Posts Tagged ‘HIgh Octane Pictures’

Scorching the Retinas – Avalanche of Indy 2020

Avalanche of Indy 2020 Part the First

Welcome reader, may I present another foray into the Independent film realm. An arena where all manner of things simultaneously assault and please the senses. Features whose budgets are dwarfed by Hollywood blockbusters catering bills, in some cases individual valet’s tips, but whose ingenuity and imagination in face of such adversity is beyond remarkable. Unfortunately, a landscape ignored by many and promoted by only the brave willing to step outside of the Hollywood comfort zone. Without further ado here are my thoughts on a pair of films which have been nestled in my Inbox for some time but have only recently been permitted the time and attention they deserve.

Wakefield-project

A Wakefield Project (2019)
Canada/USA
Writer – Lindsay Seim
Director- L.A Lopes
Runtime – 88 minutes
High Octane Pictures

 

A pair of close friends blow their life savings on an Inn. That’s not so bad, this isn’t “Money Pit” after all. But wouldn’t you know, the place is haunted. Toss in a myriad of solar flares, a power cut, a mass murderer, a clairvoyant, snippets of a soundtrack plucked from a smorgasbord of classic genre flicks and…

Well, to make this short. This could have been worse. The camera work is far from horrid, the acting is competent. In actuality this has a surprising number of elements going for it. However, it’s the story and writing which let it down. The films pacing is a tad screwy and the films direction appears unsure of where it’s headed. Does it want to be a “See no Evil” clone, a Sci-Fi film, a ghost story, a homage to a Fulci classic (with listless undead with blood pouring from the eyeballs)

fulci city of the living dead

Does that come in a vegan option?

or another zombie film to add to the already mountainous pile? There’s seriously not much reasoning or explanation as to either direction. The dialogue admittedly runs the gamut of horrid through amusing. But again, this isn’t the worst film I’ve witnessed. It shows promise in some aspects although is tainted with a few scenes which appear confusing and a myriad of plot devices which make little dense overall it suffers from a story which needs tidying up some.

(trailer courtesy of The Movie Waffler)

Highlights are few and far between but include the films overactive soundtrack, an undeniable homage to a slew of genre favorites, an abattoir stage which could well be utilized to better effect and Reese; an instantly likable character (played by The Strain’s Dennis Andres) who spouts one liners and raunchy lines aplenty.

4

Watch this at your own risk. Hell, give this a few years and it’s sure to show as part of a bargain priced collection roster.

echoes of fear film

Echoes of Fear (2018)
USA
Writer – Brian Avenet-Bradley
Director – Brain Avenet-Bradley, Laurence Avenet-Bradley.
Runtime – 90 minutes
Black Butterflies, LLC

 

When a college students grandfather dies (in mysterious circumstances) she is left with his house. Caught in a little of a bind she decides to move in until she can tidy it up enough to be able to put it up for sale on the market. Her first night is restless. Awoken by strange noises and things that go bump in the night, but being the adventurous daring type, she decides to investigate (which is considerably more than I ever would).

echoes of fear - crawspace

Knock down a wall or two and voila’ you find a creepy crawlspace. But where’s Klaus?

The ‘happenings’ increase in intensity as Alicia (played convincingly by Trista Robinson) slowly unwraps the houses secrets. But will her boyfriend allow her to remain in the house long enough to unravel the enigma? Does he have ulterior motives? Just who or what is causing the disturbances and acting like such a nuisance? Why does the house have more crawlspace and hidden areas than most? Does Alicia need a Ghostbuster, an exorcist or a Handyman? And just what is up with her obsession with rodents?

These are all questions which slither through the annoying part of the brain which finds it difficult to relax as this plays out. However, I’m pleased to announce these are all overridden by the undeniable fact that this film delivers. And does it! An excellent soundtrack/score heightens the tension considerably whilst the camera provides plenty of misdirection within a setting (fun fact; the house depicted is owned by the writer/director) blanketed by shadows and objects which move seemingly of their own accord. A story which provides more than one could initially imagine provide a riveting, often palpably harrowing viewing experience (I watched this in the dark with headphones and jumped like a silly goose several times).

Echoes of Fear (2019)

As much as you try to close your eyes you’re “compelled” to watch

The films pace rarely let’s up. Alicia is stretched far beyond the point of which many others would decide to call it quits. Her tenacity, resourcefulness and bravery (I can see many calling it stupidity as they yell “oh hell, no” at the screen) is inspiring and takes the film into a different direction than others with a much similar theme. Her performance throughout is outstanding lending a credible edge to a feature which, honestly, only builds in its hypnotic nature as it progresses. Apparently, she’s cut of the rare cloth whose main characteristics include resilience to the Nth degree, eye- widening determination and not folding under pressure, no matter its origin. Based on the caliber of this performance; a rather unassuming introverted type who transforms into somewhat of a fearless explorer/sleuth. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that Trista (Robinson) becomes inundated with projects and propositions in the very near future. The neighbor’s performance (courtesy of Marshall Hilton) is also worthy of note. A character who appears concerned though respectful of boundaries whose presence only adds to the overall mystery of the film as a whole.

Echoes of Fear Neighbor

Well howdy. I’m your neighbor.

Channeling “The Changeling” (not the Angela Jolie film but rather the unforgettably well-crafted and chilling George C Scott opus from 1980), utilizing the scare tactics of “The Grudge” and the visual build-up approach of classics such as “Halloween” though never wandering into copycat realms. “Echoes of Fear” traipses into arenas one might not expect adding layer upon layer of intrigue to a story which exhilarates and continues use to keep its audience enraptured.

(Trailer courtesy of Movie Trailers Source)

To keep this short, for it would be easy to praise indefinitely, “Echoes of Fear” proves that talent (on the directorial, writing and acting fronts) still thrives within a genre that’s recently resorted to gimmicks (utilizing stern gazed habit wearing folk, creepy vintage collectables and twisting folklore and fairytale) to provide the scares. It holds the attention throughout and is bolstered by both strong performances and a fantastic atmosphere laden score. And although it doesn’t ooze with gore it still obliterates all of the checkmark spaces in the prerequisite boxes which constitute a great horror film. Suffice it to say this is a must see and deserves the hype. A huge accomplishment for the crew involved and the low budget film genre at large “Echoes of Fear” demands respect, a larger audience and (tragically) more acclaim than my words can provide.

Echoe of Fear possessed

Words fail me, perhaps a spot of interpretive dance is in order?

Don’t waste another minute, “Echoes of fear” is a fantastic example of the crème de le crème of that which the creative minds within the Indy scene have recently produced (in my opinion). Add this to the top of the “to be watched” pile. You can thank me later.

 

9.5

Cult

Scorching the Retinas – Another Avlanche of Indy entry

Devils Acid (2017)
(USA)

devils acid movie.jpg

Writer – Eric Gibson, Garrett Kruithof, Finch Nissen
Director – Garrett Kruithof
Runtime – 89 minutes
Gorilla Tree Film Company
Dale Beasley Products
Neon Bridge Films
High Octane Pictures

Facing his child’s ability to sneak around like a ninja and inability to sleep, a parent is asked to tell a scary story.

“You want me to tell you a scary story? I’m trying to watch the game.”

“…Please-”

And thus, it begins…

“Once upon a time there was a guy named Johnny…Johnny is an asshole!”

(trailer courtesy of YouTubeMovies)

And, he really is. He’s about the most demanding, entitled, racist character you are likely to ever meet. It doesn’t help that he lives alone and oozes cash. He has a plan, it isn’t as extravagant as taking over the world, he likes to party and hopes an abandoned prison will suffice for his “requirements” The “Haunted Hot Girl (and one black bitch) Challenge”. The narration is brought to a halt (bringing to mind an obvious nod to the timeless classic The Princess Bride) to explain that it’s OK, as Johnny is an asshole!

the Princess Bride

A timeless classic

Another child joins the fray and numerous beers are consumed by all (Insert shaking head antics here). Back to the prison…

This year is different than the last Johnny has brought “treats”; the Devils Acid and combined with the normal rules the evening’s festivities are about to begin. A small collective gather in hopes to ease the vertically challenged douche bag of some of his funds. Some have understandable reservations but after seeing the prize (wads of cash) they’re quickly forgotten. After they all go on their merry way, separate rooms they’re instructed to spend the night in, Johnny encounters a slight hiccup, a mutiny of sorts and a gun he believed wasn’t loaded.

Meanwhile. Brittany who likes to spout her inner stream of consciousness aloud, with a Valley girl twang, has started to prep her room for the night. She’s brought sheets (“How thoughtful of you Brittany”) but no instructions. How will she ever manage?

brittany - devils acid

Hi. I’m Brittany and I act exactly as my name might suggest.

Delilah is having a great time (it appears she’s done this type of thing before) but she has a secret. The revealing of which only makes Johnny’s evening that much better (think a successful ad campaign ran in years past by Wrigley’s Spearmint gum and you’ll be close).

An uninvited guest makes a sudden appearance suggesting to the participants (in turn) that a change in this year’s rules was his idea and that the game itself isn’t Johnny’s, but his. This understandably mixes things up.

Hidden cameras throughout the facility are a nice touch in showing each participants reaction to that which makes this game unfathomably more interesting than the last. The films various psychedelic touches are well-crafted and thankfully don’t veer deep into silly realms, as I’m they might have if Troma were at the helm. Humor elements are decidedly dark in tone, especially jaded and won’t be to everyone’s liking (snowflakes be prepared to be offended!!) but they are surprisingly well executed, especially for a film of this caliber, it’s budgetary restrictions and the genre in which it resides.

devils acid the father.jpg

The inappropriate Father figure/narrator

The Princess Bride vibe is surprisingly well done, cuts away at opportune moments, even adds alternate scenarios to fit the audience’s fantasy, showcasing a parent’s inability to use a filter or common sense in toning down a story for his audience.

Standout scenes are plentiful (my favorite is a quazi-birth scene. Remember, all the participants are ‘trippin balls’) and although the gore quotient is low (there’s plenty of blood, if nothing else) and nudity is nil, both staples of the B movie genre I might add, the film plays out with an unexpected quality which keeps the attention throughout. Some great song choices including an instrumental rehash of The Eagles “Hotel California” are well placed and add a certain class to the whole proceedings. Of the characters on screen the father figure, who is uncredited, although I have a hunch it’s Garrett Kruithof (also the narrator, one of three responsible for the writing of this feature and the director) stands out as he attempts to entertain his offspring, through various sidebars and interruptions, as well Johnny (played by Drew Rin Varick) who exemplifies a douche excellently. Brittany, Ashley Dulaney, is unforgettable portraying a character who one can’t help but like but would love to dislike (hate is too strong a word) for all the wrong reasons.

misty and kim-ormiston

Misty and Kim Ormiston in their natural habitat

Misty and Kim Ormiston (The Hunger Games) play a stunning pair of twins, both Delilah (which doesn’t make sense to the audience in attendance either) yin and yang, opposites; carefree and dominant personalities exemplified. And their appearance towards the films finale truly warrants inclusion in a sword and sorcery epic.

 

The film ends, eventually, as the Father intended (I won’t spoil it) and…shit. I said I wouldn’t spoil it and I won’t. Suffice to say it ends and the viewing experience was unexpectedly entertaining. With that in mind this isn’t a huge budgeted Hollywood affair, it isn’t an Oscar contender and it probably won’t make it to Redbox or even garner a spin off series. But it was hugely entertaining and prompted me to put digit to keyboard in appreciation.

Devils Acid its Johnny

And this… is Johnny!

If you have a soft spot for lower budget movies and enjoy laughing at content you probably shouldn’t, this is a feature you do not want to pass up.

Support the scene and let’s hope the crew response for this decide to do another, in a similar genre. I’ll be waiting.

Bravo.

Cult