Girl House

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Girl House

eOne Films – 2015

Directed by Trevor Matthews
Written by Nick Gordon

Starring
Ali Cobrin
Adam DiMarco
Slaine

A college student in need of money moves into a house that streams X-rated content to pay for school.  What at first seems to be a safe situation (think of a bit smaller, wooded version of the Playboy Mansion) turns deadly when a demented fan hacks in to determine the house’s location and take out his built up sexual frustration on the lovely ladies living/working there.

(L-R) Chasty Ballesteros as Janet, Zuleyka Silver as Anna and Elysia Rotaru as Heather in the horror film “GIRL HOUSE” an Entertainment One Films release. Photo courtesy of: Entertainment One Films.

(L-R) Chasty Ballesteros as Janet, Zuleyka Silver as Anna and Elysia Rotaru as Heather in the horror film “GIRL HOUSE” an Entertainment One Films release. Photo courtesy of: Entertainment One Films.

This story isn’t anything new as we’ve seen a whole slew of films hinged on a boy being mistreated by females, causing them to become violent masked madmen later in life, tracing back to John Carpenter’s Halloween.  That statement isn’t necessarily meant to be negative but rather just fact.  For some reason, though Girl House is reminiscent of Terror Train and Prom Night, it reminds me the most of Jamie Blanks’ 2001 film Valentine.  This probably stems from all the sexy girls dying horrible deaths.

 

Ali Cobrin as Kylie Atkins in the horror film  “GIRL HOUSE”  an Entertainment One  Films release.  Photo courtesy of: Entertainment On e Films.

Ali Cobrin as Kylie Atkins in the horror film “GIRL HOUSE” an Entertainment One Films release. Photo courtesy of: Entertainment One Films.

What makes Girl House work is the likability of the main character “Kylie Atkins” played with just the right mix of innocence and a touch of sensuality by Ali Cobrin.  “Kylie” is written by Nick Gordon with all of the elements that make her an archetypal final girl, a character almost always found in a good slasher film.  Ali Cobrin doesn’t come across false and forced like Scout Taylor-Compton did in Rob Zombie’s ill-conceived version of Halloween.  Though she’s more sexed up, I would say she’s much closer to Jamie Lee Curtis’ portrayal in John Carpenter’s Halloween.

I also think Adam DiMarco’s performance as “Kylie’s” love interest “Ben Standley” is just as important to the success of this film, because his onscreen compassion for “Kylie” makes us care about him and her well being.  DiMarco matches Cobrin as two young adults in love building a relationship in a slow meaningful way, rather than jumping into raw sexscapades.  In truth, this is probably a huge factor to making the film work because it helps balance the film against all the adult carnality seen within Girl House.

Slaine as Loverboy in the horror film  “GIRL HOUSE”  an Entertainment One Films  release.  Photo courtesy of: Entertainment One Films.

Slaine as Loverboy in the horror film “GIRL HOUSE” an Entertainment One Films release. Photo courtesy of: Entertainment One Films.

American hip hop MC/actor Slaine (George Carroll) plays the slightly overweight, sexually mistreated “Loverboy” with utter conviction.  Slaine makes you feel some sympathy towards the verbally abused character until he lashes out unrelenting death to the webcam vixens that inhabit the movie.

Actor turned Director Trevor Matthews has a pretty good handle on things keeping the movie moving forward without losing grip on what’s ultimately the most important part of the story, the relationship between “Kylie” and “Ben.”  The choice made to make the killer run towards characters instead of the slow walk, helps differentiate it like 28 Days Later did with zombies.

The movie has a pretty clean look boosted by the scenic Canadian locations and the music score by tomanandy.

(L-R) Elysia Rotaru as Heather and Alyson Bath as D evon in the horror film  “GIRL  HOUSE”  an Entertainment One Films release.  Photo courtesy  of: Entertainment One  Films.

(L-R) Elysia Rotaru as Heather and Alyson Bath as Devon in the horror film “GIRL HOUSE” an Entertainment One Films release. Photo courtesy of: Entertainment One Films.

 

eOne Films is releasing Girl House in theaters and VOD on February 13th (Friday the thirteenth has proven to be a pretty good date for a slasher movie).  The movie will keep your interest for all the obvious reasons.  The cute little love story transpiring between the sex and graphic bloodshed, provides the innermost substance for viewing it.

http://entertainmentone.com/films

John Carpenter’s Lost Themes

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John Carpenter’s Lost Themes

Sacred Bones Records – 2015

To be honest with you, the opening track “Vortex” gave me goose-bumps because it’s the most “John Carpenter” sounding piece I’ve heard since the late 80s.  It’s got this super cool groove that’s a cross between Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China.  After some screechy sounds, a simple piano comes in only to be interrupted by a dark syncopated keyboard that throbs along with a stomping drum.  It’s trademark Carpenter and easily one of the best tracks of his long and distinguished career as a composer.

In Carpenter’s own words, Lost Themes is a soundtrack for imaginary movies.  It runs the gamut of different moods and Carpenter hopes will inspire people to visualize stories within their heads and maybe even filmmakers for their work.

“Obsidian” has interesting ebb & flow, sounding like a video game gone haywire and then slows down in way that made me think of Hans Zimmer scoring a John Woo movie.  At the five-minute mark, the keyboard goes into Rick Wakeman-like mode, reminiscent to what the former Yes Keyboardist achieved in the movie The Burning.

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Daniel Davies, John Carpenter and Cody Carpenter in the studio

 

In the linear notes, John Carpenter says “Lost Themes was all about having fun.”  You can certainly hear pleasure on this album as the director/composer not only captures some of his signature sound but veers off into new directions.  He gets musical assistance from his son Cody Carpenter and Godson Daniel Davies.   Carpenter says, “the goal was to make his music more complete and fuller because they had unlimited tracks. “

There’s a grim finality to “Fallen.”  It definitely feels like someone has been defeated and beat down.  I like how a driving keyboard picks up the pace just two and a half minutes in and how the electric guitar gives the tune a boost of power.

There is an aura of an area being ruled in “Domain.”  The quicker guitar/keyboard melody that ventures in not only gives the track energy but a sense of humor as well.  The quick played keyboard riff that is played a third of the way is amusing.  There is some real creative keyboard work that is geared for the fantastic world of fantasy rather than horror.  Carpenter is getting a chance to explore new musical worlds.

There’s definitely something shrouded in “Mystery” that is not easy to figure out, but worth seeking the answer to.  I like the musical time change 2-minutes and 40-seconds in, when the tune gets darker and more serious.  The distorted electric guitar embellishes it further along with the screaming vibrato keyboard.

A dark, harmonious succession of notes leads you down into “Abyss.”  A keyboard pattern is complimented by the percussion.  It’s really cool hearing how the musicians grab a hold of the bouncing rhythm mid-way through and then ride it with the instrumentation that follows.

“Wraith” has a real engrossing beginning with what sounds kind of like calypso drums leading into hard-charging guitar.  In some ways this instrumentation makes me think of Tangerine Dream, whom I’ve always loved.  I know Carpenter is a fan of their work, especially the William Friedkin movie Sorcerer, so this wouldn’t be a far-fetched comparison.

It sounds as though “Purgatory” isn’t the happiest place to be with the sullen music representing this cue.  The steel guitar is reminiscent of what John Carpenter did with his Vampires score.

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The really high pitched keyboard notes towards the end reminded me of something you’d hear on the Fresh Aire series from Mannheim Steamroller.

“Night” features a dark, funky approach that isn’t scary but actively cool.  There’s a momentum that keeps rolling forward, pushing you through darkness towards the dawn.

The last six tracks are remixes of the five of the tracks listed above.

Zola Jesus (Nika Roza) contributes her earthy vocals to “Night” (Zola Jesus and Dean Hurley Remix) and Dean Hurley gives the tune a touch of his David Lynch-like sensibility.  There are some mad beats in “Wraith” (ohGr Remix).

Silent Servant (Juan Mendez) keeps his manipulation of “Vortex” (Silent Servant Remix) within the musical pocket John Carpenter had etched prior on this album.

(Blanck Mass Remix) of “Fallen” treads into trip-hop territory with cymbals and heavy beats leading the way.

My favorite remix track is “Abyss” (JG Thirlwell Remix) because the Australian Producer/Composer (also known as Clint Ruin, Frank Want among others) augments the Carpenter music in a way that it sounds like John Carpenter.  I could easily hear this rendition in Escape From New York or Escape From LA.  Sure it’s got beats and a mix of dance floor ingredients, but it stays the most true to the source.

The last track “Fallen” (Bill Kouligas Remix) is the most esoteric and least listenable of the lot because it’s just a jumble of all sorts of sounds spun around in an audio blender.

You don’t have to be a fan of John Carpenter’s movies to appreciate purchasing his first solo album.  With all of the listeners of electronic music, techno, trip-hop, chill out, ambient, rock-n-roll and of course film scores,  there is a world of people Lost Themes would appeal to.  Some of the tunes will get you from the get go, while others I’m certain will grow on you.

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There isn’t another film director alive that does what John Carpenter does as a composer.  We’ve got to stand up and celebrate the man’s considerable talent.  I’ve read that John Carpenter would be willing to take this music on the road with his son Cody and Daniel Davies if there was a demand.  I’m here to say I’d be there in a moment and I know for a fact there a legion of John Carpenter supporters who would join me.

Lost Themes is a special occasion for the listening world that should be enjoyed with vigor.

http://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/products/sbr123-john-carpenter-lost-themes

http://johncarpenter.sacredbonesrecords.com/

Hammock – The Sleepover Series, Volume Two

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Hammock – The Sleepover Series, Volume Two

Hammock Music – 2014

Like clouds drifting across an autumn sky, deep healing atmosphere of “Locating Silence” slowly moves into the audio space with the purpose to put you at ease.  Whether to relax or inspire, the truth is that Hammock wants to create wondrous composition to calm your life.

The way the darkness of “No Trace…No Shadow” is highlighted with light is powerfully moving.  It puts a charge into your consciousness and stimulates the mind.

The band seems to have an answer for releasing your worries with “A Secret Hiding in the Open.”  The way the music plays, it suggests that we shouldn’t let the little things in life eat away at our happiness.  This isn’t spoken through words but rather the way in which the sound conveys emotion through simple melody.

The musical color of “Belonging / Becoming” clearly represents a soul yearning for internal satisfaction.  Throughout the near 10-minute piece, it feels as though it’s a struggle to attain, but worth it if successful.

Higher pitched drone brings “Original Light” to it’s 8 ½ minute duration.

Murky ambience projects an overcast sky in “A Sunlit Absence.”  There is a wide-sweeping quality to “Ausculta” that acts like a cleaning tool for your spiritual well being.

“The Empty Valley Received” runs 10-minutes and is thick with an aura of that is palpable.  There’s almost a sensation of something being delivered from one side to another during “From Silence into Silence.”

I found Marc Byrd’s linear notes about how he has suffered from insomnia and ongoing depression for many years fascinating, because with this project, he’s able to use his hardship to create something (this music) to help others.  Throw on top of that, while constructing this album, Byrd had to have neck surgery to correct pain he felt coming from his mid and lower neck.  While he was recovering he yearned for peace and stillness.  Through his plight, he was able to channel his misfortune into The Sleepover Series, Volume Two.

This second installment in Hammock’s experimental sleep music project is undoubtedly a success in terms of what the band wanted to accomplish.  They aimed to put you in a state of comfort,  that could influence listeners to fall into slumber while listening to it.  Now I haven’t tried to actually try to physically do this, but listening to over and over has convinced me it would happen if I tried.

www.hammockmusic.com