AN OPEN LETTER TO 4th FLOOR PICTURES

Posted on 15th February 2009 by aaron in Personal - Tags: , , , ,

Ok, here’s the thing.  I took the time out to review the film Stockholm Syndrome for the production company 4th Floor Pictures.  I gave it a bad review because I thought it was a bad movie.  I did, indeed, trash it.  That’s what I do whenever I see a film that has no artistic merit whatsoever.  It wasn’t even “bad funny.”  It was just bad.  When I mentioned in the review that the writer/director began his production company at the age of 18, I can only surmize that this was maybe, at most, 2 years ago, because the guy and his cronies still behave as if they were children.  Since I posted the review, I have received countless harrassing posts and comments attacking my credibility.  Instead of brushing the review off as simply another bad review on the pile, as any professional would have, the entire team of 4th Floor continues to post a barrage of negative comments directed at ME PERSONALLY.  It’s a MOVIE.  It’s a BAD movie.  Get over yourselves.  Go attack the reviewers of Deadpit.com too and everyone else who gave it a bad review.  I’m sorry, but you can’t just make poorly done shit and expect anyone other than your friends to fall all over themselves with praise for it.  That’s not the way things work.

As far as my not knowing anything about independent filmmaking, you’re sadly mistaken, guys.  There are plenty of independent filmmakers out there with, what’s that word…oh yes, talent, who MacGyver together great works of art on a shoestring and a dime.  They understand concepts such as pacing, storytelling, editing, sound design, art design, acting, cinematography and the like and they use their talent to piece together wonderful creations.  You didn’t.  I agree that independent horror filmmaking is the best horror filmmaking, but not ALL of it.  You made a bad movie, you got a bad review from a website.  Boo Hoo.  You asked me review it and that’s what I did.  As far as the comment the writer/director made to me about doing it all to get a free DVD, I’d gladly give it back.  It’s just a shoddy DVR anyway with no intrinsic value either with the film nor in regard to the media itself.

Keep making movies if that’s what you want to do.  I have no desire to review anything you ever make again as it will more than likely be on the same level of utter garbage as Stockholm Syndrome  and you have all proven yourselves to be less than professional.  Your company epitomizes every aspect of unprofessionalism that is so often unfairly attributed to independent filmmakers.  You have singlehandedly destroyed any shred of credibility you ever had, at least with this site and this fan.  This may not matter to you, that’s fine, but if you continue to behave in this way with every company that gives you a negative response, you will fail to go any further in this business.  Not that this would be a bad thing.  The less horror fans have to put up with your type of shoddy, untalented filmmaking, the better for us all.

We’re done with you and your associates.  Any more attempts made to contact myself or this site will be considered harrassment and will be dealt with accordingly.  It’s time we both move on.

STOCKHOLM SYNDROME REVIEW BACKLASH

Posted on 13th February 2009 by aaron in Indie Horror News,Personal,Reviews - Tags: , , ,

Ok, well, apparently the folks over at 4th Floor Pictures weren’t too terribly excited about the review I gave for their film STOCKHOLM SYNDROME (synonymous with everything else Brain Damage excreets).  Thus, I had an email sitting in my inbox this morning:

Its funny you guys call yourself Backwoods Horror because you dont’ know anything about horror films or at least independent films.  This was an independent film made a few thousand dollars.  Its not Hollywood – its low budget film making.  Thanks for trashing it…

Ryan
4th Floor Pictures

Interesting to say the least.  I love the part where he attacks the site, stating with full intellegence how a horror site that talks MOSTLY about independent cinema (though, mostly GOOD independent cinema…some bad).  I often rail heavily against the shit coming out of Hollywood these days.  I report on it, yeah, but I also usually give a little tidbit of how shitty I believe it’ll be.  Stockholm Syndrome CAN be compared to a “Hollywood” horror film, if not by budget, than in one way…they blow chunks together.  Difference being, Hollywood blows millions to suck out loud, 4th Floor blows thousands.  Regardless, here’s my response email:

That’s great.
Listen, because you’re young and impetuous, I’ll understand this launch against me, about my not understanding about film, something I’ve devoted my life to and have worked in the industry for about a decade.  No biggie.  I understand what it is to work on independent, WAY independent budgets and I gave you credit for it.  It’s hard, I realize that.  I’m just curious as to what you expected when you finished with the film?  When you sat back and realized what you had made, did you truly think it belonged amongst the pinnacles of exploitation/independent cinema?  I’m happy for you that you’re making films, I really am.  It’s an amazing dream not everyone gets to follow and you’re doing it in spades.
Given my respect for that, there’s no way around the review I gave.  The film is just terrible.  I’m sorry, but you’re going to hear things like that when you make a terrible film.  Like I said in the review, I’d be happy to look at your other work.  I’d be interested in seeing what your films are generally like.  You know, get an overall view of the writer/director Ryan Cavalline’s repertoire.  I can’t judge you as a filmmaker on one picture alone, and I never set out to judge you personally.  I set out to review the film itself.  And the fact of the matter is that the film is just….bad.  Poor writing and poor acting was the overall MAIN problem with the film.  The sound issues could be worked with in post, not an issue, and the directing wasn’t always that bad.  There were real flashes of talent here and there.  A fantastic example of what someone can do on a low budget would have to be George Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead.  The guy had virtually no money.
The problem is, if you have such a limited budget, you need to get more creative with the story in a way to work around budgetary restraints.  Trust me man, I believe you can do it.  But if you continue to spew out flicks Brain Damage picks up for distribution, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.  Perhaps you can get some money behind you from the Brain Damage deal, however, and move on to make a better, more polished project.
I wish you all the best in future endeavors, Ryan, and look forward to seeing your future work.

Best Regards,
Aaron J. Howell

And that’s that.  Jesus man…some people.  Just chill the fuck out guys and make a better movie.

STOCKHOLM SYNDROME: A REVIEW

STOCKHOLM SYNDROME
Produced/Directed by Ryan Cavalline
Story by Ryan Cavalline and Jason Senior

Well…let’s begin with a summary of this flick from what will probably be the back of the DVD (coming from Brain Damage Films on 05/05/2009):

“Somewhere, in a sleepy rural area, an underground organization is operating.  People are being kidnapped, beaten, and tortured beyond comprehension.  They are then reprogrammed to succumb to the will of their vile captors for their sick games and sold for the highest price.  Along with his accomplice, a member of this evil group is having second thoughts about his role in this field and will do whatever it takes to leave the horror behind.  Meanwhile, a young man and his pregnant wife take shelter in a run-down motel while on a road trip, unaware of the sheer terror that will soon befall them.  All three will soon come to realize that in this kind of business….NO ONE ESCAPES”

Colorful, I’m aware.  That is the kind of writing that your Joe Blow movie guy would read on the back of a dvd in your local movie-rental-plex…well, those that actually take the time to read the back of a Brain Damage “film”.

Let me talk about Ryan Cavalline.  I have to give him…what do the kids say these days?…Mad…Props? Yeah, that’s it, I have to give him Mad F-Ing Props for forming his own production team at the ripe old age of eight-freakin’-teen and proceeded to push ahead, churning out movies like a b-flick factory.  That’s tough work, and I respect that.

However…

Stockholm Syndrome is a mess.  A bloody, afterbirth of a mess.  Terrible is too haughty a word for the thing.  I have to be honest, I just couldn’t make it through the entirety of the movie; 3/4 is about as far as it went.  Normally, I never do this, but I just could NOT, BY ANY MEANS GO ON.  There was nothing even remotely redeeming about this one.  I’ve read some good reviews of the flick, and I’m happy that there’s a market out there for STOCKHOLM SYNDROME, but we (by that, I mean ME) just don’t dig it at Backwoods Horror.

First of all, it’s not even remotely MY kind of horror flick.  In fact, it’s a matter of symantics as to whether or not the film could be categorized as horror at all.  More or less, what you have here is the dreaded “psychological thriller” with a shit ton of “torture porn” thrown in for good kicks.  If that were all the problems related to STOCKHOLM SYNDROME, I’d be willing to let it slide…but I digress.

The effects were terrible, beginning with the “preggers” chick at the beginning with a very obvious Basketball under her skirt.  Ok, if you listen carefully (I had to rewind to make sure what I was hearing was, indeed, what I was hearing) when the woman pats her “pregnant” belly, you can hear, quite audibly, that “thump” one gets when slapping or flicking a basketball.  That sort of hollowed out thump.  COME ON, SERIOUSLY?  Then there’s the makeup effects.  Not too terribly bad if made by retarded monkeys throwing blood spattered poo at people.  Unfortunately, however, this doesn’t seem the case…unless chimps are taking credit.  And what about that cabbage patch doll baby?  How over the top does it get?  Was this meant as a joke?  You couldn’t create a synthetic laytex or foam rubber baby mold so that it at least has that squishy element to it?  I mean…a plastic doll?  COME ON.  Then we have all other types of zaniness.  Fake puke that didn’t look like puke, a chick pissin’ herself that was a poorly done riff from Last House On The Left, the list goes on and on.

Then there’s the sound design.  The levels were OUT OF FUCKING CONTROL.  I’d have to turn my receiver up and then BAM, VOLUME’S BACK UP TO 11.  What the hell?  So the time I DID waste watching this film was spent mostly with the remote, vainly attempting to manually equalize the audio.

For the final nails in the coffin, let’s look at the “acting,” the “cinematography,” and the overall “direction.”  Let’s look at the acting first.  I couldn’t find any.  I found a bunch of people stumbling through their lines as if they were, in some way, constipated and just trying to make it through to the cut so they could eventually drop a giant load (an apt metaphor for this “film” I think).  It was atrocious.  I’ve seen bums on fire act more convincingly (of course…you know…when they’re on fire).  I didn’t give two shits about any of these characters.  Then there’s that horrific of cinematography…or lack thereof.  Ok, it was shot on tape, miniDV from the quality.  That’s ok.  28 Days later (though shot with some nice Cannon Pro-Sumers) was still just miniDV, proving in a way that miniDV has it’s time and place.  Not here.  It just accentuated the overall cheap-ass feeling of the film with more artifacting than an antique shop.  The film was dark (c-stands, clamps and lighting aren’t all that expensive, nor are filters and gels), so at times you couldn’t very well see what was going on.  And the feeling of “in your face reality captured by talented miniDV (or digital in general) users was less than applicable here and one finds oneself wondering why all of the terrible Raimi-wannabe camera angles and extreme, obscuringly so, unnecessary close ups.  This was due in no small part to the directorial mind behind it.

The…plot…was a veritable clusterfuck of cliches, bad dialogue (and bad carrythrough from the actors), and overall story.  Because I can only guess that much of the original story was thrown out, we have, for our viewing displeasure, a series of torture porn riffs that never live up to whomever they were trying to emulate.  Heaven forbid, I even saw a bit of Eli-fuckwad-Roth’s school of “COVER A SHITTY MOVIE UP WITH GORE GALORE and TITTIES AND YOU’LL BE FINE” school of chicanary.  Oh, this flick had gore…bad, atrocious, terrible gore.  A girl (after exposing us to some barely-theres) pisses herself and is made to lick it up.  And what about this mafioso boss that looks like Ron Jeremy?  …I can’t go on, I really can’t.

This flick made me, in all actuality…angry.  I became literally pissed off that I was wasting my time with STOCKHOLM SYNDROME (a word, by the way, not even used corretly within the context of the film, so, they have butchered an English word to boot.  I…

No…that’s it.  I can’t go on any longer.  To Mr. Cavalline, I’m sorry, but if I were you, I’d take whatever negative or final product you have (be it tape or whatever) and destroy it.  I know it won’t stop this film from being released onto an unexpected audiance but, for your own sake, DESTROY IT.  That said, I would be interested to see some of your other films just to see if STOCKHOLM SYNDROME was just some horrible drunken mistake you made this time.  Perhaps this was just the bad bunch in that slowly rotting basket of film apples.

So would I be willing to give Ryan Cavalline another shot to show me that he’s more than this sordid, horrible mixup of piss-poor storyline, poor lighting, editing camera and sound work.  Anyone with the brass balls enough to strike out and work towards doing what they love best I have all the respect in the world for.  I just cannont recommend STOCKHOLM SYNDROME to anyone unless they are into really bad torture porn, horrendous acting and writing, and less than par direction.

Terrible.  DO NOT WATCH THIS.

THIS FLICK IS D.O.A–Watch at one’s own risk.
Stockholm Syndrome teaser trailer