Simon Barrett

Magnet Releasing

Here’s the thing. It’s fashionable to bash remakes from their very first announcement as unnecessary and doomed to failure, but there have been more than enough good (and even great) ones to know that’s just dumb. No remake, whether good or bad, has the power to alter the original which will always be available to watch and enjoy. Of course, knowing that doesn’t change the knee-jerk reaction you feel when a particularly fantastic foreign film is snatched up and scheduled for American consumption. Kim Jee-woon‘s deliciously brutal I Saw the Devil has been on the path towards an English-language remake since its release in 2010, but details as to who would actually be involved have been up in the air until now. The Wrap just revealed — and producer Keith Calder confirmed via Twitter — that the team behind You’re Next and the recent The Guest will be writing and directing the film. Adam Wingard will direct from Simon Barrett‘s script, and while we’re still more than a year away from a finished product there’s reason to feel both excited and concerned… while still remembering that Kim’s original will always be here regardless.

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The Guest

The Guest is a serious person movie. Or it least it looks that way, from the first teaser trailer. Because the previous film from The Guest‘s creative team (director/editor Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett) was You’re Next. And You’re Next was totally not a serious person movie, unless they’ve changed the definition of “serious,” and now movies with exploding brain-blenders and a guy who gets stabbed with like fifty screwdrivers are no longer campy. The Guest seems slightly more elevated. Although the two premises are basically the same thing: a typical American family, beset upon by psychos. This time, it’s the Petersons, who’ve recently lost a son in Afghanistan and aren’t doing so well. Enter David (Dan Stevens), a kind soldier who served with their son and has come back to make good on a promise made on the battlefield. Reluctantly, the Petersons accept this new addition to their lives, and soon this military stranger is a welcome part of their big, happy family. Oh, and also he has serial killer eyes and is probably murdering people or something.

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review the guest

The Peterson family lost their oldest son Caleb to the war in Afghanistan, and the four remaining members have carried on in their grief. A brief respite comes in the form of an unexpected visitor named David (Dan Stevens) who served with the family’s son/brother and was with him when he died. He’s come to share Caleb’s last words and to fulfill his promise to help the family in any way he can. Each member of the family finds a friend in David as he offers a shoulder, an ear, or a pair of fists. Mom (Sheila Kelley) needs consolation, and dad (Leland Orser) is having trouble at work. Luke (Brendan Meyer) is being bullied at school, and Anna (Maika Monroe) is struggling with a relationship she’s hiding from her parents. Luckily David has a solution for all of their problems. The Guest bears a happy similarity to You’re Next in every way but the narrative. The tone blends between thriller and comedy, with a heavy tilt toward the latter, and not even the script’s multiple hiccups can’t deflate the film’s sense of fun.

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sxsw_yourenext

Editor’s note: Rob’s review of You’re Next originally ran during this year’s SXSW Film Festival, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in theatrical release. It’s become pretty fashionable these days for people to retroactively bash movies that enjoyed honest and deserved praise upon release. Wes Craven’s Scream has received such a backlash in recent years, as both a lesser movie and a less influential one, and it’s fairly inexplicable. Sure it has some issues, but the movie remains a fun, scary and smart take on the slasher genre that has rarely (if ever) been duplicated. But it also came out seventeen years ago. You’re Next aims to enjoy the same prestige by giving the genre a real kick in the ass with thrills, chills and a fresh take on it all, but while it misses the mark in some important areas it comes far closer than most. And bottom line? It’s a fun and bloody good time at the movies.

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You

Home invasion horror flick You’re Next has been getting rave reviews for whole years now (including a few from our very site – here and here), but the film still won’t (finally) hit wide release for another week. To drum up a little bit of anticipation, it looks like Lionsgate (or perhaps the film’s animal-masked killers) have been distributing a few exclusive posters across the net. Shock Till You Drop received the above image, along with this threatening message: “You’ve been chosen. The Animals are on the Hunt. And Ryan… #YoureNext.” But STYD and their own Ryan Turek aren’t the only ones in trouble, because Bloody Disgusting got their own poster and message, which you can see after the break.

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VHS2_still2_NA

Editor’s note: This review of V/H/S/2 originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it was going under the title S-VHS. We’re re-running it now as the film hits VOD and a limited theatrical roll-out this Friday. Reactions were understandably mixed to last year’s horror anthology film V/H/S, but there was enough of a positive response to encourage the team to move forward on a new incarnation. No, it’s not time for Laserdisc yet (maybe next year), but in its place we have the forgotten future of video tape…  S-VHS. In addition to changing out most of the writers/directors from the first film (only Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard remain) they’ve also, wisely, shortened the experience by sticking to four shorts (plus wraparound) instead of five. This time the “story” that brings the shorts together involves a pair of inept private eyes investigating the disappearance of a college student. They break into his ratty house and decide their investigation would be best served watching the unlabeled videotapes strewn about the living room. The four stories that follow are a mixed bag quality-wise, but thankfully there are none as bad as the “dumbasses in the woods” segment from the first movie. The concept remains that everything we see was filmed entirely on personal cams to give a POV sensation. If they do share a theme with each other it’s more laughs/fewer scares — which I gotta say is kind of odd for a so-called horror movie.

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vhs2-kelsy-abbot-television-screens

Are you confused by the wealth of horror talent that’s behind this week’s new release horror anthology release V/H/S/2? No one could blame you for such confusion – after all, we are in the middle of a kind of horror anthology renaissance (if you’re willing to call the wide release of three horror anthology films in just one year’s time – the two V/H/S films and The ABCs of Death – a renaissance, which we very much are, because our local theaters were so deprived of such a genre for so long and come on), so the sudden influx of so much hot, fresh horror into your terrified eyeballs might be a bit too much to not only stomach but also to remember in terms of resume listings. Just who did what? And what are they doing next? And why does that name sound so familiar? Let us guide you, thanks to an actual guide created for this specific reason. At the very least, it will give you something to reflect on while you scream in abject terror during the film itself (full disclosure: we screamed in abject terror during just one segment in V/H/S/2, and it’s absolutely the one that will make you scream in terror, too, at least if you’re afraid of homicidal cults, as any normal human being should be).

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Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 2.25.56 PM

Horror fans rejoiced at the prospect of V/H/S, a horror anthology film directed by several up-and-coming indie genre directors, centered around a band of criminals watching VHS recordings of terrible happenings. Even before V/H/S was released, the wheels already began to turn on the film’s sequel, V/H/S/2, which is currently playing at the Tribeca Film Festival. Much like it’s predecessor, V/H/S/2 is comprised of a framing device and four short films (compared to the original film’s five). Simon Barrett (A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next), directed the film’s framing device, “Tape 49,” about a private investigator and his assistant breaking into a house and going through all those terrifying VHS tapes. Barrett also wrote the segment directed by Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next), “Phase 1 Clinical Trials,” in which Wingard starred as a rich boy whose bionic eye makes him see ghosts. Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale (The Blair Witch Project) directed “A Ride in the Park,” which is a largely comic chronicle of a biker’s metamorphosis into a zombie and the havoc that ensues after he is bitten. And Jason Eisener (Hobo With A Shotgun) directed the self-explanatory “Alien Abduction Slumber Party,” recorded from the POV of a little dog attached to a camera. The film is rounded out by Gareth Evans’ and Timo Tjahjanto’s Lucio Fulci-inspired “Safe Haven,” about reporters to record the inner sanctum of a cult, which involves both zombies and monsters. I sat down with the rather chatty group of Barrett, Eisener, Sanchez, and Wingard, mid-snack session, as they discussed what they learned from the first V/H/S, and how […]

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Youre Next Masks

You’re Next caused up quite a stir at last year’s Fantastic Fest. The movie was swiftly picked up for distribution by Lionsgate after receiving stellar reviews, one of which came from our own Scott Beggs, who described the movie as, “pure horror bliss, delivering an engaging group of characters, a badass chick, some iconic masks to add to the collection, and a new twist on slashers.” Rob wasn’t quite as taken with the film, but one thing is for sure, You’re Next is packed with horror images and a song that’ll stick with audiences. While at SXSW, we spoke with the director of You’re Next, Adam Wingard, about those memorable masks, finding its theme song and getting to direct fellow horror directors:

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You

According to Variety, the team that made the home invasion horror flick You’re Next (which will hit theaters at SXSW and see a release in August) and planning to reunite for an action thriller called The Guest. Director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett (who’ve previously collaborated on V/H/S and A Horrible Way to Die) are making the film with Snoot Entertainment producers Jessica Wu and Keith Calder. This film, expected to go into production in May, will focus on a soldier harboring some dangerous secrets who is taken into the household of a dead colleague’s family.

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S-VHS

What the hell is that? And that, horror fans, is the best way to leave your audience salivating for more when it comes to premiering a first trailer for the newest entry in your burgeoning horror anthology film franchise. Over at ShockTillYouDrop, the first trailer for S-VHS has popped up mere days before the film premieres at this week’s Sundance Film Festival. It’s a slim little number, but it kicks off with a slice of what I’m guessing might be my favorite section from the new film – a child’s birthday party at what looks to be a family’s cabin in the woods, interrupted by something that likes to screech like a combination banshee and T.Rex. Banshrex. T.Shee. Either way, I can’t wait to meet it. This time around, the directing talent behind the anthology film includes Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Edúardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Evans, and Jason Eisener, so yes, there’s probably going to be something here for everyone. I saw and reviewed the first VHS at last year’s Sundance and flipped for it (and screamed and cried and tried to hide in my sweater and scarf to no avail), so my hopes are quite high for this next entry. Ready to see some of what the next chapter in the VHS franchise holds? Take a look at the first trailer for S-VHS after the break. Have your sweaters and scarves at the ready.

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VHS Horror Movie

Recent horror release V/H/S was kind of a mixed bag, but that’s to be expected from anthology films that combine shorts from different filmmakers into a loosely connected whole. Regardless of which segments were your favorites, or which you thought didn’t work, it’s still pretty cool that V/H/S took little known filmmakers like the guys from Radio Silence and let them present their work alongside much-loved directors like Ti West and Joe Swanberg. So, good news for horror fans and horror creators alike, V/H/S/2 is already in the works, and it’s already signed up some top notch directors.

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VHS Bruckner

It turns out that someone else fainted while watching V/H/S. This time it happened at the Friday 9:40pm Nuart screening in Los Angeles, but tales of people getting sick floated around after the film hit Sundance and caused a moviegoer to pass out. It’s not really an epidemic, but the thing is, both got sick during the same scene. So what scene could hit viewers that hard? I contacted writer/producer Simon Barrett to ask what spot it was, and for those who have seen the movie, it probably won’t come as a surprise. If you haven’t seen the movie, consider yourself mildly spoiler warned.

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Editor’s note: Sundance screamfest V/H/S finally hits theaters this week after a successful VOD run, so here’s a re-run of our original review, first posted on January 26, 2012. Chilling! The brainchild of producer Brad Miska, horror anthology film V/H/S features five shorts (and one wrap-around story) from a variety of genre directors, writers, and actors handily proves that the found footage genre is far from dead and there’s plenty of new material to bleed. The film’s “wrap-around” section features a group of Jackass-inspired wankers who get their kicks by filming mayhem and destruction. Dispatched by a mysterious person to break into a house and steal something, they agree – partly for the laughs, partly for the pay-off. The item they must procure? A simple, singular VHS tape. The actual mission? Multi-level and rife with unexpected complications.

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What do you do when your first several efforts in the horror genre are quiet successes and your most critically acclaimed feature is delayed more than a year? If you’re director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett you sign with a major studio to adapt a bestselling spy thriller to the big screen. The duo behind A Horrible Way to Die, segments in V/H/S and The ABCs of Death, and next year’s You’re Next have done just that. Per Deadline by way of /film, their next project will be an adaptation of Jon Stock‘s Dead Spy Running for WB. The book is the first in a trilogy about a disgraced MI6 agent named Danny Marchant thought to be a traitor by his own people and the CIA who is forced on the run to prove both his own innocence and his dead father’s. The rights were snapped up on publication back in 2009, and since then various names have been attached to direct including McG, Stephen Gaghan and Jonathan Levine. Wingard and Barrett have come on board with an existing script from Gaghan (and Jamie Moss) that tweaked the novel’s lead character just a little bit. Marchant will no longer be a spy on the run… He’ll be a DJ.

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“Fangoria” as a gateway drug, YouTube fame leading to feature work, a magical 1998 Camry, the way porn plays with our minds, filming “Safety Second” style, and most of all trying to make found footage horror not feel like boring home movies. The filmmakers behind V/H/S (which is available on iTunes and VOD today) wanted to increase the ratio of scares per minute by combining the new popular subgenre with a throwback anthology style. On this week’s podcast, we mirror that anthology style in order to talk with many of the minds behind the punk horror explosion. Download Episode #147

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VHS Horror Movie

The red band trailer for V/H/S – the new horror anthology from a slew of indie writers and directors – was excellent, but there’s something magical about a green band trailer for scary flicks that makes a movie sing. The limitations either mean the trailer will sink miserably or soar to pants-wetting heights. This feature does the latter. From Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Dennis McQuaid, and David Bruckner, the movie wraps five horror tales inside a story about thieves trying to find a mysterious video tape amongst a pile of dangerous found footage. Plus, it might be the first movie to have two forward slashes in its title. Check out the new trailer for yourself:

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VHS Horror Movie

Back at Sundance, Magnolia seized the forthcoming horror anthology from Bloody Disgusting which means we’ll all have a (limited) shot at seeing it in Octobers. V/H/S, featuring the talents of Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, Ti West and Radio Silence just to name a few, has several different scare segments all tied together by the story of thieves breaking into a creepy house to steal a tape and watching a handful to find out which one is the right loot. So, it’s pretty much like every Wednesday around here. The first Red Band trailer showcases some excellent shots meant to draw the pee into an audience’s pants. Ghosts, monsters, blood-splattered everything. Check it out for yourself:

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Fresh off of making one audience member pass out and another one puke into a bucket at Sundance, V/H/S has found a home with Magnolia, and it’s a matched made in hellacious heaven. The horror flick is both an anthology, which seems to be a rising trend, and a found footage movie that has many critics claiming that it refreshes the genre considerably. It’s made up of vignettes from writer/director David Bruckner (The Signal), writer/director Glenn McQuaid (I Sell the Dead), writing/directing team Radio Silence, actor/director Joe Swanberg (Autoerotic, The Zone), writer/director Ti West (House of the Devil, The Innkeepers), director Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next), writer Simon Barrett (A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next), and writer Nicholas Tecosky. The story focuses on a team hired by a mystery person (or persons) to break into a broken down house to steal a rare VHS tape. Horror ensues. So it’s a found footage horror film with an interstitial device of people looking for found footage. Already off to a good start. This is another ear on the necklace of the You’re Next team of Wingard, Swanberg and Barrett who will see that film released in October of this year as well. Thank god that V/H/S will be seen outside of Sundance. These are the kinds of horror filmmakers that deserve to blow up big. Personally, I can’t wait for the inevitable George Lucas mash-up trailer, V/H/S 1138.

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Why Watch? This year, the city of Talinn, Estonia created 60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero, an experimental film project which saw a bunch of different directors from all over the world create a one-minute short film which would play a grand total of one time in front of an audience before the sole 35mm copy was burned along with the screen it played on. Fortunately, digital copies weren’t off limits. Be warned that Adam Wingard‘s entry, Ultra Modern, features nudity and sadness but also be warned that it carries a sort of uneasy beauty, a vibrancy that can leave you cold, and an abruptness that makes it difficult to access. Simply put – it’s uncharacteristically abstract. What’s more, I’m not so sure it’s meant to be understood. What does it cost? Just 1 minute of your time. Trust us. You have time for more short films.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B


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