Back in early 2011, horror fan-site juggernaut Bloody Disgusting took a stand for independent and foreign genre lore by partnering with The Collective and AMC Theaters, establishing distribution company Bloody Disgusting Selects. Their purpose? To hand-pick often glanced over horror gems which get lost in the mainstream remake shuffle, and grant those deemed worthy of proper theatrical and Video On Demand releases exposure.
As an avid follower and member of “The Infected” (the site’s online community), Bloody Disgusting Selects seemed like a gleaming beacon of hope in the world of inventive, creative, and one-of-a-kind horror experiences. Selected by site staffers and genre enthusiast super fans sharing a common love for skin crawling madness, I made it my mission not to skip a single feature. Now, with their first ten tales of terror rated and reviewed, I thought I’d touch upon Bloody Disgusting’s foray into film distribution and determine the company’s future.
From worst to first, let’s take a gander…
Bloody Disgusting Selects 1-10
Quick Synopsis: “The Quintanilla family was found dead. Recorded evidence was discovered by the police. Production company acquires the confidential material and edits it into a Horror Movie.”
Director: Fernando Barreda Luna
Alas, the old first person camera gimmick: so hard to master and too easily exploited.
In the vein of Paranormal Activity, Luna both excites and disappoints with the camera work in Atrocious, never finding a steadily entertaining balance. While a spooky forest atmosphere sends chills and a lack of cheap in-your-face scares are respectably passed on, far too much time is spent watching absolutely nothing unfold.
Our pint-sized sibling investigators are either walking or running through a garden labyrinth seemingly the whole movie with little discovery, making silly banter and wasting precious time. Then, when all seems to be climaxing and action finally sets in, tension is cut as we’re again treated to bouts of heavy breathing and characters talking to themselves whilst running through dense foliage in a blurry confusing mess, only made more impossible to decipher by night-time darkness and poor shot set up.
Plot holes and flawed humanistic writing also detract from the overall experience of Atrocious, as characters exist in a mind-numbing realm where rational decision-making only kicks in when Luna determines. We watch a brother leave his unprotected sister to fend for herself while running deeper into a wooded area where ghastly discoveries had already been made. When he inevitably gets spooked and flees, minutes pass before he even thinks to search for directional markings made all over the maze that would guide anybody directly out. Talk about your reactionary thinking gone wrong?
Frustrating logic hinders many horror movies on a daily basis, and unfortunately Luna’s film cannot escape such a doomed fate.
Despite an intriguing yet obvious twist, Atrocious became stagnant and boring, containing footage that could have been cut even shorter than the hour and a half run time.
Bottom of the barrel horror in comparison to BD Selects other releases, Atrocious is yet another film that rides the coattails of a few successful found footage horror flicks in hopes of the same overnight success.
Final Rating: 4.5/10
Quick Synopsis: “1940: the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire walked up a winding mountain trail, leaving everything behind. 2008: the first official expedition into the wilderness attempts to solve the mystery of the lost citizens of Friar.”
Directors: Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton
I received a lot of flak for my disapproval of YellowBrickRoad, as angry fanboys/fangirls left witless comments on my blog exclaiming the story was simply too complex for my understanding, but these jabs were hardly correct.
Holland and Mitton created a psychological horror film with sinister undertones about self discovery and a slow descent into each character’s personal hell, but an out-of-place full circle ending kills what momentum our ambitious directors muster.
YellowBrickRoad carries an “I’m better than you” attitude as an egotistical air clouds deep storylines, making the whole experience a slow and arduous watch. Not to mention I saw easily the worst horror kill of 2011 when a character walks off a cliff to her death, looking more like editors went into iMovie and dragged her motionless body down off-screen with a swift mouse scroll.
Just because a screenplay is deemed complex doesn’t mean it’s pure genius. YellowBrickRoad fails to create enjoyable intellectual horror for the masses. Those in need for a good hack and slash will be lost along this winding trail, playing more like an artsy film school project. Not the best film to start with in the BD Selects catalogue.
Final Rating: 5/10
Quick Synopsis: “Outcast tells the tale of Petronella (a Scottish/Romany girl) and Fergal (her mysterious Irish traveller boyfriend). As their doomed relationship plays out, a Beast stalks the estate, killing locals, working its way towards our protagonists.”
Director: Colm McCarthy
Here’s where things began to pick up for me.
Outcast was fun and inventive, conjuring a mystical tale from Celtic voodoo and cultist beliefs which embodies Bloody Disgusting Selects‘ quest for fresh horror.
Colm and his brother Tom McCarthy‘s screenplay strays a tad into familiar genre territory and isn’t without some pretty glaring holes, but a rich magical back story lifts Outcast from the spell of being just another werewolf hunting horror film. Spectacular special effects work painted Scotland red as civilians get caught between two ferociously realistic werebeasts fighting for dominance, created with rather impressive CGI authenticity.
Some head scratching moments and slow pacing hamper the potency of this enchanting spell, but enough entertaining stand out moments make Outcast a watchable horror experience.
You’ll fear the beasties that lurk in Outcast‘s shadows, you’ll enjoy some more familiar casting faces, and you’ll even get a splash of enjoyable creativity…but a few missing ingredients prevent Outcast from being bumped to that next level of superb horror.
Final Rating: 6.5/10
Quick Synopsis: “Inside a quarantined apartment building a man must protect his pregnant wife from his new neighbors.”
Director: Nicolás Goldbart
My analysis of Phase 7 was all over the place after viewing number one, completely thrown for a loop based on previous trailers and news. Goldbart’s focus here is less on horrific end of days storytelling and more centric on lead character Coco’s (Daniel Hendler) evolution from slacker to hero, devoid of the action and intensity once imagined. Phase 7 dances the line of psychological horror with the absence of infected flesh eaters or evil government agencies, instead fearing homely neighbors once perceived as civilized.
The quarantined building operates like a Wild West town of sorts full of rogue gun slingers and salvagers intent on providing only for their own, playing to Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” nod. Supporting characters range from chaotic good (super survival mode but avoiding conflict) to chaotic evil (roaming the halls with a double-barreled shotgun), offering both friend and foe to Coco. But again, Phase 7 was missing that extra hint of excitement that we lose being zoned in on Coco’s transformation.
Minimal character existence limits Coco’s interactions with numerous personalities and puts a kibosh on any type of big fight scene promises, limiting variety on the whole. I would have loved some high pace action to rock the boat a little and propel Phase 7 into B-Movie goodness, but I respect Goldbart for properly making a man out of Coco and letting us watch his journey. But oh what could have been…
Final Rating: 6.5/10
Quick Synopsis: “In the middle of a snowy no man’s land, Charlotte picks up Max, a hitchhiker; they stop in a truck-stop restaurant, and when Max doesn’t come back from the bathroom, Charlotte starts looking for him in vain. She decides to return during the night but gets kidnapped by the bartender, La Spack, who turns out to be Max’s mother and needs to feed her kids, ‘The pack’, a bunch of blood lusting ghouls.”
Director: Frank Richard
French extremism horror films are always eager to go above and beyond the cusp of “appropriate,” like our American grindhouse so wonderfully depicts.
The Pack understands what fun can be created inside the horror genre while both grossing out and scripting a killer story. Much like Outcast, Richard’s screenplay is heavy-handed in folklore and mythology, which give our faceless creatures meaning and purpose.
Too many slashers now a days just create a villain with no purpose who slices through gorgeous actors while mounting a quantity over quality kill count. All well and good, but The Pack actually connects us to its demons by humanizing their motivations and sickly enough brings audience understanding.
Oh and don’t worry, Richard doesn’t skimp on stomach churning gore and hilariously colorful characters either, combining both in an all too entertaining shootout between rowdy bikers and cursed beings.
A much better watch for horror fans than The Pack‘s critical ratings suggest, Frank Richard strikes a terror nerve with his deranged French white trash family toting eyeless mud beasts. Fantastic monster design and amped up intensity add an enjoyable level to the fun horror flick, understanding what genre fans crave.
Just don’t expect the next Martyrs or High Tension and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Final Rating: 7/10
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