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Shark Film ‘MANEATER’ Shows No Mercy!



To highlight the release of Maneater, star Nicky Whelan chatted with iHorror on how the film was made.

The latest killer shark film, Maneater, shows no mercy and does a splendid job of delivering a high body count. This film has received gaping reviews, many are hating on it, but I plan on showing this film a little love. The film is not overwhelming or astounding, but I had a great time! Right away, the audience receives death and wastes no time setting the story up for more. The question is asked early on, “who will live and who will die?” Director Lee isn’t camera shy and has no qualms about lingering over the gore caused by the massive shark. 

We’ve all seen different variations of Great White Sharks throughout our favorite shark movies; some are better than others. This shark does change quite often throughout the film, the look, and the size quite noticeably, and this still did not stop me from having a fabulous time. Sometimes you do your best with what you have; I respect that with cinema, and I am just a sucker for shark films, ha! 

I believe sometimes we don’t watch killer shark movies for the plot or characters, but it’s a pure bonus when we get something more! 

Despite many of the cast members being picked off one by one, some very quickly, there was some character development, especially with Jessie (Nicky Whelan). Jessie had just come out of a long-term relationship, and her friends dragged and “made” her come to this tropical paradise with them. The story is kept relatively simple, and sometimes it can become a bit cliché, but hell, I didn’t mind; it was a bloody good time! 

MANEATER is now available in theaters, digital, and on-demand from Saban Films. 

Synopsis: Jesse and her friends’ idyllic island vacation turns into a gruesome nightmare when they become the target of an unrelenting great white shark. Desperate to survive, she teams up with a local sea captain to stop the vicious maneater before it strikes again in this heart-pounding thriller.

I had the privilege of speaking with star Nicky Whelan (Jessie) from the film. Nicky was a blast, and I hope I can talk to her again about her future projects. We spoke about Maneater, of course, and touched upon her work with Rob Zombie, upcoming features, and Halloween traditions in Australia (where she grew up). Check out our conversation below; you’ll be glad you did. 

Conversation With Actress Nicky Whelan

Nicky Whelan as Jessie Quilan in the thriller, MANEATER, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.

Nicky Whelan: Hi, Ryan. 

iHorror: Hi, Nicky, how are you? 

NW: I am well, thank you, love; how are you? 

iH: I am doing good; thank you so much for taking my call today. I have a few questions; first and foremost, I enjoyed the film. I enjoyed the characters, and it was what I was looking for; it fit in well with my weekend watch, and there were many great things about it. The cinematography was gorgeous; it was beautifully shot. A couple of the characters I did care about, especially Captain Wally, I was so upset when the shark ate him. Both of your characters had such good chemistry; I was hoping there would have been something. 

NW: I think in the earlier script, there was something that was going to happen with our characters, and I do not know why it didn’t go in that direction; something had changed in the script. To be honest with you, I liked how it didn’t turn into a romantic story, and it came more about the independent vibe that my character got to have and the father/daughter connection that was developed with the Trace Adkins character [Harlan]. So it’s interesting that you say that, yet I like the way we went with the ending because it wasn’t your typical sort of ending; I kinda liked it.

(L – R) Shane West as Will Coulter and Nicky Whelan as Jessie Quilan in the thriller, MANEATER, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films

iH: It was different. It was great either way. When you got attached to the project, was it a normal interview, or was there anything special about you getting attached? 

NW: You know, I’ve worked with those guys before, and they sent me the script, and I was like, ‘oh my goodness, a shark movie, let’s do this.’ Shark movies are great; they come out all the time and have a huge following. People have either made crazy ridiculous ones or realistic ones; people have a thing for shark movies. I was like, ‘okay, let’s give this a crack,’ and it was in Hawaii, and I am like, ‘yes, please.’

iH: I actually didn’t know that; now it’s usually one hundred percent CGI. 

NW: Absolutely, and obviously, we did use a CGI shark throughout the movie, but there are moments where Justin [Lee, Director] wanted to use it, and we were like, ‘okay, let’s do this, it’s gonna drive us all crazy but let’s give it a crack’ [laughs]. 

iH: Was there anything in particular about the shoot that was challenging or difficult? 

NW: The entire production, it was an independent shark movie being made in 18 days with a mechanical shark under pretty crazy conditions. As an entire team, we really went in old school. It was very challenging; the water conditions were full on, and we had limited time and money, so we were proud of the result. I was personally challenged physically on this movie. I wasn’t prepared to do the swimming [laughs]. I was like, ‘oh shit.’ I consider myself sort of fit, but this kicked my ass, and I was exhausted from swimming in the water all day and the ocean. The locals really took care of us, and we felt very safe. The boiling heat and rough water and early starts. It was a lot. Using the mechanical shark and having the puppeteers there, lugging this thing in and out of the water. The camera crew was standing in the water for hours, not knowing what was at their feet; it was no joke; I was scared a few times [shrieks, laughs]. It was full-on. 

Nicky Whelan as Jessie Quilan in the thriller, MANEATER, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films

iH: Did you see anything in the water when you were there? 

NW: No, just a few fish. It was the beautiful waters of Hawaii. It was very safe; Hawaii is a great place. I have been there many times before. It wasn’t so much of the fear of what was in the water. I was sometimes a little nervous because I couldn’t see the bottom, and I was like, ‘what am I standing on?’ Something squishy and a rock, ‘what is going on?’ [Squeels] [Laughs] The locals rest assured ‘you’re good,’ and I put my trust in them. I was exhausted; the choppy water really exhausted me. 

iH: I bet; I couldn’t have done it. That is a testament to the dedication of everyone involved. That is just awesome, it sounds like it was a close-knit group, and eighteen days is just amazing; that is quick! 

NW: Honesty for a shark movie it’s insane; it’s not a lot of time. The budget was small, so you couldn’t do much of the stuff you wanted. This is why it was a tight group of people making the most of a situation, I was really proud of it, and we got it out there. 

iH: That is great, and has this experience, this move, in particular, made you think about directing? 

NW: If I am going to direct anything, it won’t be a shark movie. It is a real baller to take on that project, to be out on the water for eighteen days; you’ve got so much going up against you, it is a challenge. It is funny that you talk about directing; I love music videos old school; I was an 80’s baby; I would love to direct music videos which are completely center-left of ‘ManEater’ and what we are talking about, that would be somewhere I kind of would start. I can definitely appreciate what Justin [Lee], our Director, went through on this movie and the team trying to make this work under the conditions. It was satisfying to wrap up this move and walk away; it was a lot of work, and we were exhausted, but it felt good at the end of it. 

iH: I was looking through your IMDB, and it looks like you have an alligator film in the works? The Flood. 

NW: Yes, we’ve got shark movies, we’ve got alligator movies; I am taking on every scary animal on the planet. We’ve got The Flood coming out. I’ve got a comedy coming out, which was great to be a part of; I hadn’t been on a comedy set for a minute; it’s called The Nana Project. There is an action movie with Dolf Lungren and Luke Wilson coming out; I have been jumping around doing random projects doing some really different genres as I do [Laughs].

iH: That is awesome. I love hearing that!

Nicky Whelan as Jessie Quilan in the thriller, MANEATER, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films

NW: It definitely feels good; it’s not the same thing over and over again, that’s for sure. 

iH: I know that we spoke about ‘Jaws,’ but what is your favorite scary movie? 

NW: Honestly, my favorite scary movie is so hardcore, and I got to work with him: it is ‘House of 1,000 Corpses’ by Rob Zombie, with whom I did Halloween II. I love him; I love his work – that movie. I think I went to the movies and saw it a bunch of times. Old school, absolutely horrifying scary, and I loved it. 

iH: I did remember your character very briefly in Halloween II. 

NW: Yeah, it was more about getting to work with Rob Zombie. It was a small role. I was like, ‘send me to Atlanta; I want to be in the mix with those great people.’ Rob is amazing at horror; it was so cool, just a badass group of people; that was a good one. 

iH: He always does things, he has The Munsters coming out, and I can’t wait for that. 

NW: It looks amazing; good for him. He is always taking on projects like that. I love his take on stuff. 

(L – R) Nicky Whelan as Jessie Quilan and Trace Adkins as Harlan Burke in the thriller, MANEATER, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films

iH: Do you currently live in Australia?

NW: No love, I have been in America for sixteen years. 

iH: I was just curious, are there any Halloween traditions in Australia? 

NW: There really wasn’t. Growing up, Halloween wasn’t huge. People now have jumped on board the whole dress-up thing now. In the past ten years, Australians do Halloweenie stuff; as a kid, we would not trick or treat; that was not part of the Australian culture; it was definitely an American thing. I am a Star Wars nerd, every Halloween, if I am not filming, you’ll see me as some sort of Jedi or with some extreme costume on, really taking advantage of Halloween; it’s my favorite holiday. 

iH: That is awesome; I know we have to wrap up; thank you so much for speaking with me; congratulations, and I hope to talk to you soon sometime about a different project. 

NW: Absolutely love, thank you very much. 

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Movie Reviews

SXSW Review: ‘Evil Dead Rise’ is a Non-Stop Gorefest Party That Never Lets Up




Klaatu Barada Nikto! Are the words used to conjure up Kandarian Demons have never let us down. It inspires chainsaws, boomsticks, and fun to explode across participating screens. From Sam Raimi’s game-changing 1981 film to the Starz series Ash Vs Evil Dead. Now, a host of deadites return with the latest blood-soaked experience, Evil Dead Rise. The latest entry in the franchise pumps new life and death through its veins by jumpstarting the film anew.

Evil Dead Rise begins with that familiar POV shot of the Kandarian force roaming the woods. As it picks up momentum, we are suddenly pulled out of the POV to realize that we are looking through a drone’s lens. The shot lets us know that we are in for a new era of the Evil Dead while having a bit of fun with expectation. The sequence brings us to a bunch of vacationing people having fun at a cabin by the lake. The introduction to these folks doesn’t last long before the possession of a Kandarian demon makes its self-known. Scalps are pulled blood is shed and the Evil Dead Rise in the short intro. We are then pulled back to the city a few days before the events at the lake.


We are then introduced to a small family with mom, Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) her two kiddos (Morgan Davies, Nell Fisher), and her sister, Beth (Lily Sullivan) all living in a high-rise apartment building. When a major earthquake manages to open a hole in the floor the small family discovers The Book of the Dead.

It doesn’t take son Danny long to play the vinyl records that accompanied the book. Once again the Evil Dead is set free and within seconds all hell breaks loose and enters the body of mom, aka, Mom.

The familiar POV of the Kandarian forces pushes across the city streets before finding the tenement building. Once inside it doesn’t take long to find its first possession victim, Alyssa. Once possessed Alyssa makes her way back to her family in their apartment home and as you could have guessed it doesn’t take long for souls to begin being swallowed and for blood, guts and viscera to begin flying.

Evil Dead Rise does a great job of keeping its evil foot pressed firmly against the gas pedal.  Once we are introduced to this poor family and their apartment home, the horror, action and fun doesn’t stop coming.

Director, Lee Cronin, (The Hole in the Ground) fits perfectly into the Evil Dead family. He manages to create enough of his own vision of the Kandarian Demon hellscape to make it his own while also giving us cornerstone moments filled with boomsticks, chainsaws, over-the-top horror, and the classic Demon voice that Sam Raimi fostered in his films. In fact, Cronin takes that Kandarian demon voice even further. He manages to create a full-on character by way of possessed Ellie that resonates and becomes more incendiary throughout.

Cronin manages to create that new villainess voice by way of Alyssa Sutherland. The actress goes through the motions going from struggling mother to a terrifying and completely memorable deadite queen. She remains throughout the film. Each scene sees the actress meeting the physical challenges of the role as well as the all-out evil villainess parts of the role with exceeding perfection. Not since Bad Ash has a Kandarian Demon stood out as memorably as Sutherland’s mom breaking Evil Dead bad. Hail to the Evil Queen.

Cronin also manages to create a world that may contain the other two Necronomicon books that we have seen in the past. He leaves room in the story to believe that both Bruce Campbell’s Ash and Jane Levy’s Mia may all exists with their own respective books of the dead. I love the idea that there are more than one Necronomicon in play and the director bravely opens up that possibility.


Beth (Lily Sullivan) becomes our knight in bloody armor here. Sullivan steps into the blood-soaked role of our new heroine with gusto. It is easy to love her character early on and by the time we see Sullivan bloodsoaked, with chainsaw and boomstick in tow we as an audience are already head over heels and cheering.

Evil Dead Rise is a full on non-stop gorefest party that starts up fast and doesn’t let up for a second. The blood, guts, and fun never stop or give you a chance to breathe. Cronin’s high-rise nightmare is an exquisite chapter in the world of The Evil Dead. From start to finish the party doesn’t let up for a second and horror fans are going to love every second of it. The future of The Evil Dead is safe and ready for more souls to swallow. Long live the Evil Dead.

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Movie Reviews

‘Dark Lullabies’ Film Review



Dark Lullabies is a 2023 horror anthology film by Michael Coulombe consisting of nine tales creating a run time of 94 minutes; Dark Lullabies can be found on the Tubi Streaming Service. The film’s tagline, “Guaranteed to tuck you in and rock you to sleep,” is clever and suitable. I am a sucker for anthology films and series, so I was very excited to check this out. I had seen a few of the short stories already, but it was a real treat to revisit these gems.

So let’s dive right into it; this isn’t a film loaded with special effects, so if that is what you’re looking for, you may want to wait for the new Transformer film to release this year. Dark Lullabies is a film that allowed its creators to spread their wings and produce content, which I am sure was on a shoestring budget.

I’ve heard that the most popular obstacles for any production are time and money. Out of the nine tales, a few have an emotional hold over me, for many reasons, from the story, the acting, and the direction. A similar trait that these horror tales held was that I wanted to see each as a feature, as I felt there was more story to tell, and now it was up to me to use my imagination to fill in the blanks, which is never a negative.

Before I get into what I specifically enjoyed, I will point out a few flaws I had with the overall film. I understand at times, because of the powers that be, certain decisions are made, it is out of reach for the creative minds, and they can’t specifically make certain decisions. I believe the entire film would have flowed better if the title cards were placed at the beginning of each segment (some were). This would avoid confusion about one segment ending and another beginning; at times, the viewer may think they are still on the same segment because of the transition.

Lastly, I would have liked to have seen some creepy or slapstick funny host; some of my favorite anthologies had horror hosts, and I believe it would have added that final gloss over to the film. None of this was a deal breaker, just something I would have liked to have seen. I enjoyed all of the segments in Dark Lullabies; there are a few that I would like to mention specifically.

“Dark Lullabies is a culmination of 9 of my short horror films; each segment dealing with the horrors cause by people and the choices they make. Horror is not always a monster or a man in a mask. Jealousy, ego, abuse, cruelty, cheating..there are all kinds of subtle messages throughout Dark Lullabies.” – Director Michael Coulombe.

Segment – ‘Love Me Not.”

First up is the segment “Love Me Not.” I was particularly keen on this one because actress Vanessa Esperanza seamlessly delivered a lengthy monologue for nearly the segment’s duration. Jenny has experienced a broken heart countless times but will teach all her ex-boyfriends a deadly lesson on Valentine’s Day. I would have loved to have seen more of the story focusing on where Jenny’s story began and what the final straw was bringing this character to her breaking point. This segment was well-written and directed.

Segment – “Bag of Tricks.”

Second, on my list is “Bag of Tricks.” With a run time of sixteen minutes, this segment delivers a satisfying blend of terror, exceptional acting, and cinematography that’s on point and makes for that perfect story to tell on Halloween. This will satisfy your Halloween craving and is watchable any time of the year.

The segment focuses on a couple answering an ordinary Halloween evening knock at the door, turning the night into a chilling ordeal for both lovers as they meet Timmy, the ghost. I must say, the presence of the ghost costume is downright hair-raising! I hope that at some point, Writer Brantly Brown and Director Michael Coulombe will deliver us a feature, as I know so much more can be told.

Segment – “Silhouette”

My third mention is “Silhouette.” It is amazing how being polite to someone could have paid off for the gentleman in this segment. With a run time of about eight minutes, Silhouette delivers a powerful punch, and again, the concept, if expanded on, I believe would make a great feature. I am always in the mood for a good ghost story!

Segment – “Stalk.”

My fourth and final mention is “Stalk.” This story was clever and simple, which made it very unnerving. Do you ever feel as though someone is following you? What would you do if that was your reality and someone was stalking you? Would you run, hide, or fight back? Stalk will be sure to leave your appetite howling for more!

Dark Lullabies is a decent anthology that allows these talented individuals to showcase their art, and I hope to see more of this in the future. From the planning, coordination and management, directing, and editing, I know a lot of heart and thought went into producing each of these nine shorts. Remember to check Dark Lullabies out on Tubi.

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Movie Reviews

REVIEW: ‘Scream VI’ Is an Action-Packed, Galvanizing Tour de Force



I kinda wish I could say that the Scream franchise has jumped the shark with this latest chapter — we all know that day is coming — but it hasn’t. Not this time.

We might have the “core four” to thank for that. The “core four” consists of last year’s survivors, Sam (Melissa Barrera), Tara (Jenna Ortega), Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown), and Chad (Mason Gooding). That accolade doesn’t just go for the on-screen characters, but Scream VI has some of the best damn young actors in Hollywood today.

L-r, Hayden Panettiere (“Kirby Reed”), Jasmin Savoy Brown (“Mindy Meeks-Martin”), Jack Champion (“Ethan Landry“), Melissa Barrera (“Sam Carpenter”), Jenna Ortega (“Tara Carpenter”), Mason Gooding (“Chad Meeks-Martin”) and Courteney Cox (“Gale Weathers”) star in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group’s “Scream VI.”

Easter Egg Hunt

This review is going to be somewhat short because I don’t want to give away any spoilers or inadvertent clues to this edge-of-your-seat thrill ride. But I will move forward as if you have already seen the last film, so if you haven’t, check it out before you see Scream VI, there are a lot of things you should know that are going to make your experience a lot richer.

Cold Open

First, let’s start with the ubiquitous cold open. Scream VI has the weirdest and most satisfying prologue since four. Again, it is better that I don’t mention what it involves because that’s part of the fun. But I will tell you that Easter has come early because there are eggs everywhere. If any movie can get you to watch it twice, it’s this one. Once, for the main action, and again to for the IYKYK treasure hunters.

Ghostface in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group’s “Scream VI.” © 2022 Paramount Pictures. Ghost Face is a Registered Trademark of Fun World Div., Easter Unlimited, Inc. ©1999. All Rights Reserved.”. Ghost Face is a Registered Trademark of Fun World Div., Easter Unlimited, Inc. ©1999. All Rights Reserved.”


Scream VI has the most action sequences of the first three films combined. This is like the Die Hard of horror. Again, giving anything away is not going to make us feel good so we’ll move on. But suffice it to say that there are some real nail-biting showpieces that never had this much bang in past films. I found myself yelling at the screen amongst my journalistic colleagues and I never do that. This is a fun ride in a full theater so don’t go through all your popcorn in the first 30 minutes.

L-r, Melissa Barrera (“Sam Carpenter”) , Jenna Ortega (“Tara Carpenter”), Jasmin Savoy Brown (“Mindy Meeks-Martin”) and Mason Gooding (“Chad Meeks-Martin”) star in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group’s “Scream VI.”

Family & Core Four

In Scream (2022) there was a heavy emphasis on family. We got to see Sam’s slow descent into madness while trying to stave off Ghostface. Eventually, her psycho superpower was enough to beat the killer with the help of Master Yoda…er, Daddy Billy Loomis. Scream VI is forged on the strength of extended family. As Dom Toretto would say, “I don’t have friends, I have family.” And of course, there is the sisterly relationship between Sam and Tara. Only a year has passed since the events in Woodsboro and they haven’t had time to heal, let alone understand how to move forward. Both Barrera and Ortega have so much talent.

Ghostface in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group’s “Scream VI.”

Recall Factor

I said before that you should watch the 2022 Scream before Scream VI. I would also recommend you watch all of the Scream movies before heading into this one. Whereas in Scream (2022) fandom was cut down to size, Scream VI is an Oscar speech to aficionados of the franchise. It is going to be helpful as a fan to have a refresher, and helpful to people who only casually watch for reference points.

Let’s put it this way: if you have never seen a Scream movie you will still have fun, but you run the risk of ruining your date’s post-movie high by asking a lot of questions. Don’t do that. Do your homework.

L-r, Melissa Barrera (“Sam Carpenter”), left, and Jenna Ortega (“Tara Carpenter”) stars in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group’s “Scream VI.”


Scream VI has such a solid backbone it can stand on its own. Enough can’t be said about this talented group of actors. They really appreciate the franchise.

You have to remember some of these actors weren’t even born when the first Scream was released. In fact, Ortega wouldn’t come into the world until seven years later. That means everything Wes Craven did by re-inventing the horror rules back in 2009, a refreshed generation has entered the picture and re-invented their own. Just as we millennials appreciated what the original movie did back then, a whole new crowd is going to appreciate what it does today. Craven is applauding from the grave.

So yes, Sidney might be missed in spirit, but you’ll hardly know she’s gone. Or is she?

The Unmasking (No Spoilers)

As with all the Ghostface movies, there comes that element of anticipation as you try to figure out who is holding the knife and wearing the mask. That final 10 minutes when the killer is revealed and the audience lets out a collective “ooohhh…!” If the filmmakers have done their job, the reveal leaves us with “that tracks” rather than “I knew it!” Scream VI follows that same formula where it’s not so much the destination as it is the journey. I won’t say anything more about that.

Final Thoughts: Scream VI

Bloodier than the ones before it. With more action than in recent memory, and a cast full of talented actors, I bet Scream VI is going to float to the top of franchise favorites. While the formula is relatively unchanged, the movie still has tons of surprises. This can’t be said for vintage slashers of the past.

Scream continues to change the game (and the rules) and so far, it has worked; no sharks have been jumped. Until that day comes, the king of slashers still reigns supreme.

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