The Collapsed DVD Review (Kirk Haviland)

The Collapsed DVD review

Starring – John Fantasia, Steve Vieira, Anna Ross and Lise Moule

Written by Justin McConnell and Kevin Hutchinson

Directed by Justin McConnell

The world of low budget genre films seems proliferated by three different types of films, zombie films, one room/house supernatural thrillers, and apocalyptic end of the world set pieces. With so many out there it truly is difficult to make something original and enticing for fans of the genre. Canadian Filmmaker Justin McConnell brings us his take on the apocalypse with The Collapsed, released on DVD from Anchor Bay entertainment.

The Collapsed is the story of a family after a mysterious infection has turned most of the world against each other. Trying to stay together and lie low while cannibals/murders roam the streets the Weaver family, consisting of Father Scott (Fantasia), Son Aaron (Vieira), Mother Emily (Moule) and Daughter Rebecca (Ross), decide to head north out of the city back to Dover’s Bend, the country home where they used to live, to find out if the missing member of the family Daniel is still alive. One sleepless night spent in an abandoned subway station later the family finds a car and takes off for Dover’s Bend. An altercation in a gas station which sends the family scrambling to the woods for refuge, which ends up costing them dearly. As the intrepid survivors soldier on the lines between reality and fiction blur as we get closer to discovering the truth behind everything.

As a film The Collapsed is a bit of a mixed bag. Clearly there is talent behind the camera with Justin McConnell as the film looks way better than the $40,000 budget would allow you to think it should be. Not every performance works, I feel the mother and daughter do not come off as strong with Moule’s performance striking as very wooden in moments, but Fantasia’s lead performance is quite strong and keeps the film together. The material isn’t anything we haven’t seen before and thus sometimes seems derivative, but it also has sequences that are extremely effective. Not a genre defining film by any means, The Collapsed still delivers enough to place it above a lot of the dreck that can come from the genre.

The DVD is technically sound with an excellent sound mix and crisp picture. The one thing that pushes the DVD over the top, maybe even into the “must buy” category is the superb hour long making of documentary included on the disc. This is an excellent documentary of how a low budget indie gets made in little to no time and is something that aspiring filmmakers should benefit from viewing. The disc also features two commentary tracks with a director/producer track and another track featuring lead actor Fantasia. A series of television interviews from Space, G4 and Naked News, a music video and the traditional trailer gallery are also included.

While The Collapsed would have teetered around the mild recommend level if this were a theatrical review, the hour long documentary really does push this firmly into the recommend category as a DVD purchase. The Collapsed is available now at most retailers.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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Little Terrors Volume 8, Hidden Worlds Review – The Projection Booth in Toronto (Kirk Haviland)

Little Terrors 8 – Hidden Worlds, March 6th 2012, at the Projection Booth in Toronto

Hosted and Curated by Justin McConnell

Hello All,

I promised a while back I would be talking about this series that Justin McConnell hosts (in the Goon review) and here I am finally following up and keeping my word. Little Terrors is a monthly collection of Genre based short films from around the world put together in a themed event by Justin. This month’s entries rallied around the concept of “Hidden Worlds” and all the things that may entail.

Good Morning, Beautiful

Starring David Tufford and Catherine Campion

Written and Directed by Todd Cobery

Good Morning, Beautiful centers around a couple (Tufford and Campion) who has just lost their newborn baby. The events of the loss are told through a masterful opening credits montage that reminds me of the emotional heft of Pixar’s Up “Death of Ellie” sequence. But things take a much darker turn as the grief and lack of sleep suffered by Dave is taking him further into a delusional state where reality starts to blur. Strong performances from the leads carry this story with solid direction from Mr. Cobery. A festival fave, this is one to look out for.

Crabs in the Dollhouse

Narrated by Annika Schlesinger

Written and Directed by Carrie Juenger

Next up is the most surreal and avant-garde piece of the evening. Is it an allegory for murder/suicide? A take on Cannibalism?  Random crabs dumped in blood puddles for no apparent reason? Whatever it may be, it was the most discussed and debated movie of the evening and had many more questions than answers at the end. So, in those regards it’s a complete success, but it leaves me completely incapable of summarizing it for you here. You’ll need to see it for yourself to decide.

Within

Starring Raizelle Aspilla

Written by Adam Kenneth Wilson

Directed by Raha Shirazi

After that we get Within, a short film entirely based on mood and atmosphere. The audience is seeing the context from a lady who is apparently been in a struggle, as we see evidence on this all around, and  we follow her until we are interrupted by something unexpected which reveals the entire scene to be more than what it seems. While I can admire and appreciate the style and craftsmanship that went in to this, unfortunately the “payoff” does not work for me in the context of the short. However, it does have excellent technical work, and a very captivating lead performance.

Prick

Starring Ian Batt and Sarah Mitich

Written and Directed by Colin Berry

What can I say about Prick. It won me over with its visual flair and technical wizardry when I saw it back at TAD in October and was really looking forward to seeing it again. It’s a day in the life of a very disturbed man, a serial killer by trade. When something enters his world that has meaning, we see how it changes his perceptions and motivations to protect it. Excellent lead performance from Batt in this and a repeat viewing does nothing to diminish the film’s impact. Highly recommended and I will be keeping tabs on what Mr. Berry may be up to in the future, and Mr. Batt as well.

Cold Sore

Starring Saskia Burmeister and Henry Nixon

Written and Directed by Matt Bird

After a short intermission, in which Crabs in a Dollhouse was a major topic of discussion, we resumed the program with Aussie import Cold Sore. Jenna (Burmeister) sits alone in a club, apparently stood up on a date. Guy (Nixon) see this and moves in to strike a conversation, also claiming to have been stood up. The two hit it off. As the end of the night draws near, Jenna invites Guy over to her place, he unfortunately has to decline, but takes a rain check. The next morning Jenna notices a cold sore on her lip has formed. What type of person is Guy? What type of person is Jenna for that matter? Solid script and acting highlight another Festival Fave on the bill. Interesting twist on the one night stand scenario doesn’t really surprise or break new ground, but it is an effective entry.

Prey

Starring Casey Clark and Marla Johansson

Written and Directed by Adam Mason

From back in 2003 we get our next short, Prey. Spun off from true events, we get a creepy firsthand account from John ‘Bub’ Morris as he stalks his prey, all told through narration, and his prey happens to be women. We see and hear his thoughts through stills and moving pictures as he stalks and kills one of his recent prey. An effective film that shows the potential Mason would see come to fruition years later in his highly underrated feature film, Devil’s Chair.

Based on the horrific true life exploits of Alaska’s most notorious serial killer Robert Hanson.

Skhiz

Starring Jeff Sinasac

Written and Directed by Krzysztof Pospieszynski

Our second to last short featured our cast attendee of the evening as Jeff Sinasac was on hand to provide some feedback and answer a question or two after the screening. Both funny and disturbing and the same time, Skhiz is the only “living” member of a Zombie infested world who has grown so lonely and deluded that he uses former townsfolk, now zombified, to reenact daily conversations and activities. Eventually the townsfolk literally “start talking” as we see them through Skhiz’s perceptions. Ultra low budget production gets point for creativity and an effective lead performance.

Opstandelsen

Starring Roxanne Tirkov, Mads Althoff and Jonas Bjorn-Andersen

Written and Directed by Casper Haugegaard

Clocking in at 50 minutes, Opstandelsen (Resurrected) is somewhere between feature and short. It closes off our evening with a tale of zombie apocalypse set in the underbelly of a Danish church. Three siblings are trapped in the basement of said church after zombies crash the funeral of their other sibling, Simon. Ruth (Tirkov), Peter (Althoff), and Johannes (Bjorn-Anderson) must find a way out of the labyrinth like surroundings in hopes of escaping from the zombie horde, which now includes their own family, all while finding a way to get over their own squabbling and fighting. The tension in Opstandelsen doesn’t let up, and at 50 minutes it has very little “padding” in the script, just action. The leads do an amiable job, managing to keep you engaged throughout. The setting is inspired, even though the “basement” is completely out of proportion with the rest of the building, seemingly going on forever in parts. Some interesting character choices and a bleak ending solidify the film and make it all the more satisfying in the end. Opstandelsen manages to elevate itself from a lot of the zombie crowd, which is filled with so much crap, and produce an effective thrill ride.

So that’s a wrap on Little Terrors 8 – Hidden Worlds. Justin McConnell has done another excellent job in finding and curating some of the most interesting short films around. I would urge any aspiring filmmakers and just fans of film to get out to the next Little Terrors in April. It’s always a fun night and you get to see what else is out there from the rest of the world genre-wise. Follow Little Terrors on Facebook to keep up to date with the next lineup and screening date announcements.

Til Next Time

Movie Junkie TO aka Kirk Haviland

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Little Terrors Volume 4 (Toronto) – Guest Blogger Phil Graves Returns

Hand drawn art from Kevin Hutchinson (www.secondskincreations.net)

Editor’s note: Last month my doctor told me that I had a serious case of the shivers and creeps, as a result he restricted my film diet to Hollywood fare like 2011’s The Thing and Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, you know, movies that aren’t all that scary. Unfortunately, this means that I am unable to watch the terrifying shorts at Little Terrors, the monthly horror short film festival in Toronto. I sent horror correspondent Phil Graves in my place last time, and considering his sometimes less than tactful manner I expected some angry e-mails from sensitive readers. I only received one comment, a letter sitting on my desk:

Dear Entertainment Maven,

I really dug the coverage of Little Terrors by the despicably talented Phil Graves. You should really give him a raise, buy him a new shovel, and send him to cover a Toronto After Dark film.

Filthily yours,

Phil Bill Traves

Thanks for your comments Bill. I’ve decided to let Phil return today with coverage of Little Terrors Volume 4. As you already seem to know, I will be covering every Toronto After Dark Film, and tickets are still available to many shows, but going fast. I will consider your idea of sending Phil to cover one of the films, but don’t get your hopes up.

Readers, for the second time, I give you Phil Graves. God help us all.

Entertainment Maven

The 6th Annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival, 8 Nights of Horror, Sci-Fi, Action, and Cult Movies runs Oct 20-27, 2011 at the Toronto Underground Cinema. For complete festival info visit www.torontoafterdark.com

Good Evening,

These miserable economic times are really starting to bring me down. Just last night I had to make my dreaded stew with some of the scrawniest rats I’ve ever seen, the fat ones must have moved on to the swanky cemetery on the rich side of town. I even tried hosting a singles night at the cemetery to  scare up some extra cash, but two-for-one burials in the same casket didn’t seem to grab people’s attention. Only one chap showed up. He was fairly insistent on waiting for a pretty lady to join him, but it was getting late so I buried him for half the price. He tried to argue for a later burial date, but I couldn’t do him wrong. I’m an honest business man.

As I was saying, times are tough, but luckily eight bucks still gets you into Little Terrors, the monthly horror short film festival at The Projection Booth in Toronto. Little Terrors is presented by the nameless amorphous creature that Rue Morgue keeps behind lock and key in their basement, and the insane film-making scientists at Unstable Ground. It should be noted that grotesque creation Justin McConnell has been stitching together some of the most frightening shorts out there, with the result being two-hour sojourns into madness.

Little Terrors Volume 4 was by far the most unsettling night yet. The haunting Danse Macabre, the unfathomable employment depicted in Tea Break, and the descent into zombie mayhem aptly titled Axed, caused me to miss a fair bit of shuteye later that night. In fact, I had to sleep with my cemetery issued night light on, specifically reserved for these type of episodes. I may be a sick bastard, but I’m still human, kind of.

The creators of animated shorts Raven’s Hollow and Scayrecrow also managed to make my heart skip a beat. And here I thought animated movies were for kiddies. Finally, the Lovecraft inspired Black Goat gave the audience a glimpse of eldritch horrors. With a feature length film potentially looming on the horizon, this could be one to keep an eye on.

The next installment of Little Terrors will be shown on Tuesday, November 22nd at 8pm. Join the Facebook page for unseemly updates. Remember dear readers, if I don’t see you at Little Terrors, but see you somewhere else instead, you had better hope that I don’t have my shovel with me, and a soft patch of dirt nearby.

Filthily yours,

Phil Graves

Little Terrors Volume 3 (Toronto) – Phil Graves Guest Blogging

Hand drawn art from Kevin Hutchinson (www.secondskincreations.net)

Editor’s note: It’s difficult to find guest bloggers that will work for free, that’s why I had to settle for Phil. Please don’t be too upset by his manner, he really is quite a nice fellow. Regardless, I should still take the time to apologize in advance, before I get a slew of angry e-mails.

I’m sorry.

Entertainment Maven

Good evening,

Horror correspondent Phil Graves, at your service. It seems that the last night of Little Terrors, back in August, was too much for the cowardly Entertainment Maven. Daily sessions with a psychiatrist and a few bottles of pills a week helped the Maven reduce his relentless nightmares, induced by the last evening of Little Terrors, to basic insomnia. However, he didn’t think his constitution was strong enough for another round, so he sent me in his place to attend Little Terrors Volume 3 at The Projection Booth in Toronto. For those of you who have been hesitant to come out and slay with us, Little Terrors is a deliciously terrifying evening of short horror films presented by the crawling cadavers over at Rue Morgue, and the unbalanced psychopaths at Unstable Ground. In fact, lead corpse Justin McConnell has been doing such a bang up programming job that he will likely be institutionalized in the near future, due to the reels of depravity and mayhem that his now brittle sanity has had to endure.

The nice thing about Little Terrors is that it caters to an audience who are normally hard at work during the evening hours, like myself. It’s nice for these lowstanding citizens to have the opportunity to get out of the basement and hang up their knives, machetes, and axes for the evening. At $8 a ticket I was eager to put down my own shovel for two hours of vicarious chills and thrills. Volume 3’s lineup featured a balance of hackles, cackles and shackles, and would not have disappointed any true fiend. Below are some comments on the recently exhumed shorts.

Off Season – Unfortunately some of the zombies working on the TTC caused me to arrive a little late for this one. But what I saw impressed me. A man and his dog spend some quality time together, sticking their noses into some abandoned cabins, and discover something that gave me CHILLS.

Next Floor – How often are you disappointed that a buffet doesn’t have your favourite dish? Well you’ll be overjoyed to hear that this short offers up a smorgasbord of grotesque treats, and features a mixed grill comparable to the contents of Noah’s Ark, that is, if it fell into some gluttonous hands. Excellent production value, uncharacteristic of many shorts, make this one tough meal for the squeamish to stomach.

The Screaming Skull – Reminiscent of old horror computer games like The 7th Guest and Realms of Haunting, this atmospheric spooker proves that you don’t always have to understand a plot to understand fear.

The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon – I don’t know about the killer’s choice of weapon, at this rate he’ll send my business to a grinding halt, but I have to admit that I don’t think I’ll be eating a bowl of soup anytime in the near future.

The Eyes of Edward James – A murderous tale that may remind viewers of the Christopher Nolan film, Memento. However, this story also uses a very interesting setting. Time is split between a therapy session and the first-person p.o.v. reminiscences of a patient, from the night of a traumatic event.

Legend of the Seven Bloody Torturers – The seven bloody torturers have been doing their thing for a long time, after all, they are legendary. But even these hard working gentlemen have to submit to bureaucratic rules and regulations. What is a poor torturer to do?

The Familiar – A vampire’s familiar is one of the least appreciated occupations in the underworld. The hours are long and the pay is little, only the allure of becoming a fellow bloodsucker could attract a young man to this job.

Rise of the Living Corpse – Clocking in at 30 seconds, this short gets to the harsh reality of being a new member of the undead.

Dead Bones – A wild west bounty hunter tale with an early twist. Gorehounds should find this one disgusting!

The scream team of Rue Morgue and Unstable Ground, and the screen scene at The Projection Booth have proved to be a ghastly combination. If I wasn’t so busy shoveling dirt every night, I might think about making the theatre my home. Alas, more hacking and slashing will have to wait until Tuesday, October 18th at 8:00pm, when Justin McConnell stitches together the next collection of shorts that will send your mind reeling. I’ve heard murmurs that ‘Axed’, which is a Toronto premiere, is the bloodiest thing since Peter Jackson’s Braindead (Dead Alive) and Bad Taste.

Hope to see you next time at Little Terrors, or eventually, lying face up in one of my holes.

Phil Graves

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