Blood In The Snow Film Festival 2012: Devil’s Night Review (Kirk Haviland)

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Blood in the Snow 2012

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Devil’s Night (2012)

Starring Danielle Harris, Steve Byers, Shawn Roberts, Robbie Amell and Boyd Banks

Written and Directed by Christopher Harrison

Back in 2007 Director Harrison along with his cast and crew set out to make an indie film that played as a horror homage to the films he grew up watching in the 1980’s. After filming was completed the film’s rough cut was turned into a feature that was edited, marketed and released under the name Left for Dead. After a five year wait while other projects took precedence and the film was shelved for a bit, Harrison has finally delivered his final version of the film, Devil’s Night. Devil’s night made its Toronto theatrical premiere at the Blood In the Snow Canadian Film Festival this past weekend.

The College students of a nondescript Canadian town throw wild parties full of drugs, sex, and lost inhibitions every year on Devil’s Night. But this time, an uninvited guest comes for a visit. A year prior five Frat boys were involved in a terrible accident and made a horrific decision. Now a year later the boys are being stalked by a machete-wielding maniac, and their friends are slowly disappearing one by one. It’s up to Tommy (Byers), his girlfriend Nancy (Harris) and best friend Clark (Roberts) to stop the killer before he exacts revenge on all of them.

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Devil’s Night is a loving homage to the films of the 80’s like Friday the 13th and Night of the Creeps to name a few. Harrison has written a fun script that is content to stay in this little pocket, with its limitations and inherent plausibility issues intact. But it’s because he does stay in this pocket that director Harrison manages to deliver a fun and satisfying film. Byers is passable as the accident prone and paranoid Tommy, he manages to pull you in enough that you can remain invested in his outcome.  Danielle Harris is quite good here and her level of experience shines through in her acting choices. Roberts is sadly not given a lot to do in the obviously doomed best friend role, but he manages to elevate past it enough to deliver a likeable performance. The rest of the cast are mere background players, Boyd playing the way too obvious red herring character of a local serial killer on the loose from the law, but Amell manages some decent time.

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The death sequences are hit and miss here, some of the direct homages work fantastically, a particular sequence based on an iconic Friday the 13th moment involving Roberts and the stunning JaNae Armogan works extremely well. But the opening sequence involving the incident that sets of the actions of the film is less impressive. The ending sequence actually is completely flawed logic as the passage of time is supposed to be a full year, which does not explain a certain character’s appearance. Stylistically the deaths look great and the effects work is sharp. The mask used for our killer, while obviously referencing Halloween’s Michael Myers, is actually really effective as it always appears to have a smirk or grin implying that he is really enjoying his work. And the stringy long hair attached to the mask lends to the aesthetic.

While far from a perfect film, Devil’s Night results in a fun little romp that can be easily digested and retains an inherit re-watchability. Harrison wears his influences all over the screen and we can be very happy for him and ourselves as the audience alike that he has been able to finally bring his vision of Devil’s Night to the screen. Devil’s Night is a recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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Fright Nights: The Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival Preview (Nadia Sandhu)

There will be Blood in the Snow and on the big screen at Projection Booth (1035 Gerrard Street East) as the First Annual Fright Nights:  Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival scares up thrills this November 30 to December 2, 2012 in a weekend long celebration of the best in contemporary Canadian horror filmmaking.

Festival Director Kelly Michael Stewart has been a strong supporter of the national horror filmmaking scene, writing about it for Fangoria and Planet Fury, and regularly showcasing these talented filmmakers at the hugely successful Fright Nights at Projection Booth screening series.  “I have noticed an incredible renaissance of horror directors coming out of Canada in the past few years. Southern Ontario in particular has become a hotbed of horror talent. Now the scene has grown large enough and vibrant enough that it warrants a dedicated yearly festival and we’ve been able to pull together an impressive lineup including the world premieres of SICK featuring Canada’s own scream queen Debbie Rochon and In the House of Flies starring Henry Rollins.”

Blood in the Snow kicks off on Friday, November 30 with a zombie infection in SICK at 7pm and critical darling Beyond the Black Rainbow at 9:30pm, and closes on Sunday, December 2 with art house vampire film Blood for Irina at 7pm, a film that also marks the feature directorial debut of Fangoria Editor in Chief Chris Alexander.  

In true rep house style, Saturday will be a late night with psychological thriller In the House of Flies at 6:30pm, classic 80’s style slasher film Devil’s Night starring Danielle Harris at 9pm and old school grind house throwback Famine at 11:45pm.

A retrospective shorts program, Fright Nights: Class of 2012, on Saturday, December 1 at 3pm showcases some of the best genre shorts from the last year of Fright Nights programming, including a personal favorite when it played here as part of the Viscera Film Festival last winter- Doll Parts from Karen Lam.  The retrospective also features a bonus screening- fan fave Cinemall, which documents the yearly pilgrimage of zombie fans to the mall where Romero filmed Dawn of the Dead!

“With films like Hobo With a ShotgunThe CorridorPontypool, and really anything from the guys at Astron 6, the Canadian horror film scene is bursting with creative talent and we are proud to support Kelly and what we truly feel is a killer line up of the next wave of genre directors. These are the ones to watch,” enthuses Jonathan Hlibka, partner at Projection Booth Cinemas.

And I for one am relieved that in this case at least, blood in the snow does not refer to baby seals.

Festival passes and tickets are on sale now and while there won’t be any chick flicks, I won’t completely rule out finding a touchy feely angle to report back on.

You can show your support for Canadian Horror by downloading the Blood in the Snow banner and using it as your Facebook Cover this Black Friday!

The Victim Blu-Ray Review (Kirk Haviland)

The Victim Blu-Ray (2012)

Starring Michael Biehn, Jennifer Blanc, Ryan Honey, Denny Kirkwood and Danielle Harris

Written Reed Lackey and Michael Biehn

Directed by Michael Biehn

New this week from Anchor Bay Entertainment comes the directorial debut of 80’s action star and cult icon Michael Biehn, The Victim. Having written the film as a vehicle for his wife Jennifer Blanc and himself to produce under their new production label, after a rumored wayward promise to director Robert Rodriguez on the set of Planet Terror that he would direct his own film. The only question that remained was whether Biehn could take on all hats behind the scenes and deliver in front of it?

Annie (Blanc) is a dancer by trade and a party girl by nature, but one day her life is put in jeopardy after she’s witnesses the horrific murder of her closest friend Mary (Harris) at a party in the woods gone wrong. Fleeing from the two police men she was partying with, now turned attackers, she stumbles across Kyle (Beihn) who lives the life of a recluse in the middle of the woods. As the police officers (Honey and Kirkwood) close in on Annie, Kyle must decide which side he believes and whether to defend Annie from her pursuers.

The premise is simple grindhouse standard and the set up classic, so Beihn is starting strong by keeping things uncomplicated. That said, the script lacks polish and I was unsurprised to hear is was written in less than 3 weeks, another person taking a pass at the dialogue would have come in handy. Beihn is basically playing the acerbic, gritty, former bad-ass character he has been making a good living off of for the past decade or so. He definitely plays to his strengths onscreen and manages to deliver an effective performance. Sadly the other half of the Beihn household does not live up to her end of the bargain as Jennifer Blanc does not perform nearly as well. To be fair the script does not help her in the situation either as clearly Michael Beihn knows how to write his character, but is not sure what to do with the rest of the characters. Despite this un-engaging performance, Blanc is not the worst actor in this piece as Ryan Honey is so over the top and ridiculous it’s laughable. The setting works tremendously for the production as locating it in a wooded cabin and the forest surrounding it is both cost effective and cinematic. Beihn does show some promise behind the camera, I would certainly wish though that the next time he sits down to direct he tries his hand at something he didn’t write. Then we will truly see if the talent comes through.

The Blu-Ray includes a scant amount of special features that are an audio commentary featuring both Beihn and Blanc and a short behind the scenes segment. While I did not listen to the entire commentary, I can tell you the behind the scenes featurette is pretty awful, with excerpts of the movie soundtrack playing behind and over film footage throughout.

Overall The Victim is at least better than the sum of all its parts, mainly due to Michael Beihn’s work in front of the camera. I can’t outright tell you this is worth a buy, but I will give it the slightest of passes: The Victim is an extremely mild recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films, festivals and film related events in Toronto.

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Email me at moviejunkieto@gmail.com

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