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[Netflix Digest] – Sacrifice & Deathgasm

 

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Posted October 30, 2016 by

 
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A review digest for films you can watch right now on Netflix!

Sacrifice:

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The movie business isn’t a scientific one. There are lots of moving parts that make a film come together. A good script falls apart from bad directing or acting. And great acting or directing will carry a bad script. And yet still there are producers, effects, editing, and more that complete or unravel the whole. Any one of these parts can bring down the whole as well. All this leads me to SACRIFICE (2016), a thriller with a promising concept that features a lot of quality parts. But does it add up to a whole that’s great?

Sacrifice stars Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill, The Crazies) as Tora Hamilton, an obstetrician who moves with her husband Duncan (Rupert Graves Lestrade in the BBC Sherlock series) to the Shetland Islands (100 miles off the northern Scottish coast). The couple intends to live an idyllic life in a beautiful, old home. Tora and Duncan plan to adopt a baby since they are unable to have one of their own. At first, everything seems to be going great. Tora starts work. Duncan begins to fix up the house. But then things get creepy when Tora finds a corpse buried on the property. The heart of the deceased is missing and appears to have been part of a ritual murder. As Tora looks into the killing, she’s thwarted by nearly everyone in town, including colleagues, the police, and her husband.

Sacrifice is a solid concept with a decent setup. Radha and Rupert handle their parts well, and the mystery is intriguing. But the script doesn’t do much with the idea. It plods along with some standard scenes and never throws many twists or turns in the direction of the viewer. Writer/Director Peter A Dowling (Stag Night, Reasonable Doubt) does nothing of note for better or worse. It’s all played very straight, very by-the-book. At points, I felt like I was watching a weird offshoot of HOT FUZZ with a town of people all conspiring for some “greater good.”

Sacrifice isn’t a bad movie. It isn’t much of a good one either. It starts, it plods along, and it ends, never really satisfying on any level. The mystery starts strong then fizzles. The locations are beautiful, but somewhat forgotten along the way. The overarching conspiracy behind it all isn’t ever clearly understood or make much sense. A film like Sacrifice will usually try to build around two or three key scenes or moments that leave an impact on the viewer. But instead, Sacrifice plays everything safe and because of that nothing about the film stands out. The only real good thing about Sacrifice is that Dowling didn’t try to push the runtime past the 90-minute mark.

Ratings:

Direction – 2
Writing – 2
Performance – 2.5
Sound & Music – 2
Cinematography – 2.5
Editing – 2
Visual Effects – 1

 

Deathgasm:

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I don’t think I know of any other country that produces horror-comedy at the rate and quality of New Zealand. The land of middle-earth unleashed Peter Jackson’s DEAD ALIVE way back in 1992 and then THE FRIGHTENERS in 1996 (though that’s a co-America production). And there’s been no stopping New Zealand ever since with cinematic gems like BLACK SHEEP (2006), WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2014), and HOUSEBOUND (2014). Adding to the growing list of funny frights is DEATHGASM (2015). To sum it up in one sentence, it’s a horror-comedy about a demonic apocalypse brought upon by heavy metal music.

Deathgasm follows Brodie (Milo Hawthorne), a troubled high schooler who loves metal music. Brodie’s music of choice conflict with his guardian and faithful Christian Uncle Albert (Colin Moy). Brodie’s heavy metal style also makes him an outcast at school. Brodie’s only friends are two role-playing game nerds Dion (Sam Berkley) and Giles (Daniel Cresswell). Zakk (James Blake) is another metal fan who joins the trio of friends. The foursome form a band and start rocking out. Rounding out the cast is Medina (Kimberly Crossman) who plays the love interest role but is also given a lot of moments to shine as an outright arse-kicker.

Writer/Director Jason Lei Howden does a fantastic job of balancing out touches of love triangle drama, wild and bloody action, and great character development. Brodie, like many teenagers, suffers from wanderlust but ultimately rises beyond that. Zakk is conflicted in life, but his relationship with Brodie settles a part of that. The friendship between Brodie and Zakk is battle-tested. No scene shows their mutual need to survive than one of the funniest (or most disturbing) fights including A LOT of dildos.

Metal fans will enjoy the soundtrack which is littered with tracks from modern metal bands like Lair of the Minotaur and Elm Street. The movie is also filled with subtle and not-so-subtle references to great metal of years past. It’s safe to say two things about Deathgasm. First, it’s well-made, acted, directed, and edited. The pacing is spot on, the characters are fleshed out, the story is both funny and bloody. Second, it’s made with pure love for both horror and metal.

Of all the movies tucked into the corners of Netflix and other streaming services, Deathgasm is easily one of the best. For fans of metal, horror, or both it’s a must-see. Funny, gory, and raucous. It’s a movie with the same drive and determination as most songs of the genre. There’s a lot of enthusiasm behind every second which makes it a joy to watch.

Ratings:

Direction – 3.5
Writing – 4
Performance – 3
Sound & Music – 4
Cinematography – 3
Editing – 3
Visual Effects – 3

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Ruben R. Diaz
@RMartian
Freelance Contributor

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