Haunt (2019) Dir. Scott Beck & Bryan Woods

Haunt (2019); Dir: Scott Beck & Bryan Woods

Haunt came out of leftfield last summer receiving it’s world premiere at Popcorn Frights Film Festival before earning it’s International Premiere at Frightfest in the same month.

The plot revolves around the attraction of extreme ‘Haunts’ or, haunted roadside attractions where thrill hunters and, Halloween fanatics essentially pay a fee to be scared shitless.

The movie centres on five college buddies looking to have a good time on Halloween after dispersing early from a party.

These characters are your typical, cliched, attractive all-American kids as seen in many Horror tropes.

The one exception to this rule is Harper; a timid yet intuitive young lady currently in the throes of an abusive relationship with her Alcoholic, scumbag boyfriend whom, she just can’t seem to let go of.

This plot point may seem tried at first but I assure you that, it serves a greater purpose once the youths encounter the ‘Trick’ in their doomed Halloween escapades.

Harper proves to be the strongest willed among the leads whose history of being a Survivor at the hands of Abusers echoes her ability to adapt in order to survive the vile games in which Predators love to play.

Upon deciding to venture outside city limits the group find a supposed ‘Extreme Haunt Attraction’ on their navigation app.

In recent years, extreme Haunt Attractions have gained popularity even outside of the regular Halloween crowd.

Trauma survivors, adrenaline junkies and, curious thrill seekers pay good money to experience Haunts so full-on that, they may cause PTSD and, other forms of extreme Psychological distress in the willing participant.

In the U.S. McKamey Manor have gained notoriety as well as, prompted deep investigations from the authorities for employing real life torture techniques such as: water-boarding; being stripped nude; being blindfolded, dragged through ditches and, being whipped bloody…does this sound fun to you?

When our fictional characters arrive at the haunted attraction they are greeted by a creepy mute Clown who simply hands them written instructions on paper asking them to surrender their phones plus, any personal belongings before being granted permission to enter.

They are also told that they must sign a waiver (presumably) stating that are of sound mind and, that no liable action be taken against the attraction should they experience any anxiety or, panic.

The movie then guides us through the haunted house alongside the five main characters as we are invited to relive childhood nostalgia, admiring the seemingly cheesy rooms and, quaint traps on offer.

And yet…

After the initial naff displays of pop-out plastic skeletons, fake spiders and, neat looking illusions we are thrown into a confided space with a screaming girl begging for help.

The group, at fist startled seem to ease into the display playing out around them.

It appears as nothing more than a trick; an elaborate ruse using a very convincing young actor playing into theatrics.

A cloaked female figure in a 1950’s Witch mask looms over her pleading victim, brandishing a hot poker.

Screams fade out, a smoke machine floods the room with fog and, the girl’s fate is then left to the imaginations of both the characters and, of our own.

Harper appears to be the only one both, keenly aware of her surroundings as well as full of doubt while the others bound along laughing and finally getting into the spirit of the labyrinthian house they now traverse.

From here out, the scares become more and more realistic; calling to mind traps and, monstrous mechanisms seen in the likes of both the ‘Saw’ and, ‘Hostel’ movie franchises.

The glee in which the ‘Haunters’ of this confusing place revel in, echo the killer in the ‘Collector’ movie series and, as an audience it finally dawns on us that this Scare Attraction has some crafty mutilations in store for our gormless, pretty 20-somethings.

The ‘Haunt’ itself truly is something to behold; the intricacy and, care put into building these horrific set pieces remind us equally of Chinese Puzzle Boxes and, of the trap-rooms presented in ‘Saw’s escape rooms.

Think of these as escape rooms to Hell; you must undergo some form of torture, or mutilation in order to get out.

Enter our third ‘Haunter’; a man in a creepy Ghost mask who introduces himself as ‘Mitch’.

Mitch has the air and, voice of a child but his mask will conjure up images of Casper equally as that of Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’.

Mitch promises us that he is indeed a friendly Ghost and, that these elaborate traps are meant to Traumatize yes, but not to maim.

He maintains that everything the unwilling group have experienced before were mere Theatrics.

As an audience we take a slight liking or, trusting to Mitch alongside our characters perhaps, with the exception of Harper who seems acutely aware of the hidden behaviour of others.

From this point forth, the movie ramps up; subjecting both it’s failed Heroes and, audience to gruelling scenes of creative, sickening torture.

It delivers on the gore just as we are lulled into a false sense of security by Mitch’s childlike air and, the beautiful set pieces which include pastel-coloured lighting, indoor foliage set against a backdrop of graveyard displays and, intricate clockwork-triggered puzzles.

Despite being an Indie film, the special fx, gore and, set designs truly betray this; they look incredibly realistic.

I have seen big budgeted, studio movies which fail in their delivery and, look amateur when compared to the production value on Haunt.

Mitch’s waif-like movements and, gentle voice bely a mischievous intent which culminates in his obsessive desire to show you his ‘’True Face’’.

I won’t spoil Mitch’s big reveal here however, it truly is horrifying in it’s believability and, upsetting in the level of it’s disfigurement; a living, breathing Demon reminiscent of Mason Verger’s mutilations as seen in Hannibal and, yet somehow- worse.

As the other Haunters reveal their ‘True Faces’ and, ask both the remaining characters and, viewer to reveal theirs, we are presented with a new kind of Mythology in Horror.

These Haunters have drastically scarred their features, calling to mind the world of extreme bod modding/ body modification which is so frowned upon by mainstream concepts of societal beauty.

In real life, Modders are usually down to earth, kind-hearted folk with a penchant for the macabre which they like to encapsulate through piercing, subdermal implants, tattooed eyeballs and, tongue-splitting.

They perceive the ideals of beauty as different to the Norm and, they revel in this.

We may distance ourselves from such figures and, paint them as the ‘Monster’ or, the ‘Other’ but really aren’t we then monstrous in our harsh judgements or, in how we perceive their characters to be?

Make no comparison here; the Extreme Bod Modders in Haunt reflect their hideous intentions upon their skin.

They are the Monsters playing Cat & mouse in this story and, we are simply Rats in their maze.

Upon reflection, Haunt presents us with a new Cult in Horror Canon; people who, once human have transcended their flesh in order to achieve their own new, atrocious Tribe.

Perhaps we will meet these Haunters again in the form of new recruits in another tale, with more makeshift Monsters in their employ.

Perhaps we need only look in a mirror, afterall; isn’t beauty only skinned deep?

Personal rating: 7/10.

Gretel And Hansel: Review & Analysis.

Gretel And Hansel (Oz Perkins, Galo Olivares)

From Horror’s most visionary Grandson ;Oz Perkins, comes a new vision of the classic Grimm Fairytale: Hansel & Gretel.

Although scripted by Galo Olivares (The Night Guard; 2016) whom is a prolific director of Photography in his own right, Gretel And Hansel oozes with the dark, Folklorian majesty which director Perkins is quickly being recognised for.

Gretel And Hansel places a far greater focus upon older sibling Gretel and, the feminine struggles of finding one’s way in a masculine and, foreboding world.

Sophia Lillis (‘IT’: 2017) shines as ethereal beauty Gretel joined by the Cherub-like Sammy Leakey (‘Twist’: 2020) who plays Hansel.

This is very much a dark reimagining of the Classic Fairytale filtered through an Occult lense which Perkins seamlessly interweaves into Olivares’ surprising script.

The tale begins when the Mother of the titular siblings descends into madness.

The Mother’s mental degradation is shown very neatly and, swiftly in just a couple of scenes, which showcase both Olivares’ and, Perkins’ abilities to tell a story through powerful cinematography and, confident directing.

Virginal Gretel faces horrendous pressure from her unstable Matriarchal Mother to either find a new home, suitor, vocation or, all of the above.

The two siblings soon find themselves thrown out by their insane, lone parent into an unforgiving wilderness populated by Ogre-like figures, Wolves and of course, Witches.

The foreboding, barren Countryside serves as a beautiful backdrop for the rich colours of Autumn and, showcases Perkins’ ability to conjure stunning Arthouse scenes using dizzying camera angles while placing a focus on eerie shapes and, contours within the isolation.

The sister and, brother navigate the creepy landscape and, encounter both friend and foe along the way.

Starving and, alone the siblings become increasingly desperate in finding their next meal or, place of shelter.

When a kindly Woodsman offers the pair both a meal and, a bed for the night Gretel forgoes gratitude for suspicion while reiterating to her brother to be wary of gifts as, nothing in this world comes without a price.

Gretel’s mindset and, words of warning beautifully set up the story arc as well as, the moral of the film:

”Beware of those who offer gifts…nothing is ever given without something being taken away.”

Upon leaving the Woodsman’s dwellings, the desperate sister and, brother stumble upon a Fairy Circle of spotted red toadstools.

The two ponder whether or not these mushrooms are safe to eat and, Gretel confesses that things ‘speak to her’ and so, she asks the mushrooms if they will harm them if digested.

I won’t spoil what happens next however, during a scene that only Perkins could conjure up, we witness a controversial act involving the youngsters which proves to be both wholesome and, downright sinister all at once.

Gretel’s subtle idiosyncrasies and, strange mannerisms are overlooked within the story until they aren’t; pay attention to these odd little clues upon viewing as, they lead towards a climatic realisation.

I have read other reviews claiming that the film’s major let down is the vacuous script however, similar to other Occult and, magical-driven films such as ‘The Neon Demon’ I feel that Gretel And Hansel thrives on a simple script which is fleshed out by stunning, otherworldly visuals.

It is the subliminal and, subtle Easter Eggs which leave a trail of proverbial breadcrumbs, which culminate in an intelligent form of storytelling; setting this film apart from the action-packed, dumbed down Horror movies which are so prevalent in these modern times.

If you’re a fan of Nicholas Winding Refn, Jodorowsky and, Robert Eggers then you’ll find much to feast upon here.

Speaking of feasting enter, the Witch.

The siblings happen upon a foreboding black house deep in the woods, triangular in shape; keep an eye out for the powerful symbol of the Triangle throughout the film as, it appears often and it nicely sets the tone for the undercurrents of Wicca, Mysticism and, Occult laced throughout the feature.

The Triangle has long since been associated with: the Feminine sex, gateways, magic and, mystics therefore, it’s simple yet powerful structure evokes feelings of excitement and, unease if you’re prone to subtle visual cues.

The Witch of this tale is portrayed by Alice Krige (‘Silent Hill’: 2006, ‘Sleepwalkers’: 1992) who effortlessly balances the essence of a sweet Grandmother figure and, stern teacher.

Interestingly, the more ruthless and, ‘evil’ side of the Witch is conveyed through a clever twist of plot which I won’t ruin for you here however, you will appreciate the dark aesthetics of feminine beauty if you stay long enough for the film’s penultimate reveal of Horrors.

The siblings happen upon the house within the deepest, darkest gloom of the woods.

Captivated by the smells of roasting beef and, cake the hungry pair decide to break inside mirroring the classic children’s tale.

From this point on the story takes it’s sweet time conveying the peaceful life between the siblings and, the adoptive Grandmother figure (also, keep an eye out for the Witch’s adorable Familiar in the form of a Sphynx cat) as, the kindly yet strange old lady takes on Gretel as a form of Apprentice.

However, I would implore you to have patience during this lull in the story as it serves as both a visual feast and, a segway into much darker territory.

As an audience we learn of the old lady’s true intent during an scene reminiscent of Alice’s escapades when she falls down the Rabbithole.

Trust me, you will want to stick around until the very end to discover just where Gretel’s Rabbithole leads as, it is a pure joy of visual Horror.

On reflection, Gretel echoes the doomed adventures of ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’ as a strong willed young girl thrown into a magical realm which she does not understand.

She must face madness, horrors and, dangerous magic and, she too must fight to remain intact in a realm all too willing to rip her apart and, to feed from her essence.

Afterall, even Magic comes with a price;

”Beware of gifts, those who offer them and, especially of those to willing to take them.”

Gretel And Hansel is a gift of visual storytelling; here the price is the weak script but overall, it is a fair price to pay.

*Wonderful poster art from the talented Gary Pullin*

Hail Satan: My Top 6 Satanic Films Of The Decade.

I have compiled this list of my favourite films of the decade, relating to themes of worshipping the fucking Devil.

The films I have chosen appear in no particular order; I have included them solely based on how much they have impacted me personally.

The 2000’s were filled with real world horrors and, Film, Art and, Literature reflected this.

The Horror genre gave us new nightmarish, seductive Icons in film including Anthropomorphic Goats, disfigured Grandmothers, Satanic cursed films and, the Bastard son of Loki.

Join me then, in revisiting some of the creepiest, most distressing and, delicious Satanic films of the past decade.

The House Of The Devil. (Ti West: 2009)

An American Horror film written, directed and edited by the innumerably talented Ti West.

The House Of The Devil is pure Throwback charm, convincingly adopting the style of a movie filmed in the 1980’s.

The credits open with the foreboding warning detailing that the film is based upon unexplained, true events- a trope seen in many 80’s Horror movies.

Jocelin Donahue plays timid college student Samantha Hughes who responds to a mysterious ad for a Babysitting job in a small town consumed with the news of an upcoming Lunar Eclipse.

Upon meeting her client out in the Boonies it becomes apparent to Samantha that ulterior motives may be at play.

The strange couple who posted the advertisement include Manhunter’s Tom Noonan whose intimidating stature adds to his characters unsettling mannerisms.

Mr Ulman (Noonan) confesses to Samantha that he and his wife have no child and, that the job actually involves caring for his elderly Mother.

Desperate for the cash, Samantha begrudgingly agrees to fulfil her role as Babysitter and, from here out the creeping tension slowly builds into hysteria.

The huge, foreboding house is a Horror character in it’s own right- the cavernous rooms echo with the sounds of the as yet unseen Grandmother, adding to the tense atmosphere.

The sound production in this film is superb- the creaking, scuttling sounds of invisible threats are encapsulated perfectly in the hands of a sound crew who know how to manipulate their audience into states of sheer panic.

Alongside the film’s oppressive soundscape, an impressive original score by film soundtrack composer Jeff Grace, whom also scored Ti West’s Ghost Story/ Comedy ‘The Innkeepers’, adds to the genuine 80’s feel.

The House Of The Devil is a smouldering Slow-Burner which climaxes in pure, bloody Lunacy with the most shocking and, visceral ‘Monster’ reveal since the Dwarf appearance in the closing scenes of ‘Don’t Look Now’.

Watch alone in the shadow of a Lunar Eclipse. 4/5

The Ritual. (David Bruckner: 2017)

The Ritual is a British Horror film set in Sweden (Romania serves as the films Swedish landscape) and, is based upon the old, dark Scandinavian Mythologies of Norse Folklore and, it’s forgotten Cultures.

Four University friends travel to the Kungsleden hiking trail in Northern Sweden as a Memorial trip to honour their friend who was tragically murdered, six months prior.

Protagonist Luke (played by Rafe Spall) blames himself for the death of his friend and, the feeling appears to be shared by the group, which adds to the building

tension and, sense of unease.

The hiking trip takes a serious downturn when one of their group, Dom injures his knee and, unwilling leader Hutch decides to try off road hiking in the hopes of reaching a populated area which has access to medical services.

The group find themselves alone in deep, virginal Wilderness surrounded by ancient gargantuan trees, scarred with eerie Rune carvings.

Upon finding a mutilated Elk carcass, positioned in a tree as though it were displayed for them, the group descend into panic.

With nightfall quickly encroaching, the men decide to take refuge in an abandoned cabin, deep within the dark Forest.

Although uninhabited, there is a room in the house which appears to be a place of Worship.

Upstairs, the men stumble upon a depraved Icon- part animal carcass, part wicker figure, it is posed as though in prayer, with it’s antler-hands pointed skyward; the image of this thing will not leave your mind for days.

Upon sleeping, each of the friends experience a hyper-real, very personal waking dream exposing each man’s fears and, vulnerabilities to the audience as well as, showcasing some trippy, nightmare visuals.

From here forth, the pace picks up quickly as the group venture deeper into the dark woods and, discover that something is stalking their every move from within the disorientating gloom of the forest.

Things become more disturbing as we catch glimpses of the unseen creature now making itself more known to the group and also, to the audience.

As a viewer, we are right there with Luke and his increasingly hysterical friends- the oppressive atmosphere of the once idyllic landscape brings a sense of foreboding familiar to anyone who has ever been lost in the woods.

It is worth noting how stunningly beautiful the scenery is in this film- Panoramic shots of lush green forestland smothered by low mists lend to The Ritual’s Dark Fairytale aesthetics.

While the book by Adam Nevill which the film is based on, places a larger focus on Scandinavian Devil Worship and, the Mythology of The Jottunheim (& Black Metal, fuck yeah!) the film has a more dreamlike quality and, only hints at the horrors which the strange people of this land choose to worship.

Bruckner knows exactly how to work the audience; giving us glimpses of unimaginable size and, grotesque features at intermittent intervals, building the tension as well as, feeding our morbid curiosity.

The big reveal of the creature will not disappoint- it is pure nightmare juice and, will surely earn it’s place as a new Horror Icon in time.

A story of friendship, brotherhood, and, the primal fear of being lost in the woods is given a new/ olde spin in this reimagining of the dark Norse Mythologies which they were too afraid to include in story books. 5/5

The Black Coat’s Daughter AKA February. (2015: Oz Perkins)

A cleverly crafted Winter Horror tale by Oz Perkins; Son of Anthony Perkins which centres around two girls attending Catholic Boarding school whom are stuck there during the Winter break.

The story opens with troubled Waif, Kat (Kiernan Shipka) who appears determined to spend the Winter break at school rather than at home with her family.

Fellow student, Rose (Lucy Boynton) also appears to be left behind for the Holidays due to her parents being unreachable by telephone.

The school’s Headmaster insists that Rose is to look after Kat if the pair are to remain at School during break under the charge of two Nuns whom are rumoured to be Satanists by fellow students.

It becomes apparent that Rose has zero intention of wasting her time with the strange, clingy Kat and so, disappears from school to meet her boyfriend the moment that the girls are left to their own devices.

Kat’s warns Rose that she should have looked after her while she had the chance but now, it’s too late.

As Rose becomes increasingly afraid of Kat’s strange behaviours which include following her from room to room and, stepping in too close in order to tell her ”You smell pretty”, we get the sense that there may be some unseen force guiding the girls in this strange, desolate environment.

The film’s tension comes from the lead performances- Kiernan Shipka balances childlike cuteness with predatory behaviours with ease while Lucy Boynton delivers a believable turn as a girl scared for her safety in increasingly odd situations.

Kat is a lot of fun to watch- whether we see her creeping around the empty bowels of the school, taking phone calls from seemingly demonic forces, or dreamily referring to the head Nun as a ”cunt” in a particularly shocking and amusing scene, we cannot tear our eyes away from her.

Shipka shines as The Black Coat’s Daughter; a couple of stand out scenes include her singing beautifully from behind a piano where we are reminded of her sad, childish air.

In stark contrast, the creepy ‘basement scene’ betrays Kat’s innocent qualities where, we catch glimpses of her throwing her upper body violently, in a freakish bow, kneeling fervently before a burning furnace in the dark pit of the school.

The Black Coat’s Daughter is both unsettling and, enchanting with an intricately executed Twist which I guarantee you will NOT see coming and, will also haunt you for days to follow.

This story arc portrays Devil Worship in a hard, believable reality where we witness the physical and, mental degradation of youth and, innocence.

The film presents a new spin on the Satanism Mythos, utilizing a bare bones approach to conveying dark Rituals in favour of presenting a believable Devil.

The singular glimpse we catch of the Devil himself is unique, horrifying and, instantly Iconic while remaining simple and, effective.

Oz Perkins presents a new, seductive voice in Horror; both cold and, calculating much like that of real world Monsters. 3/5

Kill List. (2011: Ben Wheatley)

British director Ben Wheatley infuses hard hitting Crime Drama with unrelenting Cult Horror in this mature Genre Bender.

Shamed from a disastrous Military Tour in Kiev, physically and, mentally scarred ex-Soldier Jay (Neil Maskell) pursues a career as a Contract Killer.

After returning home from a botched Hit, Jay is paired with the older, wiser Gal; portrayed by Comedy favourite Michael Smiley and, the pair are given an assignment to hunt down and, kill a Priest.

Upon finding the Priest in question, Jay and Gal uncover a horrific Snuff film in his possession and, Jay becomes consumed with finding the creators of the film in question.

Violence begets violence begets Horror as Jay’s self control begins to unravel along with his sanity; poor Gal is along for the ride as the two men uncover whisperings of a deadly Cult tied to the dead Priest.

As the pair hunt down and kill anyone involved with the Priest or, the revolting Celluloid film, we are left questioning whether what we are seeing is real or, simply the result of Jay’s descent into madness.

The film toys with Societal ideas of Moral complexity while subjecting the Viewer to increasingly shocking acts of violence.

The plot encompasses true crime grit alongside Cult Horror in a shocking new Vision which has as much in common with ‘The Wicker Man’ as it does with ‘Eastern Promises’.

The slow build of creeping unease climaxes in the most shocking, distressing and, gory film Twists of the decade earning Kill List a place in the Extreme Horror genre.

Wheatley is a Master of subdued story telling; his Slow Burn approach to Plot development will surely catch you off guard once the shocking violence hits.

Kill List will leave you feeling exhausted and disturbed yet, it demands repeat viewings in order to glean all of those subliminal eerie clues and, patterns peppered throughout the scenes.

A new offering in the Satanic Cult genre which will shock you to your core- definitely a film to add to your must-see-list. 5/5

The VVitch. (2015: Robert Eggers)

The VVitch: A New England Folktale is a brooding, atmospheric Period Horror about a family who is banished from their Puritan village when they are accused of Witchcraft.

The VVitch has more in common with the films of Roman Polanski or even, Ingmar Bergman than any modern directors who have contributed to Genre films.

The slow, deliberate use of Storytelling showcases a talent rarely seen in directorial debuts and, solidifies Eggers as a striking new entry into the Historic Horror genre.

The film stars Anya Taylor-Joy as the eldest daughter in an increasingly paranoid, Devout family where their love for God is given priority over the love for their own children.

Tensions are rife with the Family being forced to live on the edge of a deep, dark wood upon land where crops die and, food is extremely scarce.

Lead actress and, Protagonist Anya Taylor-Joy plays the role of eldest daughter Thomasin who is blamed for the disappearance of her infant brother who goes missing during a particularly abrupt and, startling scene.

What transpires next is a disturbing segway where we see a naked, old Hag interfering with the crying baby upon a stone altar.

Jerky, frenzied movements lit only by candlelight expose a foul Ritual which include the Hag luxuriating in anointing herself with the infant’s fresh blood.

Back at the Family home, tensions rise particularly between Thomasin and her youngest siblings, the Twins who have taken to accusing her of Witchcraft in childish jest.

As suspicions of Devil Worship build to fever pitch within the Family, so do the fractious bond between parents and Thomasin.

The Twins participate in riddles and games which all revolve around worshipping the family goat- Black Phillip as a sort of Deity.

Undoubtedly, the stand-out star of The VVitch, Black Phillip is a rambunctious, mischievous beast of an animal and, he has quickly found his way into Horror Canon.

The director is loathe to point out the level of mayhem and, trouble which Black Phillip (played by Charlie the Billy Goat) caused during filming.

On-set incidents include Charlie attacking Ralph Ineson, ramming his serrated horns into Ineson’s ribs and, dislodging a tendon.

Audiences fell in love with Black Phillip and, his tagline of ”Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?” has made it’s way onto many Horror merchandise designs.

The VVitch however, is not an amusing tale by any means and, Phillip’s impressive stature and, eerie long gaze add to the creeping unease throughout the film.

Minimal set pieces are embellished with dark, looming trees as we are forced to spend time with a family in the midst of tearing itself apart.

The violence and gore is sparse however, it is the things which we don’t see clearly which leave frightening impressions on us; solidifying Eggers as a new voice with a penchant for the delicious. 4/5

Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made. (2019: David Amito & Michael Laicini)

In Autumn of 2019, rumours of a cursed film, ‘Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made’ hit social media hard, gathering an overnight following of Gorehounds and, curious film critics alike.

Rumours of the film causing: Anxiety, horrific accidents, seizures, illness and, even death whetted appetites for the brave and, morbidly curious alike.

Antrum centres on two siblings; Teenage Oralee and, her younger brother Nathan who embark on a journey into the woods to find the exact spot where Lucifer fell to Earth.

Antrum opens innocently enough- we see the camaraderie and, special bond between the two siblings as they explore a beautiful sun-hazed landscape, lush with flora.

Oralee and, Nathan lend the film an atmosphere reminiscent of stories like ‘Flowers In The Attic’ where, the naivety and, carefree attitudes of youth clash with the cruel, sadistic side of Adulthood in particularly shocking ways without ever becoming too gratuitous.

What makes Antrum so unique as well as, unnerving is it’s fantastic use of sound production alongside subliminal imagery/ messaging.

Peppered throughout random scenes are single frame shots of: Demonic faces, victims of Snuff violence and, even ancient Daemonic symbols (here’s looking at you, Astaroth).

The sound team apply the use of low frequency sounds at 19hz AKA ‘Ghost Frequencies’ which are said to cause fear and, awe in Humans.

Antrum has a hazy, saturated Grindhouse feel including scenes featuring cigarette burns and, golden light filters which serve as a contrast against the nightmarish backdrop which our two young Heroes find themselves in.

When the shocks hit, they hit hard; by the film’s penultimate climax, we veer off-road into ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ territory.

I do not wish to spoil too much however, I must comment on the film’s most impressive feature; a towering, steel Goat statue, complete with erect phallus and, a working furnace which puts a ‘new’ spin on the image of Baphomet.

The sight of this thing will both sicken and, impress.

On reflection, ‘Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made’ is an intelligent and, haunting effort into the Satanic Grindhouse genre of the 70’s & 80’s but the heartbreaking performance of young Nathan anchors it’s place among Coming-Of-Age Dramas of decades, past.

Beautiful and, deadly- dare to watch alone in order to get the most of this immersive piece of Cinema. 4/5

Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made.

Not since ‘The Blair Witch Project’ has a Genre film duped audiences quite so deliciously.

‘Antrum; The Deadliest Film Ever Made’ crept up on the Underground Horror community out of leftfield in Autumn of this year.

News of an alleged newly discovered copy of the original 35mm print of Antrum hit Social Media hard, building an overnight Cult following among Gorehounds and, Arthouse aficionados alike.

Much like the early hysteria surrounding Ruggero Dedodato’s ‘Cannibal Holocaust’, Antrum warns of the film posing a serious risk to health including: Seizures, Trauma, Anxiety, Panic and of course, Death.

News of this cursed film generated hushed interest online, challenging viewers to watch it in it’s entirety and, late one december night I decided to see what all of the fuss was about.

Antrum is a cleverly crafted film.

It operates on the premise of being cursed, appealing to people’s morbid curiosity while reinventing the ‘Satanic Panic’ genre of Horror popularised in the 1970’s and 80’s.

The first fifteen minutes of Antrum serve as a ‘film within a film’, opening with a ‘Documentary’ detailing the films warnings, with film critics discussing the many tragedies to befall Antrum’s audience.

The tragedies and unexplained deaths following the films release are quoted as:

”Shot in 1979, the experimental drama submitted to seven film festivals in 1983. All seven events rejected the movie.

Bizarrely, several festival programmers still experienced fatal incidents following their private screenings of the film.

One woman died of a seizure 24 hours after her viewing the film.

One man was mysteriously electrocuted. Another suffered a sting from a venomous fish.

”In 1988, 56 people died in Budapest when a small theatre burned to the ground during an “Antrum” screening.

Arson investigators concluded that the fire didn’t start in the projection booth as they had first suspected. Suspicious combustions spontaneously started from multiple sources in the audience.

Spoiler alert: the aforementioned incidents are fake.

David Amito and Michael Laicini have pulled off a creepy trick convincing audiences that they have just witnessed an actual abominable Ritual, while risking their very Souls in the process.

John Carpenter’s ‘Cigarette Burns’ serves as a clear inspiration; a ‘Masters Of Horror’ tale where a man hunts for a copy of a cursed film which is rumoured to send its audience into a frenzied panic before combusting into flames… sound familiar?

Antrum is pure joyful storytelling, conjuring up images of Childhood camaraderie and, the Rituals of secret games and hidden messages.

The story centres on two siblings, Oralee and her younger brother Nathan who leave home on a quest to retrieve the soul of their recently deceased dog, Maxine.

Nathan is distraught, perhaps even traumatized following the death of his beloved Maxine and, suffers recurring nightmares of her soul being condemned to Hell.

Concerned for her brothers emotional wellbeing, Oralee convinces Nathan that she knows of the entrance to Hell; the exact spot were Lucifer fell to Earth after being cast out of Heaven.

The siblings embark on a journey into the Forest to search for the Hellmouth in order to save Maxine’s soul.

Antrum is shot in a dreamlike quality, merging bleached sepia tones with added grain lending it a genuine 70’s Grindhouse feel.

The siblings’ journey showcases lingering shots of Flora & Fauna, bathed in the honeysuckle haze of long Summer hours.

The opening scenes hold a similar vibe to ‘Stand By Me’ where we enjoy the bond between Oralee and Nathan as they bond, hunt and, play.

The story itself plays out similarly to King’s ‘Pet Sematary’ however, it’s shot-on-video quality lends it the added unsettling feeling that you are witnessing actual documentation of a nightmare.

Armed with a DIY book of Necromancy, Oralee consults it’s pages for details surrounding the different layers of Hell which the siblings must overcome in order to retrieve Maxine’s soul.

Oralee’s book chronicles different Mythologies and, Occult references including the Greek Mythology of Cerebrus- a story thread which subtly sets up the film’s heartbreaking climax.

Within the pages of this book, we catch glimpses of Satanic and, Occult Sigils and symbols- keep an eye out for these Sigils as they appear often in single frame images during the actual movie.

These subliminal images play a large role in unnerving the Viewer; flashes of the Daemon Astaroth’s symbol appears A LOT.

As well as repetitive imagery, the film appears to use a lot of low frequency sounds and, frequencies of around 19hz are said to cause fear and, awe in Humans.

These Infrasounds or, ‘Ghost Sounds’ play an important role in the world building of Antrum- causing physical responses of unease and, anxiety in those who may be susceptible to subliminal manipulations.

Added to the mix are flashes of what appear to be black & white Snuff film images of an abused/ beaten man and, woman posing bloody in a basement.

Towards the story’s climax, we also see dark lingering images of beautifully grotesque Demon faces reminiscent of the floating Demon face seen in ‘The Exorcist’.

Yet, the penultimate Horror, the Absolute Daddy Of Abominations is revealed in full, foul glory towards the film’s Climax.

The towering metal figure of a giant Horned Goat Daemon, complete with erect phallus will forever burn it’s way into your memory.

Imagine if The Wicker Man were crafted in the image of Baphomet and, you still have no idea of the impact of seeing this thing.

It is Badass and, impressive.

In retrospect, It would be unfair to compare Antrum to ‘The Exorcist’ or, any other Classic Satanic Horror film because at it’s heart, Antrum is actually an emotional Coming Of Age tale about the secret relationships shared by Siblings, the discovery of Grief and, the powerful bond between Man and, Dog.

Antrum’s strength lies within it’s Mythos Building and, the transformative power of Storytelling at it’s core.

The film succeeds in presenting it’s own horrifying Mythology, leaving the viewer either emotionally drained or, yearning for more depending on their disposition.

Antrum is worth tracking down and, perhaps if the stars align just right, we will get to see it in theatres… provided that they don’t burn down first.

5/5 Pentagrams.

Antrum is currently available on VOD via Amazon Prime Video (UK)