Friday, 31 May 2013

Monster Fest 2013 preview

Monster Fest 2013 preview

Monster Fest 2013 is coming to Auckland's award-winning Academy Cinemas from June 6th.

There is a whole range of films along for the ride - and quite frankly, what an awesome ride it's looking to be. With a lot of the releases being titles which have mysteriously avoided a big screen release here in NZ, it's great to see them getting collected together and given a cinematic outing on the big screen.

The Academy's been generous enough to let me view some of the upcoming releases and I can say there's certainly a fair amount of choice for connoisseurs of the celluloid.

Thale, a Norwegian folklore horror film recalls a mix of early X Files spookiness and Norwegian bleakness as proffered up by Rare Exports. A duo, Leo and Elvis, who clean crime scenes end up at a seemingly deserted cabin in the woods (always with the cabins) cleaning up after an old man goes missing and half his body remains. When the duo discover a huldra, a sacred forest creature in the basement, it all goes a bit haywire. Mixing a few scares and some relative low budget horror, Thale is a short and relatively creepy sweet treat.
Equally impressive is James MacAvoy and a cast of unbelievably good Brit talent in Welcome To The Punch. Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough, Daniel Mays and David Morrissey are stand out in this crime thriller about a former criminal forced to return to London when his son is injured. But MacAvoy's cop is waiting to grab him, three years after they first met. However, it's not as simple as it seems. Stylish, violent, and impressive Welcome To The Punch is a welcome shot in the arm of crime thrillers - and has a thrilling opening which grips.

Small Apartments sees Matt Lucas (of Little Britain fame) as the dweller in a dingy block of tenement flats. A Swiss horn blower, he spends most of his day walking around shirtless in a pair of white y fronts. One day he kills his landlord and doesn't hear from his brother (who always writes daily) and this sets off a chain of events. Eschewing real strong narrative in favour of kooky oddballs and great visuals, with a brilliant cast (Peter Stormare, Billy Crystal, Juno Temple, James Marsden, Johnny Knoxville, James Cann) this is a film aiming for cult curio and one which squarely and refreshingly hits the mark.

Manborg is a shlocky piece of Canadian action-sci-fi cross which sees Count Draculon and his Nazi forces trying to take over the Earth during the Hell Wars. (That description should be enough alone to tell you what's what in this) When a soldier's killed trying to take down Draculon, he's turned into a robot soldier, with one aim in mind - avenging his fallen buddies and saving the day. Mixing B movie action with some truly ropey FX, Manborg is a cheese-fest which looks like it's come from the bottom of the barrel. But it's got some fun moments and for low budget FX fest, you know what to expect.

Grabbers is an Irish / British monster movie, which has been building a strong cult following. When an Irish island is invaded by blood sucking sea creatures, it's up to Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley's Garda officers to help save the island - and all from a local pub. With a dash of buddy cop movie, mixed in with a pinch of the likes of Tremors and some clever jolts, it's a surprisingly watchable piece which mixes monster scares with some nice character moments. 

Dark Skies (not the much missed TV series about alien invasion over four decades) stars The Americans' Keri Russell and goes for the old there's something haunting a suburban family story which has been so prevalent in recent films. Playing on some of those primal fears and pulling together a reasonable story, it's a spooky if unspectacular watch - but one that may find you checking whether you've locked the door before you head to bed.

That's not all that's on at Monster Fest - there's also the likes of Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's Mama getting an airing here (with no sign of a release boding despite taking No1 in the US Box Office), horror flick The Collection, sequel to The Collector, Father's Day, the Death and Resurrection Show to name but a few more.

Monster Fest runs at Auckland's Academy Cinema from June 6th.

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