Tag Archives: Alyssa Sutherland

Big City Nights

Evil Dead Rise

by Hope Madden

Deadites hit the big city in Lee Cronin’s Evil Dead Rise, the latest instalment in the old Sam Raimi demon possession franchise. As was true with its predecessors, blood will rain, viscera will spew, chainsaws will bite, and the dead will most definitely rise. Just don’t expect any jokes this time around.

We open, as usual, on a cabin. Despite the top-notch title sequence, though, this episode will not be a cabin-in-the-woods horror. Cronin, who’s credited with the script as well, takes the Necronomicon and all its secrets into an urban high rise to see what hell he can raise.

Beth (Lily Sullivan) has some troubling news and wants to lay low with her sister’s family for a bit. But her sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) is about to have some real troubles of her own because an earthquake opened a hole from the parking garage to a vault beneath the building. That vault held a book and some vinyl.

Lessons we should all have learned by now:

  • Don’t play unknown albums backwards.
  • Don’t read from flesh bound books.
  • Stay out of elevators. I know this one is pretty inconvenient, but honestly, it’s for the best.

Cronin (The Hole in the Ground) tosses in some loving homages to the Raimi films. Who doesn’t love a demon POV shot?! In fact, he uses disorienting angels and shots throughout the film to beautifully bewildering effect. A fisheye-of-death through a peephole is just one of the film’s many horrifying highlights.

Sutherland takes the most abuse as devoted mother turned chief Deadite, a role her lanky, angular frame is ideally suited to. She’s terrifying, but the most disturbing idea at play in this sequel is that children are fair game.

Cronin’s vision offers none of the slapstick, Three Stooges-esque humor of Raimi’s original trilogy. In fact, it leans far closer to the tone of Fede Alvarez’s underappreciated 2013 genre treasure, Evil Dead. And while this installment’s nods to the iconography of the original set is wonderful, Evil Dead Rise also recalls [Rec] and Joko Anwar’s Satan’s Slaves: Communion and even a little bit of Kubrick’s The Shining, Carpenter’s The Thing (or maybe Yuzna’s Society) – all exceptional horrors and worthy inspiration.

It’s also fun that Evil Dead Rise boasts an altogether new storyline, since so many films in the franchise are reworkings of earlier episodes. That storyline is somewhat slight, but what the film lacks in depth it makes up for with inspired visuals, solid casting, and so much blood.

Ship of Ghouls

Blood Vessel

by Darren Tilby

I was excited to see Blood Vessel for two reasons: firstly, it’s a creature feature, which I love. And secondly, I love the deserted/ghost ship setting. Now I’ll be the first to admit I had high expectations for this film, and perhaps they were too high. Because by the end, I was left feeling a little deflated.

Now I want to be absolutely clear when I say Blood Vessel is NOT a bad film. Not by any stretch of the imagination. My main issue with the film comes from the pacing. We follow a group of seven survivors of a German U-Boat attack. Three Americans: Malone (Robert Taylor), Jackson (Christopher Kirby) and Bigelow (Mark Diaco). Two Brits: Nurse, Jane Prescott (Alyssa Sutherland) and codebreaker, Faraday (John Lloyd Fillingham). Also Australian, Sinclair (Nathan Philips) and Russian, Teplov (Alex Cooke). A diverse selection of allied forces.

We join this mixed bag of characters adrift at sea and with dwindling supplies. On the verge of losing all hope, a Nazi minesweeper hoves into view—a visually stunning sequence. Deciding that capture, or possibly even murder by the Nazi’s is better than starving to death the group clamber aboard. But once aboard, the ship seems deserted. Apart from a mysterious young girl (Ruby Isobel Hall) who – in a sequence mimicking Newt’s discovery in Aliens – is found hiding deep in the ship’s interior.

Blood Vessel gets off to a strong start and wastes no time getting the survivors onto the doomed vessel. Director/co-writer Justin Dix employs visuals here, and in fact, throughout the film, that are incredibly compelling and atmospheric. The eerie red hue of the sky and crashing waves of the ocean as the Nazi ship pierces the seemingly unnatural pelagic fog is quite a sight to behold. The movie’s excellent visual quality is maintained in its production design and particularly with its creature effects. And while the creatures themselves are, without a doubt, grotesque and frightening looking, they are never fully utilised.

Which brings me to the issue of pacing; for me, the film’s biggest problem. Which really is a shame because, actually, it starts off so well. But after a long time of exploring the ship and discovering the desiccated and burnt corpses of the ship’s crew (which is fun), we still haven’t learned anything new. And by the time the creatures are released, the events in the story restrict them doing anything that feels worth our wait.

What this does mean, however, is that we get to spend more time with these characters, which isn’t a terrible thing. The quality of the performances throughout the film’s cast is solid, with Alex Cooke’s Teplov really standing out for me. The problem here is the unoriginality of the characters themselves. None really express as anything other than genre typical stereotypes, which isn’t a massive problem for a film like this; character backstories and development aren’t terribly important. But it would have been nice to have seen something a little different.

All things considered, and in spite of a few issues, Blood Vessel is an entertaining enough horror romp. A well-directed, situational horror film with gorgeous cinematography from Sky Davies and John Sanderson’s superb special effects is what awaits anyone daring enough to hop aboard.