Directed by: Jamie Patterson
Run time: 86 minutes
The Lowdown: The home invasion subgenre has a lot of standout titles, many of which have been released in the last several years.
From The Strangers to 2017’s Better Watch Out, this is one specific area of horror that continues to thrill audiences and also provides an ample opportunity for extreme chills, uber violence and gore.
Most of the home invasion thrillers that have resonated with viewers, however, have followed a traditional formula – either a family, a group of friends or a lone woman fighting to survive against an unrelenting enemy, usually a gang of thugs or a lone resourceful killer.
Caught, the new home invasion thriller from Jamie Patterson, tweaks that formula by adding a pair of supernatural antagonists and the results are pretty remarkable.
Andrew and Julie are married journalists researching a story about suspicious activity occurring near their home in a remote area of the English countryside. One day, they are visited at home by a queerly proper couple, Mr. and Mrs. Blair (Cian Barry and April Pearson) who want to ask the couple some questions.
What begins as a curious visit soon turns into a fight for survival as Mr. and Mrs. Blair are revealed to be something otherworldly, maybe demons, maybe spirits, who serve as a harbinger of some very bad news. It turns out that Andrew, a photojournalist, may have inadvertently captured something with his camera lens that the world has no idea exists.
Caught is fast-paced and harrowing, full of deliciously nasty twists that keeps its audience guessing.
BVB highly recommends you check it out.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – April Pearson is scary hot.
Nudity – No.
Gore – Minimal.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Mr. and Mrs. Blair
Buy/Rent – Rent it.
Kaleidoscope (Shout! Factory, 100 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): Kaleidoscope is a creepy cool little look into a claustrophobic kill chamber where its occupant, Toby Jones, seemingly has no idea he’s insane. Fans of methodical pacing and minute details will be rewarded by director Rupert Jones.
Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell (Universal, 98 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray): Imagine if we lived in a world where they made a full-on, honest-to-goddess horror movie based on Tremors instead of simply regurgitating the plot of the past few sequels, adding in Jamie Kennedy as the Gummer spawn we never wanted and having Michael Gross chew more scenery as Burt Gummer than a single cow left alone in a field of grass. Imagine even more if we lived in a world where the SyFy Channel had the stones to greenlight the pilot presented with exactly this premise and give fans a proper Tremors weekly series.
Followers (Cinedigm, 82 minutes, Unrated, DVD): For those who missed the weeklong engagement of Followers in Tampa, here is your chance to own Ryan Justice’s exceptional found-footage debut, which has enough twists and swerves to keep even the most jaded horror fan guessing. Check out BVB's glowing review in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay right here.
In Between (Film Movement, 103 minutes, Unrated, DVD): In Between, the debut feature from Hungarian writer-director Maysaloun Hamoud is a wonderful examination of culture and women’s liberation set in Tel Aviv. The film centers around three wholly different women struggling with their place in a traditional society.
Leila (Mouna Hawa) is the free spirit, a strong, independent woman who revels in her ability to do whatever she wants until she meets a man who secretly wants her to conform more to expectations, as far as dress and behavior. Salma (Sana Jammelieh) also is a free spirit, but she finds herself attracted to another woman even as her Palestinian parents continue to push her toward an arranged marriage. And Noor (Shaden Kanboura) is starting to question her life. In college but also engaged through an arranged marriage to a man who treats her like property, Noor must decide how to be true to herself while also adhering to her faith and not disappointing her parents.
In Between moves fluidly between its three protagonists, providing each actress with an opportunity to shine. This one comes highly recommended.
Desolation (Shout! Factory, 78 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): Sam Patton has worked on a number of films in the horror genre. For his directorial debut, Desolation, he has chosen to lens a survival thriller about a mother, her son and her best girlfriend who go camping to memorialize the death of the woman’s husband. All is well until they discover they’re being tracked by a mysterious man in a hoodie and sunglasses. Desolation plays it straight at first, following all the familiar beats of the ‘lost in the woods and being hunted’ subgenre, but Patton decides to keep most of the bloodshed off-camera, which zaps his film of any raw frights, regardless of how well executed it is.
Please Stand By
Mary and the Witch’s Flower
Not to be Overlooked:
Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Fox, 144 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray): Here’s the deal, this Hunger Games-lite YA adaptation concludes its cinematic trilogy with an overlong but entertaining blast of dystopian wasteland action. Check your brain before pressing play and you shouldn’t feel any hangover-like after-effects at all.
Now Playing in Limited Engagement:
Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town (Shout! Studios, 86 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): The debut feature from writer-director Christian Papierniak, Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town, works because of a remarkable lead performance by Mackenzie Davis (Blade Runner 2049, Tully), who plays Izzy, a drunk, minimum-wage catering server who becomes determined to thwart her ex-boyfriend’s engagement party.
But, as a whole, the film feels more like a collection of uneven sequences, some of which are funny and others that drag, that vary wildly in quality and emotional heft.
Several of the subplots, including a vicious passive-aggressive relationship between Izzy and her more successful sister, have moments that ring true, but the overall narrative can’t support the shambling wanderlust of Izzy’s journey.
Now on Video-on-Demand:
The Unwilling (Vision Films, 84 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand/DVD): The Unwilling is a surprisingly effective horror tale that basically approaches its haunted-house-hijinks by exploring the story of the Monkey’s Paw from a fresh perspective, that of the actual paw, or in this case an ancient box containing a vengeful spirit. The screenplay is well-written with lots of humor that lands, such as when Kelly (Austin Highsmith) berates Darren (Jake Thomas) for obsessing when his narcotics supplier is late. ‘Oh, your drug dealer is less than dependable? You should write a nasty Yelp review.’ The special effects are solid, if borderline cheesy at times. Mostly, it’s nice to see so many genre veterans playing together, including Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers), Robert Rusler (Weird Science, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge) and Lance Henriksen. This isn’t the greatest supernatural thriller ever made, but it’s definitely worth a watch.
The Cleanse (Vertical Entertainment, 81 minutes, R, Video-on-Demand): It’s hard to mix fantasy elements with real-world scenarios.
The number of filmmakers who have attempted to do so and failed is a long and distinguished list. It takes skill and a visual artistry to sell an audience and induce them to invest in a story that knowingly sheds its tether to reality in order to introduce something fantastical.
Thankfully, first-time-feature director Bobby Miller strikes exactly the right tone with The Cleanse, a fascinating, funny and ultimately very poignant tale of people who carry a heavy burden of guilt but want to be free from such shackles in order to live a fuller life.
Paul (Johnny Galecki) is an awkward, middle-aged man at a crossroads. His past relationship has imploded. He feels rudderless and adrift. One night, Paul sees an infomercial on TV about a new and new-age-y retreat that promises 100 percent satisfaction and success in helping people unpack their emotional anchors. The retreat is also free.
Paul, Maggie (Anna Friel) and a handful of other participants are selected to attend the retreat once they’ve shown they are willing to get raw and transparent about the issues in their lives they want to expunge. But once they all arrive at a remote campsite, which is run by the eccentric Lily (a wonderful Anjelica Huston), they begin to question the unorthodox methods outlined to them.
Before long, each of the participants is literally and figuratively expelling a manifestation of their darkest doubts, insecurities and fears, which they must then deal with. The creatures that they give birth to resemble the spawn of a gremlin that’s mated with a bullfrog. Though cute, these creatures begin to grow at an alarming rate. It’s up to Paul and Maggie to figure out whether they can live the lives that they want with or without the baggage we all carry inside.
Part fantasy and part allegory, The Cleanse is neither a horror movie nor a comedy. It’s a thoughtful rumination on how human beings process and compartmentalize the slew of emotions in their brains, and the lengths we as people are willing to go to be happy.
The Cleanse is delightful and wacky, and unexpectedly insightful.
Altered Perception (Synkronized Films, 73 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): We’ve all seen the commercials on TV – there’s a new drug on the market that can help and/or cure a particular affliction, but with some decidedly unexpected side effects.
How do the companies know about the side effects? They test the medications on human trial subjects prior to taking the new drug to market.
Altered Perception is both an indictment of those pharmaceutical companies and their top executives, as well as an examination of the test subjects who agree to play human guinea pigs by taking an unregulated drug to monitor its effects.
Though lightweight in content, and somewhat experimental in its construction, Altered Perception is very watchable and entertaining. The film benefits highly from a solid turn by genre veteran Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, who conceived of the story with Travis Romero, the co-creator and writer of White Collar, the long-running series on the USA Network.