TUBI EXCLUSIVE: Eradication (2022)

David Baldwin (Harry Aspinwall, who also co-wrote this movie) may have the blood the world needs to solve the unknown disease that has wiped out most of its population over the last two years. Yet when he begins to fear for his wife Samantha’s (Anita Abdinezhad) safety, he breaks quarantine and attempts to save her.

To do so, he destroys the multiple egg timers that keep his days regimented and begins to explore the area around his quarantine cabin. That’s when he encounters the plague-ridden zombies that have taken over the world as well as a mysterious archer who saves his life.

A plague movie may not be what you’re into these days — or hopefully you are — but Eradication is well made despite its low budget. I’d dare say it’s one of the best Tubi originals that have come out so far.

Director Daniel Byers is the director of the environmental film studio Skyship Films, as well as the horror/fantasy genre production company Dark Tower Films which made this movie.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Death Hunt (2022)

Developer Ray (Omar Tucci) and his mistress Brooke (Marlene Malcolm) run afoul of a cop named Gary (Greg Johnston) and his friends TJ (Terry McDonald) and Rick (Rick Amsbury), who go from bothering the couple to putting them through a most dangerous game before we discover than somehow Brooke is better with guns than anyone in this film.

There’s one surprising moment where Brooke is sure the men will assault her. And they reply, “No, we’re married.” I mean, they’ll still kill her. But they have morals.

Marlene Malcolm goes all out in this and if this were the 90s, I’d be looking for her to be in a whole series of direct to video action movies. Here’s hoping she gets to accomplish whatever is the same thing in 2022. She’s talented.

Death Hunt is available on VOD and DVD from Uncork’d Entertainment.

When Darkness Falls (2022)

When traveling across the Scottish Highlands, one-time friends Jess (Michaela Longden) and Andrea (Emma O’Hara) reconnect before they get separated after a night at a pub and a meet-up with Nate (director Nathan Shepka) and Tommy (Craig McEwan). Feeling something is off, she decides to go on ahead, but then realizes that she needs to go back for her friend. When she finds the corpse of Tommy and another girl — and no Andrea — she may be in even bigger trouble herself in this film from director Nathan Shepka and screenwriter Tom Joliffe.

If you liked And Soon the Darkness, you have an idea of what to expect here. There are some interesting twists and turns; nobody should be trusted. This movie is another example why I never look up old high school friends and tend to stay hidden deep inside my movie cave.

This is a movie that uses its low budget effectively and knows when to switch gears and really grab you. I had some fun with it. Here’s hoping you do the same.

 

Chattanooga Film Festival: Something In the Dirt (2022)

Directors and stars Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Benson also wrote the script) also made SpringThe EndlessSynchronic and Resolution — as well as episodes of Marvel’s Moon Knight and Loki as well as Archive 81 and The Twilight Zone together.

This time, they play Levi and John, two neighbors in a Los Angeles apartment building who discover a paranormal event and decide to use what they’ve experienced to become rich and famous. The only problem is that dealing with the unknown — whether supernatural or between two people that barely know one another — can be dangerous.

This is a small movie with big ideas, a way of filming necessitated by being created in COVID-19 isolation, but what emerges is the idea that within ourselves and the world that there are so many layers yet peeling back those very same layers can have destructive results.

Shot with a crew of three — Benson, Moorhead and producing partner David Lawson Jr. — this is a hang-out film of two people confronting a gravitational anomaly within the walls of a no-lease apartment complex that seemingly also keeps them within its gravitational orbit, too focused on making it or working to escape but trapped forever within the same four walls.

From seeing the same shape throughout Los Angeles to followers of Pythagoras and cats using parasites to increase mental illness, there are secrets within every story told. There are even conspiracies between the two leads, as Levi has a criminal record that he doesn’t want to discuss and John is part of a religion that could very well be called a cult, even if his  homosexuality may not allow him to be fully part of the sect he’s grown up in.

I saw someone comment that this is Under the Silver Lake for poor people and that makes sense. It never reaches the mania of that film, but it does expand in ever stranger circles, using multiple film techniques and media — even old home movies — to get to the truth, which even by the end of the film is only known by one of the leads and there’s no way he can explain it to the other.

Chattanooga Film Festival: Split Ends (2022)

Isa worries that her abuela is forgetting her thanks to dementia. Meanwhile, on a whim she decides to chop off her hair, which upsets her mother and then worries her — what if this makes her aunt forget her even more? All of the grief and worry powers her hair as it crawls back from the dead and up the drain pipes, confronting her with her impulsive decision.

Split Ends is more than just horror. According to the filmmakers, it’s “a commentary on Latina beauty standards — especially ones that concern women’s hair and are perpetuated by mothers.”

Director and writer Cookie Estés said of making this film, “I’ve leaned very heavily on the making of this film for the last few years, in all of the varying shapes and forms it’s taken on, as a way of processing the anticipatory grief of losing my abuelita who raised me. She passed away peacefully in April of 2021 and this film is dedicated to her.”

I love when horror can help us process emotions that aren’t always easy to articulate. What an interesting film and a cultural experience that I would be ignorant of without getting to watch movies.

Chattanooga Film Festival: Why Is It So Warm on Christmas? (2022)

A movie star named Eugene gains superpowers and sets out to become a superhero. He may not have a tragic origin or a team to help him, so he has to reach out to others online to learn how to best use his powers. This allows everyone he meets to form a community that helps one another instead of just beating up super villains.

Choi Woo Gene’s film presents a more grounded and humanistic take on superheroes. At 27 minutes, it’s not far from being able to be expanded into a much larger story.

Chattanooga Film Festival: Cycles (2022)

Jake (Jake Cash) is a young man in his mid-twenties dealing with multiple traumatic events all at the same time. Meanwhile, as he navigates these experiences, something has taken root inside of his mind and is growing into something that he may not be able to control.

Cycles is body horror as way of dealing with emotional trauma and would really work well as a full length film. Director and writer Jakey Lutsko has created something really intriguing here and I hope to see it expanded at some point.

Chattanooga Film Festival: The Rotting of Casey Culpepper (2022)

Daniel Slottje directed, wrote and co-stars — as the father — in this film about a young girl (Lilliana Ketchman) battling leukemia and being haunted by a sinister being she calls The Tumor Man (Kelsey Strauch).

You must decide if this monster is real or a metaphor for the pain that Casey, the little girl, is enduring. Slottje — who had a hormone-based disease in his childhood — is now developing the story into a feature film. I can’t wait to see it.

 

Chattanooga Film Festival: Days Counted (2022)

As a prisoner (Tazi Starfire) remembers a crime from years ago, he’s being visited by a ghost (Simon Boughey) from his past to either punish him or help him atone.

Directed by Chandler Gibson, this has a great story and good effects. There’s an interesting story here and it would even lend itself to a longer film.

 

Chattanooga Film Festival: Darkside (2022)

Directed and written by Spencer Zimmerman, this film is about astronaut Sam Bowman (Blakely David) who accepts an interstellar mission to save the lives of a missing crew on a deep space voyage. After abandoning his life on Earth and his wife Sara (Siobhan Connors), a critical failure leaves him without a crew, without hope and plenty of guilt.

The question is, “Who saves you when you can’t save the people you were supposed to be saving?”

Created as part of the Motion Picture Arts Program at Capilano University, Darkside uses practical effects, physical sets and remote locations to achieve its unique look. Production of the film took over 720 days to complete — 16 shooting days over two years and 9 months of post.

You can learn more at the official site.