murders

I Come in Peace (1990)

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Dolph Lundgren faces off against an intergalactic terror in this sci-fi-action mashup that holds even today.

Houston detective Jack Caine is on an assignment to ensure that his undercover partner Ray Turner, makes a deal with the White Boys criminal organization, led by Victor Manning. However, when Caine stops two thugs from robbing a liquor store, Turner’s cover is blown and he is killed by Manning. However, it is after Manning arrives that a mysterious figure arrives. The mysterious figure is an alien who has arrived and decimates most the White Boys gang and steals their drug shipment. Caine finds his partner dead and decides to wage a one-man war against Manning, much to the chagrin of his superiors.

Caine, however, is forced to work with FBI agent Smith on the assignment involving the murders of the criminal organization as well as a series of murders that have plagued Houston. Innocent people are found with drugs in their systems bearing puncture wounds on their foreheads. Caine discovers that the mysterious alien who has arrived is the one responsible. This comes after a bounty hunter from the same planet is mortally wounded while tracking the bad alien down. Caine and Smith decide to stop the deadly alien before more people are viciously murdered.

After his turn as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV and playing He-Man in Masters of the Universe, Dolph Lundgren meshes sci-fi and action with this cult classic of a Houston cop sent to face off against an alien being who is revealed to be a drug dealer on his planet. While the idea is farfetched, one can’t help but appreciate the film because this would become a breakout role for German powerhouse Matthias Hues, fresh off his debut role as Yuri the Russian in No Retreat, No Surrender II in 1987.

The film is just as Lundgren’s as it is Hues, who looks menacing as the alien who forces heroin in his victims before puncturing their heads to take their brain fluid, which is the drug of choice from his home planet. The 6’5” Hues also has a forearm weapon that shoots deadly circular saw blades that can only be attracted by magnets. His opening scene alone in which he just arrives brings a sense of scares with his look and one-liner which reflects the title, and his opening action involves nearly decimating an entire organization with his blades sans the boss himself.

The film also sets up the buddy action film, in which Lundgren’s no-nonsense unorthodox Caine and Brian Benben’s by-the-book FBI agent Smith. Both actors work well together, playing the “good cop, bad cop” motif to a tee. The two even attempt a role switch which only doesn’t work well only because Benben at times, can be quite comic fodder, which would go on to work well on the long-running HBO series Dream On from 1990 to 1996. However, generally, they work well together.

I Come in Peace definitely lives up to its cult classic status, thanks in part to Dolph Lundgren and Brian Benben’s buddy-action chemistry and a breakout performance by Matthias Hues as the villain.

WFG RATING: B+

A Vision PDG film. Director: Craig R. Baxley. Producer: Jeff Young. Writers: Jonathan Tylor and Leonard Maas Jr. Cinematography: Mark Irwin. Editing: Mark Helfrich.

Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Brian Benben, Betsy Brantley, Matthias Hues, Jay Bilas, Jim Haynie, David Ackroyd, Sherman Howard, Sam Anderson, Mark Lowenthal, Michael J. Pollard, Jesse Vint, Alex Morris.

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2047: Virtual Revolution (2017)

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A bounty hunter finds himself torn between his job and the fate of the world in this sci-fi film that blends elements from Blade Runner and The Matrix.

It is the year 2047. Ninety percent of the world has been known as the Connected. The Connected are the citizens who find their daily live in a virtual reality. Nash is a local bounty hunter who also is one of the Connected. His virtual world comes in the form of medieval times. On top of that, Nash is still reeling for the death of his girlfriend Helena. When Nash learns that there have been deaths in the virtual world, he has been assigned to find out who is responsible.

The ones responsible are a band known as the Necromancers. It is unclear why the Necromancers are killing in the virtual world but Synternis Corporation wants answers. As Nash begins his investigation, he finds himself beaten on some occasions but after successfully getting rid of some of the Necromancers. However, when a chance encounter with the leader of the Necromancers reveals something he never imagined, Nash finds himself conflicted between what truth is real and what truth is fiction. His decision may change the fate of the world as we know it.

From the mind of Guy Roger-Duvert comes this film that is highly influenced by sci-fi classics with a dash of French-flavored sci-fi epics that in its 92 minute running time starts out rather confusing but soon finds its meshing in the second half of the film. The film starts out like Blade Runner with the character of Nash, played by Mike Dopud, narrating the tale about a revolution but begins with how 90% of the world is now living through virtual reality and it has caused the non-connected to live virtually like thugs.

Jane Badler, star of the hit 80’s mini-series V, stars as Dina, Nash’s handler and leader of the Synternis Company, who just wants one thing and that’s to ensure Nash does his job. It may seem at first that Nash’s only ally in the investigation is hacker Morel, played by French actor Maximillien Poullein while Kaya Blocksage plays the leader of the Necromancers, whose confrontation with Nash leads to our hero having to make a choice.

The virtual reality sequences are nicely handled and provide a lot of action.  Nash’s world of virtual reality is that of medieval hero Swal, played by martial artist and stuntman Emilien De Falco but in one pivotal scene, he does take the avatar of a female futuristic warrior named Kate, played by Petra Silander. The lines between the real world and virtual reality do bring a sense of confusion at times but the second half helps smooth things over and brings quite an interesting ending.

2047: Virtual Revolution is not a bad indie sci-fi, but is clearly a middle of the road film. If you can get past the confusion of the real world and virtual reality, then stick around for the second half to get a full understanding of the film.

WFG RATING: C+

Wild Eye Releasing presents a Lidderdalei production. Director: Guy-Roger Duvert. Producer: Guy-Roger Duvert. Writer: Guy-Roger Duvert. Cinematography: Cyril Bron. Editing: Sylvain Franchet.

Cast: Mike Dopud, Jane Badler, Jochen Hägele, Maximillien Poullein, Kaya Blacksage, Petra Silander, Emilien De Falco, Nicolas Van Beveren.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning (2017)

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A young woman searches for answers but finds herself under constant threats in this adaptation of a Nancy Pickard novel.

Jody Linder has suffered for many years since the death of her parents. However, she has learned that the man who was imprisoned for the murders, Billy Croyle, has been paroled. Upset at the revelation, Jody confronts Billy’s son Collin, who was responsible for the parole when he revealed the truth that he was with his father the night of the apparent murders. Jody decides to find out what really happened to her parents the night of the murders.

As Jody begins her investigation, she finds herself going to places and meeting people who were involved in her family. She slowly begins to discover that Billy, who has gone crazy since being imprisoned and has a motive of revenge against the Linder family. When Jody finally finds herself convinced that Billy wasn’t responsible for the murders, she searches to find the truth and may find that the real murders may be closer than she ever expected.

Director Blake Robbins, along with screenwriters Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison, took Nancy Pickard’s novel and crafted an interesting tale that meshes a modern day investigation and flashbacks that slowly unveil what happened the night our lead character Jody’s parents were murdered. The film opens alone with the release of the accused murderer, Billy Croyle, played in a ultimately maniacal performance by Brad Carter.

Maika Monroe does well as the embittered Jody, who seems to have suffered quite a lot since the death of her parents. She finds herself a very angry woman, still holding onto that grudge when she confronts Collin, the son of Billy, played by Logan Miller. However, upon slowly learning that Billy may not be responsible, she decides to take up with her “rival” to find out the truth about what happened. One would expect a romance between Jody and Collin, but this is truly not the case. Instead, it is a simple case of two people learning to find out what happened.

In the flashback sequences, Justin Chatwin and Maggie Grace (who also served as a producer) play Jody’s parents, who seem to go from having a loving marriage to a tumultuous one plagued by Chatwin’s character always working on the family farm or traveling to help make money and Grace’s possible rumors of infidelity with people close to the couple. The biggest twist and shock of the film comes in the ultimately revelation of what really happened that night, which ends the film after a shocking confrontation.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning will keep viewers engaged once the story comes in full swing. A juxtaposition of flashbacks and present day, driven by the cast, really moves the story along. Add the shocking finale and you have a movie worth checking out.

WFG RATING: B+

SP Releasing present a No Coast Production present in association with Gerber Pictures and KP’s Remain. Director: Blake Robbins. Producers: Michael Davis, Blake Robbins, Jeff Robison, Casey Twenter, Kevin Waller, Jeff Johnson, Dan Koetting, and Maggie Grace. Writers: Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison; based on the novel by Nancy Pickard. Cinematography: Lyn Moncrief. Editing: Lauren Clark Carroll.

Cast: Maika Monroe, Logan Miller, Brad Carter, Will Patton, Bonnie Bedelia, Mark Webber, Aaron Poole, Maggie Grace, Justin Chatwin, Meg Crosbie, Jackson A. Dunn.

Terror Awaits in “The 13th Friday” Trailer

From the director of Alien: Reign of Man comes a tale of terror set in a house in Texas.

In The 13th Friday, a female refugee discovers an ancient demonic device that opens the gateway to another realm, in which she unleashes a dark entity that poses as her daughter. After many failed attempts to have the church explain the creation of her worst nightmares, she learns that the house is cursed by an enraged spirit that died on Friday the 13th. And now a group of thrill seeking friends unknowingly unleash its wrath and damn their souls.

Lisa May, Deanna Congo, Melissa L. Vega, Victoria Valdez, and Khu star in the film, directed by Justin Price.

Uncork’d Entertaunment will unleash The 13th Friday on Video on Demand platforms on October 10th.

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The King’s Case Note (2017)

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2017, CJ Entertainment/Film RAM Productions

Director:
Moon Hyun-Sung
Producer:
Aram Choi
Writers:
Heo Yoon-Mi (comic)
Kang Hyun-Sung (screenplay)

Cast:
Lee Sun-Kyun (King Yejong)
Ahn Jae-Hong (Yoon Yi-Seo)
Kim Hee-Won (Nam Geon-Hee)
Joo Jin-Mo (Jik Je-Hak)
Jang Young-Nam (Soo-Bin)
Kyung Soo-Jin (Seon-Hwa)
Kim Hong-Pa (Prime Minister)
Kim Eung-Soo (1st Vice-Premier)
Jo Yeong-Jin (2nd Vice-Premier)
Jung Hae-In (Black Cloud)

This historical action-comedy has perhaps one of the most smart-alecky kings in the Joseon Dynasty.

Yoon Yi-Seo has been hired to become the new royal chronicler in the Joseon Dynasty. The King, Yejong, is not your normal monarch, but rather he likes to work as a detective. Impressed with Yoon’s memory skills, Yejong hires him as his personal assistant. When one of Yejong’s shadow men suddenly dies at the same time a scarecrow appears with a letter as a threat to take down the kingdom, Yejong and Yoon decide to figure out the case.

With the letter indicating that perhaps Prince Jaseong, who Yejong’s nephew, is attempting to take over the throne has the court in uproar, Yejong suspects there’s more to it than what is rumored. Rumors of a “ghost fish” as a sign of the heavens has been popping up and after a confrontation with the monster, Yejong and Yoon soon learn that there is treachery in the midst on Yejong’s kingdom, but it may not be the teen Prince responsible, but someone far worse. Together, these two unlikely allies must solve the case before it’s too late.

Comic writer Heo Yoon-Mi has come up with a brilliant concept, to take the period piece and mesh it with the buddy comedy with his comic about a king who moonlights as a detective and his smart yet clumsy assistant. With Kang Hyun-Sung writing the script and meshing with Moon Hyun-Sung’s direction, the comic comes to life and it is an action-packed and fun adventure set in the Joseon Dynasty of Korea’s history.

Lee Sun-Kyun is funny to watch as the titular King Yejong, who while ruling the kingdom moonlights as a detective of sorts who takes things in a none too serious approach. As a matter of fact, he is quite the smart-aleck type who takes his role as King in quite a nonchalant manner while taking his other “job” more seriously, especially when his rule is threatened. However, it is that humorous side of Yejong that truly drives the film, notably in his scenes with his clumsy yet intelligent assistant, Yoon Yi-Seo.

Ahn Jae-Hong is the perfect comic foil in the role of chronicler Yoon. Yoon is introduced as a man who because of his new job, finds himself having to be loyal to the King where he makes his announcement to the King like the period films of yore. However, it is when Yejong berates him for using this traditional method that makes one realize that we’re in for a potential buddy comedy element that is the driving force of the film. When the duo work together to solve the case that is the basis of the film, these two have such great chemistry due to their opposing personalities and the reveals do have a bit of a shock that shows perhaps a side of the King that one may think is an over-exaggeration but proves to be as true as how Yejong is the King.

The King’s Case Note is not your typical Korean period piece but a nice meshing of said genre with the buddy action film that is fun to watch thanks to the performances of the two leads as the polar opposites who must stop the threat to the kingdom.

WFG RATING: A


The film was released in South Korea yesterday with the film set to make its U.S. debut tomorrow in Buena Park and Los Angeles followed by a limited release nationwide on May 5. A special Thank You goes to the folks at CJ Entertainment USA for allowing WFG to see this film!

Black Rose (2017)

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2017, ITN Distribution/Hollywood Storm/Czar Pictures

Director:
Alexander Nevsky
Producer:
Alexander Nevsky
Writers:
Alexander Nevsky (story)
Brent Huff (screenplay)
George Sanders (screenplay)
Cinematography:
Ruby Harbon
Editing:
Stephen Adrianson

Cast:
Alexander Nevsky (Major Vladimir Kazatov)
Kristanna Loken (Emily Smith)
Adrian Paul (Matt Robinson)
Robert Davi (Captain Frank Dalano)
Robert Madrid (Antonio Banuelos)
Matthias Hues (Black Mask Gang Leader)
Oksana Sidorenko (Sandra)
Olga Rodionova (Natalya)
Polina Butorina (Polina)
Dmitriy Bikbaev (Gary)

Russian powerhouse Alexander Nevsky stars and directs this murder mystery that has quite a twist and what some expect in terms of a partnership breaks the mold here.

The Los Angeles Police Department are in a major bind. Four Russian woman in the seedy underworld of Hollywood have been found murdered. The killer leaves a black rose as their calling card with notes in Russian. Captain Frank Dalano must take drastic measures to ensure that there will be no more victims. The Mayor and Dalano have decided to bring in a top detective from Russia to join the case for them to blend in with the neighborhood.

Enter Major Vladimir Kazatov, a tough as nails cop who does things in an unorthodox manner. When he arrives to Los Angeles, he is partnered with Detective Banuelos, until his attempt at stopping a robbery forces Banuelos to tell Dalano to give Kazatov another partner. Enter profiler Emily Smith, who can be as tough as Kazatov in terms of her sharp wits. Together, these new partners must do what it takes to ensure that no more murders occur.

Alexander Nevsky, the Russian bodybuilder turned actor and filmmaker, stars, produces, and directs this murder mystery that may bring the 1980’s film Red Heat to mind as Nevsky plays a Russian detective who is hired to go to Los Angeles to help solve a series of murders involving Russian women. Nevsky’s Kazatov plays the tough cop whose methods are questionable, especially when his introductory scene involves stopping a bank robbery led by a cameo appearance by Matthias Hues of No Retreat, No Surrender II fame. Nevsky doesn’t seem to be stern faced like Schwarzenegger’s Ivan Danko, and you can’t help but smirk when his partners ask if his methods are what they do in Russia where he will respond, “It’s how I do things”. The film was originally made in 2014.

Kristanna Loken makes for a great partner in Emily Smith, a top profiler who has the street smarts and attempts to help Kazatov find the Black Rose Killer. One would expect some sort of romance somewhere between Kazatov and Smith because in a typical movie of this nature, that’s what is expected. However, it is clear that Kazatov has a respect for his partner and knows the priority at hand. So a romance between these two is not in the cards and that’s a good thing. Adrian Paul and Robert Davi bring ample support as a by the book L.A.P.D. detective who doesn’t think Kazatov is a reliable asset and the police commander who supports our team as he feels they are the only ones capable of stopping the killings.

There is only one problem with the film, and it is a very minor one. It’s the use of what looks like CGI in lieu of squibs for people getting shot. At times, it looks pretty bad. However, the special effects for the most part are done quite well when it comes to seeing the victims get tortured before ultimately dying. They know their limits when it comes to showing the torture scenes as they didn’t clearly want to go to Saw or Hostel level but to bring it close enough for an action thriller.

Black Rose is actually a pretty good action thriller with Alexander Nevsky leading the charge with a great ally in Kristanna Loken’s street smart profiler. Definitely worth checking out this film if you are into murder mysteries.

WFG RATING: B+

ITN Distribution will be releasing this film in select theaters on April 28 followed by a VOD and DVD release on May 2.

ITN Distribution to Bring Nevsky’s “Black Rose” to North America

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Alexander Nevsky and Kristanna Loken in Black Rose

Russian powerhouse Alexander Nevsky‘s latest film, Black Rose, has been picked up by ITN Distribution for release in North American markets later this month.

In the film, Nevsky plays a Russian detective who travels to Los Angeles and finds himself teaming up with a local detective, played by Kristanna Loken, to hunt down a serial killer who is targeting young women on the streets of Hollywood.

The film co-stars Matthias HuesAdrian Paul, and Robert Davi. Nevsky not only stars in the film, but directs the film as well with a script from Brent Huff and George Sanders.

Nevsky is a former Mr. Universe and established star in his native Russia. His credits include Treasure RaidersUndisputed, and recently, Showdown in Manila.

ITN Distribution will be releasing Black Rose on April 28 in select theaters.

 

Fatal Games (1984)

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The trials for the Olympics take a dangerous turn in this 80’s slasher film that is not too much on the gory side (and that’s okay) and provides one hell of an ending (which helps), but somehow drags from time to time (which can bore the viewer).

At a training facility, seven young men and women have qualified to compete in the Nationals in which should they succeed, will make their dream to the Olympics. They are gymnasts Annie, Nancy, Frank, and Sue Ellen; swimmer Lynn; and track and field qualifiers Joe and Phil. As they prepare for the Nationals, their training increases with constant pressure from medical trainer Dr. Jordine and Coaches Webber and Drew. Only physical therapist/nurse assistant Diane has any sympathy for these hopefuls.

However, the pressures of training are nothing compared to what’s about to happen. A mysterious person in a black tracksuit arrives and begins to slowly kill each one of the young hopefuls using a javelin. As each one begins to go missing, those who have survived so far as well as the medical staff and coaches begin to worry. Who is the mysterious killer who is impaling their victims, ruining their dreams of possible Olympic fame?

Shot in 1983, one can only guess that the film was released on the fact that the Los Angeles Olympics games were about to be held the following year. While the concept is similar to an earlier slasher film, Graduation Day (1981), the fact that the Olympics are somehow involved with this film (even in a brief mention) makes it a bit novel. The filmmaking team of director Michael Elliot (in what would be his only film) and producer Charles Mankiewicz crafted what could have been a possibly underrated 80’s slasher. However, there does bode one small issue.

The script, in which Elliot and Mankiewicz co-wrote with Rafael Bunuel, tends to drag in certain pieces perhaps due to the fact that we have seven potential victims all set in mind. In addition, it seemed like there is an unnecessary scene involving the swimming coach and a female lover. Instead of just a typical slasher, many of the filler scenes are either some sort of talk between couples (Lynn and Frank; Annie and Phil); or the doctor (played by director Elliot) just yelling at the coaching staff and physical therapist to do their job as if he is the flipping head coach.

Unlike inventive death scenes seen in most slasher films, our killer resorts to using one thing: a javelin. From the getgo, one could suspect one of the young hopefuls as they are a javelin thrower themselves (Spoiler Alert: thirty-five minutes into it, you’ll think otherwise). Some of the impaling scenes look like something more akin to an action film, especially the very first death scene as it just comes out of nowhere and the victim is impaled to the wall during a weight-lifting session and it is not as gory as one might imagine. In terms of comparing to other films during the golden age of slasher films, the bloodletting here is a more “close to the middle” road rather than off-screen killings or say, a Tom Savini gorefest.

Fatal Games had potential and didn’t rely on over the top buckets of blood, but too much filler made this film drag along to the point of boredom at times. However, the death scenes are quite nicely done and the big reveal does provide quite a bit of redemption for an overall ho-hum effort.

WFG RATING: C

An Impact Films Production. Director: Michael Elliot. Producer: Charles Mankiewicz. Writers: Rafael Bunuel, Michael Elliot, and Charles Mankiewicz. Cinematography: Alfred Taylor. Editing: Jonathon Braun.

Cast: Sally Kirkland, Lynn Banashek, Sean Masterson, Michael O’Leary, Teal Roberts, Spice Williams-Crosby, Melissa Prophet, Angela Bennett, Nicholas Love, Michael Elliot, Charles Mankiewicz, Lauretta Murphy

 

Abattoir (2016)

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From the director of three installments of the Saw franchise comes this tale of a small town that is not like any other and a reporter who must go there to uncover the murder of her sister’s family.

Julia Talben is a reporter for a local newspaper who longs to become an investigative reporter despite reservations from detective Declan Grady. However, one fateful night, Julia has learned her sister, along with her sister’s family, have been brutally murdered by the seemingly nice Richard Renshaw for no reason. When Julia learns the room where the murders took place has been inconspicuously taken, she turns to Renshaw for clues. When Renshaw mentions the name “New English”, Julia, who remembered her mother was there, decides to head over there despite more reservations from Grady.

Upon her arrival to the small town, she is warned by the town’s sheriff McDermott, to leave town. However, she refuses to leave and ends up in her family’s house, now owned by Allie, who told Julia her mother died of cancer thirty years ago. Grady also arrives in the town to help Julia and the duo stays with Allie. Meanwhile, Julia learns that a local preacher, Jebediah Crone, has been known to sacrifice children who were “pledged” by their parents, the local townsfolk. To make matters worse, Crone is discovered to be the buyer of the room where Julia’s sister was killed because he plans to build a house made up of rooms where murders took place. Will Julia and Grady be able to stop Crone or will an even darker secret lead to something more horrific?

Darren Lynn Bousman is truly a pretty good horror filmmaker with a reputation that began with Repo! The Genetic Opera but broke through when he directed the second through fourth installments of the famous Saw horror film series. With his latest film, with the script by Christopher Monette, the film starts out as a murder mystery that delves into a morbid tale that brings films like The Village to mind yet with something even more sinister in the midst. It must be noted that the title of film is referred to as a “slaughterhouse”, but this is not meant as a literal meaning but rather a metaphorical meaning.

The cast does quite well in their roles. As investigative reporter Julia, Jessica Lowndes brings a stern attitude to her role as a woman who longs to become a crime reporter rather than dealing with real estate and finally lives her dream when the crime involves the brutal murders of her sister and family. Her chemistry with Joe Anderson’s detective Grady is questionable at times, only because the audience isn’t quite sure what their relationship is. Are they married? Boyfriend-girlfriend? Friends with benefits? That part is uncertain, but it is clear that they both respect each other yet at times can’t stand one another.

However, one of the film’s saving graces is Dayton Callie, who plays the insane preacher Jebediah Crone. Callie brings Crone as someone who may not look insane, but his foremanner oozes insanity with him basically controlling the town under his “spell” and his idea of creating a house made up of rooms where murders occur. As for Michael Paré, the legendary actor makes the most of his extended cameo in the pivotal role of Julia’s sister’s murderer Renshaw, who brings the clues that lead Julia to the evil village.

There’s something about Lin Shaye (the pun being intentional as she appeared in the 1998 comedy There’s Something About Mary) that makes her performances in horror films great even if the overall film is not so good all the time. She makes any role work well and while she is perhaps known for the iconic role of paranormal expert Elise Rainier in the Insidious films, shows a bit of a crazy side in the form of Allie, the local woman who lets Julia stay with her and holds a dark secret of her own yet she does it with such grace and wit that it brings a bit of much needed wittiness to a morbid setting.

Abattoir is a pretty decent horror film that may have raise questions, but is a well-shot meshing of crime investigation thriller and small town horror film, thanks in part to the driven performances of Dayton Callie and Lin Shaye alongside Jessica Lowndes as the stern reporter who will do what it takes to solve her sister’s murder. Morbid but not as bloody as one might think.

WFG RATING: B

Momentum Pictures presents a Dark Web Productions film in association with Les Enfants Terribl, Luminary Entertainment, Pacific Bridge Pictures and Radical Studios. Director: Darren Lynn Bousman. Producers: Jesse Berger and Brent C. Johnson. Writer: Christopher Monette; based on the graphic novel by Darren Lynn Bousman. Cinematography: Michael Fimognari. Editing: Brian J. Smith.

Cast: Jessica Lowndes, Joe Anderson, Dayton Callie, Lin Shaye, John McConnell, Bryan Batt, Michael Paré, J. LaRose, Jackie Tuttle, Jay Hughley, Aiden Flowers, Carol Sutton.

 

REVIEW: The Wailing (2016)

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2016, 20th Century Fox/Ivanhoe Pictures/Side Mirror Entertainment

Director:
Na Hong-Jin
Producers:
Suh Dong-Hyun
Kim Ho-Sung
Writer:
Na Hong-Jin
Cinematography:
Hong Kyung-Pyo
Editing:
Kim Sun-Min

Cast:
Kwak Do Won (Jeon Jong-Goo)
Hwang Jeong-Min (Il-Kwang)
Jun Kunimura (The Japanese Man)
Chun Woo-Hee (The Woman)
Kim Hwan-Hee (Jeon Hyo-Jin)

A mysterious occurrence in a small village is the basis for this thriller that seems to have a bit of an M. Night Shyamalan film but is much more better than expected.

In the rural village of Gok-Seong, ginseng farmer Cho and his wife have been found dead. The suspect is Park Heung-Guk. Checking the suspect’s house, it is believed that the consumption of wild mushrooms may have been the cause, but investigating officer Jong-Goo doesn’t believe it. There have been stories that a Japanese man who has arrived may have some responsibility especially after a couple burn down their house, killing almost everyone and during the investigation, Jong-Goo finds himself attacked by the crazy couple.

As Jong-Goo and partner Seong-Bok are in charge of protecting the crime scene, a mysterious woman appears and tells Jong-Goo that the Japanese man is responsible. When the two arrive with Seong-Bok’s nephew Yang E-Sam, a priest in training, things don’t go well as planned. However, Jong-Goo learns that his young daughter Hyo-Jin begins to show symptoms similar to those who have been afflicted. When an actual confrontation with the mysterious Japanese man fails, Jong-Goo’s mother-in-law has hired the services of Il-Kwang, a local shaman who has the power to possibly solve the mystery. Will Jong-Goo be able to cure his daughter with Il-Kwang’s help? With more bodies popping up, it becomes a race for time before it is too late.

Part-mystery, part-horror film, Na Hong-Jin took six years from writing the script to actually filming and while this may seem similar to a film directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Na adds the twist of religion and it is because of this, combined with the performances of the cast that makes this better than expected let alone be a better film that the last few horror “spectacles” directed by the once-promising Shyamalan.

Forget the glamorization of Hollywood here in terms of casting the lead. If this were made in Hollywood, one would expect someone like Mark Wahlberg or Brad Pitt to play the troubled detective who must find a way to save his daughter from what could be a demonic possession. However, for this film and its setting, Kwak Do-Won is perfectly cast in the role of Jong-Goo. The rotund actor, who looks like may be better in supporting roles, goes from miserable cop who does have a bit of comic relief in the beginning to a seriously concerned father and officer responsible for figuring out not only the rash of murders but how it can affect his daughter, played in a wonderful performance from Kim Hwan-Hee.

Hwang Jeong-Min’s shaman character of Il-Kwang has the vibe at times of Lin Shaye’s paranormal expert in the Insidious film series but adds a touch of overacting in certain scenes, notably the so-called “exorcism” scenes. Hwang is the type of actor who can make any film role work (see him in Fists of Legends and Veteran as two prime examples) and you can see why his talents work well here despite a bit of the overacting. Meanwhile, Korean actress Chun Woo-Hee makes the most of her limited screen as the mysterious woman, who warns our protagonist about the other mysterious cast member, played by Japanese film veteran Jun Kunimura in a pretty good performance.

The opening of the film has a quote from Luke 24:37-39 and it is without a doubt relevant to the story as we do deal with religions. Aside from shamanism and a dash of voodoo from one certain scene, the film does deal with a priest in training in a central role with an evoking of “angels and demons”. This is where the film gets interesting. There are nods to The Walking Dead, but the finale, which just has to be seen to be believed, has the “angels and demons” nod to a tee and provides a major twist that not is unexpected but is exactly why this is perhaps one of best Korea’s best thrillers to date.

The Wailing will stand the tests of time as a definitely horror gem thanks to its performances from the cast as well as the whole religion riff and shocking twist in the finale that just can be described as mind-blowing. If you like mystery films with a twist, this is one for your collection or watch list.

WFG RATING: A

Well Go USA Home Entertainment will release this film on DVD and Blu-Ray in stores on October 4, 2016. Special Features on the Blu-Ray include a featurette, “The Beginning of The Wailing”; the making of the film and trailers. To pre-order your copy of the film, click on the link below: