The Open House (Netflix Review)

Image result for the open house netflix

15 – 94mins – 2018


 

DEATH MOVES IN

13 Reasons Why must be the sole reason why Netflix bought up this lacklustre home invasion thriller. Their acquisition team must be hoping that the presence of lead actor Dylan Don’t Breathe Minnette will persuade fans of the headline-making, smash-hit teen mystery drama series to give something else with him in a watch. Any viewers that do will no doubt be as disappointed as I was by this poor excuse of a horror from unseasoned all-rounders Matt Angel (an actor by trade) and Suzanne Coote, who wrote, produced and directed.

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STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, 1.5 – “Choose Your Pain” (Netflix Review)

Streaming on UK Netflix from: Monday 16th October 2017

Story by: Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts and Kemp Powers

Teleplay by: Kemp Powers

Directed by: Lee Rose


 

SURVIVAL MODE

“Glory must be earned from sacrifices… and PAIN!”

While the sets and lighting are as opulent and dazzling as ever this week, the showrunners behind Star Trek: Discovery are instead taking a different tack in their efforts to make this new prequel series darker and more mature by inserting scenes of brutal violence and random instances of foul language into what has fundamentally always been a family-friendly show set in an optimistic future striving for a universal utopia.

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Michael Jackson “SCREAM” (Album Review)

CD/digital download available: 29th September 2017

Vinyl record available: 27th October 2017

Produced by: MJJ Productions – Released by: Epic Records/Legacy/Sony Music


 

WELCOME TO YOUR DOOM

As Maestro of All Hallows Eve’s unofficial anthem, Michael Jackson has for many years been synonymous with the witching season. But it is not just on 1982’s monster hit “Thriller” (and that John Landis-directed 1984 short film) that the King of Pop got to indulge his love of the macabre in his music. While Christmas albums have long been a profitable tradition, this creepy compilation – the brainchild of the late star’s prolific Estate – is perhaps the first high profile Halloween-themed set. Executive producers John Branca and John McClain will hope Scream will rise from the grave to haunt record store shelves every October.

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War for the Planet of the Apes (Cinema Review)

12A – 141mins – 2017 – 3D


 

APE-POCALPYSE NOW

In my time as webmaster of The CR@Bpendium, I have noticed that a guilty tendency of mine is to lavish blockbuster sequels in franchises I adore with 5-star ratings. The Force Awakens and Rogue One, for instance, were always destined to be looked upon kindly by me, a long-time Star Wars fan. Yet more casual movie watchers may recognise issues, however minor, with both films which would impede a perfect score in the eyes of the general public.

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THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.4 – “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum” (TV Review)

Channel 4 – 9pm – Sunday 18th June 2017

Written by: Leila Gerstein

Series created by: Bruce Miller – Based on the novel by: Margaret Atwood

Directed by: Mike Barker


 

THE SOUND OF GLASS

“How did you survive her?”

Isolated to her room for 13 days after bursting Selena Joy’s (Yvonne Strahovski) pregnancy bubble by getting her “monthly woe” in “Late” (reviewed HERE) last week, a cabin fevered Offred (Elisabeth Moss) takes to laying in her cupboard, wherein she discovers the Latin phrase which this fourth episode is named after, scratched into the wall. Believing it to be written by her predecessor in the Waterford house, Offred is determined to find a translation to the antiquated message and decipher the meaning.

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THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.3 – “Late” (TV Review)

Channel 4 – 9pm – Sunday 11th June 2017

Teleplay by: Bruce Miller – Based on the novel by: Margaret Atwood

Directed by: Reed Morano


 

DELICATE TERRITORY

“Shall I just go in the kitchen and cut my dick off?”

Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) flashbacks offer us a terrifying glimpse into the incremental fall of (wo)man in this third episode of MGM/Hulu’s ten-part series, with overnight laws in the name of “national security” diminishing the rights – and status – of woman to the point where they cannot own property, money or a job – and it’s now commonplace for them to be verbally assaulted by store clerks without fear of admonishment.

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THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.1 – “Offred” (TV Review)

Channel 4 – 9pm – Sunday 28th May 2017

Teleplay by: Bruce Miller

Based on the novel by: Margaret Atwood

Directed by: Reed Morano


 

BREEDING STOCK

As intrigued as I was by its release (and Channel 4’s acquisition for UK transmission), I am a week behind on Hulu/MGM’s new ten-part adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s speculative dystopian novel because I wanted to view the 1990 film version first. While not out-and-out disappointed by the Natasha Richardson-starring production (which you can read my review of HERE), my enjoyment was tempered by the outdated feel which crippled the suspension of my disbelief and meant I never felt truly engaged enough to appreciate the abject horror of the notion. A reader on my blog commented that I should still give the new series a try, as it improved upon the earlier attempt.

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The Handmaid’s Tale (DVD Review)

15 – 90mins – 1990


 

FUNDAMENTALIST FUTURE

27 years before Hulu remade it into a highly-acclaimed and much-discussed, must-see television series, Margaret Atwood’s eye-opening 1985 dystopian novel was adapted to film, courtesy of a Harold Pinter screenplay. Critically commended though it was, an eleventh hour change of director led to rewrites Pinter was “too tired” to work on, so he suggested incoming helmer Volker Schlöndorff return to the author for any “tinkering,” leading the Nobel-Prize winning playwright to all-but disown credit for such a “hodgepodge.”

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The Zero Boys (Blu-ray Review)

18 – 89mins – 1985


 

WEEKEND WARRIORS

“This is not a picnic!”

A team of teenage Rambo-wannabe war game champions, their girlfriends and Kelli Maroney (Night of the Comet) happen upon a lived-in but deserted farmhouse in the middle of nowhere and spontaneously decide to squat in the vacant space to spur on their sexy post-paintball celebrations, scarcely sparing a second thought for the absent owners, who are more than a little hacked off when they return…

“It’s not a game anymore!”

While the often snowy image on this recent Arrow Video 30th Anniversary remaster does almost as bad a job of disguising the age of the film print as the horrendous hairstyles, short shorts and cringeworthy political incorrectness (“faggots,” “raping Mother Nature,” “I’m crippled!”), cult director Nico Hired to Kill Mastorakis’ trashy action-horror is such a product of its time that the wear and tear (even on crisp blu-ray) actually aids the retro charm. If, indeed, you can label a film with torture and slaughter charming!

While the puffed up blurb on the back lauds The Zero Boys as “genre-bending”, I would go even further in christening it a treasure trove of trusty terror tropes. From yokel maniac stalkers chiefly shot in smoke-shrouded silhouette, to storm-stranded survivalists separated and strung up by their own stupidity, Mastorakis mashs it all into a relentless multitudinous scream-fest.

If The Evil Dead, Red Dawn and Last House on the Left were to have a threesome, this would be the ungainly bastard hybrid offspring. There is Zero originality or subtly in these Boys‘ stumbling struggle for survival against sadistic slashers, nevertheless, with its cocksure and outright ballsy 80’s attitude and smorgasboard of excess exploitation, this is still a riotous retro watch perfect for a Friday night beer and pizza marathon – laughable shoelace-scuppering silliness, dire-logue and all!

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars

Estranged (DVD Review)

18 – 96mins – 2015


 

RELATIVE STRANGERS

Following the brave-but-bizarre Aaaaaaaah!, first time feature film director Adam Levins’ flurried family affair marks my second delve into this year’s fresh crop of “Frightfest Presents…” horror releases. Largely shot in one – admittedly sprawling – country estate, Estranged is more conventional and claustrophobic in execution than Steve Oram’s dialogue-restricted, universe-establishing satire, but also far more successful for it.

“What century is this?! I feel like Mr fucking Darcy!”

Following an amnesia-inducing road accident while traveling in Brazil, it’s a case of to the manor reborn for wheelchair-bound January (Amy Manson), who reluctantly returns to her estranged family pile to recuperate, attentive nomad boyfriend Callum (Simon Quarterman) by her side. But with her pre-accident memory erased, January can’t help but feel disconnected from the eccentric and uptight toffs she calls kin.

“Something doesn’t feel right…”

As Callum is worn-down and driven away by disapproving and dominant patriarch Albert (James Game of Thrones Cosmo), January feels a rising sense of paranoia, unease and frustration around her dazed and distant mother (Eileen Nicholas), distastefully snide brother (James Lance) and off-kilter hermit of a sister (Nora-Jane Noone). At first January questions whether she is the difficult one, but as some disturbing secrets are meted out, this black sheep begins to seriously regret ever returning home to this remote and unhinged herd.

 “We are your family – you don’t need anyone else.”

With a palpably sinister underpinning persistently bubbling beneath the stately hall’s austere furnishings, Estranged grips and revolts in equal measure, teasing and dribbling out keys to a sordid mystery, with foreboding eventually giving way to often unbearably tortuous terror. You’ll baulk, you’ll wince, you might even heave, but sharp characterisation and first-rate acting all round ensures you’ll stay entranced by Estranged’s psychological potency to the very last reveal.

CR@B Verdict: 4 stars