29th Sep2018

‘Black Site’ Review #2

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Lauren Ashley Carter, Jessica-Jane Stafford, Sophia Del Pizzo, Angela Dixon, Jake Francis, Samantha Schnitzler, Bentley Kalu, Fredi ‘Kruga’ Nwaka, Phoebe Robinson-Galvin, Kris Johnson, Toby Osmond, Mike Beckingham, Alana Wallace | Written and Directed by Tom Paton


Not one but THREE kick-ass powerful leading ladies. Break-neck fight choreography straight out of The Raid. A spellbinding and ear tickling 80s retro synth score. A chilling Lector-esque performance that gave this reviewer the Heebie Jeebies. Action, Elder Gods with a Lovecraftian mythology twist. Tom Paton brings all of this in his game changing must see genre defying, sleek, stylised, adventurous ode to John Carpenter for a modern audience.

Finally Black Site has had its sold out premiere at Frightfest down in London (sadly 365 could not make it). However this means that finally I can bring you my review. Now I will say right up front that if you listen to our podcast you will know my co-host and I were fortunate enough to visit the set when Tom and his crew were making Black Site but don’t be fooled because sub-zero temperatures in a dark as hell set of underground tunnels can sway a reviewer. Shout out to Bev for keeping us fed though.

The Pitch:

Ren Reid (Samantha Schnitzler) has spent her life hunting down Erebus, the elder god that is responsible for the death of her parents. Working for the organisation Artemis at the top secret deportation station the Black Site, today may just be that day. Erebus (Kris Johnson) has been caught and Reid is not going to miss this one, however all is not as it seems as the Black Site is under siege from the Followers and there leader Ker (Pheobe Robinson-Galvin). With the help of Sam Levy (Mike Beckingham) a somewhat out of his depth Artemis Agent. Reid is going to make sure Erebus makes this trip or better yet die by her hand.

The Verdict:

Its no secret I am fan of this flick so lets not mess about. I am however massively impressed with the huge leap that Paton as a director and his team have taken from Pandorica to Redwood and now Black Site (just you wait for Stairs). Considering the budget and the constraints you cant help but be blown away. The movie comes out of the gate with some old school Escape from New York style graphics mapping out the titular Black Site. The little cheeky nods to some of this directors favourite films don’t stop there but I wont spoil any because half the fun is spotting them.

When we spent our day on the set I will be honest with you, while I was in awe of the location, I had no idea how post production was going to make this 3 mile long maze of tunnels look like “Marvel on a budget” However having seen the movie the setting is perfect and looks gorgeous thanks to some uncanny VFX skills. It is somewhat scary that this was the vision from the outset. Major props to DOP George Burt for this too.

The cast of this flick are on point with some newcomers to the Patonverse in three kick-ass leading ladies. Samantha Schnitzler, Pheobe Robinson-Galvin and the always great Angela Dixon. Watch Sam and Phoebe bring the action with some bad-ass Raid style choreography, There were videos on the social media of the guys training for this flick and all that training fully paid off. Angela Dixon is the no nonsense agent trying to keep Artemis intact and get Erebus out of dodge. Mike Beckingham is back after his run in Redwood. In the role of Sam Levy, a role specifically written for him, he manages to bring the humour to break up the action a little. Mike is an actor we love to champion, he always brings it and delivers. We unashamedly love Mr Beckingham and recommend you keep an eye on his career.

Now… Lets talk about Kris Johnson… I don’t think Kris would find it unfair of me to say this but he is better known for your more London bad boy gangster-type movies. When we interviewed him on set he told us that people were going to be surprised by his role in this flick and wow, was he right. Erebus is one of the most well written, well rounded and complex antagonists your going to find. Johnson seems to embody all of this wonderfully. I kept making reference to a Lector-esque performance and that is spot-on, but the more I think about it and having seen the flick a couple times now, there are equal parts of Hopkins as Lector, Spacey as John Doe (Seven) with the calmest of delivery bringing up visions of Keyser Soze (The Usual Suspects). Not too shabby when your dealing with minus 15 temperatures (not actual temp). This is a break out role for Johnson, he has taken the ball and run with it, bringing a pitch perfect performance.

Black Site is a strong recommend. I normally don’t do scores because I like to keep my reviews simple, but in this case I am going to give this movie 4.5 Artemis Agents out of 5. Is it perfect? No but the good massively outweighs the bad. Independent movies can fail hard if the performances are not there and for my money there is not a bad performance in Black Site. Schnitzler, Beckingham, Johnson, Dixon, Robinson-Galvin and Bently Kalu are all very strong. Then there are the supporting players in our man about town Toby Osmond in a wonderful Dharmaesque instructional video, Alana Wallace, Jessica Jane Stafford and Paton fave Luke Da Silva.

Black Site… Check it out as soon as you can. And keep an eye out for Tom Paton’s next movie, Stairs, coming next year.


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