Macauley/Haley: Dr. Lauren & Darren Review SoHome Horror Festival Part III – Day One’s Feature Films

Dr. Lauren McIntyre is a horror obsessive, tattoo connoisseur, natural Goth and cat wrangler. Lauren is currently binge watching Season 1 of The Mandalorian and by the time this goes to press she will be binge watching Season 2. Say hi to her on Twitter: @noddinggoth

Darren Gaskell is a horror obsessive and “enthusiastic” karaoke performer. Darren is probably going to be kicked out of a watch party group fairly soon because his suggestion for an upcoming movie is The Severed Arm. Say hi to him on Twitter: @darren_gaskell

WARNING: SPOILERS LIE AHEAD AND INEVITABLY THERE’S SOME BAD LANGUAGE, MOSTLY AROUND DARREN’S CONFUSION REGARDING THE SIXTH SENSE AND HOME ALONE

Not content with bringing the horror crowd not one but two online horror festivals in 2020, Soho Horror Film Festival supremo Mitch and all-round lovely person Mitch Harrod only went and confounded our already pretty confounded expectations by springing a THIRD – count it! – festival on us!

Spoiling us all rotten with three more days of features and shorts, it’s no surprise that SoHome “veterans” Dr. Lauren and Darren were once again ready to sample more horrific delights from the comfort of their respective sofas, several miles apart, in accordance with lockdown rules. Let’s get down to Day One, shall we?

BAD CANDY (dir. Scott B. Hansen)

Darren: This is an anthology movie which starts off with two DJs in a radio station talking about Halloween night and the story moves around the town following various characters in their own stories.

Dr. Lauren: Notably the two DJs are played by Zach Galligan, from Gremlins amongst other things, and Slipknot’s Corey Taylor. I was quite surprised with that.

Darren: I think he’s pretty good in this.

Dr. Lauren: I thought Corey Taylor was better in this than Zach Galligan.

Darren: Yeah. Zach’s pretty good as the disllusioned DJ with a dark past that you find out about a little later on but Corey Taylor held his own, certainly. Putting band members in a movie might feel a bit like stunt casting but he’s pretty good in this, he puts in a good performance.

Dr. Lauren: Yeah. As far as the rest of the rest of the film goes, I’ve got to say I wasn’t a huge fan of it. It was fine but quite a lot of it fell flat for me.

Darren: It had good ideas but some of it was too lacking in detail. A lot of the vignettes were to do with something nasty killing people and that was it. There was very little explanation other than it was Halloween and that there were various people and things going round bumping people off. I enjoyed the opener about the girl whose drawings came to life, that was an impressive segment.

Dr. Lauren: I did enjoy that one and I did want to see where that was going to go as it was inventive. From there, it drifted downhill a bit for me. The wraparound was good though.

Darren: The wraparound ties things up quite neatly in terms of the overarching story. It turns out there’s something that happened a long time ago which is connected to the radio station and one of the people in it. The wraparound was a lot stronger than many anthology movies, it was the segments that varied wildly in terms of quality.

Dr. Lauren: It’s difficult because there are so many anthologies out there now. Some of them are straight up terrible and this certainly isn’t one of those. It’s no Nightmare Radio.

Darren: That did come to mind, especially with the radio station set-up. I did think “Shit, this isn’t going to be Nightmare Radio again, is it?”. It’s several steps up from that. Some of the segments are far too short, they don’t really delve into any sort of plot, they’re just gory stuff happening. Which is fine to a point if you’re a fan of gore but there doesn’t seem much point to a lot of this.

Dr. Lauren: Mm.

Darren: If you take something like Tales Of Halloween, that had quite short segments but those still had a beginning, a middle and an end. With the segments here. you seem to drop into the middle with some, then there are ones that start and don’t really follow through or it’s just a gory payoff with no real set up. If felt like there should have been fewer segments or it needed to be longer.

Dr. Lauren: You’re right. It would have been better if they’re cherry picked the better stories and concentrating on those more than trying to cram too many in.

Darren: Its heart’s in the right place, it wants to be all things to all horror fans but it needed to focus on the more imaginative stories than the ones with something showing up at a location and wiping people out. That sort of stuff gets boring.

Dr. Lauren: I know what you mean.

DEAD (dir. Hayden J. Weal)

Darren: This is a New Zealand movie about a guy who can see dead people, but not in the Macaulay Culkin sense….

[Pause as Darren’s brain catches up with what he just said]

Darren: What? Macaulay Culkin? What the fuck? No! Haley Joel Osment!

[Dr. Lauren is laughing in the background]

Darren: Why the fuck did I say Macaulay Culkin? It’s Home Alone, but with ghosts! Sorry to Haley Joel Osment, I have no idea what was going on with my mind there.

Dr. Lauren: And apologies to Macaulay Culkin too.

Darren: Of course.

Dr. Lauren: That’s a right pitch there! Home Alone, but with ghosts! I would watch that 100%!

Darren: There you go. This is what goes on in the tangle that is my mind. So, after all that, this film is about a guy who sees dead people, specifically a cop who he knows from his hometown. This cop is trying to solve his own murder and the murder of several other people as part of a serial killer’s spree. This all sounds very dark but it isn’t tackled in that way. It’s surprisingly sweet. The horror is there but it’s mostly about the main guy trying to find his way and the cop trying to unravel the mystery. A lot of this was oddly nice and pleasant. I spent a lot it going “Aww”.

Dr. Lauren: It is really sweet and it’s fun. I didn’t think it was as funny as some of the other New Zealand-based comedy horrors of the last few years but it was a nice movie. I recognised the main actor and after I Googled him it turns out he was in Wellington Paranormal.

Darren: I thought I’d seen him somewhere. At this point, we’ll do our usual recommendation of Wellington Paranormal. Anyone who hasn’t seen it should seek it out forthwith. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen in years.

Dr. Lauren: It is. I can’t overstate how funny Wellington Paranormal is. Dead falls into that similar type and tone of film or TV, like Wellington Paranormal or What We Do In The Shadows or Housebound. There is a horror element but there’s also a light-heartedness to it and the humour is quite dry. The comedy’s quite deadpan. Flight Of The Conchords is another one.

Darren: Even the points where you think the humour is going to get a bit more crude, for instance a sequence where the main guy has to go to a gay bar and has to dress accordingly to blend it there, you think it might be something hideous but even that’s done in a really sweet way.

Dr. Lauren: Also, the scene where he has to try to pass himself off as a rent boy to a rich guy.

Darren: Yes! It’s quite ridiculous and it’s fun. It also hits you in the feels towards the end too.

Dr. Lauren: The outcome isn’t quite what you expect either, there’s a twist in the tale which is also quite emotional.

Darren: This also has a romantic subplot which doesn’t stick to the usual cliches. Even that’s very sweet. Our hero is very awkward and the woman he falls for isn’t your typical romantic heroine. When we first meet her she has an ankle tag on and she can’t leave the house.

Dr. Lauren: One of my pet peeves is romantic subplots crowbarred into scripts that don’t need one. This wasn’t like that at all, it was sweet and worked quite well.

Darren: It’s also got a very individual view of Heaven at one point.

Dr. Lauren: Oh yeah! I’d forgotten about that!

Darren: I like the way that it portrayed that particular view of Heaven. I’m not sure everyone will. Some of the more traditional folks out there might be absolutely horrified but that’s their problem. That sequence gave me a warm feeling and also made me laugh out loud.

Dr. Lauren: Yess. Dead is a win, I think.

Darren: It is a win. It’s not quite as strong as some others in its field. For instance, you mentioned Housebound. That’s a stronger film for me overall but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see Dead because Dead is a very good movie.

Dr. Lauren: Yes. Certainly worth a watch.

And that’s the feature films from SoHome 3, Day One! Join Dr. Lauren and Darren for Day Two very soon…

About celluloiddeej

Film fan, horror festival goer, karaoke enthusiast, cat whisperer, world traveller, complete idiot. Happy to chat with you on your podcast/whatever if you can stand the Yorkshire accent.

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