DVD reviews: Amer, My Soul to Take, Season of the Witch, The Resident and more on DVD
Horror DVD round-up
Time for another dastardly delve into the horror DVD pile. We’ll start on a highnote. Amer (Anchor Bay) ●●●●● is actually French but is a studied homage to Italian 70s giallo filmmaking, more concerned with sound, colour, style and mood than coherent storytelling, split in three acts covering strange, horrific events in one woman’s life. The first third is particularly effective as her childhood is haunted by the presence of her dying grandfather. A disturbingly beautiful film that deserves a wider audience.
For almost the entire run time of Altitude (Anchor Bay) ●● we find ourselves aboard a tiny plane as a group of friends fly to a Coldplay concert. But Coldplay isn’t the only horror here, things start getting pretty weird pretty quickly before there’s some sort of tentacled monstrosity on their tail. Unfortunately not as exciting as this description would have you believe, the acting is decidedly average and/or wooden and it takes ages for the monster to (briefly) show up.
We hate to rag on low budget filmmaking but Gnaw (4digital) ● is a derivative, clichéd Suffolk-based Texas Chainsaw Massacre wannabe. And while Australia is having a bit of a renaissance with Wolf Creek, The Horseman and The Loved Ones unfortunately Damned by Dawn (Momentum) ●● can’t join their ranks due to its massive lapses in common sense, complete lack of tension and bizarre use of cheap CGI Banshees in the outback. A real shame as you can tell a lot of love went into it. There’s more effective terror from down under in Needle (High Fliers) ●●● a strange mix of voodoo magic and Saw, that certainly offers something original if not wholly successful.
Time for a few films that actually got a big screen outing. My Soul to Take (Momentum) ●●● almost works. A supernatural slasher from the mind of Wes Craven. The slasher elements are nicely constructed with some nasty kills as the Riverton Ripper returns from the grave but its ghostly logic is confounding complex. However the opening set piece is a fantastically bloody piece of staged carnage. Nicolas Cage heads for the dark ages as a disillusioned crusader charged with taking a witch to trial in Season of the Witch (Momentum) ●●●. Total hokum but strangely entertaining hokum, it drops a few clangers but keeps you wryly amused with its tale of swords, sorcery, witchcraft, demons and redemption. Hammer Horror returns with The Resident (Icon) ●●, a fairly standard ‘obsessed stalker’ movie as Hilary Swank moves into a new apartment block only for her landlord (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to develop into a psycho voyeur creeping round her apartment at night that all too often falls into camp rather than creepy.