Movie Review – Wakey Wakey (2012)

Wakey Wakey
Directed by Adrian Goodman
Courtesy of the Wakey Wakey Film’s Official Website
Release Date: August 8, 2012

wakey wakey

I’ve never been a huge fan of artistic films, although I have to admit that Kubrick has some phenomenal titles. Still, I watch movies to escape reality…not to appreciate their value as art pieces. For this reason, I am on the fence about WAKEY WAKEY, an Australian thriller that was originally released in 2012. Although it has a great premise and solid acting, the film seems to focus more on the artistic appeal rather than the story.

If you are not familiar with WAKEY WAKEY, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the film’s official website:

Josie (Laura Wheelwright) is a teenage girl on the cusp of her sexual awakening. Her confusion is heightened by her extreme sleep condition, which blurs her dreams into waking life. Forbidden from leaving the house, she’s long remained alone but for the supervision of her sister Samantha (Fabiana Weiner), for whom she yearns. But Samantha has a macabre fetish and a dark web of secrets.

While Josie sleeps, Samantha manipulates her body, making her the unwitting subject of her artistic obsessions of power, sex and death. Josie is the plaything in her ever-broadening cavalcade of sadistic fantasies that spiral towards destruction. To maintain her secret, Samantha uses Josie’s condition against her while she’s awake, further undermining her perception of reality. Josie must learn to trust her own perceptions or risk losing total control.

This film looks great from a visual standpoint. It is shot in black and white, which somehow heightens the sensory perception of the audience; I’m not sure why it works, but it does. Instead of vibrant colors, the black and white backdrop helps to convey the desolate feeling of the movie’s location. This, in turn, helps create an overall dour mood in which the story unfolds.

As mentioned above, WAKEY WAKEY boasts some great acting. Both Laura Wheelwright and Fabiana Weiner do a superb job in their roles. Although some might think playing a narcoleptic would be easy, there is a certain balance that an actor must achieve in order to pull it off; too much emphasis and the performance comes across as forced…and likewise, too little emphasis and it looks like a 3rd grade elementary play. But Wheelwright transitions from a waking state to a sudden sleeping state perfectly. Similarly, Weiner gives a convincing performance as a Goth sort who enjoys tormenting her sister with absurd pictures while the latter sleeps.

But the story in WAKEY WAKEY is too difficult to follow. I understand Josie is having a hard time trying to figure out if she is awake or asleep…but the audience shouldn’t have a hard time following, too. The scenes didn’t transition well, so there was no cohesion for a plot-line. I could have possibly missed the intention, but this is my interpretation of what I saw.

Because of these observations, I cannot recommend WAKEY WAKEY unless you are looking for an artistic piece to view. Director Adrian Goodman is obviously talented, however I’m not sure if his future films will be for me…unless he amps up the transparency of his stories. This film is available through a variety of outlets if you are interested.

MSB

Book Review – Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard

Moth and Spark
by Anne Leonard
Release Date: February 24, 2014
Publisher: Viking Press

MothAndSpark

When I hear the word ‘fantasy’, I automatically think of dragons, and my mouth starts watering. This probably stems from the fact my first foray into the fantasy genre was DragonLance. Yes, that means I broke into it a bit late in life…but the association is there nonetheless. So when Viking approached me about reviewing MOTH AND SPARK, I said yes without hesitation. How can anyone turn down these majestic, mythical creatures after all? I’m glad I did, too; MOTH AND SPARK is an epic debut and worthy of any fantasy fan’s attention.

If you are not familiar with MOTH AND SPARK, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Viking:

A prince with a quest. A commoner with mysterious powers. And dragons that demand to be freed—at any cost. Prince Corin has been chosen to free the dragons from their bondage to the Empire, but dragons aren’t big on directions. They have given him some of their power, but none of their knowledge. No one, not the dragons nor their riders, is even sure what keeps the dragons in the Empire’s control. Tam, sensible daughter of a well-respected doctor, had no idea before she arrived in the capital that she is a Seer, gifted with visions. When the two run into each other (quite literally) in the library, sparks fly and Corin impulsively asks Tam to dinner. But it’s not all happily ever after. Never mind that the prince isn’t allowed to marry a commoner: war is coming to Caithen. Torn between Corin’s quest to free the dragons and his duty to his country, the lovers must both figure out how to master their powers in order to save Caithen. With a little help from a village of secret wizards and a rogue dragonrider, they just might pull it off.

To do fantasy justice these days, a writer must have a ‘hook’…something unique that sets him or her apart from the rest of the literary pack. Author Anne Leonard does this with a unique voice and a penchant for detail. But whereas many authors bog down their prose with overly descriptive scenes, Leonard does a superb job of balancing details with action. The result is a very nice read.

MOTH AND SPARK is written well and flows smoothly as the story unfolds. The plotting moves at a brisk and even pace for the most part, however I have to confess I felt a couple of parts of the book slow down a bit much for my liking. This is easily overlooked, however, as the book launches into an epic finale that will have even the staunchest of fantasy fans on the edge of their proverbial seats.

I am particularly impressed with the characterizations in this book. Corin and Tam are believable and likable, two attributes that are obviously necessary for an interesting read. But beyond that, they are also realistic. They are not cliched stereotypes that are sometimes found in fantasy. This realism factor helps create a more immersive atmosphere and thus a more enjoyable read.

Leonard also handles the dragons in the story very well and makes them original. I am not going to get into details here because I do not want to spoil the read for you. But needless to say, she definitely knows her stuff and conveys it well on the written page.

My sole complaint about MOTH AND SPARK (and this is such a guy thing to say) is that I feel like there might be too much romance. I know, I know…typical guy remark, right? And I understand it is a key part of the story. But for my tastes, I like a smaller dose. Still, I cannot argue that it works well for this storyline.

Despite my preference for less romance, MOTH AND SPARK is an excellent novel and a heck of an addition to the fantasy genre. I recommend giving this one a look for sure. It is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Movie Review – Scarecrow (2013)

Scarecrow
Directed by Sheldon Wilson
Courtesy of Cinedigm
Release Date: February 25, 2014

Scarecrow-2014-DVD

The image of the scarecrow awakens a deeply rooted primal fear within me. I’m not exactly sure why, but there’s something about it that makes my skin crawl. As such, movies about scarecrows are a true horrific treat for me. The SyFy Channel released a movie simply titled SCARECROW last year, and I have to admit that it is one of the better ones produced by their studios over the last couple of years. And while not perfect, this flick contains some creepy effects and nice intensity.

If you are not familiar with SCARECROW, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Cinedigm:

For generations, it was an urban legend that lived in the nightmares of children. Now, the season to rejuvenate the tale will revive the town’s darkest fears. With the Scarecrow Festival on the horizon, school teacher Aaron Harris is doling out punishment for six students serving detention; their task: help their friend Kristen’s family farm with some grunt work before it’s sold. But the cornfields circling the farm come with a legend: It never sleeps, it never dies, it can’t be stopped, hear their cries. The Scarecrow lives to kill us all. Keep it buried in the fall…

While the kids are playing a terrifying game of cat and mouse in the cornfield, Kristen tries to convince them that the Scarecrow is very real, rejuvenated by the blood of its prey—and proof comes all too soon. As darkness falls over Miller Farm, the horrified prisoners’ hope of fending off the flesh-ripping terrors of the Scarecrow seem like a distant prayer. Scarecrow is coming.

SCARECROW is shot well overall, and its production value looks pretty high. I like the locations used in the filming; the desolate farm surrounded by corn is a great backdrop for building terror. And the boat graveyard, in which the last section of the movie takes place, is perfectly eerie.

The special effects are good, too, especially for a TV movie. The CG that is used for the scarecrow looks good, and there’s some very nice gore throughout. One particularly gruesome scene shows the sliced open thigh of a girl who falls through a rotted floor. The good effects combined with a close-up shot of the wound will make even the heartiest of gore-hounds cringe.

I am impressed with the acting in SCARECROW as well. Granted, it is not super-high caliber, but the cast does a great job nonetheless. Robin Dunne and Lacey Chabert, as the main characters, play off of each other well and portray a solid sense of onscreen chemistry. Likewise, the supporting cast do a lot to lend credibility to this production.

But even though the film is a lot of fun, it does have some glaring flaws. First and foremost for me is the lack of character development. We are never really given many reasons to care about the characters, which in turn tones down the tension quite a bit. Secondly, the legend of the scarecrow is never fully fleshed out. It is hinted at many times, but there’s never any solid conclusion.

Still, SCARECROW is entertaining and fans of lower-budgeted features should enjoy this one. This isn’t schlocky horror, like some of the other SyFy Channel titles; instead, this is a true attempt at bona fide terror. And while the end result might not be perfect, it is certainly worth checking out. I can’t wait to see what SyFy and director Sheldon Wilson do next.

MSB

Book Review – Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks by Aaron Christensen

Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks
by Aaron Christensen
Release Date: December 24, 2013
Publisher: Kitley’s Krypt

hidden-horror-aaron-christensen

There are so many reasons to read books like HIDDEN HORROR: A CELEBRATION OF 101 UNDERRATED AND OVERLOOKED FRIGHT FLICKS. Most of these tomes are informative, educational, and even entertaining. But one of my great joys is comparing the titles listed in these books to those that I have in my movie library. I always check to see if my tastes are comparable to other horror fanatics; thankfully, I think they are. This gem of a book from Aaron Christensen is chocked full of interesting flicks, some familiar and some not. And regardless of whether you’ve seen them or not, chances are you’ll find something that piques your curiosity.

If you are not familiar with HIDDEN HORROR, here is the book’s synopsis:

Dr. AC is back, with a brand new compendium of essays from the brightest and bloodiest aficionados around the globe. 101 informed enthusiasts pay homage to their favorite overlooked creature features, moldy oldies and trashy treats, showcasing silent classics (The Man Who Laughs, The Hands of Orlac) and trippy mind-benders (Possession, The Tenant), schlocky shockers (The Gore Gore Girls, The Horror of Party Beach) and foreign freakouts (Ichi the Killer, Santa Sangre). You’ll be combing your queue and video shelves to track down every last one! Discover the Horror…HIDDEN HORROR.

I was quite pleased to see that I had several of the titles listed in this book already; then, I did the math and realized I only had 20 out of the 100 that are listed. And after reading through this book, I decided I’m going to have to add way more to my measly count!

This book is one of the most exhaustive lists of obscure horror that I’ve ever run across. But what makes it even more excellent is that the movies are listed and discussed by a wide variety of people. That’s right…this is not a single person’s list, but a whole slew of different people. As a result, the titles are diverse, and many sub-genres of horror are represented.

One aspect that I particularly enjoy about HIDDEN HORROR is that it’s not afraid to mention titles that many horror fans think are taboo. For example, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH. I have friends that detest this film for no other reason than it doesn’t have Michael Myers in it. Personally, I’ve always liked this film but definitely feel it should have been renamed. Still, I don’t think a film should be ostracized for its poor title. There are several examples of inclusion like this, and this strengthens the credibility of the book as a whole.

HIDDEN HORROR: A CELEBRATION OF 101 UNDERRATED AND OVERLOOKED FRIGHT FLICKS is a massive win for me, and I highly recommend you check it out if you’re a fan of horror. Regardless of whether you are a veteran to the genre or a newcomer, you will definitely want to score some (if not all) of the titles in this book. Give it a look for sure.

MSB

Movie Review – Horror Anthology Movie, Volume One (2013)

Horror Anthology Movie, Volume One
Directed by various directors
Courtesy of Reel Progress LLC
Release Date: October 29, 2013

horror

I’ve stated this once before, but I will reiterate it now: I am so thankful and glad that independent filmmaking is alive and well. Hollywood is great, and I would love to one day make big-budget films…but the heart and soul of true cinema is found in indie productions. There is major talent out there, too. I am constantly amazed by what production teams can do nowadays with practically no budget. HORROR ANTHOLOGY MOVIE, VOLUME ONE is an excellent example of this. Spearheaded by Mike Lyddon, this horror collection is a true gem, and it deserves a spot of recognition in every genre-fan’s library.

If you are not familiar with HORROR ANTHOLOGY MOVIE, VOLUME ONE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the film’s official website:

6 Original Horror Tales featuring:

The Cordyceps PrincipleA sociopathic photographer dreams of killing his indifferent, domineering wife. One day on a shooting expedition he discovers something deep in the southern swamps which just might do the trick.

Five Miles Straight AheadDuring World War 2 four soldiers are sent on a scouting mission for a German squadron, but instead find something far more terrifying.

Thing In The ShedLate one dark and stormy night Stanley gets a late night visit from his old friend Martin, who arrives disheveled and carrying a mysterious black box. Before the night is over they will discover it’s horrifying secret.

Section 49A Theater. A Tank. A Technician. A Hooker. A Hustler. That there was a time before, of this there is no doubt. But then IT came.

Blood Of A SaintTormented by feelings of sexual inadequacy, Monty enlists the aid of the nefarious Dr. Benweise. The doctor’s unorthodox method of curing Monty’s affliction leads to a chain of events as absurd as they are horrifying.

Footage Found, ArabiFound footage within footage found. Writer H.P. Lovecraft visits New Orleans in June, 1932 and we discover some of his works of fiction are based upon blood curdling reality.

I think what impresses me the most about these shorts is the fact Lyddon has a hand in every one of them. He wrote and directed all but a couple, but helped produce the rest. This facet shows talent, skill, and dedication to his craft.

The films are all shot well overall, however some look better than others. They are all low-budget features, but the production crew does an outstanding job of making good use of their budgets, especially when it comes to special effects. There’s quite a bit of gore in this collection, and it looks superb.

Likewise, the acting is really good as well. The usual low-budget stereotype of poor acting talent does not apply here for the most part. This is yet another testament to the talent pool indie films can draw.

The stories themselves are the big winners here, though. My favorite is the first one, “The Cordyceps Principle”. I first read about the Cordyceps fungus several years ago, and it is certainly the perfect basis for a horror flick. If you don’t know what this is, just wait: you’ll get a good lesson during the film.

My least favorite of the collection is “Section 49”. This film is just way too abstract for my tastes. It has some quirky ambient sounds that are meant to disturb, but they simply irritated me more than anything. I see where the film tries to go, but it never quite makes it there.

HORROR ANTHOLOGY MOVIE, VOLUME ONE is a huge win for me, and I can’t wait to see how Lyddon ups the stakes for volume two. According to the film’s website, volume two is set to start filming in March of this year, so we’ll hopefully see it materialize in the fall. But be sure and check out this first volume; it is chocked full of up-and-coming talent on both sides of the camera. The film is available now.

MSB

Book Review – Orbs by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Orbs
by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Release Date: October 26, 2013
Publisher: Great Wave Ink Publishing

Orb

I enjoy reading all sorts of science-fiction, however I think Earth-invasion stories are my favorite. This probably stems from my desire for a familiarity with the locale (Earth, obviously, in general), which in turn means I don’t have to ‘learn’ a new culture or discover how humanity has evolved over a long period of time. And when an author can bring something new to the table in this genre…well, that’s even more awesome. ORBS, the breakthrough novel by Nicholas Sansbury Smith, is one of these excellent titles. Aside from telling a taut and riveting tale, Smith brings a unique vision to a very familiar sci-fi scenario.

If you are not familiar with ORBS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the author:

The year is 2061, and the planet is dying. Cataclysmic solar storms force leaders from around the world to finally put aside their differences and agree on one thing–to jump ship. The human race is headed to Mars. When Dr. Sophie Winston is hired by New Tech Corporation to test a Biosphere deep within the heart of Cheyenne Mountain, she believes it’s part of the mission to save the world. Their results will help prepare NTC for the three-year flight to the red planet. A flight Dr. Winston has been promised a seat on.

Just days into their six-month assignment, things start to go wrong. When the blast doors hiss open, Winton’s team finds a vastly changed world outside. Humans are gone, vanished without a trace, but they aren’t the only thing missing. The planet’s water appears gone, too.

As the team journeys deeper into Colorado Springs, they find thousands of luminous blue orbs lining the streets. It isn’t until they accidentally uncover what’s inside that they realize the nightmare that has been unleashed.

The tagline for the book is “They have come for our most important resource…”, which gives you a bit of a clue as to what has happened while the team was in the Biosphere. But that’s just the foundation for what is to come. The book details the team’s trials and horrors as they seek to discover what is going on in the U.S. and around the world.

ORBS is written well, with quick flowing prose, and moves at a nice pace. When I first started reading it, I was afraid the beginning might drag out too much. I was very pleased to discover my fears were unfounded. The book kicks off at a swift clip and never slows down.

Smith does a solid job building his characters and giving them believable personalities. Some are likable and some are not, but it is this diversity that makes each one so intriguing. I found myself feeling sympathetic for a particular one early on, but then this person changed, and I relished the death that unfolded. When a book presents characters that you can actually love or hate, that is a true testament to the author’s understanding of the human condition.

The action in ORBS is well-written and never stops once it kicks into gear. The fight scenes are not tongue-in-cheek or too over the top, either.

But the story is the best aspect of this book for me. The concept of aliens stealing our water might not be completely original, however the orbs and their purpose is. I will not reveal anything here, as you need to read the book, but let’s just say I don’t think an idea like this has been fleshed out before (to the best of my knowledge).

ORBS is a big win for me, and I highly recommend you read it. I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here. I will tell you there is a cliffhanger ending to this book, but book two is on the horizon; I don’t believe there is an official release date, but per the author’s website: “The story is written, but I have delayed the book because I want to make it even better and darker than the first. I am working diligently on preparing the story for publication, taking into account all the feedback I have received from readers around the world.”

The first book is available in a variety of formats.

MSB

Movie Review – Hellbenders 3D (2012)

Hellbenders 3D
Directed by J.T. Petty
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Original Release Date: 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: February 18, 2014

hellbenders-blu-ray-cover-28

The concepts of demonic possession and exorcisms fascinate me, which partially explains why I like horror movies so much. As any horror buff can tell you, hundreds, if not thousands, of films about these subjects have been made over the years. But, as such, few have come up with concepts as unique as the one from HELLBENDERS. The idea of exorcists who have to kill themselves in order to take demons back to Hell is very original. And as you will see in this horror-comedy, it is also very intense and entertaining.

If you are not familiar with HELLBENDERS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:

There are demons so terrible that no mortal man of God could successfully drive them back to Hell. The only option is for the exorcist himself to invite possession and then commit suicide, dragging along the demon to damnation – so the Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints – or Hellbenders – was formed. A group of elite, highly-trained exorcists, they live in a constant state of debauchery so they will be ready to go to Hell at any moment. When an infernal Norse demon called Black Surtr escapes into New York City intent on cracking open the gates of Hell, the Hellbenders must use every ounce of their debauchery to battle the demon and save the planet from eternal damnation!

Before I begin this review, I must warn you up front: if movies like DOGMA offended you, then do not watch HELLBENDERS. The subject matter is slightly similar, as is the language and coarseness throughout. But if you found DOGMA hilarious like I did, then you’re in for a real treat; HELLBENDERS is a riotous blast with humorous characters and an intriguing plot.

The film is shot well and looks great, both from a 2D and 3D aspect. Many films use 3D in an attempt to draw an audience, regardless of whether it enhances the experience or not. But HELLBENDERS uses 3D to its advantage and creates a more immersive atmosphere for the viewer. As a result, the entertainment value skyrockets when you watch it in this format.

Likewise, the acting is excellent as well. I particularly enjoy seeing Clancy Brown onscreen; I’ve been a fan of his work since I first saw him way, way back in 1984, in THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION. Over the years, this guy has played so many different parts in so many different types of film and television that it’s hard to tie him to a specific genre. This diversity highlights his talent as an actor and brings more credibility to each role he undertakes. Clifton Collins Jr. does a great job as well, and I would be remiss if I did not mention him.

Gore-hounds will be glad to hear there is a nice dose of carnage in HELLBENDERS as well. Although the special effects look good, I do wish there had been more gore throughout the film, particularly when the demon is biting off noses and fingers. I think some nice arterial sprays would have made the 3D effects look even more vibrant. This is not a complaint, but more of a personal opinion. My sole grievance with the film is that some of the demonic effects used on people are a bit generic. I say ‘some’ because several of them look great…but a little more originality would have been nice overall.

HELLBENDERS is a lot of fun, though, and I highly recommend giving it a look. The film has laughs, gore, demons, and intensity…what more can you ask for in a horror-comedy? Give this one a look, and be sure to check it out in 3D if you can. The Blu-ray contains a couple of nice Special Features, including an audio commentary with the director, a couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes, and more. The movie hits store shelves today.

MSB

Graphic Novel Review – Snowpiercer, volumes 1 & 2

Snowpiercer Volumes 1 & 2
by Benjamin Legrand, Jacques Lob, & Jean-Marc Rochette
Release Dates:
Volume 1 – January 28, 2014
Volume 2 – February 25, 2014
Publisher: Titan Comics

snowpiercer_vol_1_the_escape_cover

Snowpiercer-Vol.-2-The-Explorers-cover

I am constantly amazed with the impressive concepts authors and filmmakers are coming up with in regard to potential post-apocalyptic societies and how they might play out. From futuristic, peaceful groups to feudal tribes to desolate wasteland scavengers, thousands of different scenarios have been played out in various media. But I can honestly say I never considered the remnants of humanity traveling on a perpetual train. Thus is the premise for SNOWPIERCER, a French graphic novel that has recently been released in English. And while the idea might sound simple, it’s not; there is a lot going on in the storyline, which makes this series an epic must-have for comics fans!

If you are not familiar with the SNOWPIERCER series, here is the plot synopsis:

Snowpiercer is the enthralling and thought-provoking post-apocalyptic graphic novel that inspired the critically acclaimed movie starring Chris Evans (Captain America, Fantastic Four). Originally published in French, this marks the first time that Snowpiercer will be available in English.

In a harsh, uncompromisingly cold future where Earth has succumbed to treacherously low temperatures, the last remaining members of humanity travel on a train while the outside world remains encased in ice.

The surviving community are not without a social hierarchy; those that travel at the front of the train live in relative luxury whilst those unfortunate enough to be at the rear remain clustered like cattle in claustrophobic darkness. Yet, things are about to change aboard the train as passengers become disgruntled…

I was hesitant to even read this series at first; the idea of the world’s survivors traveling around the globe on an enormous train almost sounds too far-fetched to even consider. But I was also intrigued. If a film star like Chris Evans liked the material enough to be in a movie version, then there must be something there. I’m glad I gave the series a chance, because it’s excellent!

SNOWPIERCER is written very well and flows at a nice pace. There’s a lot of drama involved in the first volume, but the second picks up the pace even more so. I am very impressed with how the writing moves you so quickly through the story. I finished the books before I even realized it!

The artwork looks great as well. My sole complaint is that I wish it had been done in color. I understand the black-and-white aspect can create more drama, but I would really have liked to have seen the detail. This is certainly nothing that should dissuade you from reading it…just a simple, personal opinion.

SNOWPIERCER is a unique vision of what the future could potentially hold for mankind. It is a solidly original entry into the post-apocalyptic genre, and a welcome one at that. I highly recommend giving it a look. Volume 1 is available now, while Volume 2 will hit store shelves next week.

MSB

Movie Review – I Heart U (2014)

I Heart U
Directed by Billy Garberina
Courtesy of Camp Motion Pictures
Release Date: February 11, 2014

I heart

Don’t be fooled by its title; I HEART U is not a sappy rom-com, nor is it a mushy chick-flick. On the contrary, this low-budget gem is a horror-comedy with lots of wit, gore, and heart. And what better day to post this review than on Valentine’s Day? If you’re looking for a fun flick to watch with your loved one tonight, snatch this one up and give it a look.

If you are not familiar with I HEART U, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Camp Motion Pictures:

In this darkly comic satire of suburban married life, mild-mannered Walter Fletcher discovers the perfect antidote to marriage to an ambitious, attractive wife is getting his name in the paper…even if it means he has to kill a person or five. But just as his new hobby seems to be working, a series of brutal and stylish murders by “The Sweetheart Killer” steal his limelight. Will Walter’s newly discovered competitive streak re-kindle his marriage? Or does “The Sweetheart Killer” hit a little too close to home? Watch the blood flow and the body count rise in this atypical love story produced by and starring Raine Brown.

Ok, first the disclaimer: this is a very low-budget flick, so if that is a turn-off, then don’t check this out. But if you can look past it, you’re in for a real treat. This is a well-written, well-crafted film that will leave you smiling as the credits roll.

I HEART U is shot pretty well and looks good overall. The production team does a good job of utilizing the budget they have, which as I mentioned isn’t much. The special effects are really good for low-budget, and there’s plenty of gore and blood flowing throughout the film. The acting, unfortunately, is where this film really lacks, although I have seen worse. Several of the characters deliver their lines as if they’re reading from cue-cards, which makes me cringe to even think about.

But with that aside, the story is very funny and smartly written. A few lines of dialogue stand out as being forced (specifically a couple of the ‘jokes’), but otherwise it’s ok. I particularly like the pace at which the plot unfolds; it is perfect. And the ending fits the story like a glove…not to mention it’s pretty danged funny at the same time.

I HEART U is a big win for me, and it will make the perfect companion piece to a Valentine’s evening with your sweetheart. The film is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB