<![CDATA[horrorigins.com - Articles]]>Tue, 12 Jan 2021 11:22:21 -0800Weebly<![CDATA['Anything for Jackson': No, Seriously, Anything {Movie Review}]]>Tue, 12 Jan 2021 08:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/anything-for-jackson-no-seriously-anything-movie-review
What would you do to bring someone back from the dead? It’s a question at the heart of many horror movies and the characters often go a step too far to accomplish this goal. With Anything for Jackson, grandparents Audrey and Henry Walsh (Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings) go too far in the first five minutes and just dig a deeper hole as the film goes on. Their grandson is dead; the result of a terrible accident, and desperate to bring him back to life, they kidnap a pregnant woman named Shannon (Konstantina Mantelos).
[Slight spoiler Warning]

For the first few minutes, the plot goes through the necessary. Shannon tries to escape, screams, and Henry checks from outside to make sure her cries won’t be heard by neighbors. It’s chilling to say the least. But then they explain to her that their grandson Jackson can be brought back as a spirit and transferred into Shannon’s unborn child. They begin a series of rituals while simultaneously heading off police, employees at Henry’s office, and a nosy yard maintenance man. It’s a good balancing act as the Walsh’s struggle to appear normal. 


So why this movie? For starters, the spooks are well-executed with at least one scene making me dread my visit to the dentist. One unfriendly spirit appears with a  sheet over his head and frankly, it felt like the most effective use of cloth since the first Halloween. The kidnapped and the kidnappers all struggle to keep their sanity as the spirits appear, not just for the traditional Boo! Moments, but to stake their claim on the people and the house they inhabit. They aren’t afraid of playing hard-ball and the Walsh’s aren’t just contending with an evil presence but struggling with their own misdeeds. There are even moments where Shannon is able to sympathize with them. They don’t get a free pass, but their pain is palatable. 
And that’s one way this film truly shines. The stereotypes of the creepy old couple are there in plain view, but we’re given reasons for why they exist. McCarthy and Richings don’t ham it up, but stick true to the moments as they come in their rickety old house, that is both unique and plausible. Even when a cult is introduced, it doesn’t seem to stretch too far, but rather shows their desperation and susceptibility.    

Before this film, director Justin G. Dyck and writer Keith Cooper worked on romantic Christmas films. Coming into horror, they keep the snow-covered landscape and otherwise appear to do remarkably well in a new genre. If I were them, I’d take this cast and make a darker version of A Christmas Carol.  Just a thought. Whatever they decide to do next, I’m anxious to see.

Watch Anything for Jackson on 
Shudder.


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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 Empty Man': A Scary Packed Puzzle {Movie Review}]]>Mon, 28 Dec 2020 17:46:01 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/the-empty-man-a-scary-packed-puzzle-movie-review
“You can’t indict the cosmos,” a grave-faced cop (Ron Canada) declares about halfway through The Empty Man. No, no you really can’t.  But boy, does lead character James Lasombra (James Badge Dale) put up a damn fight.  The sense of hopelessness in this film is comparable to films like Aliens simply because of how relentless it is and despite a few problems, we are pulled in to a story where instead of Xenomorphs, characters face a more theological adversary and folk tale that messes with people's minds rather than their lower intestines.
The movie opens with a group hiking in the mountains.  Unspeakable things occur as required by horror movie law, but it’s handled with skill.  Perhaps my inherited fear of heights was played upon when the camera focused on a creaking bridge.  Or maybe it’s the music by Christopher Young and Brian Lustmord informing us that we are in for a dreaded time as it reverberates off the walls.  Either way, the opening takes its time before jumping ahead to Missouri where we meet James; a former detective turned security shop owner that’s dealing with a great deal of grief.  

When his friend’s daughter goes missing, James begins investigating, running across more and more clues about The Empty Man that teens tempt each other to summon on bridges.  And when I say ‘clues’ I mean there are many obscure and thought-provoking clues.  People have been quick to label this film as a cheap knockoff of films like Slender Man (which isn’t exactly the gold standard) and such comparisons make me raise my eyebrows.  When you learn what the Empty Man actually is, you might realize it’s something that’s existed in legends way before the early 2000s.  
Now don’t get me wrong, this movie is confusing at times.  It has many long speeches that you could debate for days, and having not read the comic book series it’s based on, I was baffled.  But more importantly, I was still engaged and at times, shaken.  A series of jump-scares is intercut with brutality, and then the philosophy talks begin to pile on when James discovers a sinister cult.  It’s almost overwhelming, but then again, the main character is quite overwhelmed by the time the movie ends; and if nothing else, we are right there with him.  It seems appropriate.

James Badge Dale plays the part well with the occasional smile and sense of humor; trying to remain light despite his struggles.  Before bolting from danger, he just shifts and says, “yeah…no.”  I think we’d all react the same.  The rest of the cast steps up and the characters have struggles; some that are addressed, and others that I am curious about.  Perhaps upon re-watching it, I won’t find new satisfying insights; but I will still be enjoying a competent horror movie that takes its time.  Not for everyone, but for some, a good horror surprise for Halloween.  

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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 Wolf of Snow Hollow' : A Bloody Great Werewolf Movie {Movie Review}]]>Tue, 08 Dec 2020 08:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/the-wolf-of-snow-hollow-a-bloody-great-werewolf-movie-movie-review
Meet John (Jim Cummings). He’s an officer in a small Utah town, investigating a series of grisly murders. Oh, and he’s an alcoholic. Our first introduction to him in The Wolf of Snow Hollow is at an AA meeting, minutes after the film opens with a woman brutally murdered during a getaway with her boyfriend. John’s out to prove himself, solve the murder, and pull his life together, including his strained relationship with his daughter, Jenna (Chloe East). At the center of this werewolf movie is a family drama with a heavy dose of comedy. In turn, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is one of the most innovative and unique werewolf flicks since Ginger Snaps (2000) and one of the best horror films of the year.
[Spoiler Warning]
Written and directed by Cummings and starring Cummings, the film strikes just the right notes and balance. There’s plenty of gore for genre fans. As mentioned, the opening scene includes a gruesome death that jumpstarts the rest of the narrative. The wolf rips out the victim’s private parts. The other murders are just as bloody, sometimes more so. The werewolf is rarely seen, but the old less is more technique really works here. We sometimes see shots of him ramming against a car or mauling his victims, but these are generally off-center glimpses. During the few instances in which the werewolf is seen, the creature is a towering figure beneath a full moon. There is no great transformation scene like
An American Werewolf in London, but that’s okay. The film doesn’t need it.



The movie’s horror is countered perfectly by its drama and comedy. John is desperate to get his life together and to solve the murders so that he can become sheriff, just like his father, Sheriff Hadley (Robert Forster). Their relationship is also conflicted. On the one hand, John wants to shake the shadow of his old man, but on the other hand, he wants his job and believes he should retire, since he has a heart murmur. Their dynamic is one of the film’s greatest strengths, underscored by the fact that Forster died last year. The film is dedicated to his memory. His performance is the right blend of seriousness and comedy. His quips with the local press are especially delightful.  
Cummings, meanwhile, delivers some comedic gold. When he saves his daughter after a too-close-for-comfort attack, he shouts at her about making out in a car with a boy and breaking curfew. He then screams that he’s “trying to do his job.” At any point, John could snap, and the stress of the job causes him to drink again. Werewolf folklore and films have always been about dual personalities, about an inner monster lurking deep within, ready to explode at any moment. John is a perfect manifestation of that trope. He has anger issues and a drinking problem. He’s a divorcee stuck in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Cummings handles this performance with the right amount of absurdity and seriousness. His over-the-top dialogue and antics may be too much for some viewers, but it fits with the rest of the movie.

The film also has a major female character trying to stand out in a podunk town and within a largely male-centric department. Detective Julia Robson (Riki Lindhome) possesses a type of smarts and calm that’s a stark contrast to John. Further, Lindhome’s level-headed performance is a nice contrast to Cummings, who is meant to be over the top. They play off each other well, and her character grounds him when he most needs it.

It’s hard not to watch The Wolf of Snow Hollow without thinking about Fargo. A group of beat officers are placed on a case much larger than what they can handle. Further, everyone in the town is skeptical that the police have the capabilities to solve the case and catch the murderer. Several of them make snide remarks to John, which causes him to verbally lash out on more than one occasion. Additionally, the film does a great job keeping us guessing about the werewolf’s identity. Suspicions rise with the death count.
Kudos also needs to be given to Cummings as a director and Natalie Kingston as cinematographer. They make the most of the Utah setting. There are long shots showing the snow-capped town and mountains. You can feel just how enclosed it is. Softly falling snow with Christmas music playing in the background creates the perfect winter atmosphere. The use of “Auld Lang Syne” during the climax, when the wolf is finally revealed, is just perfect.


The Wolf of Snow Hollow takes the familiar werewolf movie and does something unique with it. It places a family drama at the center of what would otherwise be a generic horror movie. It contains plenty of laughs and just the right mix of horror and comedy, striking a flawless tone. It’s a bloody good time set in a winter wonderland.


Currently streaming On Demand, The Wolf of Snow Hollow comes out on DVD and Blu-ray on Dec. 15, just in time for the holidays. Add it to your Christmas list.

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Author

Brian Fanelli fell in love with horror movies the first time he watched Night of the Living Dead as a kid. His writing on the genre has been published by Horror HomeroomThe Schuylkill Valley Journal, and Signal Horizon Magazine. He is also the author of two books of poems, Waiting for the Dead to Speak (NYQ Books), winner of the Devil's Kitchen Poetry Prize, and All That Remains (Unbound Content). His non-horror writing has been published in The Los Angeles TimesWorld Literature Today, Paterson Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, and elsewhere. Brian has an M.F.A. from Wilkes University and a Ph.D. from Binghamton University. Currently, he teaches at Lackawanna College. ​

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<![CDATA['Freaky': Sharp, Messy, Fun {Movie Review}]]>Tue, 24 Nov 2020 08:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/freaky-sharp-messy-fun-movie-review
From the opening act to the establishment of a cop sibling, Freaky is a spiritual cousin of Scream that delivers what it promises. A “small town” known as Blissfield has a killer problem when a sadistic jerk (Vince Vaughn) goes around killing teenagers left and right in overly brutal ways that are sure to get the bloodhounds howling. But his reign of terror takes a detour when he accidentally switches bodies with awkward blonde teen Millie (Kathryn Newton). It’s Freaky Friday with a horror skin that, while not really scary, is downright funny and a little bit touching.
While the Butcher goes around in Millie’s skin, thinking of new ways to slice and dice, Millie herself is adjusting to life as a tall man that lives in your typical slasher lair with creepy masks and tries to avoid the cops. The technicalities do nothing for me here. If the film was to have one big detractor, it would be the ease with which it disregards its setting. At an hour and a half, school doors are left unlocked, cameras and cops seem almost non-existent, and for a small town that should have no problem locking down one man, Vaughn simply ducks into stalls or runs into the trees, assisted by Millie’s loyal classmates Nyla and Josh (Melissa Collazo and Misha Osherovich respectively). As this is a plot involving two people trying to claim innocence, there were a few scenes that left me wondering how either could hope to get off scot-free. 

But maybe I’m being picky. Such questions could prevent a movie from existing, I realize. A certain degree of liberty has to be taken for most slasher films to exist in the first place. It just feels like more liberties are taken with this film than we usually expect. But nevermind. The movie zips along and after a while, you just have to sit back and accept the technicalities. It either sits with you or it doesn’t, and that’s okay. The switched pair go through the obligatory moments of shock and realization about human anatomy and the Butcher un-intentionally gets rid of Millie’s bullies one by one with a few little quips and insults. 
I say all this as if it isn’t a fun time. It most certainly is. The performers are committed and director Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day) delivers a serviceable amount of teenage angst and gruesomeness that an R-rated film allows. It’s refreshing when the kills are broken up by Vaughn doing dance moves and putting on a pouty face. Newton holds her own switching between the shy over-protected daughter and a proper psycho. A few moments came across as unintentionally funny, but when a film is this full of one-liners, it’s hard to tell. When a scared character is dressed in a beaver mascot outfit, I can't help but laugh.

What is fair to say is Landon has found a good little niche with horror heroines that gain confidence and wit when faced with a killer. I’m curious to see what he’ll do next, because this was a fun ride that pays homage to what came before while still sticking to its own path. Avoid spoilery trailers if you can and enjoy the post-Halloween fun!

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Author

Davis Clark 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['Antebellum': The Past is Haunting {Movie Review}]]>Fri, 13 Nov 2020 19:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/antebellum-the-past-is-haunting-movie-review
Sometimes, we wish we could go back and relive a particular moment in our lives. Either because we were embarrassed or to have unseen knowledge. Antebellum did not have that kindness in mind for Veronica Henley (portrayed by Janelle Monae): a successful author forced to relive her ancestors’ struggles and hardships as a plantation slave. You know, the “normal” stuff. A name change, forgetting where you came from, and no talking. This twisted Thriller hits you with scary, harsh realities that address current societal issues.
Starting off with the bad, Antebellum overlooks extending performances from bigger name actors and actresses. Stars including Kiersey Clemons, Eric Lange, and the great Gabourey Sidibe often feel pushed to the side or a platform to get a laugh or sympathy, which tends to feel forced on the narrative. Clemons puts on an excellent performance for the little time she had but left me wanting more. The flow felt choppy as if there were scenes that should have made the  "theatrical" edit but, in the end, were cut. This movie was missing something more significant. 

Now we can move on to the good. Janelle Monae, stunning (as always), and her acting chops are truly evolving. She never fails to bring a type of swagger and elegance to her characters, making them memorable. Her performance as Veronica is a powerful addition into her resume. Jack Huston as Captain Jasper was also great. He played his role well, despite being cruel and punishing to Monae's co-stars. The opening sequence was probably one of my favorite long shots in the movie. The long, dramatic pans and zooms built the tension as we had no idea what was going to unfold next. Every scene, I found my eyes scanning the entire frame to make sure I didn't miss anything!
Finally, the social message behind the film is one that resonates well in today’s social times. Victoria was a driving force in getting the women around her to find their voices and speak up when men tried to silence them. One scene has Victoria sharing an elevator with a little girl. When she speaks to the girl, she is shushed and warned about getting in trouble for talking. This sat heavy with me because Monae has always been outspoken about how women should be equal and speak up for their rights. This said, Monae fits this role effortlessly! Through her music and now portrayed in her acting, she has always been a voice for women inside and outside of her platforms, which still holds true in Antebellum.
​ 

All in all, the film is a good watch for a Friday night. It won’t give you horrible nightmares, but it will have you thinking about how people can and should be treated fairly. Antebellum is stimulating, has performances from its lead, and a powerful message to match. My only hope is that with a Blu-ray release, scenes are added to help smooth the story over.

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Hoping to break into the horror genre, Justin Cook McAfee graduated with a creative writing degree from Full Sail University. Since then, he has picked up videography, volunteered at the Sundance Film Festival, and started his own podcast. With his ever growing movie collection, Justin hopes to one day write and direct his own films. Until that moment calls, he spends his nights in the dark watching new horror movies. Justin is excited to be a part of the HorrOrigins team and ready to further his writing talents. Who would have thought seeing Mufasa die so many times as a kid would push him to horror?

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<![CDATA['Possessor': An Excellent Tale of Engineered Body Snatching {Movie Review}]]>Thu, 12 Nov 2020 17:56:53 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/possessor-an-excellent-tale-of-engineered-body-snatching-movie-review
Many tales of possession, transformation, and replication of the human form have graced the screen for decades. Prime examples of this would be William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers helmed by Don Siegel in 1958, Philip Kaufman in 1978, and Abel Ferrara in 1993. These films, despite their differences, have one thing in common, the desecration of one’s own identity at the expense of the fragile flesh that is the human body.
[Spoiler Warning]

In the film 
Possessor, Director Brandon Cronenberg does the flesh one better as one person’s genome enters into and resides into another person’s body, using it as a host, possessing them to perform a sex and death dance upon unsuspecting victims.


Tasya Voss (Andrea Riseborough) is a killer of a different kind as she inhabits a human body through a brain implant for the purpose of carrying out a homicide and discards the body after it is riddled by bullets, courtesy of the police. When she returns, she gasps in recovery, lying on an operating table in a darkened laboratory of an unknown corporation. This corporation uses Tasya and this technology as a means to take over other corporations by taking out their key figures. When she detaches from her host with help from her handler Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh), her own self is scattered as she is unaware that she is separated from her husband. Her next assignment is to inhabit the body of Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott). She must do this in order to assassinate John Parse (Sean Bean), the CEO of Zoothroo, a data mining company, along with his daughter and Collin’s lover, Ava Parse (Tuppence Middleton) at the behest of Reid Parse (Christopher Jacot), John Parse’s stepson. As she conjoins with Collin and goes about her assignment, the connection with Collin starts to sever as a war erupts between the two minds. The duality between them becomes too great inside Collin’s body, turning a simple hit into a blood-soaked fiasco and culminates in a mind-blowing ending filled with shocks and surprises
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Jennifer Jason Leigh and Andrea Riseborough in Possessor (2020)
Mr. Cronenberg adds to what his father David Cronenberg brought to the sci-fi body horror table and propels it into the future of what could be possible when conjoining two bodies together by way of transplants and genetic engineering. It’s interesting how the character Tasya goes for the stabbing and beating of her targets rather than simply shooting them.  The brutal closeness of her kills contrasts with the banality and lack of intimacy in her own life. Director of Photography Karim Hussain visualizes this isolation with a clinically cold palette that extenuates Tasya’s isolation. Composer Jim Williams ties this movie together by various pieces that express the suspense and dread in some parts of the film coupled with loneliness in others. 

Andrea Riseborough is expertly cast and terrific as the cold, deadpan, and lonely Tasya.  Her affect works extremely well as she deals with the brutal excitement of her job that meshes with her cold environment of solitude.  Jennifer Jason Leigh gives an effectively restrained performance as Girdler who orchestrates and handles Tasya’s rehabilitation when she emerges from her hosts. Her clinical but gentle demeanor are perfect choices for her character. Sean Bean is always a treat and continues to be so as the crass and controlling John Parse. One of the best performances in this film is Christopher Abbott as the combustion engine filled with unpredictability that is Colin Tate. Playing a tortured soul who has to literally battle two personas inside him is no easy feat for an actor, but Mr. Abbott pulls this off with professional aplomb.
Picture
Christopher Abbott in Possessor (2020)
This film is a strong candidate for one of the best films in the Cronenberg family’s oeuvre. I will make a bold prediction that this film is, without a doubt, one of the better science fiction films that I have seen in quite some time. If you enjoy a good possession film, coupled with technology and body mutilation which is figurative and literal, this blood spattered, mind-blowing film is for you. Watch it and be amazed.

Possessor Uncut is now streaming on Apple TVAmazon PrimeVudu and YouTube.

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Author

Paul Grammatico was forbidden to see graphic films as a child and limited to edited TV movies, Paul received his horror information second hand through stories from older friends and siblings. He also vacationed in a desolate cottage, raised in houses with creepy basements, and lived in an apartment with a “full torso apparition”. Inspired by his experiences, Paul is a multi-award-winning screenwriter with an affinity of the weird and unexplained.

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<![CDATA[5 Horror Food Scenes that Will Scare You Back into the Kitchen]]>Mon, 09 Nov 2020 04:12:59 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/5-horror-food-scenes-that-will-scare-you-back-into-the-kitchen
Since the beginning of the recent pandemic, we have seen a surge in food deliveries and takeout orders. Stressed out and hungry, more people are turning to takeout and delivery rather than face the prospect of cooking yet another meal. If you’re one of the many people that has found themselves ordering takeout or delivery a little too much lately, perhaps one of these scenes will scare you back into the kitchen. 

The Lost Boys (1987)

When Michael (Jason Patric) finds himself in the middle of a vampire lair at feeding time, the last thing the audience expects is a box full of Chinese food. But this is no ordinary takeout. From rice transformed into fat white maggots to noodles that are actually wriggling worms, this scene manages to make a bottle of blood seem like one of the more appetizing options available. Even if the sight of worms and maggots doesn’t turn you off to your next order, don’t be surprised if you find yourself double checking your food before you eat.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

When Alice (Lisa Wilcox) finds herself at the Crave Inn in the dream world, she believes the nightmare is seeing her older self still working at the diner. The real nightmare begins when Freddy joins Alice at the counter and the older waitress delivers them a large pizza. Alice quickly notices the meat on the pizza contains the faces of her trapped friends screaming for help. She watches in horror as Freddy uses his metal claw to pierce one of the heads proclaiming, “I love soul food,” before placing it in his mouth. The sight of Freddy chomping down on a meatball face is so revolting that it might have you opting for veggies on your next pizza.

Drive Thru (2007)

This movie opens with a group of obnoxious Orange County teens attempting to order some late night burgers. Little do they know that the mascot of Hella Burger, Horny the Clown (Van de la Plante), is a deranged serial killer hellbent on revenge. While placing their order the employee behind the ghoulish clown intercom quickly goes from pleasant to belligerent. When one of the boys enters the restaurant in order to confront the employee he comes face to face with Horny the Clown and a deep fryer. Horny is filled with one liners throughout, but he makes it a point to remind people that “Fast food kills.” Perhaps the real lesson here is to be nice to the person behind the intercom.

IT Chapter Two (2017)

After returning to Derry in order to fulfill their promise to one another, the Losers Club meets at a Chinese restaurant in order to catch up and discuss the fact that Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) is back. At the end of the meal a large bowl of fortune cookies begin to break open revealing all sorts of horrible creatures, including a scrambling bug with the face of a human baby to an eyeball pulling itself along with its own blood vessels. These creatures race towards each character as they stand back in horror of what they see. The whole thing is enough to make anyone want to think twice before cracking open that cookie. 

Witness Infection (2020)

Anyone that has moved away from home can attest to how strong cravings can be for old familiar food. So when two rival crime families from New Jersey find themselves stuck in California due to a witness protection program, it’s not surprising that they miss their Italian food. Unfortunately for these families, the local Italian sausages come with some serious side effects. After consuming Italian takeout for a family dinner each person begins to experience unpleasant side effects. What starts as a fight for the bathroom quickly dissolves into a fight for survival as everyone that has consumed the sausage turns into a zombie. From the severe flatulence to the craving for human flesh, this film makes you question if the food was really worth it.  

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Author

Maureen Trinh is a screenwriter who was a finalist at the Athena LA Film Lab, semi-finalist for Screencraft Drama, Academy Nicholl Top 15%, Killer Shorts QF. She is also a fan of the New York Jets and Los Angeles Angels. 

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<![CDATA['‚ÄčKindred': A Timely Thriller with Horrific Human Monsters {Movie Review}]]>Fri, 06 Nov 2020 19:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/kindred-a-timely-thriller-with-horrific-human-monsters-movie-review
Kindred isn’t a gory film. There is no masked boogeyman or supernatural monster, either. Rather, the horror comes from a family trying to control a woman’s every single move and action, including her reproductive rights. The result is a film with the type of dread that encapsulates this very moment, when women’s rights are under attack at the global level. Intentional or not, Kindred feels incredibly relevant
Set in the UK and directed by Joe Marcantonio, Kindred largely revolves around Charlotte (Tamara Lawrance), who finds out within 20 minutes of the narrative that she’s pregnant. She wonders how that could be since she’s on the pill. Meanwhile, she and her boyfriend, Ben (Edward Holcroft), break the news to his family that they plan to move to Australia. Immediately, Ben’s mom, Margaret (Fiona Shaw), dismisses the couple’s plans. “What about your responsibilities?” she asks.  It’s clear that her son can’t just fly from home so easily. Shaw’s performance makes Margaret a sinister and domineering villain.

Ben and Charlotte’s escape plans become a moot point, however, Ben dies in an accident not long into the film. From there, the narrative focuses on Charlotte’s imprisonment at the estate. There are locks on the gates and eventually locks on the doors. The film echoes negative stereotypes that were used throughout history to keep women in line. More than once, Margaret states that Charlotte is ill and even mentally unstable. “I can’t have you running around like a mad woman,” she says at one point, before adding, “Don’t you realize you’re the one who’s sick?” These words are so chilling because they’re rooted in an ugly history. Historically, women who showed too much agency and self-determination were locked away or labeled mad and crazy. Even more heinous is the fact that the matriarch orchestrates the abuse.
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KINDRED STILL 5: Tamara Lawrance as “Charlotte” in Joe Marcantonio’s KINDRED. Courtesy of IFC Midnight. An IFC Midnight Release.
Charlotte’s isolation becomes increasingly paramount. There are shots where she is center framed, standing alone, even when people fill the room after Ben’s funeral, talking with one another. In another scene, she wanders outside, roaming the massive estate, before discovering the gates are padlocked. There is no getting out. It is an incredibly bleak scene, underscoring her dire situation.

Even some of the early conversations Charlotte has about the pregnancy are frightening. She makes it clear to Dr. Richards (Anton Lesser) that she doesn’t want to have the kid. Her mind is made up, but he tells her to go home and not make any rash decisions. Further, Ben never discusses it with her. He just wants to celebrate, and before she has the chance to break the news to his family, Dr. Richards already informs Margaret. Clearly, Charlotte has no say. This is the most terrifying element of the film. Everyone wants to control her body, to the point where they eventually lock her in the home after Ben’s death to ensure she carries the baby to term.

It’s hard not to watch Kindred and think about the last several years and the restrictions on women’s rights. A recent high court ruling in Poland would ban virtually all abortions. Recent nationwide protests have delayed implementation of the new law. In the United States, the fate of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion, is unknown now that the Supreme Court has a far-right 6-3 majority.
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KINDRED STILL 9: Tamara Lawrance as “Charlotte” in Joe Marcantonio’s KINDRED. Courtesy of IFC Midnight. An IFC Midnight Release.
Maybe Kindred wouldn’t be so unsettling if it dropped during another time, but what Charlotte undergoes in the film, specifically her decreased agency, just feels so apt on a grander scale. That’s what’s so striking about the film. Her plight is largely what women have faced historically and even recently. Just look at the news out of Poland.

As the film progresses, Charlotte’s situation grows more and more dire. Every member of the family plays a role in imprisoning her, and even suspected allies turn out to be traitors. One of the creepiest roles is filled by Jack Lowden as Thomas, Ben’s brother.  The dude is such a whacked out perv that Charlotte wakes up one morning to find him next to her in bed. Does he want to be a stand-in for Ben? Does he want to be the baby’s father? It’s unclear, but boy does he bring the creep factor to the role, even if he appears nice at first.

Kindred is a timely film. Its dread slowly builds to a heartbreaking conclusion and an ending that may frustrate some viewers. Charlotte’s plight and Margaret’s vicious words echo what women have endured in the past. But the film’s timeline isn’t set 200 years ago. It’s the present day and everyone wants to tell Charlotte what to do with her baby. No one listens to what she has to say. That’s what’s so horrifying about Kindred

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Author

Brian Fanelli fell in love with horror movies the first time he watched Night of the Living Dead as a kid. His writing on the genre has been published by Horror HomeroomThe Schuylkill Valley Journal, and Signal Horizon Magazine. He is also the author of two books of poems, Waiting for the Dead to Speak (NYQ Books), winner of the Devil's Kitchen Poetry Prize, and All That Remains (Unbound Content). His non-horror writing has been published in The Los Angeles TimesWorld Literature Today, Paterson Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, and elsewhere. Brian has an M.F.A. from Wilkes University and a Ph.D. from Binghamton University. Currently, he teaches at Lackawanna College. ​

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<![CDATA['Overlord': Above the B Line {Movie Review}]]>Thu, 05 Nov 2020 17:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/overlord-above-the-b-line-movie-review
Nazi zombies are an easy, novelty trope that has continued to hold traction for over 75 years, and for good reason. If you want easy villains, look no further than the 20th century’s most notorious monsters. You can write them to do horrific, terrifying things, and you don’t have to worry about adding any redeeming qualities. During the heyday of the exploitation film, the trope was solidified in films such as They Saved Hitler’s Brain, Zombie Lake, and the definitive Shock Waves. Of course, the trope has seen a resurgence in the last decade thanks to popular video game franchises like Call of Duty and Wolfenstein. Most recently, the Nazi Zombie trope has had its most mainstream undertaking with 2018’s Overlord, directed by newcomer, Julius Avery, and more notably, produced by J.J. Abrams
[SPOILER WARNING]

​On the night before D-Day, a World War II paratrooper squad is sent to destroy a Nazi radio tower in a nearby village. The plane is gunned down, leaving four survivors: the good-natured Boyd, played by
Jovan Adepo; the closed off leader, Ford, played by Wyatt Russell; Tibbet, a reject from the Jersey Boys musical, played by John Magaro; and Chase, a photographer, played Iain De Caestecker. By a stroke of luck, the squad meets Chloe, played by Mathilde Ollivier, a villager who lives near the tower. She shelters them with her younger brother, and sickly, disfigured aunt. Tibbet and Chase go off to survey the area, and Chloe’s home is “visited” by the power mad enemy commander, Wafner, played by Pilou Asbæk. Unable to quietly standby while Chloe is coerced, Boyd makes their presence known, and he and Ford knock Wafner out. 


As Boyd makes his way to a rendezvous point, a mishap leads him to hide in a truck. The truck takes him inside the compound, where more than the radio tower is waiting. He discovers a full mad scientist’s lab below the compound, where the villagers are being experimented on. Boyd is horrified by the atrocities, and makes his way out through the sewer with a syringe of a weird serum, and a rescued comrade, Rosenfeld. They return to the house, where Ford is attempting to torture info out of Wafner but to no avail. A struggle ensues before they leave to take down the base, and Wafner guns down Chase. On an impulse, Boyd “Pulp Fiction’s Chase with the syringe and he perks right up. At first, Chase seems dazed, but quickly mutates into a violent monster, forcing the pacifist Boyd to put him down once again. During the chaos, Wafner flees, kidnapping Chloe’s brother, Paul, but is injured when the soldiers fire at him.
Overlord is definitely a film where the visual presentation pulls it above the writing. The opening title card alone creates a throwback to late 1940’s war films you’d see on TCM’s Veteran’s Day Marathon. Opening proper in the plane, we’re greeted with some clunky dialogue that follows throughout. The impressive paratroop sequence afterward does make for an effectively disorienting sequence, letting you know that this film will have great action. The film pays great attention to sound design, with reverberating gunfights, blood curdling snarls, moments where all the sound is sucked away. Cinematography by Laurie Rose and Fabian Wagner looks great, with no discernibility on who shot which scenes. It’s dark but polished, looking miles ahead of its $38 million budget. Finally, the stand-out aspect has to be the phenomenal score by Australian blues-rock musician, Jed Kurzel. At first recreating an homage to old Hollywood war movie scores, Kurzel seamlessly transitions to a more fantastical, but grounded score to match the rising tension. Kurzel’s score for Alien: Covenant was one of the most praise-worthy aspects of that film, so there was no doubt that I would enjoy the music for this film. 

On the casting, you’re not getting anything deeper than traditional archetypes, but all actors play their roles straight, giving a feel of authenticity. Russell plays Ford as a “by the books” corporal, growling and snarling his lines. He’s definitely channeling his dad’s iconic MacReady performance from
The Thing, with a little bit of Clint Eastwood to show he means businessAdepo is well cast as our everyman hero (the guy is nominated for his episode of Watchmen after all), facing an extreme situation that confronts his good boy nature. He is our hero to the end. Magaro is the resident one-note hot head, mainly complaining the whole time. He’d normally be cannon-fodder, but at the end, he does the bare minimum to warrant some likability. De Caestecker unfortunately doesn’t get much time on screen, making his death scene feel less impactful, but you will remember his inconsistent accent. Ollivier actually delivers a pretty strong performance, conveying reserved fear in the presence of her oppressors, but shows great strength during the climax. Finally, Asbæk gives a memorably vile performance as the lead villain. He’s not mustache twirling, he’s purely drunk on the power he holds over the village and reveling in his scumbaggery. But once we reach the climax, he fully embraces the cheese of the subgenre.
With time running out, and the D-Day invasion approaching, the team splits up, with Tibbet and Rosenfeld distracting the Nazis at the top while Ford, Boyce and Chloe enter the base using the sewers. Chloe is able to rescue her brother and gets a nasty kill on an unleashed Nazi zombie. As Ford and Boyce plant the explosives to complete the mission they are attacked by Wafner, who has been injected with the serum, achieving superhuman strength, and literally shouting “ROAR.” A one-sided fight ensues as Wafner overpowers the two, while waxing poetic about how the serum is mined from a well of tar beneath the compound and can create perfect soldiers from the dead. While distracted, Ford injects himself with the serum to get back in the fight, but more of the dead begin to rise. Boyd uses the opportunity to activate the explosives, destroying the compound and its inhabitants, completing the mission. The remaining soldiers then hear over the radio that D-Day was successful while recovering.

Overlord is a well-designed film that clearly could have gone wrong under different circumstances. Initially, this was planned as a Cloverfield installment which could have caused unnecessary tonal shifts in a film that already plays on a ridiculous premise. It’s a pretty easy watch with no loose ends, and a satisfying ending. The film rises above its B-movie level storyline. It’s never necessary, but I’m happy this succeeded, even if it was only a minor hit. Overlord is a rare example of genre-fare getting a wide release in the modern age, opening up the possibilities for what major studios could invest in.

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Author

Alex Ayres is filmmaker and writer based in Atlanta, GA. An avid genre fan overall, he started his love of horror at age 13, diving head first down the rabbit hole and has not looked back since.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a BA in film and creative writing, Alex has a steady background in screenwriting, having written multiple short and feature screenplays. His most recent screenplay 6/09 has been accepted into various film festivals and writing competitions around the country, winning best comedy at the Austin After Dark Film Fest in 2019. His short screenplay Soup’s On is currently in early stages of pre-production.
When not spent hunched over at his laptop on his third cup of coffee, Alex works as a non-union set worker on various productions in Atlanta, primarily as a Set PA, 2nd AC, Boom-Op, and Extra. In time, Alex will pursue his Master’s in screenwriting. Making film and teaching film is a life-long goal that he’s going the distance with.
Alex was a volunteer with HorrOrigins during its inaugural film festival and is excited to participate further in curating a gruesome and fun time for Fright-Knights and Ghouls.

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<![CDATA['Shortcut': Bus? Check. Abandoned? Check. Scares? Not Really {Movie Review}]]>Wed, 04 Nov 2020 17:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/articles/shortcut-bus-check-abandoned-check-scares-not-really-movie-review
Experimental and uneven, Shortcut is one of those films that keeps hitting bumps just as
it reaches smoother roads. To be sure, the parts that work, really work, with some impressive cinematography by and characters that have a few quirks tucked away. However, at only an hour and a half, the movie is both too short, and too long. What we’re left with is a shell for a much better film.
Five classmates are on a bus with their endearing bus driver, Joseph (Terence Anderson).
When the normal route is obstructed, Joseph turns the wheel and heads down a different road with heavy fog, twisting woods, and the feeling of true isolation. There’s a very old-school vibe to this film. The music plays continuously, shuffling between lighter bonding music one might expect from Stranger Things and then quickly drilling harder when unfortunate things begin to happen. It’s not exactly the most accessible style but for a while, it still is unique.

The kids are likable enough, similar to the Losers Club with Nolan, the brave leader (Jack Kane), Karl, the one who’s always hungry (Zander Emlano), Reggie, the rebellious bad boy (Zac Sutcliffe), the nerdy but plucky girl Queenie (Molly Dew), and the artist Bess (Sophie Jane Oliver). A group of teens working together against monsters and deranged killers is a good premise. Add in a large series of tunnels and an abandoned military base and you’re in business. However, the scares fade away for flashbacks of exposition and bonding moments that could’ve been more serviceable.
Picture
Jack Kane, Sophie Jane Oliver, Zander Emlano, and Zak Sutcliffe in Shortcut (2020)
And here’s part of the problem. Although similar to Jeepers Creepers 2 as many reviewers have noted, this one doesn’t focus on a large body count and heavy amounts of blood.
That in itself is fine and admirable. But the story didn’t really seem to balance two different antagonists that could easily each be part of their own movie. Nor does it really balance its flashbacks. A lot of it feels informative without actually enhancing the story we’re seeing to the point that I wish we were simply with the characters in their predicament. No cutaways or voice-overs; just letting their actions tell the story. That may’ve cut the run-time down to make this a TV pilot, but honestly, that could’ve worked a lot better.

That being said, when the teens are trapped in the moment, it really grabs ahold. As
mentioned before, the cinematography Luca Santagostino is outstanding and the creature stalking them is like a walking bat from hell. I found myself wanting to see more and more of the tunnels and ruins where the monster’s lair is. But for better or worse, it reached the ending it wanted. After starting with a lone red bus on a country road, it ends with characters who’ve been scared for life. It just isn’t as effective for the audience.

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Author

Davis Clark 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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