Home Invasion (2016): Despite being a direct-to-video production, director David Tennant’s Home Invasion looks and feels more like a TV movie, the sort of thing Lifetime gets up to from time to time, say. So the film doesn’t take the violence or the threat to its central characters very far and plays things rather safe and friendly for a home invasion movie, building up competent enough thrills but not exactly telling a riveting story. It also wastes Scott Adkins as the least interesting bad guy available, generally opting for stilted dialogue and little else whenever it can get away with it. Natasha Henstridge and child actor Liam Dickinson are okay, but the film plays the threat for their lives and limbs so conservatively, I found myself less than excited.
Mandrake (2010): Tripp Reed’s Mandrake for its part
actually is a TV movie. Just another SyFy Original, this one’s concerned with an
“expedition” (or as we in the biz call them, annoying people wandering through
the jungles of Shreveport) that pulls out the wrong dagger from the wrong chest
and has to contend with the resulting awakening of a very pissed-off ent (whose
name probably would be Grumpyroot or something of that kind). For most of the
time, this plays out like the adaptation of a second string Weird Tales
story, with its same basic adventure tropes (including the usual bullshit about
“natives”, though they aren’t exactly the bad guys here; in fact, punchier
writing could have made something quite interesting out of the way they aren’t),
the same somewhat cool monster, and the same pleasantly clichéd plot
Additional selling point is that our heroes seem to be surprisingly okay with
human sacrifice as long as they aren’t on the wrong end of the dagger.
Obviously, I enjoyed the whole she-bang well enough, but who am I kidding?
Southbound (2015): Given how many of the people involved
with this anthology horror piece concerning the misadventures of various
soon-to-be-dead (or worse) characters travelling southbound on a nameless US
desert highway have been part of the VHS films, I was rather expecting
an unpleasant trip into the world of bro horror.
Instead, I got a pretty good horror anthology with some truly nasty bits,
with rather simple yet very effectively realized short tales, and a sense of
weirdness floating around the edges of the stories that to me is pretty much the
opposite of bro´horror, like Twilight Zone episodes gone horribly
wrong. It’s a delightful show case for all the directors – Roxanne Benjamin,
David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath and collective Radio Silence – that also
suggests they were rather held back by the VHS films’ paradigm to look