Author John Townsend

My interest in film originated from the excited anticipation of waiting to find out which new film would be shown on television as the Christmas Day premiere, which probably says more about my age than I would like! I am a lover of all things cinematic with a particular interest in horror and began writing and reviewing as an excuse to view and discuss as many films as possible, with as many people as possible.

Reviews Profile-of-a-killer-2012

It is rare to come across a serial killer film that tries, and more importantly succeeds, in approaching the subject from a different perspective. Drawing on influences from The Silence Of Lambs to Insomnia, Caspian Tredwell-Owen has created a chilling thriller that belies his relative inexperience.

Saul Aitkin (Gabriele Angieri) is a former FBI profiler who is drawn out of retirement to provide his experienced insight into a baffling case. Someone is abducting and murdering unconnected victims and then disposing of the bodies after horrifically disfiguring them. As Saul and ambitious Special Agent Rachel Cade (Emily Frandenburgh) investigate they encounter a killer whose motives and actions remain elusively unpredictable and Saul must call upon all of his experience to prevent further victims and ultimately save his own life.

Canadian Film Festival 2014 play_the_film_2013_2

Focusing on the tension and ego-based disagreements that exist behind the façade of a new play’s opening is an interesting premise brimming with potential amusement and cleverly constructed inside jokes delivered with a knowing nod to the audience. Unfortunately Play: the Film, from first-time feature director Alec Toller, never really harnesses this humour. What’s left is an array of stereotypes and caricatures with more annoying mannerisms than entertaining quirks.

Reviews 2012_12_03-Patrick_0149-640x426

A remake of the little known 1978 film of the same name, Patrick (:Evil Awakens) is a throwback to a style of filmmaking that is rarely seen today. There is little subtlety in Mark Hartley’s tribute to Hammer-style productions but while this is partially the film’s strength, it is also its weakness.

At a remote, extremely private psychiatric clinic that specialises in housing comatose patients, Nurse Kathy Jacquard (Sharni Vinson) is beginning her first day at work. Under the watchful, suspicious and unfriendly eye of Matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths) she goes about her duties tending to the unresponsive patients until she discovers Patrick (Jackson Gallagher) in Room 15. Sensing something untoward, and a strange, developing connection, she oversteps her responsibilities before being brought back to normality by her promiscuous and fun-loving colleague Nurse Williams (Peta Sergeant). As her developing relationship with Patrick draws suspicion from head of the clinic Doctor Roget (Charles Dance) Kathy realises that there is more to this particular patient than she first thought and begins to fear for her own life, and that of those around her.

Film Festival Valentine-Road-2013

If there is one truly horrifying revelation, or perhaps confirmation, to emerge from Marta Cunningham’s documentary Valentine Road it is that some human beings are still absolutely limitless in their small-mindedness and bigotry. Cleverly finding a difficult neutrality the film never directly comments on the extraordinarily opposing opinions expressed, preferring to leave that to some of the more credible figures involved, and honestly and without internal prejudice presents a balanced view of the main protagonists.

Amidst more gory and spree-like killings, whether high school based or not, the story of Larry King’s murder is probably little known outside of North America. This was a crime of one 14 year old boy on another 14 year old boy and while hugely tragic may not have caught the public’s imagination as much as a multiple victim attack. But delve a little deeper behind the facade of Oxnard, California as Cunningham does and what is revealed is deeply sad story of two diverse young men who shared troubling and isolated lives, and who were dramatically failed by those adults around them.

Film Festival SONY DSC

Political themes are inherently unavoidable for any film emerging from Northern Ireland’s blossoming production line but writer and director Paul Kennedy manages to steer Made In Belfast away from any obvious pitfalls. With a changing, modern city as the backdrop this is a tale of forgiveness and redemption that flirts with sentimentality without ever becoming too saccharine.

Jack (Ciaran McMenamin) is a successful writer living hermit-like in Paris. On the day his new book is launched he receives a call from his estranged brother Petesy (Shaun Blaney) who tells him their father is hours from death. Much to the chagrin of his agent Jack leaves immediately and travels home to Belfast without any real thought as to how much history is waiting for him there. Following the death of his father Jack begins to reconnect with friends he had lost when he left some 8 years prior with the reasons for that dramatic and speedy departure slowly emerging. With many wounds still very raw it remains to be seen how much Jack’s life and that of those around him have really changed.

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Paul Verhoeven was once described as a one man Dutch film industry, a writer and director who cut his teeth in his homeland before making the successful transition to Hollywood and the mainstream. Early works were well received internationally on the award and festival circuits but it wasn’t until his first American film Flesh + Blood in 1985 that Verhoeven established himself as a filmmaker to be revered.

Set in 16th century plague-ridden Italy the film’s plot is fairly loose. Martin (Rutger Hauer) leads a motley band of mercenaries who find themselves betrayed by their King and on the run. They retaliate by kidnapping the King’s future daughter-in-law Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and after receiving what the group perceive as divine guidance, they set up home in a castle after forcibly evicting the current residents. Prince Steven (Tom Burlinson) is obviously wronged by the disappearance of his fiancée and pledges to rescue her, besieging the castle. As infighting threatens to divide Martin’s fugitives Agnes inevitably begins to develop feelings for her captor and the film settles into attrition as neither party will back down.

Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema The-Saragossa-Manuscript

Based on fellow Pole Jan Potocki’s immense novel ‘The Manuscript Found In Saragossa’ published posthumously in the 19th century, Wojciech Has’ film is a bold, epic tale of intertwining stories and fantastical notions. Set during The Napoleonic Wars two rival officers discover a book in an abandoned house which relates the story of one of the men’s grandfather, a captain in the Walloon Guard.

Home Entertainment

Rush from Ron Howard is quite simply a cinematic experience. This is a boys own adventure story built around the intriguing world of Formula One and the sport’s stereotypical elements of fast cars, playboy drivers, willing groupies and intense rivalry. The thing is though that amongst these extremities of life lies an almost unbelievable truth, a story that is so laden with fantastically uplifting and tragic moments that surely it must be exaggerated?


Based on a true story, Jamesy Boy tells the story of James Burns who in his teenage years descended into a life of crime and gang violence. During his subsequent imprisonment he discovers hope and humility through writing and follows the advice of a fellow inmate as he tries to slowly turn his life around.