I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer: A Sequel Too Far (2006)

Screen shot with DeVitto, Nevin, and Paetkau
While it is always nice to see Brooke Nevin in anything, the fact she is in I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, does not elevate this straight to video 2006 sequel of the original fisherman with a hook horror films. Not even the presence of Torrey DeVitto has elevated the film’s status (if you do not know who DeVitto is check out Pretty Little Liars. Still, the film was entertaining-ish and apart from the flashing moments that the director Sylvain White (The Losers, Stomp the Yard) deemed necessary the movie is not too jarring.

The plot of I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer is not too bad. The urban legend of the fisherman with his big hook (Sorry, I simply could not resist.) has morphed into something less personal. Apparently once Jennifer Love-Hewitt left the mix the fisherman, and his little friend, have moved onto other teens with terrible secrets. Now all that is required for him to show up and do a little slicing and dicing is a group of homicidal teens who inadvertently murder one of their own and then cover it up.

At the beginning of the film, Colby (played by David Paetkau who will always be lottery Winner Evan Lewis who gets impaled by the fire escape ladder in Final Destination 2 to me, sorry David.) and his friends set up a prank at the County Fair where the Fisherman shows up with his hook and chases Colby and company around the fairground. Unfortunately for one of their crowd, P.J. (who gets killed off in the first reel and does not make an appearance again except for one brief “that could have been anyone long-shot”) and afterward his pals all agree to stay “stum” and it is this that brings hook guy back.

As teen horror slasher films go, the movie is not too bad, certainly not worth the paltry 3.5 that its earned on IMDb. Of course the use of that “flashy filming,” a technique that Sylvain proudly explains in the commentary as “turning the camera on and off really quickly,” must rate as the most obtrusive and irritating use of a camera ever on a film. Take that out and the “Summer” sequel would have rated a lot better in my humble opinion.

There are some things in the film that make no real sense. For instance, the pairing up of Brooke Nevin’s character with Ben Easter’s Lance was a “huh?” moment. Apologies to Easter, but the character came across as fairly creepy. Of course, Nevin’s Amber was with Colby earlier so perhaps she just has poor taste in boyfriends.

Considering this DVD was in the “bargain bin” section of movies in the local Family Dollar Store, it was not bad entertainment for $4. If horror fans have decent Internet, it would behoove them to stream this film for a couple of dollars versus buying it. Although it is almost worth it to hear Sylvain White proudly describing his filming technique and how well he thinks it works on his second ever feature length film.

While I may not like his use of the flashy moments, others may like it or not even be bothered by it. In terms of plot, again not too shabby, and the overall “kill factor” I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer does entertain to a degree and therefore earns a 3 out of 5 stars. The extra star is there because of Nevin, DeVitto and Paetkau…

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)

Due to the movie getting its US distribution I decided to do a little review. Thanks to Tyson Carter over at http://headinavice.com (just click on the link to check out his blog) for reminding me how much I love this film. I’m still experimenting here so bear with me! Enjoy!

Invitation Only (2009) Taiwan’s First Slasher Horror Film

Directed by Kevin Ko and billed as Taiwan‘s first ever slasher horror film, Invitation Only is a good solid step into the world of slasher horror; it even has a heavy metal song playing over the closing credits.

The film received mixed reviews upon its release this may be down to the fact that (like most Asian films) it has two different versions; a Taiwanese cut and a Hong Kong cut. It is Kevin Ko’s debut film. Shot in High Definition and on a shoe string budget he manages to make quite a solid little film.

A young limo driver gets called in on his day off to drive an important man around the city. The unfortunate driver is Wade Chen (Bryant Chang) and his passenger is Mr Yang (Jerry Huang) the CEO of a huge construction company in the country. Wade bumps into glamorous model Dana (Maria Ozawa) who he later finds in the back of his limo in mid-coital position with Mr Yang.

Yang gets out of the car and tells Chen that he doesn’t need him for the rest of the day. The next day Yang gives Chen an invitation to a fancy party that he says he cannot attend. He instructs Chen to tell people there that his is Yang’s cousin and that his (Yang’s) manager will provide Chen with clothing and money for the party.

Chen accepts and he reads the back of the invitation which says, ‘What is your wildest dream?’

When he goes to the party he meets a girl named Hitomi (Julianne Chu) and they seem to hit it off. A man named Warren (Kristian Brodie) talks to the party members and explains that this is an annual event. He goes on to explain that these are set up to introduce new members to this exclusive club; a club that allows its members to realize their wildest dreams.

Warren then calls out to the five new members that have been invited that night: Chen, Hitomi, Legislator Jen, Holly, and Richard Kao. The five new members take a bow and they are then led off to another section of the party to receive their dream wish.

Four of the five new members.

Chen asks for a fantastic sports car and he is perplexed when he finds that Hitomi asked for a childhood teddy bear as her wildest dream. As Richard Kao is led off to get his dream (the piano that Mozart composed his great music on) the other see a film about them. It turns out that none of them are who they appear to be. They have all claimed to be someone else.

They realize that the party has been some sort of ruse to get them there and they decide to leave. Unfortunately they have been locked in and they must find a way out. As the group attempt to escape, they start getting picked off one by one.

Considering that the party takes place in a warehouse the setting of the film is nothing to write home about; some critics complained about the setting. But, if you consider the reason for the party and what is really going on there, it makes perfect sense. Like an illegal rave, if you are going to be killing off some of your guests, you don’t want your party being held at a regular venue.

Critics called Invitation Only a journey into torture porn and to a degree they are right (depending of which version of the film you see) but as this is a Taiwanese film it is not too overpowering. Tai’ films are as a rule cautious affairs, their standard horror films have only begun to pick up pace and the same is true for this film.

They have hit all the right notes for this to be a good standard “slasher” film. The teaser at the beginning of the film; the set up of the party and its surprise twist; the ambiguous ending and the hard rock score for the closing credits all do a fine job in establishing the films bona fides.

As a film debut Kevin Ko impresses and I hope to see further films from this director. He shows a good eye for detail and even though some of the prosthetics for the film were a little cheap looking, he framing of the torture scenes helped to overcome this minor setback.

The film is billed as the first Tai’ slasher and as far as I know it is the first film to feature female nudity and a sex scene in the film. The Taiwanese film world has always been a bit prudish about female actresses and their roles in film. They aren’t too pleased to have Tai’ actresses kiss too much or show too much. So it was a surprise to see one of the women “bare all” in one of the scenes.

A great film to watch for the horror fan and one that will have the slasher fan nodding and smiling as they remember the early slasher films of the 70’s and 80’s.

Model Dana, a prelude to a nude scene.