Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Noel's Movie Review: Slice

One of the glorious things about being involved in Grimm Up North is you can fully indulge all of your cinematic desires in films that you may otherwise have never gotten around to seeing. Often these movies will be deep within the horror genre, while others will toe the line with this and anything from sci-fi, comedy, drama and thriller.

Slice is a film that does just that, borrowing from both police procedural slashers like Seven and unrelenting coming of age tales like Slumdog Millionaire. Like Slumdog, director Kongkiat Khomsiri's story takes place in the present but recalls a past fraught with childish mischief and the cruelty of the adult world. But here, the modern day is unconcerned with romance and joy, but instead focuses on bringing a brutal serial killer to justice.

The story follows Tai, an incarcerated ex-cop who has been released and charged with the task of tracking down the murderer, who has taken to removing the genitals of his victims, cramming them where the sun don't shine and often disposing of them in a large red suitcase. It seems some of the behavior of the killer links to Tai's childhood friend Nut and when this link grows stronger it becomes clear he will have to look back at the troubled childhood they spent together if he is ever to see his criminal record wiped clean and be reunited with his wife.

Early on, Slice sets out its stall by appearing as traditional an eastern take on a western thriller as you would expect. Scenes are beautifully crafted and there is an element of suspense that hangs over a plot that, while certainly familiar, delivers plenty of shocks, kills and crime scene investigations.

However, at some point roughly halfway through, I became very aware that what I was watching was not the template for a US remake featuring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, but instead had shifted towards being an incredibly engaging coming of age drama. The story of Tai and Nut's background becomes such a huge part of the narrative that it threatens to run away with the film, only to be brought in to a spine-shattering climax that literally made me exclaim "No, fucking, way" at the top of my voice despite watching the movie alone.

Slice is an absolute gem of a movie that, while shifting slightly uncomfortably between genres occasionally, is nothing short of breathtaking. The beautiful golden locations of some of the flashbacks serve as a stark companion to the grittier neons of the modern street scenes. But this really just gives you more to watch.
Hailing from Thailand and without a release date in many countries, it's difficult to say when Slice will make it to cinemas or store shelves in the UK, but with a thoroughly absorbing story and a mind-blowing last act, you would do well to make a note of its name.

Noel Mellor

Grimm Up North is going to FrightFest!

The final line-up of films has been announced for this year's annual Frightfest horror movie festival in London and once again the team has put together a whole host of terrifying treats.

Of course, tickets and festival passes sold like hot cakes when they went onsale this weekend and your loveable Grimm Up North! blogger, podcaster and all-round gorehound (me) will be there once again to check out what sinister slices of cinematic filth have been lined up. I'll be reporting back here, writing on my own blog and reviewing on Eat Sleep Live Film over the course of the five-day festival. Plus, as I'll be attending with 35mm Heroes co-hosts Jordan McGrath and Ian Loring (Cinerama), you can expect plenty of audio and video coverage to boot.

So, the tickets are booked, the hotel sorted and the train taken care of and in just under eight weeks time I'll be heading to the Empire Cinema in London's Leicester Square. But what are the movies lined up this year that I'm most looking forward too? Well, read on and you'll see!

The festival kicks off proper on Thursday 26th August in the Main Empire screen at 6.30pm with the latest offering from Adam Green. As one half of the event's unofficial mascots (the other being Wrong Turn 2 helm Joe Lynch), it's hardly a surprise the slasher sequel gets its World Premiere here - but it should definitely get things kicked off with a bang. The rest of the evening promises typically rural terror in Primal and a modern take on Hammer in Dead Cert. The latter features Danny Dyer, but the synopsis sounds pretty interesting so hopefully that will cancel out my general disdain for the one-note mockney monkey. A cast list that also includes Jayson Fleming, Craig Fairbrass and Dexter Fletcher would suggest we can expect Buffy meets Lock Stock here - so this could be well worth a watch.

With the Discovery Screen open for business on Friday, there are some tempting options to be had. But with the day devoted to genre legend Tobe Hooper in the Main Screen it could well be an easy decision for many. First up is a screening of his lost debut Eggshells, a psychedelic sci-fi oddity that leads up to an interview with the man himself and a showing of his 1974 classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The rest of the night has Brit crime thriller Isle of Dogs, the mysteriously titled F and an Aussie flick that promises to be somewhere between Halloween and No Country For Old Men - Red Hill. The last of the night's fun in the Main Screen is high-concept slash sockey fest Aliens Vs Ninja, which has to be better than the Paul WS Anderson film it sounds like an offshoot of. Meanwhile, during Eggshells, I plan to be over in Discovery checking out an odd little curio by the name of Burning Bright, the story of what happens when your house gets invaded by a Bengal Tiger.

Saturday pits The Cottage director Paul Andrew Williams' latest Cherry Tree Lane against Switchblade Romance cinematographer Maxime Alexandre's Christoipher Roth - with the latter just tweaking my interest that little bit more. But then my attention falls back to the Main where we have a few premieres, including a European one for the remake of I Spit On Your Grave, the latest remake of a 70s genre classic - which I will have my fingers (and legs) firmly crossed for. One other that seems of particular interest that night is Monsters, a post-apocalyptic feature that seems to take at least some cues from District 9.

An early start again with The Pack and Higanjima: Escape From Vampire Island on the Sunday followed by a quiz and a Short Film Showcase and then we head for a triple whammy of film's I'm hugely excited for. First up is We Are What We Are, the story of modern day cannibalism in the context of a family drama, then slightly lighter fare in teen cult flick Kaboom and finally, the one that is set to have tongues seriously wagging should the Daily Mail ever find out about it - A Serbian Movie. If you don't already know about this, you should check out the early buzz. If it is as shocking as some would seem to suggest, it may be one not to miss.

As the last day of the festival, Monday brings with it my most eagerly anticipated film bar none. Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Video Tape documents what is, for me, one of the most fascinating periods in modern film history and one which I have read, watched and written a great deal about. Running at only 60 minutes, it may not be that long, but a celebrity panel discussion afterwards promises much interesting debate.

Elsewhere, the Discovery Screen will offer the opportunity to check out some of the films that have already been screened and perhaps missed, but it will really be a case of juggling these with the likes of The Dead, Bedevilled and Red White & Blue in the Main before settling in for the UK premiere of the Eli Roth produced The Last Excorcism, with the one and only 'Bear Jew' in attendance to take questions from the audience.

All in all, it promises to be a great finish to a fantastic five days of horror. Frightfest is now a well-established showcase event in the UK movie festival calendar and I am thrilled to be going for only the second time. Watch this space to get an exclusive insight into everything that goes down and which cinematic gems you'll need to keep those eyes peeled for!

Noel Mellor
Grimm Up North Online Marketing Co-ordinator