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Adult Swim Terrifies Audiences With Surprise Film Disguised as a ‘Yule Log’

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Yule

If you recall a few years back Casper Kelly made a collection of late-night, faux infomercials. These ranged from a popular one titled Too Many Cooks, and a terrifying one titled Unedited Footage of a Bear that acted as a late-night pharmaceutical commercial. As they progress, they end up becoming more and more disturbing. Kelly’s latest work, Fireplace aka Yule Log, is a surprise horror film that plays out around a Yule Log burning in a fireplace.

Fireplace/Yule Log surprised audiences last night by going from a faux Yule Log fire to a full-on, feature-length horror movie. Best of all, this horror film is effective on all fronts. It jumps from supernatural to slasher to home invasion to killer log exploration and then back again. What makes Yule Log that much more interesting and worthwhile is the ingenuity around its production. For most of the film the camera is entirely in one spot before going full Evil Dead and flying around the room.

Yule Log is also very much about its practical effects gore. The first bit of this shocks you by bashing someone’s face off, in full unflinching gory glory. Much like the Infomercial series, Yule Log is also very funny, and never takes itself too seriously. I’m also a huge fan of how Yule Log jumps from dread-filled to gut-busting.

Ever since Kelly created those creepy Infomercials, I have been a huge proponent of him getting his own horror film. I’m happy to see that he is excellent even in a feature format. It is also an added hilarious bonus that Kelly wrote the title track for “The Fireplace” as a nice end credit treat.

“Last year during the holidays I was watching a yule log video and suddenly I had an image of legs walking past the fire, just slightly out of focus, and hearing dialogue off screen.” Kelly said. “I loved the mysteriousness of that, and a story started to form. I’m so grateful to Adult Swim for taking the plunge with me, and I’m so proud to have made their first live-action film!”

Yule

Fireplace/Yule Log is as hilarious as it is chilling and its ability to jump between those two sentiments is a real accomplishment and keeps you on your toes. It takes some talent to be rife with dread and also to be a knee-slapper. Fireplace/Yule Log is unnerving and darkly funny all with a special kind of fantastic subversion. Kelly has a bright future ahead of him in horror. Fingers crossed he works with the likes of Blumhouse or Atomic Monster next.

You can stream Fireplace/Yule Log now on HBO Max.

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‘Children of the Corn’ Adaptation Headed to Theaters and Shudder

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It’s been almost 40 years since Linda Hamilton and Peter Horton got into it with “He who walks behind the rows,” in Fritz Kiersch’s Children of the Corn, based on a story by Stephen King.

Today, Deadline reports that director Kurt Wimmer’s film will finally get a theatrical release on March 3, with a Shudder streaming release on March 21. But don’t get too excited, because this isn’t a remake or even a reboot. Wimmer has said this version has “almost nothing to do” with King’s original short story or the ’84 movie.

“We went back to the story and free-associated from there,” the director told Variety.

You may also notice the dateline for production is 2020. It was big news at the time that Wimmer was going to shoot his movie in Australia during the height of the COVID pandemic. Through safety protocols including social distancing, they managed to get through it.

Producer Lucas Foster said at the time, “You can theorize all you like about safety protocols, but until you get on set, you don’t really know. But I can now tell you it is impossible to keep a camera crew 1.5 meters apart.”

This updated take on King’s short story doesn’t appear to involve a married couple on a road trip at all. Instead, it is an origin story about how all the adults in the small town met their murderous ends.

Children of the Corn follows a 12 year old girl in Nebraska who is possessed by a spirit in a dying cornfield. She recruits the other children in her small town to go on a bloody rampage and kill all the adults and anyone else who opposes her. A bright high schooler who won’t go along with the plan is the town’s only hope of survival.” — Deadline

Make sure to keep checking back to iHorror for the trailer once it drops. And let us know whether you like the concept of moving away from the original story, or if you would have liked it to follow King’s short story more closely.

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[Sundance Review] Brutal ‘Talk to Me’ Might Be Festival’s Best Midnight Title

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Australian horror movies are some of the best of the genre. They aren’t afraid to push the limits of both stories or gore. It’s apparent from the beginning that Talk to Me is moving across — way across — those same lines. 

In this film, zoomers are caught in the supernatural crossfire after performing a trendy seance challenge by using a preserved hand and forearm of a psychic. This is their gateway to the other world where demons plot to manipulate human lives. All it takes is to shake the outreaching hand like a “test your strength” carnival game to make contact. It’s also a great Tik Tok ready experiment where views are likely to climb.

With all their teenage pomp, when these friends get together, it feels a bit like HBO’s Euphoria with a Conjuring twist. I’d even go so far as to compare it to The Evil Dead, the monsters here are just as intense and ugly. There is also a heavy James Wan influence from back in his Insidious days. Couple all of these things with a Creepypasta-type story and you can imagine what kind of hell is going to cross over.

At first, the teens have fun getting possessed one by one, filming each scenario. That is until one of them is overtaken by a forceful spirit that violently injures its host by forcing him to bash his head against hard surfaces. But not before manipulating him to pluck out his own eye and then squeamishly performing in a tongues-and-all-make-out session with a pet bulldog. You read that right.

The brutality is unhinged. 

The adults are certain the teens are doing hard drugs in the aftermath of the injuries. If only real drugs were the case. The kids get a “high” on these possessions, but in doing so, have unknowingly ripped a hole between the real world and the hereafter where evil spirits come through and manipulate the game’s participants. 

Our troubled protagonist, Mia (Sophie Wilde) is convinced she has made contact with her dead mother through one of the sessions. It’s a heartwarming moment, the only one, in this relentless barrage of disturbing images you can’t unsee.

The film is directed by YouTuber twins Danny and Michael Philippou. Despite their small screen medium, these guys have a future on larger venues. Talk to Me is an amalgam of mined ideas but this duo makes them better. Even as far as sticking an almost perfect landing which you know in this genre is a rarity. 

It’s also refreshing to see them allow our main character, Mia, to slowly slip into madness without pulling cheap stunts just to appease the intended audience. Each scare is purposeful, each monster is developed and what they have to say is important.

Wilde never lets the genre get the better of her. She plays Mia with a subdued sense of weakness. You can see, had it not been for the passing of her mother, this young lady would not fall under the traps of silly peer pressure. To pull that many layers out of an actress is not the result of an expensive acting workshop, but the sign of a future star honing her craft.

It appears the directors saw the talent in Wilde and focused on that instead of some of the other actors. Alexandra Jensen as Jade plays the supportive best friend, but not to the levels of a final girl we are used to. And Joe Bird as Riley, the possessed one, is terrifying as the harbinger of hell.

The Philippou’s probably screamed out loud when veteran actress Miranda Otto (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Annabelle: Creation) said okay to the script. She is amazing in everything she does. She brings polish to an already shining movie.

There isn’t much fault to be pointed out in Talk to Me. The cinematography deserves a slight upgrade, and the collective ideas of past works are undeniably present, but the film never tries to improve upon those ideas by being extra. It’s fully aware that it is borrowing, but what the filmmakers pay back is worth far more than what was taken.

Talk to Me is a part of the Midnight section of Sundance Film Festival 2023.

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[Sundance Review] ‘In My Mother’s Skin’ is a Horrific Fairytale

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From the opening shot of Kenneth Dagatan’s In My Mother’s Skin, viewers are warned of what they are in for. It’s a vision of starved dead bodies, but as the camera pans to the left, something is feeding on them.

This scene takes place at the end of World War II in the Philippines. A young man named Aldo and his family are held captive by a troop of Japanese invaders who hijack his mansion looking for an alleged stash of gold. 

Aldo heads out on his own in the dead of night to get help, leaving his sick wife (Beauty Gonzalez) with their two children, a daughter named Tala (Felicity Kyle Napuli), and a young son, Bayani (James Mavie Estrella). After a day, the former is certain her father has been killed, and to sway her thoughts, she and her brother set out to search for him, but encounter a strange but beautifully dressed woman in a rundown cabin.

Dagatan (Ma–2018) pulls a heavy amount from Hansel and Gretel at this point. But infuses his fairy tale with horrific images of a country at war, including its gruesome casualties, their faces frozen in terror left to decompose in the open.

In My Mother’s Skin: Epicmedia Productions

In addition, unlike the Grimm tale, the antagonist isn’t a fearsome old witch, but a beautiful woman dressed in regal finery with a holographic winged fascinator highlighting her face. The movie leans in heavily toward the Virgin Mary symbolism. It’s not quite a Guillermo del Toro creature creation, but no less unsettling. 

The director teases his audience determined to keep them curious about underdeveloped parts of the storyline. Some may call this a slow burn. For instance, the ailing mother is given a cure by her daughter — a gift she receives from the fairy —- but its effects are seemingly malevolent and she appears to become slowly possessed over a period of days. 

The film suggests that believing in something out of desperation might be comforting in the short term, but if said belief is only disguised as good, how mindlessly controlling is faith? And is it too late to undo what has already been done? This is also a metaphor for war and greed, two of the film’s other contentions. 

In My Mother’s Skin: Epicmedia Productions

Only part of the horror in In My Mother’s Skin comes from the mother’s gradual possession. The other is how young minds, like Tala’s, when left to fend for themselves often react impulsively without critical thought. This is in contrast to Disney’s homogenized world where children have the ability to lead without experience, face evil using alchemy, and survive horrific situations, emerging mentally unscathed. 

For our heroine Tala, just like Ofelia in Pan’s Labyrinth, the harsh universe in which she lives hints at a path leading to the realms of fantasy. But that world, helpful in the short-term, is just as corrupt, filled with its own deceptive beasties.

What In My Mothers Skin makes painfully clear in its own narrative is that religion, especially Catholicism, and its precepts, mirror fairy tales and are littered with blind faith. Tala’s expansive house has alters dedicated to Catholic deities but their protective power never materializes even as forces, both human and supernatural, wreak havoc upon them. Dagatan seems to be saying that evil is the only power that will show itself to humans in real-time while faith compensates later.

In My Mother’s Skin is a grandiose fairytale steeped in Guillermo del Toro’s influence. Beautifully framed landscapes are dimly lit in a gray-blue scale, befitting a world filled with dread and tragedy.

Napuli gives Tala a false sense of resilience in her teenage blind ambition. She wants to be the strength that saves her family, but she is just misguided. As a young actress, this can be hard to express in live action, maybe better suited for a Disney voiceover, but Napuli takes on the challenge with terrifying aplomb.

Dagatan (and we the viewer) know his story isn’t headed toward a Disney ending. His princess, bloodied and affected, has endured too much for that. It is in the final words of dialogue before the credits roll that this film projects its wisdom unto the audience, but like in most deceptive fairy tales endings, there really is no “Happily Ever After.”

In My Mother’s Skin is a part of the Sundance Film Festival 2023 line-up.

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