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The Final Klaxons Gig: 4 November 2014, Shepherd's Bush Empire

Tomorrow marks the Klaxons' nine year anniversary. Nine years of mayhem and chaos, magic and stratospheric success but "alas Shepherd's Bush", says Jamie Reynolds, "there is no other time". And there won't be because this is it: the final Klaxons gig in the UK.

It's a pretty bitter pill to swallow. For me, the Klaxons represent my entire journey in the UK from the moment I first heard "Not Over Yet" shortly after my arrival to this Monday morning at 7am, blasting out "Children of the Sun" on my iPod to dispel the Halloween cobwebs.

There were highs and lows, of course. Highs would be when I first saw them at the NME Big Gig at the O2 in 2008 and last year's brilliant comeback at Hard Rock Calling in Victoria Park.

I had no idea this morning that this was going to be the last Klaxons gig I would ever see but I am so very grateful that I had tickets to see it.

And what a performance it was.

Tonight was, in a word, spectacular. It felt intimate, like a small farewell party for just the band and a couple of hundred of their biggest fans. It looked like the four lads were really enjoying themselves on stage and I'm pretty sure Jamie was crying at the end there (although I was crying big girl tears so I might be mistaken).

Klaxons burst onto stage with "New Reality" and went straight into "Atlantis to Interzone". Jamie didn't waste time confirming what we'd heard, that this was their final gig but very little else was said about that. They lead into "There Is No Other Time" to thunderous applause from the crowd, followed by "Gravity's Rainbow", the drum mastery of "Twin Flames" and "Show Me a Miracle".

"Golden Skans" was next and it felt like coming home. Suddenly it was the summer of 2007 again and Klaxons were playing 6 times an hour on Xfm and everything seemed possible. "Invisible Forces" followed and the crowd went ballistic.

The rumbling intro to "Two Receivers" sounded next, the first track from their debut album Myths of the Near Future. Once again it struck me as poignant, a return to their roots and where it all started. I could almost feel in my bones what was to follow.

"Magick". I don't know what else to say. I'm pretty sure I once listened to this track on repeat for six months and even then it was only superseded by the Metronomy remix of "Atlantis to Interzone". The performance of this track tonight, this fabulous, perfect track, was phenomenal. They were never going to simply go through the motions and play it. The band stopped midway and paused, whipping the crowd into a frenzy before descending into a rapturous finale. It was something I doubt I'll ever forget.

The final songs of the set were a bittersweet "Atom to Atom" and "Echoes". I knew they'd come back for an encore, of course I did but as the band left the stage, I couldn't help feel that this was it.

They soon exploded back on stage with thunderous renditions of "The Bouncer" and "Four Horsemen of 2012". With the dance floor in utter chaos they broke into a particularly momentous "Children of the Sun" before their final farewell. It was the first track I'd ever heard by then and only fitting it should be the last: "It's Not Over Yet".

How strange that my favourite dance track of all time would lead me to one of my favourite bands of all time. (I once searched high and low for over a year to lay my hands on the CD single for Grace's "It's Not Over Yet" in the days before the dawn of the Internet).

And suddenly it was over. I can't help but hope that we see Klaxons again at festivals or in comeback tours but if that was it, if I'll really never see them again, well then it was all worth it. Tonight will count as one of the best gigs I have ever seen and a fitting farewell.

Thank you Klaxons!

Klaxons final concert

Shepherd's Bush Empire: 4 November 2014

Setlist

New Reality
Atlantis to Interzone
Flashover
There Is No Other Time
Gravity's Rainbow
Twin Flames
Show Me a Miracle
Golden Skans
Invisible Forces
Two Receivers
Magick
Atom to Atom
Echoes
 
The Bouncer
4 Horsemen of 2012
Children of the Sun
It's Not Over Yet

Movie Review: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box

Adventurer - banner

Life can be pretty mundane when your father is a renowned professor and you're made to sit through his lectures while he waffles on endlessly about antiquities. Mariah Mundi (Aneurin Barnard) is a young seventeen-year-old Victorian gentleman and his life centres around his family and his younger brother Felix. All of a sudden Mariah's life is thrown into turmoil when his parent's disappear and Mariah and Felix are chased from their home by intruders. On the run, dirty and penniless, they soon find themselves in a reformatory where the enigmatic Will Charity (Michael Sheen) arrives to their rescue.

Aneurin Barnard and Xavier Atkins in The Adventurer

Well, almost. In the chaos that ensues, Mariah and Felix are separated and Felix is carted off by thugs. Will explains to Mariah that the events are linked to his father’s work and the search for the legendary Midas Box. He suggests to Mariah that his only chance of rescuing his parents and younger brother is to investigate the mysterious Otto Luger (Sam Neill) and accept a position as an undercover porter at the Prince Regent Hotel. 

Aneurin Barnard in The Adventurer

There Mariah travels and soon discovers that the situation is far more grave than he could imagine with monsters terrorising the town, children disappearing and danger at every turn. Can he solve the Curse of the Midas Touch in time to save his brother?

Sam Neill and Lena Headey in The Adventurer

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is a daring Victorian caper with hidden treasures, secret passageways and a host of clues to solve. This is a visually spectacular film with vibrant colours, steam powered contraptions and handsome Victorian fashions. The film draws comparisons with The Mummy and Indiana Jones but stands out for its healthy dose of fantasy with magical medallions and enchanted cards. It is directed by Jonathan Newman and features the cream of British acting stars including Michael Sheen, Sam Neill, Lena Headey, Ioan Gruffudd and Keeley Hawes.

Mella Carron and Aneurin Barnard in The Adventurer

Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard is perfect as the dashing Mariah Mundi and I can see that he has quite a career ahead of him as a teenage heart throb. (Someone really needs to give him a role as a teenage vampire). He is joined in his adventures by Mella Carron in her role as Sacha, and together with Michael Sheen they steal the show.

Michael Sheen in The Adventurer

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is a lot of old-fashioned fun and will certainly appeal to young children and lovers of adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed the film but do have one complaint in that I disliked the final scene enough to leave quite a sour taste in my mouth. I won’t spoil it at all except to say that I wasn’t happy with such a game changer taking place in the final credits and it seems like a nasty storyline to pursue in a sequel in any event.

Nevertheless, I do recommend The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box and I give it three out of five stars. I really did struggle between placing it at three or four stars but ultimately it is good and enjoyable but not excellent.

3 Stars

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is out in the UK this week and is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.


An advance copy of this DVD was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

New Music Friday: Michael Cullen - True Believer

Whenever a music recommendation lands in my inbox proclaiming to sound like Nick Cave or Ian Curtis, I’m always equally curious and dubious. In most cases, the artist is simply trying too hard and what they gain on technique they lose in originality. No matter what, I always give them a listen.

It is rare that such an album will draw me in from the very first track and more unusual still that it will keep me captivated right to the end but that is exactly what happened the first time I listened to Michael Cullen’s True Believer.

Michael Cullen 7 High Res

About

Michael Cullen is an Australian song-writer and performer and is no stranger to the Sydney alternative music scene. In the 1980s and 1990s he was part of bands such as No Man’s Land, The Hardheads and Watershed before taking an extended break in the late 1990s.

Michael says that his influences range from ABBA, The Beatles and Elvis Costello to AC/DC, David Bowie and The Cure (it is clear that he has an excellent taste in music because those are pretty much my early influences too) but his music is clearly far darker than his influences. He plays old semi-acoustic guitars and like to record his music on tape machines, tube microphones and other analogue equipment. When combine with Michael’s intense baritone vocals, the result is a haunting sound that more accurately draws comparisons with Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Johnny Cash.

Michael has been collaborating with Tim Powles of The Church for almost 20 years. Powles produced and contributed drums to both of Michael’s solo albums and first collaborated with Michael on his debut album Love Transmitter.  Before joining The Church, Tim played drums for The Venetians, The Divinyls and Angry Anderson.

The Album

True Believer is Cullen’s sophomore album consisting of nine tracks and is released in October 2014. The album was mixed and recorded in Tim Powles Spacejunk III studio and Studios 301 between 2011 and 2013 and was co-produced with Powles and mixed by Danton Supple (Morrissey, Coldplay).

Michael Cullen True Believer v 2.0 4PAN1TCullen sets the tone for the album from the very first note and fans of Nick Cave will recognise his influence immediately. “Black Dog” is a tale of depression, self-loathing and loneliness which you can listen to below.  You know that times are hard when even Leonard Cohen can’t broach the depths of your bad luck.

“I asked Leonard Cohen / how lonely does it get/ for all the black dogs / who can’t forget”

The tales of woe continue with the organ-thumping “Believer” before the bitterness sets in with “Nothing Special”, “Black Coffee and Cigarettes” and “Damaged”.

“Cha Cha Cha d’Amour” is another standout track. This song has great rhythm and talks about the dance people take when they are playing games in a relationship.

The themes of betrayal and loneliness continue with Cullen’s epic organ-drenched anthem “I Walk Alone” and the rather bleak “I Never Knew” before the frenzied guitars and drums in “Broken Horses”.

True Believer is an emotional and intense album that draws you in from the opening chords. It takes the listener on a gut-wrenching journey of betrayal and loss before finally releasing them in a breathless state with heart beating out of the chest.

I give True Believer five out of five stars and really do recommend the album to fans of Nick Cave, Joy Division, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen.

5 Stars

Listen

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Links

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Horror Movie Review: Treehouse (2014)

Treehouse banner

In a rural White River town, a teenager arrives home to her abandoned farmhouse to discover that something terrible has happened. She grabs a gun but can she match the unseen evil that awaits her? Meanwhile, across town schools are closed as news of child abductions spreads. Brothers Killian (J. Michael Trautmann) and Crawford (Daniel Frederick) return home but soon make their escape to the woods for some fun.

Dana Melanie in Treehouse

What they find instead is the terrified and bloody Elizabeth (Dana Melanie) hiding in a dilapidated treehouse as if her life depends on it and it does. With the unknown threat coming ever closer to them, Crawford leaves to go for help leaving the two teenagers to fend for themselves.

Treehouse is an independent thriller suspense directed by British film maker Michael Bartlett (The Zombie Diaries). It had quite a healthy budget for an independent film coming it at $3.25 million but the film has a decidedly low-key, retro feel. There are some scenes of sweeping cinematography with aerial shots of the vast woodlands but most of the film focuses on close-ups of Killian and Elizabeth in their fight for survival.

J Michael Trautmann and Dana Melanie in Treehouse

It is not until the final scenes that the nature of the threat is finally revealed but there is little time to ponder their motives as the characters are subjected to an ever-increasing barrage of persecution.  All we know is that they are watching, waiting, taunting and threatening.

Dana Melanie and J Michael Trautmann in Treehouse

This is not a typical slasher film with much of the carnage taking place off-screen or witnessed second hand. The use of photographs during the  reveal which enabled viewers to simultaneously learn what had happened and witness the character’s horrified reaction was particularly effective.

Treehouse still - bodies hanging from trees

The film relies heavily on the characters’ back story which is conveyed through the use of flashbacks. It is clear that Killian and Elizabeth react to their current predicament based on their past traumas but in places the young actors seemed to falter a little beneath this emotional baggage.  Together with an ending that is a little corny and a bit too convenient, this reduces my rating on an otherwise adequate film.

J Michael Trautmann in Treehouse

I give Treehouse an okay three out of five stars and would recommend it as part of a Halloween movie marathon.

3 Stars

Treehouse is out in the UK this week and is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk. The film will hit the St. Louis International Film Festival in November and should see a more general release in the new year.

Book Review: The Tokyo Karaoke Murder by Fran Pickering

Earlier this year, author Fran Pickering released The Cherry Blossom Murder, debut novel in her Josie Clark in Japan murder mystery series, to critical acclaim. The book did incredibly well, competing against 10,000 entries to make it into the top 100 in the mystery and thriller category of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Now Josie Clark is back and Fran is treating us to a double dose of our intrepid crime-solving Londoner-in-Japan this week with a brand new novel The Haiku Murder and a novella The Tokyo Karaoke Murder.

The Tokyo Karaoke Murder by Fran Pickering coverThe Tokyo Karaoke Murder is the prequel to The Cherry Blossom Murder and sees Josie in Tokyo for an interview with insurance giant AZT Insurance. Eating alone after the interview, Josie is soon invited to join an engagement party and leaves with them for the karaoke.

The evenings festivities come to a sharp halt when one of the party is poisoned and Josie soon finds herself accused of both murder and theft. With the minutes counting down to the end of their time in the karaoke booth, can Josie clear her name and find the real killer?

The Tokyo Karaoke Murder is a fantastic introduction to the Josie Clark in Japan books and I do hope that the author will release many more novellas to accompany the series.

We gain an insight into the highs and lows of being an expat in a foreign country, from the highs of meeting new friends to the anxiety of waiting to hear about a job.

What I found most interesting about The Tokyo Karaoke Murder was how easily the author was able to switch from a crime solved over the course of several hundred pages in The Cherry Blossom Murder to one solved in just a couple of chapters.

I really do like Josie Clark and far from being solved by chance and fortuitous coincidences, Josie's conclusions are based on logic and keen powers of observation.

Once again, Fran Pickering captures the bright lights, aromas and culture of life in Tokyo and shinnichi (Japanphiles) will love these books.

Special mention must go to the beautiful covers in the Josie Clark in Japan series which are designed by Andrew Brown of Design for Writers. These books are designed to be proudly displayed on one’s bookshelf.

The Haiku Murder by Fran Pickering

I would certainly recommend The Tokyo Karaoke Murder as I did The Cherry Blossom Murder back in February. Look out for my review of The Haiku Murder to follow shortly.

You can buy The Tokyo Karaoke Murder at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com


This review first appeared on Blogcritics. An advance copy of this book was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

Colin Farrell to star alongside Vince Vaughn in True Detective

True Detective promo banner

When HBO’s True Detective hit screens in January, no one could have predicted the unprecedented success that was to follow. Except of course for the show’s creator Nic Pizzolatto, who claims he always knew the show was destined for stardom. The critically acclaimed production went on to become the most watched freshman show in HBO history, culminating in the actual crashing of HBO Go when the final episode streamed live online.

As well as a captivating storyline, the on-screen stars also deserve a standing ovation for bringing the characters to life. Mathew McConaughey wowed viewers with his dark and complex portrayal of Detective Rust Cohle while Woody Harrelson smashed it as the extroverted yet multi-layered Detective Marty Hart. Want to get up to speed on season one?

While fans have said farewell to Marty and Rust, HBO’s True Detective has unveiled the leading cast of season two, starring none other than Collin Farrell and Vince Vaughn. In the lead up to the anticipated network premiere date of summer 2015, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know about True Detective season two.

The actors

Colin Farrell

As mentioned above, Collin Farrell and Vince Vaughn are set to star in the latest series. So where have we seen them before? Colin Farrell is one of Ireland’s hottest up and coming stars, both in Europe and internationally. He fits the bill perfectly, with an extensive back catalogue of diverse and dramatic roles. Farrell is well-versed in dark characters and represents the ideal blend of A-list celebrity and underground indie actor. As well as taking on lead roles in blockbuster hits such as In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and Fright Night, the brooding actor has also lent his name to a number of less mainstream productions. As such, we expect the True Detective casting crew is attempting to lure in both genres of audience.

“I’m doing the second series. I’m so excited… It’s been shown time and time again how [channels like] HBO have raised the bar regarding production values and fundamentally the writing that all their shows are based on,” he said in an interview with Sunday World's The Dub.

Vince Vaughn

As for Vince Vaughn… some were surprised at the release of his name while others welcomed it as an opportunity to see Vaughn in something other than a light-hearted comedy. He shot to fame in Wedding Crashers and has kept audiences laughing ever since with films such as The Breakup, Couples Retreat, Delivery Man and The Internship.

The characters

According to Pizzolatto, True Detective season two will feature three brand new lead characters. At the moment, we can confirm that Farrell will portray Detective Ray Velcoro, a character who HBO representatives describe as “a compromised detective whose allegiances are torn between his masters in a corrupt police department, and the mobster who owns him.” Vaughn will take to the screen as Frank Seymon, described by the network as “a career criminal in danger of losing his empire when his move into legitimate enterprise is upended by the murder of a business partner.” Already season two storyline is sounding extremely intriguing! But who is character number three? Brad Pitt’s name has been thrown around although nothing has been confirmed. As far as support goes, Canadian Taylor Kitsch and the ever endearing Rachel McAdams have both confirmed circling roles.

The plot

Very little about True Detective’s latest plot line has been disclosed, however as far as rumours go, it’s based around California’s covert transportation system. Farrell seems to be concealing something big, Vaughn is struggling to juggle two identities and that’s about all anyone knows!

The production crew

As expected, Pizzolatto is back as the show’s head writer. However while Cary Joji Fukunaga directed every episode of season one, season two will see episodes overseen by a range of different directors. Justin Lin has been confirmed as the director for the first two episodes and according to industry rumours, William Friedkin’s name has been thrown around. An educated guess would also include at least one appearance from Fukunaga. Whether the diverse team of directors will add intrigue or compromise flow, is yet to be seen.

Episodes

No titles have yet been released however HBO has confirmed that the series will consist of eight episodes.

With more leaks and rumours released every day, the lead up to True Detective season two continues to gain momentum with fans across the globe!

Sharlto Copley: A Career Retrospective

Sharlto Copley is Wikus van der Merwe in District 9

Sharlto Copley exploded onto the scene out of nowhere in 2009 in his powerful portrayal of Wilkus van der Merwe in District 9. Since then, the South African actor has gone from strength to strength, appearing alongside the likes of Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper in emotionally intense, nefarious and hilarious roles. On 13th October Copley leads in the haunting horror chiller Open Grave, available on DVD and digital download courtesy of Signature Entertainment. Here’s how his career panned out...

District 9 (2009)

Sharlto Copley absolutely exploded onto the scene out of nowhere in 2009 in his powerful portrayal of Wilkus van der Merwe in Peter Jackson’s Oscar-nominated science fiction film District 9. Wilkus is an Afrikaner bureaucrat assigned to relocate a race of extraterrestrial creatures unexpectedly stranded on Earth.

In the film, the aliens, popularly and derogatorily referred to as "prawns", must be relocated from District 9, a militarised ghetto slum in Johannesburg, South Africa, to an internment camp outside the city. In this operation, Wikus is exposed to a strange alien chemical and must rely on the help of his only two new 'Prawn' friends. Copley improvised all of his dialogue in this documentary-style film with impressive skill and emotion, setting the bar extremely high on his on-screen debut.

Sharlto Copley as Wikus van der Merwe in District 9

The A-Team (2010)

Copley then starred alongside Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in the feature film adaptation of The A-Team which was produced by Ridley Scott and Tony Scott. Copley used a Southern American dialect for his hilarious portrayal of A-Team member H. M. Murdock, and employed other dialects including Scottish, English, Australian, and his native South African as part of the character's rapid-fire style. Dwight Schultz, who played Murdock in the original TV series, praised Copley's performance and said Copley was the only actor he knew of who was "true to his character."

Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson in The A-Team

Europa Report (2013)

In 2013, Copley played fictional astronaut James Corrigan in Europa Report, the story of a crew of international astronauts sent on a privately funded mission to search for life on Jupiter's fourth largest moon. In Europa Report Copley once again proved his outstanding range of acting skills, portraying the extremely gripping role with impressive intensity.

Sharlto Copley in Europa Report

Elysium (2013)

Also in 2013, Copley played Agent Kruger, the secondary antagonist in Elysium, a science fiction film written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. Starring in a role completely different from anything he had done before – hideously cruel and sadistic beyond measure – Copley shone as the villain in Elysium.

Sharlto Copley as Kruger in Elysium

Oldboy (2013)

Copley returned as the villain in Oldboy, portraying Adrian Pryce in Spike Lee's remake of 2003 South Korean film Oldboy. In Oldboy, Josh Brolin leads as a man obsessed with vengeance, setting out to find out why he was kidnapped and locked into solitary confinement for 20 years without reason. In Oldboy Copley once again showed his capacity to portray a man with a twisted mind and an evil streak.

Sharlto Copley as Adrian in Oldboy

Maleficent (2014)

In 2014, Copley starred as the male lead, King Stefan, opposite Angelina Jolie in the dark fantasy film Maleficent. Starring Angelina Jolie as the eponymous Disney villainess character, the film is a live-action re-imagining of Walt Disney's 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty, and portrays the story from the perspective of the antagonist, Maleficent. Playing yet another villainous antagonist in Maleficent, Copley has now grown into, perfected and shone in dark and unpleasant roles.

Sharlto Copley as King Stefan in Maleficent

Open Grave (2013)

With a weight of fan anticipation already behind it, Sharlto Copley now stars in Open Grave; a taut chiller that centres around a man who wakes up in a mass grave. Rescued by a group of fellow survivors, he then has to establish if he, or one of his saviours, is responsible for the grave in the first place whilst also dealing with an even more deadly threat.

Sharlto Copley in Open Grave

Open Grave is available on DVD and digital platforms from 13th October, 2014, courtesy of Signature Entertainment, just in time for the scariest night of the year.

Own Open Grave on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Horror Film Review: Open Grave (2013)

Help meeee Open Grave

A man awakes to find himself bound, lying in a pit on a pile of corpses. He has no memory of how he got there and no idea who he is. A woman throws a rope down to him, he picks up a gun and drags himself out of the pit. The woman disappears. The man soon finds a group of people in an old house. They too have no memory of who they are or how they got there but the man knows one thing, one of them is the murderer. As the group struggles to survive in the face of increasing threats to their lives, snippets of their memories come back and it becomes increasingly clear that perhaps the man was in the pit for a very good reason.

Open Grave is a post-apocalyptic thriller with many familiar faces on the cast. Fans of The Vampire Diaries are going to be especially thrilled to see Joseph Morgan who plays Klaus Mikaelson on the show and he is excellent in his role as the slightly vulnerable Nathan. The film also stars Sharlto Copley (District 9), Thomas Kretschmann (King Kong), Josie Ho, Erin Richards (Gotham) and Max Wrottesley (24: Live Another Day). The film is directed by Spanish director Gonzalo López-Gallego.

Joseph Morgan as Nathan in Open Grave

The film is terrifying from the outset. The opening scene in the open grave is especially horrible with graphic, moist sounds to accompany the gruesome images. We can tell that something has gone terribly wrong here but it soon emerges that something even worse is going to happen and team cannot prevent it unless they recover their memories.

Music is used to great effect throughout the film and the score is simply excellent. There is a feeling of loss and extreme tragedy that permeates the film and is conveyed through the music. The score was written and performed by Spanish composer Juan Navazo and some tracks are available on his Soundcloud page. I’d especially recommend “The Dawn of the 18th”. Sadly there are no plans to release the official soundtrack. The track that plays over the closing credits is “Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) by María López-Gallego and is available on her Bandcamp page.

Sharlto Copley and are in Open Grave

Open Grave is filmed in muted tones and saturated tones throughout which adds to the atmosphere of tension and lurking danger. Nothing is given away to viewers until the characters discover it themselves which contributes to the edge-of-seat suspense.

The cast did well to deliver their performances without giving a hint of what was really going on. Sharlto Copley has a great screen presence and is phenomenal in his role as Jonah, while Josie Ho shines as the mute woman at the heart of the film.  Somehow viewers were able to connect with the characters, no mean feat when they had no memories of who they were or how they related to each other.

 Sharlto Copley and in Open Grave

It is difficult to comment too much on the plot without giving the story away and as the strength of this film lies in keeping that a secret up to the final scene, I really don’t want to do that. It is a horror film and it is post-apocalyptic and the idea of corpse scarecrows might just be the most gruesomely brilliant idea I’ve seen in a long time. I really enjoyed the film but the ending made me very sad. I imagine that the haunting score had a lot to do with that lingering sense of loss and pointlessness.

I enjoyed Open Grave and actually watched it twice before reviewing. It will certainly appeal to fans of horror but there is enough in the plot to keep science-fiction and thriller / suspense fans happy too.

I give Open Grave an excellent four out of five stars.

4 Stars

Released by Signature Entertainment, Open Grave is available to purchase on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Check out the short clip from the film "Things to Hide" featuring the lovely Joseph Morgan and Sharlto Copley.


An advance copy of this DVD was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

Horror Film Review: Reaper (2014)

Reaper (2014)

Moments before his scheduled execution, a convicted death cult congregation leader escapes to continue his murderous rampage. Known only as Reaper, the killer is on a vigilante mission to bring justice and vengeance upon the unholy. Sinners be warned!

Meanwhile a young woman leaves a message for her mother assuring her she is in safe hands before proceeding to hitchhike across the USA. What could possibly go wrong?

Released just in time for Halloween, Reaper is the latest slasher horror from director Philip Shih and writers Mark James and James Jurdi. Taking place mostly at the isolated Last Chance Hotel, the film follows the Reaper’s harrowing exploits as he cuts down some very savoury characters only to meet his match in young Natalie (Shayla Beesley). Reaper stars Danny Trejo, Vinnie Jones and Jake Busey as well as Justin Henry (the kid from Kramer vs. Kramer) as the truly creepy Last Chance desk clerk Caine.

James Jurdi and Shayla Beesley in Reaper

So is it any good? Well, not really, in fact it is pretty bad and not in a so-bad-it’s-good sort of way. It’s not scary, the acting is terrible and the cinematography has the feel of a really bad quality soft porn show that you sometimes catch by accident when flipping channels at 2am. Not that we can expect much more from the slasher genre, but the premise sounded really interesting and if the directors had focused more on the Reaper’s truly sick purpose and less on Natalie’s cleavage, it could have been a better film.

Would I recommend Reaper? It would be okay for a Friday night in and would make for a great drinking game – you could drink every time they show a gratuitous part of Natalie’s anatomy or every time a reasonable actor like Danny Trejo gets to say something truly hackneyed – but no, I wouldn’t recommend it. There are much better films coming out on DVD this month in any case, including the disturbing Open Grave which I’ll review next week.

Vinnie Jones in Reaper

I give Reaper a disappointing two out of five stars. The premise wasn't bad and it could have been a decent film with a bit more focus on the actual killer himself.

2 Stars

Released by Signature Entertainment, Reaper will be out on DVD and Blu-ray on 6 October 2014. It is available for purchase from Amazon.co.uk.


An advance copy of this DVD was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

Review: Postman Pat: The Movie (2014)

Postman Pat The Movie poster

I have a confession to make; I’ve been a fan of Postman Pat since I was a little girl and never quite grew out of the show. In fact, I was 25 when I rescued a little black and white cat and named her Jess. Sadly, she was neither friendly nor particularly helpful but then again, I’m no Postman Pat. I therefore jumped at the chance to review the latest in the long running Postman Pat franchise: Postman Pat: The Movie.

Stephen Mangan is Postman Pat

In Postman Pat: The Movie our favourite postman Pat Clifton is still doing the rounds in Greendale with his trusty black and white cat Jess. He lives in Forge Cottage with his wife Sara and six-year-old son Julian. Pat has been promising Sara a proper honeymoon for years and is certain that he’ll be able to take her to Italy when he receives his next bonus payment. But on the day when he expects to pick up his bonus, he meets the conniving Mr Carbunkle who announces a series of cost-saving measures at the Special Delivery Service. There certainly won’t be any money for bonus payments he says, never mind toilet paper or teabags for staff! Is this austerity Postman Pat?

When Pat hears about Simon Cowbell’s new talent show You’re The One coming to Greendale, he isn’t too interested until he hears that part of the prize is a trip to Italy. Will he be able to take Sara on her honeymoon after all? And just what plan will Mr Carbunkle come up with to replace Pat while he is busy touring with the show? Hint: it involves robots!

Rupert Grint and David Tennant

Postman Pat: The Movie has a lot of big name stars attached to it and fans of Doctor Who and the Harry Potter franchise will be delighted to hear the voices of David Tennant, Rupert Grint and Jim Broadbent. It’s not often we get to see David Tenant play a character as (in his own words) ‘unscrupulous and desperate’ as Wilf! Ronan Keating provides the singing voice for Pat – look out for his cameo earlier in the film when he gets rejected by Simon Cowbell!

Postman Pat must have been a difficult TV show to bring to the big screen and audiences certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed 88 minutes of watching Pat potter about the countryside rescuing sheep from trees but ultimately I think the film tried to do too much. There were a lot of adult themes such as austerity, rationalisation and job insecurity which, rather than appealing to me as an adult, made me sad that even my favourite childhood show had been tainted by these issues.

There are certainly a lot of funny parts – I especially enjoyed the scene where Carbunkle tested his robot prototypes – but what of the target audience? Postman Pat is aimed at preschool children and has always had a simple, idyllic feel to it. In Postman Pat: The Movie, we see Pat in far more peril and danger than ever before. Far from being helpful and a pillar of the society, he is disappointing to Sara and Julian, to the community and even to Jess!

I give Postman Pat: The Movie three out of five stars. It might appeal to slightly older children, perhaps those who are familiar with the alien invasions of Doctor Who but I think the film might have missed the mark with its target audience and might be just a little bit too scary for them. I wouldn’t give it a miss all together but I’d certainly accompany children on their first viewing.

3 Stars

Postman Pat: The Movie will be out on DVD and Blu-ray on 29 September 2014. It is available for purchase from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.


An advance copy of this DVD was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

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