Blood Runs Cold

Blood Runs Cold is currently available on instant Netflix

One Line Review: Short, subtitled, senseless slasher sizzles

Blood Runs ColdBlood Runs Cold (2011) – Not rated

After retreating to the woods near her hometown for inspiration, a musician reunites with some longtime friends and a former beau, only to learn that they have company: a psychopathic killer with an ax.

I liked Blood Runs Cold. I have some trepidation in admitting that. Blood Runs Cold is subtitled which will turn some people off right away.

We are not given any background on the killer. There is no escape from a prison or release from a mental institution. The characters don’t find a secret diary or ominous picture album. The killer doesn’t even talk.

The filmmakers simply set up their premise, four friends run afoul of a psycho with an axe, and run with it. This is just a pure lean slasher with all the fat cut off. The setting (Sweden) is a gorgeous winter wonderland and the temperature during filming hovered at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Blood Runs Cold knows exactly what kind of film it is and doesn’t overstay its welcome at a brief 77 minutes. It is not as good as Cold Prey but if you want a slasher and don’t mind subtitles, give it a whirl.

Pardon the brief review but my computer died over the weekend so I’m borrowing the wife’s laptop for a bit.

Bloody Disgusting Selects Wrap Up

Okay I’ve dragged the Bloody Disgusting Selects rollout long enough. Rammbock: Berlin Undead and Chop were good but The Woman and Cold Fish were ugly. Atrocious was boring, The Pack was ludicrous, and Outcast was an interesting premise hobbled with extremely obvious storytelling in the third act. That leaves only two Bloody Disgusting Selects left and I’d like to get them both out of the way briefly.

Phase 7 (2011) – Rated R

“When a deadly outbreak of influenza holds the residents of a quarantined apartment building hostage, Coco and his pregnant wife, Pipi, must form a tentative partnership with an unstable but well-stocked neighbor.”

I enjoyed this post-apocalyptic thriller from Argentina. Yes it’s subtitled. There are no zombies and it doesn’t really qualify as horror. Like most of the Bloody Disgusting Selects, it is quirky which is a good deal of its charm. It is not exciting or scary but is a fun watch.

It does have some problems. The foremost is that it is difficult to build sympathy for the lead character who seems to go where the wind blows. His wife, despite being trapped in the apartment building with him, is practically a non-entity and when she is on screen, she is rather unpleasant. The other characters are fascinating however.

YellowBrickRoad (2010) – Rated R

“A small team of explorers heads into the New Hampshire wilderness to investigate the unexplained disappearance of the residents of Friar, who left their homes 70 years earlier — without their money, their clothes or a word about where they went.”

Like Outcast, YellowBrickRoad is a fascinating misfire. The basic premise is sound, parts of the script are simply wonderful, several of the characters are intriguing, and some of the violence is very impressive.

That said the characters are not introduced well, the script meanders on unimportant points and races through the important ones, sound drops in and out, and the non-intriguing characters are basically interchangeable.

YellowBrickRoad is worth a watch because it is quite different but I warn you that it will be a frustrating experience.

Rammbock (Berlin Undead) – Bloody Disgusting Selects

Yup – I still haven’t run out of Bloody Disgusting Selects. Quality has been all over the map. Rammbock (Berlin Undead) is currently available on instant Netflix.

Rammbock – Berlin Undead (2010) – Not rated

“Hoping to reunite with his ex-girlfriend, a lovesick young man drops in to see her but instead finds a brash teen plumber — and before you can say “the undead,” the twosome must barricade the door against a legion of insatiable zombies.”

This is a wonderfully intimate viral zombie thriller. The vast majority of the movie takes place from hapless Michael’s point-of-view. As in Night of the Living Dead, the overall situation is communicated through the occasional television or radio transmission. Almost the entire movie takes place in a single apartment block.

Rammbock also wastes no time at all. There is only a single brief scene before the carnage begins. There are no character backgrounds and little character development. Rammbock is just a bunch of apartment dwellers trying to cope with a zombie outbreak.

The type of outbreak is borrowed liberally from 28 Days Later and [REC], both of which are better films. Rammbock’s zombies are clearly done on a budget and look somewhat like Evil Dead extras. Director Marvin Kren is aware of this and uses them sparingly, concentrating instead on the dwindling number of apartment dwellers.

The actors are all serviceable and look refreshingly like a random group of apartment dwellers. Michael Fuith has to carry the film as our protagonist and he is delightfully schlubby.

Rammbock maintains a breakneck pace straight through to the end of its one hour running time. Yes, writer Benjamin Hessler could have written a much longer script, throwing in additional characters, character development, or exposition but I’m glad that he didn’t. While not the best of zombie films, this is a very good one and only requires an hour’s worth of investment (but you will have to read subtitles).

Cold Fish – Bloody Disgusting Selects

Okay I’m having mixed results with the Bloody Disgusting Selects line but I have a few more to go. Cold Fish is currently available on instant Netflix.

Cold Fish (2010) – Not rated but plenty of gore and sexual situations.

“In this bloody shocker inspired by a true story, Nobuyuki Syamoto — the downtrodden proprietor of a tropical fish business — finds himself drawn into the world of a twisted serial killer and his equally psychotic young wife.”

I wanted different and I got different. This movie is very polished, filmed well, has decent acting and a literate script. It is clearly overlong – this is not an epic and certainly didn’t need almost two and a half hours of run-time. It could easily have been trimmed by an hour and that would have made for a much tighter picture.

I wanted to get all the particulars out of the way in the first paragraph as nothing in the film is either great nor awful so I’ve no need to rant or rave over technical aspects. If you are male, it’s possible that you could watch this and see a mild-mannered man pushed to his limits. In fact the poster tagline is “How far will you be pushed?”

If you are female (or possess even the slightest bit of empathy for the opposite sex), you are likely to be sickened by the casual misogyny on display here. Japanese cinema, and by extension society, has often been accused of misogyny but most of my knowledge of Japanese cinema is limited to samurai films and the Japanese horror craze that started with The Ring.

If I watched this film without knowledge of the real world, I would think that all women wanted to be dominated, beaten, and raped. Please note that this isn’t even the theme or plot of the movie – it is just a casual byproduct of the plot.

Shion Sono directed and co-wrote this film. Honestly if I could put aside the misogyny, I could view this as a sick and twisted version of Straw Dogs (yes I know that one was misogynistic too). I think what Shion Sono was going for was some type of male empowerment saga. Unfortunately I just found it more depressing than disturbing.

Atrocious – Bloody Disgusting Selects

I love horror movies that are different. I loved the first entries from the After Dark line but then they went downhill. The Ghost House imprint from Sam Raimi then picked up the ball but didn’t go far. Netflix just got a batch of films from the latest horror imprint, Bloody Disgusting Selects. Atrocious is currently available on instant Netflix.

Atrocious (2010) – Rated R for grisly images and language throughout.

“When Spanish police discover a crime scene in which a family has been brutally murdered, they turn their attention to the most riveting evidence — 37 hours of videotape. Soon, new evidence comes to light that there may be more victims.”

I love Spanish horror films. From the beautiful (Pan’s Labyrinth) to the bizarre (The Last Circus), from action-packed ( [REC] and [REC]2 ) to haunting and lyrical (The Orphanage) I find something novel in each of them.

On the other hand I am sooooo tired of shaky cam and the found footage genre. The Blair Witch Project was unique and intriguing but after Paranormal Activity, Paranormal Activity 2, Paranormal Activity 3, Quarantine aka Viral Activity (an almost shot for shot remake of [REC]), Apollo 18 aka Lunar Activity, Cloverfield aka Monster Activity (which I enjoyed in spite of the camerawork not because of it), well you get the picture. It was fresh once but now is just annoying not to mention the lazy way to make a horror film.

While using ‘found footage’ can hide a low budget, you have to have a reason why filming continues as people start dying. This reasoning often becomes so torturous and ridiculous that I want to tear my hair out. In addition to that, ‘found footage’ is a way to fill up screen time with staring at a door, a window, or something else just waiting for an event to happen.

Well Atrocious is not actually atrocious though there seems to be no particular reason for the name (or for that matter the movie). It is just boring. It might be interesting if you haven’t seen all those other ‘found footage’ films but it adds nothing to the subgenre.

When you backtrack the plot after the ending, it makes little to no sense (no spoilers). The situations where people keep filming and the angles when the camera is stationary are ridiculous. Add to all of this the fact that essentially nothing happens in the film until the event in question and you have a waste of film.

My guess is that Bloody Disgusting heard that there was a Spanish horror movie that didn’t have a U.S. distributor so they bought it sight unseen – or perhaps they thought this was the Spanish equivalent of the Paranormal Activity cash cow.

Chop – Bloody Disgusting Selects

I love horror movies that are different. I loved the first entries from the After Dark line but then they went downhill. The Ghost House imprint from Sam Raimi then picked up the ball but didn’t go far. Netflix just got a batch of films from the latest horror imprint, Bloody Disgusting Selects. Chop is currently available on instant Netflix.

“After accepting a ride when his car breaks down, Lance finds himself tortured by a man from his past he can’t remember who holds a grudge for events Lance has forgotten. Now Lance must choose between saving the life of his brother or his wife.”

“Have you ever been shot with a tranquilizer gun?”

After one misfire (Outcast) and one film that wasn’t very good (The Pack), I wasn’t holding much hope for my next serving of Bloody Disgusting Selects. In fact I was thinking of just summing up the remaining films in a single post.

Before watching Chop, I looked at the credits. This is Trent Haaga’s directorial debut. Previously he has written and acted in various Troma productions. Much of the cast & crew are veterans of Troma productions as well.

If you haven’t seen a Troma production, trust me it is NOT a selling point. I watched a few of them and they were so awful that I swore off ever watching another Troma film. I have reached much the same conclusion with Asylum films (curse them and their beguiling titles like 2-Headed Shark Attack!).

Chop, despite having a rather torture porn-ish name, is a darkly comic romp. It is VERY low budget but they make the most of their money. The film is not rated but it is gory but really only towards the end of the film and language is quite harsh.

There are several characters but it is essentially a two-person movie. Will Keenan is funny as the hapless Lance and Timothy Muskatell is just fine and earnest as The Stranger. Everyone else is just window dressing.

Everything moves very quickly, as it should, and the dark humor never wears out its welcome. I don’t want to spoil any of the fun so I’ll just leave it at that and recommend watching it.

People Watch: The writer, Adam Minarovich (who certainly deserves a lot of the credit for this B-movie romp) also does duty as Detective Williams (and was wife-beater Ed in The Walking Dead). Max Haaga (son of director Trent?) plays young Lance.

The Pack – Bloody Disgusting Selects

I love horror movies that are different. I loved the first entries from the After Dark line but then they went downhill. The Ghost House imprint from Sam Raimi then picked up the ball but didn’t go far. Netflix just got a batch of films from the latest horror imprint, Bloody Disgusting Selects. The Pack is currently available on instant Netflix.

The Pack (La Meute, 2010)

“Charlotte picks up hitchhiker Max on a deserted road, and they drive to a nearby truck stop. When he doesn’t come back from a trip to the restroom, Charlotte eventually leaves. But her return visit to check on Max that night may prove fatal.”

“Why’s she throwing guys heads at us?”

Men are scum. Honestly that’s the message you can take away from this film. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the film sexist though as the few women are fairly hateful as well. Still our heroine is clearly suffering from an undescribed breakup when she picks up a hitchhiker because she’s afraid of some motorcycle thugs.

We are over halfway through the brief hour and twenty minute running time before we meet the titular pack. Until then it’s just your average run-of-the-mill hillbilly horror (but set in France) and is in fact fairly boring when it’s not busy being unpleasant. Note to horror directors: Unpleasant is not the same thing as scary.

The pack are interesting and would be great in a different film. Their design is nice and fairly unique and the makeup is quite well done. Unfortunately the third act hinges on not one, not two, but three moronic plot points. I normally avoid all spoilers but since they are all before the one hour mark, I consider them fair game – however skip the next two paragraphs if you want to be surprised at the stupidity.

If you drug someone’s drink, why would you not watch them drink it? If you shoot someone in the chest point blank with a shotgun and there isn’t so much as a drop of blood, why would you assume you killed them? And then put your back against their cage while you have the only keys in your pocket?

The third twist is more in the nature of a deus ex machina. There is only one spot in all of France where the pack is. Any guesses as to where our trio of bike-riding hooligans from the beginning of the film have chosen to hide-out?

Okay so to sum up the film has a few interesting ideas and some creative makeup and gore but is undone by tedium and stupidity.

People Watch: Matthias Schoenaerts has a small role here but would go on to headline the Oscar-nominated Bullhead.

Outcast & Bloody Disgusting Selects

I love horror movies that are different. I loved the first entries from the After Dark line but then they went downhill. The Ghost House imprint from Sam Raimi then picked up the ball but didn’t go far. Netflix just got a batch of films from the latest horror imprint, Bloody Disgusting Selects. Outcast is currently available on instant Netflix.

Outcast (2010) – Rated R

“Mary and her son, Fergal, are Irish nomads in a shadowy world of magic, where a deadly hunter stalks their every move. When Fergal falls in love with Petronella, a beautiful girl in their new village, it makes mother and son easy targets.”

I love fresh takes in the horror genre. Outcast is a very interesting update of Irish mythology set in the gloomy world of British subsidized housing. This by itself sets it apart from all other horror movies. The story is generally good, pretty literate and fairly fascinating.

The acting is good but not great. James Nesbitt is a wonderful actor. His performance as the titular Jekyll (and Hyde as well of course) is a blast and honestly I’d recommend watching that instead. Here he is the antagonist but he just doesn’t shine as much as he should. Kate Dickie (Lysa Arryn on Game of Thrones) does a good job as the protective mother, Mary. The young people are acceptable but not much more than that. Our protagonist Fergal is played by newcomer Niall Bruton.

Unfortunately while the background story is good, unique and interesting, the plotting, especially the third act is beyond lazy. Every little step of everything that occurs leading up to, during, and after the climax is telegraphed and predictable.

While definitely a missed opportunity, Outcast is still fascinating and different.

Note: While this is a foreign film, no reading of subtitles is necessary. Accents are, at times, thick but understandable.

People Watch: Character actor James Cosmo plays Laird here. He has also played in everything from Battle of Britain (1969) up through Highlander and Braveheart and lately Jeor Mormont in Game of Thrones.