DIRECTOR Tony Kern WRITER Tony Kern STARS Sheena Chan; Pamelyn Chee; Daniel Jenkins RELEASE TBC
REVIEW Naila Scargill
While the horror anthology is nothing new, Afterimages presents an excellent concept; basing itself on Asia’s Hungry Ghost Festival, whereby gifts are burned as offerings to the spirit world, here a group of students burn effigies of cameras and receive films in return. These make up the film’s vignettes, further playing on Asian mythologies including Bomoh needles for youth and the Chinese gui la jiao. As such, the film serves as a neat, interesting introduction to the continent’s folklore that allows director-writer Tony Kern some playing with storytelling techniques. Spooky stories aside, the wraparound film is an affectionate look at obsolete formats and social media / technology, and includes some unexpected debates on ownership and public domain.
A low budget hampers proceedings somewhat, particularly regards effects, however there is some effective, ghostly imagery, and also a palpable tension in the final act as our hapless students—naturally, the first story had warned of the importance to respect beliefs—meet their fate. Closing with a hint at possible Ringu-style sequels, the film leaves things open for further exploration. Overall, Afterimages is flawed but promising, with a fast pace that keeps interest piqued.
DIRECTOR Francis dela Torre WRITER Francis dela Torre STARS Natalina Maggio; Clifton Powell; Jamie Harris RELEASE TBC
REVIEW Naila Scargill
Melding romance, thriller and horror, Blood Ransom is certainly ambitious, opting for a slow-burn approach that belies the race against time at the heart of its story. The majority of exposition occurs in an opening title card, the remainder of the narrative heavily reliant on voiceover; this effectively adds a dreamlike quality, which is complemented by a wise choice to hold the violence off screen. As such, the overall effect is at times hypnotic, particularly so for a slightly convoluted plot that, admittedly, is slightly hard to follow. Ironically this further complements the storytelling from the viewpoint of the narrator, that of sad recollection of his loss of a meaningful relationship.
Some more emphasis on the tension more typical of what is effectively a cat-and-mouse thriller would arguably feel more accessible here; the urgency necessary to drive such a story is missing. As an indicator of a filmmaker to watch in director-writer Francis dela Torre, however, there is much promise of creative ideas to come, particularly so for his presenting a refreshingly new take on vampire lore—rarely seen these days. Some excellent cinematography further demonstrates Torre’s eye for detail.
Determined to make it as an actress in Hollywood, Sarah Walker spends her days working a dead-end job, enduring petty friendships and going on countless casting calls in hopes of catching her big break. After a series of strange auditions, she lands the leading role in a new film from a mysterious production company. But with this opportunity comes bizarre ramifications that will transform her both mentally and physically into something beautiful… and all together terrifying.
From the producer of Cheap Thrills and Jodorowsky’s Dune, Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch’s Starry Eyes is an occult tale of ambition, possession, and the true cost of fame.
Starry Eyes is available now. For a chance to win a DVD, enter details below.