WATCH: Soska Sisters, Lauro Chartrand debut Women in Horror Month blood drive PSA ‘Twinpool’

‘Twinpool’ by The Soska Sisters and Lauro Chartrand

This February marks the ninth year of Women in Horror Month. Since “you can’t think horror without thinking blood,” one of its ongoing traditions is a massive blood drive in collaboration with Twisted Twins Productions.  Any horror fan worth their salt knows who the Twisted Twins are: Vancouver, Canada-based identical twins/writers/directors/actors/producers/game show hosts Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary, Dead Hooker in a Trunk, Hellevator). The Soskas have joined forces with filmmaker/stunt coordinator/performer Lauro Chartrand (War for the Planet of the Apes) to produce Twinpool, a PSA (Public Service Announcement) in support of their appeal (more of a demand, really) to donate blood – and it uses Marvel antihero Deadpool as a jumping-off point.

WiHM9 Women in Horror Month TwinpoolAnd man, does it ever jump off to some truly strange places. Besides the obvious Deadpool references, there are also nods to Fight Club and Breakfast Club. Frequent Soska co-conspirator Tristan Risk makes a fun cameo appearance. Be forewarned, though: this is R-rated horror, definitely NSFW, with swordplay, gunplay, buckets of blood, spilling entrails, head shots, butt shots, dick shots, fart jokes, extremely foul language, along with lots of pretty impressive stunt work.

It’s a blast. Enjoy. And make the trek to your local Red Cross to donate blood – soon. You really don’t want to piss the Soskas off.

The Gourmet Horror Review: In ‘Before We Vanish’ (2017), alien possession paves way for invasion

The Gourmet Horror Review: In ‘Before We Vanish’ (2017), alien possession paves way for invasion

What’s on the menu for ‘Before We Vanish’:

Three aliens travel to Earth in advance of a mass invasion, taking possession of human bodies as part of the infiltration process. Along the way, their literal job is to collect human conceptions, in the run up to the eventual full-blown invasion. The twist? The act of collecting these conceptions removes them from their human victims’ minds, with devastating results.

Before We Vanish is more a horror/comedy/sci-fi hybrid than pure horror. Japanese horror master Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Pulse, Cure) directs, from a script he adapted with Sachiko Tanaka from a stage play by Tomohiro Maekawa. The film stars Masami NagasawaRyûhei Matsuda, and Hiroki Hasegawa.

Best scene (spoilery):

After disarming and then shooting one cop, an alien-possessed schoolgirl plunges her gun-toting hand through the windshield of the police car to shoot the cop’s partner. She then gazes in fascination as her wrist and hand begins to bleed. It’s both darkly humorous and creepy at the same time, which is as good a capsule description for this film as any.

Blunders/gaffs (also spoilery):

  • A doctor in the beginning looks like he’s about 12 years old (but frankly, so do most doctors I go to these days).
  • Some of the dialogue seems unnecessarily protracted and repetitive. It’s kinda talky, in other words… which is likely due to its stage play origins.
  • There’s an overly sentimental visit to a church where a choir of young children is singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ (in Japanese, of course), followed by a clergyman attempting to explain what love is to one of the aliens (and talking directly to the camera in a super-distracting manner). It’s just clunky and on-the-nose.
  • At one point late in the film, a possessed teenage boy gets strafed with a submachine gun. Yet he manages to shoot back, get up and drag himself around for another five minutes while bleeding from multiple bullet wounds.
  • The lion’s share of the film’s budget is clearly reserved for the third act, where there are many explosions, a deadly drone, and some pretty good CGI. Pacing could have been helped by spreading some of the action around the rest of the film.

Evaluation:

From the very beginning, it’s obvious we are in the hands of a confident, accomplished director. Kurosawa blocks and shoots scenes with creativity and precision. Before We Vanish opens with the aftermath of a murder, with a schoolgirl regarding her evident handiwork. She touches a blood-dripping hand to her lips to taste the blood, curiously, dispassionately. She then meanders outside to a busy highway, where her careless path eventually causes a violent multiple-vehicle pileup right behind her – and she never even turns around to observe. Instead, she smiles happily at the chaos she’s caused – and walks on.

“When we learn something, they lose their conception of it,” one of the aliens explains, as his host body’s zonked-out parents stare vacantly into space. “I took a lot.” Chilling premise: in the process of understanding, the aliens plunder and erase the information from their victims’ brains.

There is mordant humor throughout, as when two of the aliens interrogate a hapless cop about the concept of self vs. others (it’s borderline slapstick). And then there’s this bit of dialogue where a human and an alien discuss the coming invasion:

“So what happens to Earth?”

“Nothing much, really. Just humanity’s extinction.”

Yusuke Hayashi’s score is elegiac, effective, and for the most part surprisingly Western in nature. The cast is uniformly solid, especially Nagasawa, who builds a compelling character study of a woman who has fallen out of love with her husband, but is then lured back when he changes drastically after being possessed by an alien being. And there’s a late-film meditation on what a human being looks like when the concept of love has been removed from their mind. It will come as no surprise that it is not a pretty sight.

It’s a thoughtful piece of filmmaking. If you’re looking for some mindless slasher distraction, this is not for you. But if you’re any kind of student of Asian cinema, thoughtful science fiction, or contemplations of what it means to be human… well, then this definitely is for you.


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Theatrical run

Before We Vanish began a limited run in U.S. theaters last Friday (February 2nd). It is also slated for iTunes on May 1st (and we suspect it will be available on many other services at or around the same time).


EFFECTS (1-5): 3
SCORE (1-5): 4
OVERALL (1-5): 3

TITLEBefore We Vanish (original Japanese title Sanpo suru shinryakusha)
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2017
STUDIODjango FilmNikkatsu
MPAA RATING: NR (probably would be PG-13, for some gore and adult language)
LENGTH: 129 mins.
DVD? (Y/N): not yet
BLU-RAY? (Y/N): not yet
NETFLIX? (Y/N): N
WIDESCREEN? (Y/N) Y
IN THEATERS? (Y/N) Y, as of February 2nd, 2018 (US)
STREAMING DIGITAL/VOD? (Y/N) Coming May 1, 2018 to iTunes (pre-order available now)

TRAILER: J-Horror master Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s ‘Before We Vanish,’ out Feb. 2nd

TRAILER: J-Horror master Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s ‘Before We Vanish,’ out Feb. 2nd

What’s on the menu for ‘Before We Vanish’

What’s on the menu, you ask? Alien invasion, body possession, killer Japanese schoolgirls… and marital strife, that’s what. After making the rounds of the festival circuit last year, Before We Vanish is ready for its closeup in North American theaters.
UPDATED: See the Gourmet Horror Review of Before We Vanish here (posted 02.09.18)
Here’s the official synopsis:
In his twentieth film, acclaimed horror director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Cure, Pulse) reinvents the alien movie as a unique and profoundly human tale of love and mystery. Three aliens travel to Earth on a reconnaissance mission in preparation for a mass invasion. Having taken possession of human bodies, the visitors rob the hosts of their essence – good, evil, property, family, belonging – leaving only hollow shells, which are all but unrecognizable to their loved ones. Equally hilarious, thrilling, and profound, Before We Vanish reminds audiences of the continued strength of one of Japanese cinema’s most unique auteurs – and the value of the human spirit.

 

'Before We Vanish' official poster
Before We Vanish opens in select US theaters February 2nd, with wider release to follow. It stars Masami NagasawaRyûhei Matsuda, and Hiroki Hasegawa.

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UPDATE: Read the Gourmet Horror Review of Before We Vanish here.

Scenes from 'Before We Vanish'
Netflix debuts chilling new trailer ‘Arkangel’ from season 4 of ‘Black Mirror’

Netflix debuts chilling new trailer ‘Arkangel’ from season 4 of ‘Black Mirror’

Tagline

The tagline for Arkangel: “The key to good parenting is control.”

What’s on the menu

If you’re a parent, you know how challenging raising a child can be. Charlie Brooker’s dystopian series Black Mirror will soon return for its fourth season (its second on Netflix), and one of the episodes – titled Arkangel –  deals with parenting. This trailer appears to present the notion of using breakthrough technology to help control an unruly child. If you are unfamiliar with the Black Mirror aesthetic, let’s just say things will almost certainly not go well. And we cannot wait to see just how wrong things get.


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DAY 4 | 2017 GH Oct. Short Horror Film Fest: ‘Phil·a·del·phi·a’ (2014)

DAY 4 | 2017 GH Oct. Short Horror Film Fest: ‘Phil·a·del·phi·a’ (2014)

Scene from Phil·a·del·phi·a (2014 short horror film)
Scene from Phil·a·del·phi·a (2014 short horror film)
Scene from Phil·a·del·phi·a (2014 short horror film)

31 days. 31 films.

WHAT’S ON THE MENU FOR ‘PHIL•A•DEL•PHI•A’: For our fourth day of the festival, time for a change in tone. Today’s selection is a wistful, evocative, elegiac invocation of a time after an apocalyptic invasion. The cinematography is gorgeous, the pace measured, the tone sombre and resigned. You won’t find any jump scares in this one. But you may find something deeper and more meaningful.

Two brothers strive to survive in an invaded world, looking for safety from sound-seeking extra-dimensional beings.

Phil·a·del·phi·a was written and directed by Broadway, and stars Chase Ramsay, J.J Shurbet, and Alvis Broadway. Pay close attention to Shurbet’s voiceover. It’s extraordinary, especially for an actor so young. Enjoy the ride. RUNTIME: 4:50


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