Thursday, 31 July 2014

NZIFF Review - It Follows

NZIFF Review - It Follows

A terrifically old school suspenseful horror from the director of The Myth of the American Sleepover, you wonder how the likes of It Follows has not been done before.

Following a young bunch once again, director David Robert Mitchell is the story of Maika Monroe's Jay, who sleeps with her new boyfriend Hugh.

Only to be then chloroformed when there should be cuddling afterwards.

When she awakens, she's told by Hugh that an unseen something will now start following her and she has to avoid it - but that the only way to permanently get out of this pursuit is to sleep with someone else and pass the curse on.

But if the person who's been affected with the curse is killed, the creature stalks its original victim.

With a premise like that, you'd expect a somewhat trashy movie as the teens sleep their way around, promising plenty of loose sex and even looser morals.

But what actually transpires is a terrifically well-delivered, technically taut horror that makes great fist of an ominous soundtrack, perfect locations and slow seeping shots to create an atmosphere of utter dread within. At least one reveal of the thing following Jay is utterly terrifying and creatively executed, thanks to a combination of perfect timing, soundtrack and plausibility as well as tapping into one of those most horrific fears with you since the dawn of time.

The cast's fairly impressive too - once you get your head around the fact that in many ways, this is an old school horror where potential victims don't exactly make the wisest decisions. But that's not to dismiss it as retro or tacky in any way shape or form.

The relationship between Jay and her sister, as well as her first boyfriend Paul (who's happy to help relieve her of the curse) is excellently handled and the growing sense of dread is brilliantly executed throughout. Once the paranoia sets in the psychological effects are easy to understand, eminently watchable and smartly dished out. Even Jay's initial reticence to pass it on (one character remarks it should be easy for her as she's a girl) gives way to a sickening sense of inevitability for her own sanity.

Monroe is the right mix of naive and love-struck at the start, but once the horror starts to set in, her gradual descent into full-on terror and near breakdown is a compelling, if horrifying one.

Sure, you could argue this is a large metaphor for STDs and teen sex, but it's more than that. Mitchell's executed a classic horror that incorporates the terror of a faceless stalker. Wisely choosing to ignore the need for explanation for what exactly is going on, how it all began (perhaps fertile ground for another movie) and concentrating simply on delivering dread and terror, It Follows' MO is atmosphere and successful jump frights, deftly transcribed to the screen that channel a primal simple fear - something's coming for you and you can't escape it...

It Follows more than delivers on those - and don't be surprised if after seeing this, you walk home checking over your shoulder a couple of times....

NZIFF Review - The Double and Maps To The Stars

NZIFF Review - The Double and Maps To The Stars

It's another case of double identity at the New Zealand International Film Festival with Jesse Eisenberg standing in for the doppelganger treatment (with Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy pulling similar duties).

This time, Eisenberg stars in Richard Ayoade's interpretation of Dostoyevsky's The Double as Simon James, an office worker, who's having a bad day. Things get worse when James discovers he's been usurped in the office by his exact double - who exudes more confidence, is less nervous and is on his way to the top.

Caught up in this web is Mia Wasikowska's Hannah, who falls for the double much to Simon's horror - and it's here that Simon starts to lose control of it all.

IT Crowd actor and Submarine director Richard Ayoade's already demonstrated a great eye for highly stylised film and he follows this trend in The Double, with some terrifically framed shots and some stunning visuals that bring the drab colours of greens to life in ways which leap off the screen. There's a real sense of the absurd here as Simon's world starts to disintegrate and Eisenberg does enough to balance the differences between the two - it's great to finally see Eisenberg break away from the usual neurotic fare and playing a stronger character.

But it's the visuals which are really the triumph of the film; Ayoade's captured an essence of a nightmare that seems just close enough to reality with the dark, dingy landscapes and attitudes. Patches of dry humour scatter throughout and bring a degree of levity to the dystopian proceedings. Stylistically, The Double is a triumph - though I do begin to worry that Ayoade's painting himself into an admittedly wonderful corner here; I look forward to seeing what he can do with a relatively straight story in the future.

Maps To The Stars sees the ghastly and the guru mix together in a satire of Hollywood that's masterminded by David Cronenberg.

The film opens with Mia Wasikowska's Agatha alighting from a bus in Hollywood with the whole world ahead of her and ends up with a suicide pact taking out two others in an incestuous affair. But before we get there, Cronenberg peppers his world with characters that really we don't want to spend any time with; from the monstrous Havana Segrand ( a ferocious turn by Julianne Moore) to the Justin Biber / Justin Timberlake child star Benjie Weiss (a troublingly precocious performance from Evan Bird) to the chauffeur / wannabe actor Jerome (Robert Pattinson) and self-help guru Dr Stafford Weiss (John Cusack); all have their foibles and personality traits amplified to the max, with the nastier sides coming through. Ghastly preoccupations and satirical bents there may be in this piece, but its inherent unlikeability makes it difficult to slide into.

Performances are terrific though - with Bird and Moore being the stand outs of the ensemble - but the film holds you at arm's length for most of the time, and while the satire's supposed to bite at the characters, it just feels too nasty to engage with.

NZIFF Review - In Order of Disappearance

NZIFF Review - In Order of Disappearance

Scandi-noir gets a darkly comic boost with In Order of Disappearance, a revenge saga where Stellan Skarsgard's Citizen of the Year Nils has to turn to the dark side after his son's killed by gangland crims.

With his wife believing the son had turned to drugs and lost his way, Nils is about to shoot himself when he finds one of his son's friends who had inadvertently set him up. Given the details of what's gone down and who's involved, Nils channels his inner Dirty Harry / Liam Neeson and sets out to exact revenge on those who've done him wrong.

For a film set in the white snowy expanses of Norway, this film's heart is as blackly comic as they come.

It opens with Nils running his snow plow through vast amounts of the white stuff and then takes a turn for the darker climes as the gangland element kicks in. With Nils intoning that he's "best at minding my own business" as he's given an award, you know that's never going to be the case as he cuts a sway through the criminal element, slowly and meticulously tracking them down and causing ructions in a fragile peace between the warring drug factions.

It's Skarsgard's film through and through, though his quietly determined edge sits at odds with the gangsters, who are there for comic relief and whose ineptitude shines through. Skarsgard keeps a level of dignity throughout - and scenes with his wife after their son's death drip with poignancy and emotion. It's a level of humanity which elevates this, despite some uglier misogynistic moments towards the end from the lead bad guy.

In stark contrast to the white driven snow, the film's heart is as dark as it comes, with a series of ongoing gags about how Nils is disposing of the bodies, death notices peppering the screen each time someone's offed and the gangland boss railing at how his son won't now be able to have his 5 a day because one of the henchmen's not packed his fruit.

But it's Snow Country for Old Men as Nils edges closer to his targets - the sparsity of his interactions and despatches lack the conventional Hollywood parting quip (and all are the more terrific for it) as the final showdown arrives.

All in all, In Order of Disappearance, aside from 2 moments of unnecessary repugnant ugliness, is one of the finer Scandi flicks to emerge from the Festival in a few years.

Five new Doctor Who images materialise

Five new Doctor Who images materialise

Five new Doctor Who images featuring Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara have shown up in a new issue of Entertainment Weekly.

The shots are below for you to enjoy:

Here's your first look at the Doctor Who Series 8 Full length trailer

With the brand new series of Doctor Who, starring Peter Capaldi and Jenna-Louise Coleman about to materialise on our screens, has the first look at the 12th Doctor in the opening episode Deep Breath.

Deep Breath also stars the Paternoster Gang and as you can see from the image, appears to be set in Victorian Times.

Doctor Who hits the UK on August 23rd at a rumoured time of 8pm for the feature length episode Deep Breath, directed by Ben Wheatley.

Take a first look at Peter Capaldi as the Doctor and Jenna Louise-Coleman as Clara.

NZIFF Review - Cold In July

NZIFF Review - Cold In July

Dexter star Michael C Hall exchanges splatter and gore for the victim side of things in the synth drenched Cold In July.

He's Richard Dane, mulleted and mustachioed in East Texas in 1989 and who's awoken one night by the sounds of an intruder downstairs. Heading down to see what the commotion is and with a wife and child in the house, Dane lets off a single shot killing the intruder outright.

And he believes that's the end of his problems - with the law clearly on his side and the victim buried, there's nothing else left to worry about.

However, things get complicated for Dane when the burglar's father Ben (a softly spoken but menacing Sam Shepard) is paroled and comes looking for Dane...

Cold In July has an old school vibe about it in many ways - and that's not just the looks of the leads.

With its synth based score, and outfits, it feels like an 80s murky revenge thriller, with secrets of the town thrown in for good measure. But the mystery takes several twists and that's really where the strength of this film lies.

It becomes a greater film when Don Johnson shows up, as he brings an energy and skewed take on things that's needed after a minor slump - as the riddles unravel and the reasons are explained, it's clearer that this is more a film about the bonds which strengthen and divide families.

Director Jim Mickle delivers some tension filled scenes including a great jump moment during a home invasion that even though you've seen it coming delivers such a visceral punch, you don't recover straight away.

As the murkier aspects of Texas are explored, it builds to an explosive end that's really needed to help deliver on what was promised before. It's not as strong as it could be, but the trio's chemistry works well and guides you through the weaker parts of the narrative.  It takes a while to get there and you are either on board or you're not, but Cold In July smacks you upside the head - just not in ways you'd quite expect it to.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

NZIFF Review - White God

NZIFF Review - White God

One of the most searing films at the New Zealand International Film Festival is White God a terrific piece that at its heart is about an uprising from the lower classes.

But featuring dogs, who spend a lot of time emoting before erupting into violence.

Broadly speaking, this Hungarian piece is about Lili, a young girl whose mother's gone abroad for work for 3 months and who's forced to live with her father in a world that's demanding dog owners register non pure breeds.

Along with her trusted mixed mutt Hagen, Lili finds living with her dad difficult, and things get worse when rather than pay the tax, pops throws Hagen out onto the streets and forces him to fend for himself.

So it's your usual girl meets dog, girl loses dog, girl tries to find dog story.

Except via narrative avenues that demand this dog Hagen is drained of all his softer traits and trained up into a fighting killer...

White God is incredible - a tail (sorry) of epic proportions that pulls every possible punch when following Hagen. Opening with Lili riding her bike through a deserted town before being relentlessly pursued by hundreds of marauding dogs intent on doing her wrong, the film switches back to before the Mutt-pets Take Manhattan.

It's here White God disarms you with a sweet tale of a girl who's lost her dog, before switching to darker territory and giving the pooch a canine arc to go through. Music and mutts form a large part of the piece with the director Kornel Mundruczo preferring to use crescendos of music and dramatically swelling overtures to build atmosphere (maybe veering close to over-using this); but it's the labrador mix lead dog as Hagen (played by 2 dogs) who soars in this as much as any human would given the story they take on. (Plus you can't deny the friendship struck with a Jack Russell that will provide some of the cutesier moments that would make other animal flicks blush)

Anthropomorphising the animals is a wise move, but leads to allegories of the lower classes rising up against its oppressors; and a fighting sequence may prove a little much for some. Though, it must be argued those emotions are only present because the amount you've invested into the animals and their respective fates)

But stick with White God, because the pay off is terrifically believable as the pooches rise up against those who've done them wrong through the years. Shooting from a dog level is a simple touch, but one which gives the world credence and keeps it out of the cutesy Disney-esque territory.

White God is exactly the kind of fare that the Festival exists for - to bring an alternative kind of film to the masses; it's a bold and bravura film that rewards your taking a punt on it.

NZIFF Review - Two Days, One Night

NZIFF Review - Two Days, One Night

The little mouse begins to roar in this take on redundancy in the Dardenne brothers' latest socially aware outing.

Marion Cotillard is Sandra, a worker due back after a prolonged illness, but who finds herself facing the life on the dole after the mainly faceless bosses force her co-workers to vote on her future.

The choice? A 1000 Euro bonus or Sandra to keep her job. The first ballot has gone against our downtrodden heroine, but thanks to a friend, a second ballot has been forced on a Monday morning. So, Sandra has two days to convince her co-workers to vote for her future by visiting them one by one and trying to persuade them.

So, the clock is ticking...

Two Days, One Night has a quiet power, largely thanks to the restrained and moving performance of Cotillard. With an ethos that "I don't exist", Sandra is the human face of a corporate by-product, a soldier of a social situation. But, as she gets knocked down, she gets up again with a frailty that makes you wonder how much more she can take in this take on the old quest movie.

While some of the encounters could feel a little forced as she pleads her case, everyone has their reasons for voting for the bonus - from just scraping by and staving off the demons to indulging in luxuries like a patio installation. There's no judgement placed on any of these reasons and that gives some of the power to the performance and the aching to the desperation that Sandra feels as she claws at the possibility of self-respect and self worth.

With a supportive yet insistent hubbie, Sandra's journey is more than about saving her job. It's also about regaining her own self and sense of worth in a world that's cruel and sees those struggling forced to make decisions that seem cruel and unusual punishment.

So it's sad to report that a final dramatic twist when all hope appears lost and the self-medicating Sandra is at rock bottom is a jump too far thanks to how quickly it's resolved. It's the one dramatic bum note that's sounded in this tale of a broken and beaten woman.

Final questions about how nefarious the boss has been are left unresolved and the largely faceless enemy appears too late in the piece and could provoke further debate, but Sandra's arc is the main raison d'ĂȘtre here.

Quietly moving, Two Days, One Night is a testament to Cotillard's screen presence and The Dardennes' prowess in tackling social reality in an unassuming and disarming way.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

NZIFF Review - The Rover

NZIFF Review - The Rover

How do you follow a critical smash like Animal Kingdom?

By staying in Australia and going into an apocalyptic world if you're director David Michod.

Starring Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce, this is set 10 years after a mysterious "collapse" turned everyone in Aussie a little feral and made the law of the gun the law of the land.

Pearce is Eric, whose life is somewhat of a mystery but who's determined to get back his beloved car when a band of outlaws fleeing from an event unknown make off with it, having crashed their own means of transport. Setting off after the group, the grim faced Eric comes across the injured Rey (Pattinson) and finding out he has a link to those crims, he makes him his passenger to ensure his aims are met...

An unusual road movie The Rover may be but it's also an unconventional buddy film as well as Rey and Eric head deeper into the post apocalyptic outback. While Michod never explains exactly what's happened, the inferences are easy to read - and particularly given Eric's state of mind, there's some debate over whether the "collapse" refers to his outlook and life as well as the global one.

Stark imagery is posted throughout the film, and glimpses rather than dwelling on them do much to show the true horror of what's gone on - particularly powerful are the hideous brief views of people crucified on power poles is one of the most terrifying that's on show.

Michod's crafted together something here which hits some highs but also hits a few narrative lows - a showdown at a ranch is dismissed when the tension's being ramped up, leading to issues over escape and what happened next. Equally though, the bleak cold bloodedness of Pearce's Eric is frightening, with only a couple of clues seeded as to why he's so keen to get his car back. The final shot seems like a cruel joke in many ways, a joke played on the audience who's invested time in this road movie - but it's symptomatic of the slightly skewed take on the world that Michod's created.

While Pearce is impressive and grimly stoic as the determined and wearied Eric - witness his face when he's asked by one character what there is to get worked up about these days, Pattinson is the opposite, all tics and vocal jumps as he channels what's lovingly labelled a halfwit by some in the movie.

There are a couple of moments when The Rover doesn't fire as best it could - including a tense build up to a shoot out at a farm which simply cuts away as the dramatic beats reach a crescendo. It's moments like that which provoke frustration with The Rover, but perhaps demonstrate how much Michod is willing to stray from expectations.

Red Band trailer for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

Red Band trailer for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

A brand new Red Band trailer for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For has dropped.

Featuring Jessica Alba, Eva Green, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to name but a few, this adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel series is highly anticipated.

A Dame To Kill For spins several tales, including The Long Bad Night, in which Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) loses more than he gambles for against the wrong opponent. Just Another Saturday Night and the titular A Dame To Kill For, both set before the original film’s tale find Marv (Mickey Rourke) pitted against femme fatale Ava Lord (Eva Green) and teamed up with private eye Dwight McCarthy (Clive Owen and Josh Brolin.) 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies trailer

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies trailer

Following its debut at ComicCon over the weekend, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies trailer has dropped.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies releases in New Zealand on December 11th.

In addition to the reveal of the teaser trailer at Comic Con during The Hobbit panel, Sir Peter also announced the upcoming Fan Fellowship competition. Details are as follows –

On August 25, to celebrate the end of the journey, the quest to find the ultimate fans from around the world will begin. Those who meet the challenge will be entered to win a once-in-a-lifetime journey to experience the cinematic Middle-earth in New Zealand, and watch the Trilogy's epic finale, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, with director Peter Jackson.

This competition will also be open to NZers. More information can be found here, on Peter Jackson’s facebook page here  and we will share more about where and how NZers can enter in the coming weeks.

Monday, 28 July 2014

NZIFF Review - Boyhood

NZIFF Review - Boyhood

Time is an illusion in Richard Linklater's masterpiece coming of age film.

Set over 12 years of the life of Mason Jr (Ellar Coltrane in a stellar turn - how did Linklater know he would turn out exactly as needed?), Boyhood charts the boy's growth and ends with graduation from high school.

But the passing of time is not signposted, nor remarked on as lives change, circumstances become more and less complicated and life, basically, happens.

Eschewing conventional narrative tropes that usually blight these kinds of movies (parents separate, parents reconnect, everyone lives happily ever after), Linklater remains true to the often messy and unpredictable ways of life. Mason's parents, Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and Mason Sr (Ethan Hawke) start the movie separated, with his dad zooming into town here and there and parenting where and when he's allowed; meanwhile his mother goes through a series of relationships that splinter under time (and dissolve off-screen) having had the seeds of discomfort sown early on.

With life evolving and dissolving, Linklater never loses his focus and eye for detail and moments as seamless time shifts take place throughout; be it the Harry Potter mania that grips both Mason and his sister Sam or discussion of the Twilight novels, the zeitgeist is certainly present throughout the 165 minutes run time, making this piece feel both timeless and yet also of the era as well. Problems are universal - girls, school choices, alcoholism - they're all there for the rich dramatic pickings

But in among the humour, there's poignancy as well; a final speech from Olivia as Mason Jr prepares to move out works on two levels; there are laughs within it but at the same time a bittersweet recognition that in amongst the various haircut changes and fashion sensibilities, life has marched on and the inevitable lies ahead; a sad admission that life, in all its forms, is to be treasured and embraced. (Even if most of the audience laughed at this, it's an indication of how wide ranging the film is and how differently it can be interpreted)

And its main protagonists fare exceptionally well too; Coltrane inhabits the role with ease from the naivete of youth to the highs and lows of life's disappointments and makes an eminently watchable lead no matter the age; Hawke is an affable easy presence and (along with Arquette) is spared the indignity of watching the relationship fall apart - and Arquette, the mother is an achingly real centre of Mason's world, as she tries to find her own identity and negotiate life.

The main thing about Boyhood though is how incredibly easy Linklater's made this all look - committing to a film for 12 years certainly is one hell of a decision (and reeks of the 7 Up series of docos) but proves to be a masterstroke in the coming of age genre.

Quite simply, thanks to Boyhood, that genre has been forever changed and its limitations blown out of the water.

Do what you can to see Boyhood, it's one of the most rewarding films of the festival and is as life-affirming as it is life-changing.

ZB movie Review

NZIFF Review - Jimi: All is by my Side

NZIFF Review - Jimi: All is by my Side

With a pedigree that includes being written and directed by 12 Years A Slave's John Ridley and Andre Benjamin of Outkast playing Jimi Hendrix, you'd expect the promise of Jimi: All is By My Side to deliver.

And it certainly does that - to a large extent.

Taking in Hendrix's early life and times as a R'n'B backing guitarist where he was spotted by Keith Richards' girlfriend Linda Keith (Imogen Poots), Andre Benjamin inhabits the role completely. With Keith acting as a kind of puppetmaster, Hendrix starts his rise to fame and fortune. However, along the way, he meets Kathy (an impressive Hayley Atwell, who turns in a nuanced performance) causing friction between the three of them.

"Identity is a wonderful thing - I encourage you to have one" is uttered very early on in this piece, which doesn't shy away from showing Hendrix as more of a lover than a fighter, thanks to his relaxed hippyesque vibe proffered by Benjamin. Ridley mixes music with snapshots of 60s swinging London to impressive directorial effect and delivers one shocking moment that exposes Hendrix's true nature and his attitude to Kathy.

It's this touch that really shakes Jimi: All Is By My Side and it's a calculated move by Ridley to ensure it has maximum effect as Hendrix's lack of self-belief and potentially drug infused paranoia boils over. Ridley chooses to use the women to help place focus on Hendrix, while Benjamin's musical prowess ensures that the talent isn't wasted on the screen.

However, his relationship with Keith simply dramatically fizzles out in a purple haze of jealousy and fades off the screen. It's a touch which proves divisive in the narrative as it feels unfinished and unformed. Unlike Hayley Atwell's Kathy, whose arc is horrifically complete and thematically satisfying in the worst possible way.

Really though, these two are the only two relationships which are fully explored; with band matters and management sidelined in favour of the talent shining through. Perhaps the closest Ridley gets to shining some kind of light on Hendrix is in a phone conversation with his father that's split with shots and photographs of their lives and gives a bit more insight into their fractured relationship.

Ridley's done the best he can with a film that was blocked by the Hendrix estate, but thanks to the performance of Benjamin this one year biopic snapshot just borders on successful; the music is electrifying, even if some of the human element is a little more downbeat in terms of tempo.

NZIFF Review - God Help the Girl

NZIFF Review - God Help the Girl

A crowd-funded musical about a depressed girl struggling to get her life back on track sounds on paper like a good idea.

In practice, the movie God Help the Girl comes across as a bubblegum mix of whimsical fey. Every scene is like a perfectly choreographed music video, with characters being somewhat secondary to the story.

Emily Browning is the strongest link in this cinematic chain as Eve, who's undergoing treatment in Glasgow, but who escapes to gigs through a window at her hospital. One day she meets James (a weedy Olly Alexander) a guitar player who's without a band and real inspiration. They decide to start playing and writing together, co-opting a third member, Cassie (Hannah Murray) a student of James' who's bored, rich and able to do whatever she wants.

Together, the trio make music and try to negotiate one summer of burgeoning romance, music and life.

God Help The Girl is a hard film to love if you're pre-disposed to be a cynic or not perhaps a hipster.

While Emily Browning is radiant as the lead sad sallow faced Eve, the consciously quirky and infectious music proves somewhat of an irritant and too much of a light hearted distraction throughout.

Directed by Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian, with songs he wrote for the film, is partially the problem; way too close to the material and with an eye for a perfect pop blast and musical interlude, his narrative stumbles as Eve sings and dances her way through life's major issues from beginning to end. An entirely predictable sub-plot sees James fall for Eve and then watch her croon her love for others and end up with them. Therapy happens by way of musical interlude time and time again - and unfortunately, the cumulative effect proves to be more asphyxiating than intoxicating.

The whole effect is like a musical Michel Gondry, with Murdoch infusing so much of everything on the screen with music that despite the colourful interludes, it just feels all a little too much unless you're that way inclined.

It's perfectly pleasant blast of musical escapism and a mix of happy / sad that's a perfect accoutrement to Belle and Sebastian's musical folksy-ness - but it just wasn't for me, thanks to weak characters and a conceit that was too in your face rather than a little bit more subtle.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

NZIFF Review - Housebound

NZIFF Review - Housebound

Writer / director Gerard Johnstone's inventively witty Housebound is already picking up accolades - both here and abroad.

With SXSW success and NZIFF Festival director Bill Gosden's praise ringing in its ears, the mash up of horror and comedy stars Morgana O'Reilly as Kylie, a sullen woman placed on home detention after a particularly Kiwi robbery goes somewhat awry.

Confined to the house with her mother Miriam (a sensational Rima Te Wiata), rebel without a cause Kylie discovers there are more horrors than just dial up broadband and regular dollops of Coro to contend with after she hears her mum talking about how she believes the house is haunted.

With a security guard Amos in tow, Kylie begins to investigate the spooky goings on...

Housebound serves up a riotous mix of shock moments, suspenseful scenes and bang on gags.

With a delicious premise and an awe-inspiring treatment of the genres, director Johnstone's infused his script by way of The Innkeepers, The Frighteners, a hint of Beetlejuice and a gory dollop of Kiwi blood and guts' homage to Sir Peter Jackson's earlier works.

But as well as infusing these all together, he's done something uniquely kiwi as well as making a film which universally accessible, thanks to O'Reilly's sullen Kylie, Glen Paul-Waru's brilliant Amos and Te Wiata's perfectly shrill and cuckolding mother.

With an eye for great one-liners ("You can't punch ectoplasm" to name but one) and a burgeoning trademark in suspenseful set ups and masterfully subtle execution, Housebound is an absolute riot, an unashamed blockbuster treat and a triumph of film-making (let's leave the New Zealand out of this one, eh?)

The pay-off is cleverly constructed and the final sequences deliver and wrap up everything that was promised so deliciously throughout the comic beats.

As infectious as Ghostbusters was all those years ago, Johnstone's flair for the comic paranormal and grip on the various genres he's paying homage to treads the right balance between out and out scares and good time humour - Housebound's spookily and truly unmissable.

NZIFF Review - Kung Fu Elliot and Night Moves

NZIFF Review - Kung Fu Elliot and Night Moves

When it comes to Ant Timpson's Incredibly Strange section, you shouldn't really ever be surprised by what he manages to programme.

And yet, Kung Fu Elliot is one of those films that catches you out in ways you can't ever imagine it would. On the surface, it's a doco about Elliot Smith, a Nova Scotia resident who wants to be the next big martial arts movie king. Decorated in a Chuck Norris T shirt and resplendent in a delusional attitude, Smith (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Ted from How I Met Your Mother) is determined to achieve his goal - even with the help of his girlfriend, Linda (the very definition of the phrase long suffering).

Matthew Bauckman and Jaret Belliveau follow Smith as he tries to pursue his somewhat futile dream as he displays no acting prowess, limited kung fu awareness and a penchant for low level effects (using fireworks to simulate explosions) as he tries to please the myriad of fans he believes he has. Giving Smith enough rope to hang himself works wonders but there's also an disarming charm to his MO and beliefs, even if his relationship brims with passive / aggressive vigour. With the production of Blood Fight in tow, it looks like nothing can stop Smith's ego but the filmmakers throw in a third act that turns everything on its head and makes you wonder how much they knew going into this - even if the onscreen reaction appears to be a genuine one from those behind the cameras.

Kung Fu Elliot is the very definition of a whiplash turn and while the chaotically chronic early parts threaten to showcase an implosion, the emotional consequences of the reveal are quietly gripping. It's a shame there's no follow up to those complicit to Smith's ways other than onscreen titles, because an epilogue on this lo fi high laughs film, while stopping a lot of the discussions once the lights go up, would go a long way to answering some big meaty questions from the cinematic curveball.

Night Moves, from the director of Meek's Cutoff, Kelly Reichardt, takes on the world of environmental activism through the eyes of three characters. The Social Network's Jesse Eisenberg is a serious faced Josh, Dakota Fanning is Deena and the ever charismatic Peter Sarsgaard is recluse Harmon, whose paths cross when they decide to take out a hydroelectric dam.

Deena is the newcomer to the active part of the ethos and her naivete signs through thanks to a performance of vim and vigour in this slow languid piece, that relies on slow measured pans and close ups. It's a stark contrast to Eisenberg's studied and almost sullen approach, which makes it hard for us to care for this protagonist.

As liberal guilt starts to permeate their lives after the dam explosion (the build up to which is considered and measured, with tension coming at the obligatory juncture on the water with the clock ticking), it's Deena who begins to fall apart and Josh who tries to hold it together before succumbing himself.

Reichardt's wanted to put together an examination of guilt, of after effects and of consequences, but it takes an extraordinarily long time to get there and Eisenberg's turn at the end isn't quite as convincing as perhaps it could be. By honing on more on the two and the build up, Reichardt builds a degree of tense interaction even if the unfolding story is as cliched as you'd expect. The strengths lie in the build up, the creeping tension and the shocking aftermath rather than anything else, but Night Moves aims for a character study and ends up more as a shadowy film that will reward only if you invest into it, rather than expecting continual bangs and whistles.

NZIFF Review - Winter Sleep, Kumiko The Treasure Hunter

NZIFF Review - Winter Sleep, Kumiko The Treasure Hunter

The Palme D'Or winner Winter Sleep weighs in at a massive 196 minutes, meaning the first real true test of the festival.

But to be frank, this epic doesn't feel like a challenge to your backside at all. From the director of Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, it's set in the mountain regions of Cappadocia and is the tale of an ageing actor, Aydin, rich in money, rich in time and poor in relationships, thanks to his disconnectedness. When a boy hurls a stone at his window as he's out driving one day, it appears the act is a random one initially. But the boy is related to one of his tenants, whom he's never met, but whose family is unable to pay the rent.

As the ripples of this small action spread like a stone skimming the surface of the water, Aydin comes to re-examine his life, the implications of his actions and the possibilities ahead.

Winter Sleep is a languid treat to wallow in. From the simmering tension and resentment between Aydin, his wife, the tenants and those around him, director Nuri Bilge Ceylan constructs a piece that is centered all around language, long conversations and small interactions. Everything has a perfectly timed structure and ultimately, you feel overwhelmed by the minutiae of day to day life as this opus unspools. It's a reminder that human life needs connections and that without these, locked away as Aydin is, perspective is lost only until it's far too late to try and regain it.

Kumiko The Treasure Hunter finds itself obsessed with Fargo and never lets up.

It's the apparently urban legend of Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi), a young Japanese girl who works soullessly for a company that sees her daily strength and will to live being sapped. But keeping her alive is a daily viewing of a video tape of Fargo, the Coen Brothers classic which she pores over and tries to ascertain where the buried treasure may be kept.

Finally reaching snapping point within her work life and the over-bearing phonecalls from her mother enquiring about promotions or personal life, Kumiko makes off with the company credit card and heads to America to find the treasure buried by Steve Buscemi's character in the snow of Dakota.

Once the put upon Kumiko is free to roam, she finds that the Americans of Dakota are as oddball as the inhabitants of the film; from the people who meet her at the airport and try to get her into religion, to the bus driver with carpal tunnel syndrome who's unable to change a tyre, they're all here on display.

But in among the oddness and goofy moments, there's a small vein of sadness running through this piece, which has pathos and hints of tragedy. Kumiko is a sad figure, and while there's no attempts at using this for comic effect, the overall feeling is one of sympathetic frustration as the story plays out. There's a humour here, but it's a bittersweet one and it's one that makes you question whether Kumiko's on the verge of a breakdown rather than a genuine acceptance of her limitations.

Kikuchi plays Kumiko with an earnestness and a bowed head that sees you on her side from the moment the journey begins. As eccentric and as bedraggled as she becomes, you never lose faith in the quest in among the beautifully cinematography which makes the most of the conditions around Kumiko - from vast shots of ice to blasts of cold ice wind blowing across the roads, it's almost like the chill jumps off the screen.

Quiet and quirky, Kumiko The Treasure Hunter is a hidden treasure within the programme worth seeking out.

NZIFF Review: New Zealand's Best 2014

NZIFF Review: New Zealand's Best 2014

115 entrants, 6 finalists, one big prize.

That's the push for the New Zealand's Best 2014 collection, whittled down to its final numbers by a judging panel including Andrew Adamson and Eleanor Catton.

And simply put, if this is the future of short film making, it's in incredibly rude health, judging by the six on show tonight.

First up, Eleven, a tale of peer pressure at school that really does demonstrate the cruelty of packs of girls, confirming the Mean Girl clique is still one of the most dangerous of all. Rooted in two achingly realistic performances by two young girls, its universal story of choices and the wrong ones we make at an early age is nicely put together and its final shot is as conflicting a moment of triumph which many of us will remember.

Next, UFO offers an alternative way out to a kid suffering with a life unwanted. The visual eye effects in this story at the outset are utterly incredible and would make James Cameron blush. But once the story gets its human feet, it takes a different path as tragedy hits. Its final shot is an awfully tragic reminder of the situations some of us find ourselves in.

School Night is an accomplished story in a short narrative. It casts Hayley Sproull as a young teacher caught on the cusp of condemning her own life to an early grave or reliving the heady days of her youth on the other side of the teaching world. Humour, regret and ginger crunch play a big part in this complete story which runs an impressive gamut over its run time - a rare feat and certainly one of the stand-outs of the night, given the full nature of the story it told.

Over the Moon is playing at Comic-Con and represents the work done by Auckland Media Design school. It's the story of a female astronaut who got to the moon 12 years before Neil and Buzz. However, when they show up in 69 (as a mix of jocks, hillbillies and US gun toting patriots) it becomes a classic battle of the sexes. The computer / live-action animation is slick and fun and certainly the slides at the end demonstrate how much work went into this. An impressive outing showing our technical forays continue to impress in this light and frothy fun bursts.

Cold Snap is a dark wee piece that hits strangely off kilter emotional moments which land uncomfortably but are hard to shake. A young possum trapping kid watches over his pregnant neighbour, only to find life doesn't go the way they'd expect. A beautifully shot piece aching with subtext and providing a shocking ending, this piece is still haunting me hours after I've seen it thanks to some strong imagery, disturbing ideas and a sense of foreboding.

And finally, Ross and Beth - a short about ageing in the rural sector. Interminably and inevitably sad, this underplayed piece knows how to strike each emotional moment for maximum effect. Cleverly timed moments towards the end reveal the true tenderness of life's bonds and with a strong eye for what matters, it certainly has the power to hit the heartstrings squarely where it counts.

The winner of the New Zealand's Best 2014 will be revealed on Auckland's closing night.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

NZIFF Review - Pulp: A Film about Life, Death and Supermarkets

NZIFF Review - Pulp: A Film about Life, Death and Supermarkets

Florian Habicht's foray into the music doco genre is to be frank, a triumph.

Bookending with Common People at the Sheffield venue the band finished the tour in 2012 cleverly captures the essence and exuberance Pulp has brought to many through their energetic live shows and countless albums.

But it's the common touch and gentle humour that Habicht captures on the streets of Sheffield which serves him the best. Choosing a clever range of subjects from around the grim northern city best demonstrates both the English attitude as well as the devotion Cocker's clan inspires in all.

From the dance troupe to the harmony group, the kids who are given a chance to star in a movie to the old ladies who believe Cocker's dad is onetime warbler Joe, Florian displays once again an eye for the indomitable spirit and unflappable way the English have when given a chance to appear on screen.

But it's the warmth that propels this with Habicht's disarming technique once again rising to the fore. Cocker is not spared this approach either, whether it be filming him changing a tyre or showing his range of medical options that are at gigs in case something happens, each moment is constructed for maximum crowd pleasing effect.

However, scratch beneath that veneer and there's a hint of something more revealing; such as Cocker revealing that fame was like a bit allergy or keyboard player Candida Doyle fearing illness would cripple her chances of re-joining the band, there's something beneath the surface.

Habicht's eye for a shot never deserts him either; be it a beautiful slow mo shot of Cocker hurling toilet rolls from the stage with an impish grin or the mundanity of a news stand's billboard ( Fall woman broke every bone in her body) the canvas is richly decorated and wonderfully observed in this hash of concert footage and real life.

(One only hopes Habicht's captured all of the concert performance and intends to release it; it would make a perfect companion piece.)

All in all, Pulp: A Film about Life, Death and Supermarkets is a fusing of two masters; a genius fusion and meeting of like minds and possesses a joie de vivre that's undeniably essential.

NZIFF Review: The Skeleton Twins

NZIFF Review: The Skeleton Twins

It's off to the deep dark world of indie for this emotionally rich piece about a pair of estranged siblings, whose concurrent suicide attempts brings them back together.

In The Skeleton Twins, Kristen Wiig is Maggie, a dental hygienist , married to Luke Wilson's Lance, a loveable guy who clearly dotes on his wife and the idea of becoming a father. But unbeknownst to him, Maggie's wrestling with some big secrets behind the veneer of suburbia.

Into their lives comes Milo (Hader), unhappy and suicidal - his initial attempt forms one of the starkest images of the film as red blood seeps up through clear water in an opening shocker.

As the two gradually open up to each other after years apart, the bonds are re-strengthened and tested once again in this darkly tragic yet bittersweet piece.

Hader and Wiig have great comedic chemistry together and comedic timing (as shown in a lip synching sequence) but also have dramatic depth as the emotions start to rain down.

Director Luke Johnson drives the film well, juggling a sensitive line between dark and deliciously funny as the lies we often tell to each other are exposed. But there's an air of sadness that hangs heavy on The Skeleton Twins that's inescapable (aside from a depressingly cliched Hollywood and improbable ending that sours the experience) and provides fertile ground to explore the relationships.

Poignant, warm, effective and heartbreaking, indie The Skeleton Twins provides hidden depths to these comedic actors and delivers a uniquely skewed view on life that feels all too real and engaging. You could say there's some dramatic meat on these here bones...

NZIFF Review Under The Skin

NZIFF Review Under The Skin

Under The Skin collects the award for most wilfully bizarre exhibit so far this year at the film festival.

ScarJo, complete with black wig, fur coat and red lippy to the max, cruises the streets of Scotland in a white van trying to find unattached male specimens to lure them to her house, with the promise of sexual conquest.

But when they head there, the would be suitors get more than an eyeful...

Jonathan Glazer's Under The Skin is a visual symphony, complete with heaven and hell. Wrapping dissonant crescendo sounds, virtually no dialogue and proffering no answers to what's going on proves to be an intoxicating cinematic feast like never witnessed before.

With shades of Holy Motors, combined with Johansson's allure, the piece is a trippy disturbing spectacle that confuses and confounds as much as it seduces the eye.

Johansson's ethereal otherworldly approach is perfectly utilised in this (and yes, there's plenty of nude Scarlett Johansson to view) - even if it does go off the rails somewhat in its final third.

To reveal why is to spoil it, but those involved really had no choice but to move the film on and it's hard to see what else could have been done as it races to its disturbing conclusion.

Glazer's eye for visuals is astounding - from the opening sequence where a spot moves towards the screen to a final sequence in the Scottish woods that VFX triumph at, there's plenty to help the eyes hallucinate.

But once you scratch Under The Skin (apologies), there's also a rare look at how alienated some feel, a lack of connection and an intimacy that will provoke further discussion.

However, the most nightmarish scene is a simply human one set on a beach that's as completely psychologically traumatising as it is well executed.

Using landscapes, sound and stark visuals to maximise the resonant themes, Glazer has crafted something creepy which is truly unique, completely remarkable and utterly soul quaking.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Blue Is The Warmest Colour: DVD Review

Blue Is The Warmest Colour: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Ent

It won the Palme D'Or at Cannes this year, garnered divisive word of mouth and then promptly disappeared amid talk the director wasn't happy with the cut and wanted to clean it up.

Now, with 3 hours and 7 minutes under its belt, Blue Is The Warmest Colour emerges for a fully-fledged small screen release after discussions of the gruelling set conditions its stars had to endure.

Exarchpoulos stars as Adele, a 15 year old art student, living with her parents in a grey and overcast French town. She's trying to find her place in the world and despite hooking up with a senior who's the boy everyone wants, she's not happy. A fleeting glimpse of a blue haired girl throws her into a daze and she can't stop thinking of her - so, Adele sets out to the gay clubs to find the girl, Emma (played by Lea Seydoux).

Eventually the pair meet and Adele's thrown into a world of self-discovery, sexual awakening and a chance to come of age. But the path to true love and happiness is never an easy one as time weaves back and forth in this tale.

Blue Is The Warmest Colour is an interesting, if over-long story with some interesting narrative choices but some decisions which leave you scratching your head.

The film's already gained notoriety for its 10 minute long sex scene between Adele Exarchpoulos and Lea Seydoux that leaves nothing to the imagination - and neither does the camera, as it almost drools over the naked writhing flesh of the pair, lingering in close ups and perhaps giving you more of a sense of voyeurism than any real tenderness. (Though Kechiche spends a lot of the film focusing on close ups of his actors - maybe a bit too much time - which gives it an alarming lack of intimacy)

Elsewhere, the story is fine - though an expeditious edit in places of the script and the final cut could have substantially helped. In terms of the coming of age of Adele, it's exactly the story you'd expect - girl finds love, girl finds jealousy, girl makes mistakes and tries to atone for them - there's nothing inspiringly original here on that front.

Some of the problems come with characters brought in and simply used once before being dismissed - Adele's friends who form an important start of the first 30 minutes are dispensed with when their need is done. Worst though, is the use of the parents. Initially they're brought into symbolise a cultural difference and naive innocence between Adele and Emma; with Adele being unaware of oysters and trying them at Emma's house (oh, the lack of subtlety and overt subtext) during one repaste. When the meal favour is returned at Adele's, she tries simpler food and her parents are unaware of her sexual leaning - a dramatic tension that's strongly hinted at and dropped without warning. Frustrations like this come and go during the three hour run.

What is impressive though is Adele Exarchpoulos as the doe-eyed naif; she makes the large part of her journey and awakening feel real and heartbreaking when it counts; likewise, to a lesser degree Seydoux convinces as the blue haired Emma, who's more sure of herself and knows what she wants.

Blue is the Warmest Colour has its highs and narrative lows; while it captures the heartbreaking realities of coming of age nicely in some parts, the director's choices and at times meandering narrative unfortunately make the three hour paean to love an at times hard slog, but nevertheless rewarding because of its strong central performances.


Hercules: Movie Review

Hercules: Movie Review

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes
Director: Brett Ratner

Thrace yourselves because this Hercules has its tongue so far in its cheek throughout.

In a move that rips up the mythology of the man, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is Hercules, a sword for hire, who's taken on by Lord Cotys (John Hurt) to rid his kingdom of the horror that is Rhesus, a warlord apparently wreaking havoc on the world.

But when Hercules and his team investigate, they find there's more to Cotys' story than meets the eye....

Deciding to take on the myth of Hercules, using the graphic novel as the basis and giving him a team of mercenaries to help is a clever touch, but it gives way to an ongoing cheesy message of self-belief that's more irritating than galvanising in director Brett Ratner's take on the myth.

With a knowing wink to the audience - none more so than Ian McShane's soothsayer who keeps prophesying his own death and then getting it wrong- the film is tonally unsure of what direction it ultimately wants to head in. Choosing to remove the myth and the mystical may have been a bold narrative stroke but replacing it with nothing of merit is disastrous.

Dismissing the twelve labours tasks in favour of a political power struggle and corruption story is a storytelling back peddle given that nothing about the plot helps propel it compellingly from one battle shot to the next.

And talking of those, while the science behind it all is very sound, the action is incredibly workmanlike and uneventful, with no directorial flourishes on hand to help lift its game. 3D this time makes things a lot more murky than necessary and seems a little pointless in places.

Dwayne Johnson does his best but his troubled Hercules sits at odds with the rest of the happy go lucky mercenary team he has around him; plus a woman and adoring kid are simply brought in to  offer up some emotional pull for The Rock but fail to lift any stakes at all.

Elsewhere, his team fail to really hit the mark, offering a few quips here and there but generally are overshadowed by the glistening oiled up pecs on show, despite all their attempts to make this the H Team / Greek Expendables. Joseph Fiennes risks the wrath of the gods with one of the hammiest performances ever and Hurt puts Caligula to shame as the king of Thrace. 

All in all, Hercules is not preposterous enough to carry it off and not original enough to stand out from the swords and sandals pantheon.


Fifty Shades of Grey trailer is here

Fifty Shades of Grey trailer is here

Fifty Shades of Grey is the hotly anticipated film adaptation of the bestselling book that has become a global phenomenon.  

Since its release, the “Fifty Shades” trilogy has been translated into 51 languages worldwide and sold more than 100 million copies in e-book and print—making it one of the biggest and fastest-selling book series ever.  

Stepping into the roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, who have become iconic to millions of readers, are Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson.  

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, releases on Valentine’s Day, 2015.

Watch the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer here

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Healing: Movie Review

Healing: Movie Review

Cast: Hugo Weaving, Don Hany, Xavier Samuel, Mark Leonard Winter
Director: Craig Monahan

It's off to Melbourne Australia for this drama about the power of redemption set in a men's low-security prison.

Hugo Weaving plays Senior Officer Matt Perry, a grizzled and haunted man who's working towards redeeming his prisoners. Into his life and his WonWron low-security jail comes Viktor (Hany), who's spent 18 years in prison and has detached from life.

But when Viktor's given the responsibility of rehabilitating and looking after a group of injured birds, including raptors, owls, falcons and eagles, he begins to find an outlet which awakens him, thanks to an eagle called Yasmine.

However, Viktor faces other challenges too - including caring for Paul, a fellow inmate who comes to the jail at the same time he does - and to keep him away from the prison bullies and the fragile room-mate Shane (Winter), who teeters dangerously on the edge.

Healing is inspired by true events and has the power to move given the story it has to tell.

Yet, it's fatally crippled by a heavy-handed approach that eschews subtlety for sledge-hammering home the point at every available opportunity. The parallels with the men and the birds they take up with are increasingly obvious - from the proud and head-strong Viktor who's paired off with a majestic and selfish eagle to the quiet Paul, who's given an owl that becomes his confidante, every moment is manipulated for maximum effect.

Throw in a one-note prison bad guy who sets out to ruin things for all and the whole feeling of Healing begins to mire itself in self-indulgent mawkish moments which ruin the obviously emotional storyline. Sullen face Viktor is reasonably played by Hany (even if he does look like a perma-tanned Keith Lemon) and Weaving brings a degree of venerability to the wounded Perry, but the sedentary pace and gradual reveals of the sensitively told story are serviced by so many shots of the landscapes, close ups of birds and slow-mo shots of them swooping that the inevitable ending takes too long to arrive and delivers with a real lack of emotional resonance.

A touch more subtlety, a fleshing out of some of the underwritten main characters and an easing off of the overtly heavy handed imagery could have seen Healing really hit an emotional high - instead it's akin to a predictable range of emotional bombs being triggered without any overall effect.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Housebound director tackles the Q&A

Housebound director tackles the Q&A

Director Gerard Johnstone talks about Housebound, the Kiwi horror house comedy which has taken the SXSW fest by storm.
The film gets its New Zealand premiere in Auckland this weekend, having been picked by festival director Bill Gosden to play as part of the main programme - and having been singled out as one of his personal highlights.
Tell us about your film, Housebound
It's a comedy-thriller about a young female reprobate on home detention who has to learn to live with her dithering mother and a supernatural entity.

Where did the idea come from? 
There were a few different sources of inspiration, I had a creepy idea in the back of my mind that hadn't been done before (I'm now aware it's been done 3 times).  I needed to think of something that could be made for $250k, so it was inevitable that it would be called 'Housebound' and I also liked the idea of mashing up a kitchen sink drama with a ghost mystery.

What was the easiest part of putting this together?


What was the hardest part? 

Writing and shooting

What’s the one moment in your film that you’re impressed you got on celluloid and why? 

Any moment with Rima Te Wiata.  I just think she's a national treasure and it's a sad indictment of how our film and TV industry has progressed that actors with her level of talent haven't been a consistent presence on screen.  

What’s the one moment you were devastated you had to leave out and why? 

I made a really cool opening title sequence set to the original Hardy boys / Nancy Drew theme.  I thought it was amazing and perfectly set the tone.  But obviously we would've had difficulties getting the rights to that music and it added 45 seconds to the duration.  And some people probably would think it was a stupid way to open the film, so it wasn't worth fighting for.  

What will it feel like to have it play / premiere at the NZIFF in 2014? 
Annoyingly, it's just the thought that there will be some technical hiccup, like the projector will break, or the DCP file will become corrupted.  That's all I can think about.  If that doesn't happen, I'd imagine it would feel pretty great.  Maybe even a little emotional.

What would you hope audiences would get from your movie? 

I hope they have a fun time and if they do, I hope they spread the word.

What’s the one other film at the NZIFF you’re wanting to see and why? 

Jodorowsky's Dune.  It's incredible that he nearly made Dune and that in the end they went with someone who was only slightly less crazy. 

What’s next for Housebound? It’s had great reviews abroad and looks like it’s got global success in its sights? 

We've been booked for another couple of big fests but really we're just pinning our hopes on a great opening night and a decent local release in September.  

What’s been the best reaction to Housebound as far as you’re concerned? 
It's been an embarrassment of riches as far as the critical reaction goes (so far anyway).  Drew McWeeny from Hitfix said it was like being 'punched in the skull'.  You can happily retire after a review like that. 

What’s next for you? 
Luke Sharpe (who produced Housebound) and I are remaking the 80s hit Terry & the Gunrunners which is due to shoot later this year.   

Finally, because horror Q&As should end on Q13, tell us why NZers should go to see your movie this Saturday...
Because it has absolutely nothing to do with our cultural identity.

Book tickets to Housebound, premiering in NZ on July 26th at the mighty Civic Theatre here 

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