Movie Review: Case 39 (2009)

Director: Christian Alvart

Starring: Renee Zellweger, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper & Jodelle Ferland

Synopsis: An overworked social worker (Renee Zellweger) becomes too involved with the family of her latest case and works hard to save the young girl from her abusive parents, only to discover that there’s more to ‘Case 39’ than she realised.

Review: I was drawn to this movie because I love Zellweger and loved that she was moving away from her bubblegum characters and was intrigued with her starring in a horror movie – would Bridget Jones be able to take down the forces of hell?

I’m happy to report that everybody gives a solid performance with Zellweger carrying the movie well. Cooper plays the would-be love interest come psychiatrist who works closely with Zellweger and McShane manages to keep his American accept up in his role as the policeman. However special kudos has to go to Ferland in her role as Lilith, the daughter of abusive parents but who has her own secrets. Her transformation from saccharine-sweet school girl to psycho child is subtle and well done.

A well made horror with plenty of twists and turns. Don’t be put off by the thought of Bridget Jones taking down demons: she’s handled Mr Darcy and Mr Cleaver, she can take down a demon-spawn.

Movie review: Below (2002)

Synopsis: An American submarine stops to rescue survivors of a sunken ship but as soon as they are on board, strange happenings start to occur in this claustrophobic supernatural thriller.

Director: David Twohy

Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Dexter Fletcher, Matthew Davis and Olivia Williams

Review: I normally avoid war movies but I was drawn to this one due to its supernatural twist and also Dexter Fletcher – who doesn’t love him? Plus, ghost stories set at sea? I’ve not seen or heard one I didn’t love.

Anyway the pretence is that an American submarine undertakes a routine rescue mission, saving Williams and Fletcher. There’s plenty of misgivings about having a woman on board the submarine, not helped by things going bump in the depths.

Due to the setting of the film, it’s very claustrophobic which helps to build tension but it’s also well acted with even the minor characters putting in a good performance. Williams plays her usual ‘too cool British character’ we’ve seen in other films and shows such as Dollhouse but she does bring a certain depth to her character. Fletcher is typical Fletcher and plays his character well, while Davis as the first officer struggling to follow the commands of a rapidly unravelling Greenwood is excellent. However, it is Greenwood who steals the show as the war-hardened captain with a big secret.

I’ve mentioned the claustrophobia caused by the set but the director makes best use of the space and you get a feel for what life in a submarine must be like. The creaks and groans as the sub descends also adds to the unease felt by the crew and the fact that you know there is no escape when things start to go wrong builds tension and you’ll find yourself wishing the crew weren’t so far under water when ghostly happenings start to occur.

This was no jump-out-of-your-chair horror but a well crafted and thoughtful supernatural thriller which kept me entertained from beginning to end. I think it’s a shame that it’s not been more widely viewed and for those of you with Netflix it’s a great Friday night movie.

Get Ghoulsome! 

Eeeeeep, it’s finally here! So excited to announce that the first publication from Fennec Books, my prep-teen novella ‘Ghoulsome Graveyard’. Set in a small graveyard, it’s a supernatural comedy with a twist. Fun for pre-teens and the young at (still-beating) heart. Get your copy now from Amazon

‘When the local graveyard is scheduled for redevelopment, journalist Catherine decides to help the residents. She decides to hold a fete and enlists the help of everyone living in the graveyard but with ghosts, zombies, witches and a werehuman, what could possibly go wrong? Come and join us for cake, games and more than a little magical chaos in the Ghoulsome Graveyard.’

Movie review: The Woman in Black (2012)

The Woman in Black (2012)

Synopsis: A lawyer still grieving the death of his wife has to travel to an isolated town where the locals are terrified of a vengeful ghost with a penchant for killing children.

Director: James Watkins

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds

Review: The story of a grieving husband, separated from his family due to work and sent to a strange village filled with untrusting and unwelcoming locals. Is his grief causing him to see the ghosts that torment the town and who will be the next victim of the child-murdering ‘Woman In Black’.

Daniel Radcliffe, in his first major role post Harry Potter, plays the lead Arthur Kipps. I have to be honest, I never thought much of Radcliffe’s acting ability in the Harry Potter franchise and always felt that Emma Watson and the fabulous Rupert Grint acted magical rings around him and to an extent Radcliffe is out of his depth with this material. His inability to convey the emotions necessary for the depressed Kipps is obvious but luckily the solid cast and decent story covers for him.

I love a good horror story and I thought that I was too jaded to be actually scared but there were a number of points in this when I was genuinely jumping out of my seat. The cinematography was stunning and the eerie settings conveyed the mood better than Redciffe at points. What an advertisement for tourism to the UK. My only other complaint was the occasional slip into modern vernacular. I think Jane Goldsmith is an incredible screenwriter but she didn’t fully immerse the characters into the time, giving the movie an unbalanced feel. However, despite these minor failings, I loved this movie and look forward to the Blu-Ray release.

In conclusion, I think it’s fabulous that Hammer has begun creating horror movies once more and this one is sure to sit well next to their other classics.

Movie Review:A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

A Tale of Two Sisters 2003Synopsis: A daughter returns to her family’s home after a stay in a psychiatric hospital. However, despite her treatment, she’s still seeing ghosts.

Director: Jee-woon Kim

Starring: Kap-su Kim, Jang-ah Yum and Su-jeong Lim

Review: I love this movie. It’s got ghosts, horror, family disputes and a pretty good twist at the end.

The movie opens with Bae Soo-mi meeting with her doctor. She’s obviously a disturbed young woman, emitting trauma and desperation. She returns home but you can immediately tell that there are problems in the household: her father is distant and her stepmother would put Disney’s most evil to shame and then there’s her sister. The sisters are close and try to protect each other from the harshness of their stepmother and the distracted nature of their father. The only love and happiness in the household is that generated between the sisters. The house itself has lots of dark corners, perfect for ghosts to hide in. The ghosts are desperatelytrying to tell Bae Soo-mi something but she can’t understand them and the frustration is driving the whole household crazy.

The acting is solid by all the characters, from the distant, guilt-ridden Kap-su Kim as the father, Jung-ah Yum personifying the epitome of evil stepmother and both sisters trying to deal with the death of their mother as well as the strange entity which haunts their home. The scenery is beautiful and the distinctive colours of each set add to the atmosphere. Director Jee-woon Kim does a great job of building atmosphere which can only really be appreciated with a second viewing.

Foreign movies aren’t for everybody and the story can be a little hard to follow but I would highly recommend you stick with it because it’s more than worth it.