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‘The Flood’ Movie Review – “A Wild Adrenaline-Fueled Ride”

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Get ready for a wild, adrenaline-fueled ride as cops and criminals have been pitted together battle against ferocious alligators, unleashing explosive action sequences and intense, jaw-dropping moments that will leave you on the edge of your seat in this high-octane, action-packed alligator film.

Bear Williams as “Angelo Cooper” in the action thriller, THE FLOOD, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.

The Flood is one film that has been on my radar for quite some time, and I’m a sucker for creature features, big ass alligators; why not? The film did not disappoint, as it was injected with conflict throughout. A harrowing storm brewing, ghastly winds and rain, heavy flooding, armed vigilantes, and hungry gators! This film had it all! With the opening sequence starring Devanny Pinn in a cameo, the film has no problem making the audience well aware of exactly what to expect, total carnage!

The Flood – Official Trailer

The Flood, Starring Nicky Whelan, Casper Van Dien, and Louis Mandylor, joins Sheriff Jo Newman (Whelan) as she prepares her station for the forthcoming Hurricane Gustavo. A prison bus travels across Louisiana to transport some of the most sinister convicts, including a cop killer Russel Cody (Van Dien). As the storm rages on, the guards have limited options and must seek shelter in Sheriff Newman’s station. Unbeknownst to anyone, a group of slimy gators infiltrates the station, taking full advantage of the flood that is slowly creeping up on the Sheriff’s station. 

[L-R] Nicly Whelan as “Sheriff Newman, “Ryan Francis as “Jay Stamper,” and Alex Franham as “Nate Hudson” in the action thriller THE FLOOD, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.

The Flood uses stock footage of floods, hurricanes, and terrible weather, very much setting the mood, and the waters continue to rise and rise. While the film did have much going on, I was able to follow, and I enjoyed the subplot involving the mercenaries; this film was Assault on Precinct 13, with Alligators, and that made the whole experience better! Other Easter Eggs included Con Air, Crawl, and Hard Rain; this couldn’t be ignored, and again, no complaints from me.

[L-R] Louis Mandylor as “Rafe Calderon” and Casper Van Dien as “Russel Cody” in the action thriller THE FLOOD, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.

I know that some will carve this film as a failed and disappointing entry into the creature feature kingdom, and then there will be others like myself that will embrace its success. We just need to remember that this is an independent film that does not have the luxury of big money and extra time.

There isn’t really too much I disliked about this film. Perhaps there could have been a bit more gore, but outside of that, this film did exactly what it was intended to do, entertain me. One of my favorite aspects of The Flood was the character of Sheriff Newman (Nicky Whalen) and her character arch. Sheriff Newman, I could tell, was very comfortable and complacent in her position as Sheriff. However, as conflict flooded her way (see what I did there, hah)!, she rose up to the occasion and became that badass that I am sure she once was a long time ago.

Nicky Whelan as “Sheriff Newman” in the action thriller, THE FLOOD, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.

Directed by Brandon Slagle and the screenplay by Chad Law and Josh Ridgway -bringing in powerful acting, great cinematography, story, and direction, The Flood is a popcorn film built for Summer time fun and to view with a group of friends with plenty of drinks!

THE FLOOD will be available in Theaters, On Demand, and digitally on July 14, 2023.

THE FLOOD, a Seban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.

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TADFF: ‘Founders Day’ is a Sly Cynical Slasher [Movie Review]

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Founders Day

The horror genre is inherently socio-political. For every zombie film there’s a theme of social unrest; with each monster or mayhem there’s an exploration of our cultural fears. Even the slasher subgenre isn’t immune, with meditations on gender politics, morality, and (quite often) sexuality. With Founders Day, brothers Erik and Carson Bloomquist take the political leanings of horror and make them far more literal.

Short clip from Founders Day

In Founders Day, a small town is shaken by a series of ominous killings in the days leading up to a heated mayoral election. As accusations fly and the threat of a masked killer darkens every street corner, the residents must race to uncover the truth before fear consumes the town.

The film stars Devin Druid (13 Reasons Why), Emilia McCarthy (SkyMed), Naomi Grace (NCIS), Olivia Nikkanen (The Society), Amy Hargreaves (Homeland), Catherine Curtin (Stranger Things), Jayce Bartok (SubUrbia), and William Russ (Boy Meets World). The cast are all very strong in their roles, with particular praise to the two smarmy politicians, played by Hargreaves and Bartok. 

As a Zoomer-facing horror film, Founders Day feels heavily inspired by the 90s teen horror cycle. There’s a wide cast of characters (each a very specific and easily identifiable “type”), some sexy brooding pop music, slashtacular violence, and a whodunnit mystery that pulls the pace. But there’s a lot going on inside the engine; a strong “this social structure is bullshit” energy makes certain scenes all the more relevant. 

One scene shows a feuding protest mob drop their signs to fight over who gets to comfort and protect a queer woman of colour (each claiming “she’s with us”). Another shows a politician attempting to rile up their constituents with an impassioned speech, calling them to storm the town in an offensive defense. Even the diametrically opposed mayoral candidates wear their allegiances on their sleeve (a vote for “change” versus a vote for “consistency”). There’s a whole overarching theme of popularity and profiting from tragedy. It’s not subtle, but dammit it works. 

Behind the commentary is director/co-writer/actor Erik Bloomquist, a two-time New England Emmy Award Winner (Outstanding Writer and Director for The Cobblestone Corridor) and former Top 200 Director on HBO’s Project Greenlight. His work on this film is slasher-horror  comprehensive; from tense single-take shots and excessive violence to a potentially iconic killer’s weapon and costume (that cleverly incorporates the Sock and Buskin comedy/tragedy mask).

Founders Day offers the basic necessities of the slasher subgenre (including some well-timed comedic delivery) while poking a middle finger at political institutions. It presents unflattering commentary on both sides of the fence, suggesting less “right versus left” ideology and more “burn it all down and start over” cynicism. It’s a surprisingly effective inspiration. 

If political horror isn’t for you, that’s… fine, but there’s some bad news. Horror is commentary. Horror is a reflection of our anxieties; it’s a reaction to politics, economy, tension, and history. It’s a counterculture that acts as a mirror on culture, and it’s meant to engage and challenge. 

Films like Night of the Living Dead, Soft and Quiet, and The Purge franchise present a biting commentary on the damaging effects of strong politics; Founders Day cynically reflects on the absurd theatre of these politics. It’s poignant that the suggested target audience for this film is the next generation of voters and leaders. Through all the slashing, stabbing, and screaming, it’s a powerful way to promote change. 

Founders Day played as part of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. For more on the politics of horror, read about Mia Goth defending the genre.

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[Fantastic Fest] ‘Infested’ is Guaranteed to Make Audiences Squirm, Jump and Scream

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Infested

It has been a while since spiders were effective in making folks lose their minds with fear in theaters. The last time I recall it being lose your mind suspenseful was with Arachnophobia. The latest from director, Sébastien Vaniček creates the same event cinema that Arachnophobia did when it was originally released.

Infested begins with a few individuals out in the middle of desert looking for exotic spiders under rocks. Once located, the spider is taken in a container to be sold to collectors.

Flash to Kaleb an individual absolutely obsessed with exotic pets. In fact, he has an illegal mini collection of them in his flat. Of course, Kaleb makes the desert spider a nice little home in a shoe box complete with cozy bits for the spider to relax. To his astonishment, the spider manages to escape from the box. It doesn’t take long to discover that this spider is deadly and it reproduces at alarming rates. Soon, the building is completely packed with them.

Infested

You know those little moments we all have had with unwelcome insects that come into our home. You know those instants right before we hit them with a broom or before we put a glass over them. Those little moments in which they suddenly launch at us or decide to run at the speed of light are what Infested does flawlessly. There are plenty of moments in which someone attempts to kill them with a broom, only to be shocked that the spider runs right up their arm and onto their face or neck. shudders

The residents of the building are also quarantined by the police who initially believe that there is a viral outbreak in the building. So, these unfortunate residents are stuck inside with tons of spiders moving freely in vents, corners and anywhere else you can think of. There are scenes in which you can see someone in the restroom washing their face/hands and also happen to see a whole lot of spiders crawling out of the vent behind them. The film is filled with plenty of big chilling moments like that which don’t let up.

The ensemble of characters is all brilliant. Each of them perfectly draws from the drama, comedy, and terror and makes that work in every beat of the film.

The film also plays on current tensions in the world between police states and people who attempt to speak out when in need of real help. The rock and a hard place architecture of the film is a perfect contrast.

In fact, once Kaleb and his neighbors decide they are locked inside, the chills and body count begin to rise as the spiders begin to grow and reproduce.

Infested is Arachnophobia meets a Safdie Brothers film such as Uncut Diamonds. Add the Safdie Brothers intense moments filled with characters talking over each other and shouting in fast-talking, anxiety-inducing conversations to a chilling environment filled with deadly spiders crawling all over people and you have Infested.

Infested is unnerving and seethes with second-to-second nail-biting terrors. This is the scariest time you are likely to have in a movie theater for a long time. If you didn’t have arachnophobia before watching Infested, you will after.

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[Fantastic Fest] ‘What You Wish For’ Offers Up A Wicked Dish

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Wish

I’m a huge fan of these decadent flavors of film. What You Wish For gives us exactly what we wish for by unleashing a razor-sharp film that is all about the rich and how much they can get away with and what insane things may transpire when they get bored. The result is something that is both disturbing and entirely crowd-pleasing.

What You Wish For stars Nick Stahl as Ryan a Chef who is invited by his friend Jack to spend some time in a beautiful, secluded rainforest home. Jack explains that his gig in life has become traveling to beautiful locations and preparing special dinners for collections of powerful rich people.

Once Ryan is brought into the same life as Jack, he quickly discovers that you better be careful what you wish for, and cooking for this collection of people isn’t what he expected… especially when it comes to what is on the menu. All of this sets up for a final act that is an edge-of-your-seat ride filled with just as many laughs as there is propulsive suspense.

Wish
What You Wish For

Much like Hitchcock’s Rope, What You Wish For introduces the dangers by placing them in plain sight and then commences to have the characters move about them unaware. Of course, the audience knows of the hidden horrors making for a lean thrill ride.

It’s great to see Nick Stahl back on the big screen too. Stahl had a huge career in his youth. I’m much more interested in this phase of his career. Stahl perfectly embodies this character and is one of those dudes that you root for the entire time.

Nicholas Tomnay directs the absolute heck out of this film. Everything is precise and comes packed lean with all the fat cut off. Moving these characters around and creating the boiling pot for them to squirm and play in is absolutely a brilliant watch.

What You Wish For is a wicked, provocative thriller that is a cross-pollination of Hitchcock and Tales From the Crypt. Tomnay serves up a lean, mean dish that is impossible to pull away from. From start to finish it is a feast of vicious fun.

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