Archive for July 31, 2019

Nigel Bach has a lot to answer for.

I’ve talked about his Bad Ben series of films quite a bit on this site, of course, but leaving out their relative merits (or lack thereof) for a moment here, the simple fact is that their (relative) success has inspired a small legion of wannabe-filmmakers armed with nothing but their iPhones and, I suppose, a dream. One of them is Jeff Profitt, and the fruit of his labors is the just-released-to-Amazon-streaming Something Crashed In The Woods. Don’t let the title fool you, though — nothing “crashes in the woods” here (at least as far as we can see), but at about the ten-minute mark your interest level in the film itself will crash mightily, and never recover.

Profitt himself is the sole “actor” in the film, and he plays an unnamed dude who buys his dream “fixer-upper” cabin and intends to vlog the entire remodeling experience because, I guess, there are people out there interested in that sort of shit. On a walk through the woods one day he chances across some weird burn marks on the ground and on some trees, and decides, hey, I’ll come back at night and see what might have caused these because he apparently can’t figure stuff like that out during daylight hours. So he does just that and sees some weird lights and — sees them some more on successive evenings. Not that you can tell one instance from another here, nor does it matter.

Events “ramp up,” at least nominally, but they never threaten to actually become interesting, and Profitt himself has so little camera presence that he probably couldn’t carry a YouTube remodeling show, much less a movie about a YouTube remodeling show gone off the rails — and, it’s implied, beyond the stars. So there’s your rundown.

I could go on and on, sure — the lack of suspense, the amateurish “camera” work (even by “found footage” non-standards), the risible acting, the lack of coherence underpinning the entire project — they all deserve some attention, I suppose, but dwelling on them would just be cruel. To Profitt, sure, who’s probably a perfectly nice guy, but even more crucially to you, dear reader, who has better things to do with your time than read a laundry-list of faults about a sub-amateur movie production that has literally nothing going for it. At least, I hope you do.

And, in future, I hope that Profitt does, as well. I’m all for people with no resources not letting that stop them from making art, but the key word there is art. I don’t think Something Crashed In The Woods rises to the level of earning that title, and I have the broadest definition of “art” you can possibly imagine. This is just some dude with a camera phone, a threadbare idea for a story, and a few days and nights to kill. Props to him for getting it all the way to Amazon, I suppose — it’s more than a lot of backyard filmmakers manage to achieve — but just because it’s there doesn’t mean it should be. I’m gonna cut this short right now so as not to repeat myself — something Profitt does a hell of a lot of in the film — but one more “avoid at all costs” admonition is the least I can do for you good people. In fact, I consider it a public service.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Joining up costs as little as a dollar per month, so seriously — what have you got to lose? I promise you great value for your money, and needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), I’d be very grateful to have your support.

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy. Here yo go :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

 

Once upon a time, a rag-tag group of ambitious filmmakers headed out to rural Pennsylvania with an amateur cast, a camera, no money, and a dream. The end result, George A. Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead, achieved cinematic immortality not only for itself, but for almost all of those involved in its production.

Fast-forward to 2016 (although it wouldn’t achieve release until two years later, and via Amazon Prime streaming at that) and Nicholas Pontoski crowd-funded a $15K production budget, grabbed some friends, and hoped history might — just might — repeat itself. The end result, Within The Woods Of Undead County, is having a tough time standing out in the streaming queue shuffle. but is actually probably worth your time to check out — provided your expectations are held in check.

We’re talking about fairly standard-issue stuff here, at least in terms of Pontoski and co-screenwriter Justin Stephens’ script, in that we’ve got a quartet of disparate characters — Jocelyn (played by Gabriella Harry), Ashm (Matt Motyl), Kelly (Angela McCormick), and Matt (Cory Handelong) — who have escaped to the sticks in hopes of out-running a zombie plague, only to find there are no “safe spaces” when the shit hits the fan. They’ve gotta learn to trust each other in order to survive, characters may or may not have hidden agendas and motivations, those with skill sets that would lend themselves more ready to survivalist situations are forced to both help and, ultimately, rely on those who don’t, etc. You really do know the drill here, people.

That being said — Pontoski manages to punch above his weight class nicely in terms of practical effects, shot composition, use of natural lighting (or lack thereof), overall production values, and he even manages to coax some slightly-above-average-for-these-sorts-of-things performances out of an obviously (though not painfully) unprofessional cast. If you’re not a seasoned veteran of homemade horror you might find the whole thing to be far below your standards, but shit — if  you’re not “a seasoned veteran of homemade horror,” you’re probably not even reading this site in the first place, am I right?

I am, of course, but I would say that. In point of fact, though, this film is probably of interest only to those who are fans of seeing how filmmakers do a lot with a little, but viewed strictly from that perspective, it’s a flick that’s actually reasonably impressive, difficult as that may be to believe at first glance. It’s absolutely as “been there, done that, got the t-shirt” as it sounds, sure, but there’s a hell of a lot of heart on display here, right down to paying keen attention to the smallest of small details — barring a few fuck-ups that, frankly, detract so little from the overall production that bringing them up would make me sound like an asshole (or should that be “an even bigger asshole”?), so I’ll leave them be.

There’s even a twist or two you may not see coming, for those who appreciate such things (that would be, I’m thinking, most people), and all in all, by the time the end credits roll, you’d have to have one hard heart to say that Within The Woods Of Undead County is anything other than a well-executed, if far-less-than-revolutionary, labor of love that Pontoski and his cohorts have plenty of reason to be at least modestly proud of — assuming, ya know, “modest pride” is even a real thing.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Joining up costs as little as a dollar a month, so seriously — what have you got to lose? Needless to say, I’d be very gratified to have your support, and I can promise you great value for your money.

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy. Here you go :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse