Posts Tagged ‘Scott Speedman’

This week’s releases include: the tale of a vengeful killer; a political biopic; Woody Allen’s latest picture; a scary Christmas story; a survival narrative; a vampire-werewolf romance; and a family’s struggle worked out in MMA. (more…)

Advertisements

This week’s releases include: an adaptation of a Canadian writer’s novel; a fairy tale made contemporary; a serial killer’s psyche is explored; the line between reality and fantasy is distorted; and a couple messes with the natural order. (more…)


In case you need a convenient catch-up or refresher before watching Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Underworld and Underworld: Evolution have been released as a double feature.

In the first chapter, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is a death dealer in a war between vampires and lycans that has raged for centuries. Her duty is to eradicate the Earth of lycans, but while shadowing the human Michael (Scott Speedman), a lycan target, Selene uncovers a plot that could mean the end of the vampire race. Lucian (Michael Sheen), a lycan thought to be long dead, has discovered the key to mixing werewolf and vampire DNA, which produces a powerful hybrid. As her feelings for Michael deepen, Selene must decide to who she can trust.

In the sequel, the longstanding war takes a backseat to the release of the most vicious lycan to ever walk the Earth. Selene (Beckinsale) and the transformed Michael (Speedman) must stop the vampire-turned-hybrid Marcus from changing and releasing his lycan-brother William from a prison that has protected everyone for centuries.

As is often the case, the sequel is inferior to the original but both are worth the time. The first instalment is less bogged down by history and takes place in the present, which includes lots of action and conflict. The second has a lot of flashbacks, which while interesting slows down the pace somewhat, and doesn’t feel as well thought out.

The Underworld DVD is the unrated, extended cut of the film and includes commentary with director Les Wiseman, Beckinsale and Speedman; outtakes; and “Fang vs. Fiction,” a 45-minute featurette exploring the mythology of vampires and werewolves.

The Underworld: Evolution DVD’s special features consist of audio commentary from director Wiseman, production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, stunt coordinator Brad Martin, and editor Nicolas De Toth; six featurettes: “Bloodlines: From Script to Screen,” “The Hybrid Theory,” “Making Monsters Roar,” “The War Rages On,” “Building a Saga,” and “Music and Mayhem;” and a music video by Atreyu.

Good terror horror that causes you to tense up and not let go is hard to find, especially in the mainstream, but The Strangers is just that.

James Hoyt (Scott Speedman) and Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) went to the Hoyt summerhouse after a wedding. It was supposed to be a special night but things had not gone as planned. Exhausted and drunk, the two wanted nothing more than for the night to end. Then a strange girl knocks at the door looking for someone. From that moment on, Kristen’s and James’ lives are in danger as they are threatened first subtly then with increasing intensity.

One of the most terrifying elements of this story is the randomness of the violence. There is nothing personal about the attack; the couple is just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Writer/director Bryan Bertino’s creates a successful throwback to horror films of the 1970s and 1980s, which centred on the build-up and proved meaningless at every turn. His method of telling the story is very effective and affecting. Once introduced, the Strangers (Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis) are always lurking but not acting so the audience never knows if and when something is going to happen.

There are several long takes as opposed to a lot of short cuts. The masks add to the overall effect of fear because you cannot see the intruders’ facial expressions or emotions nor are their identities ever revealed. Furthermore, the time establishing and connecting with Speedman’s and Tyler’s characters is well spent as you feel for them and with them in their helpless situation. Finally, the suddenness of the ending only punctuates the senselessness of the entire incident.

The DVD includes three deleted scenes that contribute to the character development of Kristin and James, but only the second would have really added to the story. “The Elements of Terror” featurette separates the scary components of the film into sound, look, feel, etc. Although it’s interesting, it also demystifies the fear a bit.

I SEE YOU: Liv Tyler and Laura Margolis in a scene from The Strangers (Photo courtesy of Alliance Films)Nothing about this story is supernatural and it really could happen to you because it happened to them.

James Hoyt (Scott Speedman) and Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) went to the Hoyt summerhouse after a wedding. It was supposed to be a special night but things had not gone as planned. Exhausted and drunk, the two wanted nothing more than for the night to end. Then a strange girl knocked at the door looking for someone. From that moment on, Kristen’s and James’ lives are in danger as they are threatened first subtly then with increasing intensity.

One of the most terrifying elements of this story is the randomness of the violence. There is nothing personal about the attack; the couple is just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Writer/director Bryan Bertino’s method of telling the story is very effective and affecting. Once introduced, the Strangers (Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis) are always lurking but not acting so the audience never knows if and when something is going to happen. There are also several long takes as opposed to a lot of short cuts. The masks add to the overall effect of fear because you cannot see the intruders’ facial expressions or emotions nor are their identities ever revealed. Furthermore, the time establishing and connecting with Speedman’s and Tyler’s characters is well spent as you feel for them and with them in their helpless situation.

At some point, the constant appearing and disappearing of the Strangers becomes annoying but it is shortly after that that everything comes to a head. The ending, however, feels abrupt and draws attention to the shortness of the total time. On the other hand, it punctuates the senselessness of the entire incident.

Bernito creates a successful throwback to horror films of the 1970s, resulting in a movie that stands apart from other recent horror attempts.

And in case you are wondering, it would appear the story was more likely inspired by the Manson murders in 1969, the Keddie murders in 1981, and a childhood experience of Bertino, than a single more recent case as the prologue suggests.

“Were we in hell?” “No, we were at the drive-in.”

What began as the script for a horror film evolved into a humanistic comedy about three friends trying to get out of a jam while staying a step ahead of a group of misguided Satan worshippers.

In Northern Ontario, the transition from Weedsville to Weirdsville appears to come easily. Dexter (Scott Speedman) is the quiet introspective one and Royce (Wes Bentley) is the ideas man, but drug-influenced brainstorming does not usually produce good plans. So when Matilda (Taryn Manning) will not wake up, the advantages of burying her body at a closed drive-in theatre outweigh the more sensible call to 911. From there, things spiral out of control. Soon they are running from servants of the dark lord, employing the help of midgets, and feeling guilty about screwing good people to save themselves. But as the song says, “It all works out in the end somehow.”

Bentley and Speedman each bring sincerity to the characters they play. Their on-screen chemistry is undeniable as the script relies heavily on their ability to play off one another and they are often left to carry scenes on their own, at which they succeed seemingly effortlessly.

Manning spends a lot of her screen time unconscious but when she is alert, she convincingly portrays a stylish drug addict with ambition. In addition to her thespian abilities, the film also features the song “It’s not my fault” from Manning’s upcoming album.

Greg Bryk plays Abel, the former high school delinquent that now leads the well-dressed Satanists on their mission of evil. His misplaced determinism is comical; the more seriousness he displays, the funnier it is.

Weirdsville’s director Allan Moyle was instantly attracted to the script. “It’s really made for me. It’s about drugs, freaky people and things,” says the Canadian who is also responsible for Pump up the Volume, Empire Records, and New Waterford Girl. As the story itself is unusual, Moyle chose an unconventional, unpolished look for the film which suits it perfectly. The lighting is dark, the shots are hazy and the editing does not always immediately make sense.

Weirdsville is humourous, original, fast-paced and has several memorable key moments and pieces of dialogue. This film is more evidence Canada produces good films.