To celebrate the UK VOD release of sci-fi thriller SOLIS, I spoke with writer and director Carl Strathie about the trials and tribulations he went through making his debut feature film.
When Troy Holloway (Steven Ogg) wakes up to find himself trapped aboard a drifting escape pod shooting towards the Sun he quickly realises the true terror of his situation. With rapid oxygen depletion and a burn- up rate of 90 minutes, Commander Roberts (Alice Rowe) leads a rescue party to save Holloway before time runs out.
Having recently lost his son and now confronted by his immediate end, Holloway feels less enthusiastic about survival. But Roberts, speaking to him only through a weak radio transmission, is determined to save his life, and both soon learn that the lives they have both lived influence each other in unexpected ways.
This is part 1 of our conversation…
Solis is a 2018 Sci-Fi thriller written and directed by Carl Strathie and starring Steven Ogg (The Walking Dead) and Alice Lowe (Prevenge).
“When Troy Holloway (Ogg) wakes up to find himself trapped aboard a drifting escape pod shooting towards the Sun he quickly realises the true terror of his situation. With rapid oxygen depletion and a burn- up rate of 90 minutes, Commander Roberts (Lowe) leads a rescue party to save Holloway before time runs out.”
It’s worth mentioning right here at the start that Solis is very similar to the 2010 thriller Buried, starring Ryan Reynolds as Paul Conroy, a truck driver working in Iraq who wakes up buried alive in a coffin with only a lighter and a mobile phone.
On the one hand, Holloway has a lot more to do than Conroy in Buried which leads to a far more proactive lead character. He is also able to explore the immediate outside of his entrapment which is far more than we ever see in Buried.
Welcome Home is a 2018 thriller directed by George Ratliff and starring Emily Ratajkowski (Gone Girl), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Riccardo Scamarcio (John Wick: Chapter 2).
“Cassie (Ratajkowski) and Bryan (Paul) spend a weekend at a vacation rental home in the Italian countryside in an attempt to repair their relationship, but soon become victims of the homeowner’s (Scamarcio) sinister plans.”
Simplicity is the name of the game with Welcome Home as the main characters are the only ones we’ll be dealing with for 95% of the run-time. The movie really is as simple as a troubled couple being terrorised by a third party, whose intentions aren’t always clear or consistent. And whilst a larger plot is hinted in the final moments, it has little bearing over the actual events of the film and the re-contextualisation somewhat weakens the threat of the main villain.
Rakuten TV will be releasing new content every Monday throughout the month of February, which will include BAFTA contenders and Golden Globe nominees.
Movie buffs will be given the chance to make their own minds up about Loving Vincent, the BAFTA & Oscar nominated and ‘beautifully textured’ (The Telegraph) homage to Van Gogh from 5th February. Armando Iannucci’s political satire, The Death of Stalin, which enjoyed great success at this year’s BIFAs and is set for further success at the BAFTAs can be found on Rakuten TV on 19th February. Triple BAFTA nominated and Golden Globe contender Call Me By Your Name will complement Rakuten TVs critically acclaimed offerings this month. Catch EE Rising Star nominee Timothée Chalamet, whose performance as Elio has been commended as ‘remarkable’ and ‘outstanding’ (The Guardian). Call Me By Your Name will be released onto the platform on Monday 26th February.
Zed Zombie Survival Events have answered the thrill seekers prayers this Christmas as they announce they will be hosting Original Zombie Survival Experiences from 2nd December-27th January. Due to popular demand, they will be running two shows on Friday and Saturday.
Zed Events, who have terrified over 40,000 victims since their launch 5 years ago will lay on ‘full immersion’ zombie survival events in an 250,000 Sqft abandoned shopping mall for the holiday season. Each event in their Reading facility is an adrenalin and blood soaked survival horror event like no other. From arrival, the thrill seeker will be part of an unfolding story that will play out in real time.
A Zed Events experience is like being in a film, except you are not acting. The fear will be real. This is what is meant by ‘Full Immersion.’ The team use movie quality Special Effects, weapons and props (provided by Hollywood SFX artists) to achieve something that is unrivaled in live survival horror. This will be something that you will never forget. You simply turn up and take part. Everything is taken care and provided for you, you just need to survive. Sounds easy, right?
The Unseen is a 2017 psychological thriller written and directed by Gary Sinyor. The film stars Jasmine Hyde, Richard Flood and Simon Cotton and was produced by Magnet Films.
“Gemma and Will are shattered when their son dies in an accident. Gemma blames herself and starts to have panic attacks that affect her eyesight. Will, tormented, believes he is hearing his son’s voice calling out to him. To escape their grief, they take up an ex-pharmacist’s offer to stay at his Lake District country getaway but are his intentions entirely benevolent?”
Low budget independent horror is a mixed bag and requires a formula of simplicity, restraint and creativity that not every production can get right.
However I am happy to say that The Unseen nails it.
The shots are crisp, the lighting and music are atmospheric without being distracting, and the narrative moves along at a steady pace. Most importantly, The Unseen is a gripping thriller with sympathetic characters and a healthy amount of emotional rawness.
Eat Locals is a 2017 vampire horror comedy that marks the directorial debut of actor Jason Flemyng (X-Men: First Class, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). The script was written by Danny King (Wild Bill) and the plot goes thusly:
“In a quiet countryside farmhouse, Britain’s vampires gather for their once-every-fifty-years meeting. Joining them are a detachment of Special Forces vampire killers who have bitten off more than they can chew. This is certainly going to be a night to remember… and for some of them it will be their last.”
It’s a great concept and the film certainly takes it’s time in establishing its interesting lore. Flemyng proves himself as a competent director, getting great performances out of his very talented cast. All of whom manage to lift the material to a more enjoyable level. The standout performance is from Tony Curran who stars as the caustic and impeccable dressed vampire, Peter Boniface.
Creature Feature Interviews
(Sharktopus vs Whalewolf, Sharktopus vs Pteracuda, Dinocroc, Dinoshark & Dracano)
Over the years, I have profiled writers, directors, actors, producers and composers but today, I’m adding a new profession to that list.
I spoke with Kevin O’Neill, one of the best VFX Supervisor in the industry, about his career and the big transition that he went through in becoming a top tier creature feature director for Roger Corman. With directing credits include Dinocroc and the two Sharktopus sequels and VFX credits include Piranha 3D and Crocodile, Kevin has amassed a wealth of experience which he generously took time from his busy schedule to talk to me about.
Read on to discover the day-to-day business of a VFX Supervisor, what it’s really like to work for Roger Corman, what really happened to Sharktopus vs Mermantula and an exclusive scoop on his next project, Intergalactic Shark Attack…
[JS] How did you get started in Visual Effects/ the film industry?
[KO] Well, I grew up on the East End of Long Island during the 60’s/70’s, when the local TV stations and Cinema would run everything from King Kong (1933) to Godzilla to of course, Ray Harryhausen films. I developed and early fascination with Ray H. and Willis O’Brien’s work, and soon found myself immersed in all things related to the process and equipment necessary to produce short experimental films. I was lucky to have taken up this interest at the same time a small but very informative collection of books and magazines dedicated to the technical and art of visual effects films, both professional and amateur were starting to publish on a regular basis.
A team of American journalists go in search of a giant man-eating crocodile in Burundi. However their search for the legendary beast is hampered when a local warlord makes them as his next target. What will get them first – the bloodthirsty warlord or the ravenous Primeval man-eater?!
Whilst not the strongest movie to be based on a real life crocodile, Primeval still delivers where it really counts.
Most films use political unrest as a backdrop to their main story but Primeval often places it front and centre. I have no idea of how accurate the depiction of the Burundi is but it’s very unflattering. I couldn’t help getting the impression that this was Africa seen through a very American lens as we are treated to various African stereotypes such as rampant corruption, voodoo witch doctors, blood-thirsty criminal war lords and the desperate dream of immigration to America.