Grace, Directed by Paul Solet, 2009
There's a reason Paul Solet's feature film debut has already garnered a handful of posts here at HorrorSquad and it's the same reason Scott Weinberg called me at 7am to talk about my review of the film. Grace is divisive. Personally I found little that interested me in the film, feeling its thin script was self-serving, opting more often than not to leapfrog over its own characters in order to deliver a twisted image or two.
Scott, on the other hand, completely disagrees with me. In his review at FEARnet he said, "So while I'm sure there's a perfectly good B-movie to be mined from Solet's concept, the simple fact is that this writer / director has a lot more on his mind than just a few good jolts and a handful of gooey gore. Like the best films (horror or otherwise), Grace works on a variety of disparate levels, and it's tough to find a "weak link" in this debut feature. The pacing, the tone, the cast, the score, the confident approach to some potentially nefarious subject matter ... this is not a horror film that feels like it comes from a first-timer."
So, hey, if you want me advice, add Grace to your queue and let it arrive when the Netflix Gods deem it so. If you want Scott's, hop into a car and grab the DVD or Blu-ray during Best Buy's exclusive, in-store-only pre-sale before it's wide release on September 15th.
The Landlord, Directed by Emil Hyde, 2009
I'm sure you haven't heard of The Landlord, but hopefully that'll change in a few months time. This no-budget horror comedy about a poor Joe Schmoe whose stuck managing a property infested with two demons who keep sacrificing his tenants to a Babylonian Goddess is a genuinely laugh-out-loud funny debut from first time director, writer and producer Emil Hyde. Sure, it's got a few of the problems other home made movies do (uneven acting, rudimentary cinematography, a ~$22,000 budget), but what distinguishes The Landlord from others of its ilk is an infectious 'screw 'em all' spirit and a bag full of gags that almost all hit their mark.
I've exchanged a few emails with Hyde about The Landlord since he sent it to me for review (which you can read right here) and I'm happy to report that things are looking up distribution wise. If things stay on track, The Landlord should be available in a store near you in 2010, good news for fans of by-the-bootstraps filmmaking. That may seem a long wait, but I'll do my best to post a reminder when that day comes. In the meantime, I'll be gladly keeping my eye out for any irons Hyde has in the fire.
Who Can Kill a Child?, Directed by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, 1976
I've spent years hearing about it off and on, but this past week was my first experience with the '76 Spanish button pusher Who Can Kill a Child? After all, the plot of a couple who arrive on an island overrun by homicidal children is bound to get referenced whenever a "killer child" movie crops up. But it was Eli Roth's recent enthusiasm for the film (as seen in his Top 5 "Non-Mainstream" Movies list) that spurred me to finally see the movie.
I gotta confess I was disappointed. The first hour or so waffles between boredom and vaguely suspenseful set pieces, which renders the admittedly fantastic ending too little too late. It's not often that I wish more children would be killed in a movie, but that's the case with Who Can Kill a Child? I appreciate that it was daring stuff in 1976, but it still needs a savage scolding in the editing room. It's final thirty minutes are consuming enough to overcome calling the whole production a loss, but it's not a title I'd recommend with any immediacy. If you haven't seen it yet, you're not missing much.