Slasher Studios Spotlight: Jason Harlow (ANOTHER EVIL NIGHT)

In a brand new segment for Slasher Studios, we will taking a look at various up-and-coming horror filmmakers as they chat about their horror experiences as well as why they love the genre. Today we take a look at Jason Harlow and his upcoming horror film ANOTHER EVIL NIGHT, which is currently slashing up Kickstarter.

History With Horror
“I’ve been watching horror films literally since I could ever remember. I grew up watching the Child’s Play and Scream movies. I’ve always been interested in the classic monsters such as Dracula, The Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Gill-Man, but slasher films are what I’m most interested in.”

Making the Horror Happen
Low-budget films are more interesting than me than the Hollywood stuff, so when I was in middle school, I started researching online to find some of the lesser-known slasher films. Todd Cook’s Screamtime Films label had a few particular titles that I wanted to see, and those were Night of the Clown, The Dummy, Demon Dolls, and lastly – Evil Night, which I managed to get the sequel rights to in the summer of 2015. The film began production in 2016 and is scheduled for release at the end of this year.

Having worked with some of Memphis’ most well-known film filmmakers as well as indie horror folks such as MJ Dixon, Dustin Ferguson, Tyler Hall, and Matt Cloude, I’ve gotten a good amount of experience in my 22 years of life. Tackling this feature with mostly just myself and a rather inexperienced yet very promising film student known as Jacob Gordon, however, has easily been the biggest challenge so far. What we have created is by no means a masterpiece of any sort, but horror fans will hopefully agree that it’s very fun film with lots of great Halloween imagery.

Killing it With Kickstarter
With only a few key scenes left, including one that features rising horror star Tommie Vegas, and us using an edit-as-you-go approach, the film is close to being finished but is looking for additional funds to cover the cost of festival fees as well as the manufacturing of 250 hand-numbered Blu-rays. In exchange for people’s generous donations, we are offering producer and special thanks credits, DVDs Blu-rays, and VHS’s as well as posters signed by Ben Purvis, Tommie Vegas, Jacob Gordon, and myself.

To become an Another Evil Night backer & support indie horror, check out the official film’s Kickstarter and help Harlow make a horrifically fun final film!

The Perfect Family: “MOTHER!” (2017) Review

A young wife works to rebuild her poet husband’s home after a fire. They seem to have a simple but happy enough life. This is disrupted when two strangers show up and set off a chain of events that test the couple, and the wife’s sanity.

I want to start this review by saying that the marketing for Mother is severely misleading. It’s not the horror movie they’re making it out to be. It’s not a Rosemary’s Baby clone, it’s not about a cult or even really so much a home invasion. There may be elements of this but not as much as the trailers give off. What we get is a movie that will still rattle you like crazy. After the film was over I was left shaken and in shock wondering what I just watched. The whole drive home I was thinking about it the whole way home, and even at home I felt like I was in this catatonic state with the after effects of it. Having said all of this I hope I’m not overhyping it, so take these words however you like. What this film is, is one bottle that keeps getting shaken and shaken until finally it just bursts. And as I was watching this movie, I found myself feeling the same way. What’s so crazy about this film is that everything you are feeling as you watch it is represented on screen. The shaken bottle comparison applies to the film itself, but also with Jennifer Lawrence’s character. As the events of the movie progress, we see Lawrence begin to unravel with it, and it’s amazing watching how she shows her character’s change throughout. Everything you’re thinking and feeling, Lawrence is projecting on the screen. And she absolutely nails it. In terms of the story, there’s so much that you can interpret from it and there’s a great amount of symbolism. Everything about it, from the general story, to the cinematography is like a nightmare. It’s like you’re living a nightmare. By the time we get to the final act, the movie just completely goes berserk. Early on you’re thinking “WTF?” but by the end you’re seriously yelling “WTF!?!?!” in your head. It is a pretty bizarre movie and not for everyone. Like I said, this movie is like a nightmare. The craziest things happen in it.

Besides not being a full-on horror movie, the movie is very horrific and not conventional at all. Many will call the movie stupid because there isn’t an extremely clear direction unlike most. This isn’t a flaw at all in my opinion, but modern audiences obviously need direction with their horror, right? This alone with deter many. But what will make people absolutely hate this movie is much of the final act. A lot of horrific stuff happens here including one scene where I knew it was going to go there before it even happened, and it takes it a lot further than I expected. I’m saying this movie will outrage people, make them walk out, demand their money back, and just be furious. But this is also a movie that will stick with you after it’s over for better or worse, and it will definitely make you think about the various interpretations to draw from it. As far as acting, the whole cast is excellent. As I mentioned Jennifer Lawrence is incredible and turns in probably her strongest performance post-Hunger Games. Javier Bardem is does a fine job too with his role and really makes you hate him, but there are times when he screws with your mind and confuses you as much as he does with Lawrence’s character. Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer rock their supporting roles, mostly Pfeiffer. She’s sinister, seductive and enticing, but she also drives you crazy as the unwanted guest. Harris doesn’t get as much to do as Pfeiffer but his presence is still really felt.

Love it or hate it, Mother is movie that will be people talking and will stay with you for a long time. I will say though that if I had any issue with it is that it often feels like its only purpose is to basically crush your soul, but again, there are so many pieces present to put together something to interpret.

–Cody Landman

IRRATIONAL FEAR Slashes Up Post-Production Campaign

Want to be a part of our latest slasher feature, Irrational Fear? Here’s your chance! Every dollar raised through our Indiegogo will go straight into post-production to make this as KILLER as possible. Click on the link below to check out our exclusive trailer and pick up some slasher backer exclusives including cast & crew signed posters, limited edition blu-rays, dvds, killer props, and much more! Become a backer today and score your fearful rewards. Check it out!

About the film:
Irrational Fear is the third horror feature from Slasher Studios & first collaboration with L.A. Horror. IRRATIONAL FEAR centers around six therapy patients brought together at a secluded cabin to confront their strangest fears. Little do they know, these fears will certainly be the death for some of them. Who will make it out alive?

IRRATIONAL FEAR INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN

Adolescent Anxiety: IT (2017) Review

In the summer of 1989, a group kids called The Losers Club ban together to face an evil creature who appears in the form of a clown named Pennywise who feasts on his victims by using their fears against them. Apart from the evil clown, the kids also must face the local bullies, problems in their home lives, and growing up.

This adaptation of the Stephen King novel is only the first chapter. This chapter focuses on the Losers Club as children and the next part will focus on them as adults. It is hands down one of the most perfect horror films, and films in general, that I’ve seen in a long time. The film succeeds in so many different ways. The horror is extremely well-done and really pulls you in. The jump scares come off as more startling moments more than anything. But any of the true scary moments rely on the intensity, atmosphere, the actors, and the overall direction. There were many instances in which my heart was pounding like crazy and often shaking from the intensity. Some of these moments are when the kids are in the house where Pennywise resides, the opening scene, and the projector scene. But there were many other scenes as well.

But more than anything, I loved following the story of the Losers Club. These characters are so lovable and ones you have so much fun with. You genuinely feel like you are a part of their group and are feeling what they are feeling. In some ways you could say this is more of a coming of age story with horror thrown in. And this works so tremendously. The ability to connect with the characters couldn’t have been possible without the amazing young cast. I was blown away with how incredible they were. They brought so much heart, fun, and emotion to these characters and they all had incredible chemistry. The characters who play the bullies do a great job as well and do a great job of making you hate them. Bill Skarsgaard just knocks it out of the park as Pennywise. I’ve never been afraid of clowns. Ever. But Skarsgaard totally managed to bring a great amount of terror and unease inside me that I never expected to feel. Apart from the cast, I cannot express enough how much director Andy Muschietti and writers Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman made this film happen. The writers brought in such an engaging, funny, terrifying, and often heartfelt story. And Muschietti knocks it out of the park of bringing so much nostalgia on screen and sucking you into this world and making you become a part of this group. And the nostalgia could go in different ways of classic 70s/80s coming of age films, or just reminding of your own childhood altogether. He also does an amazing job using the incredible and scary set pieces make you feel just as uneasy and on edge as Pennywise does. For a movie that’s over 2 hours long, it moves at such a perfect pace and flows with such ease from funny, touching, to terrifying and it all builds up to a great final act. I fell in love with these characters and was so attached to them that I honestly could have stayed another 2 hours for Part 2 or even stayed another 2 hours to watch the movie again. If I had to pick a flaw I suppose I’d say the CGI was sort of distracting, but nothing I couldn’t get over.

It is such a perfect movie in every way a movie could be. A great story with so many emotions involved, engaging characters, an excellent feel of nostalgia, great pace and build up, amazing cast, wonderfully filmed and under great direction. I tried covering as much as I can about this movie and why it’s so great, but it’s one you have to see yourself.

–Cody Landman

Opening Terror: THE VAULT (2017) Review

Two estranged sisters come together to pull off a bank robbery to help their brother who has run into trouble financially and owes money to some bad guys. The robbery seems to go smoothly until they find that they have come up short. When the assistant manager of the bank reveals there is a hidden vault downstairs where the old bank is located, the group heads down there. Unbeknownst to them, the vault is home to something dark and evil from the bank’s past.

The Vault is honestly one of the more entertaining horror films I’ve seen this year. This comes in the way it chooses to blend a few different genres in one. It goes from a heist film and then turns into a hellish and supernatural film. It certainly wasn’t the film I was expecting, and I mean this in the best way. I was never bored at all during this film, waiting to see how everything would unfold. The heist aspect had good pacing and intensity, but then when the horror comes in it amplifies that. It won’t scare anyone, but it does offer some chilling moments when the creatures of the vault are released. The scenes with these creatures are amongst the most creepy, and this can be thanked to the actors portraying them in the creepy ways they chose to move and attack the characters. I was disappointed however with how little action the final act had, I was expecting a much more intense showdown/encounter with our leads and the creatures. Instead it just seems to feel rushed to wrap things up. The final act still works, but considering the short length of the film, it could have done with an extra ten minutes or so with all of our characters finally down in the vault trying to escape. I’d say the worst thing about the film though is the final shot of the film that is not only groan-worthy but didn’t make any sense at all. Had it ended before that scene with the big reveal of the film (one I didn’t exactly see coming but I feel many will) it would have been a great way to end it.

The characters at hand aren’t exactly the most likable, most especially Francesca Eastwood’s character who just comes off as a cold bitch for most of it, but Eastwood does play the role extremely well despite that. Taryn Manning is the other sister who is ex-military, and while she is more likable than Eastwood’s character, she still isn’t someone you particularly care for (unless you’re like me and because you like the actress you want her to survive). Manning more or less plays the loud, tough ass bitch she plays in most films. Of the siblings, it’s the brother in needs who is the most likable, but also the most underdeveloped. Scott Haze does a great job in this role in what he does get to show. We see how desperate he is to get out of his financial situation but he knows how wrong this whole robbery situation is and doesn’t want harm to come to anyone, and Haze shows this really well. It is another weak aspect that the siblings’ relationship isn’t exactly developed really well, nor do they really spend much time together, apart from the two sisters who just yell at each other the whole time, and the brother is basically the glue between them. On top of that we really don’t know much about the brother’s backstory and the money he owes, and not too terribly much about the dynamic between the siblings. James Franco unfortunately doesn’t get much to do as far as acting, mostly just sit on the ground tied up and spout off his lines with some look of concern. His character is integral to the story, but it sucks for a big name he doesn’t get much to do.

Apart from not getting much of the characters and understanding them, and the eye-rolling ending, The Vault is a fun horror film with some often creepy scenes and some better acting than expected.

That Damned Kid: LITTLE EVIL (2017) Review

A newly married man moves in with his new wife and her son. He’s eager to spend the rest of his life with his new bride and take on the role of the boy’s father. But he comes see that something isn’t right about this kid, and discovers he’s the spawn of Satan.

The latest Netflix release is a comedy horror that plays on the tropes and pokes fun at “evil kid horror” and even has a meta-moment discussing a well-known film of the subgenre. Horror fans that have seen horror films that involve creepy kids will recognize some of the nods to these films. The film is written and directed by Eli Craig who wrote and directed Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil (another horror parody) returns with some of the flare he offered in that movie. While this movie doesn’t provide nearly as much fun or laughs as Tucker and Dale, Little Evil is still an entertaining film that is worth checking out. I didn’t particularly find myself full on laughing, but it did make me chuckle a few times, mostly the aforementioned jabs at other evil kids movies.

Adam Scott plays the lead character as the awkward and chipper step-dad. Scott does provide some comical moments during his more uncomfortable moments with the kid and trying to overlook his creepiness. But of anyone it is Bridget Everett who stars as Scott’s best friend Al that provides the most humorous moments. Everett brilliantly nails Al’s bluntness, moments of stupidity, but also sometimes is the one who speaks for the audience. Sally Field surprisingly has a small appearance in this, but I was massively disappointed that she was as underused as she was. It seemed like she was going to be the Mrs. Baylock character from The Omen (hell her character’s name was Mrs. Shaylock), but instead she really doesn’t get much to do with a character that had a lot of potential to be hilarious, and Field would have nailed it. Evangeline Lilly plays Scott’s oblivious wife who plays off the son’s behavior as “just being a kid”. It’s obvious this is used as a jab as well, but at times it seemed like they really milked it her character to where the jokes got old fast. Towards the end of the film it does end up going into some really sappy and heartfelt territory involving father/son themes. It kind of throws of the tone the film had already established, but it’s intentions are well-meaning.

While Little Evil pales compared to Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, it’s still a movie worth checking out if you enjoyed that film and feel like watching an entertaining parody.

Home But Not Alone: JACKALS (2017) Review

When a separated couple hires a man to basically kidnap their son from a deadly cult they bring him back to the family cabin in order for the man to try snap the son out of his brainwash. As the night goes on and the son doesn’t seem to change, mysterious figures in animals masks turn up to try get the son back by any means necessary.

Jackals has the makings of what could have been a great and chilling horror film. It has the story for it, the perfect setting, a creepy cult, and occasional creepy moments. Unfortunately this is sordid most especially by the fact that we have some of the dumbest characters I’ve seen in a horror movie in a while, along with some extremely bad acting. The first half of the movie is really good with the family trying to almost “exorcize” their son. In fact it was the most interesting part, the behavior of the son was horrific enough to still make the film creepy and chilling. Once the cult shows up is when it begins to become predictable and repetitive. Had the cult stuff been saved for maybe the last twenty minutes or so, the film could have worked much better. Instead it’s nothing but the family looking out the window, the cult trying to break in and failing, and many images of the cult just standing outside, and of course the characters making extremely stupid decisions. The first stupid decision made leads to what was probably supposed to be shock value, but right when the character did this it’s extremely predictable what was going to happen. And then of course the film ends just way too conveniently and a little unsure of even how they wanted to end it. It’s then tacked on with a clichéd final shot. I do have to mention though that I absolutely loved the opening sequence. While it was clearly playing a homage to the opening of Halloween it was still really creepy and initially I thought this was a sign of what was to come, unfortunately it wasn’t.

As mentioned, the characters are unlikable, but I feel like this is because most of the acting was pretty terrible. Deborah Kara Unger and Johnathon Schaech play the parents of their son Justin (played by Ben Sullivan). Unger and Schaech’s performances are just dull and lifeless, even in the scenes meant to be heartfelt. Though Schaech does fine when he has to be angry and pissed off. Unger just seems like she’s stoned the whole time, like every other performance she’s done. Chelsea Ricketts plays Justin’s ex-wife and mother of his child with just as much lack of emotion, but she at least seems to be trying. Nick Roux does fine with his role as Justin’s brother, but this is kind of overruled by the fact that the character is terribly written. It’s unclear whether he even cares about his brother, and comes off as bipolar. Stephen Dorff isn’t terrible in his role as the man helping the family get their son back, but he also doesn’t get a whole lot to do either, and is amongst one of the stupid characters. But of the whole cast, the only one who does turn in an all out good, probably great performance, is Ben Sullivan as Justin. There are times where he does come off a incredible creepy from how he lashes out at the family, to the creepy looks he gives. He even does a good job of pulling off ambiguity as to whether he’s faking out the characters to release him or if the old Justin is coming back.

Jackals is honestly a film I can’t recommend, despite a great opening, setting, a good first part, and a great performance from Sullivan, there is just so much to be frustrated with in terms of characters, acting, and the constant repetition of the home invasion aspects.

–Cody Landman

Home Sweet Home: GHOST HOUSE (2017) Review

A young American couple travels to Thailand where they learn of artifacts called “ghost houses”. These houses are said to hold spirits of those who have passed. When two other tourists show them a ghost house grave yard, Julie is tricked into disturbing one of the houses. Soon afterwards, Julie is being haunted by the angry spirit who inhabited the house and is now after her soul.

This recent supernatural horror film is a fresh of breath air in the sense that it’s not about a troubled family in a haunted house. Instead it’s a cultural supernatural horror film. While the film still falls under certain horror tropes it’s still a much better story to be told. I’ve always found that supernatural horror films that take place in other cultures and tell stories of myths about them are the most interesting. Even if some don’t exactly turn out good in the end, it at least takes them in a different direction. Ghost House uses the Thailand culture to its advantage in how it shows the country, the people in it, and their way of life. And the overall setting and filming of the city is excellent. As far as the overall story goes, it’s pretty engaging. The couple at the center of it isn’t exactly likable, but you don’t hate them. They’re flawed. But once Julie becomes haunted by the spirit, her fiancé Jim is now willing to do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means bringing this burden onto someone else. The ghost haunting Julie is pretty terrifying and used in some creepy ways. Along with this the film has some creepy sequences in general and has just as much creepy imagery. It’s only when the final act comes around that the film loses steam. In what should have been a great and intense final act, it’s way too rushed, comical, and ends up throwing in a ridiculous curveball of a plot-point that make the stakes of the film seem less high. It then ends from a cheesy penultimate scene, to one that’s been used in every other ghost film. Our two leads do a decent enough job, even if their chemistry isn’t the greatest. Scout Taylor-Compton turns in a good performance as Julie. She shows Julie’s fun and adventurous side early in the film with realism, and during her hauntings, she shows the confusion and fear of the character nearly flawless. I say nearly because there are moments where it seems she is over-reaching a bit too much. James Landry Hebert’s performance as Jim is a little hit-or-miss. There are times where his performance is a little cringe worthy, but then there are times when it’s just fine. These good moments mostly occur when he expresses his determination to save Julie and the fear of her worsening condition.

Ghost House is far from a perfect horror film, but it’s a nice break from the usual ghost story we’ve been getting recently. The final act and ending is lackluster, but everything prior is engaging and creepy with Bangkok being a great cultural setting.

–Cody Landman

Bloody Pages: DEATH NOTE (2017) Review

When a young teen discovers a notebook called the Death Note, he learns from an evil spirit that it can cause the death on whomever the owner writes in it. The writer has to be very specific though. They must include the full name, and how they want them to die. The more detailed, the better. If they don’t give a cause of death, the spirit chooses. He initially takes the opportunity to use in his personal life. But he then teams up with a classmate and they decide to use this power for good, ridding the world of criminals. But a cop take on the case to find out the cause, believing these mysterious deaths are murderous. The two friends then grapple between right, wrong, and obsession as the cop is on their trail.

Prior to this Netflix film, I’d never actually watched the animated series. I’ve definitely heard of it, and it caught my interest. The trailer for the movie caught my attention with not only the interesting story, but also the way the film looked overall, grim and haunting. The does deliver the interesting concept and brings forth an interesting story, but ultimately it did come out to be average. The idea here is great, but it just seemed to keep rehashing much of the stuff it already covered, and along the way it becomes muddled with confusing plot points that makes everything established already seem completely written off. This is what I found the most frustrating. They’ve established the rules of the Death Note, but then they add all of these conveniences later on to satisfy where they want the plot to go. I was also disappointed that it didn’t go further into a darker and more horror-like territory than they did. The horror aspect only occurs within the first 45 minutes or so. From there it goes into this vigilante/fantasy/suspense film with random teen drama thrown in. This is where the film loses its momentum. Others may dig this aspect of the teens taking on this power, but what I wanted was to see them gradually growing dark with each person they choose to kill, maybe even some innocents. The vigilante aspect just really didn’t do much for me. The cop tracing them would have made more sense if random people began to die instead of criminals no one cares about.

On a technical aspect, the look of the film delivered in its dark and grim feel. This was the only horror aspect that seemed to stay present. The soundtrack was great as well, even if it didn’t seem to fit well with the scenes at times, or it seemed too on the nose. Nat Wolff is pretty great as the lead character, Light. He plays the character with realism in the beginning, and he does a good job of transitioning into his obsession with power, and then showing the balance between this obsession and wanting to stop. Willem Dafoe plays the evil spirit Ryuk brilliantly, but we all know Dafoe nails the villainous roles, so that was a given. Lakeith Stanfield and Margaret Qualley are the two weak links in the film. Stanfield as the cop on the two teens’ trail turns in a performance that makes it looks he is either trying too hard or not trying hard enough. Qualley plays Light’s partner and love interest. Of any part in the film this is the one should could have had the most fun with as a manipulative and the most unhinged of them all. Instead she just comes off too wooden and casual for a role that required so much.

I’m sure there are people who don’t mind Death Note for what it is, and what it is, is fine, but it suffers from a loss of momentum part way through, a poorly written last half, and not as much horror or darkness as it could have gotten. Adam Wingard does great with the direction, and the look of the film is great, along with Wolff and Dafoe. If anything this film was just a missed opportunity.

–Cody Landman

World Premiere: IRRATIONAL FEAR Teaser Trailer

We are proud to bring you the teaser trailer for the third horror feature from Slasher Studios & our first collaboration with L.A. Horror. IRRATIONAL FEAR centers around six therapy patients brought together at a secluded cabin to confront their strangest fears. Little do they know, these fears will certainly be the death for some of them. Who will make it out alive? Look for IRRATIONAL FEAR on DVD & limited edition Blu-Ray this November!

Want some killer Irrational Fear rewards? Every dollar raised through our Indiegogo will go straight into post-production to make this as KILLER as possible. Become a backer today and score some limited edition rewards. Check it out here.