded), their boat overturns, and everyone ends up surviving, including the stupid birds in the box. This final action scene left my disbelief suspenders completely outstretched. END SPOILER AGAIN. Still, a ton of people like this film. And that’s…ok. A ton of people like tomatoes and I loathe them. There are plenty of horror films out there (and even on Netflix) that deserve the hype this film got. See those and leave BIRD BOX unopened.
Available on DVD, On Demand, and digital download!
THE LANDING (2017)
Directed by David Dodson, Mark Dodson
Written by David Dodson, Mark Dodson
Starring Don Hannah, Warren Farina, Cindy Lou Adkins, Page Hannah, Arlene Hughes-Martinez, Jeff McVey, Robert Pine, Joe Santaniello, Craig Stepp
Find out more about this film here!
While the NASA moon landings have been the hub of many an online debate, Mark and David Dodson take the whole concept of our controversial trips into the unknown into a bold and highly entertaining direction with the mockumentary thriller THE LANDING. This is certainly a film tailor made for those with a hankering for conspiracy and cover-up cinema.
Don Hannah stars as Bo Cunningham, decorated pilot and the sole survivor of the fictional Apollo 18 mission to the moon. When the rocket drifts off course during reentry, the world feared that the three-man space crew had perished in 1973. But it turns out, Cunningham was able to land the ship on the other side of the world in a remote area in China. Stranded and alone, the three astronauts struggled to survive in the barren terrain, but when rescue crews made it to the crash site, only one of the astronauts was found alive. The mockumentary depicts a present day investigation (set in 1998 in the film) and attempts to get to the bottom of what exactly happened in the days between the Apollo 18 went off the grid and their eventual rescue. What unfolds is a complex tale of betrayal, heartbreak, and death.
THE LANDING works on every level. The film is utterly convincing and if one didn’t know that there wasn’t a real Apollo 18 launch, I imagine this film would be mighty convincing that it actually existed. Filmed as a straight up documentary with only a few recognizable actors, this one feels as authentic as they come; combining aged footage of takeoffs, training, landings, scene recreations, and faux news clips. Even the footage recreating what might have happened before and after the mission feels absolutely real.
And while this film seems like a cut and dry case of mechanical failure at first, it unfolds like any good mystery to reveal detail after detail that points to some kind of unnatural acts that occurred during and after the mission. Like any good documentary, the mystery deepens as the interviewers get to know the key players, most importantly the inscrutable Bo Cunningham. Actor Don Hannah is stunning in the lead as Cunningham. His performance gives very little away of what is going on behind his steel exterior and as the story proceeds and we find out more about his backstory from others who know him, we find out that the all-American astronaut is anything but that.
THE LANDING is a fantastic character driven thriller presented in a unique and brilliant format. There are surprises at every turn and the story moves from a cut and dry retelling of a failed NASA mission to a deeply emotional and heart-wrenching tale of tragedy and dire consequence. If you enjoyed last year’s OPERATION: AVALANCHE, you’ll love this excellent faux-documentary. This is one of the best films you haven’t heard about yet. Do not miss it.
And finally…here’s a short film from the wickedly cool platform Alter (subscribe here!) starring CHILDREN OF THE CORN’s Courtney Gains. This twisted goodie is called “Goodnight, Gracie” and directed by Stellan Kendrick. It’s described as “A devout child is awoken by her mother’s scream, and after investigating realizes she must fight to escape the same fate.” Enojy!
Well, that’s it for this week’s Zombies & Sharks. There’s a lot to seek out and some to steer clear from. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below and share the love across the internets, please.
M. L. Miller does not profess to be an expert in horror, but he has seen a ton of horror films in his time. You can check out an archive of his horror reviews as well as news about his various comic book projects such as Black Mask’s GRAVETRANCERS and PIROUETTE on his website, MLMILLERWRITES.com. Follow him on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.