It Follows (2014): The Ultimate STD That Will Creep You Out

Greg and Jay in It Follows
As a cautionary tale this 2014 horror film, It Follows, written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, could be called the ultimate std movie and it definitely creeps you out after watching. While this film could be seen as the apex of sexual contraception, although the director stated in an interview that even protected/safe sex would not stop the “disease” from spreading.

Starring Maika Monroe as Jay Height, the film follows her journey of terror after having sex with Hugh/Jeff (Jake Weary). Things immediately take a downturn when Jay is drugged and knocked unconscious after she and Hugh have sex in the back of his car. She wakes to find herself tied to a chair in an abandoned building.

Hugh tells her that something will be coming for her. It walks, it may look like a loved one or someone she knows, and that if it gets to her she will die and then he, Hugh, will be next. The only way, the boy tells her, to be rid of the threat is to have sex with someone else and tell them of this curse.

As events spiral out of control, Jay, her family and friends all try to defeat this curse with varying degrees of success. At the end the film it appears that whatever the group did has not worked, or has it?

This is Mitchell’s third time in the director’s chair and his second feature length film. This newcomer has hit the perfect combination of suspense and story to scare the pants off the audience. While the overall feeling is one of creepy versus terror, there are moments where fear rules the viewer. As the “walkers” move ever closer, the soundtrack uses a mix of white noise and music to crank up the nerves.

The tenseness caused by this mix is almost excruciating. The fact that these specters are slow makes them feel a little like George A. Romero zombies out for a stroll. These zombies are not out to munch on anyone, though, they want to kill the victim.

Horribly.

Jay goes through a series of indignities, the first being knocked out and tied up after sex with Hugh. Later she swims out to a boat with three men on it. While the camera does not linger on any of the events on that vessel, it is apparent that a desperate Jay has slept with them all trying to pass on the curse. She flees her house in her underwear and pedals a bike down the road to get away from one walker. Later she crashes a borrowed car attempted to run away from the walking threat.

It has been pointed out that Mitchell’s film has no specific time period, as well as having items in the film that either do not exist or are anachronisms. Neither the time period nor the props have any bearing on the story however. The tale of a sexual predator, of a different sort, tracking down sexual partners and then killing them before moving on to the next in line is terrifying without any help from external factors.

Another facet of the threat to Jay, and later to Paul and Greg, is that no one else can see the thing stalking the victim. Although there is a great scene with a beach towel and a gun that adds another dimension to the film and its face-changing boogeyman.

It Follows may feature a big bad that is generated by having sex, but the real fear comes from its oddness. Even the “normal” appearing walking threats are off-kilter and different enough that one notices them the second they show up in the distance.

The cleverness behind having these walkers appear so far away and then moving up closer to the victim, oh so slowly, is that it gives everyone plenty of time to panic. When Hugh, who turns to later be a teenager named Jeff, tells Jay about the curse and what not to do, he mentions never going into a building with only one exit. “They may be slow but they are not stupid,” he says.

That said, the “things” take on appearances of friends, relatives, and/or complete strangers who are either supremely messed up or so strange looking that no one would allow them to get too close. In one bizarre instance, the walker takes on the form of its victim.

Yikes.

Watching It Follows will not make anyone lose popcorn or contact with their seat. There are no “jump scares” but…

This film will give you the creeps by the end whether you are a promiscuous teenager or not. David Robert Mitchell has proven that in the area of horror he is an expert who bears watching. If this man sticks with horror he could well become a legend. 5 out of 5 stars for an original storyline that could put you off sex for life.

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014): Zombies in the Outback

Screen shot from Wormwood, Barry and Frank
Written and directed by Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner the 2014 film Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (original title Wyrmwood) features a cast of relative unknowns facing zombies in the outback. Whether utilizing a George Miller “road warrior” backdrop or taking a leaf from the 1984 classic horror film Night of the Comet this low/no budget Aussie horror film packs a full dose of entertainment in every single frame.

It has been compared to Peter Jackson’s 1992 cult classic Braindead, aka Dead Alive but this is an oversimplification based, presumably, on the fact that it all the actors have Australian accents and it deals with the living dead. The hero is not as gormless as Jackson’s protagonist Lionel Cosgrove (played by Timothy Balme) and there is not one lawn mower to be found. It may be churlish to mention that the Lord of the Rings director, as well as his cast, are all from New Zealand, thereby placing the accents just out of Australian range and while the two sound similar they are different. Just as Jackson’s film is from this one.

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead shares much more with Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead. The humor is very similar, and with his hockey mask on, hero Barry (Jay Gallagher) has Bruce Campbell’s eyes, wide, brown and alarmed looking, just like the character Ash’s eyes in the Raimi films. Like most Australian horror films, the violence is over the top, gory, blackly funny and memorable, again very much like Raimi’s.

The plot of this zombies in the outback film, is that everyone who is not an A+ blood type, become the walking dead after a meteor shower. These zombies have flammable blood and breath and their bodily fluids are able to make new zombies. After the meteor shower, petrol aka gasoline and all other petroleum based products cease to burn causing all vehicles to stop running.

Barry gets a call from his sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) who has been trapped in her garage/photograph studio in Bulla. In short order, Barry’s daughter and wife become zombies who he kills with a nail gun, Brooke is “rescued” by the military, Barry is picked up by a man named Chalker, who is then killed by Benny (Leon Burchill), the two men meet up with another couple of survivors, and the four set out to rescue Brooke.

The film is darkly humorous and features buckets of blood, a few dodgy looking FX and a freewheeling plot line. Brooke, for example, is experimented upon by the government troops who were meant to save her. As a result she becomes some sort of super zombie/human hybrid who can control the creatures.

“Wyrmwood” does not attempt impress with science or even to rely on a lot of supernatural, or paranormal, hugger-mugger. The zombies come to “life” and infect others. The dialogue features many hysterically funny lines such as Benny’s “Oh! F**k me dead!” A lot of the actors say f**k a lot, every other word it seems, but it adds to the humorous ambiance of the film. This reliance upon stereotypical Australian’s spices up the action and the storyline brilliantly.

The costumes of the intrepid, and rapidly dwindling, heroes of the story consists of Mad Max type combinations. Hockey masks, American football helmets and pads along with a score of different guns. In terms of budget, some of the weapons look better than others and in at least one scene the rifle that Barry points at Chalker is clearly fake.

The low budget does not harm the film at all and is actually part of its charm. The entire thing feels like a throwback to the good old days of heading down to the Drive-In with a six-pack and a group of friends for the $1 a car night specials.

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, is a brilliant example of what Australian cinema does so well, low budget horror that is entertaining and fun to watch. 4.5 out of 5 stars for pure old fashioned The Evil Dead and Mad Max viewing. The film is available on US Netflix and should not be missed.

Dark Matter: Episode 1.5 (recap and review)

Four, Two and Six in Dark Matter
Last week’s episode of Dark Matter focussed on Four and included a major plot device that owed much to The Sixth Day, Philip K Dick and Total Recall as well as the crew being broke. This week, episode 1.5 of Dark Matter starts with Three complaining about the quality of food again and having no money.

The plot on episode five is a huge nod and wink to Event Horizon and Pandorum, along with more than a passing homage to the cult classic 1993 video game Doom. As the crew discuss ways of making money, Five mentions the vault that she, and Three, found on the ship and they all head down to discover that they need an alpha-numeric code, that no one knows.

As they stand frustrated in front of the vault door, Android tells Two that someone she knows is trying to contact her. It is the team’s handler, Talbor Calchek (played by Stargate alumnus David Hewlett who also starred in the overlooked and underestimated 1988 Canadian horror film Pin) Calchek manages to upset Android and Three dislikes the man on sight.

He does, however, have a job for the group, a ship salvage for the ISS Far Horizon. Two accepts the job and they head for the freighter’s coordinates. Once there, Five stays on board the Raza with Android and everyone else boards the ship. One and Three are teamed up again, Four and Six head towards Engineering and Two goes to the ship’s bridge to hook up the FTL drive.

Five asks Android to help her identify the item she found in storage, where she also found the dead boy in an earlier episode, and it turns out to be an inter-dimensional device that opens up pockets of space in another dimension. Five asks, “Why would somebody want to do that?” Android replies, “I ask myself that all the time…Rarely do I get a satisfactory answer.” Five then asks Android to keep the information secret. She does not, apparently trust all the crew, logic points to the ever annoying Three being the one she trusts least.

One and Three are searching for overlooked contraband and despite One being dismissive of his teammate’s arming up, both men need the weapons when they stumble across a violent creature. Before that, however, the two continue to bicker and, in their own way, bond. Although One is disturbed that Two and Three apparently had sex.

As Two begins hooking up the FTL, Four and Six find a lot of dead bodies. The injuries on the dead were caused by “bare hands and teeth.” Two decides that the rest of the FTL hookup can take place off the ship. She tries to contact One and Three but there is too much comm interference. Two is attacked by a Michael Berryman lookalike that takes a lot of putting down. After a protracted battle, where Two is bitten by this zombie-like creature, Six and Four come in and shoot it. After falling, the thing reaches out for someone’s foot and more rounds are fired into the creature.

Three and One talk about how they feel about one another and Three explains that Two came on to him and that his “nice guy” act won’t “cut it” with women like Two. The dead “zombie” turns out to be a former crew member on the ISS Far Horizon and Two tries to warn One and Three. Android finds disturbing information that reveals the crew of the freighter were affected by a viral contagion that may have been transmitted by saliva and blood.

They take Two back to the ship after Android tells them that their bitten leader can be isolated and scanned. Six asks that Android find out why One and Three cannot be reached on their radios. Four volunteers that the two men could be dead, attacked by other zombies and Six disagrees. Two says that if anything, the two may have killed each other. Four and Six agree.

The two men left on the freighter continue arguing, One swears that they are lost and going down the same corridor over and over when they hear something. At the end of the hallway, they encounter a woman chewing on a human arm. Three fills the munching zombie with rounds while One tries to get him to slow down on putting more holes in the ship’s hull.

After killing the zombie, they come to a door that is locked. One begins to open the door saying, “I’ve seen Five do this. How hard can it be?” More zombies show up and Three shoots them down as they appear. He also puts enough holes in the wall that the hull is breached and the two men are almost sucked out into space. One saves Three’s life by pulling him through the door he just opened.

Six learns that the comms problem is probably due to the men’s location near the blast site and he heads that way to find them. Four calls Android back to the infirmary; it looks like Two may be in trouble. One and Three are trapped in the room they just opened and One refuses to move till they come up with a plan.

As the two men talk, One actually embarrasses Three into thanking him for saving his life and tells him that they are now even, Three gives a breakdown of the rest of the crew that is pretty spot on, with the exception of his irrational dislike of Five.

In the infirmary the scan shows the presence of a virus. Android reveals that the freighter’s last port of call was to an unauthorized location, Taurian Alpha, a research pharmaceutical station that was quarantined. It seems that this is what caused the problem with the crew. The research lab was working on something to make humans immortal. Two learns that she has just a few hours before turning into one of those zombie creatures.

Six finds One and Three and attempts to get them out. Four offers to give Two an honorable death, she declines. Five is horrified by Four’s suggestion. Android contacts Six and tells him that if the two men on the freighter don’t leave soon, the life support system will shut down and kill them. As the oxygen levels drop the two follow a route to Six.

They find a way out, only to discover that the area has around eight zombies who are also suffering from the lack of O2. One convinces Three to just walk past them since the creatures dying. As Three reaches the room, via a ladder, Android turns on the emergency oxygen and the zombies begin to stir. One shouts for Three to get out of the room and he replies it is too late.

With a pistol in each hand Three clears the room of zombies quickly. He calls up to One, “You can come down now.” The two men escape and once back on the Raza they are scanned and there is no sign of the virus. As the time for Two to change gets closer, One convinces the crew to destroy the Far Horizon preventing the virus from reaching civilization. Two does not change and they scan her again; the virus has disappeared.

Later, Two heads to Three’s room for a repeat of their earlier activity and Three nervously declines the invitation. Two goes to her room and removes the bandage, the wound made by the zombie has disappeared.

Dark Matter continues to pile on new mysteries and introduces questions that beg to be answered. Anthony Lemke as Three is becoming a firm favorite as is his character. Three’s idiosyncrasies are truly funny and the fact that he automatically hates anyone who shares his personality traits is priceless and very revealing.

Zoie Palmer as The Android continues to be the comic relief and at the same time appears to know much more than anyone one else about the crew and their current situation. This is a winning combination of actor and script that propels both Palmer’s performance and the series into true brilliance.

Dark Matter is part of SyFy Fridays and is truly entertaining. Those who love good writing, great acting and mystery should not miss this show.

The Walking Dead Mid Season 5 Premiere: Greg Nicotero Rules

Thus far in season five of “The Walking Dead,” Greg Nicotero rules when it comes to handling those “difficult” episodes and the mid season premiere proves once again that the SFX guru is, perhaps, the most gifted director on board helming the popular AMC series. He has shown once more that his days of making a name for himself in the world of makeup and FX are finished. Clearly, in this apocalyptic show, Nicotero belongs in the chair directing more and more of the episodes…

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Z Nation: In Nebraska No One Can Hear You Scream

Z Nation: In Nebraska No One Can Hear You Scream

It has to be said, that Z Nation is getting better, at least in terms of esoteria being left behind while still holding on to the grim humor; there is a zombie stampede in Nebraska and the group discover that in that state, no one can hear you scream. The dual plot this week had the little group of survivors, tasked with saving the world, along with Murphy trapped in a town enveloped by a hoard of stampeding, or migrating, undead. The wandering zombies take over the little burg and Murphy’s tired, dehydrated group lack the energy to do much more than hide from the encroaching tide of a zombie tsunami, or as the episode title calls it, a zunami.