If it's crap ... We'll tell you
You coulda knocked me over with a feather when I found out that this 2010 horror film was actually a prequel to a (apparently) not as good 2005 film called "Malevolence". The primary reason for my discombobulation being, that if you knew ahead of time how this was gonna turn out, it would take GREATLY away from the impact. And the impact is the thing, see? Not just the impact of knives on flesh (although there's no lack of that here), but from a twist at the end that really put the 'horror' in, erm, 'horror'. Or something. Where the hell is my thesaurus? Anyway, the story follows top heavy teen Allison (Alexandra Daddario) who has just moved in with her Uncle (Michael Biehn) after her parents died in an accident. Living out in the country is quite the change for Allison, who while out jogging (for lack of anything else better to do, out in the middle of bum-fucking-nowhere), is sure she sees a little kid inside a nearby abandoned slaughterhouse. From an opening sequence, we, the audience, has the 411 already. This small town has a serial killer of its own, Graham (Brett Rickaby), a psychotic who abducts young women and keeps them in his pig cages for awhile until it's time for the slaughter. Graham believed that the longhorn cattle headed God he prays to/is afraid of, had ordered him to find a protege, so he kidnapped young Martin (Spencer List) in order to try to learn him some killin'. But Graham isn't prepared for the strength of character in the young Martin, nor does he really understand his rare physical condition that allows him no sensation of pain. When Allison, a strong, smart, and lest we forget, sexy (did I mention the top heavy part? I did? Well, it's worth mentioning twice) lady starts gettin' all up in his biznizz, the killer might have gotten more than he bargained for. Director/Writer Stevan Mena has made an ambitious film here, an atmospheric, almost arty horror, but one that doesn't even vaguely hold back on the gore or the scares. I'm not normally the biggest fan of the slasher genre, but "Bereavement" surprised me on a number of levels, breaking a number of horror 'rules' and keeping it's audience off-kilter all the way to its shocking, brutal ending.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Bereavement [Blu-ray]
COLD FISH (DVD)
Some of you more 'catch em all' Spill listeners might remember our own Leon talking about his experience at last year's Fantastic Fest and his disdain for the films he saw there, largely pointing out how pointlessly disturbing some of the Asian films he saw there were, and how they were all full of too much rape for his comfort. My normal experience of the Fest is all-in, but last year, due to circumstances beyond my control, I missed a lot of it, including this AMAZING 2010 Japanese serial killer horror that Leon hated. Sorry, buddy. Rape or no rape, "Cold Fish" blew me away. Based loosely on a real story, "Cold Fish" starts out following the day to day drudgery of Shamoto (Mitsuru Fukikoshi), his disillusioned second wife Taeko (Megumi Kagurazaka) and the daughter who can't stand her from Shamoto's first marriage, Mitsuko (Hikari Kajiwara). Living and working in a dingy tropical fish shop, a chance encounter with the colorful and animated Murata (Denden) seems like a blessing to the rut-stuck family, who takes their troublesome daughter and puts her to work in his own much bigger fish store, takes Taeko forcefully to bed, and brings Shamoto in as a new business partner. Despite his off-puttingly enthusiastic attitude about everything, it seems to Shamoto (who naturally has no idea about what's going on with his new partner and his wife) that his new friendship with Murata might just be the thing to turn his life around. Boy, is he right, but not in any way he could have or would want to picture. Because Murata, along with his wife, is a serial killer. He inducts Shamoto into his world, as he poisons a business associate, then takes his body out to a cabin in the woods where the couple proceeds to dissect it down to the smallest possible bits then dispose of those as well. Poor, nauseated Shamoto doesn't know what else to do but watch, aghast but too petrified to do anything about it. "Cold Fish" doesn't relent from there on out as Shamoto becomes more and more unhinged himself, living in fear for his own and his family's life as he quietly assists the killer couple with their dark business. Director Shion Sono ("Suicide Club") has often been compared to Takashi Miike, and it's clearly evident here why. "Cold Fish" has an unsettling way of inserting gut-churning horror into the most mundane of worlds that takes you entirely off-balance, and the sense of vertigo increases the closer you get to the one-two punch of an ending. Normally I'd complain about the almost 2 and a half hour running time, but Sono uses his extra time to let you get used to a status quo, the all-too normal world that Shamoto and his family live in, before turning it all violently on its head, much in the same way that Miike did in "Audition". This is a 'must see' for serious horror fans, experimental art film buffs (with VERY strong stomachs) and probably a 'stay far, far, away from it' for everyone else.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Cold Fish