Freaky review

For F*** Magazine

Director: Christopher Landon
Cast : Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Katie Finneran, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich, Uriah Shelton, Alan Ruck, Melissa Collazo
Genre: Horror/Comedy
Run Time : 1 h 43 min
Opens : 12 November 2020
Rating : NC16/M18

“Body swap slasher movie” – that’s a killer elevator pitch right there. This movie’s initial title was Freaky Friday the 13th, which was likely changed due to rights issues, but tells you all you need to know. Happy Death Day director Christopher Landon continues his collaboration with Blumhouse, Hollywood’s reigning horror studio, with this horror comedy.

The Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn) is a serial killer who has become the stuff of urban legend. Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) is a shy Bayfield Valley High School student. After an altercation involving a cursed Aztec dagger, they swap bodies. Millie, now in the guise of the Butcher, must convince her best friends Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) and Josh (Misha Osherovich) of her far-fetched predicament. Meanwhile, the Butcher, inhabiting Millie’s body, sets about murdering the other high school students. Millie-as-the-Butcher must retrieve the dagger to reverse the transformation within 24 hours, or it will become permanent.

Landon began his career as a screenwriter and wrote four Paranormal Activity films, directing one. He directed the juvenile, largely off-putting Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, before establishing himself as “the comedy slasher guy” with Happy Death Day and its sequel. Freaky sees Landon upping his game, refining a lot of the techniques he used in the Happy Death Day films. There’s an economy to the way Freaky sets things up and pays them off, and the structure works. This also looks slightly more expensive than many other Blumhouse movies do, with the opening sequence in a mansion filled with antiquities being an atmospheric way to begin the movie.

It’s been almost 25 years since Scream, the meta horror-comedy that defined a generation of slasher movies. Freaky follows in those bloody footprints with a healthy amount of wink-wink genre awareness, but never becomes self-indulgent. This is considerably gorier than Happy Death Day, which was a PG13 movie, while Freaky very much isn’t. Tonally, this works: it’s scary when it needs to be, it’s funny when it needs to be, and it’s a little emotional when it needs to be. There’s even a bit of social commentary, with the-Butcher-as-Millie taking on high school boys who behave in a sexually aggressive manner. The plot device of the dagger is efficient – there’s no need for circuitous explanations about the mechanics of the body swapping. There’s also an inspired visual effects flourish during one crucial moment that sells the body swap well.

While Landon generally has a handle on the tone, Freaky’s cheekiness can sometimes get the better of it. Bear McCreary’s heightened, arch score pretty much announces “hi, I’m a horror movie score, get ready for some jump scares”. Depending on your mood, this can either heighten everything else going on, or pull one out of it a bit. Some moments of comedy are a bit too broad, with the scene in which Nyla and Josh consult the Spanish teacher about the engraving on the dagger sticking out as quite silly. Plenty of the jokes land, but some of them don’t – several attempts at approximating Gen Z dialogue miss the mark, but it’s not as bad as it could have been.

A key ingredient to any body swap story is the differences between the two people doing the swapping. While Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton are physically distinct, there are times when it feels like the movie might have been a bit miscast. Vaughn’s casting is likely a nod to the misbegotten 1998 remake of Psycho that he starred in. He is very good at affecting the teenage girl-ness – not quite to the level of Jack Black in the Jumanji movies, but almost there. While Vaughn is physically imposing, he’s just not very scary in this, and for it to work completely, the Butcher must be convincingly frightening before the swap takes place. The excellent supporting cast does make up for it, with Celeste O’Connor and Misha Osherovich being very likeable as the stock best friends. Alan Ruck is also good as a particularly odious shop teacher.

Freaky largely plays by genre rules but has plenty of fun with them and makes the most out of its fantastic premise.

Summary: A teen horror comedy with a bit more kick than most examples of the genre, Freaky knows what it is and has fun while it’s at it.

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

Zombieland: Double Tap review

For F*** Magazine

ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP

Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast : Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch, Rosario Dawson, Avan Jogia, Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch
Genre : Horror/Comedy
Run Time : 99 mins
Opens : 31 October 2019
Rating : M18

Ten years ago, a scrappy zombie-comedy called Zombieland was released. The film’s tongue-in-cheek tone, likeable characters and creative world-building won it fans, and ever since then, a sequel has been in various stages of development. Said sequel has finally arrived.

Just as in real life, ten years have elapsed since the events of the first film. Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and her sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have settled into the abandoned White House. The makeshift family grows apart, with Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) running away with hippie Berklee (Avan Jogia) and Wichita feeling too tied down by Columbus. Tallahassee and Columbus meet the ditzy Madison (Zoey Deutch), who has been living in a mall. Tallahassee pursues his lifelong dream of visiting Elvis’ home Graceland and encounters the tough-as-nails Nevada (Rosario Dawson) along the way. In the meantime, a new breed of faster, more vicious and more impervious zombies dubbed the “T-800s” menaces our heroes.

Zombieland: Double Tap is frequently funny. There’s a comforting sense of familiarity in seeing the gang all back together, even though the four stars have gone on to varied, successful careers in the intervening decade. It’s a high school reunion attended by people you want to see, even those whom you didn’t expect would come. Director Ruben Fleischer and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have also returned, meaning that Double Tap retains much of the tone of the original. Fans of the first movie will already be invested in the characters, and the developments and changes they undergo in this movie stay true to what was established in the first go-round. There’s a very comfort food-esque quality to the movie, and while its humour is largely sardonic and cynical, there is heart here too.

Much of the novelty of the original Zombieland has been diluted because the formula of fourth wall-breaking narration, an overall smart-alecky tone and graphic violence was done in Deadpool, which reached a wide audience. Reese and Wernick also wrote the two Deadpool movies.

The film’s romantic subplots are hit-and-miss: while the rocky relationship between Columbus and Wichita was already set up, the relationship between Tallahassee and new character Nevada feels kind of tacked on.

There is a bit of the feeling of this being too little too late, because plot-wise, this is a slight, insubstantial film that mostly coasts along on the personality of its characters and its joke-laden script. The intensity of the feeling of “we’ve waited ten years for this?” will vary based on how charitable one is feeling.

Harrelson seems to be enjoying himself and Eisenberg is on his “charmingly neurotic” setting rather than his “aggressively obnoxious” one. While Stone doesn’t seem as into this as her other co-stars, she is still very watchable. Breslin doesn’t get a lot to do, but the surrogate father-daughter relationship between Tallahassee and Little Rock does give the movie a degree of emotion. Zoey Deutch is a hoot as the airheaded Madison – it pretty much is just one long dumb blonde joke, but she is so capable a performer that Madison becomes endearing rather than merely annoying.

Summary: One of the key elements of the Zombieland mythos is Columbus’ rules. Zombieland: Double Tap largely plays by the rules, delivering more of the same. It is fun hanging out with this cast of characters and plenty of jokes land, which mitigates the feeling of this being a re-tread. The movie works if you’re a fan of the original and want something that’s entertaining but not necessarily memorable. Stick around for a hilarious mid-credits scene which pays off the setup of a peculiar film poster glimpsed in a mall earlier in the film.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

 

Ready or Not review

For inSing

READY OR NOT

Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Cast : Samara Weaving, Mark O’Brien, Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Kristian Bruun, Melanie Scrofano, Elyse Levesque, Nicky Guadagni, John Ralston
Genre : Horror/Comedy
Run Time : 1 h 35 mins
Opens : 22 August 2019 (exclusively at Cathay cinemas)
Rating : M18

        None of us truly knows what we’re getting into when we marry into someone else’s family. Sure, the weird uncle or two or the cousin who not-so-secretly despises you is par for the course, but sometimes things are a little more complicated than that. Such is the case in this dark comedy horror thriller.

Grace (Samara Weaving) is about to marry the love of her life, Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien). Alex is heir to the Le Domas gaming fortune – the empire began as a playing card printing business and now encompasses the ownership of four pro sports teams. Grace senses that she won’t be accepted into the family, but Alex’s mother Becky (Andie MacDowell) attempts to assuage her fears.

On the night of the wedding, tradition dictates that Grace draw a card from a magic box and play the game stated on the card: in this case, ‘Hide and Seek’. What starts out being a little strange soon becomes deadly, with Alex’s father Tony (Henry Czerny) leading the other relatives in hunting Grace down to kill her. Over the course of the night, Grace must survive this terrifying ‘tradition’ as she gets to the bottom of why her new husband’s family is convinced that they must murder her.

            Ready or Not plays like an alternate universe version of Crazy Rich Asians: a woman’s boyfriend is not being 100% upfront about the truth of his wealthy family, and when she meets them, hijinks ensue. Here, the hijinks are considerably bloodier than in Crazy Rich Asians. The movie draws viewers into its twisted premise, getting more engrossing as it progresses. It’s a tense, funny, sometimes gross horror comedy which has ‘cult classic’ written all over it.

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett are two-thirds of the filmmaking collective Radio Silence, who made the 10/31/98 segment of the horror anthology film V/H/S. Working from a screenplay by Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett have crafted an enjoyable little genre movie that is just the right degree of nasty.

One of the trickiest things about horror comedies is getting the tone right. Ready or Not does a good job with its world-building, drawing audiences into the mystery surrounding the bizarre blood sport at the plot’s centre. In the meantime, the characters all seem close enough to people you might be related to, hopefully minus the murder. Ready or Not takes the Eyes Wide Shut-style conceit of rich people engaging in arcane rituals behind closed doors and puts a slasher movie spin on it.

A big part of why this works is Samara Weaving. The Australian actress is a bona fide scream queen who displays a remarkable sense of timing and delivers a spectacularly committed performance here. Weaving brings some Emma Stone-ness to bear, in that she’s likeably plucky but is also unafraid of being afraid. When she screams, it’s a hoarse, desperate, truly frightening yell that makes the audience genuinely worry if Grace will make it out alive. Weaving proves that she’s game for a whole lot as the movie throws horrible obstacle after horrible obstacle at Grace. The imagery of a woman in a pristine wedding dress who gets grimier and more covered in blood as the film goes on is not especially original, but it works for Ready or Not.

The rest of the cast consists mostly of Canadian actors. Mark O’Brien’s performance is best described as “boring on purpose”: Alex is meant to be more down-to-earth and different from his eccentric, possibly cultist family, so he’s not very interesting by comparison.

Adam Brody gets the juicier role of Alex’s drunken brother Daniel, who is conflicted about his role within the family and of the Le Domas’ attitude towards violence.

Henry Czerny is intense as patriarch, with that intensity being sporadically punctured by goofiness. Andie MacDowell is coolly unflappable as his wife, and while she isn’t the first name that comes to mind when one pictures a crossbow-wielding badass, MacDowell acquits herself well.

Kristian Bruun is deliberately annoying, while Nicky Guadagni gives the archest performance as Aunt Helene. The film gradually reveals how Aunt Helene winded up as scary as she is now.

The film’s Toronto and Ontario-area locations, including Casa Loma and Parkwood Estate, contribute to the setting of an old family property that hides many secrets. Brian Tyler’s score is reminiscent of Danny Elfman’s work in parts, and like much of the rest of the movie, is just heightened enough.

Ready or Not isn’t an especially subtle movie and it does have its share of gory violence, but directors Bettnelli-Olpin and Gillett demonstrate restraint and tonal mastery with a film that depicts unpleasantness but remains an enjoyable genre romp. Look out for more of Samara Weaving, who proves she deserves to hit the A-list after this.

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

The Dead Don’t Die review

THE DEAD DON’T DIE

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Cast : Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, Iggy Pop, RZA, Selena Gomez, Tom Waits
Genre : Horror/Comedy
Run Time : 1 h 45 mins
Opens : 18 July 2019
Rating : M18

There have been many zombie movies and many zombie comedies, but few with as illustrious a cast as The Dead Don’t Die. Can a bunch of stars unite to inject life into yet another story about the undead?

In the small town of Centerville, weirdness is afoot. An alteration in the axis of the earth’s rotation has resulted in fluctuating daylight hours and interference with cell phones. Even more bizarrely, the dead are rising from the grave to walk the earth. Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) and his partner Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) must fend off the zombies and protect the residents of Centerville from getting infected. Eccentric coroner Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton) also battles the zombies as the cantankerous Hermit Bob (Tom Waits) observes from afar.

The Dead Don’t Die feels like a bunch of friends got together and shot a zombie movie for fun. It just so happens that acclaimed indie director Jim Jarmusch is the guy who gathered said friends, and in addition to the afore-mentioned names, the cast also includes Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Rosie Perez, RZA and Selena Gomez.

There is nothing wrong with a bunch of friends making a movie together – that’s what Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell did with The Evil Dead. While there is some amusement to be derived from the cast and the jokes, The Dead Don’t Die feels like a movie that would’ve played best in Jarmusch’s garage with the cast and crew gathered ‘round. It feels much longer than its 105-minute runtime.

Zombie movies have been so overplayed that every new entry in the subgenre must have a ‘take’ on things to justify its existence. With The Dead Don’t Die, the ‘take’ appears to be the cast. Its plot of a small town overrun with the undead, leading to colourful characters banding together to fight the zombie hordes, is a well-worn one. There are half-hearted attempts at social commentary – polar fracking leads to the destabilisation of the earth’s axis, and the sentiment that we’re all already zombies enslaved by the pursuit of the next shiny thing is stated outright. However, the zombie-as-consumerism metaphor was already done in 1978’s Dawn of the Dead. It feels like The Dead Don’t Die doesn’t have anything to say because its messages are conveyed so half-heartedly.

There’s no denying that it’s impossible to get at least somewhat amusing results from putting this group together. Bill Murray and Adam Driver are an endearing double act as the somewhat hapless heroes, with Driver putting all his lightsaber training to good use when he swings his bat at the zombies.

Tilda Swinton handily steals the show as intended. Naming her character “Zelda Winston” as a riff on her real name is something else that contributes to the feeling that The Dead Don’t Die is a silly enterprise undertaken by a group of friends as a fun project. Similarly, Rosie Perez plays ‘Posie Juarez’. Seeing Tilda Swinton swing a samurai sword at zombies is funny and she clearly had a great time making this, but her character is the biggest source of superficial quirkiness in a sea of superficial quirk.

There doesn’t seem to be much of a point to gathering this cast beyond the occasional “oh hey, that’s Selena Gomez” moment of recognition. Tom Waits’ appearance as a shaggy hermit is funnier than it should be because it seems like that’s pretty much who Tom Waits is in real life.

This reviewer keeps going back to the point about this feeling like an amateur effort made for a laugh, because it easily would’ve been more charming as that. There’s a dissonance in seeing the cast for this movie glamming it up on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, where The Dead Don’t Die was the opening film. Because of the star power behind it and because Jarmusch is an established indie director, the self-referential nature of The Dead Don’t Die is smug instead of endearing. The is a film with a strictly limited appeal that based on its cast is getting a wide release, which seems ill-advised. The Dead Don’t Die is amusingly self-indulgent and does give us yet another delightfully committed, bonkers Tilda Swinton performance, but it is ultimately hollow and unsatisfying.

RATING: 2 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

Zombiepura movie review

ZOMBIEPURA

Director : Jacen Tan
Cast : Alaric Tay, Benjamin Heng, Joeypink Lai, Chen Xiuhuan, Richard Low, Haresh Tilani, Edward Choy, Rayve Zen
Genre : Horror/Comedy
Run Time : 83 mins
Opens : 25 October 2018
Rating : PG13

It’s every reservist national serviceman’s worst nightmare: what if you book in and due to undead-related shenanigans, never book out? This is the premise of the horror comedy Zombiepura.

Kayu Tan (Alaric Tay) isn’t taking his reservist duty seriously, much to the chagrin of his overzealous sergeant Lee Siao On (Benjamin Heng). Kayu and his friend Tazan (Haresh Tilani) feign illness, in the grand tradition of national servicemen malingering to avoid going on duty. At the infirmary, Kayu and Siao On discover that their fellowmen servicemen have turned into rabid zombies. The pair must get along to survive, and must also rescue canteen operator Susie (Chen Xiuhuan) and her daughter Xiao Ling (Joeypink Lai). People will get bitten, obstacle courses will be navigated, and hopefully, ideas will be awoken as the ragtag gang try to reach the outside world and get to safety.

Zombiepura is a film that was announced in 2011 and has taken seven years to come to fruition. This reviewer has always wanted to see more mainstream genre fare, with the ability to travel, come out of Singapore. Singapore films are perceived as being either highbrow Cannes contenders or Chinese New Year fare aimed at uncles and aunties in the heartland. On paper, Zombiepura seems to occupy this middle ground. While the effort behind making a film like this is evident, the execution leaves plenty to be desired.

The film finds itself 14 years late to the Shaun of the Dead bandwagon, with characters that are nowhere near as endearing as those in Edgar Wright’s zom-com, nor jokes that are anywhere near as funny. It’s a lot closer to Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.

A lot of Zombiepura hinges on the local context, being set in an army camp. There are in-jokes about the banality of reservist duty and the characters are all roughly stock types, that can be easily described with one line on the poster. Plenty of the humour is crass, and audiences are meant to laugh at a soldier pretending to have depression to dodge duty. This is to say nothing of the film’s flagrant misogyny – the female lead is referred to almost exclusively as ‘chiobu’, Hokkien for hot chick, and nobody finds this inappropriate.

The premise is relatively clever in that containing the film within an army camp limits the scope, so the movie is not obligated to show expensive scenes of city streets overrun with zombies, World War Z-style. There are several physical comedy gags that work, notably one involving two characters scrambling up a flagpole with the zombies standing at the base grasping at their feet. The zombies’ specific weakness, while nothing ground-breaking, is good for a chuckle. The makeup effects, overseen by June Goh, are serviceable, and there is a healthy amount of blood and gore.

Horror films are often excellent vehicles for allegorical messages. Train to Busan astutely commented on South Korea’s hierarchical pressure-cooker society, and one of the original zombie movies, George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, was a satire on burgeoning consumerism in America. Zombiepura half-heartedly attempts something roughly along these lines, equating the zoned-out way bored servicemen go about their patrol duty with the mindlessness of your average zombie. However, the film doesn’t push the socio-political commentary as far as this reviewer would’ve liked, but to be honest, nobody was expecting that of this particular film anyway.

Stars Alaric Tay and Benjamin Heng, who form the production company JAB Films with director Jacen Tan, work well opposite each other. There’s not very much to either character, and they’re difficult to root for. Naturally, there is a modicum of character development as the gravity of their predicament hits them. This is to say nothing of the on-the-nose names like Kayu and Siao On. Richard Low cameos as Siao On’s father Mad Dog, a Regimental Sergeant Major. The implication is that Siao On is desperate to live up to his father’s reputation, but this aspect of the character doesn’t get enough play.

Joeypink Lai, Miss Universe Singapore 2016 finalist and realtor, functions purely as eye candy and little else. The Xiao Ling character has no complexities, and when she figures in a would-be emotional scene, there is no impact at all. Chen Xiuhuan is Lai’s onscreen mother, who is similarly objectified, albeit not to the extent Lai is.

Rayve Zen’s Chua, who initially seems harmless but becomes more villainous as the film goes on, is arguably the most interesting character in the film. It is in depicting his self-centredness that the film gets anywhere in the Train to Busan zone. Haresh Tilani of Ministry of Funny fame gets a small role as kind of a sidekick to Kayu, who disappears once Kayu and Siao On team up.

It is exceedingly difficult to get a movie made in Singapore, let alone a genre movie requiring stunts, permits, special effects and specialised location work. The thing is, Zombiepura easily could’ve been a better, smarter, funnier and cannier movie without any additions to the budget. It doesn’t cost anything to not constantly objectify the female lead or outright mock mental illness.

It’s ironic that one of the film’s sponsors is grocer Taste, since Zombiepura is sorely lacking in taste. Then again, one might argue that tasteless is exactly what a zombie movie would be. We’d hesitate to call this ‘encouraging’ for the industry, but in some technical aspects, perhaps it is a stagger/hobble in roughly the right direction.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

For F*** Magazine

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES

Director : Burr Steers
Cast : Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith, Charles Dance
Genre : Horror/Thriller
Run Time : 107 mins
Opens : 11 February 2016
Rating : NC16 (Violence)

Something is rotten in the state of England – human flesh. It is the 19th Century and a plague has befallen the nation, resulting in zombie hordes. Country gentleman Mr. Bennet (Dance) has ensured that his five daughters are trained in martial arts and weaponry to defend themselves against zombies, while Mrs. Bennet (Sally Phillips) is more concerned that they marry well. When the wealthy and single Mr. Bingley (Booth) purchases a nearby house, Mrs. Bennet sends her daughters to the first ball where Bingley is expected to appear. The girls defend the party from a zombie attack, and attraction sparks between Mr. Bingley and the eldest daughter Jane (Heathcote). Meanwhile, the second eldest daughter Elizabeth (James) clashes with Bingley’s friend, noted zombie slayer Col. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Riley). Meanwhile, local militia leader George Wickham (Huston), who had a falling out with Darcy, takes a shine to Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Darcy must overcome personal pride and societal prejudices to battle the zombie menace and discover their true love for each other.

            Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is based on the 2009 parody novel of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith, who combined Jane Austen’s 1813 classic Pride and Prejudice with zombie fiction elements. A film adaptation has been in the works since even before the novel’s publication, with Natalie Portman set to star as Elizabeth and David O. Russell directing. Alas, the end result doesn’t have quite that level of pedigree, with 17 Again’s Burr Steers writing the adapted screenplay and directing. Portman remains as a producer. Across the development process, it ended up that Grahame-Smith’s follow-up novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter got a film adaptation first.

            While Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was criticised for being too self-serious, Pride and Prejudice and Zombiesacknowledges its inherent absurdity more readily. It’s not a dour affair and there is a great deal of winking self-awareness to be had, which led to this reviewer laughing more than he anticipated to. However, it’s quickly all too apparent that this is built on just one joke, that zombies are having their heads blown to bits amidst all the Jane Austen refinement. This is how the idea was conceived: an editor at Quirk books literally compared a list of “fanboy characters” like ninjas, pirates, zombies and monkeys with public domain classics like War and Peace, Crime and Punishment and Wuthering Heights. Sounds arbitrary, doesn’t it? This laziness comes through and the novelty factor proves insufficient in sustaining the film.



            We’ve had Charlize Theron with a bionic arm driving a giant oil tanker across a post-apocalyptic wasteland and Emily Blunt in a mech suit fighting aliens, so kickass heroines are in vogue. In this film, the Bennet girls were trained in a Shaolin monastery and are proficient in various forms of combat. In one scene, two of the sisters engage in sparring practice while gushing over Mr. Bingley, speaking the original Austen dialogue. It’s pretty fun.



James makes for an adequate plucky, wilful protagonist and the actress demonstrates her awareness of the type of film she’s in. The Cinderella and Downton Abbeystar is perfectly convincing as an aristocratic 19th Century English woman fighting social norms, albeit a little less convincing as a formidable zombie killer. Riley’s Mr. Darcy is brusque and brooding, clad in a leather duster. Unfortunately, Riley and James share little chemistry and there’s no flow to the progression of their relationship. Matt Smith showcases good comic timing as the bumbling clergyman Mr. Collins, heir to the Bennet estate. In Austen’s original novel, George Wickham turned out to be a liar and conman, if not an out-and-out villain. Things end a little differently here. Huston’s pulchritude has a slight tinge of menace, which makes him suited to the role. Dance is a welcome presence as the kindly yet strict Bennet patriarch, but his Game of Thrones co-star Lena Headey gets all too little screen time as the eyepatch-wearing Lady Catherine de Bourgh.



Many readers have used charts and diagrams to follow the interwoven relationships in Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies trips up when it tries to get through the plot of the story as quickly as possible so it can get to the next zombie attack. The genre mashup isn’t as seamless and confident as it needs to be to fully sell the conceit. Furthermore, the action sequences aren’t particularly memorable. It’s also lacking the raw sex appeal of, uh, Colin Firth.

Summary: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is not the unmitigated train-wreck it could’ve been, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that all the premise should sustain is a mock trailer on Funny or Die.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong 

Krampus

For F*** Magazine

KRAMPUS

Director : Michael Dougherty
Cast : Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Allison Tolman, David Koechner, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Conchata Ferrell, Krista Stadler
Genre : Horror/Comedy
Run Time : 98 mins
Opens : 3 December 2015
Rating : PG13 (Frightening Scenes)

This Christmas, the weather outside is far from the only thing that’s frightful. Tommy (Scott) and Sarah (Collette) Engel, along with their children Max (Anthony) and Beth (Owen), are gearing up for the annual torture that is their relatives visiting for Christmas. Sarah’s sister Linda (Tolman) arrives with her husband Howard (Koechner), their four children and Aunt Dorothy (Ferrell) in tow. They’re stuck inside with no electricity due to a ferocious blizzard. Tommy’s mother (Stadler) begins acting strangely, as she usually does around Christmas, and soon the family is terrorised by some particularly nasty uninvited guests. It turns out that Max has inadvertently summoned the Christmas demon Krampus, Santa Claus’ evil counterpart, and good cheer is not on the agenda.


            Krampus, the cloaked, horned figure from Germanic folklore who punishes misbehaving children during Christmas, has only recently entered American popular culture. Krampus seems like a natural antagonist for a film of the holiday horror subgenre and we’re getting two this festive season, the other one being a Canadian anthology movie called A Christmas Horror Story. Michael Dougherty, who helmed the acclaimed cult anthology horror film Trick ‘r Treat, wrote and directed Krampus. While he does ensure the film is tonally consistent and doesn’t stray too far into campiness, Krampus is far from the hearty Christmas meal horror fans have been hoping it would be.  

            The Krampus mythology is one that most American audiences wouldn’t be familiar with, and the inclusion of a slightly creepy German grandmother figure hints that the film will dive headlong into the trove of tales surrounding this dark anti-Santa. We do get a haunting animated flashback sequence, but there is very little that makes Krampus and his minions stand out from being run-of-the-mill horror movie monsters. There are some fantastic creature effects furnished by Weta Workshop, but apart from CGI gingerbread men attacking David Koechner with a nail gun, there aren’t any particularly inventive set-pieces to be had. The justification that is given for Krampus selecting this particular family as his target is quite flimsy, and the moral of treasuring one’s relatives in spite of how annoying they might be comes off as half-hearted. The film’s scathing opening sequence is set to Bing Crosby’s It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas and depicts crowds violently jostling each other in a frenzy while Christmas shopping at a mall. It suggests a bitter satirical edge which is not followed up on.

            Scott and Collette play it straight and their steadfastness in refusing to wink and nod at the audience does help the material. Anthony, memorably loveable as Jon Favreau’s on-screen son in Chef, is a convincingly earnest good kid. While none of the performances are terrible, everyone here is a family comedy cliché: we have the harried mother who has to hold the fort when the relatives descend on her home, the teenage daughter who is never more than a minute away from rolling her eyes, the boorish uncle, and the belligerent, alcoholic grandaunt. Austrian actress Krista Stadler does lend the film some texture, keeping “Omi” from being a full-on “creepy grandma” type ala The Visit.



            The first half of Krampus has dysfunctional family members squabbling, the second half has said family members chased through the house by an assortment of Christmas-themed monsters and the ending is vague at best, a howl-worthy cop-out at worst. The Krampus legend has all the makings of a terrific horror flick, showcasing the dark side of a holiday that’s associated with commercialised cheeriness. There are some effective atmospheric touches, such as the incorporation of the already-kinda creepy Carol of the Bells into the soundtrack. At times, the film almost feels like it could be something in the vein of Gremlins, though it lacks the demented energy to reach that level. Unfortunately, Krampus doesn’t make optimal use of the legend and its PG-13 rating does somewhat hamper the scares it can provide.

Summary: There’s talent behind this horror comedy, but the rich, fascinatingly spooky Krampus legend is left largely unmined.

RATING: 2.5out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong 

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

For F*** Magazine

SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

Director : Christopher Landon
Cast : Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joseph Morgan, Sarah Dumont, David Koechner, Halston Sage, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Cloris Leachman, Niki Koss, Blake Anderson
Genre : Comedy/Horror
Run Time : 93 mins
Opens : 12 November 2015
Rating : M18 (Nudity and Violence)

Simple guidelines for any scout to follow in case of a zombie outbreak: be prepared in body, be prepared in mind and try to keep said mind from being devoured when the undead invade. In this horror comedy, Ben (Sheridan) and his friend Carter (Miller) are tired of being scouts, earning the mockery of their peers. Scout Leader Rogers (Koechner), clearly already dead inside, is the leader of their little group. The only reason they’re still scouts is to humour their friend Augie (Morgan). During a camp out, Carter convinces Ben to ditch Augie to head for a secret party which all the cool kids, including Carter’s sister Kendall (Sage) and jock Jeff (Schwarzenegger), are attending. On their way to the party, Ben and Carter realise something is amiss, when they’re attacked by hordes of zombies following an accident at a genetics lab. Strip club waitress Denise (Dumont), handy with a shotgun, helps get Carter, Ben and Augie to safety as they fight for their lives against the savage infected.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is one of those movies where you know what you’re getting into based on the title: there’ll be wanton goofiness, lots of gooey viscera and gratuitous nudity for good measure. Director/co-writer Christopher Landon, who’s penned multiple Paranormal Activity films and directed one, turns his attention to a more gleefully exploitative brand of horror, reminiscent of the low-budget splatter flicks of the 80s. However, the fact that Scouts Guide isn’t aiming particularly high doesn’t mean it’s exempt from criticism for stooping so low. Aimed squarely at easily-amused, libidinous, and perhaps not especially bright teenagers, the movie is painfully lowbrow and often vulgar, packed with gross-out gags that are intended to be shocking but come off as awkwardly unfunny instead. Interestingly, co-writers Carrie Evans and Emi Mochizuki wrote the very G-rated College Road Trip, and Scouts Guide was initially conceived as a kid-friendly PG-13 film. It’s quite possible it would have been even worse.

The way that Scouts Guide panders to its intended demographic is extremely cynical, in a flailing “hey, this is what the teenagers wanna see, right?” sort of way. We’re certainly not asking for high art, and this reviewer will admit that he was amused by a bizarre scene in which someone sings a Britney Spears ditty with a zombie, but being constantly pelted with crass silliness isn’t our idea of a good time. There is no invention, no reworking the formula, no witty commentary, just lazy regurgitation of the type of violence and sex you’d try to get a get a glimpse of behind your parents’ back. The most worthwhile element of the film is the old-fashioned, tactile and supremely gory makeup effects, devised by Tony Gardner. Gardner was nominated for an Oscar for Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, and his first professional gig was assisting Rick Baker on the set of the Thriller music video, so he brings some pedigree to the otherwise embarrassing enterprise.

Sheridan is earnest in as bland as possible a manner, playing the straight-arrow default leader protagonist. This suggests he’ll do just fine as Cyclops in next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse. Miller plays the stereotype to the hilt as the slacker best friend, coming off far more annoying than funny at every turn. Morgan, who’s supposed the put-upon loser who tags along in films of this sort, does manage to be sympathetic. Dumont’s Denise is this idealised fantasy girl, plucky, badass and smoking hot. It’s empowerment as envisioned by a 13 year old – Dumont spends the whole movie in a tight white tank top and tiny denim shorts as the camera leers. Dumont doesn’t quite have the chops to pull it off, but at least she looks like she’s having fun. Patrick Schwarzenegger, scion of Arnold, is a passable condescending jock. Koechner had more to do in Piranha 3DD and we’ve got to feel sorry for American national treasure Cloris Leachman. The 89-year-old veteran actress really didn’t have to say yes to this dreck, but at least she’s sporting.

There is a place in the cinematic firmament for dumb movies packed with blood, guts and boobs to cater to post-pubescent male audiences, but they don’t have to be quite as pointless as this. Zombieland treaded similar territory, albeit with more wit and verve. The animated film ParaNorman, with its gang of kids battling a zombie uprising, was far funnier and managed to be genuinely poignant without pandering to the basest instincts. If you’re a gore-hound, the grisly effects work will hold your interest, but you’ll have seen it done better elsewhere. If you go in for juvenile gross-out gags and excessive ribaldry, then we’re not stopping you from leaving your brain (and any sense of taste) at the door.        

Summary: This sophomoric horror comedy panders to the lowest common denominator instead of displaying any genuine affection for or clever self-awareness of the genre.

RATING: 1.5 out of 5 Stars

Goosebumps

For F*** Magazine

GOOSEBUMPS

Director : Rob Letterman
Cast : Jack Black, Odeya Rush, Amy Ryan, Dylan Minnette, Ryan Lee, Ken Marino, Halston Sage
Genre : Horror/Adventure
Opens : 29 October 2015
Rating : PG (Frightening Scenes)
A malicious menagerie of monsters is tearing free of the confines of the written page in this comedy-horror adventure. Zach (Minnette) and his mother Gale (Ryan) move from New York to Madison, Delaware, where his mother is taking up a position as the new vice-principal at the local high school. Zach befriends his neighbour Hannah (Rush), daughter of the secretive children’s horror author R.L. Stine (Black). Stine makes it clear that he wants Zach to stay away from Hannah, but Zach suspects that Hannah might be in danger from her father. Together with his new friend from school, goofy misfit Champ (Lee), Zach breaks into Stine’s house and unlocking the original Goosebumps manuscripts, unwittingly unleashes sheer havoc. It turns out that the creatures Stine has written about actually exist, with the sinister ventriloquist’s dummy Slappy (voiced by Black) leading the charge. It is up to Stine, Hannah, Zach and Champ to re-capture them and save the town from supernatural devastation. 
Robert Lawrence Stine’s Goosebumps series is massively successful and something of a cultural touchstone, spanning 62 books, numerous spin-offs and a TV show. Combining the spooky and the funny, many kids who were in middle school in the 90s regard Goosebumps as a nostalgic favourite. After a feature film adaptation failed to materialise in the late 90s with Tim Burton attached to produce, we finally have a Goosebumps movie. The screenplay, re-written by Darren Lemke from a draft by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, takes a tongue-in-cheek meta-fictional approach. The germ of the idea, with a fictionalised Stine trying to wrangle his creations after they’ve run amok, is a clever starting point and also lets the filmmakers cram all the fan-favourite characters, from the Mummy of Prince Kho-Ru to Murder the Clown to the giant praying mantis, into the movie. 
Apart from a pretty neat central twist, things go very predictably indeed. Goosebumps does what it says on the tin: there are laughs and tame scares and an okay, if not great, time is to be had by all. It does feel like a Disney Channel original movie with marginally better production values, and despite some moments of meta humour, it’s very formulaic. The visual effects lack polish and many of the CGI-created creatures are far from convincing. Perhaps the reasoning is that kids won’t be too picky about that sort of thing, but then again, kids today are used to the level of visual effects seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. The most effectively creepy monster is Slappy the Dummy himself, and it is a good move to have him as the evil mastermind. This is due in no small part to the fact that Slappy is a physical puppet instead of a synthetic digital critter. Presumably a vestige of Burton’s involvement, there’s composer Danny Elfman doing a spot of self-parody with a very Elfman-y score indeed.
The cast of characters is as standard for a kid-aimed adventure flick as they come: there’s the new kid, the girl he has a crush on, the goofy best friend, the well-meaning, sometimes-embarrassing mum, the adult with a mysterious secret that the kids uncover, etc. Minnette is not spectacularly interesting to watch, but he doesn’t project that self-conscious “I’m so cool” vibe most teen actors have. Rush is very appealing, looking more and more like Mila Kunis each time she appears in a new movie. Lee has been typecast as the dorky kid, but we’ll be darned if he isn’t the complete embodiment of that trope. 
Of course, the big draw is Black, whose Stine starts out creepy but eventually becomes more sympathetic as we root for him to regain control over the terrifying denizens that populate his books. Stine’s contempt for another famous horror author is the source of some of the movie’s funniest jokes. Goosebumps reunites Black with director Rob Letterman, who also helmed Gulliver’s Travels. Thankfully, Goosebumps is less cringe-worthy than Gulliver’s Travels. Black’s having fun, but doesn’t go too over the top. Black also voices Slappy and the Invisible Boy – his delivery as Slappy is a cross between the Crypt-Keeper and Mark Hamill’s Joker, distinctive and entertaining. 
Genuinely enjoyable kids’ adventure flicks such as The Goonies, Monster Squad and of course E.T.: The Extraterrestrial have kind of gone out of fashion, with young adult novel adaptations taking their place. Super 8, in which Lee also had a role, is probably the closest we’ve come to that in recent years. Goosebumps falls short of that magic, but it’s evident that the filmmakers do have a fondness for the source material and with this premise, they manage to wrap their arms around the vast number of stories in the book series and capture that overall spirit amiably. It’s hard to argue with the appeal of Jack Black trying to wrest a killer gnome off his face. Look out for the R(ea)L Stine himself in a cameo towards the end of the movie. 
Summary: Goosebumps is largely an unremarkable, generic kids’ adventure, but the target demographic will be entertained and the meta-fictional approach does work. 
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
Jedd Jong 

Rise and Rise Again – interview with Dead Rising: Watchtower director Zach Lipovsky

As published in Issue #63 of F*** Magazine


Text:

RISE AND RISE AGAIN
Dead Rising: Watchtower director Zach Lipovsky chats exclusively with F***
By Jedd Jong

The zombie invasion is far from over. Thankfully, said invasion is confined to the realm of pop culture – for now. Dead Rising: Watchtower, the film adaptation of Capcom’s Dead Rising videogame series, offers up another helping of the undead, served with a side of the twisted humour found in the games. The movie, which is being released online via Crackle, is the first digital film from Legendary Digital Media, a division of Legendary Pictures. Dead Rising: Watchtower stars Jesse Metcalfe, Meghan Ory, Virginia Madsen, Dennis Haysbert and Rob Riggle and is directed by Zach Lipovsky.
Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, Lipovsky is a former child actor who appeared in TV shows such as Goosebumps and films like the Disney Channel’s Zenon: Girl of the 21stCentury. Lipovsky developed a passion for being behind the camera, eventually becoming a visual effects specialist and director. He caught his big break as a finalist on the filmmaking reality TV show On The Lot in 2007 at age 23. The show was co-produced by Steven Spielberg and the short films Lipovsky made as a contestant include Danger Zone, consisting of a single 360 degree shot depicting the mishaps that befall a science lab, and Sunshine Girl, about a little girl who plucks the sun out of the sky.
Lipovsky went on to direct the horror movie Tasmanian Devils for Syfy and the reboot of the Leprechaunfranchise Leprechaun: Origins for WWE films. He is also developing Dogs of War, a stylised historical action film set during the War of 1812. In his spare time, Lipovsky runs the software company Reel Apps. He came up with the shot listing app Shot Lister, which helps filmmakers use their smartphones to plan what they have to film for the day.  
Speaking exclusively to F*** over Skype, Lipovsky explains how Dead Rising: Watchtower sets itself apart from the other zombie movies and TV shows, discusses making movies on a limited budget, shares how he approaches visual effects and reveals what it was like working with the cast of the film.
Are you a fan of the Dead Rising videogame series and how did you land the directing job on this film?

Of course, yeah. I got to know the game very, very well and absolutely became a huge fan of it. The way that everything started was Tim Carter, who wrote the film, also the producer, he’s a big videogame writer and does lots of big videogames and writes their stories and got to know the people at Capcom very well. And so [he] pitched them an idea for what the film could be and was able to get them on board, and then Legendary on board and then I came on board.
Video game movies have not generally had a very successful track record. Why do you feel that’s the case and how is Dead Rising: Watchtower different?

I think it’s a bunch of reasons, I think the first one being a lot of the time, the people making the movies weren’t big fans of the games. They just kind of took a property and ignored everything that was good about it and just tried to turn it into a film. I think also, sometimes it’s tough with videogames because the main character is not that interesting because you’re kinda supposed to put yourself into it, they’re like a cipher for yourself.
Like the comic book movies, they used to be really bad and then now, people who grew up with the comic books are making the comic book movies and they’re turning out to be really good. I think it’s the same thing with videogames, the generation that’s starting to make movies now are the generation that grew up loving videogames. I think that’s really going to make a big difference because it’s really starting to be made by people who love the heritage and all those cool things that make those games awesome.
A desire to do it justice.

Yeah, it’s being made by fans now whereas before, it was being made by people who didn’t really get what videogames were.
Frank West is a beloved character for many gamers. What was it like trying to find the ideal actor to play him?

Frank West is kind of the character of the franchise. I was super-excited when we were able to get Rob Riggle to play him because he has all of the elements that Frank West needs. He’s obviously hilarious and has a great wit to him which is one of the funniest parts of the whole movie, but also he has…from his stuff on The Daily Show, and even before that he was a soldier. So he has that ability to be a newscaster and kind of a celebrity and journalist, but also what I love about Frank West is he also has this dark side to him because he’s seen some pretty terrible things [chuckles] and he kind of covers that up with humour. But he’s also lived through killing hundreds and hundreds of people. It was really cool being able to bring that to life and I think Rob Riggle ended up being the perfect Frank West, I think people are gonna totally love him and want to see more of him.
You were a contestant on the filmmaking reality TV series On The Lot several years back; I particularly enjoyed the short film Danger Zone that you made as part of that. What was the experience being a part of that show like?

Well, it was my first big break and it was my first time being able to make a whole bunch of movies, it was kind of like the ultimate film camp. I got to come to L.A., I’m from Canada, and make a new movie and a new genre every week. It was pretty exceptional. It ended up being the thing that got me all my agents and all the things that you kind of need when you’re starting out on a film career in Hollywood. It also happened to be at the worst possible time because after the show was the writers’ strike and then after that was the recession [laughs]. The entire film industry decided to stop making movies for a few years; it was pretty tough. But, I’ve been kind of working my way back up and making a few films and this one, I think, is really gonna be my next big thing because I think it’s the best thing I’ve made and I’m really proud of it.
Zombies have become a really big part of popular culture in recent years, especially with The Walking Dead. Do you think audiences are burned out on zombies and if so, what sets Dead Rising: Watchtower apart from the undead pack?

Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of zombie stuff. That’s why I was really excited about Dead Rising, because it’s quite different. Not only is the tone different, it’s very fun and adventurous and silly at times, but also just the setting of what they do with zombies and the zombie world is very different. Zombies are a regular thing that happens and it happens a lot. It’s not like people are going “what are those things over there?” They know what a zombie is but also the whole idea that the rest of the world is watching the zombie outbreak on television. In The Walking Dead, the rest of the planet is gone, basically, whereas in this, people are in the newsroom talking about what’s going on. It has this kind of very surreal feeling to it.
And also, we really went far with the concepts that Dead Rising 3 had, as far as the zombies still having a bit of their life still in their memory, like their muscle memory, so they’re still kind of able to use guns and use objects and do the things they were doing all the time in their past life, which gives it this very cool, haunting feeling. It makes it quite original.
The last thing is the whole idea of Zombrex, it’s really the core of the film. That is a really unique idea that Dead Rising has, the idea that there’s a drug that if you take it every day, can keep you from turning into a zombie. Obviously that’s a game mechanic in the game, but what we really explore is what does that mean for the people that have to use it every day? What does that do for their lives? They don’t turn into a monster, but any day they could if they run out of drugs. And then also, everyone around them, how do they treat them, do they treat them differently knowing they’re infected with this virus? Almost like HIV or Ebola or something like that. They’re kinda treated in a different way. They stay human but can’t have the life they had.
There’s that metaphor which could be a somewhat heavy topic. At the same time, it’s in a light-hearted film with surreal comedy elements. How did you balance that?

That’s something I was worried about because you need both, I think. You need to have total adventure, silly, awesome action, then you need to have a story and characters that really engage people. And we kind of went for it, we made the action the best it could be, we made the drama as meaningful as it could be, and the characters, there are some really dramatic moments and then there are some crazy action moments and it just kind of all worked [laughs]. I didn’t really worry about it because I knew that was what we had to do and it the end it all kind of balances out.
You are known for using visual effects in your short films. What are your views on practical vs. computer-generated effects?

My background is in compositing, it’s the art of combining real elements in the computer. So rather than generating from scratch, you’re photographing lots of different elements and then putting those real elements together. I find that that’s where I like my visual effects work to happen, because it’s a lot easier and it looks a lot more realistic when you’re using real elements and compositing them together. I try to do as much as I can practically, and usually the visual effects are something that extend what we couldn’t do practically. So, we would still have someone die and we would have a whole bunch of blood, but in the computer, we’d add more blood, things like that, where we could cut bodies in half – we would cut an actual [prosthetic] body in half and we would add more gore and stuff to it. I find that that’s what looks the most real.
I think the best examples of effects use is in films like Jurassic Park or Terminator 2 where you can’t tell what’s been done practically and what’s been done in the computer.

Jurassic ParkJurassic Park is probably my favourite movie of all time. It’s kind of the movie that made me want to make movies and there’s only 60 visual effects shots in that whole movie. All the rest of the stuff is animatronics and if you look at the visual effects today, they still look just as good and the reason is because they were cutting between something real and something CGI, they could tell if it didn’t look real because they had an example of what it should look like on set. And then, almost right after that movie, everyone stopped doing that, they were like “great, now I don’t have to build anything” and it all started looking fake. So having real elements on set is kind of the key.
What were some of the technical challenges you faced in the making of this film?

Well, it’s a web film, we’re distributing online which means it’s a huge film but we didn’t have a huge budget [laughs] so we wanted to make it feel big and make it feel like it fit the franchise but it was a very tiny movie and so we didn’t have a lot of time and we didn’t have a lot of resources, but everyone brought extra effort to make sure everything was as good as it could be. Everyone loves being in a zombie movie so we had hundreds and hundreds of zombies that just came out and volunteered. Everyone wanted to make it as big as it could be. The biggest challenge was that it’s a small movie but we tried to make it feel as big as we could.
Robert Rodriguez has his “Mariachi-style”, one man film crew philosophy of low-budget filmmaking. What is your approach to making films on a limited budget?

I always try and think of how we can make a few things that look incredible and then kind of cheat around them, rather than try and do a whole bunch of stuff that kind of looks medium. I think the audience remembers only a handful of shots from the movie, maybe 10. Let’s identify what those 10 things are and make them as good as in any movie, the most iconic visuals you can think of. And then around them, let’s use movie magic to kind of surround it with things so that it still feels part of the film but we don’t have to do huge, big-budget things in every shot. Just make sure you get a few things right and the rest of the film should kind of fit around it [laughs].
Can you speak a little about the cast in this film, which includes Jesse Metcalfe, Meghan Ory and Dennis Haysbert?

And Virginia Madsen as well, who’s an amazing actress, she was nominated for an Academy Award. The whole cast was kind of great, they all have very unique characters. The thing I like about Dead Rising is that each videogame takes place in a new city with a new set of characters and a new situation. So, we were able to do the same thing for this film. It takes place inside of the story world, so it takes place between Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 3. This tells the story of what took place between those videogames.
We have our own new characters; Jesse Metcalfe plays the lead character and he’s an online reporter…something like Vice [News]. He’s trying to get the scoop from the ground and he’s almost like a vlogger. He’s trying to be the next Frank West. Frank West was a character who went in behind enemy lines, back in the day when you had a still character, and Jesse Metcalfe’s character is trying to do that with his cell phone [laughs] and hopefully not dying because of it.
Meghan Ory plays a character who has a lot of hidden things about her, so I don’t want to say too much because it’ll ruin the movie. She basically plays a very tough, very cool chick…she was in the Fortune City outbreak from Dead Rising 2, so she’s been through it all before and Jesse has to basically follow her around to make sure that he doesn’t die [laughs].
And then Virginia Madsen plays a mother who has lost her daughter in the outbreak and is really kind of losing it mentally because of all the craziness that’s going on and kind of has to learn how to fight her way out. She plays a really fun character because she basically goes bananas.
And then Dennis Haysbert plays the general in the film, General Lyons. All the Dead Risingvideogames, they all have an element of conspiracy, the government taking over, the corporation taking over, there’s always kind of like the feeling that “the man”, the governments and the corporations, are against the people stuck inside, and that’s kind of what Dennis Haysbert represents. 
The Soska sisters have a cameo in the film. What was it like working with them?

Jen and Sylvia [Soska] are good friends of mine because we are both filmmakers in Vancouver, where I’m from. And they are huge films and we got to know each other well because we both made films for WWE. It just seemed like the obvious thing [chuckles], Dead Rising is known for having all these iconic zombies, like these character-specific zombies, and so it seemed like identical twin zombies had to be in the movie. We named them “massage parlour zombies” so they’re like stripper zombies. They just had a crazy time on set. They’re part of one of the action scenes in the middle of the movie, where we did a five-minute one-take action scenes where Jesse basically has a sledge saw and goes on a killing spree for five minutes [laugh which I created to be like playing the game, where you get an awesome weapon and you charge into the zombies. We had cameos with them all the way through. I think they’re in the trailer as well. They just were awesome, great energy on set. They just have such an excited love of film and horror and that day, we have over 100 zombies and they were just kind of like the “zombie cheerleaders” that just kept everyone excited and working all day.
With Leprechaun: Origins, what was your history with the film series, were you a fan of the Leprechaun movies and how did you come to do that film for WWE Studios?

I wasn’t a big fan, I hadn’t seen a lot of the Leprechaun movies, I became familiar with them a lot but that in the end was kind of okay because the studio really wanted to try and do something new and something fresh. The past Leprechaun movies did such a good job at being kind of that campy, funny version, and that’s not what they wanted to do at all, they wanted to do kind of a new, grittier, darker version. So I became familiar with them but the idea was trying to find a new way, seeing if there was a way of making a film that had legitimate scares in it and made you actually scared rather than something that was more of a comedy.
Tell us a little bit about Dogs of War.

Yeah, Dogs of Waris a very cool film that I’ve been working on for a few years that is kind of like an action movie set in the 1800s, almost like The Avengers but in 1814. It takes place in the War of 1812, which was a war between Canada and the United States, and not a lot of people know that story. It’s a story where basically America wanted to take over Canada so they outnumbered the Canadians trying to defend the country and the Americans burnt down the capital of Canada. With eventually the British defeating Napoleon, the Canadians and the British invaded Washington and burnt the White House to the ground. And so it’s that story, but it’s done in a very action-adventure, superhero way. There are characters that are basically superheroes that are born out of the burning of York, which was the capital of Canada of the time. It’s a fun, crazy movie [chuckles].
When might we expect to see that released?

We’re still working on it so it’s still a few years away, we don’t have an exact date yet.
Finally, you acted in Goosebumps when you were a kid. Are you looking forward to the upcoming film with Jack Black?

It’s funny, you’re the second person to ask me about that today!
And here I thought I was being original!

[Laughs] That was my first time in an acting job and I think I was 10 years old when I did that. Anyway, it was right at the time where everybody was reading those books. I remember in my school, every single kid was reading Goosebumps. So then to get a job as an actor on a TV show was like the biggest job you could ever imagine, it was so cool. It was very cool to go to a big film set and be chased around by vampires for a few weeks. Very interested to see what they do, because I remember those books being very good. Cliffhanger every chapter. The thing with those books is there’s so many books and so many stories, so I’m curious to see do they pick one story or how do they put them into one movie, because there are so many books?
I think the idea is Jack Black is playing R. L. Stine himself and all the monsters are contained in a book and they escape

[Laughs] Well, there you go. Maybe I can get a role in the film.
Dead Rising: Watchtower is available via Crackle from March 27.