Gangsters versus monsters in two new releases this week - and the monsters win!
North V South
It's a battle between the North versus the South UK gangsters in the new release appropriately titled 'North V South.'
Elliott Tittensor plays Terry Singer. His late father was a gangster so he's following in his dad's (and ailing mother's) footsteps. However, 'North V South' doesn't begin with his story (it should), but it's a macabre opening when a man dressed (clearly broke) as a clown walks into a restaurant with his young daughter, which happens to be gangster hangout. Two gangsters are at the end of the bar, but they walk away, leaving a wad of cash on the counter. Clown man sees an opportunity to take the cash and run, which he does. He get's into his car but then remembers that his daughter is still in the bathroom (really? Forgetting your daughter? hmm). So he goes back inside, only to be confronted by the gangsters. He's shot and killed while his young daughter watches. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film.
One team of gangsters is led by Vic Clarke (Steven Berkoff) while other gang is led by John Claridge (Bernard Hill). They are adept at extorting money from local businesses, but when one gang starts to encroach on the territory of the other gang, all hell breaks lose. Brad Moore plays very evil lieutenant Gary Little. He will kill anyone anytime anywhere. He'll even kill his partner if he has to, whether ordered to or not. The rivalry gets more complicated after Singer starts dating, and falling in love with Willow (Charlotte Hope). She happens to be the daughter of Claridge, but Singer's loyalties lay with Clarke. Meanwhile, the young girl left behind by the dead clown is taken in by Clarke's team, being looked after by Penny (Freema Agyeman). She's been part of the team since she was a young girl, so she literally shows the ropes to the young girl (isn't anyone searching for her? Why doesn't she run away from these strangers?). Throw in a transvestite hit man and an ending where a gangster gets burned but somehow is able get up and continue shooting all makes for a disbelievable film. 'North V South' is visibly stunning, with a soundtrack to equal, it's just not very well done. It's like tuning into a television series that's already shown a few episodes. We know very little about some of the main characters, don't know their motives, and find it very hard to believe several of them are gangsters. It would be best if they all just kill each other and put them, and us, out of their misery.
* North V South in UK cinemas now.
The 23:59 train out of Waterloo causes all sorts of chaos for its crew and passengers in the incredibly frightening and fun film 'Howl.'
Poor ticket collector Joe (Ed Speleers). He's just been passed over for a supervisor position and has been ordered (by the new supervisor) to do a double shift. This means that Joe will be overseeing the last train out of London on a night that is dark, stormy, and with a very full moon.
Along for the ride is the train conductor, and Kate (Shauna MacDonald), who's pushes the beverage cart. As Joe checks the passengers tickets, he encounters all sorts of people; a very large man eating a kebab that looks bigger than him, a young woman chatting on the phone who totally ignores Joe's request to see his ticket, an older couple going home from a night on the town, a stressed out businesswoman, and various other types typically found a train.
After Joe checks all the passengers tickets, the train comes to a sudden halt. He makes an announcement on the intercom that there will be a 'delay' to service. The conductor goes outside to check the train, and goes under the train to check it out, but he's grabbed by someone, something. He never returns back to the train. Joe and Kate don't know what's happened to him, and the passengers start to get angry. Meanwhile the sound of werewolves pierces the night sky. With the train stalled for quite some time, Joe then decides they should get off the train to walk along the tracks to the next station. But this proves to be a bad decision because as they are walking, they see something moving in the bushes, and it's a few seconds later that they see some sort of creature. They run back to the train, but the older woman is bit on the leg. It's chaos all around as they don't know what to do. Joe and Shauna and all the passengers get 'safely' back onto the train, but still not knowing what's out there. They board up all the doors and windows, but they turn out to be sitting ducks on a track where several people mysteriously disappeared on a train many years ago. There's nothing they can do, it's up to Joe and Kate to keep them calm but at the same time fighting off whatever's out there in the hopes that whatever it is doesn't get inside the train.
'Howl' is 89 minutes worth of scares and chills. It's a ride into the unknown where the crew and passengers must band together to survive. It is at it's scariest when the cast is battling an unknown creature, but 'Howl' loses a bit of it's fright when the creature is shown about halfway through the film. Nonetheless, it kept me holding my breathe throughout, and I did jump a few times. And that's what horror films should do. Go see it, it's a howl.
* Howl in UK cinemas now and to be released for Home Entertainment on 26th October