A little lean this month for horror movies...
There are always bountiful and lean months when it comes to television scheduling and movies. Unfortunately, July 2021 seems to be one of the less bountiful months for horror movies on Amazon Prime. But, there are still some fantastic gems to watch. Looking at the line-up, it’s quality over quantity.
Eat Locals (2017), Bram Stoker’s Shadowbuilder (1998), and Soul to Keep (2019) are three of the most enjoyable Horror Movies on Amazon Prime in July 2021
Soul To Keep (2019), Movies
Writer David Allensworth (Nomads) and Kandahar-born producer Monière Noor co-direct a young and surprisingly capable cast in this movie. They include Sandra Mae Frank (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Entangled) as traumatized Tara. Aurora Heimbach (Loud Places, Murder Castle) as the genius, hearing impaired, heroine Erin and Kate Rose Reynold (No More Mr. Nice Guy) as the “dark” Wiccan, Grace.
While a Horrorhound Film Festival nominee for the female lead, Soul to Keep (2019), is a stereotypical “in the woods slasher film” with a relatively predictable script.
Honestly, the plot is painful.
A group of childhood friends escapes the rigors of college life for a weekend at the secluded farm -inherited from their grandfather. Claiming boredom, the friends perform a nighttime basement witchy ceremony summoning Beelzebub, the Devil. Unknown to the group, Grace (Reynold) is possessed -becoming the demon’s short-skirted vessel who sets about raising a Legion of sex-crazed demons.
Soul to Keep is a patchwork of successful horror movie themes –including unsuccessfully, aspects of The Craft, Cabin in the Woods, and others. But, unfortunately, the dialog and characters are shallow – lacking authenticity. And, there are too many unexplained jumps and loose ends.
The movie strives for contemporary relevance. It integrates climate consciousness, drug use, copious amounts of alcohol, and implied intimacy. It combines a dilapidated, abandoned farmhouse with harsh camera angles and a smattering of aerial photography to engender a sense of dread. There is even a gratuitous Latin-speaking “bad Wiccan” friend who knows everything about spell-work. And, of course, Soul to Keep has the proverbial “twist” of an ending thrown in for good measure.
From the cinematic and technical side of movies, everything works. The soundscape is notable; the editing and pace are acceptable. However, soul to Keep reminds me of a car wreck; you know what’s next — you can’t look away.
But, if you are looking for a relatively unmemorable hour and a half to waste, harboring no expectations or desires of ever getting your time back, this is your film.
Eat Locals (2017), Movies
An Evolution Pictures production, Eat Locals (2017), was written by Danny King and directed by Jason Flemyng (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). It was filmed on location in the idyllic countryside of Hertfordshire, England.
Consummate casting ensures successful movie chemistry, including Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who, Law and Order: UK) stars as liberated fem-vamp, Angel. Welsh actress and fellow Doctor Who franchise star Eve Myles (Broadchurch, Torchwood) portrays the vamp-fatale Venessa. While Tony Curran (Outlaw King, Your Honor) skillfully quips one-liners as the vampire anti-hero in Peter Boniface, a perfect foil for Billy Cook’s (Ripper Street, The Hooligan Factory) unsuspecting but street-wise-cracking human sacrifice – Sebastian Crockett. In addition, a long list of high-profile cameos -many uncredited – solidifies this film.
BAFTA-nominee actor/director Dexter Fletcher (Rocketman, Bohemian Rhapsody) plays Mr. Thatcher, a fang-sympathetic farm owner. Thatcher (Fletcher) graciously hosts the eight British vampire bosses gathered for their semi-centennial board meeting and meal. However, as the “Appalachian-style” meeting commenced, the bosses are quickly surrounded by military and religious representatives – resplendent in their maroon berets – with vampicidal intent.
The script is simple, low key, and genuinely entertaining.
The performances in this movie are high caliber, with hints of actual character depth, despite the apparent minimal budget and production constraints. And, the lack of a big-budget may be the film’s charm – no slick or glossy CGI, and minimal blood and gore – much of which is off-camera. Likewise, Eat Locals claims no extended martial art fight scenes or steamy intimate, gold-shimmering, love-lorn encounters. Instead, ongoing one-liners and even a few well-placed “Python-esque” slap-stick style stunts are subtle and funny.
Also, the movie gives off a vibe of creepy authenticity, a la Midsommer Murders.
Eat Locals is a solid vampire-comedy. While not a financial success, this highly watchable (and re-watchable) B-style vampire film, a la Tremors or Warm Bodies, is destined to be a cult classic.
Bram Stoker’s Shadowbuilder (1998), Movies
This Fan Festival award-winning movie was written by Michael Stokes and based on the Bram Stoker short story of the same name. Bram Stoker’s Shadowbuilder (1998) was directed by Jamie Dixon – known for his special visual effects work on True Lies and I Am Number Four.
Bram Stoker’s Shadowbuilder stars the inimitable Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy) as the warrior-priest, Father Vassey. Dispatched by the Vatican, Vassey (Rooker) is sent to shut down a cultist priest and his demon worshiping sect. Upon completing his task, Vassey is now sent to finish the assignment and dispatch the young boy that threatens the world.
Nova Scotia native actor/director Lesley Hope (NCIS, Murdoch Mysteries) portrays town veterinarian Dr. Jenny Hatcher in this movie – aunt to young Chris Hatcher. Director/producer Shawn Thompson (Hairspray, Murdoch Mysteries) plays town sheriff Sam Logan – love interest to Hatcher (Hope) and protector of the small town. Accomplished child actor Kevin Zegers (Fear the Walking Dead, Rebel) plays savvy, 12-year-old bike riding, recently orphaned Chris Hatcher.
Dependent on his aunt Jenny, Chris (Zegers) was born a “pure soul.” And, with his mother deceased; and betrayed by his father, he soon becomes the center of demonic interest.
Bram Stoker’s Shadowbuilder is essentially a story of good against evil — light against dark, literally. However, the rules say Chris must willingly sacrifice himself for evil to succeed.
This low-budget 1998 Canadian movie is engaging. The script lacks overall depth missing on its true potential; however, the story is solid, almost “goonie-esque.” As possible cinematic foreshadowing and something worth noting, much of the cast working on this film collaborated later in their careers.
Wielding the moniker of a legend in horror – expectations were higher. However, Bram Stoker’s Shadowbuilder is highly recommended for easy viewing on a rainy afternoon.
Take a look at the trailer for “Soul To Keep!”