Little Monsters: Neil Diamond 27 years later and better than ever!

Little Monsters is a Zombie romantic comedy, in a similar vein to something like Life After Beth. The plot of the film revolves around Dave, (Alexander England), who after being dumped by his girlfriend moves in with his sister and her son Felix, (Diesel La Torraca). One day when Dave takes Felix to school, he meets Miss Caroline, (Lupita Nyong’o). He becomes wholly smitten, after this, he agrees to chaperone his nephew’s school trip, to impress Miss Caroline; then zombies show up, and everything gets crazy.

Before I get into my thoughts on the film, I just want to say that I genuinely believe that the Zombie genre is dead, tapped, devoid of creativity. The same story lines and character types are recycled over and over; there is nothing new to say. They should be retired, even if only for a few years, and allowed to rest in peace.

To that extent, Little Monsters is nothing new, the idea of a Zombie Romantic Comedy has been done before, Life After Beth, Warm Bodies even Zombieland has elements of romance in it, so this plot element doesn’t make this film unique. Indeed it is quirky, and by having the child cast be quite involved at times, there is a novelty to it. However, this is just a new coat of paint on a tired, used concept, and there is no getting away from that fact.

The charm of the film comes from Alexander and Nyong’o’s performances. Both are instantly likeable and maintain this throughout, their romance is well done and feels earned, including a very touching rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’, which may be one of my favourite in film songs of the year. The two actors have chemistry as well and make for a believable couple.

Josh Gad is also in this film he plays a children’s entertainer called Teddy McGiggle/ Nathan Schneider, whereas typically Gad is annoying and brings you out of the film with his over the top performance it works well here. Gad’s character is a depressed alcoholic who hates kids and views having sex with their mums as a way to get back at his child audience. So you can see that the character is going to be the over the top sort. Gad plays him to perfection savouring every second he gets to be on screen; he is most certainly a scene-stealer in this.

My major issue with this film aside from the distinct lack of originality is that the zombies don’t show up until a good 20 minutes into the film; maybe more. Based on the trailers I had seen before viewing this, I thought that Zombies would be a massive part of the film from the beginning, but that isn’t true. The first half an hour shows us how bad Dave’s life is, it drags out his breakup and the fact that he doesn’t try or, care about anything. I understand the film is doing this to show his character transformation later, but it just feels like bad writing; at best padding at worst tediously drawn out.

Overall, the first half-hour is missable, but once the zombies and Josh Gad’s character turn up, the film comes back to life. Little Monsters has very little in it that you haven’t seen before, probably done better, but it has some entertaining performances and an excellent performance of ‘Sweet Caroline’.


Reviewed by Luke

Official Secrets: What Is the Price of the Truth?

Official Secrets is a docudrama film, based around the life of whistle-blower Katherine Gunn, (Keira Knightly). The plot follows Katherine as she leaks secret government documents in an effort to stop the invasion of Iraq, and the after-effects following that decision.

Official secrets makes you question a lot of things, your ability to see right and wrong, your love of country, the very nature of whether all truths should be made public knowledge. The answers it gives aren’t good; they’re if anything troubling. This film shows that sometimes you need to take a stand and do what you think is right even if it puts you and your loved ones in danger; even if it makes you a traitor to your country.

The film and Knightly’s performance do a great job of investing you in Gunn’s journey; you root for her in this seemingly hopeless situation. There is even one incredibly well-crafted sequence that uses the tension of unannounced deportation so masterfully you can’t tear your eyes away.

What’s more, the film acts as a commentary on the state of the modern world, where governments can no longer be trusted and actively hold back the truth from the public, whether for good or, ill reasons. This film is significant as it shows how one person can stand up to a seemingly colossal institution and come out on top in the end.

Knightly’s performance isn’t the only excellent bit of acting on display in Official Secrets, as it also features a who’s who of famous British actors. Everyone from Matt Smith, of The Crown and Doctor Who fame, to Rhys Ifans and Ralph Fiennes bring something to the table; adding to the talent on hand. The performances of all four of these actors are great, but Smith and Ifans are the ones who stood out to me. Smith’s Martin Bright brings some levity to what is otherwise a very dark film, and he is also very likeable and a well-deserving secondary protagonist. Ifans’ Ed Vulliamy steals the scenes he is in, bringing a presence and charm that is hard to forget.

Overall the film is very timely and relevant, with the likes of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, sometimes other lesser-known whistle-blowers slip through the cracks. So it is essential to watch this film and realise what Gunn sacrificed for us all, she stood up and tried to stop something she thought was wrong, and that is commendable and something we all should do in this modern world.

This is an important film made all the stronger by an engaging narrative and superb acting throughout. Very much a must-see.

Review by Luke

Ps. Remember,” The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.

The DCEU: Ghosts of Past, Present and Future.

In this post I will be discussing the DCEU, that is the DC expanded universe for those of you that don’t know, I will look at where they have been, where they are right now and what the future might hold for the cinematic shared universe.

It all began with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy; these films brought Batman back to the mainstream; after the debacle that was Batman and Robin. As well as this, Nolan’s tone and themes would go on to impact how Warner Brothers would deal with future projects and the overall aesthetic of the DCEU.
Furthermore, during the time of the Nolan trilogy, Marvel had assembled the Avengers and created the first cinematic universe. DC and Warner Brothers were on the back foot; they needed their own cinematic universe. Warner wanted Nolan to stick around to do more movies, maybe even to be the Godfather of the fledgling DCEU, but he said no.

In stepped Zack Snyder.

Snyder was known for his flashy film making bringing the likes of Watchmen and 300 to the big screen, both comic book properties themselves, so he seemed like a great man for the job. Snyder got to work making Man of Steel which would be a Superman origin story and set the groundwork for the wider DCEU. Snyder’s tone for this film carried on the dark, brooding atmosphere set by the earlier Nolan films, this set them apart from Marvel. However, Man of Steel was divisive some people loved it, I did, but others hated it, they didn’t like a lot of Snyder’s heavy-handed themes and the perceived lack of fun. To me personally, I think Man of Steel was excellent, it set up Superman and the wider world perfectly.

After this, Snyder got started on a followup, no it wasn’t Man of Steel 2 like a lot of people were expecting; it was Batman Vs. Superman. This film would introduce not only Batman to the young DCEU but also Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Cyborg; it was ambitious, to say the least. Batman Vs. Superman was even more divisive then Snyder’s previous film, and there was talk of Warner Brothers and Zack Snyder himself having very different visions for both the film and the wider cinematic universe. Though again I loved the film, it didn’t make as much money as WB would have liked, and the DCEU looked like it was in trouble.

After this Snyder went away to work on his two-part Justice League film, more on that later, and in stepped David Ayer to direct Suicide Squad. Regarded by some as the worst film in the DCEU, Suicide Squad followed a group of villains and anti-heroes as they were forced to fight for the US government. When the trailers came out people were cautiously optimistic, but when it released the film quickly divided the fans with most people not liking the way characters like the Joker were handled. Once again, the film didn’t do well financially.

After both of these were received poorly and rumours were rife of studio meddling, all seemed lost. However, there was a ray of sunshine, Wonder Woman. I loved all three films up till this point. I know that’s not the universal opinion. My favourite part of Batman Vs. Superman had been Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, and I loved her solo origin film. The WW1 setting added so much to it, it had charm and charisma, and Gadot was a fantastic Wonder Woman. Unlike the others, this film was received well and made money, and Warner Brothers were shocked. The reason a lot of people liked Wonder Woman was that it was more hopeful and cheery than Snyder’s previous films it had jokes and a more vibrant colour pallet, so WB had a drastic change of plans.

However, while Wonder Woman was being made Snyder was working on his Justice League film, cut down to just one part, so unlike the projects that followed WB couldn’t do much to change it after the success of Wonder Woman. After a tragic turn of event’s Avengers helmer, Joss Whedon was brought on to finish the film, but also to make it lighter. This resulted in the film feeling disjointed, a mismatch of two tones and styles, and a film that should have been a sure-fire hit for the DCEU blew back on them. After this, WB knew they needed to change gear.

Then the impossible happened again Aquaman, which many had thought was going to be bad, was a hit. People loved it, and the film made over one billion dollars, a first for the DCEU at this time. Again James Wan had moved the film’s tone away from that of the Synder films and made it lighter and jokier. Then a few months later, Shazam came out and carried on this trend, being lighter in tone, but also loved and profitable, though not as profitable as WB wanted it to be.

That brings us to now; The DCEU is on a hot streak. Warner Brothers have just released the Joker, which isn’t a part of the DCEU but features characters from DC comics, and once again people love it. The film is far darker than any of the previous entries, but it nails the character of the Joker himself so completely that it exceeds Nolan. Almost feeling like an art film Joker really has something to say. It is clear for all to see that DC and Warner Brothers might just be on the verge of turning it around.

Looking forward to next year, DC has a lot riding on the success of upcoming films like Birds of Prey, which features Margot Robbie’s’ Harley Quinn who was the most popular part of Ayer’s Suicide Squad. As well as the follow up to Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman 1984, which seems Gadot’s Dianna Prince now in the ’80s. Both of these films look to continue the DCEU’s trend of lightening the tone set by the earlier films, and both have people excited.

I had loved all the DCEU movies so far, and believe the misstep that WB took was trying to rush out of the gate before they had a plan before they had decided what they wanted their shared universe to look like. Still, through trials and error, I think WB have learnt what the fans want, and the DCEU has discovered its identity. This fills me with hope for the future and the upcoming films.

The Shining: Kubrick’s Horror Classic

With the release of Doctor Sleep soon upon us, I thought I would rewatch and review the film that started it all the Shining. The Kubrick version, not the straight to TV version that King prefers.

The Shining is a psychological horror film released in 1980, based on the Stephen King book of the same name. The plot follows Jack Torrance, (Jack Nicholson), as he becomes the caretaker of the infamous Overlook Hotel, moving his family to the hotel for its off-season. The hotel is of course not what it appears to be, and soon all sorts of horrific happenings begin, with Jack and his son Danny at the centre of it.

The Shining is directed by one of the all-time great Film Auteurs Stanley Kubrick, and his fingerprints are all over this film, both stylistically and thematically. Kubrick’s direction help to tie together the human threat with the supernatural elements, creating a delightfully ambiguous narrative.

The horror of this film comes more from a sense of building mystery rather than, the much more prevalent these days, jump scares. I think this adds to the fear-inducing nature of the film, as nothing is presented out-rightly to you, so you have to use your imagination to piece together the blanks and figure out the truth; this allows the film to be far scarier than one that just shows you the monster.

What’s more the performances from the entire cast are electric, Jack Nicholson is wonderfully deranged from the off, but sinks further and further into madness as the film progress. That may perhaps be the one criticism I have of this film, Nicholson’s performance was manic from the beginning, rather than starting out standardly and then getting increasingly more menacing. This makes his endgame performance when he has fully devolved look less impressive.

Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance is also amazing, being both sympathetic and creepy simultaneously, from the start of the film Danny’s conversations with his little finger are distressing, more so when he starts to lose time. To the credit of Lloyd, he manages to do all of this while still being likeable and a character you want to see survive. To be a child-star and be able to do both of these things is something that deserves praise.

Shelly Duvall, who plays Wendy Torrance, Jack’s Wife and Danny’s Mother is best of all. As she perfectly captures the fear being in a situation like that would create in her performance. We see this real sense of desperation on her behalf to try and save Danny in the film act of the film. As well as to try and help and later stop her husband. Kubrick’s actions towards Duvall have been well documented elsewhere as such I won’t go into them here today. Instead, I try and look past them when I watch the film.

My final point is that this film deviates from the book in several significant ways, such as questioning whether the supernatural elements of the story are real. Contrastingly, in the source material, they most certainly were. This adds a new layer to book readers who may think they know where the narrative is heading. In the same breath, it might annoy them. It’s just something worth noting.

Overall the Shining is still a chilling horror classic and one that still holds up almost 40 years later. A must watch for all fans of horror, and I hope Doctor Sleep can live up to the standards set by this film.

Reviewed by Luke

Zombieland 2: Sometimes Dead is Better

Zombieland 2, is the belated sequel to the cult classic horror-comedy of 2009. The film, much like the first follows our group of unlikely loveable survivors as they try and stay alive in the zombie apocalypse. Double Tap, a reference to one of Columbus’, (Jessie Eisenberg), rules for surviving Zombieland from the first film, takes place ten years after the end of the original. The plot revolves around Tallahassee, (Woody Harelson), Columbus and Wichita, (Emma Stone), as they try and find Little Rock, (Abigail Breslin) after she departs the group and tries to find herself and a cute guy; so she can have the idyllic family life.

If that message seems odd to you, it’s one of many. This film feels like it was made ten years ago, a lot of the jokes feel dated and in poor taste. I’m not saying every movie has to be PC and can’t say what they want to say; I’m just saying some of the messages in this film are troublesome.

The character of Madison, (Zoey Deutch), encapsulates this precisely, she is a new character to this film, and she first runs into the characters when she meets Tallahassee and Columbus in a mall. She then sleeps with Columbus despite him seemingly loving Wichita, who at this point in the film has run off for a month because the prospect of marriage scared her, but like many of the characters joke in the movie, he moves on really quickly and not only does his undercut the love between him and Wichita, but it also serves to assassinate his character. Which makes the final moments of the film feel cheap and unbelievable.

Furthermore, Madison is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with this sequel; the original main characters almost feel pushed to the side, just to focus on the film’s new characters who are all boring and underdeveloped. In addition to this, most of the new characters are only included to allow these tiresome recurring jokes. An example of this is Madison herself; her main character trait is that she is dumb, a bimbo, you’ll be damned to forget that in this film as there is a joke about her lack of intelligence every five seconds, something this film doesn’t seem to understand is that repetition doesn’t make a joke funny.

What’s more, as you have probably seen in those woeful trailers, there is a prolonged scene in which new survivors show up, who are basically copies of Columbus and Tallahassee and they can’t see it. Isn’t that funny? These characters are only included for that joke, and the film drags it out and drags it out, and it’s just not funny. We could have had more scenes that added to the story of our four main characters but, no we need this ten-minute unfunny joke.

I wish I could say that this was just a sequel that didn’t need to be made, but it is far far worse than that. This film tarnishes the original by making characters do things they wouldn’t do, just to set up a cliched boring narrative. This film spits in the face of the original and looks smug about it. Harrelson is the only person who looks like he wants to be there; he is the one saving grace. Double Tap has a joke about women Suffrage just casually thrown in, and it feels so out of place and out of touch. This film should have either come out ten years ago or, just not at all.

Sometimes dead is better.


Reviewed by Luke

My Top 5 Halloween Film Recommendations

Halloween is fast approaching as a self- proclaimed Horror enthusiast, I thought I would write today and give you five recommendations of films to watch on October 31st. I am going to try and keep away from films I have previously talked about, and also films that are considered classics of the genre, my hope today is to introduce you to some features you might not have heard of.

You’re Next

Adam Wingard’s seminal home invasion film follows Erin, (Sharni Vinson), as she accompanies her boyfriend back to his family home for a party. What then follows is a group of men in animals masks try to break in and kill everyone inside. What makes this film so good is the originality it brings to the subgenre, the story never goes where you expect it to and, the heavily defined character traits that most films of this ilk follow, don’t apply here. The gory bloodbath that follows is delightfully devilish, with many memorable kills on display. 


This French body horror film revolves around Justine, (Garance Marillier), a young vegetarian who is forced to eat meat during a freshers event in her first week at University. Justine then develops a taste for meat, a specific type of meat, that grows in heinousness throughout the film. There is also a reasonable degree of social commentary and coming of age themes that stop this from becoming too black. Very much unique and memorable and a film that has stayed with me long after I watched it, all those years ago.


The rape-revenge subgenre has never been one that has been handled tastefully, but Revenge very much changes that. The plot is that Jen, (Matilda Lutz), flies off to a remote location with her married neighbour Richard, (Kevin Janssens), and his friends; once there things turn nasty, and Jen ends up dead. She then hunts each man down and takes her revenge, just like the title, in various satisfying ways. The ability to build tension in this film is incredible as there are hunter hunted sequences that feel so tense you can’t possibly look away. Also for all those of you who like gore, this film won’t let you down.

The Green Inferno

This Eli Roth film takes inspiration from classic Italian Cannibal films, namely Cannibal Holocaust. The plot of the film follows Justine, (Lorenza Izzo), a student who goes to the Amazon to try and stop or at least draw attention to, deforestation. However, it all goes wrong as Justine, and her friends find themselves being held captive by a tribe deep in the Amazon, who have a taste for human flesh. There are some profoundly uncomfortable scenes. Still, it has such an identity that it needs to be seen, a lot of horror films focus on things that couldn’t happen, or at least not often, meaning the supernatural; what The Green Inferno does so well is that the terror is all too real world. 

The Woman In Black

Finally, we have The Woman in Black a classic English ghost story, with Harry Potter himself as the lead. This film terrified me for years as a child; there is something about it, the impending doom the unavoidable terror that just chills me. The plot centres on Arthur Kipps, (Daniel Radcliff), a young laywer, who goes to a remote village to settle a woman’s affairs after she dies. He soon realises things are not what they seem and children are going missing in droves, the deeper he digs, the more the fear builds. 

The simplicity of this film is what makes it so terrifyingly effective. 

Also, Ghost Stories and Clown, are both fantastic underrated gems you should watch.

Enjoy the creepiest day of the year!


The Lost Boys: My Favourite Film

This blog post is going to be personal, as the subject is my favourite film; which for those of you who don’t know is the 1987 teen horror film The Lost Boys. I’ve written many times about why I love this film more than any other, but this will be the definitive piece.

For those of you who’ve never seen the film, The Lost Boys revolves around a young family, a mum and two boys who move to the town of Santa Clara to start afresh. Little do they know Santa Clara houses a dark secret, vampires; “all those damn vampires”.

The two boys, Sam (Corey Haim)and Michael (Jason Patrick), become tied up with a group of local teenagers who live by a philosophy of sleep all day, hunt and party all night. Michael tries to resist the vampiric life the boys offer him, but eventually gives in. What then follows is a showdown between the living and the dead, all set while the mum is out on a dinner date.

Therein lies the charm, Lost Boys never takes itself too seriously, it isn’t a “30 Days of Night” or a “Let the Right One In”. It’s an angsty teenage coming of age drama, with vampires and horror mixed in. Part of the charm of this film is the camp.

What’s more, The Lost Boys has career-best performances from the future Jack Bower, Keither Sutherland, as the effortlessly cool and menacing antagonist David, who is easily the best thing about the film. As well as an excellent performance by Corey Feldman, even better than his turn in the other 80s staple “The Goonies”.

There is such a personality and life to this world as well, such a fantastic atmosphere that I believe no other vampire film has been able to capture since. There are two far after sequels that add to the world and carry on the adventure of Feldman’s Edgar Frog, but they never have the same feel or the same magic as the original. Even the theme song of the original film is iconic in horror cinema being instantly recognisable anywhere, though I am partial to the cover Aiden did for the sequels.

The reason I love this film so much is that it was the first horror film I was ever shown when I was a kid, before Alien, before The Shining, before Halloween, there was this. It had this adult feel to it when I first watched as though I was seeing something I wasn’t supposed to be. It scared me and chilled me, but it also began my love affair with the horror genre; that is still going strong today.

So please if you’re going to watch a new horror film this Halloween watch this, yes it might not be the scariest, and yes some of the effects might not hold up, but in so many other ways this film is timeless, a modern masterpiece of campy 80s goodness. I guarantee you’ll love it.

Abominable: Dreamworks most surprising Gem

Abominable is an animated film from Dreamworks, about a young girl Yi, voiced by Chloe Bennet, who has shut herself off from the world after the death of her father. That all changes when an escaped Yeti takes refuge on the roof of her building. As she embarks on a mission to help him get home to Mount Everest, the Yeti helps her through her grief and reminds her of what a beautiful place the world can be.

I had low expectations going in, and I hadn’t heard much about the film, what I had heard was suggesting it was going to be incredibly average. However, I can honestly say after seeing the film that it’s a delight. Abominable is greatly influenced by Dreamworks other heavy hitters, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragons. Though their respective influences are clear, I think this film rises to the same level as these two greats, if it doesn’t surpass them.

The central theme of the film is grief, and what this film does better than something like Coco, the emotion does not feel artificial or forced, but rather incredibly raw and genuine. So much so that you can relate to Yi’s level of grief and empathise, imagining the level of pain you would feel if you were in that situation.

Everest, the Yeti, doesn’t have much to say or do, apart from wanting to get home to the mountain of the same name, but he takes the traditional role of making all the kids realise who they are. Though this role is incredibly cliche, here it can’t help but make you smile as the dynamic between the kids and Everest is precious.

The one area this film falls down in is its’ villains. Said antagonist is Dr Zara, who the film first reveals to us as a sympathetic character who wants to study and protect this majestic creature. However, as we should all know because she has a British accent, she must be evil, and sure enough midway through the film this turns out to be the case. Her motivations are quite lacklustre wanting to capture the creature so she can sell it, and though Sarah Paulson is drafted in to voice her, she is given precious little to sink her teeth into. Something the film does well in the antagonist department is show how the character Burnish, who is presented as a nasty man who wants to recapture the Yeti to prove himself right, has a change of heart and realise that Everest needs to be protected. This shows how even the villains of the film can be redeemed. The main characters show elements of this as well, as they develop to become better people.

The world the film creates is beautiful and expansive, with a robust lived-in feel to it. Every destination the kids go to in their quest to get Everest home feels like it has a thousand stories to tell; leaving them aptly for a sequel.

Overall Abominable blew my expectations away and was one of the most charming, heartwarming animated films I’ve seen in a long time. Chloe Bennet deserves praise for her role as Yi, and the film as a whole deserves recognition for its positive messages about grief and coping with it, and the importance of family and being yourself. Abominable is a film I can’t recommend enough.

Reviewed by Luke

The Cornetto That Saved British Cinema

British Cinema has been around since 1888, British Horror nearly as long. For years Hammer Horror was the driving force in national terror, with the likes of the Christopher Lee starring Dracula films being international classics. However, as they reached the end of the 20th century, their influence began to wain. British Cinema as a whole began to diminish, yet there was still lifeblood in the old industry, and we got British Rave Culture Cinema with the likes of Danny Boyle leading the way.

However, internationally British Cinema and British horror wasn’t what it had been, becoming a series of tired, repetitive cliches. Then came along one man who would be instrumental in raising both aspects of British film to what they had been in the golden years; that man was Edgar Wright.

Wright began out directing the cult British sitcom Spaced, the show that would launch the career of his long-time collaborator, Simon Pegg. From there Wright would go on to head the Cornetto Trilogy, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, three solidly good films.

With Shaun of the Dead, Wright resurrected British Horror and brought it back into the mainstream consciousness. British Horror had endured the end of Hammer and had kept going, but had become far more niche than it used to be; Shaun of the Dead changed all that. What is on its surface a silly film about a group of friends fighting off the Zombie Apocalypse, beneath the surface lay the hidden depths of a broader social commentary. Shaun of The Dead was so beloved domestically that it brought British eyes back to British Horror, and more impressively brought the eyes of the World to Edgar Wright.

The idea of Auteur Cinema is that a director can become so prolific that they begin to influence the very industry itself, their films are instantly recognisably and sell because of the Director name attached rather than the film itself, think Wes Craven or, John Carpenter; for British Cinema Edgar Wright was our Auteur.

Following on from the cult success of Shaun of the Dead, Wright released Hot Fuzz which instead of mocking the Horror genre mocked the Cop Action Film genre, this was even more of a success. One of the reasons at least to me that Wright’s work is so prolific is that he plays off the stereotypes the rest of the World has about Brits, in a way only a Brit could do.

Whatsmore, Wright highlighted to the World some of the best British actors of that generation, introducing us to the likes of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, to name a few. That eye for talent has stayed with him throughout his career and doesn’t look to be going anywhere soon.

To conclude Wright’s importance to Cinema can’t be understated, he has brought the eyes of the British public as well as the World back to British Cinema and has shown what we are capable of. Even know as he has become more of a Hollywood director, he is still an inspiration and shows how British Cinema is still relevant in 2019.