The Following: Sacrifice – How the Mighty Have Fallen (Review)

The Following: Sacrifice – How the Mighty Have Fallen (Review)

In last week’s episode, Joe Carroll escaped Ryan and co with a little help from his source in the FBI, this week in The Following: Sacrifice Carroll puts himself in the hands of another cult; oh how the mighty have fallen. Carroll is not alone in this fall, Murphy and his helpers have also hit rock bottom. Mike Weston and Max Hardy, Ryan’s niece, both want out of his obsessive quest to kill Joe.

Sightseers (2012) British Black Comedy Caravan Style

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I watched this film after reading a brilliant review by Natasha on Films and Things. I’d not heard of the film, but, as it was directed by Ben Wheatley (creator of the brilliant film Kill List and Down Terrace) and I am an unabashed fanboy of this brilliant new film director, I decided to give it a go.

The film starts with Chris (Steve Oram) taking his new girlfriend Tina (Alice Lowe) on an introductory trip to his world; the world of caravanning. Tina’s mother  (wonderfully played by Eileen Davies) doesn’t like Chris or trust him. It turns out that she is pretty much spot on with her character assessment of Chris.

Although he obviously adores Tina, he is, in fact, a serial killer and has been eliminating people who irritate him since his redundancy six months ago. Tina, doesn’t know this at first, but getting caught up in the action, becomes an over enthusiastic accomplice.

Director Ben Wheatley again shows the deft touch that is his trademark and he allowed the two main characters plenty of opportunity to free wheel their scenes. It works wonderfully. Oram, Lowe, and Wheatley get together to tell us that all the things we imagined about caravaners is true. In fact, it’s worse than we thought; these people aren’t just odd, they’re murderous.

Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, aka Tina and Chris.
Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, aka Tina and Chris.

The humour is of the blackest sort and quite droll in most places. Chris’s penchant for killing those that irritate the living hell out of him is very funny (and not a little bit scary, it must be said) and most of his victims are very deserving of their fate.

Sightseers began as a stage comedy “skit” thought up by the two (Oram and Lowe) after they discussed childhood experiences in the world of the caravan holiday makers. This skit was performed regularly and it led to the decision to attempt a screenplay. With everyone they approached declining to make the film as it was considered “too dark;” they eventually got Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, et al) to green light the project.

Ben Wheatley wisely allowed Steve and Alice to improvise a lot of their scenes as they were the authors of the material and due to repeated performances of the skit knew their characters inside and out. It makes the film something special to watch. You also come away from the film realising that it is possible to produce a work that, despite its shoestring budget, looks great.

After seeing the film, I realised two things; that I was an even bigger fan of Wheatley (if that’s possible) and I now adored Alice Lowe. While Oram was outstanding as the monumentally screwed up Chis, it was Lowe who impressed the hell out of me. This is her film really and the character of Tina, who is just as messed up mentally as Chris, but on a different level, was hysterically funny.

There is a scene early on in the film with a Jack Russell dog and a pair of oversized knitting needles that made me laugh so long and hard that I had to stop the film and rewind it. I’d missed a lot of action because of that one scene.

A definite 5 out of 5 stars for a British black comedy that will tickle your dark humour funny bone.

Blackly funny.

*Filmfans in America will now be able to enjoy this English gem as the film has a release date of 10 May 2013 in the US.*

Tina (Alice Lowe) and Banjo/Poppy.
Tina (Alice Lowe) and Banjo/Poppy.

Mum and Dad: Keeping Horror in the Family

Shot with an estimated budget of just £100,000 ($157,000) this film sets the goal posts for “shoe string budget” films.  First time director Steven Sheil also wrote the film, putting him in the illustrious company of peers like Shane Meadows (Dead Man’s Shoes and This is England) and James Watkins (Eden Lake). This small elite group of British film makers have made brilliant and successful   films that they wrote and directed for  ridiculously tiny amounts of money.
The horror film Mum and Dad shows us first hand what happens when we talk to strangers or trust them. It also proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that you really don’t know the people you work with.
The films starts out in Heathrow Airport where cleaner Lena (played by Holby City Alumnus Olga Fedori)  gets to know her fellow workers, brother and sister team, Birdie and Elbie (Ainsley Howard and Toby Alexander). Birdie takes a shine to Lena and tells her about her wonderful parents. Lena explains that she doesn’t get along with her parents and wants to move away from home. At the end of their shift, Lena misses her bus home, and Birdie invites Lena to stay at her house which is near the end of a runway. Lena agrees and follows Birdie and Elbie to a gap in the runway security fence. Clamouring through the gap, they all proceed to the house.
After arriving in Birdie and Elbie’s home, the brother and sister disappear leaving Lena alone. She just starts to explore the house when she meets Dad (played brilliantly by actor Perry Benson) who knocks her out and injects her with something. Lena regains conciousness only to find that she is in a dark room. All she can hear are the tortured screams of someone in the house. Dad then enters the room with Mum (played with sinister madness by Dido Miles). Mum tells  Lena that she will belong to her and she injects Lena again.
The  film deals with a host of indignities inflicted upon Lena. Watching the film, I kept wondering who was going to rape Lena first, Mum or Dad. The entire household appear to be insane sexual deviants who rely on stolen items from the airport to help them get by. It also turns out that Birdie and Elbie are “adopted” just as Lena will be. The only real child that Mum and Dad have is a daughter who is chained to her bed in an attic room.  The daughter suffered severe brain damage after being born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. Dad explains, quite gleefully, that as she was a home delivery he had to cut the cord with his teeth.
Lena soon realises that if she does not escape, she will become the mad couples new “daughter.”   Mum and Dad  explain that other “children” who could not  behave were disposed of.  Since their definition of behaving includes being tortured and sexually molested, Lena  starts playing Mum, Dad, Birdie and Elbie against one another with the hope of getting away.
Steven Sheil  based his film on real life rapists and serial killers Fred and Rosemary West whose victims included their own flesh and blood daughter. The film could have been very grim viewing but the director has taken a lot of the sting out of the tale by injecting large doses of black humour. I found myself cringing one moment and laughing the next. The film  deals  with taboo issues such as cannibalism, sexual fetishes, and incest on top of the main topics of kidnapping, murder and theft.
The title of this review could very easily have been Mum and Dad: Horror on a Budget. The director and the cast and crew have proven you don’t need big Hollywood type funds to make an entertaining film.  Writer/director Steven Sheil has produced a film that has been hailed as one of the most disturbing Brit-Horror films to emerge  in recent years. Do not watch this film if you are at all squeamish, but if you can stand a lot of gore, this is a must-see.
Personally, I cannot wait to see what Steven Sheil has in store for us in his next feature.