REVIEW: The Game of The Clock (2019) & Director Interview

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As premiered at FrightFest 2019, The Game of The Clock is a new horror short-film directed by London based Italian director Michele Olivieri about a teenage girl called Alice who visits a friend late at night who is not responding to her calls or text messages. Heightened with worry, the girl decides to investigate further and finds herself entering an empty flat as she tries to unravel the mystery around her friends disappearance. What entails is a frightening game of survival where she must last 5 minutes without looking at an unknown monster. Written notes are scattered across the house which warn Alice and gave her hints on how to survive but she soon finds out that its hard to think straight when you don’t actually know what is going on.

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The Game of The Clock may weigh in at only 7 minutes but it delivers an unnerving experience of claustrophobia and eeriness. From the deafening sound of the alarm clock going off to the tight camera angles, this short film is shot to put you very much at unease and create agitation. Sound plays a big part in carrying the mood of this film and building sustained tension and helps to create a dark atmosphere which raises fear. The soundtrack is dark and spooky and the soundscapes complement the lighting. The clever use of black screens and look-away segments helps to keep you intrigued but also anxious about what is around the corner. When watching The Game of The Clock, I felt tense and excited in equal measure due to its technical finesse at creating very effective scares on a shoe-string budget. While the plot may appear to be fairly thin at first, it is by no means linear or predictable. There are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing what will happen next and how it will end. It is impressive to watch a film which is mainly based in a small single location but has such a vast atmosphere and suspense surrounding it.

The Game of The Clock is a highly original and impressive short film which is scary, thrilling and alluring. It is refreshing to see a low budget indie short-film which not only gets the basics right, but shows so much heart and potential to be expanded.

★★★★★


Exclusive Interview with The Game of The Clock Director Michele Olivieri :

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1) The Game of the Clock is a very original concept, where did you get the idea from?
MO – Thank you so much. The concept came out of my desire to create something that was both compelling but also budget-friendly. In 2016 I was very much a beginner and therefore had no access to funding. So I came up with the idea to have the protagonist running from something that can’t be seen and developed it with the help of my co-writer Ian Reeds.

2) There are several moments during tense scenes where the camera looks away or blacks out. This added more tension to the scenes as viewer has to imagine what is happening next, was this intentional?
MO – Blacking out the screen was intentional. It is in line with the theme of the unseen which is present in the whole picture. It also helps the audience empathize with the vulnerability and frustration of the Victim – you want to see more, you need to see more, but you can’t.

3) The film uses sound and words to set the lead character uneasy and build fear, how important was sound when you were filming this short and did you come across any issues?
MO – From the beginning on it was clear that the emphasis on sound would be very important due to the theme and screen black outs. We wanted to compensate with a rich and complex soundscape, especially for the monster, which is never entirely seen. It took us a couple of tries to get it right but now the sound design is definitely one of the strengths of the film in my opinion. Bravo to Jack Cox, Robert Brown and Sophie Marchant who worked their magic on sound design, ADR and sound recording respectively.

4) The Game of the Clock was selected for FrightFest 2019 and was screened infront of large audiences, how did you enjoy your time at the festival and what was the reaction from audiences?
MO – FrightFest was a dream. Cheesy, but I have no other words to describe it. I was in disbelief the whole time and loved every minute of it. I never thought I would premiere my second short at the Prince Charles Cinema in the heart of London and I am beyond grateful. The audience seems to have responded well to it so far, which made me proud. I hope the reaction will be as positive after the official release.

5) Are there any plans to expand The Game of the Clock into a longer film or further develop its concept in future short films?

MO – I would love to make The Game of the Clock into a feature film and have loads of ideas for it. I’m currently in talks with production companies from overseas who have shown interest in this sense. It’s a very exciting possibility, but nothing is decided yet so I’m trying to keep my feet firmly on the ground.


Thanks to Michele Oliviere for kindly participating in this interview.

REVIEW: A Little More Flesh II (2021)

A Little More Flesh II is the sequel to last years dark horror cursed-film mockumentary ‘A Little More Flesh’ (2020) by acclaimed director Sam Ashurst (Frankenstein’s Creature and co-writer of Vampire Virus).

Director Sam pitches a new project to two new actors, Sean Mahoney & Harley Dee), asking them each to record 10 minutes of footage every week for 12 weeks, which will form the backbone for an experimental film. The parameters are set in vague terms at first but the true sinister purpose gradually becomes apparent. A tri-screen approach is used to split the footage and the use of these screens alternates throughout the duration of the film to signify key events and control the focus of the viewer. Every day footage may seem innocent enough at first glance but beauty and brutality lies in the eyes of the beholder.

A Little More Flesh film (2020) had a unique framework but rather than following the same blueprint, the sequel switches things up. Special effects are stripped away and the supernatural is replaced with the dangers of reality. Similar to the works of Charlie Brooker, Sam Ashurst clearly has a keen interest in the human mind and the behavioural responses to bad situations as his latest film deals with strong psychology. A Little More Flesh II may at first appear to be stripped back cosmetically but its connection to reality is deeply frightening. The film dabbles with elements of exploitation and fake snuff but never over steps the mark. There are films which go too far and those which don’t go far enough, A Little More Flesh II takes things as far as they should go.

We see the lead character Harley as naive and fame-hungry at first but then we see her struggle and despair grow frame by frame as she is locked into a contract of torment. As the director gains control over her actions through blackmail, the depths of exploitation and abuse become deeper and deeper into unsettling territory. There are strong undertones beneath the films plot in the subtext of domestic abuse and it is meant to shock. Harley is bullied into following the insane commands given to her and this can be disturbing to watch as she is humiliated and mentally broken down. The film shows an honest portrayal which really hits home due its refusal to sugar coat on its message. There is no doubt this may be triggering to some viewers but warnings are made at the beginning.

There are periods where there is little happening compared to its predecessor but this is a slow burner with a completely different structure. Ironically, there are occasions where very little activity happening actually ramps up the scare factor, particularly the ‘milk’ scene which is nothing short of nightmare fuel. Minimalism is at the heart of the first two ‘A Little More Flesh’ films and the formula works a treat.

A Little More Flesh II is crawling with seediness and bad intentions and it opens discussions and wounds which should be explored. Sam Ashurst has found his own niche through reality-horror. Comfort zones are battered profusely and the experience is unique.

A Little More Flesh II premieres digitally at Soho Horror Fest on 17th April.

Score: 4/5

REVIEW – Cannibal (2006, TetroVideo)

Originally released in 2006, Marian Dora’s notorious CANNIBAL is based based on the shocking true story of Armin Meiwes, who was known as “the Rotenburg Cannibal”, who killed and ate a voluntary victim whom he met on the Internet in 2001. TetroVideo have given the film a new lease on life (and death) with a strictly limited release with new art work and content.

A man with cannibalistic desires seeks the company of a willing victim through an Internet advertisement. After much disappointment in the past, he finally finds a willing victim who comes forward and offers companionship and his ‘flesh’. Never has an offer been more appealing and voluntary.

Cannibal divides the two male leads by the names of The Man and The Flesh. The Man builds up a strong, sexual relationship with The Flesh but as time progresses it becomes apparent that their desires go beyond love and their fettishes go beyond life. The Flesh wants to be killed and eaten by The Man. Voluntarily, he offers his life and his flesh to The Man and urges him to take it!

The film builds up a love story surrounded by dark extreme desires, Marian Dora manages to create an inviting tale which takes the viewer on a journey from innocence to depravity and when things ramp up, becoming more intense and brutal, you find yourself captivated by the brutality of it all.

Cannibal’s beauty and brutality lies in its visuals and intreaging story which are both expertly executed. When love turns to murder and then cannibalism, the chain of events is seamless, breathtaking and deeply disturbing. Much like the willingness of the ‘brave’ victim, nothing in this film seems to be forced, instead it moves at a natural pace then goes deep into hell when the time is right. Snippets of dirty bugs are used to add to the creepiness and uneasiness of the events which follow.

The practical effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen in the extreme horror genre. The human flesh stinks through the screen and each pound of human tissue is torn away with shocking realism which will put you off eating for a while. The production values are strong, much like the horror on display.

Cannibal is dirty, vile and disgusting but coated with an elegance you rarely see in the genre. This movie really opened my eyes and made me squirm like never before. This movie is a bloody masterpiece and makes other urban cannibal films seem weak in comparison. This film is the definition of a “skin-crawler” and you need to make it a priority to check this film out while you can…

Score: 5/5

Purchase your own copy of CANNIBAL via https://tetrovideo.com/shop/cannibal-300-limited-edition/

REVIEW: EVAPORATION (Very Fine Crap Videos, 2021)

Evaporation is the latest long-short film by James & Mae Bell. Set in a dystopian wasteland, a group of people in hazmat suits roam the nearby landscapes torturing, mutilating and killing everything in sight.

Evaporation works on the premise of a very simple concept but it is executed so perfectly that its charm shines throughout it’s blood soaked 57 minutes run time. The film shows off an array of ‘lost’ filmmaking styles such as stop-motion which is used sparingly and effectively, while also delivering a satisfying low budget handheld camera ‘VHS’ visuals.

Beyond the actor performances, the films real strength lies in its extremely realistic hand-made practical effects and how they are utilised. The props look absolutely incredible throughout the film and give it a real edge. There were times where my eyes were tricked into thinking some of the props were actually real, until the saw started to cut away at the flesh. The props are real eye candy for extreme horror fans and need to be seen to be believed.

In terms of the sound design, the film has quite possibly the most hypnotic soundtrack I’ve ever heard and it adds a layer of oddity to the proceedings. There is no dialogue in the film and there really doesn’t need to be any because the soundtrack carries it perfectly. I found myself nodding along emphatically as the violence and gore ramped up.

Evaporation really took me back in time. To the golden era of Troma movies, to the first time I saw the Nekromantik movies and brought back memories of my favourite 80’s splatter movies. I very quickly became immersed in everything it had to offer and I didn’t wait long for a second serving, watching the film again. The aesthetics for this release ticked all the right boxes for me.

It was a real pleasure to watch a indie film which is not only a splatter fest but also a fine example of DIY done right. The film sucks you into its twisted universe and you won’t want to leave.

Evaporation is violent, graphic and a stunning showcase of extreme horror which doesn’t hold back. Actions speak louder than words, Evaporation is a perfect way to take your mind off this pandemic.

Score: 5 / 5

Available via – 🇺🇲 https://www.veryfinecrapvideos.com/

UK 🇬🇧 – http://www.strangevice.co.uk

REVIEW: Deadlocked (2020) 

Dir. Josh Bailey

Starring: Nick Champa, Taylor Tunes, Sophie Giberson, Kyle English, William Poole.

Deadlocked is a new American indie horror film about a group of survivors who are trapped on an elevator during a zombie outbreak. In a claustrophobic environment, the threat of infection and attack is lingering while the survivors work together to find a way out.

The zombie genre has been over saturated since the early 2000s, but Deadlocked finds its own niche rather than treading on old ground. Elevataphobia is very much a real fear, mixing this with the fear of an outbreak and releasing it during a ‘real-life’ world wide pandemic is nothing short of a stroke of genius.

With such a claustrophobic location, Deadlocked builds a strong emphasis on atmosphere much like elevator horror Devil (2010). In a confined space, there is a strong focus on both the acting and sound design and these hold up extremely well with the film achieving a vice-like grip over your attention. The camera intentionally focuses on tight angles to heighten the feeling of nausea and is well-shot. In terms of scares, Deadlocked isn’t going to give you nightmares or make you jump too often, but it won’t make you feel too safe either. Due to the limitations of the budget, the make-up isn’t going to hold up against its mainstream horror film counterparts but this is forgiven due to the films solid production values in other areas. The hand-held camera action used in later segments provides a nice change of pace and tension.

The zombies may be few in numbers but their threat is persistent. Deadlocked focuses on the aspect of survival over cheap tricks and gore. While the action may be limited at times, the plot certainly doesn’t drag its heels. There are a few twists and turns which help to keep the film interesting. Deadlocked leaves you craving more, and this can only be seen as a positive. Much like Pontypool (2008), sound plays a key role in keeping the threat of danger persistent. With a larger budget maybe the tension and gore could have been ramped up but Deadlocked certainly makes good use of what it has available.

Much like its location, Deadlocked elevates itself through sharp set pieces and rising tension. With a micro budget of only $10,000 (approx.) it delivers an impressive indie horror offering which is well worth your attention. The production values surpass the budget at the best of times, and the plot exceeds the limitations of its location. Deadlocked is a fine example of ‘less is more’ and provides great escapism while we try to survive our own pandemic.

Score: 4/5

Deadlocked is now available on Amazon Prime UK.

REVIEW – Aniara (Arrow Films, 2019)

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A luxurious 3 week cruise through the galaxy soon becomes a hellish voyage into an empty universe. The film is broken down into chapters, each focusing on the main character ‘MR’s ability to react and overcome difficult situations and try to find optimism. Aniara certainly punches above its budget limitations with its stunning set designs and CGI visuals, but much like its story it becomes ‘lost in space’ very quickly. There are moments where the film elevates itself with shocking twists but these are quickly dispelled by long periods of blandness. The breathtaking set designs never get tiring on the eye, neither does its pulsating soundtrack and ambient atmosphere but you never sense that the characters are dealing with the the ‘real’ threat of ‘certain death’. It just feels like many of the characters are just going through the motions. The best moments in the film are when it aims for the shock factor (notably the ‘Cult’ lesbian orgy which goes full throttle and is jaw dropping). There were many times where film looked close to turning a corner and moving towards greatness but unfortunately it kept falling backwards. A lack of precision in the screenplay set Aniara off on a misguided path which is a shame as it wasn’t a million miles away from reaching its full potential.

3 / 5

#Aniara #EdinburghInternationalFilmFestival2019

REVIEW – The Curse of La Llorona (Warner Bros)

The next spin off in the ever expanding Conjuring Universe is another dark tale drenched in modern horror. In 1673, A woman in Mexico drowns her two children as an act of revenge after she finds out her husband is having an affair with a younger woman, this forms the basis of an urban legend as she returns after death looking for more children. 300 years later, a young family in Los Angeles are haunted by the ‘weeping woman’ after Anna Garcia (Linda Cardellini) accidently awakens the evil spirit and sets it free.

The Curse of La Llorona is intense from the offset and continually tries to catch you off guard with its mechanical jump scare set pieces. For the most part, the set pieces are constructed impressively but the depth of the story is hindered by the ruthless intent to scare you.

If you remember the infamous 6 second banned online viral ad from last year for The Nun, you’ll know what to expect here. There are atleast 10 jump scares throughout the movie following the old formula of silence followed by loud noises. The ‘cattle prod’ approach as it is referred to by many critics. This approach feels more and more dated as the film progresses as you are waiting for the next jump scare rather than the next plot development. The ‘weeping woman’ is a constant threat in the house anyway and doesn’t need as many jump scares to scare you. It just feels cheap to throw these old tricks at you over and over when they already have you at the edge of your seat.

The atmosphere is more aligned to Annabelle than The Conjuring or The Nun, hence the in-film reference. Some of the most memorable parts of the film are when it actually slows down, notably the hair massage scene in the bath, this is when the film really begins to shine.

There are times where The Curse of La Llorona really comes into its own and takes small steps away from The Conjuring Universe. However, it always treads back to the ‘norm’ which is a real shame. As a fan of the franchise, there is alot to enjoy here in The Curse of La Llorona but it just feels like a marathon of jump scares at times.

Down to its roots, the movie has an adequate storyline which is simple enough to follow but is still intreaging. The story does become very generic when the medium is involved but there is plenty of humour to mix it up. There are some obvious nods to The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror but the film takes most of its influence from its own franchise which is its downfall as it feels ‘generic’ as a result. This movie felt strangled and restricted by its own franchise as it lacked the courage to go it’s own way and this is becoming a recurring theme.

The Curse of La Llorona is happy to sit in the shadows of The Conjuring Universe, it deserves its place there but could have been the film to take the franchise in a new direction.

Score: ☆☆☆

Nasties Nostalgia #1 – Faces Of Death (Series)

There are some horror films which are so real they disturb you for years. Faces of Death, which had it’s 40th anniversary recently, leaves you with memories you will never erase.

Remember the old Vipco Scream Collection releases which had plain black front covers and a small synopsis on the back but no images?

Well, Faces of Death movies were also released with black box art but contained an image of a skull on the front. Faces of Death stood out on shelves and when picked up you felt like you were holding something illegal due to its reputation. The films bragged on their marketing material that they’d been banned in 46 countries; to them they saw that as an achievement.

I discovered Faces of Death while I was at High School many moons again and it left its mark on me forever. These were the films the media and government wanted destroyed and taken away from us. Faces of Death provided something different for a niche market that wanted something more extreme; it was exactly what I’d been waiting for.

The truth of the matter is, beyond all the controversy and the filmmakers intention to cause offense; Faces of Death movies were groundbreaking in the horror genre and were bloody well made.

These ‘found footage’ clips served as an anthology of blood, guts and great special effects. Showing a mixture of horrific deaths which could happen in real life alongside some exaggerated ‘ideas’ which stretch the powers of imagination to its limits but still shock you.

Faces of Death fooled viewers into thinking they were watching real recorded death scenes, when in fact they were viewing masterfully choreographed set pieces with excellent special effects. You could argue, Faces of Death worked the same way as a magician in that respect. If it made you look away or squirm, it had beaten you.

The uproar among society at the time was due to lack of understanding of what the films were trying to achieve. The reality is, you would never find Real Death Compilations in your local HMV so this was actually no worse than any other horror of that time period. The gore was full-on but never enough to put you off your dinner.

People can sit through watching the news on TV seeing real death scenes in war torn countries but cannot stomach watching a mondo horror movie which immitates it. That is the biggest contradiction of all.

Faces of Death ran from 1978 to 1996 with 4 releases plus a further 2 compilations and a Making of documentary. If it had been released now, people would have been more mentally prepared for it since we’ve been served a ton of brutal exploitation & ‘torture porn’ movies since then.

You might find it hard to sit through Faces of Death, but it is worth your patience as you will definately never forget it. It’s 2019, you’ve waited long enough to give it a try. Challenge yourself, I dare you…

GAME REVIEW – World War Z (2019, PS4)

Some games fly under the radar, we’ve lost count of the number of zombie themed releases in recent years on current gen consoles. Similarly, movie tie-in games normally always fail to deliver. Well, World War Z beats the mould and delivers a pulsating third person squad-based shooter which is on a par with the great (and much missed) Left 4 Dead series.

World War Z is the game we have all been waiting for. Whether you play online or offline co-op, you will be part of a squad of 4 taking on hordes of zombies in beautiful environments set in New York, Jerusalem, Moscow and Tokyo.

The game runs smooth with no slowdown or frame rate issues despite there being hundreds of zombies on screen. The sheer scale of the level design is mind blowing. Graphically, the game is consistently stunning during all the on-screen mayhem.

There are similarities to Left 4 Dead in terms of the zombie types but it never rips off its influences. World War Z has an impressive progression system built into its class and weapon customisation which gives you the freedom to build your characters abilities and arsenals the way you wish. Add to this, a plethora of fun multiplayer modes; you won’t want to turn it off!

On the downside, there is limited content available at the moment upon initial release, with only 11 playable levels in co-op. However, there is massive scope for DLC which will ensure fans continue to sink their hours into it. New missions, characters and zombie types will keep fans occupied for a long time to come.

World War Z is addictive. There is no diminishing returns from repeat gameplay. The more you play, the more you will enjoy it.

There is always a worry that a movie franchise tie-in will fail but this game blows the movie to smithereens.

With Days Gone just around the corner, World War Z is already shifting units rapidly and is here for the long run. Survival is on the cards.

Score: ☆☆☆☆☆

GAME REVIEW – The Forest (2018)

For years I’ve been wanting a cannibal survival game based in a dense Jungle. Well, now I’ve found one that I need to make you all aware of…

Like most jungle Cannibal movies, the game starts with an unexpected planecrash which leaves you bang in the middle of a dangerous jungle with nothing but your wit to help you survive. Pulling in influences from Cannibal Holocaust & Cannibal Ferox, this is any fanboys dream to play a game as intense and realistic as this…yet, with the creative freedom build and explore!

Imagine Minecraft as a survival horror game with cannibals and mutants wanting you dead.

If you don’t drink enough water, you die of dehydation. If you don’t eat enough food, you die of starvation. If you don’t clean blood off your skin, you die of infection. All these factors are added to the constant and frightening threat of being stalked and attacked by cannibals who want to eat you…

The tribes are intelligent and strategize their attacks. They won’t always run straight at you, sometimes they will retreat or come back later in larger numbers. The AI is so unpredictable (in a good way), there is no repetition in battle and you never quite know what to expect when it all kicks off.

You have to manage your resources, build shelter and fire, cook your food, heat up river water to remove germs, set up traps to catch live prey and kill threats. It may all seem overwhelming at first, but the depths in the detail that this game has gone to in order to stack the odds against you makes it all the more exciting.

Everything you find and kill can be crafted. Lizard skin for armour, bones for gates, skulls for trophies to scare off trespassers, you can even cut off limbs from the tribe you kill and endulge in cannibalism yourself if you are short on food supplies…

It’s so easy to get lost in the moment, cutting down trees and collecting sticks and rocks to build tall structures, then suddenly being ambushed out of nowhere. This is one of the finest survival horror games I’ve played in a very long time as you need to stay focused to avoid death.

There is so much you can do in this game and I’ve barely scratched the surface. You need to play it for yourself.

The Forest is available on PC & PS4.

Score: ☆☆☆☆☆