Scary Movie You May Have Missed: Sigaw (The Echo)

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , on December 15, 2010 by zombiegames01

Sigaw is an Asian ghost movie, that I’m sure all zombie games lovers will enjoy. I know what you’re possibly thinking: Not another one! — but this one isn’t from Japan, Korea or Thailand, it’s a Filipino film. The story revolves around an old apartment building that exists both in the present and the past.

When Marvin moves into his first home away from home, he does his best to fix the grim little place up with the help of his buxom girlfriend, Pinky. At first, things look to be going well despite the strange noises and the even stranger neighbors also residing on the 7th floor.

At night he hears his drunken neighbor, Bert, physically and verbally abusing his wife Anna, and their young daughter Lara, but Marvin doesn’t want to get involved — not only is Bert  very violent, but he’s a cop. However, Marvin can’t help but get involved when one evening Anna begs him to look after her daughter for a few hours, just until Bert cools down. The fact that Lara has dark, long hair ought to be clue enough. But what really sends Marvin to flip-out is how she keeps disappearing and then reappearing in the strangest places. A limp rag doll is her constant companion.

Marvin shares his concerns with Pinky, who convinces him to move out. But this is the first place he owned, one that he bought with his own money working at a nearby restaurant, and he isn’t about to be so easily convinced to just pick up and leave. Pretty soon, Pinky starts having her own nightmarish experiences in the building too. Both can’t deny that something is terribly wrong when the bloody apparitions of Anna and Lara show up in places other than Marvin’s apartment; the couple’s everyday life seems to fade in and out of reality and they vow to set things right.

Sigaw, despite its oppressive use of dreary sepia browns and drab olive greens, is a beautifully shot film with some clever use of negative space and truly interesting camera angles. The moody musical score adds to the feelings of impending danger, and the ambience of crying, knocking and clanking are cunningly woven in to create a creepy cloak of sound. Each of the actors delivers a believable job of conveying a real sense of dread. While some questions are left hanging and the solving of the mystery comes as no surprise, the writer and director does a nice job of making the audience care on what could possibly happen to the characters anyway.

Slowly drowning in a netherworld of loneliness and torment, Sigaw is definitely not a feel-good horror movie. It’s not even exceptionally scary or thought-provoking, but there is something inexplicably compelling about it. While it spends too much time on the build-up and not enough on the resolution, Sigaw is undeniably worth seeing.

The Walking Dead – Episode 5: Wildfire

Posted in The Walking Dead with tags , , , , , , on November 30, 2010 by zombiegames01

There are two basic rules when it comes to killing zombies: Act fast and aim for the head.

Unfortunately, in “Wildfire”, things became far more complicated for the group of survivors as everyone was forced to deal with the painful consequence of previous week’s zombie attack.

First, Andrea declined to leave Amy’s side. It was great seeing Amy resurrect as a zombie and struggle to bite Andrea. I was expecting Amy to take a bite at her sister but I was surprised when Andrea shot her sister in the head. I was glad that it was Andrea who finished off her sibling, but she didn’t have to be that close. Despite the need of closure with her sister, I think it was a really risky move on her part.

Carol had to deal with her husband’s death, and she went to town on his head with a pickaxe. Viewer discretion was definitely necessary here, as Carol repeatedly hit her husband’s head and parts splattered everywhere. I guess he was simply taking out her anger over the abuse that she had received from him or maybe she blames herself for his death.

Lastly, the group found out that Jim had been bitten. We got a chance to see how a small zombie bite can affect someone. Zombie nightmares and delusions don’t seem like fun. I just wish Jim had been around a little longer instead of playing a crazy gravedigger one moment, and sick zombie victim the next.

Rick and Shane on the other hand, were at odds over how to deal with their situation. Rick wanted to lead the group to the Center for Disease Control but Shane simply wanted to keep the group out of harm’s way. A little difference of opinion is sometimes a good thing, but not when it causes Shane to consider shooting Rick. Maybe he’s still hung up on Lori.

Overall, aside from the dramatic tensions that seeped into the character driven moments, the story progressed well. The group of survivors finally decided to head up to the CDC.

The CDC scientist’s introduction added some short background information on the zombie outbreak. The video journal logs looked great, but for some reason it reminded me of the film, I Am Legend. I guess it is hard not to make comparisons with other great zombie/apocalypse movies.

Like the previous episodes, the ending of Wildfire had me glued to my seat. The impending darkness, lack of food and shelter, and the threat of more zombies approaching added to the tension of the group. As Rick began to break down and the rest of the survivors panicked, I was expecting more zombies to come around the corner. Instead, the CDC’s door opens up and a haunting image of a flooding light encased the group as the minutes closed out. What a great cliffhanger!

Will there be assistance and answers inside? We’ll have to step into the light to find out on next week’s season finale.

Scary Movie You May Have Missed: Darkness

Posted in Scary Movies You May Have Missed with tags , , , , , on November 25, 2010 by zombiegames01

Forty years have passed after cult-like ritual killings occur in a rural area in Spain, Mark and his family move into a house close to his doctor father. As various bizarre events occur, resulting in the hospitalization of Mark and leaving his son Paul all bruised, it is up to Mark’s daughter Regina and her friend Carlos to solve the mystery behind the strange occurrence that surround the family house.
As much as Darkness is a sort of Pitch Black in a haunted house, it still manages to be unexpectedly entertaining. Even with the stereotypical clairvoyant little child role, it still looks pretty original. This is apparently a “scary movie”, so where are the scares? The elements are present. The performances and the story are pretty solid, the creepy gags work quite well but there just aren’t enough frights. It is all nail-biting suspense with no out-of-the-blue-jump-out-of-your-seat moment. There was at least one loud KABOOM and it was simply an “I didn’t mean to scare you” kind of a horror scare. The ending is quite clever, but it also too obvious to really be the last scream before credits ending. Rather it only raises an eyebrow at best.

I give credit where it’s due, the movie stuck to its ideas. The mood and atmosphere is befittingly dark. It’s just the right kind of darkness that works; there are many movies where all the lights are off in the house but everything inside is conveniently moonlit. Darkness really has great darkness.
Anna Paquin does a pretty good job as this movie’s scream queen. Some familiar faces make up the rest of the cast. Giancarlo Gianinni plays Dr. Rua, grandfather of “Regina” and “Paul” and Iain Glen is the troubled son of Dr. Rua. Although everybody here fits, I just find it strange that while it takes place in Spain, everyone speaks in English and all the accents sound Italian.

The cast does a decent enough job, the story is strong and the suspense is there but this “scary movie” just isn’t scary enough. Darkness may be worth a rent this coming weekend, but make sure to turn the volume up… maybe then you’ll really get scared.

The Walking Dead – Episode 4: Vatos

Posted in The Walking Dead with tags , , , , on November 23, 2010 by zombiegames01

It’s about time for Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, to come forward with an episode from his own hand and one that features the least material from the original source. With this episode it is almost as if the series is saying “Yes, this might be The Walking Dead, but it’s not The Walking Dead you are used to.”

It seems that my fears about the series’ slow pace following episode three were baseless – Vatos picks up the pace perfectly, continuing on from Tell It To The Frogs, with our hero Rick (along with his small group of survivors) still in Atlanta trying to retrieve the bag of guns he left behind when he was being chased by zombies in the first episode, only with a minor complication… another group of survivors!

Vatos spends a fair amount of time on character development, but unlike the previous episode it isn’t at the expense of the pacing and the action – showing just how much of a handle Robert Kirkman has on the universe he created, striking a perfect balance between character, story and action in much the same way as the comic. And although Vatos does have a lot of similarities with the original comic in the aforesaid terms, where it does differ is in the introduction of the second group of survivors in Atlanta.It is an interesting idea, and one that may pay off in the future in this television iteration – but for now, in this episode, the new characters and the circumstance that leads from their introduction is definitely used to great effect, showing us just what type of leader Rick Grimes is, and will be.

As the group of heroes deal with the situation in Atlanta, there is another situation building back at base camp as insecurities, instabilities and tensions come to the fore and the survivors begin to crack mentally and emotionally – and as the series goes on I can see this coming to the fore even more, really giving an emotional human core in the television iteration of The Walking Dead.

Although the story in this episode does avert from the comic for the most part, it does not take long for it to come back to the source material for a horrifying and suitably gory denouement that leaves our group of survivors reeling. Suffice to say that in The Walking Dead no one is safe!

Game Review: Dead Nation

Posted in Game Reviews with tags , , , , on November 22, 2010 by zombiegames01

Dead Nation is an addictive and gruesome twin stick zombie shooter from the developers of Super Stardust HD. During the past couple of years several zombie shooters have been released, and have oversaturated the market depending on your tastes. Does Dead Nation have what it takes to stand up on its own? Or is it an infectious scourge on the PlayStation Store? Hit the break for my verdict.

Dead Nation will definitely be one of the most addictive and well-polished PSN titles you will play all year. Dead Nation occurs in a deserted city where everyone has been turned into flesh eating zombies. The main character, the only survivor, miraculously remains immune to the virus that has infected everyone in the planet. The story which focuses on your desire to survive is both cliché and well presented. Dead Nation features rough, yet beautifully drawn cut-scenes that are used to progress the story. Combine that with great voice acting and you have a story that is more intriguing than it should be.

Anyone that has played Geometry Wars and Super Stardust will be able to step right into Dead Nation. The right stick controls aiming and the left stick controls the player movement. Any player can step right in and start blowing chunks out of the infected. Dead Nation features a number of best looking dismemberment by any arcade game. Zombies are very eager to taste your flesh and a few require quick moves in order to be dealt with. Dead Nation has an amazing amount of enemy variety, which is essential to making a deep experience. Players can expect slow and burdensome enemy types all the way to extremely fast and frisky enemies. In fact, Dead Nation does a very good job of including every type of enemy you can think of.

Dead Nation is an exceedingly moody game, and features some of the best graphics and lighting in an arcade title. Despite the deep atmosphere, Dead Nation also brings about frequent breaks of humour, which helps the game from having an overwhelming amount of depressing tone. If all the previously mentioned elements weren’t enough, Dead Nation is also cleverly paced. Enemies, appear, hide and swarm you in the most inconvenient moments, helping to keep you engaged at all times. So many instances that developers have failed in one area or another, still even the sound design is outstanding. The ambient noise that plays in the background, combined with the sound effect, enemy chatter and music helps create another layer of fascination that is lacking from some retail titles.

Dead Nation features both offline and online 2-player co-op play. It was hard to assess if there were any latency problems since only a few people were online playing. Perhaps my favourite feature is the way Dead Nation handle their leaderboards. Not only does it do an impressive job of tracking stats, but it also counts your country’s stats. The more zombies you neutralize, the quicker you can help clear the infection from your country. This leaderboard does not only facilitate competition between players, but it also encourages competition between countries. It creates a unique sense of competition that I haven’t experienced within an arcade game in quite some time.

I highly recommend Dead Nation. I would encourage you to purchase it as soon as it gets released on November 30th. It’s an impressively polished, very addictive, and highly atmospheric game that no one should miss out on.

Scary Movie You May Have Missed: [REC]

Posted in Scary Movies You May Have Missed with tags , , , , , on November 17, 2010 by zombiegames01

You mention the words “found footage” to most horror movie fans, and they immediately sigh and recall The Blair Witch Project, which was a huge indie hit at the box office, but is most often seen as lacking in entertainment value. So, it’s a victim of its own hype, but I don’t include myself as one of its detractors, and I’m fond of footage movies. Yes, they are made cheap, but when you strip a horror movie of a large budget and studio conventions, you usually end up with a thriller which relies on tension and creativity to be highly effective. There’s usually a heightened level of intimacy with these films, especially if the film is publicized as “real”, and the more emotions you invest in the film, the easier it is for you to be scared.

I’m not certain I would call three films in one calendar year a renaissance, but in 2007 there were three really good films in this genre: Paranormal Activity, The Poughkeepsie Tapes and, the best, the Spanish import, [REC] that I’ve seen this year. [REC] is, in my opinion, the best horror movie since Neil Marshall’s The Descent.

[REC] starts with young reporter Niña Medeiros shooting a segment for her late night TV show, While You’re Sleeping, at a local fire station. It was a slow night, as Nina tries to fill her segment with interviews and a basketball game. Until a call finally comes in, it’s just a low priority call – tenants in an apartment building are complaining about loud screams coming from one of the apartments.Both police and fire department respond to the call, and Niña and her cameraman, decide to come along for the ride. When they arrive in the building, the neighbors have all assembled on the main floor while the emergency staff and the television crew investigate upstairs and find an old woman in her apartment in an enraged state. While it appears that the situation is of minimal concern, everyone inside the building as about to come face to face the most extreme fear possible.  There is something evil in the building, and there is no way out, except for death.

The Walking Dead – Episode 3: Tell It To The Frogs

Posted in The Walking Dead with tags , , , , , on November 16, 2010 by zombiegames01

This episode of The Walking Dead follows immediately on from the end of the episode two as Rick and the group drive out of Atlanta and to the survivor’s camp. The first half of the episode slows things down – as Rick meets up with the other survivors, including his wife and son, and his best friend and former partner Shane, who just happens to have been having an affair with Rick’s wife Lori. The first meeting of Rick with his family is really a touching moment and is definitely the highlight of the series so far.

Tell It To The Frogs then spends its time showing what life is like at the survivors camp, introducing us to the major characters in the series, before taking a cue from the comic book and heading back to Atlanta as Rick and three other survivors try to rescue the repulsive Merle Dixon, who they accidentally left on a rooftop in the last episode, and grab the bag of weapons that Rick dropped in his pre-tank scuffle with the zombie horde in episode one.

Episode three also introduces  Merle Dixon’s brother, who is the driving force behind their return to Atlanta and like his big brother he’s not the most pleasant of characters, although he is a damn sight more likeable thanks to the outstanding performance of Norman Reedus – even if he’s not really supposed to be…

By the third episode of The Walking Dead the TV version it seems that it is headed in a different direction and deliberately much slower paced than the comic book source. Tell It To The Frogs seems to be the low point in the series, the slow pace actually works against the narrative – with a lot of time spent contemplating and pontificating rather than doing which, compared to the first two episodes, is a bit disappointing, especially since the series only has a 6 episode order. If the series continues at this slow pace then I can see many of frustrated viewers, myself included!

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