GRIMMFEST 2018: Anna and the Apocalypse

Year: 2018
Directed by: John McPhail
Cast: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, Marli Siu, Christopher Leveaux, Ben Wiggins

Written by Sasha Hornby

“What if High School Musical had zombies?” When Anna and the Apocalypse was first conceived, this was the pitch. 8 years later, this zom-com Christmas musical is taking the film festival world by storm – and met with uproarious laughter and applause as the Grimmfest closing film. Set in the peaceful British town of Little Haven, a global pandemic threatens to derail Christmas. Anna (Ella Hunt), and her friends, John (Malcolm Cumming), Steph (Sarah Swire), Chris (Christopher Leveaux), Lisa (Marli Siu), plus ex-boyfriend Nick (Ben Wiggins), must fight and sing their way to survival.

The film opens (after a wonderfully animated opening credits has run) with Anna, and best friend John, getting a lift to school from her dad, Tony (Mark Benton). Some minimal exposition occurs during this journey; as the trio discuss Anna and John’s plans for post-school – Anna wants to travel the world, John wants to go to art school – the radio plays a news bulletin detailing the flu-like disease doing the deadly rounds.

Even those uninitiated in zombie lore know the story from here. The infected die, and their still-animated corpses single-mindedly seek out living humans for sustenance. Meanwhile, our hapless heroes have to traverse their sleepy town, now teeming with the living dead, to reunite with each other. In this respect, Anna and the Apocalypse has little new to add to the undead canon. The same rules apply – don’t get bit, avoid the hordes, aim for the brain. There is a quaint social-commentary attempted as the zombies are easily distracted by flashing lights, glittering tinsel and vlog-style videos made on a phone. For the most part though, the evolution of living to undead is familiar.

What does stand out is the way the kids navigate the end of the world. We all remember being 17, and thinking we’re all grown up and know everything we need to know. The titular Anna is no exception. She’s tough, and practical. And stubborn. She believes she can still go globetrotting, even in the face of Armageddon. Ella Hunt is the perfect choice for Anna, as she exudes effortless cool in every frame. It’s easy to root for her. She also manages to look bad-ass while wielding a novelty candy cane as a weapon. John is Anna’s polar opposite. He’s a little geeky, unashamedly wears a light-up festive jumper, and definitely doesn’t keep his cool. Malcolm Cumming has impeccable comedy timing, playing bumbling yet adorable fool with aplomb. If he doesn’t go on to become a top talent in British comedy, I will be very surprised.

If you thought the only antagonist in Anna and the Apocalypse was the zombies, you’d be dead wrong. John’s nemesis Nick is the school bad boy, played with delicious delight by Ben Wiggins. Wiggins walks with an unrivalled swagger, clearly relishing his big moment crooning about his zombie-killing skills. The real big bad though is acting head-teacher Savage (Paul Kaye), who so clearly hates children, you have to wonder why he ever became a teacher at all! He is utterly demented, void of any compassion, finding the zombie apocalypse a massive inconvenience to his plans for school domination. Kaye is a scene-stealer, delivering each line with a harsh wit. His descent into nihilism is hammed up to 11, with one particular song standing out for hilariously painting Savage as a cartoon villain.

The soundtrack is chocked full of absolute bangers. It has been 3 days since I saw the film, and I am still humming “Hollywood Endings”. To categorise Anna and the Apocalypse is an impossible task. It has been called “La La Land meets Shaun of the Dead.” I say think Glee, but set in Grange Hill, with more blood. Every song is delightful, many laugh out loud. An entirely inappropriate Christmas serenade, sung like a wicked version of the “Jingle Bells Rock” performance in Mean Girls, had me weeping. Everyone commits so fully to the musical trope of bursting into explanative ditties, or emotion-laden refrains, singing and dancing their hearts out for us on screen, they earn your buy-in.

Anna and the Apocalypse is an absurdly good time, dripping in laconic Scottish humour, with a cast of misfits you can’t help but care about. I recommend everybody make this their festive film treat when it’s released in cinemas on November 30.

Sasha’s Verdict

4-5

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JUMPSCARECUT: Tusk (2014)

Year: 2014
Directed by: Kevin Smith
Starring: Justin Long, Michael Parks, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez, Johnny Depp

Written by Megan Williams

This films weird. Really weird. ‘Tusk’ was Kevin Smith’s first, and only, entry into the body horror genre and it starred the late Micheal Parks (Red State) and Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers). In the film, Justin Long plays a podcaster called Wallace Bryton, who travels to Canada and meets Howard Howe (Micheal Parks), a seemingly charming man who tells him a story of when he became lost at sea and was saved by a Walrus. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worst as Wallace is drugged and, after waking up, is told that he’ll be surgically, and mentally, turned into a Walrus…Are you still with me?

‘Tusk’ was based on a Gumtree advert from someone who was looking for a lodger who would live in his house, rent-free. However, the catch was that the lodger would be required to wear a Walrus costume and act as the creature for two hours each day. This ad was read out by Kevin Smith on his podcast show Smodcast and captured his imagination so he and his podcasting partner, Scott Mosier, started pitching the idea and eventually sent out a Twitter hashtag (‘WalrusYes’ or ‘WalrusNo’) to see if his fan base would want to see this film made.

Through its weirdness, ‘Tusk’ is one of the most beautifully shot films I’ve ever seen, with every shot looking like a work of art (even if the content isn’t pleasant). It’s also creepy and disturbing, mainly thanks to the film’s imagery and the extremely talented Parks. Long’s performance is also outstanding, even when wearing the nightmarish Walrus costume (the human/walrus screams will stay in my head for a very long time!)

Unfortunately, the film does have one flaw, and it is called Guy La Pointe. Played by Johnny Depp, Guy is a stereotypical French detective who is hired by Wallace’s girlfriend and his podcast partner to help find him. From the moment Guy is introduced, the film drastically changes its tone to a comedic one without much of a warning. This change in tone doesn’t work at all because you’re constantly being reminded of the grotesque imagery of the main story. The film works so much better when the tone and acting are straight because then the dark humour comes from the absurdity of the situation, and not forced jokes.

Despite its flaw, ‘Tusk is creepy, disturbing and weird, and this won’t be a film for everyone. If you’re into the body horror genre or just want to watch something completely different within the genre, I definitely recommend this. It’s not perfect, but it was a good introduction into the direction that Kevin Smith possibly wanted to take. Whether we’ll see any more horror films from him remains to be seen, but I definitely welcome it.

Megan’s Verdict:

4

 

JUMPSCARECUT: Mandy (2018)

Year: 2018
Directed by: Panos Cosmatos
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough

Written by Abbie Eales

Set deep in the backwoods of  the northwest of USA in 1983, Panos Cosmatos phantasmagorical horror sees Nicolas Cage’s stoic lumberjack, Red Miller, seeking vengeance against a variety of ghoulish figures following the murder of the love of his life, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough).

The couple live in a house which could be from a fairytale, hidden in the woods, all glass walls, wood and peculiar angles. Mandy herself is the fairytale princess but one with a difference. Fragile and seemingly damaged, she appears almost otherworldly, thanks to both some excellent make-up and styling together with a beautifully subtle performance by Riseborough. She loves to read horror fiction and paints women and fantastical beasts, while clad in her Black Sabbath t-shirt and with her long dark hair, she could be the archetypal horror fan.

Although there is very little dialogue in the film, Cosmatos and co-writer Aaron Stewart-Ahn manage to pack a punch where it does punctuate the visuals, from the heart-breaking speech by Mandy about a childhood encounter with starlings to some of Cage’s later sassy one-liners. They manage to paint an idyllic picture of Mandy and Red’s life together, a picture which is soon shattered when a sinister cult calling themselves The Children of the New Dawn roll into town.

Red Miller feels like the character Nicolas Cage was born to play, allowing him to showcase his tender, restrained side but also unleash some unrelenting CAGENESS. He is both lover and warrior, starting out cosied up in pyjamas and ending with… well… it’s quite the journey. In one scene Cage finds himself in a chainsaw battle against one of his tormentors, something which feels gleefully inevitable after the opening scenes of him swinging a chainsaw in the woods.

A swirling sea of reds, purples and dark blues, Mandy is part art-house music video and part homage to horror of the 1970s. The cinematography is also  part high-art and part cover-of-a-cheesy-horror-novel brought to life. The visuals are so trippy and hallucinatory you are left feeling truly off-kilter, mixing a whole slew of styles together but staying surprisingly coherent. There is even an odd interlude by Chris ‘Casper’ Kelly, creator of Adult Swim cult film Too Many Cooks which pops up when you least expect it.

The score by Oscar winning composer Jóhann Jóhannsson,  who sadly passed away in February of this year, is a thing of absolute beauty, moving from delicate, shimmering guitars to an all out aural assault with bass tones heavy enough to shake loose the bowels of hell. It’s a classic in waiting.

Mandy is the batshit, Cage-filled, hallucinatory metal horror trip you didn’t know you needed.

Abbie’s Verdict:

4

The Nun

Year: 2018
Directed by: Corin Hardy
Cast: Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons

Written by Tom Sheffield

Prior to The Nun’s release this week, The Conjuring Universe has made over $1.2 billion globally with it’s four current entries, two of which are spin-offs. Before The Conjuring released there were no plans on the table to build this universe, but due to the popularity of the first film and how much fans wanted to see more of the creepy Annabelle doll, the first spin-off was rushed into production and Annabelle was released a year later. We were introduced to Valak the demon nun in The Conjuring 2 (a character that was added in during reshoots)  and of course New Line Cinema got dollar signs in their eyes and saw potential for another spin-off (which was then teased at the end of Annabelle: Creation). We recently posted up a timeline breakdown and ranking of this horror universe if you wish to delve more in to it.

After a nun is found hanging outside an abbey, Father Burke (Bichir) and Sister Irene (Farmiga) are sent by the Vatican to Romania to investigate further. Unbeknown to them, both were specifically chosen for this investigation due to their previous experiences with spirits . When they arrive in Romania they seek out the man who found the nun’s body, Frenchie (Bloquet), who then agrees takes them to the secluded abbey. It doesn’t take long for before the malevolent force plaguing the abbey makes itself known to Father Burke and Sister Irene and they must find a way to rid the abbey of this evil.

I’ll be the first to admit that I probably had unreasonably high expectations for this film after Valak made such an impression on me in The Conjuring 2. Her presence in that film sent shivers down my spine, most notably the scene in which her shadow walks behind Ed’s painting of her.  Valak’s presence in The Nun somehow didn’t strike the same level of fear/terror in me like her brief appearance in The Conjuring’s sequel did. I can’t quite put my finger on why just yet – but a second viewing sometime in the future may be able to help shed some light on it.

Abel Korzeniowski’s score, along with Hardy’s direction, builds some incredible tension during the first act, however, the jump scares (and their build up) start to feel repetitive pretty quickly, and Hardy’s dizzying direction making the plot far too predictable with the same framing when something is about kick off. The few surprises that The Nun does deliver on are effective and pulled off really well, and when/if you see this film it’ll probably be obvious of one scene in particular I am referring to.

One of the few redeeming qualities of the film is its cinematography, courtesy of Maxime Alexandra, who has previously work on Annabelle: Creation, The Hills Have Eyes, and the upcoming Shazam! film. The dark and grim exterior shots of the abbey and surrounding areas really set the tone for the film, and despite the abbey’s large looking appearance, the interior shots feel incredibly claustrophobic and Alexandra has perfectly used the film’s setting – from the dark, candlelit hallways to the fog ladened graveyard – to convey a consistently dark tone throughout the film.

The Nun may not bring anything groundbreaking to the horror genre or The Conjuring Universe, but it’s definitely worth a watch for fans of either. Demián Bichir & Taissa Farmiga’s strong performances carry the film during its slower scenes, and ramp up the tension when things start to going south for their characters. Whilst the film is pretty predictable for the most part, there are some genuine jumps and surprises scattered throughout the film that got quite the reaction from the audience I was in – which heightened my overall experience of the film because even though I could see what was coming, lots of the audience didn’t and hearing them react was a sufficient replacement for my own lack of a reaction.

With all that said, I think The Nun might have benefited from not being an origin and should have perhaps focused on Valak’s antics just before she begins to haunt the Warrens. There’s clearly plenty of her story to be told – but I wont delve in to why for those who haven’t seen the film. I applaud Wan and Dauberman for how they managed to weave The Nun into The Conjuring Universe, with the film’s opening and closing scenes being pulled straight from earlier entries – and despite this film not being something to shout about, I’m still incredibly excited for future of this horror universe, with Annabelle 3 and The Crooked Man confirmed so far. Personally, I would love a third The Conjuring more than these spin-offs – any excuse for me to see Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga on-screen together again as the Warrens.

Tom’s Verdict:

3

FRIGHTFEST: The Dark

Year: 2018
Directed byJustin P. Lange, Klemens Hufnagl
StarringNadia Alexander, Toby Nicholas

WRITTEN BY MEGAN WILLIAMS

The last film I saw at this year’s ‘Frightfest’ was an Austrian/British film called The Dark. The film is mainly set in one location and follows Mina, an undead girl who lives in the woods and feeds off human flesh. After meeting a blind abused boy called Alex that she decides to care for, she starts regaining human emotions, causing her to question herself.

I want to bring this up now before I continue the review: the plot details I was given before the film were a little misleading. I think, if I had gone in blind, I probably would have different opinions on it. Therefore, my review has been affected by this factor. The details I was given was that Mina is a ghoul that is cursed to haunt her childhood home. However, as you’ll see in the film, this isn’t necessarily the case.

Overall, I thought ‘The Dark’ was ok. The two main actors carried the film very well and they had good on-screen chemistry for the most part (although their acting was a little unbelievable in a couple of scenes). From the details I was given, I expected the film to be a fast-paced monster-esque movie. However, this film is a very slow paced, art-house style film. This works for the majority of the time, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this would’ve worked better as a fast-paced adventure. There were also a lot of shots that overstayed their welcome on the big screen, and this got tiring very quickly.

The Dark was an interesting idea that unfortunately didn’t completely work in its execution. The cinematography was beautiful but the shots stayed on-screen for far too long most of the time. This would be great to watch on the big screen, just for the cinematography, but that’s about it.

MEGAN’s RATING:

3

FRIGHTFEST: F.U.B.A.R

Year: 2018
Directed by: Ben Kent
Starring: Mark Heap, Sean Verey, Danny Kirrane, David Mumeni, Timothy
Renouf, Ewen MacIntosh

WRITTEN BY MEGAN WILLIAMS

Picture this: A weekend spent at a zombie-themed survival adventure with your best friends (and your Father-in-law) for your Stag do. Sounds great right? Nothing is going to go wrong at all…well, in Ben Kent’s new horror-comedy F.U.B.A.R (a military acronym for ‘F*cked Up Beyond All Recognition/Repair’), everything goes wrong!

This British film was fantastic and very funny; it has the humour and tone of Shaun of the Dead, which blends perfectly with the film’s premise. The cast were all great and they had fantastic on-screen chemistry. They also all had their own personalities and story arcs, making the film consistently entertaining and interesting, as we watched each character react and deal with the quickly unravelling situation differently. Mark Heap, who plays the straight-faced Father-in-Law and supposed ex-Navy veteran Gerald, was a standout, as well as Sean Verey, who plays the slightly awkward Groom-to-be Sam.

This scenario did unravel in a fairly fast-paced and humorous fashion, which worked to the film’s advantage, as it matched the crazy and on-going problems that the main characters faced.

The final act was where it started to falter a little, as the scenario became a little unbelievable, and the running time could’ve been cut by about 10-20 minutes. However, this film overall was a fun and hilarious ride into complete mayhem that echoes an Edgar Wright film. Make sure to check this one out when it is released.

MEGAN’S RATING:

4.5

Miss Leslie’s Dolls (1973)

Year: 1973
Directed by: Joseph G. Prieto
Cast: Salvador Ugarte, Terri Juston, Marcelle Bichette, Kitty Lewis, Charles Pitts

Written by Tom Sheffield

It’s likely Miss Leslie’s Dolls doesn’t ring a bell for a lot of our readers, and in fact, this ‘grindhouse classic’ was thought to be lost until a few years ago when the original print was found. Network is re-releasing an HD restoration of this almost forgotten film next month that will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD. Miss Leslie’s Dolls has been newly scanned from one of the few surviving prints in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The restoration carried out involved careful grain management, both automated and manual removal of film dirt and damage, and correction of major instability, warping and density fluctuations.

Three university students and their teacher find themselves stranded in the middle of the woods in the midst of a thunderstorm. Refusing to just sit and do nothing, the group seek shelter in a nearby house where they meet Miss Leslie – a lonely, middle-aged spinster who allows them to stay the night. It soon becomes apparent that Miss Leslie is a dangerous psychopath who is seeking to liberate his spirit from his ageing body and take possession of a young, healthy female body. Now there’s three of them under Miss Leslie’s roof for him to try to possess, he seizes his opportunity!

With a runtime of just 85 minutes, the film suffers from a surprisingly slow start, even though a major discovery is made fairly early on. The stranded group’s reaction to said discovery is somewhat unbelievable and definitely has no feeling of authenticity to it – it’s something that would make any sane person run a mile instantly, but instead, they’re just kind of little taken aback by it. It’s also a plot point that really should have got things moving a little faster, but unfortunately, it didn’t.

Once the proverbial hits the fan the film’s real horror elements come in to play. There are a lot of familiar ingredients to this horror that I’m sure many fans of the genre will really love. Because all the juicy stuff really only takes place in the third act it’s hard to delve deeper into the film without going into spoiler territory, and because there’s a genuine twist in this tale that I really liked, I will refrain from spoilers and instead encourage you to seek this film out when you can, if only for the third act alone.

Salvador Ugarte’s performance as Miss Leslie was the only act I bought in this film. His mannerisms, facial expressions and gestures were bone-chilling, even if the dubbed female voice was a little off-putting at times. Miss Leslie is rather unpredictable and Ugarte is excellent at keeping the audience guessing what he’ll do next. Terri Juston gives a convincing performance as the responsible teacher, Alma Frost, even if some of her character’s actions and dialogue are rather questionable. The rest of the cast are fine and play their part, the three students weren’t really given much to do outside of making little quips and also making questionable decisions.

I can only imagine the time and effort that went into the restoration of this film, but I was incredibly impressed by the colours and the quality of the film thanks to the hard work that went on behind the scenes. Having not seen the original, and the fact its pretty difficult to find much about this film online, I can’t really compare the two. Given its age and the fact the print would have been sat gathering dust for years and therefore likely damaged, Network’s effort is commendable and they’ve delivered an excellent restoration.

Miss Leslie’s Dolls is released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 3rd and VOD October 1st, and I would definitely recommend a viewing from you horror fans out there who haven’t seen it before. It clearly pays homage to horrors that came before it, most noticeably there’s a strong likeness to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, but I’m certain there’s plenty of likeness to other horrors in it that I won’t have picked up on. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s an enjoyable horror that deserves a watch, especially following the hard work that will have gone in to restoring it.

Tom’s Rating:

3-5

 

The First Purge

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Year: 2018
Directed by: Gerard McMurray
Starring: Lex Scott Davies, Y’lan Noel, Joivan Wade, Mugga, Marisa Tomei

WRITTEN BY COREY HUGHES

The ‘Purge’ franchise is one that has attracted somewhat of a cult following since the first instalment was released in 2013, with the horror films (‘horror’ being used loosely here) being renowned as guilty pleasures for many filmgoers. Although the franchise started out with a sub-par home invasion horror flick, the subsequent installments veered to more action-driven narratives, with ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ and ‘The Purge: Election Year’ trading in the cheap jump-scares for slow-motion shoot-outs. Whilst the hybridity of horror and action tropes can work if executed effectively (note ‘Aliens’ and ‘Zombieland’), the ‘Purge’ films have been nothing short of lacklustre thus far. Sadly, the fourth entry to the franchise follows in a similar fashion.

Set before the events of the first film, ‘The First Purge’ tells the story of the New Founding Fathers of America’s rise to power in the United States; a political party founded to rival the Democrats and Republicans in order to restore stability following an insurgency of unemployment in America. Their solution is simple: to conduct a sociological test that allows all crimes, including murder, to be legal for 12 hours. But when the test-zone community of Staten Island resist, the government takes matters into their own hands…

Admittedly, the premise of all crimes being legal for 12 hours is exciting. The notion of expelling repressed rage with no legal repercussions is one that we’ve all internally pondered at some point of our lives (some more than others), but for The ‘Purge’ franchise this premise has always been more satisfying than the final result.

The clear indication of The ‘Purge’ franchise acting as a social commentary for gun control anxiety and class discrimination in America is perhaps its only redeeming quality and it is all the more so inspiring when we get to experience such issues through the eyes of the minority. ‘The First Purge’ is refreshing with its culturally diverse cast who all bring a sense of pride to their roles, traits that are competently handled by a socially driven director in Gerard McMurray; whom notably has a producing credit on Ryan Coogler’s ‘Fruitvale Station’. The cast, for the most part, keep the film from sinking. Y’lan Noel is exhilarating as Dimitri; a notorious drug-dealer whose physical prowess makes John Wick look like Michael Scott attempting parkour, and Mugga brings a surprising dosage of effective humour as the foul-mouthed Dolores. Yet there are a handful of characters that feel lazily written, particularly Rotimi Paul’s Skeletor, who acts as a damaging embodiment of ‘crazed’ mental illness. Such laziness by writer James DeMonaco has burdened the entire franchise, with his over-reliance on telling rather than showing resulting in heavy expositional dialogue that pays the cast no favours, whilst simultaneously offering no sense of confidence in the audience’s capability in following along to the events that unfold.

Yet most frustratingly ‘The First Purge’ struggles to find a complementary balance between the horror and action set-pieces. The horror feels cheap with its abundance of lazy jump-scares, and the action, whilst entertaining, seems misjudged; culminating in a denouement that propels any sense of plausibility out of the window. Yes, there is an element of self-awareness to the film, and indeed the entire franchise, but where do we draw the line between mere popcorn entertainment and lacklustre filmmaking?

‘The First Purge’ is undoubtedly the most satisfying instalment in an otherwise forgettable franchise – but that doesn’t mean much, does it?

COREY’S RATING:

2-5

 

 

The Strangers: Prey At Night

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Year: 2018:
Directed by: Johannes Roberts
Cast: Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman

Written by Tom Sheffield

10 years ago ‘The Strangers’ hit cinemas and made just about everyone double check their locks when they got home afterwards. The film saw three masked strangers terrorize Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman in an isolated vacation home they were staying in and made everyone scared to answer their door at night.

“Why are you doing this to us?

“Because you were home…”

Even just typing that line sends chills down my spine and gives me flashbacks of how truly tense and brilliant the first film was.. Sadly, this sequel was completely devoid of any of the brilliant qualities of its predecessor.

Arriving 10 years after the first film, this sequel had the potential to really be something special had some real effort been made to be so. Instead, the film feels like it’s taken a leap back 30 years and sticks to the traditional traits of a classic 80’s horror film, making it feel far too predictable and familiar. Thankfully, the film takes some of the better qualities from it’s 80’s inspirations and makes them work in its favor.

‘Prey at Night’ focuses on Cindy (Christina Hendricks), Mike (Martin Hendseron), and their two teenagers, Kinsey (Bailee Madison) and Luke (Lewis Pullman). Kinsey is the rebel child (the Ramones t-shirt is a dead give away) and like all rebellious teenagers, 90% of of her conversations with her parents are arguments. The family move into a seemingly empty trailer park owned by a relative, but they aren’t in their temporary home for more than 5 minutes before their night becomes one they’ll have to fight to survive.

The film spends it’s first act giving us an insight into this typical family, and obviously trying to get us to form some sort of connection with them before the shit hits the fan later on. Because most of time is spent focusing on a sulky teenager I felt like I didn’t really care who ended up dying. Not having the slightest bit of care for the characters diminishes any sense tension for me, and it’s a shame because that’s what made the first one so memorable.

The Strangers themselves are still as creepy as I remembered, but as the film progresses it feels like the film falls into ‘silly slasher’ territory and they lost that essence of creepiness. Ryan Samul did an incredible job with the cinematography on this film and both he and Roberts fully utilised the open space of the trailer park during some of the more intense scenes, but also made me feel very claustrophobic during the scenes in trailers. There’s one scene around a pool that I feel was incredibly well shot and it really felt like it had come straight out of an 80’s slasher flick. The Stranger’s actions may have left me scratching my head, but their scenes were incredibly well shot and because of this their presence on-screen was still somewhat fear inducing.

Obviously riding the 80’s vibe it was aiming for, ‘Prey at Night’s’ soundtrack is exclusively made up of 80’s tunes, and the aforementioned pool scene has an 80’s track playing as neon lights illuminate an axe wielding murderer in a mask – it’s an incredibly well shot homage to the slashers it takes inspirations from. Johannes Roberts killer direction (see what I did there) is thankfully one of the few admirable qualities of this film.

Whilst not bringing anything new to the table, ‘Prey at Night’ did just about manage to keep my attention during its short 85 minute runtime. Despite (an as expected) slow start, once the family come face to face with the titular characters the film’s pace picks up, but each character’s questionable actions and boring dialogue really hinder this sequel. Slasher fans will find more to like in this sequel than I have, especially within the plot itself. However, I find myself admiring the technical aspects of this film far more than anything else it had to offer.

If you’re a fan of the first I would definitely still recommend giving ‘Prey at Night’ a watch, and as previously mentioned, the slasher fans amongst you will likely find this an enjoyable 85 minutes.

Tom’s Rating

3