Part One of our video reviews for Celluloid Screams Day Two.
Part One of our video reviews for Celluloid Screams Day Two.
Bringing you an introduction to Day Two of Celluloid Screams 2013 with review of the films from night one.
Here is the first video from myself and Hayley of Hayley’s Horror Reviews from Celluloid Screams 2013 in Sheffield. More will be coming fairly soon and then starting from next Tuesday, you’ll have nearly a week’s worth of videos from Abertoir. Enjoy, comment, share if you please.
OK, so we are 10 days away from Celluloid Screams in Sheffield. I’ve only attended the Showroom once before for a fantastic screening and Q&A of Jen and Sylvia Soska’s American Mary so am looking forward to going back for a longer visit. Upon returning home from Sheffield, I have a week before setting off for Aberystwyth for the Abertoir horror festival which has become my official yearly holiday. Who cares about warm weather? Give me Aberystwyth and its lovely (yet freezing) seaside any time. Somewhere in between those two, lies Halloween. Was so hoping to attend the screening of Night of the Demon at Tredegar House but sadly sometimes real life intervenes and is preventing me from getting to that one. Very tempted to see what Abertoir are serving up as their Choice Cuts on Halloween in the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff too though alongside a screening of The Darkest Day with Q&A from director Chris Crow. So much going on which is awesome!
So, with that said I’ve started making preparations and particularly seeing all the Halloween decorations and sweets out I am super excited, even though we’ve had exactly 0 trick or treaters in the last 5 years, despite having a ready supply of pretty great sweets, which I’m obviously forced to eat afterwards to avoid waste. Come on lazy kids, you’re making me fat. I don’t even mind if they have shitty costumes. No creepy Psychoville trick or treaters though.
No…just no. Do not want.
I think it’s about time I ran down my most anticipated films of both festivals, in no particular order… Click the titular links to be taken to the site for the festival and see the full line up.
1) Big Bad Wolves – heard so much about this. Can’t wait to finally see it. Currently Tarantino’s favourite film of this year as I recall.
2) Jug Face – star from the woman? Check. Story of human sacrifice? Check. Bit of cult activity? Check. Bring me this film already!
3) Discopath – should have it’s own theme tune. I won’t stop untl I find out if it does. Also a prime contender for possible best soundtrack.
4) Der Fan – obsessed fandom. Well I wouldn’t know anything about that. *cough cough*
5) Delivery – found-footage Rosemary’s Baby? I could potentially really hate this one, but I’m intrigued.
1) All Cheerleaders Die – Lucky McKee. That is all.
2) Bad Milo! – Stress demon in arse. I can relate. To the stress, not the arse demon. The trailer for this looked brilliant when I was doing my October horror line-up for AllHorror.net (oops a cheap plug fell out) so excited to see it.
3) The Haunting – I will shit myself. Lots. Even though I’ve seen it before. “Whose hand was I holding?”. Terrifying.
4) The Borderlands – As already mentioned, I’m kind of surprised to be excited about a found footage film after spending most of my time groaning at each release, but have heard some good things about this one.
5) Soulmate – Set in Brecon, which is so close to home I might not be able to return if it’s too scary. Although I’m expecting a thoughtful ghost story, largely due to the grace and beauty of Axelle Carolyn’s short The Last Post.
That’s what I’m looking forward to and you’ll be able to see my daily (and increasingly more weathered) reactions to each film thanks to the video coverage from myself and Hayley of Hayley’s Horror Reviews. We’ll also be tweeting from the festivals provided the wi-fi is good and I’m not a total technological failure so if you can’t watch the video coverage, you can still keep up with what’s going on before we get back, recover and write longer and more coherent reviews. I’ll also be posting some novelty pictures and stuff soon if WordPress will kindly allow it. *grumble grumble*
Twitter, as always is @caitlynmdowns and you can also find my reviews on allhorror.net along with many others who are submitting solid reviews of films and of course, the featured attraction, All Horror Radio.
Has been a little while since I’ve done some blogging but as we head into October a lot of stuff needs blogging about so seems like the right time. If you follow me on Twitter (@caitlynmdowns) you’ll probably know a lot of this stuff already, but never hurts to recap.
Anyway…first bit of news is that I have the featured article on AllHorror.net for this month, which is a line up of new releases on film and television for the month of October (USA dates, sorry UK folks). You can read the article now by clicking here and please feel free to comment either on the site or to me directly on Twitter if you’ve seen any or are looking forward to seeing anything on the list. So thrilled to have an article on such a great site and ridiculously excited about their superb new co-host. No I won’t reveal it here, go listen to the latest show!
Second bit of news is that I’m adding a second horror festival to my year: Celluloid Screams in Sheffield. You can click the name to be taken to the site and check out everything on offer for the weekend. I’m most looking forward to Jug Face and Discopath (if any film deserves a theme song it has to be this. I’ve practically written it myself in my head) for this one, although there’s no films there that I wouldn’t like to see, which is always good. As with last year’s Abertoir film festival I will be working alongside Hayley of Hayley’s Horror Reviews to create on-site video updates of everything we’re seeing and thinking but this year you get 2 lots of videos as we’ll be doing this in Sheffield too.
Speaking of Abertoir, the first wave of scheduled films has just been made today and there are still tickets available. For 6 days full of horror goodness, including a theatre performance, talks and a pub quiz for £58 you really can’t go wrong. Or you can go very wrong…after those 6 days, as I did last year, but it was a fun kind of hysteria….a warming, giggly kind that produces terrible jokes about egg sushi. Early highlights for me include a classic screening of The Haunting (scares the ever-loving shit out of me), Axelle Carolyn’s Soulmate and found-footage film The Borderlands. Yes, this is me, being excited for a found-footage… strange isn’t it? All this seasonal October-ness must be getting to me.
So, even though I’ve been slightly quiet for a while it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to shut me up for the next few months. The videos from festivals will likely be supplemented by longer reviews after the festivals by myself and Hayley so is best to keep an eye out on both sites for those if you’d rather a more in-depth review than at-the-festival video coverage can provide. I’m happy to take requests for any reviews via Twitter or this site during the festivals and have them posted upon return.
Oh also, I need to mention Wales Goes Dark, which is a collection of events in association with the BFI as part of their BFI Gothic season. Highlights include Dracula at Cardiff Castle and Night of the Demon at Tredegar House as well as a variety of events at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. Sadly I don’t think I’m able to make it to these events but if you can, you definitely should. Is so nice to see more and more horror stuff popping up in Wales.
Yep, Scared Sheepless is two years old today. In the last year plenty has gone on, with coverage expanding from written reviews on here and also at AllHorror.net (with thanks to Robin and Julie) into festival video coverage and even a small attempt at an audio podcast (as co-productions with Hayley of Hayley’s Horror Reviews). For this coming year I’m hoping to continue with the video coverage of Abertoir with Hayley and hopefully even attend some other festivals/events, including the all-new all-nighter at Celluloid Screams.
Already 2013 has had quite a lot to offer in terms of horror films that could potentially be on my Top 10 of 2013 list at the end of the year, but there is lots to look forward to over the coming months. For me, there are a few films I am currently looking forward to - Big Bad Wolves, Haunter and last but not least the new The Wicker Man print on blu ray which looks to be as complete a version as we’ll ever get.
In terms of events, there’s the obvious excitement for Abertoir (and hopefully Celluloid before it) but I’m also looking forward to seeing the full programme and event schedule for the BFI Gothic season, which promises a wide range of really special films and partnerships. Also, who can forget all the wonderful things to be shown in celebration of 100 years of Peter Cushing?!
I would like to do a tiny bit of thanking in this too while I’m being self-indulgent. First off, to Robin and Julie, who without them accepting my work I never would have thought about setting up a blog, secondly to Hayley for working with me and putting up with my frequent trips to the bar between shooting footage and also to Jorge Solis, who has been very supportive and kind in his promotion of my work.
There are others too – too many to name – but I am thankful that the majority of people I speak to are kind, supportive and thoughtful, whether in just tweets or full blogs and reviews. Also I’m super grateful that there are orginal and detailed review sites out there with some brilliantly talented writers that I can only hope to learn from and improve (mainly Brutal As Hell, which is definitely my favourite).
I’m definitely planning on some other blog as a celebration of two years of Scared Sheepless, but this is it for now. As always, I’m available on Twitter (@caitlynmdowns) and also on Tumblr now under the handle of Scared Sheepless. Thanks for reading!
I now have a tumblr on the above link. Some of it will be horror stuff and concern this blog, but it also might include more personal things and other interests. Right now I’m pretty lost with it so if anyone would like to follow or suggest anyone to follow that would be awesome.
A Field In England (2013)
Director: Ben Wheatley
Writer: Amy Jump
Starring: Reece Shearsmith & Michael Smiley
“I am my own master.”
Much of the discussion surrounding Ben Wheatley’s latest creation has largely focused on the innovative release on a variety of platforms in the same day, and for good reason. To my knowledge it is the first to employ such a strategy and could serve to gather a greater audience than if it were just released in the cinema, then later on DVD/Blu Ray/On Demand as usual. However, in all the talk about the release, I feel some have forgotten about the film a little.
Self-confessed coward Whitehead (Shearsmith) plays a who scholar deserts his duties during the English Civil War and soon meets up with three other deserters. At first, the group are relieved to have been forgotten, but soon their journey to an alehouse is marred by a meal of mushrooms and an encounter with sinister alchemist O’Neil (Smiley).
For me, A Field In England is something very special. It shows a director who knows exactly what he wants to do with a dedicated and talented team behind him backing him every second of the way. The film is a total package and beautifully constructed. Martin Pavey’s sound design is amazing, with eerie clanging and whistled songs filling the soundtrack. Also notable is the strange way in which voices appear as whispers during one particular scene, wrong-footing the viewer. The aural punishment of war manifests itself as a dull, muzzy confusion and is more than unsettling.
The look of it too, no doubt helped by the striking black and white colour scheme has depth and captivates, drawing viewers into the scenery. The editing is another important part of this, where scenes overlap, resulting in eyes staring through clouds over the travelling deserters. Obviously the editing comes into its own during the psychedelic segments, which speeds up the pace, merges images and generally attacks the viewer with all that it has. There are also surreal moments in which the film appears to utilise freeze frame, without actually freezing, meaning that characters seem to stare out of the film, almost begging for help.
The initial casting announcements were rather intriguing, thanks to a reliance on actors more well known for comic comedy than anything serious and hinted toward a comedic take, but this is not the case. A Field In England quickly becomes a film about grief, friendship, paranoia and duty, but that isn’t to say there isn’t some dark humour within it. Following on from stellar work on scripts for Kill List and Sightseers, writer Amy Jump has been able to weave in the sort of awkward and frequently funny conversations that would be had by such different men forced together by tragic circumstance. It also retains some of the tropes of previous Wheatley films in its constant building of arguments that are soon forgotten, but remain somewhere under the surface, ready to explode.
Speaking of the cast, Reece Shearsmith steals the show as cowardly but educated Whitehead and in the process creates one of the scariest images I’ve seen in a while. Without spoiling it, it may be one of the best uses of slow motion I’ve seen and I know I’ll be haunted by it for quite a while. The (admittedly brief) power struggle between Whitehead and Smiley’s terrifying O’Neil is intriguing and instantly displays the sort of power O’Neil is able to wield over the deserters. Despite carrying a 15 rating (lower than that of Kill List) it still has moments of gore, that for me, almost eclipses the brutality of his previous work.
In conclusion then, it would be a shame if all A Field In England is remembered for is its release strategy. However, I don’t think that can be the case. A film like this, I believe, will have some sort of impact on anyone who watches, be that positive or negative. A ballsy, ambitious and often twisted experiment that hits all the right notes.
A Field In England is available on DVD/BluRay/On Demand/in cinemas now. Also, UK readers can see it tonight, for free on Film 4 at 10.45pm
I haven’t blogged for quite a while and was waiting for a subject I could really get my teeth into and its something I’ve been thinking about since seeing the Evil Dead remake (which, for the record, I rather liked). Remakes are a hot topic at the moment because they, alongside reboots, sequels and prequels seem to be monopolising the horror genre at the moment. There is fiercely original stuff coming out of the independent and festival circuit though and for me, that’s where I go if I want to see something I’m proud to recognise as horror.
That’s not to say I totally hate any horror that’s shown in a multi-plex though. I caught and rather enjoyed Sinister on DVD not so long ago and saw the Evil Dead remake in the cinema and have seldom stopped thinking about some of the imagery within it. So I don’t want this blog to just say that remakes are bad, because they aren’t. The Maniac remake has been receiving rave reviews since it hit festivals last year. Even remakes that seem pointless aren’t necessarily bad – for example Haneke helming two Funny Games within 10 years of one another that were shot-for-shot. In saying that though, I understand totally why he chose to do it. If he hadn’t, they would have brought in another director and done what they liked to it and that would have been wrong, simply because it was Haneke’s story to tell in that way.
This is sort of how I feel about the rumoured Martyrs remake. A potential director has already stated that there will be a glimmer of hope in the ending, which has angered some. However, and I’m not sure I’ll get many to agree with me on this but for me, there is already a glimmer of hope in Martyrs (I don’t want to get into spoilers about it here, but am happy to explain to anyone currently shaking their head and spitting about the idea over Twitter or whatnot).
Already showing signs of having a heavy lick of Hollywood gloss applied to it through the comments made by that potential director though is disheartening. What works about Martyrs is that it is brutal, unrelenting and unapologetic for everything it puts its audience through. Giving it the Hollywood ending would make it a different film and I just don’t see how it would ‘fit’. Of course, I could just be being reactionary. He could have been joking and maybe he’ll have nothing to do with the final project. *crosses fingers*
The problem with remaking something like Martyrs is that, like Haneke’s Funny Games it is Pascal Laugier’s story to tell and he’s done that. Powerfully. How does anyone even begin to adapt that, from a writing or directing point of view? I’ll also add here my assertion that Martyrs is an incredibly French film. This is not to say superior to American, but it is different. It follows different codes and conventions. It is not just an issue of subtitling, but aesthetics, style and pacing. For example, Laugier’s follow-up The Tall Man (recognised as a French-Canadian production) tends to follow the American structure and ends up a confused mess with some really interesting ideas within it as it tries to force too many things into too short a time.
Now, I’m going to try to look at it from the other side and this, really is what makes me sad about remakes. What does it say to cinema-goers that American productions are looking to European or past ideas to adapt? For me, it says they don’t have enough faith in the ideas of their own talented film-makers and if, as a film-maker your main system doesn’t trust you, then why try? Why not do remakes if that’s what you’re offered? It brings the money in and film-making is an expensive and fickle business. Some might see that as selling out, but isn’t it just self-preservation? Also, I’d consider that someone having success with a remake may have a better chance of being able to construct one of their own original ideas with the backing of a major studio.
In terms of themes too, American mainstream horror could do with a lot of the themes of Martyrs and I’m sure there are people out there who could make a film utilising those themes that would be good. I think I would enjoy an American horror that talks about enduring female friendship (oh so many films in many genres always pit women against one another), humanity, cruelty, belief and everything in between. However, would I like to see that film if it was called Martyrs? I’d say no, at the moment at least. I would likely be too busy comparing every moment to the original as it is so striking, the performances so perfect and even small things like a piece of music being missing could distract me from it. I would rather watch a different film and be occasionally reminded of Martyrs. I am though, a self-confessed Martyrs obsessive, so I can’t speak for those who haven’t seen the film before, or even those who didn’t like it.
Of course, its worth ending everything written about remakes with the simple statement that just because a film is remade, that remake doesn’t wipe away the original. The original of any remade film still exists to be cherished, terrified by and admired by those who love it.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this rather long and rambling stream. As always, you can contact me on Twitter (@caitlynmdowns) and you can also email email@example.com
My favourite scene from the 1973 film The Wicker Man. Love everything about this. As its May 1st, a revisiting is definitely in order.