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(batteries, safety pins, thumbtacks), Hunter’s dream home becomes her prison, and her road to uncovering her past trauma is paved with the dirt she swallows. Swallow wasn’t made to gross you out or to present Hunter as a sideshow specimen, but that’s not to say that some sequences aren’t intensely squirm-inducing. Still, anyone who’s nibbled down their fingernails or the end of a pencil has felt the irrational pull of nerves and it’s impossible not to sympathize with her as the walls of her happy housewife life start to close in on her. As her husband Ritchie, Austin Stowell gives Guy Woodhouse a run for his money as the worst husband in horror history (I’d personally rather eat shit than hang out with his parents), but it's Bennett’s heartbreaking performance, guided by a steady hand, that gives Swallow its caustic, feminist bite. It’s one you’ll be chewing on for a while.


ANDREA SUBISSATI A Shaky Take 3:15 AM


Starring Lola Dubus, Nicolas Lancelin and Léo Pochat Written and directed by Various Redwood Creek Films


Billed as the “first French found footage horror anthology” and produced by filmmaker Fabien Delage (Dead Crossroads, Fury of the Demon), 3:15 AM presents six horror vignettes that ex- plore the evil that occurs during the so-called “witching hour.” With plenty of nods to tradition- al horror tropes that border on cliché, audiences might find their patience for the found-footage subgenre tested in more ways than one. The first tale, “The Grove,” concerns a young woman searching a dark forest for a festival of witches, while in “The Woman in the Attic,” a woman discovers that her parents are being haunted by a vengeful family spirit on Chinese New Year. Next, “Ladies of the Night” observes three students as they explore the world of sex work for their thesis, only to find themselves lured into a strange goddess cult, and “The Abomination Ring” follows a group of teenage filmmakers who discover a corpse in the woods while shooting their own campground slash- er movie. One standout story, “The Wandering Soul,” concerns a man in search of his wife’s spirit in the underworld. Shot in very little light, the segment possesses a gritty vanguard nostalgia and makes great use of the found-footage for- mat. The weakest entry of the bunch is “Redwood,” wherein two French cryptid researchers travel to America in search of Bigfoot. Starting with shaky footage of the ground and ran- dom wildlife before moving on


to a terribly rendered CGI bear, there’s nary so much as a glimpse of Bigfoot, nor even a sug- gestion that one is close! Even though 3:15 AM is clearly not every hor- ror fan’s cup of tea, it does possess a few small glimpses of originality in a well-worn subgenre, which may be enough to warrant a viewing for found-footage fans, but not many others.


GABRIELLE FAUST Of Mice and Madmen NEFARIOUS


Starring Toby Wynn-Davies, Gregory A. Smith and Nadia Lamin


Directed by Richard Rowntree


Written by Richard Rowntree and Matthew Davies Ash Mountain Films


When a local man (Toby Wynn-Davies) and his, uh, slow-witted brother (Gregory A. Smith) win big on the lottery, a gang of down-on-their-luck lowlifes decide to rob the joint, with no compunc- tions against turning violent if neces- sary. Genre convention dictates that such simple plans must always go awry, however, and so the gang finds itself fending off something far more dreadful than the local loan shark: a gas-mask-wearing, scalpel-wielding madman with a grudge against pretty young women.


This very British home invasion movie takes the broadest strokes of Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe and


Nefarious


feeds it through the grinder of the UK council estate; all regional accents, potty mouths, and grubby crooks. The story takes a while to kick in, but when it does, there’s a violent tonal shift reminiscent of Hostel and, yes, Don’t Breathe again. Director Richard Rowntree may not have a studio budget, but works wonders with a good camera and the backing of his Kickstarter donors. Full credit goes to Rowntree for cannily doing a lot with a little; building the film around his one competent thes- pian (Wynn-Davies), and flashily editing around the others, both with (overused) camera filters


and cutting that skips backwards and forwards in the narrative to drive some mystery. Much of the film’s first half is a drag, but all is forgiven during the bonkers, astoundingly gory finale. Except, perhaps, for Davies’ shockingly inappro- priate Forrest Gump impression. Such ill-advised cheek-chewing hasn’t been seen since the noto- rious The Evil Within… and this movie isn’t even half as interesting as that particular misfire. Regardless, Nefarious should be commend- ed for what it achieves on such a small budget, crafting a nasty, dirty little horror movie with memorable gore effects and a fun story. With this and Dogged, Rowntree has proven himself a talent to watch. Someone get this man a budget! JOEL HARLEY


CINEMACABRE 33 R M


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