Ginger Nuts of Horror
Deep in the Darkness is a suspenseful horror story adapted from a novel by the same name and written by Michael Laimo. It takes place in a very small town setting that is essentially off the grid and has its own way of doing things. A doctor and his family are moving there to take over a small practice vacated by the recently deceased doctor before him. Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap fame) gives an admirable performance as one of the town’s people who has to educate the new doc in the rites of the town and the legend that dictates their actions. Every family must sacrifice an animal in the woods on a stone altar to a race of humanoids they call the Isolates. According to native folklore the Isolates developed alongside man and eventually grew strong and cunning enough to hunt them. The local populace began sacrificing animals to them to placate them and stop the killing of the town residents. The doc is a materialist skeptic and refuses to do so, thereby drawing their attention. He is then forced to provide his services to pregnant and sick Isolates in lieu of the sacrifice in order to keep himself and his family alive. But he is not content with this and desires to escape the town; a very dangerous endeavor.
There are a few creepy and disturbing moments. The FX on the Isolates is well done and very nightmarish looking but is, in all honesty, a total rip off of H. G. Wells’ Morlocks in his book The Time Machine, and their appearance, particularly the face and eyes is almost just like the costumes and FX in the 1960’s movie, just with modern day advances.
The big problem with this movie for me is the acting. It’s just ok. Nothing to set it head and shoulders above the midline. It’s a 2.5-3 out of 5 stars, a 5 on a scale of 1-10. And for the people who read the book, which I’m told was good, it can only be a disappointment because it is definitely a mediocre adaptation. The acting overall is not impressive but not bad, just ok. If you want a popcorn movie and a short escape this movie will do the trick. But don’t expect the world.
Extinction is a new take on the zombie genre. It starts out with a tense scene on a bus as military soldiers are attempting to get numerous people out of a dangerous area. Zombie mayhem ensues as we meet the main cast: Patrick (played by Matthew Fox, known for his role as Jack in the show LOST), Jack (played by Jeffrey Donovan (main character on Burn Notice), Emma (Valeria Vereau) and Baby Lu (later played by Quinn McColgan as a 9 year old). After everything goes to hell the story shifts to 9 years later. For some reason (I honestly don’t remember them ever explaining the why) the world is now stuck in an apparent low level ice age. It is snowing all the time, cold, but survivable. Patrick announces on his ham radio broadcast that “the forecast for tonight is…cold, tomorrow is…cold and the day after that is…cold…next year?...” He then goes on to ask “where the hell is everybody?” It appears that the vast majority of people in the world have perished but we are also told the zombies “died from the cold”. Patrick, his daughter Lu and Jack are living in a small town area on their own. We are not given an explanation at that time as to why Jack’s wife Emma is no longer with them, nor are we told why Patrick is raising Lu, she believes Jack is her father and Patrick and Jack live in different houses and do not associate.
Quinn McColgan gives us a fantastic and convincing performance as inquisitive little Lu and Matthew Fox embodies the angst and depression of Patrick’s character with great intensity. However, Jeffrey Donovan never impressed me in the TV show Burn Notice with his acting. He was always very flat in my opinion. Here he has moments where he manages to transcend that enough to be believable but still doesn’t sell me all the way.
The core storyline for Extinction is really about the redemption of Patrick and his attempted reconciliation between him and Jack and assuming a role in his daughter’s life. As the movie progresses we are given more information into why things are the way they are and we understand the depth of animosity between Patrick and Jack as well as Patrick’s depression and angst.
In the midst of this a new monster arrives on the scene - a form of the zombie that evolved and adapted to the cold somehow, albeit at the loss of vision and the addition of heightened hearing. The FX on the zombies is really well done and they move like feral children skulking about on all fours at times and then biped depending on the environment and when they decide to attack they are fast, explosive and powerful.
Unfortunately for our cast, these new zombies happen to be moving their way en masse. They must fend off the invading cannibals, taking a stand in their houses. The final 20 minutes or so is a wild ride of desperate struggle mixed with moments of edge of your seat hide and seek suspense, genius improvisation, some fine cinematography and one scene with a load of truly fun blistering gun fire and carnage. But alas, all good zombie killing must come to an end as the numbers overwhelm. The inevitable plummet into hopelessness comes and sacrifices must be made.
Overall, I really enjoyed this movie, even with its imperfections, particularly because of Matthew Fox’s and Quinn McColgan’s performances and that bloody barrage of zombie slaughter in the last 20 minutes of the film.
From the Dark takes place in Ireland on an old farmer’s property where he is shoveling out bricks of peat for Irish logs to be burned. While digging the old man hits something wooden. He digs his fingers into the mud and pulls it out thinking it is some kind of stick. It looks an awfully lot like a large stake. He then realizes there is something bigger beneath it and pulls away at the wood to create a hole through which he sees into what he realizes is a coffin. He can see an arm with pale flesh that is not rotting, covered in jewelry and possessing long sharp nails. The farmer hurries away to get something but when he gets back the creature has already emerged and attacks him, though in its weakened state is unable to hold onto him for long after biting him. The farmer escapes and shortly thereafter we are introduced to our two main characters – Sarah (Niamph Algar) and Mark (Stephen Cromwell). This appears to be the first lead role for both of these actors. They are traveling through the country side and get their vehicle stuck. The boyfriend has to hike a ways to the old farmer’s house to seek help and discovers a man in need of help himself. The story proceeds from there.
The creature reminds me of the old school Nosferatu, but its bite is infectious like a zombie (an aspect found in some old European vampire mythology I believe) and it is vulnerable to light of any kind, whether sun, flashlight, candle or even cellphone screen. It has a primal fury and violence to it but definitely is not lacking intellect.
Sarah and her boyfriend Mark are believably written characters. Mark is a bit of the cocky know it all male but Sarah is remarkably tough, resilient, intelligent and resourceful. I really enjoyed her character’s common sense and good decision making compared to the average stupid victims seen in many horror movies. She also is not squeamish in the least and is prepared to do the hard things to survive. For me, she really made the movie. I was invested in her character and in seeing if or how she might overcome the creature.
The movie is really one big game of cat and mouse, hide and seek, hit and run and stay in the light as the creature and the infected farmer try to circumvent the light and have their fill of the young couple. I found it very enjoyable and you will definitely be rewinding it to see the last second of the movie if you’re not paying close attention. Hell, if I had seen it in theaters I probably would have paid to go right back in and watched it again just to confirm my eyes. My wife blinked and missed it.
This is the best frackin’ zombie movie you will have seen in a while, hands down! I absolutely love this movie! It’s an amazing ride down Kiah Roache-Turner’s Road of the Dead. Take Dawn of the Dead, breed it with Mad Max then gene splice it with Government conspiracy experimentations on the population and pop theology’s take on the Bible’s book of Revelation, lastly add a strong dose of morbidly twisted humor and you have Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead!
Our main characters are Barry (Jay Gallagher), his sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) and Benny (Leon Burchill). They are all superbly written and played as are the primary supporting cast members. The script has moments to pull at your heart strings but overall it is crazy, over the top violence with a wicked comedic heart that keeps you smiling darkly as you laugh away. There is some true originality in this movie as well. Kiah has created a framework for how the zombies function along with some experimental evolution that allowed him to be hilariously innovative in multiple ways.
The basic plot structure is as follows: Start out in the middle of some serious poo poo, return to the beginning of the end times to provide backstory on our characters and set up the plot where Barry and Benny meet and Barry’s sister, Brooke, gets kidnapped by the soldiers and experimented on by some deranged pervert scientist then move forward to the serious poo poo moment and beyond towards the culmination of the film after much valiant zombie killing and battling with government soldiers to rescue Barry’s sister.
There are so many great moments in this film but I have to say the Doc that experiments on a bunch of zombies as well as humans, including Brooke, provided some of the funniest and most enjoyable scenes. I could list many more but why should I ruin this awesome journey for you?
My advice? Go find this movie and watch it now. Wait a little bit and then watch it again. You’ll love it just as much on subsequent viewings. I know I did.