Tag Archives: Olivia Luccardi

Keep On Truckin’

Candy Land

by Hope Madden

Candy Land is a surprise, and it’s not for everyone. This is grim stuff, but writer/director John Swab’s truck stop horror also delivers an unusual story hiding inside some same old, same old.

Remy (Olivia Luccardi) catches the eye of Sadie (Sam Quartin), one of the “lot lizards” selling their carnal wares at a bible belt truck stop. Remy’s part of a religious group here to help Sadie, Riley (Eden Brolin), Liv (Virginia Rand) and Levi (Owen Campbell) find salvation. Instead, Remy – cast out from the cult – finds Sadie, eventually deciding to learn the trade in exchange for a place to live.

Hard-right evangelicals rarely make a positive impression in a horror movie, and sex workers tend to become either heart-tugging martyrs or naked corpses (often both). To his credit, Swab has something else in mind, and while you would not call it pleasant, it’s almost refreshing.

Candy Land avoids preachiness, finding depth and humanity without condescension, both for the evangelicals and the lot lizards. There’s a sense of camaraderie among those on the job, and the naturalistic, terribly human performances sell that.

Campbell (X, My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To), in particular, shines with a turn so full of tenderness, playfulness and optimism that you hold your breath every time he’s onscreen- lest something awful happens to him.

It does. In fact, at the risk of spoiling anything but in favor of helping viewers avoid triggers, Campbell’s Levi is subjected to an especially brutal and troubling rape sequence that’s part and parcel of a film loaded with graphic sexuality and violence, often side by side. But never once is the victimization filmed to titillate, if that helps.

For its many successes, the film often feels like a rather superficial exercise in brutality if only because none of the characters have real arcs. Things end for each character essentially where they began. A provocative but undercooked B-story involving a perversely paternal police officer (William Baldwin, with his most interesting performance in years) doesn’t help.

Candy Land is a tough film to recommend for a number of reasons, but it’s worthwhile viewing if only because Swab upends every expectation, instead taking us inside a horror grounded in something surprisingly human.

Is Anyone There?

Go/Don’t Go

by Brandon Thomas

The opening minutes of Go/Don’t Go hint at a burgeoning relationship drama. Shy boy meets an outgoing girl. Girl draws the boy out of his shell. Hints of electricity crackle as they find themselves engrossed in conversation. The parts are all there, but as the scene comes to a close, Go/Don’t Go crosses into something a little more…sinister. 

Set in a not-so-distant future, Adam (writer/director Alex Knapp) spends his days completing routine tasks. He cleans, prepares meals and works on repairing a car. When not doing his day-to-day, Adam wanders the countryside, checks homes and marks areas on a map as “Go/Don’t Go.” Adam appears to be the only person left.

Isolation and loneliness exist in the periphery of every post-apocalyptic type movie. In Go/Don’t Go, the isolation is front and center. Adam doesn’t spend the entire running time evading cannibalistic marauders or dispatching shuffling zombies. No, Adam’s conflict exists in the haunted memories of a past love, K (Olivia Luccardi, It Follows). 

Looked at as a typical horror/thriller, Go/Don’t Go could be a frustrating watch for many. There’s a purposeful aloofness to the narrative that builds a lot of mystery, but also never shows much interest in resolving said mysteries. Adam’s flashbacks fill in interesting character gaps instead of explaining how Adam found himself in his current situation. 

The film’s most interesting angle is how it plays with metaphor. Is the landscape in which Adam lives even real? Every house he enters has running water and electricity. The market he goes to is always stocked full of fresh products. Maybe Adam’s shyness, hinted at in those opening minutes, has consumed him after the ending of a relationship. Of course, nothing is definitive and most of this is left to the viewer to decide. 

Knapp’s handling of familiar territory is a breath of fresh air. Despite the lack of momentum in the narrative, Knapp taps into a sense of urgency through clever editing. This allows layers of character to be peeled back piece by piece. It’s enough to keep us interested and invested in a story that moves at more of a sporadic pace. 

By focusing on character and theme, Go/Don’t Go manages to stand out in a sea of post-apocalyptic tales. 


Wait—Camping Is Dangerous?


by Hope Madden

Here’s the thing about Feral. It’s a decent movie: well-paced, competently directed, solidly performed. And there is not a single interesting, novel, surprising or inspired moment in it.

Maybe one, but it’s not reason enough to make this movie.

Three handsome couples head into the woods. They get a little lost, decide to pitch tents and find the lake in the morning.

They hear a noise.

One of them goes out to pee.

There’s something dangerous in the woods.


Co-writer/director Mark Young follows up half a dozen low budget, middling-to-poor horror and action films with this adequate take on a monster-in-the-woods tale.

The sole reason the film stands out in any way is that Young’s hero, Alice (Scout Taylor-Compton) is a lesbian. Equally refreshing, males are as likely as females to fall prey to the hungry forest beast.

Bravo the nonchalance with which this is depicted, as the film does not strain to call attention to the novelty of this final girl and hero twist.

Yes, it’s about time. And yet, maybe Feral needed at least one other thing to set it apart? Because as it is, it’s simply a checklist of cabin-in-the-woods horror tropes, faithfully rendered, right up to the waning moments of its running time.

Taylor-Compton offers a perfectly serviceable performance, as do most of the actors around her. Olivia Luccardi, Renee Olstead and Landry Allbright all work to provide something close to a second dimension to underwritten, throwaway characters.

Lew Temple is an always welcome sight as the—wait for it—hermit whose assistance in this situation is suspect.

Together, cast and director generate scares by relying less on imagination and more on your familiarity with the genre itself. Therefore, assuming you have ever seen a horror movie in your life, you will not be scared.

You’ll just be reminded for the thousandth time that camping is an undeniably stupid thing to do. That’s what I got out of it, anyway.