Monday, 14 January 2019

Am I an Idiot?

It's a new year! But what I want to talk about for a moment is something that lurked out of the dark in late 2018 (on Halloween, no less)... My new feature film, IN A STRANGER'S HOUSE.


Those of you who are friends with me on social media will probably be sick of me mentioning it by this point, but screw you, this is my space and I can write about what I want! And what I want is to give a little bit of insight into something I put a lot of time and passion in to and wanted to share with the world at large.

So, what is In A Stranger's House? Well, it is an Irish found footage fi- Hey! Come back! I will NOT hear any of that shite about hating found footage. No one 'hates' found footage. They 'hate' bad films, and since found footage tends to be on the more inexpensive side to produce, a lot of people who maybe shouldn't do, dip their toes in the filmmaking pool. There are plenty of great found footage films, but with it being primarily used for horrors and thrillers thus far, imagine an entire well of untapped potential yet to be realised!

Anyway, that was a sidebar. THIS film is about a vlogger who answers an online classified ad to housesit, and let's just say that once he does... Things get creepy... Check out this trailer for a wee sampling!



Now that you've got a taste of it, let me give you a bit of an insight into what you've just watched, and more importantly, WHY it exists.

I love found footage films and disturbing/creepy 'real' videos found on the internet (such as this classic). It's the feeling of uncertainty they give me. I remember first seeing the Blair Witch Project and not being sure if it was real or not, or that uneasiness that seeing a pre-release version of Paranormal Activity alone on a stormy night. As time moved on and a lot of found footage became more standard narrative films (where they felt more like movies with a shakey camera and no doubt fiction) I went down that YouTube rabbit hole of weirdness where you watch something and wonder 'Hey... Is this... Is this legit?'. Almost every time, the answer is no, but watching something at 2am with the right mindset for paranoia is a powerful feeling and, not unlike the feeling of being scared by horror films, one I chase constantly.

So in September 2017, I decided to conduct a little experiment.


Using just a Canon 7D camera (not even my own), I filmed a sequence involving some supernatural goings-on with an eerie doll using nothing more than myself, and some camera and editing trickery. When I put the footage together, I was shockingly pleased to see how well it worked out (I had done a test the previous year that stands as one of the few things that I won't show people) and got the bright idea to continue on. 

I devised a simple plot (see above) but injected it with enough subtle clues to hint at a bigger backstory and plot thread. More importantly, I filled the film with my love of genre film. I made the kind of film I wanted to see. My primary drive was to make something that could be scary, and reach out to the nuts like me who seek these kinds of thrills at strange hours of the night.


This film took a lot of time to make, and a lot of effort. It wasn't throwaway or a quick cash-grab in any sense. I love this stuff, and after years of trying to get things off the ground, couldn't contain my need to make something. In A Stranger's House won't be for everyone, but I bet a lot more people who give it a chance will enjoy it more than they expect. I hope you might do so by checking it out at the links below. It has already outdone itself in my eyes and has done something I wasn't expecting; potentially financially allowing us to make our next film. But that all depends on people watching and reviewing and sharing, and you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. 

What I can do is share some of the anecdotes of making this flick a reality, and it doesn't at all resemble the 'shot over a weekend as a lark' story that some Amazon user reviews have bestowed upon it!

My mum's review is everything.

Check back soon to find out the insane challenge I lay out for myself while making In A Stranger's House, how I kept it a secret right up until its release, and why that was an absolutely terrible idea.

Thanks to anyone who has read this, and anyone who has seen fit to support me along the way! This has barely scratched the surface, and I think it only right that the next time we do, we draw blood! Find out how to watch the film below.

What is this IN A STRANGER'S HOUSE that I keep mentioning? Well, when I'm not struggling to blog, I actually DO make films as well. My latest is a tense and creepy horror you can watch RIGHT NOW at the following links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Worldwide
You can also get the DVD of a film I produced called Sodium Party right now at www.weirdprettypictures.com and stream at www.sodiumparty.com. Doing this directly supports us and is helping get the next film off the ground. Your help and support means the world to us all!

Monday, 31 December 2018

You MUST Know What I Think! Best of 2018

Well, that's another year, eh?

First off, I DO realise I never completed my 30 day short horror film challenge. I have piles of shorts lined up for my choices, but the one I pretty much decided to make the whole list for seems to have disappeared off the face of the internet Earth. Or the fact I never took the name down has made it stupidly difficult to relocate it. I swear, I have spent hours, if not days, trying to locate it! But I will eventually throw the final 10 shorts up in list format, I promise.

Anyway, enough of that aside. Now for the meat of what you're here for (though let's be honest with each other, you've skipped this intro section to hop right on down to my choices, haven't you!?); my favourite films of 2018. 

As per usual, there are a few blind spots in the list, such as my lack of seeing films like Roma, Suspiria, or Overlord just to name a few. And some films I have excluded don't mean I didn't like them, just that they didn't quite tickle me the way the ones I have chosen did. There is a wide array of types of films from indie to blockbuster to horror to drama, and some notable horror exclusions include Halloween, Unfriended: Dark Web, A Quiet Place, and The Nun, all of which are films I enjoyed a lot, but when totting it up, the below is how the chips fell. Throw your judgement at me.

And breaking from my usual format (which I haven't followed since 2014), I WON'T be doing a worst-of list. I had my dislikes, but nowadays, it feels like a better use of time building things up than tearing them down.

Finally, I also had to use a lot of restraint to not include In A Stranger's House, being the plug-whore I am, but somehow I got away without mentioning it (wait a sec-).

And away we go!


15. Hereditary

This is one of the ones I wasn't sure I'd include. I've only seen the film once, and beyond the stark imagery in the final act plus certain events from early in the film, it didn't do a huge amount for me. But I still find a lot about Hereditary lingering in my mind even now, months later, and that's got to count for something.


14. Tomb Raider

I was surprisingly in to this video game remake/reboot starring Alicia Vikander as icon Lara Croft. The film didn't shy away from physically putting the character through her paces both mentally and physically, making it a helluva thrill ride.


13. Upgrade

Delighted I got to catch this high-concept scifi actioner on the big screen, but it also held up nicely on home viewing. An intriguing plot, well devised screenplay, and characters you can get behind, Upgrade deserved to break out big, but since it hasn't yet (not that it did bad), do yourself a favour and check it out this new year.


12. Annihilation

The visuals of this Netflix-released scifi moodpiece from Ex Machina director Alex Garland are as powerful as they are stoic. Natalie Portman never delivers a bad performance, and surround her with the talented pool on show here, coupled with the character-driven script, and you have the makings of a film that will be talked about for years.


11. Bird Box

Everyone is talking about this film. Everyone. And you know what? It deserves it. As someone slightly desensitized after years of horror, I wasn't cowering or covering my eyes while watching it, but the people who were checking it out with me did. Such a fun viewing experience! And aside from that, a film that keeps your attention to boot. The similarities to A Quiet Place have been brought up plenty, and though I don't feel the over-exaggeration of those similarities are fair, I decided to stick with one sensory-deprived film for the list, and Bird Box narrowly won out for me.


10. You Might Be The Killer

How the hell are more people not talking about this film!? A find on Shudder starring Cabin In The Woods' Fran Kranz and Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Alyson Hannigan, this horror comedy spins the killer-at-the-camp tropes on their head and makes for one of the most fun films of the year. How this was completely off my radar before quietly appearing on VOD baffles me.


9. Unsane

Steven Soderbergh's iPhone-shot paranoia-inducing thriller with Claire Foy and Blair Witch Project's Joshua Leonard (in a seriously Oscar-worthy performance) hits a lot of the right notes for me. I love a good cinematic experiment, but it's not all the often the execution lives up to the intention.


8. A Star Is Born

Enough has been written about this film by others. It's very good and adds on to that self-destructive tone that similar music biopic Walk The Line played with. 


7. BlacKkKlansman

Hilarious and angering in equal measures, in the wrong hands, the quirky nature of this film could have ended up with a self-indulgent disaster, but the legend that is Spike Lee of course knows what he is doing, and we end up with one of the films of the year. The ending was a particular sucker punch.


6. Mission: Impossible - Fallout

The Mission: Impossible films tend to be fun, but I wasn't expecting one to feel like it had any stakes. Heck, I can't even remember the plot of the previous installment and I'm pretty sure I've seen it several times. Yet here we are at number 6. For a Tom Cruise vehicle, I was impressed just how tough it was to figure out where the film was going, or just how dark it would get. In fact, scratch that Cruise-vehicle line. The beauty of this film was that it was about the ensemble, even though Cruise was front and centre. He wasn't played off as the incredible action star, but as a human doing his damnedest to save the world. The action set pieces have not been matched at all this year, with the final 20 minutes of the film putting me on edge, even after several rewatches.


5. Avengers: Infinity War

Call me a Marvel fanboy if you like, but I was all over this film. After being left underwhelmed by a lot of the recent comic-book-movie juggernauts efforts, this one somehow was able to bring together an unsightly amount of cast members in a cohesive manner to battle a villain with more depth than 'DESTROY!' and was able to put in heart-wrenching moments to boot. Though I have a pretty good idea how the whole story is going to wrap up in the upcoming Endgame, this journey is so enjoyable. It's all the superhero fan in me could want (and there were a good few enjoyable superhero flicks this year).


4. Terrified

This one has probably become one of the most unexpected entries on a lot of year-end horror lists, and I will attest to how much it deserves it. The usual complaint of it not quite tying together in a satisfactory manner in the end stands, but there is so much to relish in here that you can pretty much overlook its flaws. When I caught it at Frightfest, I knew nothing about it, but the moment THAT first shocking visual occurred, I knew it was my kind of movie. I have never had so much tension with something being still, and... uff... I don't want to spoil anything. One of the best horrors this year, but misses out on the top spot fooooooorrrrr....


3. One Cut of the Dead

This absolute gem. A horror comedy, this was THE festival screening to attend. I actually hurt from laughing and smiling so much. This low budget affair's selling point is it's 30+ minute, unbroken take of filmmakers shooting a low budget zombie film when actual zombies attack. I'm not going to say more because any more info definitely spoils it, but this is an unreal film that reminds me of Brain Dead-era Peter Jackson, where the level of inventiveness is off the charts.


2. Christopher Robin

No, seriously. This is one of the most touching films I saw this year. Perhaps it has a bit to do with where I'm at in life. I'm definitely in that stage where I relate more to parents/adult figures as opposed to kids or teenagers, and who would have expected a film about a honey-lovin' teddy bear was actually aimed at those of us who worry about their focus in life? This isn't a perfect film, with the way everything ties up feeling like it is lacking compared to what has come before it, but the message is strong all the way, and hits hard for those who need to hear it. And seeing realistic Pooh and Eeyore and the gang is just so pleasing!

Now for number one... Is...


1. The Endless

Talk about high concept and masterful execution! I'm not actually too sure what I can say about Benson and Moorhead's third feature outing (following the equally brilliant Resolution, and Spring) but what I will say is that this has been pretty much the most inspirational film I have seen all year. There's a lot going on, but it never feels inaccessible. It's budget might not be big, but it never shows its seams. The Endless is in a word 'impressive', and in many words, well, maybe just repeat 'impressive' again and again ad infinitum. But don't let my film geeking dissuade you, this film is beautiful on all levels. 


And that's that! Some of my choice selections for the year, and I stuck to my promise of not sneaking In A Stranger's House in there (I'll be going into more detail on that soon). It's been a good year for cinema, from the big screen to VOD to disc releases, and I have, as always barely scratched the surface.

What do you think? Did these films grab you in the same way, or am I off the mark entirely?! Tell me your thoughts on Twitter @RichMWaters

Have a safe and happy new year and I'll catch you back here sooner rather than later!

Rich



What is this IN A STRANGER'S HOUSE that I keep mentioning? Well, when I'm not struggling to blog, I actually DO make films as well. My latest is a tense and creepy horror you can watch RIGHT NOW at the following links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Worldwide
You can also get the DVD of a film I produced called Sodium Party right now at www.weirdprettypictures.com and stream at www.sodiumparty.com. Doing this directly supports us and is helping get the next film off the ground. Your help and support means the world to us all!

Monday, 22 October 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 21 - Safe Haven

Do you believe?

It's that greatest of time of the year when everyone gets a little horrific, and those of us who reveal in the stuff get to go public with our '31 Days of Horror' challenge lists, pretending like it's not usual that we watch a horror a day (how the heck else do you keep the doctor away?). Most people's lists are a challenge unto themselves to view, but I am going to change things up a little with doses of 'mini' horror films. That is, short films. A lot of people overlook the format, but some of them can pack a real punch, and I am here to provide you with a daily dose of the scares.

Day 21's short film is... Safe Haven.

Ok, this one is a bit of a cheat. Technically not a short, Safe Haven is a segment of anthology film V/H/S 2, but what is an anthology but a collection of short films, eh? This Gareth 'The Raid' Evans directed stands head and shoulders above every other sequence in the series (though there are plenty that stand strong on their own). Set in Indonesia, we follow a group of filmmakers investigating an eccentric local cult, only to find their rhetoric not so far fetched. One of those shorts that, even at a half hour, begs to be a full on feature. I have yet to meet someone who didn't at the very least like, if not love, this short. 

Though I'm not a big fan of sharing material out of its context, I'm making this one acceptation so those who aren't aware of the great piece by the director of the latest Netflix release Apostle can get buffed up on their film knowledge. And you know what you should do after that? Go buy the full film, and the first V/H/S installment. Both are thoroughly enjoyable with segments by many genre heads! The less said about the third installment, though....

And one final note, this short below is an hour long video, but it appears to be the film played on a loop, so don't use duration as an excuse to skip out on this one!



Do you have any horror shorts you want me to see? Send em on to me on Twitter @RichMWaters

Enjoying reading what I'm writing? I make films as well. You can buy the DVD of the film I produced right now at www.weirdprettypictures.com and stream at www.sodiumparty.com. Buying from here directly helps us make more films. You can also search for Sodium Party, Horses For Moths (you KNOW you want to know what that title means!) and The O'Briens on Amazon US/UK/Germany/Japan right now, and stream for free if you have Amazon Prime!

Saturday, 20 October 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 20 - There's Something In The Attic

Ssh....

It's that greatest of time of the year when everyone gets a little horrific, and those of us who reveal in the stuff get to go public with our '31 Days of Horror' challenge lists, pretending like it's not usual that we watch a horror a day (how the heck else do you keep the doctor away?). Most people's lists are a challenge unto themselves to view, but I am going to change things up a little with doses of 'mini' horror films. That is, short films. A lot of people overlook the format, but some of them can pack a real punch, and I am here to provide you with a daily dose of the scares.

Day 20's short film is... There's Something In The Attic.

I was trying to avoid repeating filmmakers on this list, but I'm going to have to make an exception in this case for another film from yesterday's highlighted filmmaker Lee Hardcastle. 

Whereas An Alien Claymation is a tongue-in-cheek gross-out claymation gore-fest, today's film goes a bit more of the traditional route with live action elements. Here, we find a woman looking terrified in the attic, being stalked by... Something... A cliché idea, definitely, but Lee brings an unexpected spin to it, along with some charmingly executed visuals that make this serious piece stand out as a must-watch.



Do you have any horror shorts you want me to see? Send em on to me on Twitter @RichMWaters

Enjoying reading what I'm writing? I make films as well. You can buy the DVD of the film I produced right now at www.weirdprettypictures.com and stream at www.sodiumparty.com. Buying from here directly helps us make more films. You can also search for Sodium Party, Horses For Moths (you KNOW you want to know what that title means!) and The O'Briens on Amazon US/UK/Germany/Japan right now, and stream for free if you have Amazon Prime!

Friday, 19 October 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 19 - AN ALIEN CLAYMATION

Grab some playdough, the aliens are on the way!

It's that greatest of time of the year when everyone gets a little horrific, and those of us who reveal in the stuff get to go public with our '31 Days of Horror' challenge lists, pretending like it's not usual that we watch a horror a day (how the heck else do you keep the doctor away?). Most people's lists are a challenge unto themselves to view, but I am going to change things up a little with doses of 'mini' horror films. That is, short films. A lot of people overlook the format, but some of them can pack a real punch, and I am here to provide you with a daily dose of the scares.

Day 19's short film is... An Alien Claymation.

This hilarious stop-motion claymation splatterfest is perfect for those who wish their Wallace And Gromit had a bit more Saw about them. 

Coming from the talented mind of Lee Hardcastle, who came to the forefront with his segment of The ABCs of Death, this little ditty finds a father trying to protect his baby from aliens who are obsessed with trying to put his offspring into the microwave. NSFW, I guess? But this irreverent humour and clever storytelling deserves a viewing, even in your off time (I know most people prefer to avoid any sort of entertainment viewing or enjoyment when out of work, right?).



Do you have any horror shorts you want me to see? Send em on to me on Twitter @RichMWaters

Enjoying reading what I'm writing? I make films as well. You can buy the DVD of the film I produced right now at www.weirdprettypictures.com and stream at www.sodiumparty.com. Buying from here directly helps us make more films. You can also search for Sodium Party, Horses For Moths (you KNOW you want to know what that title means!) and The O'Briens on Amazon US/UK/Germany/Japan right now, and stream for free if you have Amazon Prime!