Starring the barely-there Pierce Brosnan as a – you guessed it – novelist taking some time out in the back of beyond (the bluntly named town of Dark Score Lake) to grieve for his dead wife, everything takes a turn for the weird when he meets a young single mother (Melissa George) and her daughter.
Needless to say youthful indiscretion, witchcraft and small-town bigotry rear their ugly heads as a texted-in performance from the blank-faced Brosnan and noble wrestling with a dull script from George does nothing to elevate Bag of Bones above it’s myriad clichés.
Not quite as clichéd, though still ultimately forgettable, is Mark Edwin Robinson’s supernatural thriller, Into the Dark, also dealing with that fashionable grief theme. Starring The OC’s Mischa Barton as a young woman struggling to come to terms with her parents’ death and Ryan Eggold as a romantic interest set to perhaps help her through things, Barton is a surprisingly touching protagonist.
Still, with a plot similar to a thousand other shadowy ghost stories doing the rounds on DVD at the moment, there is precious little else other than Barton to make this stand out from the crowd, which is something not to be said of Spanish director Adrián García Bogliano’s much darker take on the afterlife, Ahí va el Diablo (English title: Here Comes The Devil).
Bogliano’s film centres on a family torn apart by the disappearance of two siblings in caves on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico and the somewhat strange circumstances of their reappearance. With some charismatic direction from the stylish Bogliano, Francisco Barreiro and Laura Caro are convincing as distraught parents driven to dark depths by unknown forces. Effortlessly engaging and uncompromisingly brutal, this should leave any viewer nicely shaken.
We finish with another entry in that seemingly never-ending list of ‘Eli Roth Presents’ pictures produced by the godfather of torture porn. The tradition with horror directors lending their names to movies they haven’t created from scratch is that of sub-standard cash-ins headed almost immediately for the scrapheap. Aftershock, written and directed by Chilean Nicolas Lopez, bucks that trend with aplomb.
Inspired by recent earthquakes in his hometown of Santiago and its residents’ weekend coastal getaway, party city Valparaiso, Lopez takes the disaster movie template and expertly blends it with horror tropes. Aftershock sees U.S tourist Gringo (played by Roth himself) and his South American friends try to survive collapsing buildings, tsunami alerts and, worst of all, dodgy locals in the aftermath of the seaside resort’s ruin.
Some brilliantly atmospheric scenes alongside a great performance from Nicolas Martinez as our reluctant hero, the cowardly Pollo (geddit?), make for a hugely entertaining post-modern disaster flick which doesn’t skimp on the creative gore and could justifiably be the forerunner of a whole new cult movie genre.
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