The Russian Bride (2019)

The Russian Bride (2019)Nina is a Russian woman, who lives together with her young daughter Sasha. She has left her abusive and alcoholic husband, but he still causes trouble for her by coming to her home drunk and demanding to come inside and see his daughter. All Nina wants is a new and better life for herself and Sasha, and after joining a typical “Russian brides” website (dating website for people looking for a Russian woman) she gets in contact with a reclusive billionaire from USA. After traveling abroad to meet her new man, she marries him very soon thereafter. However, she soon finds out that the seemingly nice man has other motives…and Nina eventually realizes that she’s put both herself and her daughter in a dangerous position.

 

Those typical “Russian Brides” dating websites is nothing new, and have existed for quite a while. No matter how you may want to label the women using such websites – “gold diggers” or simply someone wanting a better life for themselves – this movie portrays a woman belonging to the latter category. We understand Nina’s desperate need to move away from her stalking and abusive ex, and a rich and gentle elderly man from another country seems like her perfect escape. What could possibly go wrong, right? Well…

 

The story builds up rather nicely, and you see early on that Nina’s new husband has ulterior motives. Since his spacious mansion is also located in a very isolated area, you can feel the overwhelming amount of helplessness that she’s going through, in an other country and no means of escape. Nina and her daughter Sasha are surrounded by snow and nothingness, and solely dependent on her new husband that shows more and more signs of not necessarily having their well-being in his best interest.

 

The suspense in “The Russian Bride” builds towards what we surely expect to be a great reveal and a bloody climax (at least, based on the DVD cover which isn’t exactly toning down on its promise of a certain amount of blood ‘n gore). And we get both, although I would have to admit I think they could’ve stretched it even a bit further as blood ‘n gore goes. There’s room for a lot more than what was given us, but still makes it earn its “Gore” badge.

 

“The Russian Bride” is an okay horror thriller, although it may be worth noting that despite the bloody cover, this kind of stuff is held back for the climax and is not meant to be part of the main focus of the film (so gorehounds may want to sniff around elsewhere). Now, the film does come off as a bit predictable (we know the guy is up to something, we just don’t know what), and it also feels a bit inconsistent with a few things, like a certain paranormal entity that doesn’t really provide much to the film except sugarcoating the end a bit and functioning as a deus ex machina. However, it’s entertaining enough and well worth a watch, despite some flaws.

 

Director: Michael S. Ojeda
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Corbin Bernsen, Oksana Orlan, Oksana Orlan, Lisa Goodman, Michael Robert Brandon, Alison Korman, Yefim Somin, Gregory O’Gallagher, Keenan Johnston, John Paul Brandt, Clement Valentine, Kenneth G. Beaudin, Maryanne Nagel, Blake Brown, Guido Den Broeder
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6214468/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS PRESENCE – Horror Short

Mary takes over her friends babysitting job on Christmas Eve, but something more than yuletide spirit is loose in the house.

 

Here’s another Christmas horror short for you to enjoy! A cheesy yet fun short about a babysitter who will stay at a home where the owners are really into the holidays and have put up decorations all over the place. There’s one of the “decorations” that seems out of place, though…

 

CHRISTMAS PRESENCE - Horror Short

 

Director: Henrique Couto
Country & year: USA, 2015
Actors: Julia Gomez, Alia Gabrielle Eckhardt, Erin R. Ryan, Adam Clevenger, Bradley Diehl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HUMBUG – A Christmas Horror Short

When her neighbor refuses to get into the Christmas spirit, a jolly citizen takes matters into her own hands.

 

We all know at least one “Grinch”, or a person filled with “humbug” when the holidays are kicking in. This weird and cheesy horror short takes the “humbug” to a different level, though, turning it into something that can be “exorcised” from your body in order to make you fully enjoy the Christmas holidays!

 

LA NORIA - Animated Horror Short

 

Director: Justin Lee, Matt Thiesen
Country & year: USA, 2016
Actors: Jessee Foudray, Milly Sanders
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6391866/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LA NORIA – Animated Horror Short

A grieving young boy who loves to draw and build ferris wheels encounters strange creatures that turn his life upside down.

 

“La Noria” is a CG animated horror short by seasoned animator Carlos Baena (Pixar). This horror/fantasy short is in many ways more sad and emotional than scary, but does manage to build a certain creepy atmosphere with the monsters chasing the boy and the gloomy house he’s living in.

 

LA NORIA - Animated Horror Short

 

Director: Carlos Baena
Country & year: Spain, 2018
Voice Actors: Blanca Casellas, Jaume Ibars, Daniela Lucas
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8804104/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THERE COMES A KNOCKING – Horror Short

Life is hard for Emma without the love of her life John. But after installing a new antique door and not being able to open it she starts hearing knocks coming from the other side of the door. Can this be the spirits of Emma’s love.

 

“There Comes a Knocking” is described as a proof of concept for a feature film by the same name. The short has good atmosphere and cinematography (and the Horror Ghouls love big, old creaky houses!). It is thus unfortunate that the ending is a bit lackluster, but since the creators are aiming for a full feature film and this is described as a “proof of concept”, it will be interesting to see how the full movie will eventually turn out! The creator’s YouTube channel also has a “Making of” video, in addition to lots of other videos regarding their filmmaking.

 

THERE COMES A KNOCKING - Horror Short

 

Director: Ryan Connolly
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Stefanie Butler, Brett Davidson, Justin Robinson
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10922922/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Mungo (2008)

Lake Mungo (2008)Alice Palmer is a sixteen year old girl, that drowns while swimming in the local dam. Her body is eventually recovered, and her grieving family then starts experiencing strange events. Thinking it’s got something to do with their recently deceased daughter, they seek the help of a psychic who starts digging into Alice’s past. He reveals that Alice used to have secrets, and that she was living a double life that her family wasn’t aware of. The family then tries to figure out a connection between her death and the experiences they’re going through.

 

While most horror movies featuring a ghost depicts them as either vengeful or harmful, “Lake Mungo” takes quite a different approach. Written and directed by Joel Anderson, this film is made in a faux documentary style (“mockumentary”). It shows how a grieving family tries to figure out if they are haunted by their deceased daughter/sister. Is her appearance on her brother’s photos a call from beyond the grave? Are the things they’re experiencing caused by Alice’s ghost, or is everything just a manifestation of their grief?

 

The documentary-style fits the movie rather well, giving it a much more realistic and eerie tone. There’s a few twists and turns throughout the story, making it a mystery filled with secrets, surprises and even lies, all eventually leading the family to a place called Lake Mungo (which is an actual dry lake in Australia) where Alice apparently was camping before she died. The pacing is a bit slow while it’s building towards more and more reveals, and there are some twists and turns that might seem unnecessary and even totally irrelevant to Alice’s demise. The slow pacing of the movie is likely to be perceived as tedious by some, but this is a film that does not rely on the effectiveness of only certain parts, but rather as a whole-package thing.

 

“Lake Mungo” is not a movie whose main goal is to make you jump in your seat, but instead wants to crawl under your skin. There are a few scenes here that actually got to me (and that’s something that happens very rarely!), and for me it was the whole idea of loss and grief mixed with the supernatural goings-on that got to me. It was for the most part a very melancholic and sad movie (if Mr. Ghööl had a “Sad” badge, it would fit well here). It isn’t a movie with huge scares and shocking moments, but it’s unsettling and different. “Lake Mungo” is an exploration into grief and loss and the thought of maybe being haunted by a loved one, and your ability to connect with such experiences will probably have a lot to say on how you perceive this film.

 

Lake Mungo

 

Director: Joel Anderson
Country & year: Australia, 2008
Actors: Rosie Traynor, David Pledger, Martin Sharpe, Talia Zucker, Tania Lentini, Cameron Strachan, Judith Roberts, Robin Cuming, Marcus Costello, Chloe Armstrong, Carole Patullo, John Dunn, Laurie Dunn, Kirsty McDonald, James Lawson
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0816556/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GHOST MACHINE – Korean Horror Short

An android babysitter starts malfunctioning, which causes it to become dangerous. The mother has no other choice than to replace it…but the android is intent on staying with the family.

 

“Ghost Machine” is a Korean horror short, which is one of the installments in “Horror Stories III”. It’s a science-fiction horror story dealing with the subject of how robots and artificial intelligence may turn dangerous if they stop working as intended…

 

GHOST MACHINE - Korean Horror Short

 

Director: Kim Gok
Country & year: South-Korea, 2016
Actors: Hong Eun-hee, Lee Jae-in, Park Solomon
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6449358/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WICKEN – Horror Short Film

A young woman Skyping with her long distance boyfriend late one night, realizes that an ancient evil presence may have been unleashed upon her.

 

“Wicken” is a horror short film by Faisal Hashmi, who also made “Sleight“. While “Wicken” could have benefited from more playtime to delve deeper into the mythology and story behind the curse, and thus bring the character’s emotions more into focus upon making their decisions, it’s still an effective albeit simple short.

 

WICKEN - Horror Short Film

 

Director: Faisal Hashmi
Country & year: United Arab Emirates, 2019
Actors: Nour Safieh, Stuart Richard, Hanna Liatsko, Sally Mourad
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10037604/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POLAROID – Horror Short

Two girls are moving out after Sarah’s mother has passed away. In the clearing they exploit an old Polaroid camera possessed by a dark past.

 

“Polaroid” is a Norwegian horror short, directed by Lars Klevberg (who recently made a name for himself with the remake of “Child’s Play“). “Polaroid” was actually made into a full-feature film which was originally set to be released in 2017, but was delayed due to the Weinstein Company bankruptcy. Thus it was released in 2019 instead. This horror short, however, was made in 2015.

 

POLAROID - Horror Short

 

Director: Lars Klevberg
Country & year: Norway, 2015
Actors: Annika Witt, Thea Sofie Loch Næss, Anne Cloetta
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3956872/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P O L A R O I D (Norwegian horror short) from Lars Klevberg on Vimeo.

 

 

Lords of Chaos (2018)

At first glance, you might think this is some kind of sequel to “Deathgasm”, but sorry, it’s not. But it easily could have been. We are in the 80’s, in the cold and conservative Nordic land of Norway where “La Det Swinge” by Bobbysocks is the most metal you can hear on the radio. We are introduced to the teenager Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth who starts the small and obscure extreme metal band called Mayhem, together with Jørn “Necrobutcher” Stubberud, and eventually get their permanent drummer Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg.  They get a vocalist from Sweden who calls himself Dead, a severely depressed, twisted and suicidal skinny guy who mostly spends his time collecting dead animals, chasing cats with a shotgun and keeps fantasizing about death. Dead immediately shows up to take his stage name quite literally, by almost cutting himself to death while screaming Freezing Moon on stage wearing corpse-makeup and dirty clothes that have been a whole night underground to get the right smell of decay. However, it doesn’t take long before Dead takes his persona too literal by killing himself, blowing his brains to pieces with a shotgun. Upon finding him, Euronymous takes a picture of his body in which he used as the cover of one of their bootlegs. A disgraceful act that Necrobutcher didn’t want to be a part of, and then quits.

 

Now without a bass player and vocalist, Mayhem is in limbo. Euronymous starts his own record label Death Like Silence Productions and the record shop Helvete in Oslo, a hangout place in the black metal-circle where he more or less becomes an evil incarnate-cult leader, where everyone else are just posers. And in comes Varg Vikernes, a lonely, angry, insecure young man from Bergen with his one-man-band Burzum, who also speaks English. And yeah, we’re still in Norway where everyone speaks fluently English, but read Norwegian newspapers. Anyway, he’s really hungry and desperate for recognition, status and respect in the extreme metal circle. And he want’s it now! And to show how extreme and Dr. Prime Evil he is, he removes his Scorpions patch from his jacket, since that’s not “true metal” according to Euronymous, and sets fire to a church or two. Impressed by Varg’s actions and his commitment to practice what he preaches, Euronymous signs him on his record label. Varg also appears to play bass, and becomes a session-player on the recording of the De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas record. But it shows that the relatively tiny black metal circle isn’t big enough for the two of them. The more respect Varg gets after the church burnings, the more Euronymous fades into the shadows, which makes their relationship crack and escalates into a huge battle between two poisonous, fragile and fucked-up egos. And as Euronymous tells the audience in the short voice-over prologue at the beginning, it doesn’t end well.

 

Ignoring all the inaccuracy and how Euronymous is painted as a saint with angel wings and Varg as the most evil creature in the universe, Lords of Chaos was better than I expected. I didn’t know what to expect, really, but at least I got entertained during the two hours it lasted, and that’s good enough for me. The most known segments, that has already been covered in books and documentaries, is included here. Everything from the small-legendary concert where the corpse-paint and pig heads got introduced, the homicide on the gay man in the Olympic Park, church burnings, up to the brutal climax. There’s a lot of shit to cover, but I wish the film focused more on Mayhem as a band and their struggle to survive on their chaotic zero-budget tours around Europe on Interrail which ends in them getting handcuffed by the Police. I didn’t get the Home Alone vibes from Rory Culkin as I expected, and there is some level of energy and enthusiasm behind his big, crazy eyes. He appears more like a younger Fenriz from Darkthrone. Emory Cohen, however, does a rather sloppy and lazy performance in which I can’t tell if it’s just bad acting or if he is in a role he really didn’t want to play. I just don’t buy him as Varg for a single second he’s on screen. But awesome that at least they got Attilla’s son, Arion, playing a thirty-year younger version of his dad.

 

The film has a great look with great use of the Norwegian landscapes, and the set of the Helvete record shop was spot on. And of course the churches that were built to be burned down was a stunning and beautiful sight to watch. And if there’s not any plans of a biopic GG Allin in the dark horizon, this will be the bloodiest and most graphic in the genre, as far as I know.

 

And if you haven’t already, also watch the documentaries “Once Upon a Time in Norway” (2007), “Pure Fucking Mayhem” (2008), “Until the Light Takes Us (2008) and “Satan Rides the Media” (1998)

 

Lords of Chaos

 

Director: Jonas Åkerlund
Country & year: UK | Sweden | Norway, 2018
Actors: Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Jack Kilmer, Sky Ferreira, Valter Skarsgård, Anthony De La Torre, Jonathan Barnwell, Sam Coleman, Wilson Gonzalez, Lucian Charles Collier, Andrew Lavelle, James Edwyn, Gustaf Hammarsten, Jon Øigarden, Arion Csihar
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4669296/

 

Tom Ghoul