Category Archives: Official Reviews

Homunculus: More of a Romance Drama than a Psychological Horror

In theory, to hear both, Hideo Yamamoto and Takashi Shimizu in a same sentence sounds like an exciting project with lots of potential and that’s what we have in here, sadly it’s only that.

Susumu Nakoshi is a homeless guy, who lives in his car, you can usually find him in a park in Shinjiku, close to a luxury hotel/restaurant.

Medical school student, Manabu Ito, takes interest in him, because Nakoshi lives right in between the two sides of a coin: luxury and poverty.

He offers him a new reason to live, to volunteer in a experiment where he could open his third eye through trepanation and be able to feel again.

After the surgery, he starts seeing people, only with his left eye, as monsters, as distorted humans.

Ito tells him that are “homunculus”, the visualization from deep within the mind, the darkest feelings they have and try to hide and he is able to communicate with them.

The cast and their performances are strong, cinematography it’s good and in general it’s a very stylish film, but we have two big problems here.

The first one, if you haven’t read the manga, time to time doesn’t make sense, feels rushed and without a proper storyline; just the plot and characters are all over the place.
It has too many plot holes, many questions with just a few answers.

The second, it does makes you feel that you must have to read the manga to understand some “whys” and to fill some of the plot holes, but sadly, if you know the manga, you are going to be extremely disappointed with this adaptation, because not only changes the essence of Nakoshi and Ito, but the whole point of this story.

“Homunculus” it’s a story heavy in the psychological and philosophical areas, it makes you feel disgusted, angry, sad, emphatic.

Humans are complex, to try to understand the very concept of this it’s really hard but trying to summarize it in 116 minutes it’s just crazy and that’s why we ended up with something that seems more of a soap opera drama than the very complex and rich artwork that Yamamoto delivered.

This had so much more potential to be a series, I hope someone else tries to do it again and without restrictions because, easily, 90% of the manga was censored.

As a fan of the manga, I’m heartbroken and as a fan of asian cinema in general, I’m confused and disappointed.

Hopefully when we hear these names again, they will be attached to a better project.

WARNING 

These are spoilers for those who have read the manga and want to know the biggest differences between them:

  • Nakoshi is not poor, never goes under plastic surgery, it’s friends with Ken and it’s amnesic. Nanako and him were living together, he doesn’t go crazy with the trepanations and has a happy ending with a girl.
  • Ito looks more like an idol, his only problem is with his father because his father loved more a gold fish. Crossdressing and transgender issues are nonexistent. Makes a huge experiment with Nakoshi and “Nanako” leaving both of them amnesic. He is the one who goes crazy with trepanations, sew his eye and commits suicide.
  • Nanako and Nakoshi are a couple, they live together, she suffers a miscarriage and start fighting in the street where a car runs over her and dies. The girl in the car feels guilty, wants to forget and gets a trepanation, she and Nakoshi believed she was Nanako, after they found out the truth, decided to run away together and start knowing each other as Nakoshi and Chihiro; that’s the ending.
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Hunted Hits Shudder on Jan 14th – Check Out Our Review!

Hunted marks director Vincent Paronnaud’s debut into live-action feature films.

He is best known for the remarkable Belgian coming of age animated feature, Persepolis. Hunted couldn’t be further from his award-winning animated feature. It is co-written by Léa Pernollet.

A solid cat and mouse fast-paced thriller, Hunted takes inspiration from the world of fairytales. To be more precise, Little Red Riding Hood or the horror reimagining, Company of Wolves. Only our villain ain’t a snarling wolf – he’s human but we see a ferocious beast-like transformation take place. Sometimes, humans are more to fear than monsters

HUNTED – WHAT’S IT ABOUT ?

Under pressure from a failing construction job, Eve (Lucie Debay) hits the local pub for some drinks to unwind and relax. After a brief encounter with a local sleaze, she is rescued by a mysterious local (Arieh Worthalter). Eve thinks that her night is about to change…it is. Before we know it, Eve is kidnapped by her once-charming hero and his clueless accomplice (Ciaran O’Brien). She is thrown into the boot of a car and then released into the woods to be hunted and killed.

OVERALL

While Hunted doesn’t offer us up much originality in this sub-genre it is a beautiful and often brutal film. Is it extreme? well, that depends on how extreme you like your movies. It is simplistic and very effective and shot beautifully. Our lead characters are both two-sided and it is super-fun to watch that transition take place. From charming hero to psychopathic killer and from scared prey to a badass savage warrior!

HUNTED premieres on Shudder January 14th in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand 

You can check out the trailer below. I hope you enjoy.

As always, thanks for reading.

Words by GG
Founder/Owner/BigCheese @ Moviehooker
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Minor Premise Is An Intelligent, Confident & Original Indie Sci-Fi

Minor Premise Fucks With Your State Of Mind – Some Things Should Remain Locked

Ethan, a recluse neuroscientist hides in his late father’s shadow. His father’s death has left Ethan bitter, full of hate, regret and has thrown him into self-isolation. Ethan and his dad had some issues but he died before they had a chance to make amends. And now, although he was able to complete his late father’s work, his name is being buried in a corporate coffin by Malcolm, the head of a scientific research company experimenting with human emotion and consciousness.

Rather than only being acknowledged for the work his father started, Ethan decides to take things a step further. Confidently using himself as a human guinea pig, he conducts the experiment, but things don’t go according to plan. Something went wrong and Ethan’s consciousness and emotions have been split into 10 different personalities. Now, with his estranged girlfriend, Alli, Ethan must battle each Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde state of mind before his own mind destroys him.

If I was to compare this to any other great indie sci-fi, it wouldn’t be the premise that is similar. It is because of the ambitious brilliance of it – this is low-budget sci-fi cinema done right. It is intelligent, original and confident with its complexed content.

As well as a solid sci-fi flick Minor Premise also makes you question your own state of mind. We have been all of these characters, we are all of these characters…and for example: when we are angry, you have to admit, we are like a different person, right? So not only does Minor Premise offer us a great science-fiction movie there is also a deep emotional human drama there too. All this is achieved with a strong minimal cast of three people.

Minor Premise is directed by Eric Shultz (feature-length debut) and written by Eric Schultz, Thomas Torrey & Justin Moretto. The films stars  Sathya Sridharan,  Paton Ashbrook,  & Dana Ashbrook.

In theaters, virtual cinemas, Digital & On-Demand this Friday, December 4th!

As always, thanks for reading.

Article by GG
Founder/Owner/BigCheese @ Moviehooker

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Beasts Clawing At Straws Review

Beasts Clawing At Straws is a stylish, dark & clever directorial debut from Kim Yong-hoon

Beasts Clawing at Straws focuses on multiple characters throughout its runtime. But out of all the cast, our main character is a bag of money. The story is told through different segments, each chapter introduces us to a new character and their story.

With so many characters getting the same amount of screen time, you would think Beasts Clawing at Straws would be an absolute mess. This ain’t the case at all, not only does the film make sense, you’re genuinely jaw-dropped at some of the reveals.

This is a unique, bleak and super stylish noir thriller. Beasts Clawing At Straws is also full of odd, dark humour. To be honest, it is very Coen Brothers and I mean that in the best possible way.

If you’re looking for the violence that used to come with gritty South Korean films, then you won’t find that in Beasts Clawing at Straws. It’s not that there isn’t any violence, there is plenty of it. There is still a satisfying kill-count but director/writer Kim Yong-hoon leaves it up to the sound design and FX department to deliver the death scenes, mainly off-screen.

This is an astonishing directorial debut which makes Kim Yong-hoon a name to watch out for. Yong-hoon’s previous work included stunt work on the great South Korean action/thriller/comedy Secretly Greatly. He is also listed for creative content contribution on 2012’s, The Thieves.

If you like, you can check out the trailer below but I would recommend not watching it at all. I have kept this review spoiler-free to try and give you the same viewing experience as myself. All you need to know is that it’s about a bag of money with multiple characters. Go watch it!

Beasts Clawing at Straws is available to stream on December 15th

Distributor – Artsploitation Films
Director – Kim Yong-hoon
Writer – Kim Yong-hoon
Cast – Jeon Do-yeon, Jung Woo-sung, Bae Sung-woo , Yun Yuh-jung, Jung Man-sik, Jin Gyeong, Shin Hyun-been, Kim Jun-han, Jung Ga-ram, Park Ji-hwan, Heo Dong-won, Bae Jin-woong, Jang Eui-don

As always, thanks for reading.

Words by GG
Founder/Owner/BigCheese @ Moviehooker
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Sleepless Beauty Film Review: Not so much torture but it has an amazing animation

It begins with an ambassador’s assassination plot and a chat window that informs us of a new method of getting people to do certain things.

Then we see Mila through different cameras, letting us know she has been chosen for the same group of people from the dark web.

She is just like your average girl next door, so we can empathize with her and feel horrified with what is going to happen.

After she gets kidnapped, story develops in a small room, some sort of dirty bathroom, pretty similar to the one in the fist movie of Saw.

Things get narrated by the incessant chat window and their participants.

We find out that all this is the work of an organization called “Recreation”.

A woman’s voice through a very loud speaker tells us the rules, they are quite simple.

The main one is that sleeping is forbidden, all attempts to sleep will be immediately interrupted.

Her daily schedule is:

8 am Morning Routine

9 am Exercise

11 am Morning Activities

12 pm – 20 hrs Free Time

20 hrs Entertainment Program

21 hrs – 8 am Virtual Reality Immersion

The voice finalizes with “Have a wonderful stay.”

This sets the mood for the whole movie and prepares you for what’s next, sadly falls short.

It’s in the category of torture but it shy away, the torture happens behind scenes and we keep getting close ups of the chat, they still narrate what’s happening or will happen but at the same time it’s just repetitive, so much that at some point I agreed with them, it was boring.

The story itself is intriguing, but it feels that it wasn’t the sleep deprivation or the torture the ones that really messed with the minds of their test subjects, in her case was the procedure and the amazing animation she was watching on a loop.

The animation is incredible, open to interpretation, showing us different ways she was being tortured and constantly forced to “give birth” to monsters, taunting her until she reaches the level of self-harm.

There’s another scene where Mila is running and the location looks quite similar to the one in the beginning of Martyrs, I love the atmosphere, it’s something that the duo Khvaleev/Khaleeva gave us on their past films (III and Involution) and we are used to, this film is no exception.

I wish we could have a subtitled version, because the dubbed one has more than a few issues, the sound mixing was affected by the postproduction dubbing and sometimes between the echo, screams and pronunciation is really hard to understand what they are saying, besides we can’t fully appreciate the performances, which is a shame because it’s well made.

It is a very interesting idea, can’t wait to see their next project.

Stars Polina Davydova.

Sleepless Beauty is already available on VOD and digital platforms, followed by a blu-ray release on November 17.

Trailer:

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Secret Zoo Film Review: A lighthearted comedy that definitely hit the mark

Son Jae-Gon keeps making contributions to the comedy genre (The Man Who Saw Too Much, My Scary Girl, Villain and Widow), now with a trendy but beautiful message in it; in this Globalized World, there is still people with principles who believe we can coexist with Mother Nature.

Even when it has some cliches, you can find some originality in it.

It’s based on the webtoon “I Don’t Bully You” by Hun.

The film begins with Tae-soo, who works in a temp position in a very well-known law firm; he is a bottom feeder there, of course he wants to impress his boss and the opportunity comes as the new Dongsan Park Zoo Director; he has to revitalize the failed zoo in 3 months so that the firm can make more money by selling it to another client, the problem is… there are no animals and he has no budget.

He comes up with the idea of making animal costumes for the staff to wear and fool people, until they make enough money to get their animals back.

They are not doing well until a happy accident happens, a marketing strategy in real life that helps them go viral and start having hundreds of visitors; at times it feels like they are sponsored by certain brand of carbonated drinks, still is funny how people enjoy the show, even when sometimes they are rude.

It seems it would be easy but we need a villain, in this case the Law Firm, which will become greedy and reveal their true plans.

I think by now, we all know what will happen, but is still a really fun ride to see and laugh with the characters; I would see it’s 98% family friendly because it has a few “adult jokes” but nothing outrageous.

I enjoyed the performances, cast is fantastic in their characters, very charming; the animal costumes are incredible well made, they look realistic… I think the polar bear looks more realistic than “Black Nose”, the “real” polar bear (CGI) in the movie.

If you are looking for a fun movie to enjoy, I highly recommend Secret Zoo.

Cast includes: Ahn Jae-Hong, Kang So-ra, Park Yeong-gyu, Kim Sung-oh and Jeon Yeo-been

You can watch it in Korean with subtitles in English and English SDH or dubbed in English.

Secret Zoo it’s already available on VOD and DVD.

Watch the trailer here:

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Luz: The Flower of Evil – Review

Luz: The Flower of Evil – sins committed in the name of God

Luz opens up with a vacant woodland, bones scattered everywhere. You know within a few seconds that it is going to be a visual gift. The scenery, the beautiful camera work and lighting sets the tone for something wonderful.

We then meet a family of three daughters and their father. The father is strict, he is a man of god and has brought his daughters up under strict religious rule! In fact, he believes that his daughters are actual angels, sent from God.

He also believes that the Devil is among them and that a new Messiah in the form of a scared young child which he has chained to a post in his garden is going to cast the devil back to hell.

Here’s the thing, although it looks like this is set in the 1800s, it has to be set sometime after 1962. The daughters find a cassette player with a cassette inside. The father makes them believe that the cassette is from the Devil himself. He tells his daughters that the Devil can hide in many things, including music & poetry. Cassettes didn’t come out until 1962. This gives the film a vibe like The Village. A group of religious nuts that live in the hills, kept away from the greed and sins of the modern world.

Luz: The Flower of Evil may not have had the mayhem, cults or satanic goat action I was looking for but the film meant something much more and a film that sticks around in your head after viewing.

After watching the trailer, it was hard not to compare what we saw to Ari Aster’s Midsommar or Robert Eggers, The VVItch.

That was completely to do with jaw-dropping scenery, the nightmarish plot drenched in blood and sunshine…and of course, the goat. As similarities go, it stops there.

Luz looks at the atrocities that one can get away with when believing that their dangerously delusional actions are coming from a higher power. If you think, and others believe that you’re doing God’s work while committing sins that only the Devil can be proud of, it shines a dark light on the fine line of what is good and what is evil.

LUZ: THE FLOWER EVIL

Written & Directed by Juan Diego Escobar Alzate
Language: English dub and Spanish/Original with English subtitles
Genre: Drama
Distributor: Dark Sky Films
Produced by: Juan Diego Escobar Alzate
Cast: Yuri Vargas (Revenge Strategy, Playing with Fire), Conrado Osorio (Sniper: Ultimate Kill, La Reina del Sur), Andrea Esquivel (Afuera del Tiempo, The Hunters), Sharon Guzman (La Reina del Sur 2, Noobees Nickelodeon), Jim Munoz (TV’s One Way Out), Johan Camacho (Guelcom tu Colombia), Daniel Paez (Narcos)

Dark Sky Films brings LUZ: THE FLOWER EVIL to Digital + VOD on September 15th. 

As always, thanks for reading.

Words by GG
Founder/Owner/BigCheese @ Moviehooker

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Fantasia Festival 2020 Review: Sleep

First up for our Fantasia Film Festival coverage is a German film, Sleep.

Mona (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) is deeply worried about her mother, Marlene (Sandra Huller). She doesn’t know if her Sleep condition is just her vivid imagination or some sort of undiagnosed illness.

Mona’s mother works as a flight attendant. They have a strong mother and daughter bond, but Marlene’s nightmares have got worse. She dreams of the same people, the same places and she battles the same, horrible nightmarish things when asleep. She has been doing rough sketches trying to piece together and make some sense of these reoccurring nightmares.

On a routine stay-over in Istanbul, Marlene has a severe episode after recognising the people on the wall photos of the hotel she is staying at. Unable to cope, her body shuts down leaving her in some sort of sleep paralysis limbo.

Mona decides to get the next available flight to be at her mother’s bedside. She books a room in the same hotel hoping to find out a bit more about what happened to her mother. On arrival, she starts to recognise that her mother may be telling the truth. There is truth in her nightmares.

The hotel is run by two odd, but seemingly nice people. It starts to take a turn when we see the owners of the hotel getting changed for bed. Everything is as it seems, an elderly couple in pyjamas about to tuck each other in and say goodnight. Then we realise that the husband has to to physically restrained before Sleep. That’s when things start to get eerie and just weird.

Sleep was a completely different film than what I expected. A film that leaves you thinking for a long time after viewing. Without giving too much away, we are all plagued by nightmarish visions, especially when we are asleep. But these nightmares, fictional or not, all stem from somewhere…or something. Sleep deals with a past that still haunts and a present that some don’t want to forget.

The acting was fantastic from all of the cast with some beautiful, yet fucked up dreamy visuals. When the credits roll you’ll be thinking of Sleep for some time after.

As always, thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more Fantasia Film Festival 2020 coverage here on Moviehooker.

Article by GG
Founder/Owner/BigCheese @ Moviehooker

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Graphic Novel Ignites Graphic Violence In Random Acts Of Violence

Random Acts Of Violence

Random Acts Of Violence focuses on the author of a hugely popular R-rated graphic novel. Unable to come up with an idea on the final issue and how to end his story, he embarks on a cross-country road trip with his girlfriend, his assistant and best friend, the owner of Hard Calibre Comics. Not long into their trip, they realise that a crazy fan has taking cosplay to a new, dangerous level. Someone is recreating the brutal murders from his graphic novel, Slasherman.

It ain’t very often we get a production that dares to delve into the brutality that Random Acts Of Violence shows. I mean, it isn’t the most graphic and hardcore slasher I have ever seen. But, for an English-language production…it’s well up there.

If I am being perfectly honest, I was a little worried that this flick wouldn’t live up to the title but after the first killing, I can wholeheartedly admit…I was so wrong! You all know that I love my gore and on-screen violence. Random acts of violence really set the bar high. I was that impressed with the first slaughter that I must have watched it about ten times with each time being more amazed at this frenzied vicious killing.

Using a crazed fan and a graphic novel for the fuel for the carnage was a refreshing approach to take

Random Acts Of Violence is a hugely enjoyable slasher. A tense and brutal horror that cuts to the bone. The writing and directing from Jay Baruchel was on point. Baruchel is known for his role in Seth Rogen movie, This Is The End and also, How To Train Your Dragon. Random Acts Of Violence wouldn’t be the type of film you’d expect from Baruchel. It is miles away from the movies he is known for but it already makes Baruchel a key-player in the horror genre. I hope he continues and follows-up with another genre breaker!

Director: Jay Baruchel
Writers: Jay Baruchel, Jesse Chabot  
Producers: Jay Baruchel, Randy Manis, Noah Segal
Starring: Jesse Willimas, Jordana Brewster, Jay Baruchel, Niamh Wilson
Music: Wade MacNeil and Andrew Gordon Macpherson

*Users can sign-up for a 30-day free trial for new members with promo code SHUTIN on Shudder.com*

Coming out in the US, UK & Ireland on AMC’s horror streaming platform Shudder August 20th 

*In theaters and on-demand in Canada July 31st*

As always, thanks for reading.

Words by GG
Founder/Owner/BigCheese @ Moviehooker

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That’s A Lot Of Dead Dicks: Review For New Canadian Indie Sci-fi DEAD DICKS

Even the title – DEAD DICKS gets people talking, and more so, thinking what’s a lot of Dead Dicks is gonna look like on-screen?

Dead Dicks is actually a very clever title, funny, yes, but still very clever. Dead Dicks is a new Canadian shoe-string budget sci-fi. Apart from the opening scenes which take place in a bar, the entirety of Dead Dicks is set in a small cramped apartment (already full of Dead Dicks). I think I counted 4 cast members during the film; one a bartender, the other a neighbour in the apartment complex it takes place in. The other two are our main characters, Richie and Bekka.

OK, enough Dick-teasing…here’s what Dead Dicks is about

As we all know, a lot of people called Richie or Richard have the nickname “Dick”…or “Dickey”…anyways, you get the point.

Richie has suffered from a crippling depression that has made him a recluse in his small apartment. Although not intentional, he relies on his sister for almost everything which has held her back from moving away for employment or advancing in any way. She feels that if she isn’t there for Richie, he may take his own life.

The film immediately starts with a suicide…and yeah, it’s Richie! we see him sit at the kitchen table and suffocate himself with a bag until he drops dead. You see, Richie has somehow found out that if he kills himself, then he is then re-born seconds later.

He may come back, alive and well, but his corpse from when he killed himself previously is still laying there lifeless on the floor.

It doesn’t matter how many times Richie kills himself, he keeps coming back. How does he come back? On his bedroom wall, there is a large gaping hole. It reminds him of a vagina and reminds his sister more of an asshole.

So, we get to witness the beauty of birth, only it’s a fully grown man getting born from a vagina or asshole on a bedroom wall. Sounds insane, right? I would have to agree…yes it fucking is!.

MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND: VAGINA OR ASSHOLE?

But if you didn’t like your films a little insane then you wouldn’t be here on Moviehooker…or reading a review of a movie called Dead Dicks.

This was a solid indie sci-fi. It is very different, stylish, provocative and both tragic & funny.

As you all know, I am a huge fan of indie cinema. Even more a fan of full feature-length films with minimal cast and locations. Dead Dicks has done it all…from almost absolutely nothing.

The directing, acting, camera work, special FX and OST were all superb. And there are more than a few laugh-out-loud moments while still touching on a very serious subject of depression and suicide.

Dead Dick stars Heston Horwin & Jillian Harris. Directed & written by Chris BavotaLee Paula Springer.

Released via Artsploitation Films

Available to Buy @ Artsploitation Films, Amazon & Kino Lorber
Available to Rent @ Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV & Vimeo

As always, thanks for reading.

Words by Gary Gamble
Founder/Owner/BigCheese @ Moviehooker
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