Patient 62 (2016): Sci-Fi Fun Thriller (Review)

Patient 62 screen shot

Written and co-directed by Rick Anthony (Bryce Schlamp also sat in the director’s chair and had a cameo as Lucas’ boss in the film) Patient 62 is a thriller and action film with a science fiction theme. Cast entirely with unknown performers (who nonetheless acquit themselves rather well despite their “lack of experience.”) the film is an entertaining romp set firmly in the ‘b’ film tradition of low budget thrills and spills. 

The film was shot over a three year period and is, according to Anthony a “micro budget” feature.  Regardless of the low/no budget Patient 62 is fun, amusing in the right places and boasts some pretty impressive FX for such  small budget.

Lucas Chance is bartending when his sister goes missing. Her ex-boyfriend Dennis begs Lucas to get him a gig at the bar playing mixes and later aids the bartender in hunting down Angela.

As the investigation progresses, Lucas discovers a broken vial of a blue substance. The glass cuts his hand and the blue fluid gets into his bloodstream. Suddenly Lucas can move things telekinetically. If he does too much Lucas passes out and when he does, he shares consciousness with his missing sister.

The film has a full roster of characters that includes strippers/pole dancers, a pretty impressive shootout in a club, some telekinesis that convinces and some agreeable humor. (As well as the black sort of humor that is timed just right for maximum effect.)

The blue fluid is just so much scientific hugger mugger where an experiment funded by the government and a number of shadowy organizations changes a person’s DNA.  It is an excellent device that does not bear looking at too closely.

Altered DNA or genes are merely the device that moves the film forward in terms of Lucas’ search for his sister.  It does become important later on, but again, as a device to enhance the climax of the film.

Anthony edits the film rather skillfully to cover up that lack of budget and it works well. The slightly comic explosion after Lucas consumes more “Beaver Buzz” than he needs is a good example of this.

Wagner does well as the grounded hero thrust into new territory.  Mozylisky is spot on as Twitch, a character that feels a tad “Willow” from the Buffy verse. Not in terms of magic, but with the moxie and knowledge the gun shop owner has.

LaPointe gave good bad guy and he delivered his more comic lines perfectly.

“I don’t care how loudly you say it, I still don’t know that means.”

Valdez also did well as the ex boyfriend sidekick.

Patient 62 has the right amount of violence and humor.  Considering that this was Rick Anthony’s first time in the director’s chair and his second project as writer, the movie  indicates that this filmmaker bears watching.

All in all this was a solid 4 star film. Patient 62 was completely evocative of those old ‘B’ films that filled out the main feature at the drive-in. These “secondary” features were, more often than not, better than the ‘A’ headliner.

Rick Anthony has made a film that is fun to watch and it entertains thoroughly.  This is well worth watching. There is some very brief nudity and the violence is not visceral in nature. At 81 minutes,  the film moves at a good pace and never drags.

Check out the teaser trailer below.

Cast:

Backcountry (2015): If You Go Into the Woods (Review)

Missy Peregrym as Jenn in Backcountry

Backcountry is a grim reminder that,  for all of the modern technology available to  the world, nature can still be a killer. It is based on the true story of Jordan and Jaqueline Perry, two professionals who went hiking in the woods in 2005 and had the misfortune to bump into a nasty black bear.

The film, written and directed by Adam MacDonald,  is more influenced by the horrific tale of the Perry’s than an actual recounting of what really happened .  In real life the wife was mauled and died of her injuries.  In this film the victim is switched and while this is not “correct” per se the tale loses nothing with the gender swap. 

Backcountry stars Missy PeregrymJeff Roop and Eric Balfour.  Peregrym and Roop  are Jenn and Alex the couple who hike the “Blackfoot Trail” sans map.  Balfour plays an Irish hiker who stumbles onto their camp and stays for dinner.  

Alex takes Jenn to the national park to show off his memories of hiking there when he was younger.  He is overconfident in terms of this woodsman skills and turns down the use of a map. Alex also takes his girlfriend’s mobile phone and puts it in their car. Both these actions have serious ramifications later on.

The film has been accused of misandry by reversing the victim’s roles. It may be true to an extent but it does nothing to dilute the film’s message. Backcountry is about respecting the dangers of the wilderness and remembering that your national park can kill you.

Jenn and Alex are a likable couple and even though their journey is slow to start we instinctively care about them both. Brad (Balfour) is an alpha male who intimidates Alex and he clearly has a thing for Jenn. Their meal is awkward and strained.

The Irishman tries to provoke Alex but Jenn’s boyfriend refuses to react the way Brad expects and the single hiker leaves eventually.  The couple are uneasy after the encounter and they rush the next day to put distance between them and Brad.

As they rush to find the Blackfoot Trail, Alex manages to get them  lost. They have no food and little water as well as no map.  While they try to find their way out of the forest, the bear attacks.

There are a number of complaints about the film’s creator changing the facts around. Making the boyfriend a buffoon who essentially  gets them both in deep trouble. Alex’s belief that he can lead Jenn and himself safely through  the woods ends in disaster.

The film focusses on Jenn’s struggle to survive and opts to place Alex in the role of overconfident buffoon. His refusal to take a map and the discarding of their one tool, the phone, insures the couple’s trek will not end well.

Filmed on location in Canada, with much of the action takin place in Restoule Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada Backcountry looks brilliant. As observers of the couple’s tragic adventure we can almost smell the dead leaves on the ground.

Despite the amount of upset caused by MacDonald rearranging the tale’s protagonists, the film entertains. The bear attack is disturbing and quite horrific. The camera does not linger too much on the wounds but gives the viewer just enough to really feel Alex’s pain.

Backcountry is a solid 4 star film. The movie does not follow what really happened in those woods in 2005 but it delivers enough suspense and tension to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. It has to be said that the scenes with Balfour are almost as uncomfortable to watch as the bear attack.

The film states that it is based on a true story bit it does not, at any time, claim to be a reconstruction of what really happened to the Perry’s.

The movie is streaming on Netflix and Hulu at the moment and is well worth a look.

ARQ (2016): Spin, Rinse, Repeat (Review)

Racheal Taylor, Robbie Amell

Written and directed by Tony Elliot (his first feature length film at the helm) ARQ stars Robbie Amell and Rachel Taylor as a couple caught in time.  The film takes place in a dystopian post apocalyptic world and provides a different take on “time travel.” The two people are caught in a repeating cycle, so it is spin, rinse, repeat, over and over and over…

At the start of the film, Renton (Amell) and Hannah (Taylor) are sleeping. He wakes up to see it is 06:16 in the morning and a trio of men break into the bedroom. Renton jerks awake. But this is not a dream, it is an event that has already happened.

The film starts out, rather disappointingly, like an Edge of Tomorrow clone but it soon becomes apparent that ARQ has taken a different path.   Rather than a resetting of time based upon a death, the entire thing is a loop.

Tony Elliot has made a film that shows each event differently adding details to every reboot. It is clever and fascinating and very entertaining for a low-budget science fiction thriller.

Amell, first cousin to Arrow star Stephen, has the same rugged good looks that obviously run in that family’s gene pool. He also does a good job bringing his character to life.

There is a slow development with Renton, the man who took his invention, the ARQ, home with him.  As the film progresses so does Amell’s character’s arc.

Aussie actress Rachel Taylor takes Hannah through the most satisfying arc as her character has more in the way of painful backstory.  The two actors, Robbie and Rachel have an excellent chemistry together and it helps the story.

ARQ has an interesting twist or two in the storyline and the film does not go overboard on the FX. There is at least one decent stunt and a bit of CG at the end that looks pretty impressive.

The film is a “Netflix Original” and also stars Shaun BensonGray PowellJacob Neayem, and Adam Butcher as Sonny, Father, Brother and Cuz respectively.  

What starts out as a sort of home invasion film turns into something else and at 98 minutes the movie is not overly long. The pacing of the film moves at a good clip but never seems frantic.

Elliot manages to show things from a different angle with each loop and it adds to the suspense of the story.  There are also elements added which were not on offer the first few times around. This adds a depth to the proceedings.

ARQ provides an interesting take on energy issues, man’s propensity for misbehaving and relationships.  There is also a pretty good message in the film about loyalty.

Overall, this movie hums along and never disappoints. As the film plays out it evolves and adapts to keep the viewer surprised and involved with the events on screen.

It is an intimate film. nearly claustrophobic in nature, that does not need to exaggerate the action or the storyline.

This is a 4.5 star film. It delivers a  storyline that keeps the viewer’s interest right up until the last frame.  ARQ is streaming on Netflix right now. Check it out.

Wolves (2014): The Eater of the Pack (Review)

Lucas Till as Cayden Richards

Written and directed by David Hayter (best known for voicing Solid Snake for years in the Metal Gear Solid video game franchise) Wolves was released  in 2014 and promptly panned by most critics who saw the film.  While the idea of “hillbilly” cannibal werewolves was unique some felt the film took itself too seriously.  The idea that the leader of the pack was also the “eater” of the pack may not have helped either.

Starring Lucas Till and the iconic Stephen McHattie (this prolific performer has 195 credits under his belt) and the equally prolific John Pyper-Ferguson Wolves follows adoptive son Cayden (Till) who suddenly starts going all werewolf when things get interesting. Get angry? Wolf out. Sex? Wolf out and so on.

He wakes up to find his parents murdered and strewn about the house. He goes on the run and learns where he might  find more “people” him from Wild Joe (Pyper-Ferguson). He heads to the small backwoods town of Lupine Ridge where he meets Angelina (Merritt Patterson)and  her beer loving sister Gail (Melanie Scrofano from Wynonna Earp).

Cayden also meets farmer John Tollerman (McHattie) and the alpha male of the tiny burg, Connor (Jason Momoa). Tollerman hires Cayden to work on his farm and trouble soon hunts the young man down. 

The main problem with Wolves is that it feels wrong on many levels.  Although it does entertain, which means that Hayter did his job properly, it works too hard to push past a young adult setting to play to the grownups.

There is sex and brief nudity which no doubt earned the film its R rating. There is also too little time spent on drawing Cayden as the classic “white-hat” good guy. It is hinted at with the old black and white Lone Ranger show on the telly, but the message is lost.

Wolves has a fairly cool premise.  A small burg in the middle of nowhere populated mostly by lycanthropes is an interesting concept. So too is the “pure blood” line and the “mongrels.” (Created by infecting the humans rather than being born with the “ailment” as the pedigree werewolves are.)

Till does  a good job as Cayden  and  McHattie does what he does best and adds a little gravitas to the proceedings. The story, where Connor is about to rape the last purebred female in the town, is a tad distasteful and it does deviate wildly from classic werewolf  lore. (No silver bullets needed here…)

One annoyance has to do with the werewolf “makeup”  (or more accurately the CG werewolf effect) used for the film.  The filmmakers have opted for the old fashioned “Larry Talbot” look for the transformation of the protagonists.  The film also does not spend any time on the actual change itself.

The running time  of  91 minutes feels much faster and Hayter keeps things moving at a brisk pace.  This speed of delivery may be to the film’s detriment though as it does not feel that much time is given to Till’s character in terms of development.

With a reported budget of $18 million the film looks, rather curiously, like a low budget effort.  While the  special FX are fairly well done, they are not spectacular. The stunts were impressive, although not  a lot of wire work was done.  It does beg the question of where that $18 million went.

Wolves is a solid 3 star film. It entertains, but is nothing to write home about. While all the actors acquitted themselves quite well, the story did not live up to their performances. It is streaming on US Netflix at the moment and is worth a look or two  for Stephen McHattie alone.

Mountain Men (2016): Canadian Bromance (Review)

Tyler Labine, Chase Crawford, Mountain Men

Written and directed by Cameron Labine, Mountain Men stars Tyler Labine and Chase Crawford as brothers who have grown apart since their dad went missing and  is presumed dead. The wedding of the their mother Marion (Christine Willes) brings the two men together. A trip to the family cabin to evict a squatter ends with them being stranded on top of the snow-covered mountain. 

Topher  (Labine) stayed behind and Cooper (Crawford) moved away and became successful. The distance between the two siblings is more than that of geography, they are miles apart in everything.  Once at the cabin the brother’s end up with the truck destroyed the cabin burnt to the ground and  no way of contacting anyone back in the town.

The two have unresolved issues and on their first night headed off the mountain, Coop eats too many pot cookies and walks off a cliff breaking his leg. Topher uses a survival guide, written by their father, to splint Coop’s leg and then he begins the long trek to get Cooper off the mountain.

As the brothers make their way down to civilization, they work on the many issues that stands between them.

The film looks brilliant, the lighting works to make the atmosphere look mind-numbingly cold. Labine is excellent as the pot dealing “professional DJ” whose much younger girlfriend is pregnant.  Crawford  is spot on as the stressed out younger brother whose life is unravelling.

Mountain Men was filmed in British Columbia and the stunning scenery helps to move the story along. The tale is slow moving, but not sluggish, and quite low-key. As a dramedy the film works toward a satisfactory conclusion that feels spot on.

There is no violence in this film, apart from a half-hearted wrestling/fist fight on a mound of snow, and while the language contains a number of “F-Bombs” these are not gratuitous in  nature and match the situations.

Topher and Cooper work to patch up differences and begin to bond after so many years of mutual disgruntlement with one another. The two men have an excellent chemistry and this helps to move the story on.

This is a film that, despite its low key approach, warms the heart and entertains brilliantly. It is described as a family film and with a lack of sex, violence or gore, could be classified as such but viewers with young children will find they get bored and the language is too grown up for the under 12s.

Mountain Men is streaming on Netflix and is a real 5 star film that can best be described as “On Golden Pond” for the younger set.   Heart warming, slow and peaceful, apart from at least two “life threatening” situations. The film is about growing up and accepting what the world is.

Watch this one and see why filmmaking is not all about superheroes or car chases, or shootouts. Sometimes the best films are just about people.  Head over now and turn this one on.

Go ahead and treat yourself to a pleasant viewing experience.