‘Spiral: From The Book Of Saw’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

After the success of other instalments in the Saw franchise, it’s only fair to keep making them. This franchise has a massive fanbase and I can see why. After watching all eight films ahead of Spiral: From the Book of Saw – for the very first time I might add – I already felt some fatigue. While watching this instalment, the fatigue continued. As a new horror fan, the first three Saw films had so much style to them that made them unique. It set them apart from other horror films. But as the franchise went on, the further the filmmakers distanced themselves from the original vision from Leigh Whannell and James Wan.

Did Spiral: From the Book of Saw follow similar tropes? Of course it did. But they wanted to focus more on the detective story than the actual link to Jigsaw and the traps. The main issue with this franchise is that the story does not need to flow from movie to movie. Seriously, trying to connect the dots over nine films is ridiculous and it’s never clear. I know what you’re thinking, “But no one cares about the story,” and I get that but if you don’t have a strong script then at least make the traps memorable. The traps in this instalment were set up for shock value and there was no struggle to get out of them.

What has happened to the Saw franchise is that it has become too polished and clean cut for the movie they’re trying to make. Give us that grimey, sketchy warehouse feel with the traps that have high stakes. Bring back that graphic, bloody, almost naseautic visuals that made the first half of this franchise shine. Making it more cinematic and clean does not help the franchise after the seventh instalment. It just strays so far away from its original style that made it work in the first place. Unfortunately, with the story not being that strong, the performances also fell flat for me. So this was a total chore for me to sit through.

Spiral: From the Book of Saw is enjoyable if you are a diehard Saw fan and that is what is important here. This film caters to the fanbase that has stayed with the franchise over nine films. Seriously, NINE FILMS, that’s pretty amazing. This is a franchise that tries to reinvent itself because of the horror climate constantly changing. The Saw franchise just isn’t for me anymore but I do hope the fans enjoy their franchise and this ninth film. Will there be a Saw X? Go big or go home, Jigsaw, let’s play another game.

Alex Kahuam’s Feature Film ‘Forgiveness’ Has A Chilling Trailer


By: Amanda Guarragi

After Alex Kahuam’s success at Horror Fest International last year, he is releasing his first horror feature Forgiveness. His film Red Light won for Best Midnight Movie at the festival. Similar to the tone of his short film, Forgiveness captures the human condition and how everyone fears something different. Just after watching the trailer, you will understand Kahuam’s style of filmmaking and it’s really unique to the horror genre.

The trailer definitely makes an impact and leaves you wanting more. Just within minutes, Kahuam isolates the viewer into the thing they fear most. The score that accompanies those eerie scenes locks the viewer in this trance, almost like it is locking you into this nightmare. The visuals are very obscure and the editing in the trailer works extremely well to create an eerie atmosphere. These people are trapped inside an isolated room with their most important senses stripped from them.

Imagine not being able to hear…

Imagine not being able to speak..

Imagine not being able to see…

Now imagine being trapped without any of those abilities.

Kahuam is extremely talented because he understands the human condition and brings out the fear in simple situations. It is always exciting when a filmmaker approaches a genre in a different way and brings something interesting to the table. Forgiveness is definitely one to look forward to, so keep it in mind, the next time you need a nice little horror movie. The film will be out soon enough but this trailer is enough to hold you over!

HorrorFest International Winner ‘Red Light’: An Interview with Filmmakers Ted Raimi and Alex Kahuam


By: Amanda Guarragi

Since 2001 HorrorFest International has brought the Horror community together to celebrate the genre and emerging filmmakers. The festival showcases features, short films and scripts, to live in-person audiences. This year, the film Red Light won for Best Midnight Movie at the festival. Director Alex Kahuam is absolutely delighted that his film got the midnight spot during the festival and was overwhelmed by the reception. The film stars the legendary Ted Raimi, as Ian, a man who teaches millennials a thing or two about karma.

The film begins with this quote,

“As a child I never imagined that all of the real monsters in the world would be human”

-Mobeen Hakeem

It sets the tone for the rest of the film because everyone has their own perception of monsters. It is a reflection on humanity and the treatment of others. It also highlights the persona of social media influencers, on and off their screen. Kahuam wrote a great screenplay exploring these ideas and he definitely presents them in a unique way,

“It reflects all people. It’s just a reflection on humanity and how we are monsters in a way and that’s what I wanted. So the audience would get a taste of what the whole picture was going to be. Everyone’s a monster in their own way. 

– Director Alex Kahuam, Red Light
Courtesy of Veva Entertainment
(left) Chloe Ortega, Jade Janet, Esteban de la Isla, Alex Sands and Layne Herrin

Red Light captures the human condition and how everyone fears something different. The most unique aspect about this film is the long takes that Kahuam decided to do. Everything was perfectly orchestrated and the tension was really prominent throughout. These long takes also brought out great performances from his actors, allowing their fear to feel real. Kahuam also used lighting and shadowing to enhance the atmosphere,

“The colour is super loud, violent and visceral and I wanted the audience to feel that at the beginning and at the end.”

– Director Alex Kahuam, Red Light
Courtesy of Veva Entertainment

The placement for these colours for the opening and closing shots, definitely packed a punch and made it memorable.

Not only was this film visually pleasing and so incredibly fun to watch, Ian (Ted Raimi) as a character was intriguing and he left you wanting to know more. The writing for the character was really strong and watching his story unfold was great. Raimi spoke about his character and praised Kahuam for writing him so well. Raimi said that his character and the story reflected something that everyone is currently dealing with,

“We happen to be in the middle of a generational crisis right now, it usually takes place every 50 years. I think Alex has tapped into that quite well and so it was easy to step into.”

– Ted Raimi, Red Light
Courtesy of Veva Entertainment
(Ted Raimi as Ian)

This is what is interesting about Ian’s character, he genuinely believes that he is paying it forward and restoring order in the universe. Ian kidnaps these teenagers and ties them up in his basement to set them straight, all while answering to a higher power, his own parents. We see three generations in a very different light and how they respond to each other.

The last act in this film has stayed with me because of how powerful the visuals were. The Horror elements were perfect and it is a short film that would work even better as a feature because of how strong the writing is. From the lighting, to the song choices, to the sound design, the film is beautifully crafted and I am looking forward to seeing more from Alex Kahuam.

Sweet Taste of Souls Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Sweet Taste of Souls has a really unique concept that flips the moving picture frame trope on its head. When four struggling band members stop at a small roadside cafe for a slice of cherry pie, they find themselves imprisoned in the owner’s framed art collection. The film was intriguing from the very beginning and had refreshing moments for the supernatural subgenre in Horror.

Ms. Ellinore (Honey Loren) was heartbroken and defeated when her husband left her. She harnessed these supernatural powers to create a picture perfect life within her art collection, a life that she could never have. The film dives into the psychology of trauma and abuse, while adding a supernatural element to it. It is one of the most refreshing concepts because of how this complex, emotional story ties in with a trope we’ve never fully explored on screen.

Courtesy of Dark Coast Entertainment

The most impressive aspect of the film was the special effects and how they were used in certain scenes. There was a whole process in taking the souls of the characters and transferring into the frame, which was really interesting. It also felt really claustrophobic at times (which was a horrible feeling for me) which worked extremely well for the suspense of being locked inside of a frame.

Sweet Taste of Souls had great special effects, a really complex psychological story and sound design that elevated the story. It had great use of colour, especially the colour red, to pop against a faded background and make you remember that Ms. Ellinore was around the corner. It’s a very fun, original horror film, with a deep psychological exploration of trauma.

Camp Twilight Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Camp Twilight is a fun mixture of classic slasher films that had its very own twist ending. It’s definitely campy, over-exaggerated, borderline cringey but it works. After realizing their about to fail senior year, 6 high school students agree to a weekend camping trip for extra credit. Lead by Ms. Bloom (Felissa Rose) and Mr. Warner (Barry Jay Minoff), they quickly find out the horrid past of the campsite.

The film felt like a cross between Scream and Friday the 13th, it even had character names like Sidney and the last name of a character named Loomis. It felt like a nice homage to slasher films, especially these classics. It’s filled with similar tropes and a ton of overacting at times, but for some reason it worked. A slasher film that has you yelling at the screen over the stupid decisions campers make, is definitely fun to sit through.

Courtesy of DarkCoast Entertainment

Its writers Brandon Amolette and Felissa Rose really went back to the roots of slasher films. It had a very simple structure with generic characters, that we really wouldn’t mind losing, once the killer went on the murder spree. They also incorporated cops, who don’t really know what they’re doing, which made for really funny moments. Like every slasher film, the kills have to be great and there were plenty of suspenseful moments.

Camp Twilight is as campy as it gets. It is a lot of fun, definitely surprising at times and it has a wicked ending. The score that accompanies the campers, on their disturbing weekend, really tied everything together. It is a lot to take in because there is so much happening but it’s such a fun ride for the genre. As long as you’re yelling at these campers, telling them not to do the inevitable, it is definitely entertaining.