Review: House of Mortal Sin, aka The Confessional (dir. Pete Walker, 1976)

House of Mortal Sin

House of Mortal Sin
UK, 1976
Director: Pete Walker
Writer: David McGillivray

Review by N Emmett.

A young woman named Jenny (Susan Penhaligon) is involved in an on-and-off relationship with a two-timing rogue named Terry (Stewart Bevan). In a fit of desperation, she visits a local church and speaks to the priest, Father Meldrum (Anthony Sharp), for advice; in the process, she confesses to having had an abortion.

Jenny departs from the confessional in a hurry, but soon finds that Meldrum has taken an obsessive interest in her. The men in her life begin to fall victim to brutal assaults, and the priest turns out to have recorded her admission to being involved in abortion – placing him in a position to blackmail her as he chooses…

As with Pete Walker’s earlier film House of Whipcord, House of Mortal Sin is a film about the conflict between cruel, hypocritical establishment and victimised youth. Father Meldrum is allowed to get away with his crimes because he is a trusted authority figure, while Jenny is dismissed as a mere hysterical girl by the police. Indeed, Meldrum is shown to have put other girls through similar treatment: in the prologue, one of his past victims returns home in tears and promptly commits suicide.

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Review: The Haunting of Emily Stone by Amy Cross (2015)

The Haunting of Emily StoneReview by Jaq D Hawkins.

I found this rather good.

The story starts out in the prologue with a horrific murder that happened two-hundred years before. It’s rather gruesome so consider yourself warned. There are some more disturbing scenes later, but it isn’t constant gore, I promise!

The premise of the story is that a paranormal investigator gets a case that looks like it may be the real thing and becomes very excited about it, only to be disappointed when irrefutable evidence proves it to be an elaborate hoax. Only it wasn’t entirely faked. A little girl had a genuine experience and her mother tried to cash in on it, faking photographs and coaching the child to perform for the investigators and media.

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Review: Children of Sorrow (dir. Jourdan McClure, 2012)

Children of Sorrow

Children of Sorrow
UK, 2015
Director: Jourdan McClure
Writers: Ryan Finnerty and Jourdan McClure

Review by N Emmett.

Out in the Texas desert, Father Simon Leach (Bill Oberst Jr.) maintains a reclusive religious community. He regards his youthful followers as his children, and promises them a happy, wholesome life and a ticket to Heaven.

What at first seems like a clean, earthy lifestyle turns out to have a much darker edge. Father Simon has placed himself in a position of total authority over his flock, and begins exacting harsh punishments on those who step out of line. And God forbid any of them try to escape…

Praise the Lord, Children of Sorrow is one of those rare miracles: a found footage horror film that has managed to escape from the shadow of The Blair Witch Project. The camera is passed between multiple members of the cult, including Father Simon himself, in a joint effort to chronicle day-to-day life on the religious compound; the end result is closer to a mockumentary than the typical lost-in-the-woods fare.

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Review: Locke & Key Master Edition: Volume One by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez (2015)

Locke & Key Master Edition: Volume One

Locke & Key Master Edition: Volume One
IDW, 2015 (containing material from 2008-2009)
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodríguez

Review by N Emmett.

Locke & Key Master Edition: Volume One collects the first two books in the Locke & Key series by writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodríguez.

The first book, “Welcome to Lovecraft”, begins with the Locke family moving to a New England town named Lovecraft (one of multiple shout-outs to various horror writers to occur in the series) after the household patriarch is murdered. While Mrs. Locke and her teenage children Tyler and Kinsey try to pull their lives back together, the youngest child in the family, Bode, makes a peculiar discovery. Dotted around the house are various magical keys, each with its own properties…

The first key which Bode comes across allows him to have out-of-body experiences. When his family members ignore his stories of whizzing around the house as a ghost, he goes looking for new friends – and finds one, in the shape of a mysterious woman who lives down the well.

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Review: Curse of the Witching Tree (dir. James Crow, 2015)

Curse of the Witching Tree

Curse of the Witching Tree
UK, 2015
Director/writer: James Crow

Review by N Emmett.

After her husband falls into a coma, Amber Thorson (Sarah Rose Denton) moves into a farmhouse with her children Jake (Lawrence Weller) and Emma (Lucy Clarvis) It turns out that the house was built near the Witching Tree, where a woman was hanged for witchcraft five hundred years beforehand.

Twelve-year-old Jake begins experiencing supernatural phenomena and concludes that the witch is still haunting the house. It is up to Emma, the eldest child, to convince their highly-strung mother that desperate measures are needed to solve the family’s problems.

With Curse of the Witching Tree, writer-director James Crow has delivered a half-intriguing, half-frustrating haunted house story. The film is stuffed with detail, so much that it seems rather longer than its modest 97 minutes, and some of that detail works very well.

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Review: The Sister of Ursula, aka La sorella di Ursula (dir. Enzo Milioni, 1978)

The Sister of Ursula

The Sister of Ursula (La sorella di Ursula)
Italy, 1978
Director/writer: Enzo Milioni

Review by N Emmett.

While staying at a luxurious Naples hotel with her sister, Ursula (Barbara Magnolfi) has visions of the other guests being brutally murdered. It turns out that these killings are actually taking place, and the hotel manager is covering them up so as not to harm his business. Will any of the guests survive long enough to expose the killer?

It is hard to pretend that The Sister of Ursula is a particularly well-written film. Its loose plot is assembled from giallo conventions, its characters are one-dimensional and its twist ending is utterly predictable. And yet, it has earned itself a place in giallo history. Why? Because of the sex.

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