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IFI Horrorthon 2016 Reviews - PET / LET HER OUT / HEADSHOT

Three reviews from this year's Irish Film Institute Horrorthon.






Reviews by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)



Pet

Carles Torrens' Pet relies so much on its second act twist that by the time the plot pivot arrives, we've lost interest in what we think is simply another 'creepy guy imprisons young woman' thriller.

The creep in question is Dominic Monaghan's lonely animal shelter worker, who becomes obsessed with a girl (Ksenia Solo) who rides his bus. When she repeatedly rebukes his advances, he locks her up in a cage in the basement of the animal shelter.

It's then we learn all is not what we've been led to believe, and a psychological game of cat and mouse ensues between Monaghan and his 'pet'.

The twist is pretty smart, but it takes too long to arrive, and once it's been revealed, the film doesn't really know where to take it. You can get away with a story like this as an episode of a TV anthology show, but as a feature length movie it's far too reliant on pulling the rug from under our expectations to set it apart from the crowd.



Let Her Out

The spirit of Cronenberg haunts this stylish Canadian slice of body horror.

When bike courier Helen (Alexandra Daddario lookalike Alanna LeVierge) begins acting in an increasingly deranged fashion, she checks into a hospital and learns she shared her mother's womb with a twin, now manifesting itself as a brain tumour. Helen sets an appointment to have the inconvenience removed, but can she last until the operation without causing harm to herself and others?

Director Cody Calahan delivers a solid exercise in brooding menace, his camera stalking Helen through the neon lit streets of Toronto as she succumbs to the whims of her manipulative 'twin'. LeVierge impresses in what is essentially a dual role, becoming genuinely disturbing to watch by the film's finale.

A scene in a subway station is a standout, with very Canadian clean white walls sprayed with blood. Calahan and LeVierge are names to remember.



Headshot

An odd choice for the closing film of a horror festival, but one welcomed by those who came to know Indonesian martial arts star Iko Uwais through his memorable work in Gareth Evans' Raid movies.

Former gangster Uwais awakens in a remote clinic to find the mob boss he betrayed has sent his thugs to take him out. When the doctor who nursed him back to health is kidnapped, he sets out to get her back, kicking and punching a hell of a lot of men and women along the way.

Directors Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto may lack Evans' visceral chops but they know how to position their camera best to capture Uwais in full on furious action mode. The martial arts on display here are incredibly impressive, and if that's all you demand, you'll be more than satisfied. If you require more than continuous bone-breaking, the movie becomes tedious as it fails to offer variety in its action set-pieces and roundly ignores little details like character and plot.




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