The Shallows

The Shallows

Columbia Pictures, Weimaraner Republic Pictures, Ombra Films, USA, 2016
AKA: Lost Vacation, In the Deep
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: Anthony Jaswinski
Cast: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo, Joseph Salas, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge, Pablo Calva, Diego Espejel, Janelle Bailey, Ava Dean, Chelsea Moody, Sully Seagull

Nancy is in Mexico looking for a beach. It’s a secret beach so nobody will tell You where it is and if You find it anyway, nobody will tell You it’s name. It’s a bit like Fight Club. Nancy isn’t a fighter, but a surfer, and so was her mom. It was her mom who told her of this beach in the first place. She spent time her when she was young, but she fell seriously ill and the doctors couldn’t save her. That’s why Nancy dropped out of med school and went surfing on her moms old secret beach.

She hitches a ride to the beach with Carlos in his pick-up. She tells him she’s alone cause her friend met some guy the night before and was too hung over to come with her. She basicly tells him she’s on her way to somewhere nobody in the world knows about all by her self. That should be a big no-no, but Carlos is the decent Mexican. (I’m convinced most Mexicans are decent, but in Hollywood movies statistics are to their disadvantage). Carlos is a good guy though, which is obvious when he decline payment for the ride. He says he was going the same way anyway since he lives not far away. Nancy calls her younger sister and tells her she’s on moms beach. She talks to her father who tries to convince her to come home to Texas and finish school. Then she goes surfing.

But before all this (really?), before the credits a young boy is playing on the beach when he finds a helmet with a GoPro mounted on it washed ashore. He plays the film and see two surfers getting attacked by a shark. The boy runs from the beach and passes a washed up broken surf board. It’s a clue to the chronology but we don’t know that yet since we still haven’t seen Nancy’s board. Therefore there is no way for us to know that the boy is decent Carlos’ son and he runs to get his dad and by doing so the beginning of the story becomes the end, or maybe the other way around. Sorry for spoiling the film, but if You have something better to do than watch a girl and a seagull sharing a rock, You can stop watching now.

The rest of us watch Nancy surf. Out there she encounters two other surfers. One of them has a helmet with a GoPro mounted on it. What is it with Mexican surfers and GoPro’s? (nudge, nudge.) They appear to be friendly and invite Nancy to join them, but she want’s to do her own thing. Anyway, they give her some advice and warnings of the undercurrents, corals that burn, and some rocks that isn’t visible at high tide but becomes little islets at low tide.

It’s getting late and the two others are leaving. Nancy says she’s gonna stay and catch another wave. She watches a bit suspicious as they pack their stuff in the car but they too, are decent Mexicans and they leave her backpack and her valuables where they are. Nancy discovers a dead whale and paddles over to take a closer look. This is a bad idea since the whale already has been claimed by a great white. Nancy tries to get away but is attacked by the shark and badly bit in a leg, but she gets lose and climbs on top of the whale carcass. The shark tries to get to her but eventually she makes it to one of the islets together with a seagull with a wounded wing. She has to patch up her leg somehow and figure out a way to get off the islet before high tide returns. The beach is only 200 yards away but the shark is going back and forth between her and the dead whale.

After spending the night with the seagull she wakes up and see a man on the beach. She calls for help, but unfortunately he is the bad Mexican she’s more or less has been expecting all the time. Instead of helping her or calling for help he steals her things at the beach. Then he sees her surfboard a couple of feet from the beach and get greedy. He thinks it’s a good idea to go get it. It wasn’t. Later in the morning the two surfers from yesterday turn up. When they see the wounded Nancy on the islet they jump in to come get her. She tries to warn them but one of them replies “There are no sharks here”. Well, he was wrong.

The plot is very simple, really. Nancy is on a sinking islet (or rather the water is rising), she’s wounded pretty bad, and the shark won’t let her leave. He can’t get to her now but when the water rises… When the film premiered there was a lot of hype and then most viewers seemed to get rather disappointed. There isn’t much of a story and there are several plot holes and weird happenings, but I don’t think it’s bad. It doesn’t really make sense to me why the shark just doesn’t eat the whale. There’s plenty of food there and yet he or she has to kill and eat every single person that gets into the water. The shark patrolling and stalking Nancy doesn’t make sense either. Most predators give up. They don’t stalk a certain person for days when there is alternative food served. The filmmakers try to explain this width a big hook stuck in the sharks jaws. Somebody has hurt him and now he hates humans, sort of. I don’t really buy that, but what ever. A rather weird goof is the buoy Nancy tries to hold on to. when two of the three chains that hold it in place breaks it falls over. WTF? Buoys don’t work that way. The chains aren’t there to keep it upright, but to stop it from drifting away. It’s like a boat. It doesn’t fall over when you pull the anchor up. (Well there was this famous Swedish boat once back in 1628, but apart from that…)

So, did I hate it? No. I think it was quite entertaining. In fact, I have to say it was the best shark movie I’ve seen in a while. Several reviewers have complained about bad CGI, but I don’t think that’s fair. If You compare The Shallows width all the SyFy/Asylum shark films the CGI is extremely good. The Shallows has also been called a Jaws rip off, and [spoiler] the way Nancy finally kills the shark [/spoiler] has been both laughed at and criticized. I think, if The Shallows is a Spielberg rip off we have to go deeper than Jaws. Four years before Jaws, Spielberg directed a film for TV called Duel. It’s about a business man who is getting stalked by a psychotic truckdriver in the Californian desert. This truckdriver, for reasons unexplained is out to kill the businessman with his truck. In the end the businessman uses the same tactics as Nancy does in The Shallows. Same, same, but a great white instead of a truck.

My verdict: 6 out of 10.

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The Barn

The Barn

Nevermore Production Films/Nevermore Production Studios, USA, 2016
Director: Justin M. Seaman
Writer: Justin M. Seaman
Cast: Mitchell Musolino, Will Stout, Lexi Dripps, Cortland Woodard, Nikki Howell, Nickolaus Joshua, Linnea Quigley, Ari Lehman, Ryan Nogy, David Hampton, James Weldon, Justin M. Seaman, Rik Billock, Elyse Alberts, Hunter Amos, Jon Bailey, James Baker, Matt Starr Bores, Ted Boyko, Cheyenne Burnsworth, Colton Burnsworth, Paula Burnsworth, Rodney Burnsworth, Dakota Corwin, Tyler Denman, Stephen Dixon, Linda Emeterio, Anna Fajerski, Dave Fresch, John Garrett, Linda Garrett, Brian Gault, Jedediah Giacchino, Sable Griedel, Susie Johnson, Linda Loughman, Jordan Main, Jeramey Pelzer, Michael Prutzman, Johnny Relich, Mark J. Reyes, Cheryl Seaman, Tanya R. Seaman, Douglas Sikora, Clay Sismour, Nicholas Sprowls, Jeremiah Startare, Jacob Stone, Ryan Sullivan, Clarissa Teagarden, Jeremy Teagarden, Megan Teagarden, Ethan Turner, Keith Uram, Christopher Vertosick, Jonathan Vertosick, Darby Zerbini, Rachel Kyslow

Wheary Falls, 1959. It’s halloween and there is an evening meeting in the church. The preacher reminds everyone that Wheary Farms is off limits. Since Rik Billock, who plays the preacher, has past experiences width zombies I would probably have listened, but of course little Shirley has to drag her friend George there anyway and go knocking three times on the barn door saying “Trick or treat, smell my feet”, and awakening the three demons who are buried there.

30 years later (that would make it 1989) everyone is wearing jeans jackets and 19 years old Sam and Josh scare the younger kids by telling them the legend of the barn and the three demons, The Miner Boogeyman, Hallowed Jack the pumpkin man and The Candycorn Scarecrow, and the rules of trick or treating. From TV-show host Dr. Rock (played by the original Jason Vorhees, Ari Lehman) Sam and Josh learn that their favourite band Demon Inferno is doing a surprise concert on Halloween not far from their town. Together with Michelle (Sam’s secret crush), Chris & Nikkie, and Russel they set out towards the Demon Inferno concert, but takes a shortcut through the woods. They plan on stoping in the first town they come to for som Trick or Treating, and the first town they comes to is.. Deathville. Well the real name of the town is Wheary Falls but the road they are on has been blocked by a fence.

They ignore the “No trespassing” signs and climb over the fence into a pumpkin patch. They talk for a while and Sam tells them of the rules of trick or treating so they dare him to knock on the door of the old barn not far from where they parked their van. Unfortunately it is not just a barn, but the barn, and they wake the demons. Sam, Josh and Michelle takes of to town to trick or treat, Chris and Nikki puts up a tent for some sex and Russel stays in the barn to see if he can find out what the weird stench in there comes from.

There is a lot of talk about the rules of Halloween and of the importance of following them, and The Barn follows the rules of 80’s slashers. The black kid alwas gets killed first (if You don’t count little Shirley in, but that was 30 years ago) and anyone having sex dies. Michelle is a good girl and most probably still a virgin so she is the “last girl”. Nikki on the other hand looses her top far to easy to be alowed to live.

The Barn is a low budget film. You can tell sometimes, but despite some bad acting and some cheaplooking effects and costumes I still like it. Compared to some of the rest of the low budget filmes I’ve seen recently The Barn comes out on top. The story isn’t very original but more like a standard slasher from the 80’s, and that’s OK. The people behind The Barn doesn’t try to pretend it’s anything else. In fact they market the film as a 80’s slasher made today. They managed to get Lehman, Billock and Linnea Quigley to participate and the film was crowdfounded. I suppose the people behind The Barn are true horrorfans themselves and their effort should be applauded. Also, music is great.

There is a sequel in the making and I for one have high expectations and am gonna keep my eyes open for it.

I have one question, though. Who is Rachel Kyslow? She stands out in her performance, playing the not so small part of Nikki’s Boobs. I can’t find her on either IMDb or Google, so who is she, and will she be back for the sequel?

My verdict: 6 out of 10.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

Darko Entertainment, USA, 2016
Director: Casey Tebo
Writer: Casey Tebo
Cast: Tristin Mays, Vanessa Lengies, Erik Palladino, Matthew Willig, Inanna Sarkis, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Matt Bush, Steven Tyler, Britne Oldford, Robert Miano, David A. Garcia, Carlos Ayala, Juan Jose Dubon, Rey Borge, Michael Anthony Perez, Riley Litman, Bernardo Verdugo, Diahann Elise, Stevie Salas, Geno Monteiro, Cassandra Bautista, Gene Minero, Dominic Quarto, Edward Cadena

On his birthday Brady finds out his girlfriend has cheated on him. His friend Tommy talks him into taking a trip to Mexicali, to drink, take drugs and maybe find some mexican girls to make Brady forget about his sorrows.

They meet Katie and Lucia who warns them of El Gato Enfermo, the mean leader of the local cartel. He is known for kidnapping young americans for ransom. Brady is an orphan who grew up in an orphanage so he jokes about being safe since he has no relatives to pay his ransom. The girls have to leave but Katie sugests they should meet up later that night to party.

Next the boys run into Texican and his big cousin El Caballo. They offer to guide the boys and keep them safe for a small fee of course. They to warns them for the cartel and for El Gato. They take the boys to a cockfight where they meet this aztek shaman (Steven Tyler from Aerosmith) who gives them some very powerful drugs. They end up in a stripclub and things start to get very weird.

They lose Texican and El Caballo but runs into Katie and Lucia again and they decides to go with the girls to their hotel room. When they get there, they end up in a bed each with a girl each but then things turn ugly. Brady and Tommy gets tied up and beaten. The girls work for El Gato and was planning on kidnapping the boys all along. They drug them and when Brady wakes up Tommy is gone.

The girls tell him Tommy died and his body has been dumped in a container. This wasn’t supposed to happen and they are afraid it will piss their boss off. They will let Brady go as soon as his family has paid his ransom. Brady realises his in deep shit since Tommy was the one width loaded parents and he hasn’t got anyone.

Happy Birthday is like a rollercoaster ride. There are twists and turns to the story all the time and You can’t really trust anyone since noone seems to be who they pretend to be.

It’s a wild and entertaining story. The only problem I had with it was that some of the twists were a little bit predictable.

My verdict: 5 out of 10.