47 Metres Down – Brand New Trailer!

Sharks. They’re jerks, right?

I mean, all you’re doing is pouring blood to get them hankering from some juicy meat then dipping into their home in a flimsy cage. What kind of asshole just then tries to straight up eat you? Right?


Yes folks, it’s that time of year where we get to take horror takes a bite and pushes us into the deep end. This time it’s Mandy Moore who has to do battle with hungry great whites in 47 Metres Down.

The film revolves around a bunch of folk on holiday who do that insane “let’s look at sharks” thing in cages in the ocean but, welp, it goes a bit awry when the ladies go plummeting to the sand below and have to extra some ravenous sharks.

Honestly, the whole plot seems a bit flimsy to stretch over an hour and a half. And the “sharks are bad” context has been done many times before.

What do you think?

47 Metres Down is out June! 

Sci-Fi London Festival: Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time – Review

There’s something that is strangely alluring when it comes to B-Movies. The amount of love that goes into them, whilst still looking very obviously cheap and tacky, creates a sense of warped nostalgia for the halcyon days of schlock horror and action films of the 80’s. Of course, nowadays, as we mine our past for films and genres to bring back, there has been something of a resurgence in the B-Movie pastiche, and Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time fits that niche perfectly.

Set sometime in the distant future, Neil Stryker is the World’s Greatest Secret Agent. All appears to be going well for him, until his former mentor, The Mad Scientist, escapes from prison. In order to stop him, Stryker must travel through time and stop his nemesis before he can take over the world.

As you can see above, the plot is fairly basic, boilerplate stuff, which makes it harder to understand why it’s so convoluted and yet basic at the same time. There are several attempts at jokes throughout the film, yet most of them fall flat at the punchline, or at most, elicit a brief chuckle. That’s to say nothing of the rapid changes in genre, where you’ll find yourself in an action sequence before transitioning to a musical number (of which there is only one, begging the question, why put it in there in the first place?) Some of these shifts are rather well done, and would stand up within the realms of another film, but the lack of consistency makes one feel that ideas were thrown at the script and no one could agree on what the original story was.

The lack of story continues into the characterisation as well. Most characters have little or no backstory, and are boiled down to stereotypes in order to attract even a hint of emotional attachment from the audience, however, this fails when several of the stereotypes are rather offensive in present day terms. Part of the problem appears to come from a fairly limited talent pool, with several of the cast playing multiple roles. It’s not uncommon, but when the protagonist and antagonist are played by the same actor, you start to wonder whether somehow they could have tried to find some more people to get involved.

There’s even less to be said about the female characters in the movie. That is to say, there are technically none. The majority of women within the film can be broken down into one of three categories (though sometimes, they’ll double up);

  1. Damsel in Distress
  2. Sex Appeal
  3. Background Character with No Real Purpose Except to possibly Die

It’s here that you start to wonder how much of this is an intentional homage to the B-Movies of yore by the writers and how much it was either never addressed or noticed during the script revisions and filming.

There is no avoiding the fact that this film is cringeworthy. However, there are certain aspects which are very well put together. Despite their cheap appearance, the CGI and green screen looks very impressive, even for a film obviously shot on a shoestring budget. It is a true testament to the processing power of computers compared to CGI’s first appearance in 1973’s Westworld. Another wonderfully created section is what one can only assume is a tribute to Labyrinth, which sees the protagonist and his companions travel through a swamp, only to get waylaid by goblins, all of which could have come straight from Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop. It is the scenes like this which prevent the film from descending into completely unwatchable territory.

When it all comes down to it, Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time would be best forgotten about. However, there are inklings of a cult film brewing within the mix, and with a set up for a sequel laid so blatantly at the end, one can hope that the story, characters and world can be salvaged in some way or other.

Find out more about: Sci-Fi London Film Festival 

American Gods – “The Bone Orchard” Review

TV is certainly on a high-right now.  In fact, due to the popularity of Netflix, Amazon Video, and other VOD services, more people are flocking to worship the small TV box over the great cinema screen that once took prominence in our media religion. You could say the Old God of Films has been replaced by the New Gods of Television…

Neither is good or bad, mind, but the constant restraint of Hollywood and resurgence of TV studios means that artists can romp more freely on the smaller screen. It’s where masterminds such as Bryan Fuller can carve out more compelling and imaginative horrors. In fact, his work on shows such as the exuberant Pushing Daisies and the exquisite Hannibal have been some of the best. Alongside Michael Green, Fuller brings his poetic Gothic imagery to an adaption of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

The show revolves around Shadow Moon who is released from prison early when his wife Laura is murdered  alongside his best friend Robbie. On the rocky road to her funeral, Shadow is pursued by the turbulent and tricky Mr. Wednesday who wants Shadow to be his own personal body-guard. Truth is, Mr. Wednesday is part of a larger world where New Gods and Old Gods are waging bloody war for dominance on Earth and Shadow Moon is now unwillingly inducted into their fold…

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The Bone Orchard, directed by David Slade (who has worked on Fuller’s Hannibal before,) is a head-spinning but, altogether triumphant, opening episode to the American Gods saga. The world is mightier than we know and the unveiling of this secret world is mysterious and interesting. Through Ricky Whittle’s Shadow Moon, we are immersed into this new and highly visual world, with imagery reminiscent of Fuller’s Hannibal but more legendary in it’s scope.. There are facets of modern society weaved into the new mythology which’ll make an interesting power play alongside the New and Old Gods of America. It’s within the kernels of emotional nuances including Laura’s funeral, showing that we will be grounded in humanity’s struggle as well as the grander ones.

Whittle is a fine and gruff protagonist who reflects his own confusion as he is enlisted into an unknown fight and struggle Ian McShane is delightfully entertaining as Mr. Wednesday whilst the morose merriment of Pablo Schreiber’s Mad Sweeney makes a beguiling brother in arms. Technical Boy is captivating antagonist with his digital faceless sidekicks and Emily Browning should, hopefully, have more to play from beyond Laura’s grave as she is just reason for Shadow’s pain, rather than a fleshed out character.

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The most talked about scene is Biliqus, a Goddess of Love, who takes in (literally) a victim to appease her needs. This twisted love scene, drenched in hues of black and red, ultimately serves as a core vignette of what we can expect from the show. Biliqus meets up with a hapless divorcee for a one night stand where her human form literally consumes him during sex, though his death is met with elation and literal call to prayer. Actress Yetide Badaki thrives in this role as she delicately writhes and lovingly thrashes to get her desires met. Passionate and fearsome, with a visually stunning scene, Badaki immerses herself in the role and the sex scene is, indeed, palpable in it’s great oddness. A memorable opulent scene of deity eroticism that’ll turn fully within your mind.

There is story weaved into this first hour that, perhaps, experts on the book will find easier to unpack than novices to the Gaiman world. Yet there are seeds weaved into the soil of our minds; grains of intrigue melded into the dirt with sweat and blood. There are deep graves of narrative that we’re digging into as we are caught by the beautiful flesh of Fuller & Green’s creation. As we transverse through American Gods, may future episodes be just as divine as this one.

American Gods is available on Amazon Video now! 

Sci-Fi London Festival: Diverge – Review

The post-apocalyptic world is always a good way of adding instant drama to your film. The lack of resources, the unknown reason for the destruction, and the slow reveal which carries a strong message relating to a topic that the gathered audience can digest in their own time, are all great plot-points if they are done well.

After watching Diverge, you can tell that director James Morrison understands these things, but fails to apply them in the most effective manner.

The plot of Diverge is a strange combination of 12 Monkeys and Primer, with more emphasis on the former rather than the latter. The protagonist, Chris Towne (Ivan Sandomire,) is one of the few people still surviving in an infected hellscape after the death of his wife and child to a virus, until one day he wakes up and finds himself back in a time before the world ended. Once there, he is given a choice; take up his life where he left off by killing someone, or return to his own time.

It’s a real shame that, despite the intriguing premise and a fairly promising start, the actual story is rather dull. The actors don’t particularly emote, instead opting for a hollow stare for the majority of the movie, and the dialogue coming from their mouths feels stilted. This isn’t entirely their fault, the characters themselves appear two dimensional, with very few aspects of their lives fleshed out beyond their connection to the protagonist, and even then, that’s often done pretty thinly.

Another problem with the film is the colour correction. The overall tone of the film has been desaturated to the point where the characters are only a faintly different shade of colour from the background. This makes sense for the mise-en-scene in the beginning, when everything is a barren wasteland, but doesn’t make any tonal sense when Towne goes back in time and we get to see him interacting with his family.

Despite the overall negativity within this article, the cinematography in the beginning of the film is rather hauntingly beautiful. The wide-angle shots of a desolate wilderness along with destroyed cities in the distance sets a chilling and depressing tone for the film, albeit, one which doesn’t quite follow through for the rest of the film. Of course, even the empty vistas become somewhat tiresome after the third or fourth time they are shown as the characters wake up each morning.

In the end, Diverge and Morrison show an incredible amount of potential. Whilst it’s hard to ignore the film’s plodding dialogue and plot, there are glimpses of the diamond hiding beneath the rough. Given a little bit of time and polish, I have few doubts that we will be seeing some truly stellar work from him in the future. As for now, this film will happily take up an hour and a half of your time if you’re looking for something to do during a rainy day or cold winter’s evening. Just don’t go expecting the the next Citizen Kane.

Sci-Fi London Film has started now! 
Check out the full programme!