serial killer

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Evangeline: BITS 2013

Published December 8, 2013 by vfdpixie


Evangeline (2013, 1 hr 25 mins)

The first film of the BITS Fest was Evangeline.  I had heard about this film some time ago, and I was glad to be able to see its North American Premiere at the festival.

Evangeline (Kat De Lieva) is a college freshman who leaves a haunted past to start anew at school.  She is quickly taken under the wing of her sharp and sassy roommate Shannon (Mayumi Yoshida) and new friend Molly (Natalie Grace).  The girls hit the frat party scene where Evangeline catches the eye of Michael Konner (Richard Harmon), big man on campus.  One long weekend, their flirtation becomes a thing of nightmares as Konner and his cronies Ali (Dejan Loyala) and Mitch (Madison Smith), make a game of murder and toy with Evangeline’s life.  After the frat boys leave her for dead, she is found by two kind homeless men (Kelvin Redvers and John Shaw), and nursed back to some semblance of humanity.  She is changed young woman, possessed by an angry forest spirit, and bent on revenge.  There is also a serial killer afoot called Mr. K (David Lewis), who sports a creepy tattoo of his murder victims’ hands.  Unfortunately he looks like a clean-cut normal guy, and moves around town with ease.  With these threats lurking, Evangeline has her work cut out for her as she hunts those who did her wrong and those who intend to.

I found this story to be complex.  Evangeline’s character on the surface seems to lack experience in the real world, but there is an underlying anguish and weariness within that is illustrated with flashbacks to her family life.  It makes her transformation that much more poignant as we see that anguish rear its ugly head with her re-animation and her hunger for revenge.  The embodiment of misogyny is clear with frat boys Konner, Ali and Mitch, and Mr. K as they try to dominate the supposed weaker sex .  There is a symbolic vindication as Evangeline hunts them down for all their heinous wrong-doings, fueled by the angry forest spirit.  Although the story focuses on Evangeline’s plight and transformation, my only wish for the film would be to expand on Evangeline’s family life, and more background on Mr. K and the forest spirit.

The word “atmospheric” has been mentioned when describing Evangeline, and I have to agree.  The film had a dream like and was artfully shot.  I especially liked the scenes with Evangeline and the spirit that awakened the rage in her.  They were stark but powerful images of all the emotions Evangeline experienced as she battled with her inner processes and struggles.

Kat De Lieva and Richard Harmon gave us some stand out performances.  Kat’s huge eyes really conveyed emotion, and Harmon’s heartless portrayal of Konner made me want to reach out and punch him. And David Lewis always delivers.  I love seeing him in almost every Canadian production out there.  He is a solid actor and he really played the psychotic serial killer well, reprising his role from the short film Doll Parts mentioned below.

During the Q & A after the screening the audience got a chance chat with director Karen Lam and stars Kat De Lieva, Richard Harmon, and Madison Smith.  Lam told us that Evangeline was loosely based on her 2011 short film Doll Parts.  She wanted to expand on the hitchhiker myth, and create a story about the victim fighting back.  She also gave props to director of photography Michael Balfry, who she gave free rein to on the 18 day shoot where he did such a beautiful job.  De Leiva also did all her own stunts as she had military training, and Harmon was a familiar face from the AMC series The Killing, which spurred Lam to pursue him until she had him cast in the film.

I must give honorable mention to Lam’s other entry in the festival, a short call The Meeting.  Her fascination with serial killers continues with an A. A. type meeting for murderers on the mend.  Really funny, morbid and well acted, with a great punch line.  Definitely worth checking out.

It’s pretty clear that Lam is a triple force talent that writes, directs, and produces unique horror films, and this is evident with her Bloodies win (The BITS Fest awards) for Evangeline as best director and Michael Balfry for best cinematography.  I am really excited to see what she has in store for us in the future.  I hope she’s writing away this very minute for her next twisted tale!

The Collector & The Collection: Have Mask, Will Torture

Published April 2, 2013 by vfdpixie

the collector                                  the collection

(2009, 1 hr, 30 mins)                                                               ( 2012, 1 hr, 22 mins)

So I though I’d treat myself to a double bill.  I had seen The Collector last year, and was blown away.  I loved this stylish and gruesome thriller, so when I heard there was a sequel, The Collection, I was cautiously excited.  Both films were co-written and directed by Marcus Dunstan, and since the first movie was so innovative, I thought for sure the second would be comparable, so I bought both movies for, um, my collection. (Beware: Spoilers to follow!)

The Collector brings us Arkin O’Brien (Josh Stewart), a handyman/ex-con who is on a reno site where the clients are filthy rich.  He has been casing this mansion because the owner, a jewel broker, has a giant gem in his safe, and Arkin needs to steal it to repay a jailhouse I.O.U.  He is also looking out to provide for his family, a wife and daughter, and deal with his wife’s loan shark debt which has a midnight deadline.  In desperation, Arkin decides to take the gem that night, since he believes the wealthy broker and his family to be away on vacation.  Little does he know that a masked psycho of epic proportions has also marked the home for his own twisted purposes.  We learn he is a collector of sorts, keeping his last victims as bait for new prey.  Arkin gets caught up in this collector’s vicious and gruesome web of booby traps and is horrified to know that the family has in fact been captured and tortured by the intruder. The youngest daughter, Hannah (Karley Scott Collins) has escaped the Collector, and hides somewhere in the house.  Being a father himself, Arkin puts his self-preservation instincts aside to help the child escape this deadly game.

josh stewart

Hmm…just notice how Arkin (Josh Stewart) looks like my prom date many moons ago. Minus the cuts and scratches. The handcuffs are probably a part of his daily wear these days though, along with an orange jumpsuit…and yeah, I’d date Arkin too..

The Collection begins where the first movie ends.  Arkin rescues Hannah, but is unfortunately recaptured by the Collector and taken away in a signature red steamer trunk as bait for his next victims.  We are also introduced to Elena Peters and her father in a flashback, survivors of a car crash and mourning the loss of her mother.  They were rescued by a man named Lucello (Lee Tergensen), and he becomes their loyal protector.  Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) is now a beautiful, pixie-haired young woman, whose overprotective and wealthy father (Christopher McDonald) is oblivious to her plans of partying well into the night at a secret club. Out to have a good time, Elena finds her boyfriend cheating, punches him out, and makes a tearful retreat.  She finds a red steam trunk and opens it after hearing a thump from within, releasing our anti-hero, Arkin, bloodied and beaten.  This sets off a series of deadly apparatus that turns the club into a death trap as the Collector makes his appearance.   Elena watches her friend get crushed, and is unfortunately captured by the Collector.  Arkin escapes by leaping out of a window using her now ex-boyfriend as a cushion and is rushed to the hospital where he is placed under arrest as he recuperates.  Arkin is the only known survivor to escape the Collector, who we learn has been very busy with other victims.  The nightclub massacre has been pegged as one of his kills, and Elena’s protector Lucello offers Arkin freedom for his help in finding her.  He agrees and takes Lucello and some mercenaries to the Collector’s den of insanity housed in an abandoned hotel, where they encounter more booby traps, mutilated drug-crazed victims and guard dogs.  Once again, it’s a battle of wits, survival and gore all at the Collector’s whim.


Elena in full freakout mode and still glam. A red lip is a must even when terrified!

I’m really surprised that these movies had the same director/writer.  The first movie had a gritty, indie, yet slick feel to it.  The camera work was interesting, and I loved the cool colour scheme of blues and acid greens that created a cold, calculating backdrop for the villain. The traps were crazy and gruesome with lo-tech sophisticated uses for knives, fish hooks, and bear traps.  The film was intimate and claustrophobic at the same time as we witnessed the thought processes of both Arkin and the Collector; intruders with very different goals.  I felt The Collector was truly innovative.  Josh Stewart was brilliant as Arkin, a bad guy with some humanity left, with a perpetually tortured look in his eye.  I really enjoyed the suspense as he outsmarted the villain again and again.

In the second film, Stewart reprises his role as Arkin, and is just as good, as his character continued his survival of the fittest behaviour, but I found the film not as visually appealing, overusing the colour red.  It reminded me of the Saw movies, a few of which Dunstan had a hand in writing.  The gallery of the Collector’s creations also reminded me of The Human Centipede, which is unfortunate since I still want my time back for watching that stinker (incidentally, the sequel to that movie was…well, I want my time back for that one too). I also found that the kills weren’t as artistically shot as the first film.  There were, however, some interesting moments, like seeing the Collector’s lab.  There was also potential to see into his back story, which never came to fruition.  Just a few tidbits here and there that lead us to believe the Collector had a traumatic experience in childhood that lead him down the psycho path.  I liked the mannequin hallway which was very creepy, as well as the grotesque paintings throughout the hotel.  I also loved the heroine, Elena because she was plucky (check out her MacGyver-esque escape from the steamer trunk), and yes, because she had a pixie cut.  Finally, a gal with short hair who isn’t typical looking but still beautiful!  Hats off to Marcus Dunstan for thinking outside the box for that.  I was also happy to see Lee Tergensen in this film, since I’ve been a fan of his from his days on OZ, but that still couldn’t redeem it for me.

I had a wish list for The Collection.  I wanted this movie to be about the Collector; about his process and what lead him to his morbid obsessions, because Dunstan created a fantastic villain.  I wanted to know why he chose the ambitious nightclub location where he was bound to be found out.  I wanted Arkin to face him in another battle of wits, not the forced mission that made our anti-hero look cowed and beaten.  It’s a shame too, because director Dunstan seemed to be well-loved by his actors, and he looks like a super nice guy as I watched the dvd extras.  Let’s hope that he makes The Collector his signature film and creates something just as great since he is clearly talented…because you know this pixie is waiting…

Something to Watch…

Published March 17, 2013 by vfdpixie

In Their Skin (2012, 1hr 40 mins.)                                  

This pixie is quite frankly, getting annoyed.  I don’t know if I have super high standards or super weird standards as my previous posts will reveal, but the last few horror flicks I’ve watched were good, but I wasn’t blown away.  A few days ago, I checked out In Their Skin, a home invasion, identity theft thriller that got touted as a horror and was part of last year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival.   Selma Blair and Joshua Close play Mary and Mark, a tension wrought couple taking their son Brendon (Quinn Lord) on a trip to their large, luxury cottage.  They have recently suffered the loss of their daughter, and are haunted by that and their crumbling marriage.  Early one morning, Mark hears someone in his yard and discovers Bobby and Jane Sakowski, and their son Jared, bringing them some firewood, and inviting themselves over for lunch.  They seem strange, and Mark is not quite sure about them, but he falls for their desperate to please act, and welcomes them into his home.  The lunch gets weirder and weirder, and Mark finally has to kick them out, which brings out incredible malice, brutality, and the real reason the “Sakowskis” have come to um, play.  I have to say, I was annoyed from very early on.  First of all, I am suspicious of people lurking around my place early in the morning.  They were clearly casing the joint, and perhaps a call to the authorities was in order.  Secondly, and I’m generalizing here, but the first thing that came to my mind was “Rich people can be really dumb”.  Maybe Mark felt bad for being wealthy and wanted to do good for someone, but these people were clearly not right.  Just not right.  Working with the public for over 25 years has given this pixie pretty good Spidey senses, in fact I can smell a wild card a mile away.  Anyway, having said that, all the performances were really great, especially James D’Arcy’s portrayal of the maniacal and creepy Bobby.  A nod goes to Alex Ferris who played Bobby’s rather large 9-year-old “son”.  The vacant look in his eye coupled with a slack-jawed smile really gives you chills.  The dining room scene was also pretty amazingly shot with its precise mirror image placement of the characters.

Citadel (2012, 1 hr 24 mins.)

I also caught Citadel, a bleak Irish horror ( and another T.A.D.F.F entry from last year) about an almost abandoned housing project, or council estate, that is being terrorized by hooded youth ghoulies.  When I first saw this trailer a few months ago, I thought it might be a rip off of Heartless (T.A.D.F.F 2010), an original psycho-thriller/horror starring Jim Sturgess where he is attacked and haunted by hooded demons and must deal with his fears and mental state.  Heartless is one of my favourite films, so I was glad to find that I was wrong.  Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) and Joanne (Amy Shiels) are moving out of their condemned apartment building to a nearby townhouse.  Expecting their first child, they are young and hopeful (or about as hopeful as you can be living in one of these neighbourhoods).  Unfortunately, Joanne gets attacked by three hooded youths and by the time Tommy can get to her, she is badly beaten with a syringe stuck in her pregnant belly.  She is rushed to the hospital where the baby is saved, but Joanne stays in a coma for 9 months.  As a result of the trauma, Tommy has become agoraphobic, and has trouble dealing with the outside world.  He must conquer his anxiety to take care of and protect his daughter, deal with his wife’s fate, and stand up to the attackers who turn out to be some weird human/demonic thingys.  A near mad priest (James Cosmo) is his reluctant guide to the underworld of the council estate, and a large piece to a terrible puzzle.  Aneurin Barnard gave a pretty great performance as the trembling, shattered Tommy, with saucer-like eyes and slight shaky build.  I had, however, a huge problem with the hooded ghoulies.  It looked like they were a uniformed, zombie-like soccer team.  So they all had  hoodies?  Someone kept the supply of hoodies going for the new recruits?  Really?  Yes, I know they were supposed to make a social commentary of the lost youth in the council estates, but I feel like they would have been more convincing in torn, tattered clothes instead of those hoodies.  I’m sure they were working with a tight budget, and I give them credit for that and the film they produced, but it didn’t quite work for me.

They were something to watch as I wait for some more goodies to come from so I can get jazzed about a movie again.   Stay tuned for something ridiculous to come your way soon…

Most Memorable Line:  In Their Skin:  Jane, with her cracking, weirdo grin says to Mary, “Bobby and I just want to know what it is you all do to be like this…we want this.”  AAAAAAAH!!  RUN!!  RUN!!

Most Memorable Line:  Citadel:  The Priest sets Tommy straight when he sees Tommy make the sign of the cross before their battle with the ghoulies and says, “Only got yourself to believe in Tommy…that way we got a fuckin’ hope”.  This.  From a priest.  Not your best representative for the church.  Just sayin’…

See No Evil: Blind Terror or Killer Lady Legs

Published November 28, 2012 by vfdpixie

blind terror

See No Evil (Blind Terror)  1971 85 mins

It’s always a score when you scan the t.v. guide and see something interesting, but usually it’s at 4 in the morning.  Which is the time I set my alarm for just to see this film.  Hey, I was available.  I love Mia Farrow (obviously), and I had never heard of this film, so I had to see it.

Mia plays Sarah, a young woman who is recovering from a horse fall that has left her blinded.  She arrives at her Aunt and Uncle’s estate for some r & r and to get back on her feet.  They live on a large piece of land, and their home is huge, but Sarah is determined to navigate her surroundings as she did before her accident.  The family is over protective and dotes on her, as is her boyfriend Steve, who is eager to continue their relationship.

Unfortunately, there is a darker side to this seemingly straightforward story.  The town harbours a maniac.  The film opens with a man leaving the local theatre.  He has just see a double feature of “Convent Murders” and “Rapist Cult”.  He is definitely not on a date.  We are only shown his skinny lady legs and groovy brown cowboy boots, complete with white stars on the front.  When these boots are marred by Sarah’s uncle as he splashed them with the car, the killer has his next target.  Lady Legs scratches Uncle George’s fancy car, and they are now marked for death.

Steve sends for Sarah so they can go on a date, and they go horseback riding.  As Steve tries to rekindle the flame between them, Lady Legs murders Aunt Betty, Uncle George and cousin Sandy.  Sarah arrives home, deep in thought about her relationship and unaware that the corpses of her entire family lies scattered around the house, bloodied and ravaged by bullets.  Thinking that everyone has gone about their evening plans, Sarah putters around, narrowly missing broken glass in stocking feet, and goes to bed.  The next morning, she is summoned by Steve so he can surprise her with a new horse, Dandy Star, and she narrowly misses discovering her dead uncle in the bathtub.  When she returns to finally take her bath, she is horrified to find Uncle George and Sandy shot to death, and can only assume the worst for Aunt Betty.  In a panic, she falls down some cellar stairs, makes her way back up and finds the dying gardener, Barber.  He tells her that the killer will be back to find a name bracelet he dropped in the house, and a game of cat and mouse ensues between Killer Lady Legs and Sarah.  She escapes on her horse, but falls off and wanders around until she stumbles upon a gypsy camp.  This is where the story gets a bit tedious.  Killer Lady Legs and one of the gypsy dudes has the same name.  When the gypsies think their one of their own has done the crimes, they lock Sarah up in a shed in the middle of a clay pit.  She escapes and Steve finds her, brings her back to his home, where Killer Lady Legs makes his final attempt to get rid of her.

I liked this movie because even though it got a tiny bit tedious towards the end, the director, Richard Fleischer (of Soylent Green fame), created a good amount of suspense with the camera work.  He shows the isolation and desperation you can only imagine Sarah feels.  Her size is a stark contrast to the huge house and vast surroundings.  And I felt that everyone, from the farm hands to the gypsies, was a suspect.  Which is not unusual for me in my day-to-day life.

I also loved the introduction to our faceless killer.  The boots were just ridiculous.  And that double feature he comes out of?!  Wow!  Can you imagine “Rapist Cult” and “Convent Murders”  being on your actor’s resume?  Sums that dude up in one shot.  Dirty, dirty psycho.  To me, this film could also be an early reference to all the slasher/stalker teen flicks of the ’80’s.


I thought Mia was great!  I’m not going to name any of the other actors, because I don’t really care about them.  For me it’s all about Mia.  I think they cast her perfectly because she looks so frail, but has quite the backbone.   Here’s a link to Imdb if you want a full cast list.  All in all, a pretty entertaining late night watch.

Most Memorable Line:  When Sarah stumbles upon the gypsy camp, one of the matrons calms her down with a slap and says after, “It’s all right lovey-no one’s gonna hurt you!”  Again, she says this after she slaps her.  Where I come from, a slap in the face is someone hurting you.  Just saying…

Favorite Scene:  The very ending.  SO WEIRD!  As the police cart off the bodies of Sarah’s family, the gypsies all peer through the wrought iron fence with odd, vacant looks in their eyes.  Perfect ’70’s ending.


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