25th May2014

Review Round-Up: Demon Legacy, Squatters & Drive Hard

by Phil Wheat

Welcome to the first in a new feature here on Nerdly where we take a look at some of the weeks new releases in smaller, more succinct capsule reviews with a rating to let you know whether to Rent, Buy, or wait for Netflix and/or other streaming services…



Stars: Anna Maria Demara, Kati Sharp, Grant Alan, Nancy McCrumb, Cortney Palm | Written by Tracy Morse | Directed by Rand Vossler

In a remote mountain lodge, ­ five college friends are spending time together to help one of them get over a break up. After a late night drunken party the friends decide to play with a Ouija board, with terrible consequences. An unholy evil is unleashed and the friends must battle evil and each other, as the lines between reality and imagination blur the struggle to save them begins.

Demon Legacy has one hell of a pedigree: a first-time feature from director Rand Vossler who, fact fans, worked alongside Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary at Video Archives (Vossler is also named a co-producer and cinematographer of Tarantino’s first flick My Best Friends Birthday), the film was written by Tracy Morse who also penned the script for the 2011 horror movie Creature (review).

The film also shares a lot in common with Morse’s previous script – in so much as both have a very old-school feel. Creature felt like an 80s monster movie a la Roger Corman’s 80s horror oeuvre (Humanoids From the Deep, Piranha), whereas Demon Legacy feels like a low[er]-budget version of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead meets Kevin S. Tenney’s Witchboard.

And if that sounds like something appealing then Demon Legacy is worth at least a watch. The film is out now from 101 Films.




Stars: Thomas Dekker, Gabriella Wilde, Luke Grimes, Richard Dreyfuss, Nancy Travis, Gia Mantegna, Lolita Davidovich, Evan Ross, Andrew Howard | Written by Justin Shilton | Directed by Martin Weisz

Imagine you had a chance to live someone else’s life… For two young drifters, Jonas (Thomas Dekker) and Kelly (Gabriella Wilde), their dream comes true when they illegally take residence in an upscale home of a vacationing family. But things start to spiral out of control when the rightful owners, Michael Silverman (Luke Grimes) and his father (Richard Dreyfuss), unexpectedly return from overseas. Now Jonas and Kelly are trapped by their own deceptions, leading to a violent, inevitable confrontation between two very different worlds.

Martin Weisz returns to the directors chair some seven years after his previous flick, The Hills Have Eyes Part II, with a film that makes more use of Weisz’s skills as a music video director than filmmaker – Squatters is a case of all style and hardly any substance, coming across more vapid than Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring (a film which obviously inspired this production).

Squatters is nothing you haven’t seen before in each and every other trading places/trading homes film that Hollywood has pumped out over the years and it’s certainly nowhere near some of the best. If it wasn’t for a fantastic performance from Britain’s very own Gabriella Wilde, the film would be instantly forgettable.

Squatters is released on DVD on May 26th, courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.




Stars: John Cusack, Thomas Jane, Zoe Ventoura, Damien Garvey, Christopher Morris, Yesse Spence, Andrew Buchanan | Written by Chad Law, Evan Law | Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith

Drive Hard sees thief, Simon Keller (Cusack), arrive in a foreign country in need of a getaway driver. Rather than recruit one from the underworld, he takes a driving lesson from ex F-1 champion, Peter Roberts (Jane), now working as a driving instructor. After Keller robs a bank during the lesson, Roberts has no choice, but to use his driving talent to get away from pursuing police and mobsters.

It never bodes well when a film starring two A-list actors, in this case Thomas Jane and John Cusack, goes direct to DVD, especially when it’s released by a smaller independent label. But when that film is directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith, one of the pioneers of the early 80s Ozploitation movement, it simply has to be a must-see… Thankfully Trenchard-Smith doesn’t disappoint with Drive Hard.

Reminiscent of Trenchard-Smith’s Aussie exploitation films, bringing the same strong visual sense to this film as his previous efforts. Yet except for the films opener, which runs at a blistering break-neck speed, Drive Hard is something of a slow-going film. More of a character study than the stunt-filled actioners we’ve come to expect from Brian Trenchard-Smith.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the chemistry between Cusack and Jane make this something of a buddy road movie – even if the script, by Chad and Evan Law (who’ve penned some seriously bad Cuba Gooding Jr. action movies), doesn’t have the same spark as more famous buddy comedy/action flicks such as Lethal Weapon etc. Thankfully between Cusack, Jane and Trenchard-Smith, Drive Hard overcomes its shortcomings and its less-than-stellar script to be a fun action flick.

Drive Hard is released on DVD and Blu-ray on May 26th, courtesy of Signature Entertainment.


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