Movie Review – All Hell Breaks Loose (2016)

All Hell Breaks Loose
Directed by Jeremy Garner
Courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing
http://www.wildeyereleasing.com/
Release Date: March 22, 2016

allhellbreaksloose

Judging from the number of 1-star ratings this film has received on Amazon, I’m betting many of those viewers don’t care for campy, tongue-in-cheek films as a whole. And campy is exactly what this film is; but it’s also a lot of fun. You can just tell from the DVD cover this is not a movie to take seriously. If you go into it with the wrong mindset, of course you’re going to hate it. But if you take it for what it is, you’ll probably enjoy. Personally, I loved it, and I think fans of the genre will find it entertaining as well.

If you are not familiar with ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing:

A story of love, leather … and brutal violence! When the Satan’s Sinners, a vicious biker gang, attack a bride and groom on their wedding day, they get a fight they never imagined. Now, armed with some divine intervention and firepower, the murdered groom is out to save his wife any way he can before she is sacrificed to Satan… even if it means dying over and over again until the job is done.

I will not suggest this film is award-worthy, but it certainly held my interest, made me laugh and cringe both (sometimes at the same time!), and provided some solid eye-rolling entertainment. You just can’t ask for much more than that out of a film like this.

ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE is shot pretty well and looks good overall. The camerawork doesn’t really stand out, nor does the production value, however neither are they detractors from the film.

The acting is decent, about what you would expect out of a film like this. I will admit no one in the cast gave a breakout performance, however I can see talent creeping out of a few folks.

The special effects in ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE are good, and I am particularly impressed with the gore. Some of it is campy, but it is well done and looks nice onscreen.

ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE won’t be for everybody, but I enjoyed it, and I recommend it to folks who enjoy horror-comedies. The film doesn’t measure up to the likes of TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL or THE EVIL DEAD, but it’s still merit-worthy and fun to watch. It is available now.

MSB

Book Review – A Mixed Bag of Blood by David Bernstein

A Mixed Bag of Blood
by David Bernstein
Courtesy of Sinister Grin Press
Release Date: January 20, 2016

A Mixed Bag of Blood

Ok…I’m a pretty big horror fan. I love horror movies, books, collectibles, and everything in between. My wife even thinks I love horror as much as I love her! But I have to confess: when I first read the title of author David Bernstein’s new book, A MIXED BAG OF BLOOD, my stomach did a couple of flip-flops. Maybe it was the breakfast burritos, or maybe the moon was aligned just perfectly with the stars…or perhaps the title struck something deep inside me that I didn’t know existed.

Regardless of what caused my gastrointestinal distress, the title elicited a reaction, which is exactly what it should do. And thankfully, the stories within Bernstein’s book do the same; they burrow into your mind and take root, but then wiggle around in your brain every time you try to push them out. As such, this anthology is a big win, and it’s a title every horror fan should pick up.

If you are not familiar with A MIXED BAG OF BLOOD, here is the book’s synopsis courtesy of Sinister Grin Press:

From a man seeking vengeance for a dead loved one, to a monster lodged in a person’s nose, to starving vampires and samurai battling zombies, a bully meeting his gruesome demise, along with prostitutes being sacrificed, a boy who refuses to stop swearing, and the consequences of one man’s night of unprotected sex comes a dark and disturbing collection of sinister tales filled with dread, bloodshed, humor and the bizarre. This is a Mixed Bag of Blood.

I first became acquainted with Bernstein’s work a few years ago, when I reviewed his zombie thriller, AMONGST THE DEAD. Since then, I’ve been a staunch fan, and I never tire of seeing where his mind takes me.

Every story in A MIXED BAG OF BLOOD is written well, and each is effective in establishing a horrifying tone. They are mostly short in length, ranging from five pages in length up to 15, but they pack a lot of power in the small packaging. This is a perfect example of how quality outweighs quantity when it comes to short stories.

The characters in each tale are fleshed out nicely, and the reader is given just enough information on them to fit the story. I thoroughly dislike reading shorts where the character is given seven paragraphs of backstory that has nothing to do with the plot that is unfolding. This is nothing to worry about here.

Probably my favorite story in A MIXED BAG OF BLOOD is “The Booglin”. The premise of this story is unique and very unnerving, as it will spring to your mind the next time you develop a cold or allergies assail you. I particularly like the gross-out imagery involved here. Bernstein does a fantastic job of making the reader’s nose itch as the story plays out.

A MIXED BAG OF BLOOD is another big win for Bernstein, and I whole-heartedly recommend it. This anthology has a variety of horrors to choose from, so chances are every horror fan should find something to cringe about. The book is available now in a variety of formats, so make a note to give it a look.

MSB

TV Show Review – Yu-Gi-Oh!: GX, Season 3

Yu-Gi-Oh!: GX, Season 3
Courtesy of Cinedigm
Original Year of Release: 2005
DVD Release Date: March 8, 2016

yu-gi-oh

After almost a year of waiting, fans of YU-GI-OH!: GX will finally be able to see what happens to Jaden and his friends. And I doubt you’ll be disappointed. The duels are still intense (and not painfully long, thankfulIy) and the stakes are high once again as Jaden takes on opponents of all skill levels. If you’re ready to continue your GX experience, Season 3 will take you there!

If you are not familiar with YU-GI-OH!: GX, SEASON 3, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Cinedigm:

Jaden and his friends are officially upperclassman as they enter their third year at Duel Academy, the world s most prestigious dueling prep school! To keep students at the top of their game, Chancellor Sheppard invites the infamous and often feared Professor Thelonious Viper to campus this year. Known for his strict and unconventional teaching methods, Viper forces Jaden and his friends to take part in a series of dangerous Survival Duels in which more is at risk than just their grades! New rivals, new monsters and a whole new season to Get Your Game On! It’s Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Season 3!

I have to say, I am impressed with this season the most so far…much like Harry Potter’s progression in the books, Jaden and his friends have sort of matured over the past three years. Thus, the characters are more interesting and a bit deeper in their development.

Curiously, I’ve seen a lot of buzz on the internet in regard to YU-GI-OH!: GX Season 3 and the “missing final episode”. I did some digging and discovered Episode 156 was actually not dubbed for the English release, therefore the season is sorta left on a cliffhanger.

But that doesn’t detract from the series at all, and if anything, it whets the appetite for more. Season 3 is another big win for me, and I recommend it. The DVD set is available now, so take a look.

MSB

Check out REGRESSION, coming from Anchor Bay in May!

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – (March 22, 2016) – Award-winning filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar’s (The Others, The Sea Inside) latest psychological thriller Regression arrives May 10 on Blu-ray™ and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment and Dimension Films, and Digital HD and On Demand from Starz Digital. Regression features an ensemble cast led by Academy Award® nominee Ethan Hawke (Boyhood, Training Day, The Purge), and Emma Watson (Harry Potter, Perks of Being a Wallflower). Hailed as a “carefully-crafted tale of collective psychosis” by the Hollywood Reporter, Regression also stars David Thewlis (Harry Potter, Anomalisa), Dale Dickey (“True Blood”) and Devon Bostick (“The 100”, Diary of a Wimpy Kid).

Minnesota, 1990. Detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) investigates the case of young Angela (Emma Watson), who accuses her father, John Gray (David Dencik), of an unspeakable crime. When John unexpectedly and without recollection admits guilt, renowned psychologist Dr. Raines (David Thewlis) is brought in to help him relive his memories and what they discover unmasks a horrifying nationwide mystery.

Regression will be available on Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment for the suggested retail price of $26.99 and $22.98, respectively.

To learn more about the film, please visit www.anchorbayentertainment.com.

Movie Review – Planet of the Vampires (1965)

Planet of the Vampires
Directed by Mario Bava
Courtesy of Cheezy Flicks
Original Year of Release: 1965
DVD Release Date: October 28, 2014

planet of vamp

PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES is one of those movies I had seen in video stores for decades but never bothered to pick up. The title sounded intriguing, but the fact it was a product of the 60s sorta threw me off. Not that I have anything against that decade, but I was pretty sure the film would not be good. After all, that time period is notorious for corny space flicks and giant creature-features.

Recently, I discovered that the film was directed by Mario Bava, and this drastically changed my perspective. Bava is an icon of the genre, therefore my interest in the film grew exponentially. When I saw the fine folks at Cheezy flicks were promoting it last month, I decided to give it a shot. I’m happy to report the movie met my expectations and, while not perfect, is definitely worthy of watching.

If you are not familiar with PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Cheezy Flicks:

In the near future the two spaceships Argos and Galliot are sent to investigate the mysterious planet Aura. As the Galliot lands on the planet her crew suddenly go berserk and attack each each other. The strange event passes, but the crew soon discovers the crashed Argos – and learns that her crew died fighting each other! Investigation further, the explorers come to realize the existence of a race of bodiless aliens that seek to escape from their dying world.

I was surprised to find out the cover art doesn’t depict anything from the film. Meaning, this scene is not in the film, nor are the creatures shown fighting the humans. I have to wonder how many viewers were pulled in by this, only to discover the image was a marketing ploy. This doesn’t detract from the film at all, but I do feel it worth mentioning.

PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES is shot well, in Bava’s signature style, and looks good overall onscreen. The mattes used as backgrounds look stunning, and many are viscerally realistic. This aspect impressed me greatly, given the age of the film.

The acting is pretty wooden, but it’s not so bad as to seriously detract from the film. I recognized a couple of faces, such as Barry Sullivan and Angel Aranda, but the rest of the cast remains a mystery.

The title is a scad misleading, as the vampires mentioned are only spirits in nature. These creatures overtake hosts and “infect” them. So if you are going to watch this in an attempt to see TWILIGHT in space, you should walk away now. This is hardcore science fiction intertwined with a possession storyline.

But PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES is still fun and definitely worth watching. As mentioned, it’s dated, but look past that and enjoy the story. If you can do that, you’ll be entertained.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie(s) Review – American Horror Project, Vol. 1

American Horror Project, Volume 1
Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood
–Directed by Christopher Speeth
–Original Year of Release: 1973
The Witch Who Came From the Sea
–Directed by Matt Cimber
–Original Year of Release: 1976
The Premonition
–Directed by Robert Allen Schnitzer
–Original Year of Release: 1976
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Blu-ray Set Release Date: February 23, 2016

Horror Project cover

horror_project_vol1

It seems as if the fine folks at Arrow Video and MVD Distribution keep trying to “one up” themselves. Every title they release seems to be better than the last. Some of these classics are well known, while others have been swimming in purgatory for so long that many people have forgotten about them. The AMERICAN HORROR PROJECT is Arrow and MVD’s attempt to preserve some of these rare gems for future generations to enjoy. And I have to tell you: they have found some way, way out there titles to start us off with!

This is certainly not a negative, either. I will confess I had never heard of any of these films prior to receiving them in this collection. But I’m sure glad I got the opportunity to watch them; they are an interesting glimpse into old-school, low-budget horror that every fan of the genre should experience.

If you are not familiar with AMERICAN HORROR PROJECT, VOLUME 1, here is the production description courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:

Everyone knows the classic American horror titles: Night of the Living Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and A Nightmare on Elm Street, to name but a few. But we want to tell you a different story a story of the unsung heroes of American terror… Whether it’s a film that has languished in obscurity, or a movie that’s at risk of being lost due to lack of source materials, American Horror Project is here to ensure that these unique slices of the American Nightmare are brought back into the public consciousness and preserved for all to enjoy.

Volume I of this series presents three tales of violence and madness from the 1970s. Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (Christopher Speeth, 1973) sees a family arrive at a creepy, dilapidated fairground in search of their missing daughter, only to find themselves at the mercy of cannibalistic ghouls lurking beneath the park. Meanwhile, The Witch Who Came from the Sea (Matt Cimber, 1976), stars Mollie Perkins (The Diary of Anne Frank) as a young woman who’s bizarre and violent fantasies start to bleed into reality literally. Lastly, every parent s worst nightmare comes true in The Premonition (Robert Allen Schnitzer, 1976), a tale of psychic terror in which five-year-old Janie is snatched away by a strange woman claiming to be her long-lost mother.

Newly remastered from the best surviving elements and contextualized with brand new supplementary material, with American Horror Project we can re-evaluate an alternative history of American horror and film heritage.

There’s so much to like about this collection: the artwork, the Special Features, and, of course, the films themselves. I can’t wait to see what Volume 2 will bring, but for now we can feast on these three treasures from the 70s.

Each film has its merits and downfalls, but all three are entertaining in their own ways. MALATESTA’S CARNIVAL OF BLOOD is very low-budget, and the acting is not good at all…but the film has quite a bit of gore, and it looks good for the most part. THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA has a very misleading title…but the story is engrossing and disturbing. THE PREMONITION is just plain odd…but it is fun, regardless.

These films look dated (and obviously, they are), yet the HD transfer for each looks excellent. There are a few grainy spots evident in each, but that cannot be helped, given the state of the source material. The sound quality is also very good. I had no trouble understanding any of the dialogue, and the ambient sound is decent.

My favorite film of the three has to be THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA. While not traditional horror (it’s more of a thriller with some horrific elements), the mystery of the plot kept me enthralled. As the movie concluded, I couldn’t tell if what I had just witnessed was a fever dream, or if it actually happened (from the character’s point of view). This ambiguity stayed with me, for some reason, and the resulting consideration left me pleased.

AMERICAN HORROR PROJECT, VOLUME 1 is a huge win for me, and I cannot wait to see what comes next. In addition to the picture and sound restoration, you’ll get a slew of extras that include:

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
•Brand new 2K restorations of the three features
•High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD presentations
•English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
•Reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
•American Horror Project Journal Volume I – Limited Edition 60-page booklet featuring new articles on the films from Kim Newman (Nightmare Movies), Kier-La Janisse (House of Psychotic Women) and Brian Albright (Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990)

MALATESTA S CARNIVAL OF BLOOD – SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
•Brand new interview with director Christopher Speeth
•Brand new interview with writer Werner Liepolt
•Draft Script (BD/DVD-ROM content)
•Production stills gallery

THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA – SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
•Audio commentary with director Matt Cimber, actress Millie Perkins and director of photography Dean Cundey
•Brand new interview with director Matt Cimber
•Brand new interview with Dean Cundey
•Brand new interview with actor John Goff

THE PREMONITION – SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
•Audio commentary with director-producer Robert Allen Schnitzer
•Brand new interview with composer Henry Mollicone
•Interview with actor Richard Lynch
•Three Robert Allen Schnitzer short films: Vernal Equinox , Terminal Point and A Rumbling in the Land
•4 Peace Spots
•Trailers and TV Spots

MSB

Movie Review – The Hatching (2016)

The Hatching
Directed by Michael Anderson
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Release Date: March 15, 2016

The-Hatching-dvd

When it comes to creature-features, I can’t seem to get enough of them. Doesn’t matter if it’s monsters, animals, or anything in between, I can watch them all day long. So I was obviously chomping at the bit to check out THE HATCHING, especially after seeing the DVD cover art.

Surprisingly, the film is British and set in the village of Somerset. This isn’t a negative, but it did throw me for a loop. After all, England is not renowned for crocodiles. But despite my surprise, the film does a pretty decent job of entertaining overall. And while not excellent, it is still worth a look if you’re a fan of movies like LAKE PLACID or ROGUE.

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

The sudden disappearance of several female victims drudges up a tragedy from the past that has everyone searching for a culprit, but as the disappearances increase, could this small town have a serial killer in their midst?

I do frown at the marketing folks, however, for misleading viewers with the cover art. This image is VERY deceiving, as the crocs are nowhere near that size…nor are we granted any underwater scenes of a similar scope.

THE HATCHING is shot well for the most part, and the cinematography does a stellar job of capturing the bleak landscape and atmosphere of the English countryside. The production value appears decent, although I think more money should have been spent on the crocodile effects; some of them are downright laughable.

The acting is good, although I have to confess I am not familiar with the majority of the cast. I saw a couple of familiar faces, but I could not pinpoint any individuals I could for certain say I’ve seen before.

As I mentioned above, the special effects are decent, but more time and investment should have been put into the croc. Some scenes (like when its in the water) make it look real; other scenes make it painfully fake. The gore is good, though, and we get some nice squeamish visuals, such as a guy feeding body parts into a meat grinder.

THE HATCHING won’t win any awards, but it’s a fun, entertaining flick nonetheless. If you’re a fan of creature-features (like me!), then you should find this one amusing. It is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Movie Review – Kung Fu: Trailers of Fury (2016)

Kung Fu Trailers of Fury
Directed by various directors
Courtesy of Severin Films & CAV Entertainment
Release Date: March 1, 2016

kung fu

Some of my fondest memories from childhood involve watching kung fu and ninja movies with my little brother on the weekend. To me back then, martial arts were just as mysterious as sex; I had heard of them, but knew nothing about them firsthand. So when the fine folks at Severin and CAV decided to release a compilation of obscure kung fu movie trailers, I almost leapt for joy. This would be the perfect way to revisit some of those fond memories of yesteryear.

And sure enough, this collection does not disappoint. Crammed onto this single Blu-ray are two hours of some of the finest (and some of the hokiest) martial arts films known to man. If you are any kind of of action film fan, this trailer collection will be a must own for sure.

If you are not familiar with KUNG FU: TRAILERS OF FURY, here is the synopsis courtesy of Severin Films:

Get ready for the most hard-kicking, face-smashing, snake-fisting trailer collection of them all! From the golden age of kung fu cinema comes this insane tsunami of masters, mobsters, furious vengeance and incredible fighting styles, starring Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Lo Lieh, Sammo Hung, Angela Mao, Chuck Norris, Jimmy Wang Yu and Wu Tang, too. These are the most over-the-top and rarely-seen original trailers for Hong Kong classics that include THE WAY OF THE DRAGON, DEATH BLOW, TWO CHAMPIONS OF SHAOLIN, DAGGERS 8, SNAKE IN THE EAGLE’S SHADOW, SHAOLIN WOODEN MEN, THE STORY OF DRUNKEN MASTER, ENTER THE FAT DRAGON, BRUTAL BOXER and many more, plus exclusive new bonus features that deliver unique historical and cultural perspectives on the amazing world of martial arts movies.

I cannot begin to tell you how nostalgic these trailers made me feel. Many of the films represented are new to me, but many I had seen, and even more so had I heard about. I am not sure how many of these films are actually still in print, but I’d be very curious to find out.

One detail about the trailers in KUNG FU: TRAILERS OF FURY that stands out to me is the clip lengths. Some of them are almost five minutes long, an almost unheard of length of time by today’s standards. Several of the trailer clips present huge chunks of the fight choreography, a nice eye-popping treat for viewers interested in the titles. I don’t remember seeing many martial arts movie trailers back in the day, but I don’t remember them being this long. This is not a complaint, either…simply an observation.

My sole complaint about this collection is one that neither Severin nor CAV can control: the quality of some of the trailers is poor. Some have grainy pictures, while some have a skip in the picture here and there. Obviously, this is not an easy fix, so I begrudge neither company in any way. Again, this is simply an observation.

But I still love KUNG FU: TRAILERS OF FURY, and I highly recommend it to fans of the genre, particularly those who are looking for rare and obscure titles. If you’re new to these kinds of films, then picking this collection up will be a real treat and a great introduction into films that set the tone for recent classics, such as CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. In addition to the trailers, the Blu-ray offers some great Special Features that include:

* A Brief History of Kung Fu Cinema — Featurette with experts Ric Meyers and Frank Djeng
* Audio Commentary with writer Rick Meyers, Michael Worth, Martial Arts Instructor Greg Schiller, and Rick Stelow of Drunken Master Video
* The Way of the Cube — Featurette on the discovery of the original 35mm trailers under the stage of a maverick UK cinema

MSB

Book Review – The Dark Verse, Volume 2: In the Blood of Death by M. Amanuensis Sharkchild

The Dark Verse, Volume 2: In the Blood of Death
by M. Amanuensis Sharkchild
Courtesy of Armored Books
Release Date: March 12, 2013

the dark verse

Before I get into the review of THE DARK VERSE, VOLUME 2: IN THE BLOOD OF DEATH, I need to state up front that I have not read Volume 1, however doing so is not necessary to enjoy Volumes 2 or 3 of this series. Now that my preface is done, I will simply state this about the book (Volume 2): do yourself a favor and buy this series at all costs.

I rarely rave about a book unless it is outstanding on every front. Books I rant about are written well, are thoroughly original, and are almost flawless in both content and entertainment. I can state, without a doubt, that IN THE BLOOD OF DEATH is one of these very tomes. If you are any kind of fan of horror fiction, this book (and its brothers) are must-haves.

If you are not familiar with IN THE BLOOD OF DEATH, here is the book’s synopsis courtesy of Armored Books:

Twenty-six short stories of occult, metaphysical, and fantastical horror that will follow you to the visions of your sleep.

This is Sharkchild’s second collection of grim and ethereal stories and can be enjoyed independently from the other Dark Verse volumes. The cover of the book is imitation leather with foil stamping on the front, back, and spine; there is no dust cover. All three sides of the pages have black dusting. The artwork in its entirety, including a two-page illustration for each story, was created by John F. Stifter.

The covers of each book alone are enough to prompt their purchase. Each is beautiful to take in, vivid in detail and crafted brilliantly. I found myself enjoying their appearances just as much as I did their contents.

And enjoy them I did…immensely. Author Sharkchild does a superb job of reaching into the psyche of humanity and drawing out those things which scare us and haunt us the most. Every story is a carefully constructed tale that will resound in the subconscious long after it is over.

The characters in IN THE BLOOD OF DEATH are fleshed out well and fit perfectly within each tale. Interestingly, the stories are written in first-person, which deepens the level of immersion for each, and thus heightens the entertainment value as well. I found myself putting my own face on the characters and living then the nightmares as the tales played out.

If I were forced to find a favorite story in this collection, I simply could not pick just one. Many titles jump to mind, but here are a few of my favorites:

“Thirteen Door Roulette”
“The Taking of Hallowed Creation”
“When Eyes Have Seen Too Much”

I highly recommend IN THE BLOOD OF DEATH, and I suggest you pick up all three volumes as soon as possible. As I mentioned, you’ll get three beautiful books chocked full of hardcore horror and vivid terror. I can very easily see these becoming collector’s items soon, so snatch yours up today.

MSB

Movie Review – Estranged (2016)

Estranged
Directed by Adam Levins
Courtesy of Well Go USA
Release Date: February 16, 2016

estranged

I find myself strangely conflicted about ESTRANGED, a recent thriller released from Well Go USA. The movie as a whole is pretty decent, however it has some gaping issues that prohibit me from loving it. The premise is interesting, and it could have been stunning if the execution had been better. As it is, the film is a mediocre attempt at making a shocking thriller.

If you are not familiar with ESTRANGED, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Well Go USA:

After years of partying abroad, a terrible accident has January (Amy Manson, “Atlantis,” “Being Human”) confined to a wheelchair, with no memory of her past, her family, or the stately manor that was once her home. But something isn’t right. They say she ran away, but won’t tell her why. Her sister wishes she’d never come home. They’re locking her in at night. And the way her brother looks at her… From the Producers of INSIDIOUS and THE DEVIL INSIDE, ESTRANGED is a modern Gothic tale of dark secrets, shocking motives, and a reminder: Blood is thicker than water, and some stains never come out.

Despite the film’s flaws, I will state the cover artwork drew me in immediately. The imagery is stark and bleak, and it projects an air of mystery that begs to be uncovered.

ESTRANGED is shot well and looks good from a cinematography standpoint. The production value of the film appears decent, although I have no information on its budget.

The acting in ESTRANGED is pretty good, with the whole cast doing a fine job with their performances. James Cosmo, who fans of GAME OF THRONES will recognize, does a great job with his role here, as he does with just about any role he plays. Amy Manson, who plays the lead character, January, gives a chilling and yet perplexing performance. Manson appears to be a great actress, but her character here never seems to come fully together. I felt like I could relate to her at times, but she also seemed vastly distant from me for most of the film. This is probably due in part to the writing, and not the actor’s talent level.

The storyline in ESTRANGED is where I have the most problems. I was good with the plot until about 3/4 of the way in, when the big reveal comes about. My first problem here is that the big reveal isn’t fully explained. It is mentioned in passing, and even then, I didn’t quite understand where it was going. The second problem is that the rest of the film, from that point on, doesn’t make much sense. I knew what was going on for the most part, but the actions of the characters seemed, well, dumb. Perhaps I need to revisit the film again…maybe I missed something. But as first impressions go, I’m not impressed.

Still, you can’t deny the haunting atmosphere the film builds, nor the tension that is created between the characters. As such, I’m in the middle of the fence on ESTRANGED. I suggest giving it a look for yourself to see where you stand. It is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB