<![CDATA[horrorigins.com - Articles]]>Sun, 05 Apr 2020 10:02:37 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[How To Create Your Story Outline like Leigh Whannell's The Invisible Man {Screenwriting}]]>Sat, 04 Apr 2020 22:20:28 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/how-to-create-your-story-outline-like-leigh-whannells-the-invisible-man-screenwriting
Leigh Whannell posted on his Twitter recently and revealed four photos of his initial brainstorming notes for his feature film, The invisible Man. His process broke down key components of how he wanted to develop his characters as well as the plot of the film.

Let’s break down his process together and see what we can learn.
(Photo Obtained via Leigh Whannell's Twitter @LWhannell)
An excellent piece of advice that I read from the immensely talented screenwriter Blake Snyder went something like this: whenever you brainstorm an idea, let it all out first. Release all your ideas and get it off your chest. Then review them and ask yourself, how can I transform this into a juicy twist?

What Blake meant by that was when you write a story, your brain initially offers cliches first. It’s instinctive, and everyone does it. But it's your job as a great storyteller to spin it into something better. What Leigh did was to make the protagonist female, but on top of that, she fends for herself and survives. He didn’t make her into a victim. He made her into a warrior, a survivor. 

Down the list, he begins breaking down initial motives and reasoning for action to exist. With every compelling drama, there is conflict. A character with a clear motive that is established will push the audience into a state of belief. They will acknowledge their actions under the reasoning of their motive. Makes sense, right? 

Here’s a really good tool that every artist should use. Ask yourself -- Why? 

Down the list, he jots down an idea but he also ends it with the question why. This is so he can later return to the same concept and pinpoint its purpose. He needs to have an answer to every action. Why? Because compelling dramas follow logic, and conflict works when you understand why it’s all happening. 
(Photo Obtained via Leigh Whannell's Twitter @LWhannell)
Ah! The classic “Intention & Obstacle.” Love it! It’s the basic formula for every story. Here’s the recipe, so you too can bake your own story.

Intention (Why the character wants/needs to do/collect/consume something) + Obstacle (What’s stopping them from doing/collecting/consuming something) = Conflict. What does that all add up to? A purposeful dramatic structure! In English that means a great setup.

His answers below, “to feel safe” / “to stay alive,” are rather surface-level answers. But the purpose of him answering these questions allows him to ask more specific questions that lead him to a compelling answer, an answer that audience members will pay to see.

(Photo Obtained via Leigh Whannell's Twitter @LWhannell)
Building a character can easily lead you astray. Why? Because there are so many paths to walk down, but you should figure out which method works for you. Here’s a few examples with Leigh’s notes in mind.

Is writing a backstory worth your time? It can be. Quentin Taratino is a prime example of someone who could write novels of each individual character, and actors typically adore how in love he is with each and every one of them. But here’s the ring zinger -- you don’t need it.

You don’t need to add reasoning to everything. You don’t need a long backstory that explains why your protagonist is a deeply tormented soul that thirsts for revenge after losing his rubber ducky. You only need to write what will affect the story and the characters and what matters to the arc of the plot. 

Don’t take my word for it. These are David Mamet’s words, an award-winning playwright and screenwriter who’s intent on making screenwriters work with the mere essentials. Strip away all the bells and whistles and ask yourself, what is your story about? What does the character want and do they end up getting it? Write a straight line from start to finish. That’s his cup of tea at least. It’s an excellent method for cutting straight to the core and creating proper structures within your story.

But what about Leigh Whannell’s process? Was he wasting his time? Not at all -- here’s why it worked for him. There is no long backstory. He was cutting straight to the core, with examples being “she was from a middle class family,” “a smart girl," “went to a great school.” 

These are all important aspects about the character that help you put the perspective glasses on and write with those core elements in mind. 

What's even better is that he discovered the antagonist’s relationship with the protagonist’s. “They met at school. Disappointed family by being with him. Forced to break up. Became distant over time.”

With these answers in mind, he can now connect the dots. What are the dots you ask? The plot.​​
(Photo Obtained via Leigh Whannell's Twitter @LWhannell)
This is more focused on screenwriter/director types. Typically when you write a script and plan on pitching it to a studio/investor, you do not want camera motion, special effects, or oddly specific notes that do not affect the story.

If you plan on pitching your script to someone important, focus only on the story.

What Leigh did here was break down aspects of the film, primarily the cinematography. He wanted motivated motion. What does that mean? 

When you watch a scene in your favorite movie, what do you notice? Typically when an onscreen character moves, so does the camera. Maybe they turn around and reveal the killer. What the motion of the character does is influence the camera’s motion and we’re locked in the character’s “bubble," meaning our perspective is similarly like a best friend, that’s hanging out with the protagonist. 

He then moves onto the lighting and color palette of the film to really hone in on the tone of the film. We’ll talk about these two aspects in another upcoming article, so you too can use it for your next upcoming movie.

In summary, Leigh was doing everything right by breaking down the critical elements so he can understand where to begin and where to take his story. Now, you too can write and figure out your own  process with this new understanding.

The Invisible Man is currently available to rent and stream. Upon viewing, see if you can pick out those elements you just read and find out what actually ended up in the movie.

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Author

Troy Dawes has been writing and directing for over six years now, completely self-taught. He lives in Winnipeg and works full-time as set decorator on feature films around the city. He's an avid fan of old school monsters big and small, and he's always had a heart for horror and exciting stories.
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<![CDATA[David Armstrong's New Horror Short "SHADOWED" is Scary Good]]>Thu, 02 Apr 2020 23:18:27 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/david-armstrongs-new-horror-short-shadowed-is-scary-good
David F. Sandberg has made himself into a household name. Not everyone is obsessed with the film industry like me so whether you recognize his name or not, you'll definitely recognize some of his films.
The Swedish born director first started out as an animator and filmmaker before turning his talents to YouTube for mass appeal. Displaying his talents in multiple horror shorts on his Ponysmasher channel, Lights Out stood out and gained Hollywood attention. Lights Out was turned into a feature film in 2016 and then he directed Annabelle: Creation. Then he got the opportunity to make Shazaam.

Now while we all face the real life horrors of a virus threatening our livelihoods, David has gone back to his roots and blessed us with his next horror short Shadowed. We can only hope to see this idea on the big screen soon. 
His wife Lotta Lotsen acts in most of his shorts with cameos in all of his feature films.

Check out Shadowed where you'll surely enjoy the scares in this 2 and a half minute horror short that is scary good.

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Author

Brandon Waites served in the U.S. Air Force and had the opportunity to deploy Iraq and Pakistan.  After his service, he earned his bachelor's degree in Business and earned his MA in Film & Television with a concentration in producing.  He interned under Benderspink for Hollywood producers Chris Bender and J.C. Spink.  After his intership, Brandon co-founded multiple companies for networking and contests for screenwriters and filmmakers.  His love for horror drove him to begin HorrOrigins as a film festival in 2019.  In response to the positive response of HorrOrigins, Brandon decided to expand HorrOrigins into multiple ventures to benefit the independent horror screenwriters and filmmakers.
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<![CDATA[Lake Mungo {Retro Review}]]>Wed, 01 Apr 2020 17:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/lake-mungo-retro-review
Some movies continue to haunt us long after we’ve watched them, and for me, the one film that defines that experience is the mockumentary-style ghost story Lake Mungo. Written and directed by Joel Anderson, Lake Mungo is both a masterful study in building dread and the use of camera and filming choice as part of the narrative.
For the Palmer family, a regular day spent swimming at the local dam rapidly turns disastrous when daughter Alice (Talia Zucker) goes missing, but that is only the beginning. Strange circumstances and secrets come to light as mother June (Rosie Traynor) and father Russel (David Pledger), along with their son Mathew (Martin Sharpe), attempt to contend with the loss of their loved one.

Lake Mungo is structured as a mockumentary, featuring interviews with friends and other family members as they attempt to come to grips with what happened, while also dealing with how little they actually knew about their beloved Alice.

Given the circumstances of the story, cast performances strike just the right balance between awkward, grieving, and searching—awkward at the intrusion of this mockumentary (and subsequent public interest) into their lives, grieving their loss, and searching for some way to become whole again.

Clear images of Alice are few and far between, her face more often than not obscured by old out-of-focus video or glitches in filming. Dated videos of the Palmers together as a family feature the fuzz that we generally associate with home videos from the ’80s and ’90s, and in this there’s the key: With Alice’s face almost always partially distorted or slightly out of focus, the camera and its film become an analog for the fuzziness of human memory. Add in the layer of Alice’s inclination to keep secrets, and Lake Mungo flowers into an entirely different level of meaning, investigating identity and what truly defines a haunting. How well do we know those we love most?

Even the close-ups of the family, as well as the shots of the landscape and sky, feature a visually rough texture that remains much more in line with how we perceive and experience the world. This attention to detail builds toward a genuine, emotionally authentic experience for the viewer. In contrast with the sharp image that is the standard fare (for good reason), this “reduction” in image quality in turn opens a new door of emotional accessibility with the narrative by keeping things so in line with lived experience.
Cinematography flows along masterfully with the story, highlighted by forlorn night-time shots of empty rooms in the Palmer home, with the camera panning across the empty space in such a way as to make the viewer feel as if they are the one doing the haunting. The Palmer family has suffered the kind of loss that no family should have to live with, and their unspoken cry of grief silently rings across the empty spaces of the home. There is now a void where their daughter should be. Additionally, the opening shots of the family are almost individual—there are almost no shots of the family together in one frame—indicating an internal splintering of the family structure, as well as personal isolation.

Reflecting the emptiness of both home and space, the sound direction in Lake Mungo reverberates with a tension that drives home the nausea of loss and the struggle of learning to live around the trauma of the death of a loved one. In the book Film, Nihilism and the Restoration of Belief, author Darren Ambrose voices his distaste for movies with a soundtrack that essentially lead the viewer by the nose, telling them what to feel and when. To its credit (and strength), the soundtrack for Lake Mungo does no such thing.

How Lake Mungo builds dread is a fantastic confluence between cinematography, scene staging and sound direction. Not a film to abuse jump scares, Lake Mungo features a number of still images from the Palmer family, and while you may think you see everything at first glance, rest assured: You don’t. It is only after sitting with this image for close to a minute, the soundtrack seething with a muted tension in the background, that your attention is drawn to what had been staring you in the face the entire time.

With all of these elements woven together, Lake Mungo is a shining example of what can be achieved in horror, and how lost and disoriented ghost stories can (and should) make us feel.

Author

Laura Kemmerer is an editor living in Pittsburgh, joining the ranks of horror hounds only a few years ago with the one-two punch of being introduced to the Folk Horror Revival group on Facebook and Robert Eggers' The VVitch, all within a few months of each other. Laura is also the founder of What Sleeps Beneath, a creative, collaborative venture that thoughtfully examines the horror and fantasy genres through movie and book reviews, independent research, and interviews. With her master's in publishing from The George Washington University, as well as her bachelor's in writing from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, she hopes to return to school for her Ph.D. in English, focusing on horror literature and film. In her research, Laura is most interested in horror focused around the supernatural, folklore, the occult, Gothic themes, haunted media, landscape as a character, and hauntology (focusing on lost or broken futures). (And yes, her septum is crooked more often than not.) Find her on Twitter @hpbookcraft.

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<![CDATA[Verotika {Film Review}]]>Sat, 28 Mar 2020 17:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/vertokia-film-review
​This review has taken some time for me to crank out for many reasons. The true reason is that Verotika is the stepchild that never should’ve come over to visit.  She spent too much time lingering around and then decided to stay the night. Come morning, you find out that the parents decided to never come back and you’re left with this bug-eyed offspring that just won’t leave your side.
(Spoiler alert)
There can be a lot of factors that make a film great, including story, acting, characters, and pacing.   Verotika just has none of them. Now, don’t go lynching me just yet okay? I have been a fan of Glenn Danzig’s work musically for a very, very long time. To name a few, Samhain, Misfits, and even his earlier solo work. I have even been a fan of his comic book company Verotik. But, this… I just can’t find it in me to like the film.
 
So, what I did is set out to find something  that could help me like it just a little. Maybe, if I watch the porno film based off his other character Grub Girl, whom I actually liked from the comics…nope. Just stupid porn…and I like sleazy. Verotika just stinks.
 
First,  let’s tackle the actors and actresses in the film.  Ashley Wisdom, who only has five credits under her name for films and two (Reprisal with Bruce Willis and Death Rider in the House of Vampires directed by Danzig) are actual films. She acts like a pornstar and looks like a pornstar.  She’s just getting started and maybe she’s going steady with Danzig…who knows. Then there’s Rachel Alig (Bikini Spring Break and The Cleaning Lady), who IMDb describes as an award winning actress who actually has a ton of films under her name. She must have needed a paycheck to score this gig or there wasn’t anything else out there at the time for her. I’m not entirely sure. Then there are others that are along for the ride, such as Scotch (yes Scotch) Hopkins (Death Pool and Alien Siege) who graces us with his lovely portrayal of the Albino Spider.  Kayden Kross who is an actual pornstar, starring in a multitude of classy films like Don’t Fuck My Sister and Slutty and Sluttier 23. Folks, I can go on and on with this array of lush actors and actresses, though I’d never get into the actual film itself…so let’s dive right in shall we.
 
Verotika is an anthology of sorts deriving from Danzig’s comic books and short stories. He has said that he’s taken on influences from the legendary Mario Bava, Jean Cocteau, and Sergio Leone. This is so he can inbreed his own storytelling into a thick and drawn out crap-masterpiece. In the film, there are three primary stories and our very own Crypt Keeper if you will, named Morella, played by Kayden Kross. The stories are: The Albino Spider of Dajette, Change of Face, and Drujika Contessa of Blood. Each story has its own lavishing tongue-in-cheek behavior. There are downright bad French accents (sorry France), cheeseball excitement, and bad special effects.  This makes films like the August Underground series look substantially more appealing.
 
Danzig does not use top notch effects or maybe just tried to drive home his film with more story than effects. For example, in The Albino Spider, there is a hand that is turned backwards and no one, I mean no one, seems to take notice. Also, there are eyeballs on the large breasts of our lovely Ashley Wisdom.   I believe she would wear an aluminum foil hat to protect her mind from aliens if Danzig told her to. I mean come on, Ed Wood films were far beyond being better than this!
There was very little continuity, and if there was anything good I could say about this film, I would, but I can’t. Not even the soundtrack was good. It featured goofy metal songs and music from Danzig (yawn). Hate me if you will. I understand full heartedly if you do. But remember I love Samhain, Misfits of old, and even his earlier work he’s done in his solo music career.   I just can’t get behind this whole thing.
 
Change of Face was done with more attention to storytelling  and could have saved the film. However, not even Drujika Contessa of Blood, the retelling of Elizabeth Bathory, could save  Danzig’s opus degross.
 
I truly wanted to like this film, I really did. I had high hopes, thinking that maybe if Danzig were to tackle some of his stories, he’d go all out.  Maybe something that WingBird had done or even more of his tainted work like Grub Girl and reimagined it into a raw, dirty, and dark tale of necrophilia and a little Tromaville love.
 
In the end, my heart sank into oblivion when the credits started to run.  I just couldn’t find it in myself to justify that there was something good about it…nope. I would honestly rather sit through a looping of Birdemic: Shock and Terror for five hours before sitting through this for the full running time alone.
 
Best wishes and sincerely yours always,

Author

Vivian Kay Quintero lives horror of all types, though she is extremely in love with the indie/hardcore/gore genre. She is a passionate & dedicated  filmmaker herself, mostly working in the genre of psychological abstract arthouse films. Ms. Quintero started her own YouTube channel entitled “Blind Light, Darkness Forever”where she showcases her short films. She has written reviews in the past for WormGear Magazine under the monarch “K”. Reviewing projects arranging from the death industrial outfit Gruntsplatter to the haunting ambience of Casket, amongst other obscure experimental artists.​ Kay has also been working on her very first film entitled “Smother Me Alone” for which will be released on dvd from Black Noise Productions some time in late 2020. 

Also she’s been working with the avant garde/shoegaze/experimental project Sailor Winters out of Georgia by filming 2 videos. The first video is for the track “Order of Dab” from the album “Oxen Moon” off of Stick Figure and the video is getting a press release and will be released on March 16th 2020. Kay is also in the process of filming her second video for Sailor Winters track “Planets in the Yard”. Despite all her dedication to making horror celluloid under her own production company “EMBRYO” & writing film reviews, she is also working on her debut novel “Stygian Depths Beyond The Light” a romance/psychological horror experience.
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<![CDATA[Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? {Retro Review}]]>Sat, 21 Mar 2020 17:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/whatever-happened-to-baby-jane-retro-review
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is an American psychological horror thriller, directed by Robert Aldrich and based upon the novel by Henry Farrell. Produced by Warner Brothers, it was released in 1962, starring Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Victor Buono. Buono was a newcomer to Hollywood, and this was his introductory film. The film was nominated for four academy awards, including Bette Davis for best actress, but won only one for costume design.
The story follows Baby Jane Hudson ( Bette Davis) and her sister Blanch, played by Joan Crawford. In 1917 Jane relished the attention of her adolescent career as a Hollywood icon for children across the nation. She was a spoiled, cruel child. As she aged, her career dwindled, and Blanche’s star rose into Hollywood fame. The seething jealousy raged within Jane as she found solace in a liquor bottle. Blanche’s ability to act came to a screeching halt when she broke her spine in an automobile accident. Jane was riddled with guilt as she was blind drunk and thought she did it. Now in a wheelchair, Blanche depended on Jane for everything. Jane’s descent into madness is difficult to watch as she tortures her sister.


Jane kills Blanche’s beloved parakeet and serves it as her lunch. Blanche was hopeful that the liquor was the culprit for Jane’s cruelty until she served her a rat for her dinner. Now afraid to eat and fearing her sister Jane, she begins to weaken. As the movie progresses, Blanche discovers that her sister had been stealing her money to try and revamp her career. Blanche begins to think her sister wants her dead and tries to call for help. Jane is clever and cunning, and she squashes any attempt for help.


In comes Edwin Flagg ( Victor Buono), a conman that answers an ad in the newspaper that Jane placed. He is also an alcoholic and he strokes Jane’s ego for money. The scene with him playing the piano and Bette Davis singing the children’s song is demented and sad at the same time. Bette Davis is singing a song called “I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy” and dancing around like her old act. It is truly insane. Edwin knows that she is crazy but is only there for the money.
​Murder, torture and mayhem are at the forefront in the middle of the film. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford hated each other away from the set, and it is evident that they brought the same disdain for each other into the film.


Jane has completely lost her mind and decides to take her weakening sister to the beach. She is oblivious to the fact that Blanche is on the verge of death.  The best scene is at the end when the police, tipped off by Edwin, finally find Jane after getting ice cream cones for her and Blanche. They spot her on the beach as a crowd gathers. Jane begins to dance around as her insanity has finally taken hold. The movie pans out as the police find Blanche. Is Blanche dead or alive?

 
In this writer’s opinion, this classic, black and white movie is a must see for every movie buff. Denying yourself the pleasure of viewing it would be a mistake.

Author

Kathleen is the author of THE LONG FALL series of novels. She has been writing all of her life. She wrote for her school and college newspaper. Every month she is featured on a blog called spreadingthewritersword.com as one of The Ladies Of Horror. Her short stories have been featured in several compilation books as well as being in the Library Of Congress poetry compilation. Being the mother of two, she is always busy but when free time arises she enjoys swimming, reading and of course writing. You can buy her novels at https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s//ref=mw_dp_a_s?ie=UTF8&i=books&k=Kathleen+McCluskey

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<![CDATA[The Lodge: A Cold, Cold Film {Film Review}]]>Wed, 18 Mar 2020 17:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/the-lodge-a-cold-cold-film-film-review
When watching most horror movies, there comes that moment where you wish you can warn the characters not to go to the isolated, dangerous place they seem hell-bent on heading to.  Obviously, with a movie entitled The Lodge, I was subconsciously shaking my head within the first ten minutes, thinking what a bad idea it was for them to head out of town for the holidays.
(Slight Spoilers)

After suffering a shocking tragedy, Richard (Richard Armitage) walks on thin ice around his kids for six months, but finally feels it’s time to introduce them to his girlfriend Grace (Riley Keough).  To say the kids are unhappy is an understatement.  After refusing to eat a single meal with her, I already suspected that his idea of them spending Christmas in an isolated lodge would end badly.  Trust me on this.

I honestly felt for all of these characters.  None of them appear to be saints, although daughter Mia (Lia McHugh) has a bit more patience with their father’s new flame than her brother Aidan (Jaeden Martell). They all are dealing with tragedy and trauma to an extent not often seen on camera. Riley Keuogh captures the madness incredibly well and every time there was a close-up of a character’s face, I found myself wondering what was going through their heads. Usually, it was nothing pleasant.
The thing one should know before walking into movies like this is that it’s more psychological than your average film.  It’s slow burn is similar to Hereditary and it even shares a symbolic similarity I won’t spoil here.  Some scenes are incredibly disturbing and it’s hard not to think of The Shining when watching a family struggle with the snow and cold as well as their own sanity.

On top of wanting the characters to not stay in the lodge, I was constantly worried what they might find out as the film progressed and the madness ensued.  The films first half is its strongest and I honestly was a bit frustrated with its second act, but I have to give Goodnight, Mommy directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz credit. This is a tough story to tell, and though it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, I was curious as to what I had missed. Perhaps I’ll stomach it a second time, but not during the holidays.

Author

Davis has been a horror fan since he was a little kid and watched Scream and Jaws for the first time.  He graduated with a degree in theatre education and a Georgia Film Academy Certificate from Columbus State University and is known for his huge film collection and a passion for the industry.  He’s written film reviews for college papers, worked as a PA, short film writer, and actor and can’t wait to do more with the HorrOrigins team!  He’ll soon be appearing in the short film Wild HR which will be shown at the OutlantaCon Short Film Festival and can be found getting stalked by Ghostface in the YouTube video Return To Woodsboro.

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<![CDATA[The Invisible Man: A Very Clear Vision {FIlm Review}]]>Sat, 14 Mar 2020 17:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/the-invisible-man-a-very-clear-vision-film-review
Although this is only his third directed film, Leigh Whannell is quickly establishing himself as a recognizable face in the industry.  The man behind the sleeper hit Upgrade starts this film with a similar aesthetic with crashing waves and sleek living spaces that informs us who is behind the camera.  Perhaps in a few years, like Hitchcock and Kubrick, we’ll know Whannell’s tone before the opening credits.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  It’s still amazing to see how far the writer of Saw has come.  The Invisible Man has intelligence and scares to spare.
(Slight Spoilers)

Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) makes a daring escape from her abuser Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) in the middle of the night, and for the next few weeks, she struggles with the trauma in the home of a friend and cop James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid). She receives news that Adrian is dead and that her life can get back to normal. Easier said than done. But sadly, things aren’t that simple as things go bump in the night and Cecilia feels like Adrian is still around. 

That the scares were achieved with such a low budget is impressive as Whannell uses silence just as well as the blaringly effective score by Benjamin Wallifisch.  There are moments meant to make us jump and grab the armrest. The opening scene harkens back to old thrillers like Sleeping With The Enemy and shows that a horror film doesn’t have to begin with tragedy but rather, a hope that the girl will win.
The thrills and chills are done to great effect, but the film doesn’t stop there.  Moss plays the part with energy and resilience, quickly realizing that things aren’t as they seem instead of taking half a movie to figure it out.  Everyone wants to think it’s just the trauma and this provides a horror movie with a rare but important social commentary.  Trauma doesn’t simply go away, even without the abuser possibly returning from the grave. Could it all be in Cecilia’s head? Is there some other force at play?  That’s up to the viewer to experience, but the impact of having one’s life controlled is felt throughout the movie and gives us a heroine to root for. 

Although it’s not officially part of the movie, the trailers leading up to The Invisible Man release revealed many scenes that we should’ve been experiencing for the first time in the theater.  I realize oversharing is normal in advertising these days, but if I can find one flaw, it’s not with the movie itself, but with how the viewer is spoiled before experiencing the first great horror film of the year.  That being said, it’s still worth seeing on the big screen.

Author

Davis has been a horror fan since he was a little kid and watched Scream and Jaws for the first time.  He graduated with a degree in theatre education and a Georgia Film Academy Certificate from Columbus State University and is known for his huge film collection and a passion for the industry.  He’s written film reviews for college papers, worked as a PA, short film writer, and actor and can’t wait to do more with the HorrOrigins team!  He’ll soon be appearing in the short film Wild HR which will be shown at the OutlantaCon Short Film Festival and can be found getting stalked by Ghostface in the YouTube video Return To Woodsboro.

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<![CDATA[What Up & Coming Filmmakers Can Learn from the Blumhouse Horror Model]]>Mon, 09 Mar 2020 17:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/what-up-coming-filmmakers-can-learn-from-the-blumhouse-horror-model
Jason Blum is the CEO and founder of one of the most significant film production studios in Hollywood and the film industry as a whole. The model that he and his team at Blumhouse have created has allowed a new generation of filmmakers to use every inch of their creativity, without totally going bankrupt.
It all started back in 2009 when the film Paranormal Activity was released. Blum, as a producer, was involved from the film’s inception all the way to its release. We all know about the Paranormal Activity franchise, but not many people know that the first film’s budget was roughly around $15,000. The film ended up grossing more than $190 million dollars worldwide, making it an indelible success. Post Paranormal Activity’s success, Jason Blum has produced dozens of other horror films with a very limited budget. These films include but are not limited to: Get Out (2017), Halloween (2018), Us (2019), The Invisible Man (2020), and all the other Paranormal Activity features. And even though those films’ budgets are much more than just $15,000, in comparison to the abundance of other films being made, it’s substantially fewer. For example, Get Out’s budget was $4,500,000 and grossed more than 255 million dollars worldwide. And as for the sequel-remake, Halloween, its production budget was $10,000,000 and grossed just a few thousand more than Get Out.

Blumhouse’s track record is incredible, so what’s the main reason for their success? Low production budgets.

As up and coming filmmakers, what can we take away from this? Several things actually, including:

  1. You don’t need all the money in the world to make a film
  2. Use all the resources at your disposal, including everything around you
  3. Experiment, Innovate, Try something new – you never know if it could work out

As Blum demonstrated, you don’t need millions of dollars to create a film, going even further, a successful film. One benefit of limiting yourself to a lower budget is that it pushes you to be as efficient and creative as possible. This in turn, leads you to experiment and try out new techniques, such as camera angles, unknown actors, unique locations, etc. But not only that, it can lead you to try out a new genre, not new in terms of relative time it’s been around, but rather a genre you haven’t tried out yet.
Take Paranormal Activity, for example. There are multiple aspects of the film worthy of study from a filmmaking perspective that are also reflective of the Blumhouse low-budget model. These include:

  1. Short Filming/Shooting period
  2. Limited Locations
  3. Small Pay
  4. Found Footage, Horror Genre

The director of the film, Oren Peli, was resourceful as possible when it came to the number of filming locations, the budget, and the duration of the actual filming. The film took less than a month to film and was primarily shot in a house. It featured actors that were not payed the same amounts. But it payed off. In the end, they got much more.
Picture
​As for the filmmaking aspect of it, the camera used a found footage technique. Now this is not something new. In fact, this film borrowed from the classic The Blair Witch Project (1999) which was also a mega-hit, due to its low budget. But I digress. In the 2007 film, the camera was actually featured within the frame. In particular mirror scenes, for instance, you can see one of the characters holding the camera, both filming because of his character and because this is the actual camera recording the movie as a whole. It was quite creative and different.

Another aspect of the movie that contributes to the argument, is the fact that the audio (at least most of it) was recorded from a microphone attached to the camera. This is seen above in the picture. Now one of the most important qualities of any film is the audio. If it’s not clearly audible, it will certainly bother many, including the audience. But to add authenticity to the film and the found-footage genre in general, the director decided to use an external mic attached to the camera. And after having watched it, I must say – it wasn’t bad! Not only was the audio good, but it adds realism. This is another example of how the film was both resourceful and innovative.

As time went on, Blumhouse continued to provide the funds for creative horror projects. They’re the ones who brought on James Wan, who started off the Saw, Insidious, and Conjuring franchises, and let him do what he wanted. And that’s one of the reasons why movies like these remain in the hearts and minds of people, because the artist had the freedom to completely tell the story he wanted to tell in the way he loved.

Switching gears, one of the ironic things about big-budget/blockbuster films, such as the Marvel movies, is that it forces you to be as perfect as possible and at times, that restricts your freedom in using different angles, or trying out new techniques. This is due to the fact that you’re afraid that it won’t work out. There’s more pressure on you because more people will watch your film (there’s a bigger audience). There are also more people to respond to, work for and please. It can terminally restrict your creativity. Now disclaimer, I’m not saying that Marvel films or big-budget movies aren’t creative or restrict the filmmaker’s ability to be as creative yet efficient as possible, I’m saying that it’s more visible and apparent in smaller budget films.

As aforementioned, in low-budget films, you have more freedom to be as creative as you can be and as Jason Blum showed, that can lead to substantial success.
As filmmakers, we can learn a lot from this model and it goes to show you that, it doesn’t take a whole lot to make a movie. What’s important and what actually matters is actually going out there and making it. Filming something. You never know who will end up seeing it, or how successful it can become – financially speaking and/or how it can positively turn your career around 180 degrees, just like that.

Author

Rico Suave is an aspiring writer and/or director. In 2017, one of his short films won an award and in 2019 he was a finalist with a short script he wrote. Rico is Colombian but has spent the majority of his life in the States.
 
Rico was a volunteer for HorrOrigins’ inaugural year and says it was a pretty unique and eye-opening experience for him. He plans to continue volunteering and this year has expanded his role to include writing articles for the HorrOrigins website.
 
Rico has a passion for horror films but really any genre is fine with him! He is a passionate lover of cinema.

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<![CDATA[Come to Daddy {Film Review}]]>Sat, 07 Mar 2020 08:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/come-to-daddy-film-review
​Director Ant Timpson’s Come to Daddy is more of a thriller first and then a dark comedy, with elements of off-the-wall banter by Gordon (Stephen McHattie) and Norval (Elijah Wood). Right from the start, you can tell that time has passed both characters by, leaving many questions and very, very few answers. There are some plot twists and oddball characters showing up from time to time, such as Jethro, played by Michael Smiley (The Hallow), Ronald Plum, played by Garfield Wilson, (Vendetta), and Gladys, played by Madeleine Sami (The Breaker Upperers). As the film jettisons the viewer back and forth with plot twist after plot twist, there literally isn’t enough time to comprehend the film. Once you think you have…well, something else happens, and you’re thrust into a new direction that catches you off guard.
(Spoilers Below)  
Norval receives a letter from his father, Gordon, who left Norval and his mother when he was five years old. Norval travels to a remote bungalow that is nestled in a reclusive area of Oregon with the idea of reconnecting with his father.  He also wants some of his questions answered, primarily, why his father left.


Through a number of bizarre exchanges, both Norval and Gordon seemingly can’t find common ground. His dad, a raging alcoholic, and Norval, a recovering alcoholic, continue this one-up game through the first portion of the film. After a huge fight between the two, Gordon has an abrupt and fatal heart attack and dies. After Norval communicates to this mother that this happened, he decides to stay in his father’s house.  He tries to process what to do with the body and has trouble returning the corpse to his mother.
 
After a while, Norval begins to hear haunting sounds coming from somewhere in the house. Thinking that it’s his deceased father, Norval relapses and begins to question his own sanity. Finally coming to his senses, Norval seeks out the sound and discovers that it’s coming from a hidden room under the house. After further investigation, he comes face to face with his real father, David (Martin Donovan). David proceeds to tell Norval that he must help him escape, and no matter what, Norval must kill anyone that he comes into contact with to save himself and his father. David explains what actually happened. He tells him about how he ran to Bangkok, kidnapping the daughter of the wealthiest man in Thailand and held her for a large sum of money. After succeeding at  acquiring the ransom, David ran off with the money and was then held captive.

In the event of trying to help his father, Norval comes face to face with Jethro, who Norval attempts to kill.  He escapes and vows revenge on Norval and his father. Not realizing the danger he’s now in, Norval helps his father escape. Once upstairs and planning their escape, Dandy, one of the men involved with the kidnapping, enters and attempts to kill Norval, though perishing with a number of stabbings to the groin with a barbecue fork and then being suffocated by plastic wrap.

​Jethro returns and finds no one there, not knowing that Norval was advised by his father to take refuge in the trunk of Jethro’s car. Riding back to a seedy motel in the trunk of the car, Norval steals the motel keys and a check spindle and then slashes the tires on Jethro’s car, while Jethro is inside with a prostitute engaging in some wild BDSM play. Entering the room next to Jethro’s, he tries to kill Jethro.  Norval is unsuccessful and is placed into a headlock by the prostitute and is repeatedly stabbed by Jethro with the very check spindle that Norval stole in the first place. Leaving him for dead, along with the terrified prostitute, Jethro runs.

Inside the room, Norval appears to still be alive, even after the vicious attack and makes his way outside of the room, only to find that Jethro has crashed his car into a tree, almost decapitating him. Discovering this, Norval then decides to finish Jethro off with the check spindle, though before doing so, Jethro tells him the truth about Norval’s mother. He finds out that his mother was a prostitute herself and was sleeping with both Jethro and David. Norval, after hearing this, plunges the check spindle into the exposed portion of Jethro’s brain, killing him. Before Jethro dies, he shouts in his last breath, “Arthur”.

Wounded and bloody, Norval makes his way back, on foot, mind you, to the house and collapses next to his father on the lakeshore. He apologizes and the intimate moment is sealed with Norval’s father touching his son’s hand.
 
Elijah Wood was actually not bad, and Stephen McHattie was priceless, until he died…sadly. Come to Daddy had all the twists and turns of a great psychological thriller, but opted for the comedy/thriller approach. I found myself at times wishing the film would end, while at other times shaking my head at the outlandish goofy characters that arose throughout. I’m not saying Come to Daddy was horrible, but it could have been a little shorter. Since the film went with more of the comedy/thriller approach, I felt that they should have dipped into the Cohen Brothers’ wellspring and added a small dose of that style to liven things up a bit.

Author

Vivian Kay Quintero lives horror of all types, though she is extremely in love with the indie/hardcore/gore genre. She is a passionate & dedicated  filmmaker herself, mostly working in the genre of psychological abstract arthouse films. Ms. Quintero started her own YouTube channel entitled “Blind Light, Darkness Forever”where she showcases her short films. She has written reviews in the past for WormGear Magazine under the monarch “K”. Reviewing projects arranging from the death industrial outfit Gruntsplatter to the haunting ambience of Casket, amongst other obscure experimental artists.

Kay has also been working on her very first film entitled “Smother Me Alone” for which will be released on dvd from Black Noise Productions some time in late 2020. Also she’s been working with the avant garde/shoegaze/experimental project Sailor Winters out of Georgia by filming 2 videos. The first video is for the track “Order of Dab” from the album “Oxen Moon” off of Stick Figure and the video is getting a press release and will be released on March 16th 2020. Kay is also in the process of filming her second video for Sailor Winters track “Planets in the Yard”. Despite all her dedication to making horror celluloid under her own production company “EMBRYO” & writing film reviews, she is also working on her debut novel “Stygian Depths Beyond The Light” a romance/psychological horror experience.
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<![CDATA[Brahms: The Boy 2: Wooden Like the DollĀ {Film Review}]]>Thu, 05 Mar 2020 18:59:25 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/brahms-the-boy-2-wooden-like-the-doll-film-reviewPicture

Photo courtesy of Lakeshore Entertainment
(Slight Spoilers)

After admittedly not being a fan of The Boy, I went into Brahms: The Boy 2 with low expectations.  Sadly, I should’ve lowered them further as the film goes through the motions of a haunted house movie without any sense of fun and few scares to match.  At an hour and twenty-five minutes, the story is very bare bones and leaves us wondering what could’ve been.  
After a traumatic event leads Liza (Katie Holmes) paranoid and her son Jude (Christopher Convery) silent, the father decides they need to get away from the city and head to a country house, which, ironically is far more isolated. With only one obviously creepy neighbor (Ralph Ineson) and a larger abandoned house a stones toss away, it doesn’t take long for the troubles to begin as Jude finds the mysterious doll and list of rules we were introduced to in the first film.  The parents are faced with a dilemma. The doll is strange and Jude becomes obsessed, but it helps him talk again. What’s a parent to do?

This film acts like it will have something to say about trauma or overcoming one's fears, but it handles its themes clumsily, often only using them as a Boo! device to fill time. The movie clocks in at less than an hour and a half, and yet, there isn’t much to digest.  It’s not required that a horror film always have something profound to say, but it certainly would’ve helped here.

Even a horror movie adhering to the typical conventions can pass the bar and be good entertainment, but such isn’t the case here.  Katie Holmes already has starred in haunted house fare like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark that had far more style and teeth, and actually had me caring about the characters.  Here, she tries just as hard but the script and direction don’t back her up. She suffers nightmares, tries to connect with her son, and her husband obviously isn’t believing any of it until the climax. One of the first films important parts was it took place in the colossal house where hauntings could happen around every corner. Here, only a fraction of the scares happen in that house which just feels like a waste. 

There certainly was potential with this film. Dolls are an ever reliable source for evil when they begin telling kids to take the sharp knife, but even with the original writer onboard to follow up to her own story, this feels more like fan-fiction or a student film.  I would understand a student film not getting to work in the mansion. Here, it just seems lazy.

Author

Davis has been a horror fan since he was a little kid and watched Scream and Jaws for the first time.  He graduated with a degree in theatre education and a Georgia Film Academy Certificate from Columbus State University and is known for his huge film collection and a passion for the industry.  He’s written film reviews for college papers, worked as a PA, short film writer, and actor and can’t wait to do more with the HorrOrigins team! He’ll soon be appearing in the short film Wild HR which will be shown at the OutlantaCon Short Film Festival and can be found getting stalked by Ghostface in the YouTube video Return To Woodsboro.
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