Film Reviews by NP

Welcome to NP's film reviews page. NP has written 1069 reviews and rated 1170 films.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Satan's Blood

Escalofrio!

(Edit) 01/12/2016

It can be awkward when we are approached by a couple who swear they know us and we haven't a clue who they are. It must be a good deal worse if we accompany these people to their home to 'catch up' and we realise they are a couple of perverted demon worshippers who have some very grisly plans. This is exactly what happens to Andres (José María Guillén) and his pregnant wife Ana (Marianna Karr). Pretty soon their lives have taken on an extraordinary turn for the worse.

Directors Carlos Puerto and (an uncredited) Juan Piquer Simón make sure we're just as unnerved and anxious as the unfortunate pair. True to its 'euro-sleaze' trappings, the foreboding atmosphere is heavily punctuated with lingering scenes of sex that drag things down a little - but developments come thick and fairly fast. It's a tension-filled rollercoaster and a good way to spend 82 minutes.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Sherlock Holmes: The Scarlet Claw

New thrills! New terror!

(Edit) 01/12/2016

When you consider this was directed by Roy William Neill, who helmed Universal films 'Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman', it's perhaps not too surprising 'The Scarlet Claw' is rich in horror detail. All the Universal flourishes are there - and a lot of the cast will be familiar too. This for me remains one of the best Sherlock Holmes films, although some cheats are provided to make sure we don't guess who the killer is.

We have it all - American cockneys, mist-layered streets, a local tavern full of weathered faces and scowls, and Watson (Nigel Bruse) unable to keep his mouth shut. He is a buffoon, and it makes you wonder why a man of Sherlock Holmes's brilliance tolerates him, but for this viewer at least, he's a great character; we get to witness the master detective's eccentricities through him, his distance and aloofness. If Watson was not around, we'd be hard-pressed to find a character to relate to in these stories. A pain in the neck he may sometimes be, but a necessary one. And there's a genuine warmth between them - off-screen as well; the only argument they ever had was when Basil Rathbone (still the definitive sleuth) decided to give up the role.

I'm still not sure the revelation of the villain isn't a slight disappointment, mainly due to the lack of subtlety by the actor in question, but other than that this is top-notch stuff. Best enjoyed on an autumn evening with a cup of something warm. My score is 8 out of 10.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Do Not Disturb

Spoilers follow ...

(Edit) 21/07/2016

Ever since, or perhaps even before, 1960 classic 'Psycho' extolled the horrific virtues of a motel as a venue for horror, the home-from-home has proven an effective place in which terrifying, sometimes unworldly things can happen.

Eccentric writer Don Malek (a terrific performance from Stephen Geoffreys), is torturing his boss in a bathtub filled with ice cubes. It's as good an introduction as any, especially in an off-kilter film like this. We're given no clue as to why this is going on. Director BC Fourteen is in no hurry to reassure us with anything so mundane as an explanation. Malek feels the hotel surroundings will be beneficial to his writing.

Fourteen's style is to people this picture with a variety of acerbic, curious characters, none of whom offer any reassurance, and none of whom are keen to endear themselves to the audience. Thus what we are left with are the stained walls of the hotel, the strained relationships. As Malek leaves the cocoon of the awful residence, he comes across Jasper Crash (a brief cameo from Corey Hiam), another very odd addition to the cast, complete with a dreadful English accent.

Not an easy watch in places, the weirdness of it all provides a palpably eccentric atmosphere for Malek and his murky motives. If it fails to grab you immediately, stick with it. My score is 7 out of 10.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Mutants

Spoilers follow ...

(Edit) 12/02/2016

There's an unrelenting grimness about this zombie story. After a while, as much as you are drawn to the central characters, I find myself willing them simply to end it all, so desperate is their situation, so desperately unhappy are any of their options in this new, icy world.

But Marco and Sonia (Francis Renaud and Hélène de Fougerolles) are made of sterner stuff than I am. Also, to add to their complications, they are expecting a child. As the sombreness is piled on, the unforgiving punishments these characters - and others - endure, 'Mutants' is in danger of becoming very one-note, with no let up in misery.

As the publicity maintains, 'Extinction is just a heartbeat away'. And all because of human greed. An enjoyable low-key tale of gore and desperation, of betrayal and false hope. Sombre indeed. My score is 7 out of 10.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Abandoned

Spoilers follow ...

(Edit) 04/05/2016

Julia Streak (Louisa Krause) plays a rookie security guard initiated on her first shift by the wholly obnoxious Cooper. As an embittered, well-practised sex pest, Jason Patric plays him to perfection. When mildly creepy things begin to occur in the vast building they are guarding, it is irresistible to wish the worst for him.

Many things happen. We learn about Streak's past and that there is more to her than we realised. We also get to grips with the true monster Cooper has become. We also learn about the history of the building which, as you will imagine, is ripe with a dark past and nasty, secrets with ongoing, supernatural effects.

The story is hardly new, but that's okay. Sometimes if a chilling atmosphere is conveyed well, it's a familiar chill to go through it all again. Director and co-writer Nacho Cerdà certainly gives us reason to be chilled as events become more horrific and at times, genuinely moving. There are also enough character moments and set-pieces that allow 'The Abandoned' its own breathing space. My score is 7 out of 10.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Dark Signal

Fear the returned ...

(Edit) 13/10/2016

Edward Evers-Swindell directs and co-writes this taut frightener that cleverly weaves together two story strands to make a very satisfying whole. James Cosmo stars as big bad Alan Keller, a wealthy individual who may o may not be the deadly 'wedlock killer' so named because he has a habit of relieving his victims of their wedding ring digit. Kate (Joanna Ignaczewska) and her boyfriend Nick (Duncan Pow) think it might be a good idea to visit this man's home and rob him.

In seemingly unconnected events, JAB Radio is about to transmit its final broadcast. To ensure things go off with a bang, Laurie Wolf (Siwan Morris) brings in medium Carla Zaza (Cinzia Monreale) who manages to get in touch with Keller's dead daughter.

Ben (Gareth David-Lloyd), who works for JAB Radio, is the link that binds the two story strands together and what follows is an enjoyably ludicrous horror story that is easy to get caught up in. Fusing elements from a typical haunting with a more slasher-laced style, 'Dark Signal' is great fun and highly recommended. My score is 8 out of 10.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Cherry Tree

Rosemary's Baby for the 21st Century audience ...

(Edit) 01/12/2016

Hellboy 2's Anna Walton plays teacher Sissy. I wish my teachers looked like her. Naomi Battrick is one of her pupils, Faith, who has a troubled personal life. Her school life isn't a bed of roses either, as she is bullied by her bored, empty-headed classmates. She's also a virgin, which marks her out for special attention in this fast-moving horror tale.

Director David Keating piles events on top of each other, giving us no chance to become distracted. The moments of horror are competently staged, and the acting is convincing throughout. With so much going on and so quickly, I sometimes got the impression while watching that the film doesn't quite know what it wants to be. The finale takes on a rather different tone, in which we get the impression we're not supposed to be taking things too seriously, which further compounds the uneven quality. Nonetheless, an enjoyable, energetic chiller. My score is 7 out of 10.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Fostering

The Devil Lives Here ...

(Edit) 01/12/2016

This Brazilian horror tale is many things: fast-moving, scary, sexy, nicely directed, unpredictable. So much is going on that by the end, you'll be begging for a bit of clarity. I was, and I'm very happy with films that leave their audience guessing. A second watch is advised, and such is the high-octane plethora of frightening occurrences hurled your way, that delving in again will be no problem.

Why there aren't more horror films from Brazil is a mystery, if directors Rodrigo Gasparini and Dante Vescio's teen-frightener is anything to go by. The style of filming is immediately sombre and disconcerting, and that gives a kind of canvas of unease on which to main and torture the cast of flawed but likeable young characters.

The farm in which Apolo (Pedro Carvalho) invites his three friends to stay has, as you may imagine, a dark history. Thus a bombardment of twists and turns is strewn forth, culminating in a race to stop the rebirth of an ancient evil. A lot of the details might be familiar from other such productions, but 'The Fostering' (otherwise known as 'The Devil Lives Here') is a great deal of grim fun. My score is 8 out of 10.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Mad Ghoul

A New Sensation in Horror, it says here ...

(Edit) 29/04/2016

With the best will in the world, this film (originally developed as 'The Mystery of the Mad Ghoul') is a workmanlike production from Universal, and a far cry from the inventive, carefully made horror films that were made in the '30s. It features their repertoire of reliably wonderful actors like Turhan Bey, Evelyn Ankers and George Zucco and gives them exactly the kind of roles they are known for playing. Instead of Karloff, Lugosi or Chaney as the main monster, we have lesser-known David Bruce playing the titular Ted Allison, a ghoulish henchman whose mission it is to retrieve the hearts of the living.

Luckily the wise-cracking cops and journos typical of this period are kept in check. At a brisk 65-minute runtime, there isn't time for anything much other than the storyline, which doesn't seek to break any new ground. Not unenjoyable, this is the kind of formulaic fare that demonstrated a lack of interest in the dwindling horror genre by this time. I'm sure it was successful enough to justify its modest budget, but it would have been wonderful to have seen the kind of innovation present that pioneers such as James Whale or Karl Freund featured in their earlier, celebrated productions. My score is 5 out of 10.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Pool

De poel

(Edit) 07/03/2016

Directed and co-written by Chris W. Mitchell, this Dutch film introduces us to a group of campers determined to enjoy themselves however much events conspire against them. By events, I mean that Leannart (Gijs Scholten van Aschat, who co-wrote this), his wife Silke (Carine Crutzen) and his two sons discover unpleasant things about each other, as they do about friend Rob (Bart Klever) and his daughter Emilie (Jamie Grant). That's bad enough, even if, for the viewer, the myriad sardonic altercations are so true to life they raise a smile of familiarity (in some cases - not all). As a character drama, this succeeds handsomely. But there's worse to come.

When unpleasant things start happening, the images and moments are captured so fleetingly, that you're in danger of missing them. Suggestions of the supernatural, the possibility of nasty legends about the pool of the title proving to be true, and effective moments of realistic gore. You'd leave, wouldn't you? This bunch take a long time to reach that decision. Is it too late? I'm not giving anything away, although (for some, at least) you might guess the answer with a degree of confidence.

I had great fun with this, although the line between real and hallucinogenic is so blurred, we're occasionally flummoxed as to what is going on; and van Aschat and his fellow writers, isn't falling over himself to explain things. My score is 7 out of 10.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Zombie Night

Mild Spoilers ...

(Edit) 07/03/2016

From the get-go, you realise that director John Gulager isn't messing about with 'Zombie Night'. Having explained the premise in the title, he's more concerned with getting on with the gory action and giving the viewer no excuse for allowing their tension to wander. Sometimes, you can't beat the sight of the walking, rotting dead biting chunks out of characters we've only just met.

Still famous for her role in 'The Patridge Family', Shirley Jones is Nana and her daughter Birdy is played by Daryl Hannah. These and other characters are earmarked to be our guides throughout this undead nightmare, but happily, writers Richard Schenkman, Keith Allan and Delondra Mesa like to play with our expectations.

The problem with 'Zombie Night' is that it falls into the trappings of the genre. You can't kill the assailants because they're already dead, and a bite can turn you into one of them. This proves to limit what can actually be achieved with this story and occasionally, it seems as if it is going around in circles.

Whilst never threatening to re-invent zombie themes - and why should it? - this is 88 minutes of pretty much exactly what you would expect. No more, no less. My score is 6 out of 10.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

13 Eerie

The island at the end of the earth

(Edit) 17/01/2016

Six forensic students arrive on an island to begin a scientific expedition. That might seem like a fairly harmless pursuit, perhaps even slightly dull, but when you realise 13 Eerie has been put together by the producer of Silent Hill and Resident Evil 4, you'd hope that something grisly might turn up.

You'd be in luck. There are enough grisly scenes of the undead, the almost dead and the dead-dead to please most ardent gore-seekers, but that's not the end of the story, luckily enough. Lowell Dean directs expertly, zipping through scenes of danger and grim jeopardy and featuring characters well-played and convincing, doing everything that should keep the aggressors at bay - and still they keep coming. The winter-crisp Canadian locations are suitably rough and murky and a perfect backdrop for the snarling, grunting zombie-types.

Occasionally, realism is compromised by the heavy prosthetics and make-up jobs plastered over the zombie actors as the cold sunlight exposes their occasional limitations, but other than that, this is a wonderfully raw slice of zombie action. It's rather more intelligently plotted to just be a runaround and I strongly recommend it.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Extinction

Welcome to Harmony ...

(Edit) 12/02/2016

Jeffrey Donovan from Blair Witch 2 here plays Jack, who is paired with appealing imp Lu (Quinn McColgan) after a bus attempting to take them to a safe space is attacked by a group of gorily realised zombies. As if events were not punishing enough, the world - or this portion of it - is also in the grip of an unforgiving winter, convincingly directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas, who also co-wrote this.

The locations, filmed in Spain and Hungary, are superbly shot. As the character of Patrick (Matthew Fox) is introduced and the three main players form a fragile triumvirate, 'Extinction' settles into a personal story of the plight of these people we have come to know, against the magnitude of the palpably grim world in which they live, and the rotting living corpses that frequent it.

If that's not the recipe for a good night in with a mug of something warm, I don't know what is! My score is 8 out of 10.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Creep

Spoilers ...

(Edit) 17/01/2016

Kate, the central character in ‘Creep’ reminds me a little of Naomi Watts’ character in ‘The Ring (2002)’, in that she is so brash and mean-spirited it is difficult to warm to her. She not only declines a polite plea from a homeless man for some change, but patronises him too, and seems pleased with her spite. Possibly this is to highlight the irony of being mistaken for a vagrant herself, bloodied and filthy as she is by the film’s end.

The plot? Horrible bloke kills people by a train line. It’s something that has been attempted similarly countless times over. And yet I love this. It is laced with good characters (often more likeable than the heroine) and given some nice touches – and that is before we’ve even met the wrecked, unsightly killer.

It is a little unclear as to what exactly ‘Craig’ is, although there are plenty of partial clues. Is he a survived abortion, the result of an illegal experiment, or something else? The specifics don’t really matter because he is a powerful character in his own right, often due to the ticks and painful movements Sean Harris brings to the part. He glances at a selection of pickled foetuses in the abandoned medical facility where he lives and hears the sound of babies crying in his mind. Equally, in one of the most effective scenes, he straps homeless victim Mandy (Kelly Scott) to a delivery chair and goes through the motions of a surgeon before disembowelling her. It’s all grim and extremely effective.

As with many things, there are logical shadows cast over this – Craig has been alive a long time and presumably, these are not the first people he’s killed. He shows no intention of covering his tracks, so why hasn’t he been apprehended by now? Also, Kate has the advantage over him on two separate occasions before she finally kills him.

Filmed in brash, early morning tones – all sickly yellows and blues, it’s a persuasively shocking production, but at least Craig’s eventual demise seems permanent. A shame, actually – a sequel would have been welcome.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Raised by Wolves

Raised by Wolves (2014)

(Edit) 04/04/2015

Sometimes when watching slasher films, it's difficult to sympathise with the teen heroes/cyphers, who are depicted as writers think teens always are - either horny, drunk or stoners. In this one, they're all three and more besides. Any attempt to make this bunch likeable has been left firmly at the door. So with that in mind, it's easier to sit back and enjoy the fun when this group stumble across an abandoned house in the middle of the desert. The house has a history; there's a very good reason it's been abandoned.

From here on in, 'Raised by Wolves' is a good, satisfying example of its type. Retired adult film star Jenna Haze is top-billed on some of the promotional material, but her appearance is little more than a cameo. The rest of the film is occasionally effectively spooky, and you do get a sense of 'something' playing with these pretty irredeemable characters. My score is 7 out of 10.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.
1234567891072