Home Movie

As the title suggests, Christopher Denham’s directorial debut is a horror flick set firmly in the found footage sub-genre. Now before you start rolling your eyes and sighing exasperated sighs, hear me out. Yes, this type of film rarely brings anything new to the table, but Home Movie is an exception.

The film follows the Poe family as they adapt to a new life in the country. Parents David and Clare happily record the day-to-day activities via a hand held recorder while their children, Jack and Emily, remain silent. Trouble begins when their kids start exhibiting unsettling behavior, which includes killing their pets in a number of brutal ways. As their situation gets worse, David and Clare frantically search for an explanation to their children’s actions while wrestling with their own personal demons.

For a low budget film, Home Movie has plenty of potent horror elements within its modest running time. The reason it works is simple: the makers kept the writing sharp. As a result, the characters are three dimensional instead of just being lifeless cardboard cutouts. Every horrific element they encounter is heightened because we as an audience care about what happens to them. It might seem basic, but this is where a lot of recent, big budget offerings fall down.

Home Movie won’t revolutionize the horror genre. It has its fair share of flaws. The usual ‘why’re they filming everything?’ question inevitably crops up and some of the character’s decisions are remarkably stupid, but it’s a prime example of how much a difference can be made just through the writing.

Link to the trailer:

Sword of the Stranger

Produced by the studio Bones, Sword of the Stranger isn’t the most well known feature to come out of Japan. Despite being released in 2007 to sporadic screenings, it still managed to pick up multiple awards around the world. In Ireland it was only screened a few times, most notably as part of the Irish Film Institute’s Anime Weekend back in 2009. Apart from this, the film came and went relatively unnoticed. Regardless of the few screenings it garnered outside of Japan, Sword of the Stranger is a powerful film worthy of your attention.

From the beginning, director Masahiro Ando propels the viewer into feudal Japan: a world filled with beautiful imagery, fearful monks and duelling samurai. The story centers on a nameless samurai hired to protect a boy named Kotaro from a band of warriors. Don’t let the fact that its an anime fool you, this isn’t one for kids. Characters you naturally come to care for hang in the balance amidst the impressively animated (and bloody) fight sequences.

Although it’s been released on DVD and Blu-ray, Sword of the Stranger isn’t an easy film to find. The only way you might find it in Ireland is by trawling through countless specialist shops. The easiest place to find it is online. For the average price (make sure you shop around!) of seventeen euros, it’s well worth the investment.

Link to the trailer: