Tag Archive | "WWE Studios"

Not even Brodus Clay survives the extreme horror of “No One Lives”

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Not even Brodus Clay survives the extreme horror of “No One Lives”

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Jonathan Williams

Though he has become the fun-loving Funkasaurus in WWE, Brodus Clay has exhibited a more ruthless side over the course of his career. And in WWE Studios‘ latest film No One Lives, he plays the most intimidating member of a nomadic gang of killers and thieves who make an unexpected discovery in their latest victim’s contents. Though Clay does have a chance to display his physical prowess in this film, his character meets a gruesome fate that couldn’t have been predicted going into the movie. With the movie now in theaters, and Extreme Rules just a few days away, Clay talks to Wrestling with Pop Culture about how he got the role of Ethan, seeing his violent demise on the big screen and who he hopes to face at this Sunday’s pay-per-view.

So, your first WWE Studios film is out. What did you think of the movie?

Brodus Clay (right) is surprisingly not the biggest threat in "No One Lives". Photo courtesy Anchor Bay Films.

I thought it was a lot of fun. It’s different. I like the fact that it’s a non-typical story where there’s not a definite hero and villain. It’s definitely a different style. I like the fact that it was done in a classic style with actual special effects, not a bunch of computer enhancement and stuff. So it takes you where you need to go.

I was surprised to see the direction the movie takes at a certain point, especially involving your character. You’re probably the most intimidating presence in the movie, so I didn’t expect to see you be one of the first victims.

It was important to show how extreme the so-called victim is. You have no idea what he’s capable of until you see what he does to Ethan.

In WWE it’s often said that one superstar gets under the skin or inside the head of his opponent. But in No One Lives those phrases are taken quite literally.

Yeah. To have a Caesarean section birth go down in the middle of the movie with two guys is something that’s never been done before. So it’s definitely extreme. The reaction of the people in the audience at the red carpet showings I’ve been to was, they were completely freaked out. Sometimes they clapped.

Well, they were probably clapping at how well done the special effects were.

The Funkadactyl harkens back to the thug persona he portrayed early in his WWE career in "No One Lives". Photo courtesy Anchor Bay Films.

I think that’s because it’s the traditional stuff. It can be refreshing to see that stuff because you don’t see it that much anymore. I don’t think computer graphics would have had the same effect.

What was it like for you to see yourself going through these torturous moments on the screen?

The whole process of making the body double was strange. I’d be sitting in a chair getting makeup or something and look over and see myself with a dead expression on my face. That kind of bothered me so I was always like, “Hey, can we throw a blanket over him or something? It’s weird.” I didn’t see any of it until I actually saw the movie, so when I saw how it all came together it was really disturbing. But I think that’s the reaction the director was going for.

The Brodus Clay we see in WWE these days is a fun-loving giant, but we have seen a more aggressive side from you going all the way back to your days in the developmental system. Did you revert back to some of those traits when you were playing this character?

A little bit. But I was never as violent of a character as Ethan is. He’s that classic bully and is very sadistic to the point that he’s pretty much untouchable. I tried to think of what other ruthless bad guys would be like, so I did draw from my previous personalities a little bit.

How were you chosen for this part? Were they looking specifically to cast someone from WWE?

I’m not sure of the specifics of it because I didn’t give them a chance to explain it to me. It was right after Extreme Rules 2011 and I had 13 staples in my head from being hit by a ladder while trying to stop Christian in his match against Alberto Del Rio. John Laurinaitis, who was the head of talent relations at the time, came down and was like, “Hey, Brodus. There’s this movie…” and I just said, “Yes!” He was like, “You didn’t let me finish.” And I was like, “No, I’ll do it.” Then he was like, “Do you want to know about it?” And I was like, “No, no, no. I’ll do it. I’m in.” Then they flew me out to California to get casted, which I thought was reading lines and stuff, then I realized it was getting dipped in chemicals, rubber and plastic and stuff.

Speaking of Extreme Rules, that event is coming up again this weekend. Do you know yet if you will be competing?

Not yet. We’ve had a few run-ins with the Rhodes Scholars and have been battling back and forth with them for the last couple of months. I’d like to see the end of that at Extreme Rules, but I’m not 100 percent sure yet.

Having now done a WWE Studios film, do you foresee yourself doing more acting in the future?

I would like to, given the opportunity. I’d like to try a different type of movie. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to do this one and see how it’s received. Hopefully there will be more projects for me down the line.

www.noonelivesthemovie.com

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“The Call” dispatches units of high tension and suspense

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“The Call” dispatches units of high tension and suspense

Posted on 15 March 2013 by Matt Hankins

 

Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) takes on some disturbing responsibilities in "The Call". Photo by Greg Gayne.

WWE StudiosThe Call is a six-month slice in the life of Los Angeles 911 dispatcher Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) who is overcome with grief and anxiety after a call goes terribly wrong. Turner steps away from the emotionally-crippling life of an active emergency dispatcher and takes a position as a trainer at the facility, until an emergency call from Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin) pulls her back into fray. What follows is a tense and violent trip into the California hills as Welson’s abductor (Michael Eklund in his third WWE Studios film) attempts to elude police who are being aided by Turner who is on the phone with the girl who is locked in the car’s trunk.

From the very opening sequence the film attempts to give an accurate description of what can be the hellish existence of a 911 operator in a major metropolis. When a trainee asks what happens on Friday, Turner simply responds, “All hell breaks loose.” Though there are moments of levity throughout the film, 911 calls about bats in the house or fast food orders being wrong are few and far between. Much of the film takes place in the state-of-the-art emergency dispatch center known as The Hive. The background of constant ringing and phone chatter serves as much of the film’s score, though Taco’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and the Culture Club are used with beautiful dissonance.

WWE's David Otunga plays one of the rescuing cops in "The Call". Photo by Greg Gayne.

The Call continues a change in direction for WWE Studios. The films were previously used as vehicles for the wrestlers themselves, but the lone WWE superstar in this film (David Otunga) is a bit player at best. He is the police partner of Turner’s love interest Officer Paul Phillips (Morris Chestnut). Early in the film it seems as if this relationship will be a much larger focus of the plot, but it is barely recognized as the action picks up. That is just one of the choices made in this film that separates it from some of the studio’s previous efforts. There’s very little distraction from the main story arc and the constant focus on the kidnapped girl and the operator trying to save her creates an incredible tension that makes the film engaging and uncomfortable without relying on gore and effects.

As the story plays out, more and more is revealed about Michael Foster, the film’s antagonist and Casey’s abductor. Michael Eklund makes Foster a detestable, albeit at times stereotypical, maniac who’s intentions are held very close to the vest. It is well into the film before you find exactly how sick he truly is. Foster provides a darkness to the film that no trailer comes close to conveying. His periodic violent outbursts and nearly instant unraveling in the face of opposition enhance the Helter Skelter world in which the story takes place. His unraveling reaches its peak along with the plotline when we find out why he is such a whack job and exactly what he plans to do to his victim.

Kidnapper Michael Foster (Michael Eklund) terrorizes Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin) in "The Call". Photo by Greg Gayne.

Visually, The Call doesn’t break any new ground. But there are scenes that stand out, for better or for worse. Oftentimes when Foster is on the verge of a meltdown, the frame will freeze just before he boils over. Likewise, a number of the film’s most tense scenes feature grainy slow motion spots. These techniques hearken back to director Brad Anderson’s work on the series Fringe and are a bit of a distraction. In a film whose stand-out component is the tension it creates, these stylized breaks just don’t quite fit the mood and ultimately break the tension if only for a moment.

To say very much about the details of the plot of The Call would only serve to take away from the experience of watching it unfold. The film does not necessarily break any new ground, but it does take a very different path to get to the finale. As I mentioned, this movie is completely under-served by its trailer, which is actually refreshing. Each act of the story is starkly different and the ending almost feels like it is from a different movie. However, this is pulled off seamlessly and provides an excellent landing pad from the emotional tightrope walk that preceded it. Being a WWE Studios release, The Call doesn’t have too much of a legacy to live up to. See No Evil, 12 Rounds and The Marine’s 1 through 25 failed to register with moviegoers who reside outside the WWE Universe. While The Call is not likely to set any box office records, people who give it a chance will be pleasantly surprised. If the studio can keep putting out films of this quality, that surprise will become expectation.

www.call-movie.com

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The Miz goes from WWE superstar to action movie star in “The Marine 3: Homefront”

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The Miz goes from WWE superstar to action movie star in “The Marine 3: Homefront”

Posted on 09 March 2013 by Jonathan Williams

Jake (The Miz) is a Marine returning home in "The Marine 3: Homefront".

For someone who got his start in the entertainment industry on The Real World, Mike “The Miz” Mizanin has come along way since debuting in WWE. He’s gone from Tough Enough competitor to WrestleMania main eventer, having held almost every title in WWE including the coveted WWE Championship. This week, The Miz adds another accolade to his resume as he stars in WWE StudiosThe Marine 3: Homefront, arguably the best installment in The Marine franchise thus far. Just days after the film’s Blu-ray/DVD release, The Miz talks to Wrestling with Pop Culture about his transition to acting, his hopes for WrestleMania and his recent endorsement by “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

You transitioned from The Real World to WWE and now you’re starring in your first film. What has that experience been like for you?

It’s incredible. I sit here and look back on my life and I’m like, “Oh, my God. Look at all this stuff you’ve done.” It all started with The Real World. If I had never made it onto The Real World, I don’t think any of this would have been possible. So I always thank Bunim/Murray, as well as MTV, because it opened my eyes to say, “You know what? I can do anything I want with my life.” That started with WWE saying I could do this. No matter what anyone said about me not being big enough or I’m not athletic enough, I was like, “Yes, I can.” Now I get the opportunity to star in an action flick where I play with guns, I have fight scenes and there are cool explosions. It’s amazing and surreal that this is my life.

How would you say being a WWE superstar prepared you for being an action movie star?

Jake (The Miz) enjoys time with friends and family, not knowing he will soon be coming to their rescue.

In WWE that’s what we are, we are action stars. We perform in front of 16,000 people each and every night, whether it’s on Raw, SmackDown or WWE live events. We have WrestleMania 29 coming up at MetLife Stadium April 7 where there’s going to be 80,000 to 100,000 people we’re performing in front of. It’s nonstop everyday that we’re in front of a camera, that I’m being The Miz, where I’m this cocky, arrogant, egotistical jerk, I guess you could say. But now, it’s funny, people are actually cheering me. Normally they’d be booing me, but now I’m their cocky, arrogant, egotistical jerk and it’s been fun. You only get one take in WWE; you don’t get five or six or ten takes like you do in movies. Even though there are five, six, ten takes, I only needed one to be quite honest.

You clearly have become more of a fan favorite as of late. What would you attribute that to the most?

I think it’s the time I’ve spent in WWE. Fans are really starting to respect the fact that I’ve built myself up. I didn’t just walk in and all of a sudden be successful. I had to work for it. I think they like people that are hard workers and that’s what they are drawn to.

Ric Flair has recently given you his endorsement, going so far as to pass his figure-four leglock on to you. How does it feel to have someone like that in your corner?

The Miz utilizes his WWE training as an action hero in "The Marine 3: Homefront".

Um, awesome. Whooo! Are you kidding me? In my wildest dreams as a kid you could have never told me that I’d be strutting, having a whoo-off, putting on a figure-four with Ric Flair right there passing it on to me. It’s incredible and surreal. As a kid, whooing and strutting where what I would do. I loved Ric Flair and now him being my friend and mentor, and coming to my corner to help me out, passing on the figure-four to me, it’s incredible and amazing. I mean, he’s a two-time Hall of Famer.

Last year he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame for the second time as a member of the Four Horsemen. If he were to assemble a new Horsemen-like faction, who do you think the other members might be?

Ric Flair, myself, clone another version of myself and clone me again. Then there’d be four of me and I’d be the Four Horsemen of just me.

With The Marine 3 out, the fans behind you and Ric Flair supporting you, you definitely have a lot of momentum going into WrestleMania. Yet you don’t currently have a match scheduled for this big event. Do you have any idea who you might be facing this year?

He may be an arrogant jerk in WWE, but The Miz saves the day in "The Marine 3: Homefront".

People are scared of me, bro. What can I say? But I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m on a roll right now and this WrestleMania is one of the biggest ones we’ll ever have. You’ve got The Rock and [John] Cena in the main event. CM Punk vs. ‘Taker – CM Punk‘s been on a hot streak as of late as one of the longest reigning WWE Champions ever and now he’s going up against the Undertaker in his prime. So that’s going to be an incredible match. [Jack] Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship

Now I’m looking for a spot on that card that will give me the opportunity to steal the show, to be the person everyone’s talking about. That’s what I’m looking forward to. Come one, come all. I don’t care who I’m up against, I’m going to win, I’m going to become undefeated once again, I’ll be 4-0 after this year.

Given the positive response The Marine 3 has been getting, do you think you will be doing any more films in the near future?

I’m actually getting ready to start filming another movie that will be on ABC Family during the 25 Days of Christmas called Christmas Bounty.

You were also in a scene in The Campaign with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis that was cut from the theatrical release. Do you know why it was cut?

I actually had lines in that, but they cut them all so it looks like I’m a featured extra. I was like, “Oh, come on!” But Jay Roach, the director, actually emailed me, which I thought was a tremendous thing because he didn’t have to do that, to say, “Due to time constraints and to move the movie along, we had to cut your scenes.” And that wasn’t a problem. It was cool. It was very, very nice of him to do that. But it was an honor to watch Will Ferrell in action. He’s an incredible actor and I’ve always loved his comedy.

www.wwe.com/superstars/themiz

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Ashley Bell squares off with The Miz in “The Marine 3: Homefront”

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Ashley Bell squares off with The Miz in “The Marine 3: Homefront”

Posted on 07 March 2013 by Jonathan Williams

 

 

In The Marine 3: Homefront, the latest installment in WWE StudiosMarine franchise, Ashley Bell plays the younger sister of Jake, played by WWE superstar Mike “The Miz” Mizanin. Though this is her first film acting alongside a WWE wrestler, it’s not Bell’s first time working with WWE as she was also the star of last year’s The Day (read my reviews here and here). With her horror sequel The Last Exorcism Part II being released in theaters last Friday and The Marine 3 hitting stores last Tuesday, Bell is a busy actress who clearly has a thing for the horror and action genres. Wrestling with Pop Culture had a chance to talk to her just before she heads to South by Southwest for the premieres of her next two movies.

You must be a busy lady right now with The Last Exorcism Part II coming out last Friday and The Marine 3: Homefront being released four days later.

Yes! It’s been really fun and crazy.

When The Last Exorcism was released in 2010 it did really well. How has the sequel been received so far?

I haven’t heard that much about it. I’ve been in this publicity whirlwind; I was promoting The Last Exorcism and flying around doing local press for it, I was in a Mardi Gras parade, I was at Portland Comic Con, now I’m in New York doing press for The Marine and from New York I fly to Austin for the opening of The Bounceback, which is a romantic comedy I did. It premieres at South by Southwest this Saturday.

The Marine 3 is your second movie for WWE Studios. Did that come about because of your performance in The Day?

I did The Day, which was a post-apocalyptic action film, and that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and WWE acquired it. It was really fun to get to work with them throughout post-production and to do promotion for that. I was at SummerSlam, which was my first ever wrestling event, and it was so much fun. I had a chance to go in the ring with Mike and Wade Barrett, who both couldn’t have been nicer. They were going into production for The Marine and I got a chance to meet with the director, Scott Wiper, and I just loved his take on the story. I read the script and thought it was really compelling and the arguments that Neal McDonough, the villain, has are so crazy because they’re partly true, but then he just goes over the top and takes it too far. When you’re reading the script it’s like, “He does make a point,” then it just goes too far. And I like that character of Lilly. She’s a hostage, but she isn’t a damsel in distress. She fights, she looks for the air holes and I like the spirit she has.

This is also your first time starring in a movie with a WWE superstar, right?

Yes, it is. Mike was amazing, and if I didn’t say that he would body slam me.

But you would say that anyway, right?

Lilly (Ashley Bell) looks for some alone time with her boyfriend (Jeffrey Ballard) before chaos ensues in "The Marine 3: Homefront".

I actually begged him to body slam me but he didn’t because he said it would be very painful. And I do think he’s right about that. But working with Mike was incredible. Here he is playing an American hero, a Marine, and when he was filming he spent so much time working with the troops. I also have spent some time with wounded warriors and when I spent time with former Marines and they found out I was doing The Marine, they said, “Who’s playing the Marine? Is he going to train with real Marines? Is he going to get it right?” Mike actually had real former Marines on set showing him how to hold a gun, showing him how to go through a building, how to de-arm situations. It was really cool to watch that accuracy portrayed.

The Marine 3 is not only your second WWE film, but also your second WWE film with Michael Eklund. You and Eklund had the strongest performances in The Day, and in The Marine you find yourselves once again on opposing sides of the fight. What was it like working with him again?

Michael is an incredible actor. For both scripts, you read that character, then Michael comes to set and brings a completely difference perspective and just electrifies the scene. It’s been great to work with him twice. He’s been a villain in both films we did together.

The Marine 3 is obviously a sequel in a franchise that has also included films starring John Cena and Ted DiBiase and The Last Exorcism Part II is a sequel. Do you foresee there being a sequel to The Day so we can find out what happens to your character?

Lilly (Ashley Bell) welcomes her brother Jake (The Miz) home in "The Marine 3: Homefront".

I do hope for a sequel to The Day. I loved playing that character of Mary. I’d done my own physicality for The Last Exorcism and they said, “You’re going to have to do all your own stunts [for The Day]. You’re going to have to lose weight. You’re going to have to work with a shotgun. You’re going to have to run out of burning buildings in a wet dress in 18-degree weather.” They almost tried to talk me out of it, but I replied back, “You haven’t given me a reason to not do this. This sounds like a dream come true.” I love the character of Mary and I bother the producers and director every couple months to see if there’s a shot of going back to explore that.

Sounds like you don’t mind roughing it up a little bit. Any chance you might consider training to compete in a WWE ring someday?

Oh, I’d get smushed! It was fun to go in the ring for SummerSlam and I like WWE’s films. I like their aesthetic and working with Michael Luisi for The Day, I love that ending, I love the story that the film told, I love the plight of the characters, I love that there were real characters and there was action mixed in with that. With The Marine, this is a fast-paced action movie; it’s cut beautifully, Mike did an incredible job, Neal is remarkable, it’s a fun, entertaining action movie. I grew up watching heroines in action movies, so to be part of this, I really got caught up watching it.

Even though you have no plans to wrestle, given that you’ve enjoyed working with WWE so much on these two films, do you see yourself doing more WWE films? If so, are there any particular superstars you’d like to work with?

What always excites me about a project is the script, especially this time around working with Scott Wiper. If there’s another way to collaborate again, that would be incredible. Being on an action set is a lot of fun. My childhood was spent running around with Nerf guns in the back yard, so to play with grenade launchers and rifles and run around on an abandoned cruise ship was like recess for me. If the right project comes up, that would be great. But I feel like I can’t be anybody but Team Miz. My loyalty is to Mike; he’s my older brother in this film and when he says he’s awesome, he means it.

After this weekend’s premiere of The Bounceback, what else do you have coming out in the near future?

The Bounceback is going to be premiering at South by Southwest as is a film I did called Chasing Shakespeare, which is like a romantic epic. I’m really excited about that film and I’m also stepping behind the camera and directing a documentary called Love and Bananas about the plight of Asian elephants in Cambodia. In Cambodia we were in convoys, had security detail and were up in helicopters going through the jungle, so it was a real-life action movie.

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“Dead Man Down” is an intriguing love story wrapped in violence

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“Dead Man Down” is an intriguing love story wrapped in violence

Posted on 07 March 2013 by Jonathan Williams

Victor (Colin Farrell) and Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) develop a twisted and tender romance in "Dead Man Down". Photo by John Baer.

With its recent slate of releases, WWE Studios clearly wants to be taken just as seriously in the film world as it is in the realm of sports entertainment. And with the stylish gangland romance Dead Man Down, WWE is pulling out all the stops to prove that it can be associated with films that have more depth than your average action or horror thriller.

With his American theatrical debut, Danish director Niels Arden Oplev (best known for directing the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) creates a dark and twisted love story centered on the vengeful motives of two scarred souls. Colin Farrell plays Victor, one of the top members of a gang led by Alphonse (Terrence Howard). Unbeknownst to Victor, the alluring Beatrice (Noomi Rapace, who starred in Oplev’s Dragon Tattoo), who lives in the skyscraper across from his, has not only been watching him, but caught one of his violent acts on camera. Rather than turn him in, however, she uses this footage to blackmail Victor into helping her seek revenge on the drunk driver who received minimal legal punishment after causing the accident that left half of her face (and much of her psyche) horribly scarred.

Alphonse (Terrence Howard) is a gang leader receiving cryptic messages in "Dead Man Down". Photo by John Baer.

But Victor’s already has a plot of his own in the works as he pits rival gangs against each other as he picks off the guys who killed his family and unwittingly left him alive. As Victor and Beatrice’s emotionally-driven desires to kill become more entwined, they develop a morbid (yet tender) attraction for one another that looks as if it will climax just as they carry out their dirty deeds. It’s not the best recipe for love, but it seems to work until Victor’s plan begins to fall apart and Alphonse gets closer to figuring out how close his would-be assassin is.

The entire cast puts in commendable performances, including Dominic Cooper, who plays the overzealous rookie who unknowingly causes Victor’s plot to unravel, and current WWE Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett, whose presence as Alphonse’s lead henchmen is quite imposing. The film culminates with a spectacular shootout that, despite a glaring continuity error, is both captivating and poetic. If Dead Man Down is the type of film we can expect from WWE Studios in the future, it could become a championship contender in Hollywood before long.

www.deadmandownmovie.com

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Dystopian future is easier to comprehend with DVD release of “The Day”

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Dystopian future is easier to comprehend with DVD release of “The Day”

Posted on 27 November 2012 by Jonathan Williams

Just three months after its limited theatrical release, WWE StudiosThe Day is now available on DVD and in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. In my initial review of the film, I praised the film’s stylistic approach to a bleak post-apocalyptic landscape where nomadic packs of humans do battle for survival. But even though the film’s washed-out look and masterfully low-budget special effects are impressive, I still feel like it wanders around the topics of why these two groups of people are at each other’s throats and how humanity has found itself in such a weary state.

But mystery can be a good thing, so the fact that we never find out the specifics of the war that has left a few stragglers fighting for survival isn’t a huge problem. Though bonus features are sparse on this DVD/Blu-ray release, the commentary track featuring director Doug Aarniokoski, producer Guy Danella and writer Luke Passmore does offer some insight into the things that weren’t apparent to me the first time I watched the movie.

The premise of The Day is that the protagonists (Shannyn Sossamon, Shawn Ashmore, Dominic Monaghan, Cory Hardrict and a viciously emotional Ashley Bell) find refuge in an abandoned farmhouse that is actually a trap set by another clan led by a Mohawked Michael Eklund. What wasn’t clear the first time around was why one group of humans had set a trap for another group of humans rather than working together to restore some semblance of civility to the world. But the audio commentary explains that the world is now devoid of animals, meaning that many people have resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. So those trapped in the house are intended to be the next few meals for Eklund and his carnivorous clan. (The commentary also points out that one of the bad guys is played by Shimon Moore from the band Sick Puppies, which I otherwise would probably not have realized.)

Well, that puts everything into an entirely different perspective. Now that I know specifically what these people are fighting over, and the consequences those trapped inside the house face if they lose the fight, I’m able to be much more emotionally invested in a movie that already hooked me with its visual prowess and cinematography. And that fact that The Day features people fighting for their lives in a futuristic wasteland that doesn’t include zombies, vampires or other supernatural threats is a refreshing nuance what could otherwise have been a tired rehashing of horror clichés. Despite my initial criticisms, I enjoyed The Day the first time around. But multiple viewings definitely make for a more enriching experience.

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“Barricade” offers unsettling holiday horror

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“Barricade” offers unsettling holiday horror

Posted on 25 September 2012 by Jonathan Williams

Conner Dwelly and Ryan Grantham find holiday horror in "Barricade"

A family dreaming of a white Christmas instead gets a horrific holiday in the chilling new horror mystery Barricade, starring Will & Grace‘s Eric McCormack. Barricade is the latest direct-to-video release from WWE Studios, and it is one of the most gripping horror films the studio has ever put out.

When widower Terrence Shade (McCormack) takes his children (Conner Dwelly and Ryan Grantham) to the mountain cabin their mother had enjoyed as a child, it seems like the perfect way for this fractured family to reconnect while putting some of their grieving behind them. And Terrence has gone out of his way to make it a true escape, stocking the cabin with comfort foods, candy and presents to open on Christmas morning. But not long after the family settles in, the discomfort sets in. Then it gradually turns into full-on terror as it becomes difficult to distinguish reality from nightmare, especially when Terrence has these blackouts after he takes his medication (or is it if he forgets to take it?).

Such questions are part of the intrigue with Barricade. Are there really people (or other creatures) outside the cabin after a blizzard snows the family in? Did several feet of snow really fall in a matter of minutes or did Terrence have another lapse of consciousness? After Terrence barricades the family in, does it actually keep the evil out or is the sinister presence now trapped inside with them? Director Andrew Currie really keeps the viewer guessing, while throwing in some stylistic nods to Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter and other masters of macabre that have clearly inspired him.

Terrence Shade (Eric McCormack) confronts his fears in "Barricade"

Barricade also has a slight Japanese horror feel, especially when the children become possessed by the inexplicable energy that permeates the cabin. And the surrealist qualities of many scenes are not all that different from something out of a Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze film. The environments themselves – the lodge with its taxidermy, depressingly retro hues and The Shining-like atmosphere, as well as the cramped tool shed filled with sharp objects and other dangers – give every scene an impending ominousness that only sometimes makes itself apparent.

Once Terrence’s subconscious begins to catch up with his reality (and after the tragedy that the family has suffered is fully explained to the viewer), the horror only becomes worse as it starts to look like maybe the monster was with the family before they even ventured into the mountains. But even then there is still suspicion, and it is never fully apparent who or what has been terrorizing the family all this time. And it’s that not knowing that leaves the viewer with that unsettled feeling that only a good horror film can provide.

For more information, go to www.barricademovie.com.

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