31st Aug2018

Frightfest 2018: ‘Black Site’ Review

by Alain Elliott

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

black-site

One of this year’s Frightfest World Premieres, Black Site had people excited with only its description promising John Carpenter-esque action… Which is all I needed to hear to give it a watch. In truth, despite despite this playing at Frighfest, it’s not really a horror movie. The sci-fi elements more than make it worthy of being shown at one of the World’s leading genre festivals though.

The sci-fi here feels very Lovecraftian, involving elder gods that are living on Earth being captured and held at the Artemis Black Site until they are not needed any more and are sent back from where they originally came. It all feels very much original but does sometimes seem like a backdrop to what is the highlight of Black Site. And that’s the fight scenes. Reminiscent of one of the best action movies ever, The Raid, the fight scenes are realistic, hard-hitting and violent. Not only that but there’s lots of them. Despite the sheer amount, things don’t get boring and the fights actually get more enjoyable as the film goes on. All set basically inside four walls, the choreography had to be great, and it is.

The sci-fi does play its part though. There’s several shots of a giant tentacled creature in the sky (almost identical to The Mid Flayer in Stranger Things) that look fantastic. The whole story gives proceedings an edge that similar films don’t have despite a pretty generic futuristic site.

Performances are very good. There’s plenty of strong female characters here and luckily the actresses playing the roles are just as good. In particular, newcomer Sophia Del Pizzo as Danforth and someone horror fans might recognise (I immediately did from her role in Jug Face) Lauren Ashley Carter as Agent Leonhart. But the best performance for me comes from Kris Johnson as main villain Erebus. He’s sinister, creepy and intimidating despite being in an electrical cage for most of the movie. For Game of Thrones fans, he reminded me of the excellent Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton in the long running TV show.

Visually, Black Site is fantastic too. The director is clearly going for his own distinctive style and the cinematography and lighting show this. There’s clearly an eighties influence here but not so much that it feels like anything is being ripped off. This looks much better than the budget would suggest. To go with this style, there’s also a synth-heavy musical score. You’d be forgiven for thinking this is being a bit over done in horror at the moment but it fits perfectly here and it’s a score I’d happily buy and listen to again and again.

For those wanting something a bit more low key than superhero movies when it comes to sci-fi action films, Black Site should be right up your street. Exciting and refreshingly original, it delivers everything you would have hoped for.

**** 4/5

Black Site screened at Arrow Video Frightfest on Monday August 27th.

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