Monday, October 18, 2010

Shocktober Director of the Day: Neil Marshall

British director Neil Marshall burst onto the scene with his unique take on the werewolf genre, Dog Soldiers in 2002. It tells the story of a British military squadron sent on a training mission in the Scottish Highlands, where they encounter a family of werewolves.

Co-starring Kevin McKidd (currently seen on ABC's medical drama "Grey's Anatomy"), Dog Soldiers works mostly because Marshall knows how to ramp up the tension, saving the reveals until his audience almost can't stand it anymore.

Marshall's follow-up, the Sundance sensation The Descent, in 2005, ramps up the tension and exploits many people's phobias, is one of the few movies that have ever been able to make jaded Uncle P actually jump while watching it (more on that in a moment). The Descent is the story of 6 women who gather once a year for an adventure vacation. After a whitewater rafting trip, Sarah's (Shauna Macdonald) husband and daughter are killed in a tragic accident. A year later, the friends reunite for a spelunking adventure in the Appalachians. Led by the reckless Juno (Natalie Mendoza), they soon find themselves the victims of a cave-in in an undocumented region. Their struggle to escape is only complicated when they discover they are being stalked by a group of cannibalistic humamoids.

Claustrophobic and downright terrifying, The Descent is probably the most intense and frightening Horror movie since Alien. Marshall takes his time, building tension before unleashing a torrent of violence and gore, leaving his audience not quite of what of what they have or haven't seen. I saw this movie with a dear friend who wanted to challenge her claustrophobia and her overall Horror movie attraction/revulsion issues. Not only did she nearly twist my arm off, she couldn't help but comment when the first appearance of a "crawler" (the movie's monsters) made me literally shout out loud. .Make sure you see the original Britsh version and not the American cut.

Marshall's next film was 2008's apocalyptic Doomsday, starring Rhona Mitra, Bob Hoskins and Malcolm MacDowell. Set in a future where a virus has all but annihilated mankind and London has been walled off from the rest of Great Britain, Doomsday is a story about a team sent out to retrieve a young survivor who may hold the key to cure for the so-called 'Reaper Virus.' A sort of "Mad Max meets 28 Days Later," Doomsday doesn't quite have the same feel of Marshall's previous films, and ultimate fails because of the  familiarity of its premise.

His follow-up to Doomsday is Centurion, a film about seven Roman soldiers trying to escape the clutches of brutal warriors in ancient Britain. It has yet to be released in the U.S., though the trailer makes me yearn for Marshall's Horror roots:

Hopefully, Marshall's next film will be epic, frightening and original - qualities his earlier works prove he is capable of demonstrating.

More, anon.

1 comment:

Cinema Du Meep said...

I like everything he's done so far. He's the real deal.