CAMPING; part two

The Ritual 2017

Dir: David Bruckner 

Perhaps i’m a little biased, but Brits are definitely making the best horror movies at the minute.

Maybe not the best ever, (after extensive scientific research I’ve concluded that Koreans make the best ever), but we are getting considerably better. More importantly directors have stopped using stupid british stereotypes and taking the genre for one big fucking joke (and I promise this isnt a snide jab at Shaun of the Dead, even though i fucking hated it). 

Whilst Hollywood seems to keep churning out one jump scare/found footage/thoughtless remake disaster after another, Brit horror has started to finesse the underrated art of the slow burner.

Make no mistakes about this; if a film starts off slow you’re guaranteed an absolute treat. Blair Witch, for example, is an archetypal slow burner; horrifically dull to begin with, lures you into a false sense of total security, two hours later you’ve left the cinema hollow, afraid and bewildered. Other examples include The ExcoristRing, Eden Lake, The Loved Ones, even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre-all horror CLASSICS, and yet nothing actually happens for a while in pretty much all of them. 

As a self proclaimed horror connoisseur, I believe the best scares happen when you’re not sure when to expect them. The only issue with this logic is that we live in the instant gratification era of social media where the average attention span is 00.003 seconds. Getting people in 2017 to even SIT through a film like the 1999 Blair Witch is hard enough, so directors have had to resort to cliched watered down scripts and pantomime tactics to keep viewers engaged.
Every few years on this side of the pond, an absolutely underrated banger of a movie will be released which shows just how refined we are becoming at creating genuine fear. Whilst we may be crap at a lot of things (like voting for leaders, making eye contact or being direct) our levels of horrifying just keep getting better and better.

Based on a lads holiday gone exceptionally wrong, the story is totally doomed from the very start. 

*Spoilers ahead*

A lead character from the “group” is murdered during a robbery within minutes of the films opening. His unexpected murder leads to an undercurrent of resentment, blame and guilt, which remains ever present throughout. In many ways he becomes the film’s protagonist as his absence from the group is continually highlighted creating an uncomfortable dynamic between the other characters, who each seem to have their opinions about the circumstances surrounding his death. 

A largely unwanted hiking trip later ensues to honour his memory; this hike follows a long trail from Norway to Sweden, which they ultimately hope will result in getting very drunk at a lodge on the other side.

Obviously someone gets injured and they have to take the “shortcut”.

Luckily the director isn’t a douche, and doesn’t mock your intelligence, we all know what happens when you take a shortcut through the woods, including the characters themselves, who’s banter and laddish jokes indicate that they do too. 

Making remarks about how they’re going to end up dead, is definitely not far from the truth. The group finds themselves being hunted in a bizarre ritualistic fashion, which initially seems like witchcraft, but emerges as something much more terrifying.

Combining elements from classic horror, there is an level of predictability which David Bruckner playfully draws on to create said false sense of security with the viewer. Everything you think may happen you have to later rethink; the twist in plot is very smart and very original.

Definitely up there with The Descent and Creep; also further fuels my desire to stay in hotels whilst in rural regions. 


Black Mess

Black Mass (2015)
Dir: Scott Cooper

Slightly off topic, (mainly because there aren’t enough horror movies around to warrant an hour of thought), I’ve opted for Johnny Depp horrifying us all with his rotton front tooth and deeply dehydrated skin.


Theres been more gangster biopics lately then we’ve had in a while. After Legend I think we were all ready for a further exploration into the criminal mind, Depp hasn’t done anything that hasn’t involved LSD or chocolate since Donnie Brasco, so many have really been looking forward to it.

The film tells the tale of one of the FBIs most wanted men, the infamous Whitey Bulger leader of Boston Mob “the winter hill” gang. The almost unrecognisable Depp plays a chilling Bulger and really gets into his role. Lots of killing, teaching people lessons, burying bodies under bridges, highly loaded yet ambiguous gangster threats (please refer to scene at the dinner table, which has forever changed my opinion on soy sauce and garlic powder), the usual. Apparently the purpose of the film was to chronicle the rise of Whitey Bulger and his relationship with the FBI. Sadly what we were presented with (sorry Guardian film page) was a flimsy script, and a disjointed picture of how and why Bulger goes from small time criminal to FBIs most wanted.


We see so much of Bulger being a total douche, without really understanding what actually makes this guy tick, that this lack of context ends up creating a widening bridge between him and the viewer as we can never truly immerse ourselves in his world. Allegedly the real Whitey Bulger also didnt care, so much so that he refused to cooperate with Depp et al regarding characterisation; this was highly apparent in the end product.


So much revolved Bulger’s relationship with FBI agent Johnny Connelly, that it almost felt like “Stand by Me”. This relationship alone should have been the focus of the film, rather than trying to cram in 30 years of activity. No other characters really mattered, it starts with a promising intro and then solely becomes about Bulger and Connelly, and essentially how obsessed Connelly was in pleasing him. Everything and everyone else just felt like they were there for decoration.

Why even BOTHER with any female characters? They literally serve no purpose to the plot, literally zero. Bulger’s wife? Pointless fifteen minutes of airtime. Why cast such a great actress if you’re just going to give her a  one minute scene in a hospital and never explain where she went afterwards?

In fact where do any of the women go? Are there any women in Boston in the 1970s? What the hell happened to Connelly’s wife? Did she get over Bulger’s psycho medical speech in her house? Did she buy another pair of satin flares? Does she leave Boston? I really would’ve liked a resolve to that situation.


Essentially my primary beef with this film is the utter disinterest in developing any of the other characters. Take Benedict Cumberpatch for example (I wish this was the start of a sherlock joke), he played a powerful political figure, whose brother was a mob kingpin, THAT SHIT IS INTERESTING GODDAMIT!! Couldn’t we perhaps have a bit more development there? So there was absolutely no issues with the fact that this was a real situation? It was skimmed over at best, which was super infuriating and yet again a reflection of a poor script. Soz.

Having no emotional involvement with anyone in the film whatsoever does also make a film feel considerably longer than it should. Just a casual FYI.

Johnny Depp, aside from looking tired,  doesn’t do enough with the complexity of Bulger’s character to make me care. His mannerisms, fucked vibe in general, yes. Why this guy is so fucked up? no idea. Take Ray Liotta and his portrayal of Henry Hill; he brings me in, involves me in his world, and therefore I get him, appreciating his intentions and actually feeling bad for him when things start to unravel in his life.

This guy Bulger…don’t get it, I don’t understand why that whole bit with his wife and kid was put in, I don’t get how and why he got into organised crime, I don’t hate him enough to feel sickened by what he does, don’t like him enough to feel pity for him.

The one thing that entertained me more than it should was John Connolly. Joel Edgerton plays him so brilliantly as a FBI wannabe mobster that it makes you recoil. He’s that guy in college who does shit to impressive the popular crew, it’s pretty painful to watch. He goes out of his way for Bulger in a way which is confusing and seems to have very little gain (aside from financial) for him. Subsequently he ends up doing one of the longest sentences out of anyone, which makes it all the more pitiful.


Watch it for the violence and sexy accents.

Don’t watch it if you’re tired 

Deliver us from tired scripts

Sometimes I go and watch horror movies and I’m all like “meh”. The usual haunted house/scary Japanese chick with long hair/young possessed catholic girl/ hillbillies who eat people situation. As a horror fan you get so used to these formulas then eventually you’re just like immune…and often jaded…and that’s fine I guess, just a bit disappointing.

It’s nice to occasionally see something, y’know, different

The Pact. That was different. That was pretty cool actually. I liked The Pact. That was some scary shit.

Cockneys vs. Zombies. (see last post), also different, funny, really well acted, not the most terrifying, but whatever, it was pretty cool.

Sometimes different can be bad. Like when P-Diddy did that song “come with me” or when David lynch made that experimental movie with all the rabbits, and the shaky camera. That’s when different starts to unnerve me and make me wish things were normal again.

And then you get films like “Deliver Us from Evil”, which ironically fulfils it’s title in more ways then you can ever hope for.

So let’s just clarify one thing- this is not a horror movie. It thinks it’s a horror movie, in fact it actually dresses itself up as one; the trailer, the demonic possession “storyline”, the music box and the scary stuffed toy, the dude who’s covered in Latin writing carved into his skin….we get it, you’re trying.

Only it’s not really a horror movie.

It’s basically a really long episode of CSI, with some supernatural shit thrown in for good measure. It’s actually not even CSI, it’s borderline “buddy” movie, you know those 80s buddy movies, like Beverly Hills cop or Miami vice? Where they love their partner in a non homoerotic way, and yet seem to spend more time with them then with their wives? Those movies. It was one of those movies.

Steven Segal could totally be in this movie. That’s how 80s this shit is.


Ok so what’s it about? Fuck knows to be honest. Three disillusioned soldiers go nuts in Iraq after stumbling on a possessed ancient burial ground/ gates of hell (it’s not made clear, but you get the gist). They all go nuts and come home and do cray cray shit.

The police officer, played by an extremely boring Eric bana (who looks like Matt Dillon a LOT), is doing his best at a New York accent, and gets a “radar” when he knows he’s onto something. His partner, played by some unknown who looks like Fred durst, is the most annoying “bro” character known to MAN. Not gonna lie, when he died I didn’t even care. Like not even a bit. Sorry yo, I just didn’t.

So they find these guys doing isolated nutty stuff (beating their wives, scratching shit into their walls, killing cats) and realise the Iraq link.

Then there’s the possession stuff.

Then there’s this priest.

Ok so I really need a MOMENT to talk about this priest. This guy has got to be some type of inside joke, because there is no way in hell the writers were keeping a straight face when they included a sexy, ex junkie catholic priest who looks like a Latin jazz singer and sings in Spanish whilst performing exorcisms….

oh and works out….and smokes slowly….and drinks whisky….whilst sweaty…..

No seriously you guys, seriously. Don’t even..

So in a nutshell this is forgettable, uninspired and really overlong.

Olivia munn is also in this and she annoys the crap out of me, so there’s another reason to avoid it.

Save your money and buy a ouji board instead. Much more entertaining