Tag Archives: Indie Horror

Sun Don’t Shine (2012)

DIRECTOR Amy Seimetz
STARRING Kate Lyn Sheil, Kentucker Audley, Kit Gwinn, AJ Bowen, Mark Reeb
RELEASE DATE April 26, 2013
RUNTIME 82 Minutes
COUNTRY United States

Two increasingly desperate and argumentative people drive the roads of Florida with something — or someone — in the trunk of their car.

If anybody out there finds themselves shuffling through Shudder’s extensive library and you stumble across this rather obscure film; do yourself a favor and watch it. Not exactly a horror movie, but a thriller as the plot tends to fall into the category of a neo-noir. (With a name like “Sun Don’t Shine” it seems even more appropriate to consider it just that.) A prime example of “Florida Glare” with sprinkles of Lynchian surrealism placed on a foundation seemingly inspired by French New Wave. You can be confident that this film delivers a brilliant existential tale set in the deep mugginess of the sunshine state that even strict horror fans can feel.

From the start, the film is engaging with the audience as you are thrown into an obvious unpleasant situation and with little information to understand what the hell is happening. The dialogue carries the film and, until it is finally revealed, serves as some of the only clues to figure out why our main characters, Crystal and Leo, are so paranoid on their “road trip.” The couple travels through an odyssey of obstacles to ensure that they complete their task without exposing a terrible secret.

The dichotomy of the characters of Crystal and Leo develop through the story as it seems Leo has been drawn into his position with a reluctant obligation due to the nature of Crystal’s mental state and the sticky situation at hand. The film leads you to sympathize with Crystal because judging by her paranoia and lack of confidence in herself she is very unstable. It is possible she is on the verge of a mental breakdown as she floats between gleeful memories and lunacy. As the movie progresses she is subject to grim dreams and hallucinations as they get closer to their destination. Crystal’s behavior begins to cause tension with Leo weighing on his ability to keep calm in the dire situation…To be Hopeful? That would just be out of sheer ignorance.

Aesthetically this film has some great visual depicting a paradise of Floridian seaside decay, along with a subtle minimalistic score that accents the strange loneliness of the story, especially during Crystal’s eerie monologues and dream/vision sequences. But Crystal isn’t the only one with problems, Leo has some skeletons too. If you have ever been a resident of Florida you might appreciate this film because it hits so close to home. There’s a lot of secrets around those swamps that most fail to realize. Rest assured this definitely isn’t A Dolphin’s Tale…

This is a short and simple flick that is quick to raise similarities from the works of French philosophers Camus and Sartre, as well a the bleak endings of noir classics like “They Live By Night.” It is undeniable that this film was inspired by some of the great cinema of the 20th century but also creating a unique feature itself. This one will bring you to question the absurdity of our actions and the consequences that follow. Let’s be clear, in no way is this implying that this is the greatest film, but what is so unfortunate is that a solid picture like this will never get the credit it deserves. How’s that for a bleak ending?

Bad Blood: The Movie (2016)

STARRING Mary Malloy, Vikas Adam, Troy Halverson
DISTRIBUTOR Level 33 Entertainment
RELEASE DATE April 1st, 2016
RUNTIME 80 Minutes
COUNTRY United States

A classic werewolf flick with an amphibious twist; it’s a race against time to find the antidote.

Horror fans have been watching the exploits of werewolves on the silver screen for almost 100 years. We’ve experienced them in their earliest screen appearances in films such as Universal’s Werewolf of London and The Wolf Man, and have stayed fascinated by them all the way up to current day lycanthrope-based cinematic excursions such as HowlLate Phases, and Wolfcop. But what about those other human/animal hybrids that are born from the light of a full moon? Surely, they deserve their moment in the celluloid spotlight, right?

That brings us to Bad Blood, the new “were-frog” movie from writer/director Tim Reis, producer of 2013’s The Demon’s Rook and co-producer of 2015’s The Mind’s Eye. Yes, I did say “were-frog”! Half man, half amphibious monstrosity. Well, in this case, a half-woman/half-amphibious creature, capably designed by effects artist James Sizemore.

However, the biggest question regarding Bad Blood isn’t whether or not the effects hold up or if the story makes any sense, but whether or not the film is ultimately ruined by too much being revealed in its trailer. The answer? No. All of it is ruined.

College student Victoria (Mary Malloy) has returned home to stay with her mother after taking a break from pursuing her degree. Unfortunately, the respite may not be as relaxing as she had hoped. Mom has since remarried to Wade (Brian Troxell), an angry, judgmental guy who seems just a little too stereo-typically like your stereotypical jerk of a step-dad. You’ve seen this guy 8,000 times before in other films.

Also added to Victoria’s “new” family is Wade’s young son, Wade Jr.. The name alone tells you that this kid will be just as unlikable as his “old man”, if not more so. To help convey this sentiment, Wade Jr. is portrayed as a pudgy, candy-faced, spoiled, little backstabbing shit. You’ve seen this kid before too, although maybe not as many times as his Dad.

As you might expect, Wade doesn’t buy Victoria’s claim of “needing a break”, and instead believes that Victoria is just too concerned with partying to focus on school. His suspicions prove to be correct when she steals his car to go out with a friend. Adding to her growing list of poor judgement calls, she also stops to buy gas with Wade’s credit card, also presumably taken from him without permission. That said, her offenses won’t really matter much as there are apparently no police anywhere in this town.

Even early on, most of the characters and dialogue feels far too broad and cookie-cutter to be taken very serious. However, Victoria’s poor friend doesn’t get the chance to establish much of a personality before being ripped to shreds by a creature lurking on the gas station’s roof. The creature then turns its attention to Victoria, ripping open her face and throat before being brought down with a chemical-filled syringe fired dart-like into its throat. Victoria is dragged away as she loses consciousness.

The story picks back up one month later, Victoria still missing. A detective (Troy Halverson), hired by her parents, links her disappearance, as well as a string of recent murders, to the gas station. He has also discovered that the shady looking attendant is actually a disgraced scientist, as well as the “coincidence” that all of these murders and disappearances seem to occur on the night of a full moon. Despite all of these connections, he attributes everything to a drug cult and not lycanthropy. Frogcanthropy? However, his failure to spot the obvious is due less to ineptitude than it is his blossoming psychopathic tendencies.

Halverson provides the stand-out performance in the film, displaying the capability of being comedic and threatening in the same scene. His role is also the most developed, which is an odd choice when you consider that he should really be one of the least essential character in a film that has “family drama” as its biggest sub-plot.

Victoria is revealed to be alive and hiding out in the nearby woods. She is fully aware of the attack she suffered… as well as the side-effects of the ordeal. In her absence, she has been secretly meeting with the gas station scientist in order to obtain a serum that helps prevent the transformation process. Her departure is witnessed by the detective, who “retrieves” her at gunpoint and returns her home.

Now convinced that she is nothing more than a junkie, Wade searches Victoria’s belongings and steals her last vial of serum.  This leads to the obligatory confrontation with Wade, in which he briefly displays a totally expected abusive side. He barricades Victoria in her bedroom to sweat out “whatever she is on”.

This, of course, leads to the film’s selling point, as well as its biggest attribute: a full-on monster rampage filled with geysers of blood and more than a few randomly strewn internal organs. The transformation sequence is nice and gooey, which compliments the finished creature design. The fountains of blood and (acceptably hokey looking) body parts help make up for the deficiencies in character development and dialog, as well as plot holes big enough to lead Rubber Duck and the rest of the convoy through.

Regrettably, if you’ve watched the trailer, you no longer have any reason to watch the full film. Everything is in the trailer. EVERYTHING. Every single “moment” is revealed for you, thus leaving the film with nothing in the line of surprises or suspense. The film is then forced to plod along to its conclusion, which doesn’t match the fun or shock of the now-spoiled moments that preceded it.

Don’t come out of this review thinking that Bad Blood is an awful film. It’s not. It’s not a great film by any means, but it undeniably provides a solid dose of bloody monster madness with a healthy touch of camp. It’s fun, which seems to be the filmmaker’s ultimate goal. Unfortunately, there’s just no looking past the fact that most of that “madness” can be contained within a 2 minute trailer.