Writer-director Petr Jakl discusses horror film ‘Ghoul’

Czech director Petr Jákl, once a stuntman in American movies, has come a long way from his roots in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He started out with roles in foreign films in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and quickly found a spot in Hollywood playing supporting characters in movies like xXx and AVP: Alien vs. Predator. Not content to stay in front of the camera, Jakl has now written and directed two of his own projects. The latest one, Ghoul, is hitting Philippine theaters on November 11.

Eric Shirey (Cinelinx) had the opportunity to interview Mr. Jakl while he was busy promoting the film. They talked about the rich history, superstitions, the supernatural leanings of the Ukrainian people, and more about the background of the movie Ghoul. Read on to climb inside the head of this up-and-coming director, writer, producer, and actor.

How did you get involved in Ghoul?

“Back in 2010 we went to the Ukraine to attend a festival. I had a chance to speak to some villagers and all of them mentioned famine in 1932 and the cannibal Chikatilo. It was very interesting because they spoke about cannibalism like it was something that was part of their life. I started to investigate more about it and I found more connection between the famine and Chikatilo. I also like the Ukrainian habits and how they believe in psychics, they are superstitious, and a lot of the people there also believe in supernatural forces. I decided to use those as much as possible and blur the lines between reality and fiction. Nobody will be sure what is real and what is not. That’s why I bought the real footage of the cannibal Chikatilo. That´s why I shot a real documentary with survivors of the famine that is used in the movie. I also shot the movie on the real locations where these horrible things happened and where Chikatilo was born.”

Give us a brief synopsis of Ghoul.

“Ghoul is a supernatural horror and also partly a thriller film involving the real life story of the Soviet Union’s most violent serial killer and cannibal. Andrei Chikatilo killed more than fifty people. Three Americans travel to the Ukraine to film a documentary about the cannibalism epidemic that swept through the country during the famine of 1932. They have chosen an area from which many more people are disappearing for no apparent reason. After being lured deep into the Ukraine forest for an interview with one of the last known famine survivors, they quickly find themselves trapped in a supernatural hunting ground.”

Tell us a little bit about your experience making Ghoul.

“I wanted to find actors who were not well known, but they had to be great. That´s why I did the casting in seven countries for almost six months. I had one actress from London, two actors from LA, and the others were Ukrainians. When the actors from California got to Kiev, they were pretty scared right from the beginning because they knew that we were going to shoot in real locations where people were killed. We had to go to the frontier zone between Russia and the Ukraine every day. Border police told us not to go alone to a forest because there are wolves and bears and that we should avoid speaking to strangers there and such. We had mostly night shoots in the forest. Some situations were really scary during the shooting because we thought that somebody was watching and we could not get rid of that feeling. I think it also helped to build a real atmosphere for the movie and it was a part of my plan.”

“I have to mention that we started to shoot Ghoul in 2011 before the Ukrainian Revolution and before “the conflict” between Russians and the Ukrainians began. There was no political reason to show a Ukrainian cannibal eating people and his connection with the famine caused by Soviet Union leader Josef Stalin. I just wanted to make the movie so real that people would feel like they are in the Ukraine in danger. That’s also why I interviewed real people and let them say what happened. Their stories about cannibalism are extremely horrifying because they are true.”

If you were in line at the movies and someone was trying to choose between Ghoul and the other movies playing, how would you convince them to see yours?

“I would say, ‘Would you be scared if you were in a cottage in the middle of a forest far from any civilization and Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer would be outside watching you?’ That’s how you will feel when you watch “Ghoul.” The two of them together are not as brutal and dangerous as Ukrainian cannibal Chikatilo. He killed and mutilated more than fifty people and he ate their parts. He was extremely brutal so people nicknamed him the Red Ripper. When you watch the movie you will be surprised who is really out there waiting to get you!”

Ghoul will haunt theaters throughout the Philippines beginning November 11, 2015 as released by Solar Pictures Philippines.

ghoul-official-movie-poster

‘Krampus’ is coming to town in December

“He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake…” goes the classic Christmas carol, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” But what if the lyrics were about something even more terrifying than a large bearded man with a sack of gifts?

That’s the basis of new film which will more likely fill you with festive fear than cheer. Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ Krampus, a darkly festive tale of a yuletide ghoul, reveals an irreverently twisted side to the Christmas holiday.

Directed by Michael Dougherty, “Krampus” stars Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Emjay Anthony, Allison Tollman, David Koechner, Conchata Ferrell, Stefania Owen and Krista Stadler.

When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max (Emjay Anthony) is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers.

All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.

Opening across the Philippines on December 2, 2015, Krampus is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Krampus-USPoster

Bond girl Olga Kurylenko becomes ‘The Professional’

Stepping a notch up from her Bond girl persona, Olga Kurylenko takes on the titular role in the action –packed female-driven role in The Professional, also entitled Momentum in international territories, Kurylenko stars alongside James Purefoy, Jenna Saras and Morgan Freeman.

“The Professional” brings Alex (Kurylenko), a mysterious thief, is pulled in by her former partner for one last heist. She quickly finds it was never just about the diamonds. A brutal murder sparks a cat and mouse chase between Alex and a master assassin. Now she must uncover the lies behind the heist and discover the secrets behind the men who have made her a target.

“The Professional” is now showing in cinemas nationwide as released by Pioneer Films.

‘Sicario’ battles today’s swath of darkest crimes

From acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners,” “Incendies”) comes Sicario, a searing emotional-thriller that descends into the intrigue, corruption and moral mayhem of the borderland drug wars starring acclaimed and award-winning actors including Golden Globe® winner Emily Blunt, Academy Award® winner Benicio Del Toro and Academy Award® nominee Josh Brolin.

“Sicario” ratchets into a series of boiling encounters when when Arizona FBI agent and kidnap-response-team leader Kate Macer (Blunt) uncovers a Mexican cartel’s house of death, her shocking find leads to profound consequences on both a personal and global level. Kate is recruited to join a covert black-ops mission headed by a mysterious Colombian operative known only as Alejandro (Del Toro) along with special agent Matt Graver (Brolin) Even as Kate tries to convince herself she’s on a hunt for justice, she is thrust into the dark heart of a secret battleground that has swept up ruthless cartels, kill-crazy assassins, clandestine American spies and thousands of innocents.

“It’s a movie about choices,” adds Benicio Del Toro, who dives into one of his most conflicted roles as the equal parts vengeful and tender hit man Alejandro. “It’s tough to say whether any character in Sicario is truly good or bad. Do the means justify the ends? What happens when go into a situation where you want to kill one guy and you kill 20 innocent people? You got the bad guy, but at what cost?”

“Kate is tempted by this world,” says Emily Blunt, who breaks the mold with her portrait of a fierce female character whose life is in jeopardy throughout every second of the film. “She realizes she was barely scratching the surface doing things by the book and now she wants to believe she can do something that will make a real difference. Yet the very idea of no longer following the rules turns Kate’s whole world upside down. Nothing makes sense anymore.”

Josh Brolin, who is known for characters who ply the edges, was intrigued by the movie’s subtext of big questions about values versus security and whether fighting criminals with outlaw behavior darkens hearts beyond repair. “This movie is a human mystery that you get to grab at and put together for yourself,” Brolin says. “It’s a suspenseful and emotional puzzle.”

For screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, slowly, a story began to emerge about a side of the war on drugs few ever have seen in the U.S. — the story of a war on drugs that often, in practical terms, becomes a war for drugs, as the powers that be jockey for control of the trade. It was, by necessity, a story full of human ambiguity. “Crime stories are usually told either from the point of view of the hero or the villain,” Sheridan notes. “This story couldn’t be like that. This is a story in which, even when you think the villain has been caught, you realize the problem hasn’t really been resolved. There will be another villain tomorrow.”

Sheridan’s script immediately garnered praise for its blend of a breathless thriller pace with the poignant characters of a sophisticated drama. But at first, he encountered resistance to the obvious risks of making the film. Then he met Thunder Road founder Basil Iwanyk and senior vice president of features Erica Lee.

Iwanyk says the screenplay was just too powerful to ignore; it was tense and timely, it was mesmerizing in its emotional sweep. “We thought it was one of the most beautifully, intensely, emotionally written thrillers that we’ve read in a really long time,” he comments.

Villeneuve felt an instant affinity for the material, but his aim was to leave judgment out of it, allowing the audience to decide whether the methods used by the blacks-op team are worth it in the end. “I have always thought that the world is gray, not black-and-white, and that the notion of good and evil is oriented by one’s cultural and geopolitical background,” the director comments. “Is there a solution to the continuing growth of the drug trade? Sicario raises a lot of questions, but it leaves the answers open.”

High-intensity action explodes in Sicario – now in cinemas nationwide as released by Pioneer Films.

GUIDE: Cinema One Originals Festival 2015

With its 11th year’s theme Kakaiba Ka Ba?, Cinema One Originals Festival 2015 will run from November 9 to 17 at Trinoma, Glorietta, Resorts World Manila and SM Megamall with the presentation of nine feature films in competition, 10 short films in exhibition, 12 foreign films, four restored classics and two special presentations.

cinema one originals 2015 ticket rates

Here are the screening schedules per venue along with the master schedule of screenings across all venues:

Cinema-One-Originals-Festival-2015-Complete-Schedule

FILMS IN COMPETITION

The nine feature films in competition are the following: (Click the movie title to view trailer.)

  1. “Baka, Siguro, Yata” by Joel Ferrer
  2. “Bukod Kang Pinagpala” by Sheron Dayoc
  3. “Dahlin’ Nick” by Sari Dalena
  4. Dayang Asu” by Bor Ocampo
  5. “Hamog” by Ralston Jover
  6. “Manang Biring” by Carl Joseph Papa
  7. “Mga Rebeldeng May Kaso” by Raymond Red
  8. “Miss Bulalacao” by Ara Chawdhury
  9. “The Comeback” by Ivan Andrew Payawal

Joel Ferrer’s cross-generational screwball rom-com “Baka Siguro Yata” stars Valerie “Bangs” Garcia, Dino Pastrana, Ricky Davao, and Cherie Gil.

Sheron Dayoc’s religious horror gothic “Bukod Kang Pinagpala” featuring real-life mother and daughter Bing Pimentel and Maxie Eigenmann as a mother and daughter in the grip of sinister forces.

Ivan Andrew Payawal’s comedy about suicide and celebrity “The Comeback” features Kaye Abad as a fading star whose life takes an unexpected turn.

Sari Dalena’s “Dahling Nick,” an experimental docu-fiction hybrid that celebrates the life and work of Nick Joaquin with Raymond Bagatsing in the eponymous title role.

Bor Ocampo’s “Dayung Asu,” featuring Ricky Davao and Junjun Quintana as a father and son enmeshed in a life of crime, is a homage to Pinoy action set in a unique milieu.

Ralston Jover’s “Hamog” blends neo-realism and magic realism with Zaijan Jaranilla and Teri Malvar as street children.

Carl Joseph Papa’s fully-animated “Manang Biring” is the touching story of a terminal patient and her estranged daughter with Erlinda Villalobos in the title role.

Raymond Red’s “Mga Rebeldeng Walang Kaso” is a look back at the early days of the first wave of Philippine independent cinema with Felix Roco, Epi Quizon, Earl Ignacio, and Nicco Manala.

Ara Chawdhury’s “Miss Bulalacao”, which introduces performance artist Russ Ligtas in his first film role, is a comedy about a young drag queen whose life is changed by a strange encounter.

SHORT FILMS

In commemoration of revolutionary cinema, Cinema One Originals 2015 will pay tribute to the first wave of Pinoy indies–the short filmmakers from the 80’s led by Raymond Red, Nick De Ocampo, Rox Lee and Joey Agbayani who are tagged as the pioneers of alternative cinema. As an auxiliary program, there will be a showcase of 10 short films from the Philippines, New Zealand and Iran.

The following are the 10 short films to be screened this year:

  1. “Junilyn Has” by Carlo Manatad
  2. “Sanctissima” by Kenneth Lim Dagatan
  3. “Dindo” by Martika Ramirez Escobar
  4. “Pusong Bato” (2013) by Pam Miras
  5. “Reyna Christina” by Pia Dimagiba
  6. “Memorya” by Jovanni Tinapay
  7. “Mabuhay ang Pilipinas” by Bor Ocampo
  8. “Anino” by Raymond Red
  9. “A Love Story” by Steven Baker
  10. “The Tenant” by Mohsen Mahkmalbaf

WORLD CINEMA

The 12 foreign films under “World Cinema” category are the following: (Click the movie title to view trailer.)

  1. “The Assassin” by Hou Hsiao-Hsien (Taiwan)
  2. “Journey to the Shore” by Kurosawa Kiyoshi (Japan)
  3. “Right Now, Wrong Then” by Hong Sang-Soo (South Korea)
  4. “Interrogation” by Vetri Maaran (India)
  5. “The President” by Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Georgia/Iran)
  6. “Arabian Night” by Miguel Gomes (Portugal)
    – Volume l. The Restless One
    – Volume ll. The Desolate One
    – Volume Ill.  The Enchanted One
  7. “The Lobster” by Yorgos Lanthimos (Ireland)
  8. “Rams” by Grimur Hakonarson (Iceland)
  9. “The Treasure” by Corneliu Porumboi (Romania)
  10. “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on its Existence” by Roy Andersson (Sweden)
  11. “Mustang” by Deniz Gamze Erguven (France)
  12. “Frenzy” by Emin Alper (Turkey)

RESTORED CLASSICS

Cinema One Originals will also present four digitally restored and re-mastered classic Filipino films.

  1. Gala premiere of Ishmael Bernal’s “Ikaw ay Akin”
  2. Lino Brocka’s “Insiang”
  3. Olivia Lamasan’s Sana Maulit Muli”
  4. Marilou Diaz Abaya’s “Karnal”

SPECIAL PRESENTATION

The festival will open on November 8 at Trinoma with the invitational screening of Erik Matti’s “Honor Thy Father” starring John Lloyd Cruz.

honor thy father

There will also a special presentation of Cinema One’s production of Sherad Sanchez’s found footage horror film “Salvage,” starring Jessy Mendiola as a reporter lost in a haunted jungle.

Join the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/882873195130605/

WINNERS: QCinema Int’l Film Festival 2015

QCinema International Film Festival 2015 has announced its winners tonight during the awards ceremony held at the QC Interactive Museum.

The following are the winners of QCinema International Film Festival 2015:

Best Director: Mario Cornejo for Apocalypse Child

Best Screenplay: Lilit Reyes for Water Lemon

Best Artistic Achievement Award – Editing: Lawrence Ang for Apocalypse Child

Best Film (Circle Competition): Apocalypse Child

NETPAC Jury Best Film: Sleepless

NETPAC Best Documentary: Crescent Rising

Best Actor: Dominic Roco for Sleepless

Best Actress: Tessie Tomas – Water Lemon

Best Supporting Actress: Annicka Dolonius for Apocalypse Child

Best Supporting Actor: Lou Veloso for Water Lemon

Audience Choice Award: Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo

Gender Sensitivity Award: Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo

WATCH: New clips from ‘Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse’

As the Philippine opening of Paramount Pictures’s Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse looms, the studio has now released two new clips from the teen-oriented horror comedy for fans to enjoy.

Packed with blood-soaked gags and inappropriate humor, “Scouts Guide” is said to be equal parts gory horror and raunchy comedy, pulling no punches on both grounds.

Watch the clip titled “How to Build a Campfire” here:

The movie stars Tye Sheridan, David Koechner, Cloris Leachman, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan and Sarah Dumont.

In “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse”, three scouts and lifelong friends join forces with one badass cocktail waitress to become the world’s most unlikely team of heroes. When their peaceful town is ravaged by a zombie invasion, they’ll fight for the badge of a lifetime and put their scouting skills to the test to save mankind from the undead.

Opening across the Philippines on November 11, 2015, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

‘American Ultra’ mashes up comedy with violence, romance

L.A. Weekly describes it as “A bloody valentine attached to a bomb. It’s violent, brash, inventive and horrific, and perhaps the most romantic film of the year.”

Boston Globe calls its stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, “Tender, forgiving, and sexy, they’re the hottest couple on screen at the moment.”

They’re talking about Buena Vista International’s new dark comedy “American Ultra,” the trippy story of Mike (Eisenberg), a convenience store clerk and his girlfriend, Phoebe (Stewart) whose sleepy, small-town existence is disrupted when his past comes back to haunt him in the form of a government operation set to wipe him out.

“The script is funny and scary and violent and sweet,” producer Anthony Bregman says. “It makes you swing in so many directions emotionally, which makes for a great movie experience. [Screenwriter] Max Landis knows the action genre well, which allows him to make fun of it while living up to the conventions and expectations.”

A large part of the humor comes from the fact that the filmmakers never lose sight of the idea that reclaiming his hardcore combat skills doesn’t change who Mike is. “Mike is a bit of a dreamer and he never loses that quality,” says producer David Alpert. “It’s just that now people are trying to kill him. We always tried to maintain a connection to what it would really be like if the stoner guy in your town got these abilities.”

Director Nima Nourizadeh, whose first film “Project X” has established him as an innovative new talent in Hollywood, impressed the producers with his ideas for maximizing both the action and the humor in the script. “Nima is a startling visionary in terms of how he sees a scene,” says Landis. “He didn’t change the script much, but the things he added made it even better. He structured the rhythms and beats in a way that is genuinely funny and fun to watch.”
Nourizadeh brought a sharp sense of humor, as well as an authentic sense of danger and visual excitement to the script, according to Bregman. “He is better than anyone I can think of at establishing a really calm, stable atmosphere on screen that eventually explodes into a state of complete choreographed chaos. It’s really fun to watch that build and ignite.”

The writer and director first met in April 2013 to exchange ideas about future projects. Landis told Nourizadeh about “American Ultra,” a spec script no one outside of his team had read yet. “The script really exceeded my expectations,” says the director. “Max is an intriguing storyteller. He feeds you information a little bit at a time until you are suddenly somewhere unexpected and completely crazy. His writing is always entertaining, but what separates this from other action comedies I’d read was that he nailed down the relationships between the main characters. It was the perfect second project for me.”

Producers Bregman and Alpert agreed. “The combination of Max and Nima was irresistible,” Bregman says. “Max’s first feature script, `Chronicle,’ is a favorite of mine. It was made on a modest budget with really interesting visuals that made it seem much bigger than it was. Nima’s `Project X’ was, in my opinion, one of the best movies of the last few years. It’s another small film with a really big reach. Both were fun and entertaining and innovative, and at the same time dealt with big issues in a subtle way. It’s exactly the sort of movie I want to see.”

“Teaming Max and Nima up and then adding Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart to the mix feels like we’re looking at the next generation of great Hollywood filmmakers,” concludes Alpert.

American Ultra will be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide starting October 28, 2015.

MOVIE REVIEW: Everyday I Love You (2015)

Everyday I Love You serves as the second time Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil are paired in a movie. ABS-CBN and Star Cinema very well know how to strike whilst the iron is hot but this one is just too soon given that its release is just a few months after two projects: their successful TV tandem in the evening teleserye Forevermore and their first movie Just the Way You Are.

In Mae Cruz-Alviar’s Everyday I Love You, not only is the grammar in the movie title taken for granted (a classic case of Every Day vs. Everyday–and let’s not forget about the missing comma), it seems that the entire movie has no regard to keeping things believable, let alone relatable. What it does best is to keep the audiences knowing what will happen next without giving the slightest chance for surprise or contemplation.

That just got to be your typical Star Cinema flick: pair up your best love team, throw in a superficial (and not to mention wholesome) plot, pepper it with supporting characters that are most of the time irrelevant, drench every scene with a love song that has a dedicated two-minute music video in the middle of the story, present a petty conflict, let the characters confront one another with loud voices and gallons of tears, and provide a happily-ever-after conclusion to an otherwise convenient love story.

And we have not even started with the flow of the story or how the story is superficial and immature! Or how it is barely possible for Gerald’s Tristan to speak clearly and that easily after having been comatose for more than six months and having undergone tracheostomy. Or how Liza’s Audrey is such a crybaby when she is supposed to be a strong girl. Or how Enrique’s Ethan is no different than his previous characters with his sticky stare and sugarcoated delivery of lines.

Aren’t we supposed to stop with make-believes that do not make sense?

 

‘The Good Dinosaur’ – A coming-of-age, “boy” and “dog” story

In a world where dinosaurs never became extinct and humans roam the wild, Disney-Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur features a simple, relatable story in which an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend.

“It’s the story of a boy and his dog—only in our story, the boy is a dinosaur and the dog is a boy,” says director Peter Sohn.

“It’s also a coming-of-age story,” adds Sohn. “Arlo is afraid everything. But his father, Poppa, is always there for him, encouraging Arlo to step out of his comfort zone, to confront his fears, to make his mark.”

“Arlo is young and vulnerable,” says character art director Matt Nolte. “He’s so unsure of himself and we wanted to capture that in his look. He’s smaller and thinner than his siblings.”

“Poppa is powerful and capable,” adds Nolte. “He has perfect posture and he walks in a straight line—he knows where he’s going—whereas Arlo actually zigzags.”

His siblings, sister Libby and brother Buck, are bigger than Arlo from the very beginning. Work and chores around the farm seem to come easily to them, which only shines a brighter light on Arlo’s inabilities. Arlo desperately wants to impress his family, but finds himself falling short time after time.

“Poppa gives Arlo a job—a mission to earn his mark,” says Sohn. “Arlo is tasked with catching a critter, a pest who’s eating the food they’ve stored for the winter. At last, Arlo has a chance to prove his worth. But in the end, he can’t do it. He can’t kill this creature he’s captured, and he sets it free, much to his father’s disappointment.”
Poppa’s subsequent tough-love lesson turns tragic, and Arlo has trouble coping. “He blames the critter for everything,” says Sohn.

Arlo‘s anger ultimately results in a major misstep that leaves him lost and far from home. His chances for survival are dubious until an unexpected ally shows up and lends a hand. The critter, later dubbed Spot, doesn’t venture far from Arlo—despite the dinosaur’s angry feelings about him. “Spot is really the opposite of Arlo,” says story supervisor Kelsey Mann. “He’s incredibly brave, tenacious and resourceful. He’s been out in the wilderness his entire life. So Arlo is forced to lean on Spot for support.”

The unlikely friends embark on an eventful journey through stunning but often unforgiving environments in an effort to get Arlo home. Along the way, they encounter an array of intriguing characters, including a family of T-Rexes. According to Mann, they’re the dinosaur version of cowboys. “They’re ranchers—quiet, intimidating, tough and massive. They play a big role in opening Arlo’s eyes to his fear.”

The T-Rexes were largely inspired by a family in the Pacific Northwest that some of the production team met. Filmmakers were captivated by their way of life after a research trip to their ranch, where they took part in moving cattle on horseback. Says Sohn, “It wasn’t even a about the cattle—though it was thrilling to see hundreds of them eyeballing us. But the way the members of this big family love each other and teach each other made such an impact.”

Opening across the Philippines on November 25, 2015, The Good Dinosaur is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures. Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #GoodDinoPH.