February 23, 2016
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Reviews Are In: DARLING’s Getting Love

Reviews are in for Mickey Keating’s DARLING, starring Lauren Ashley Carter, Brian Morvant, Sean Young, and Fessenden.

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“Filled with gorgeous black and white cinematography,
disjointed and off-kilter soundtrack choices, 
whispering voices, shocking violence, and subliminal edits
(not to mention an ever growing sense of dread), 
DARLING is the perfect fusion of arthouse and grind house…
the performance of lead actress Lauren Ashley Carter really hits this one home. 
5 stars / 5″
“The minimalist script and direction leave you mesmerized,
and Lauren Ashley Carter’s stellar performance simply can not be ignored.
4 stars / 5″
February 15, 2016
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Bloody Disgusting Reviews DARLING

Luiz H.C. over at Bloody Disgusting reviews Mickey Keating’s DARLING, calling Keating’s direction “…inspired, with German expressionist undertones and classic horror atmosphere permeating every scene.” DARLING hits theaters on April 1st and iTunes on April 8th.

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From Bloody Disgusting:

In a world full of soulless remakes and unnecessary sequels, it’s good to have a robust indie market to fulfill our more obscure horror needs. There is a dark side to independent filmmaking, however, as most of these films walk a fine line between artsy trash and low budget masterpieces. In Mickey Keating’s Darling, we’re presented with a mesmerizing experience that knows which side of the line it’s on, due in no small part to Lauren Ashley Carter’s amazing work as the unnamed protagonist.

The story follows a troubled young woman that becomes the caretaker for a mysterious New York mansion with a dark past. Left to her own devices by the mansion’s owners and tormented by confusing visions and nightmares, the woman begins to lose her mind as she encounters impossibly familiar faces on the street and deals with terrifying memories. Seemingly trapped by the house, she is left with no choice but to descend into madness.

It may not be the world’s most complex story, but the screenplay seems almost superfluous in a film that relies so heavily on visual storytelling. In fact, there is very little dialogue in the movie, and the few lines that are spoken are so ambiguous that they sometimes leave you with more questions than answers. This works in Darling’s favor, as the viewer is never quite sure if either the house or the leading lady is responsible for the horrific events depicted onscreen.

Although Darling boasts a modest budget, the cast and production values are phenomenal. There are only a couple of defined characters here, but their interaction (or lack thereof) helps to sell the protagonist’s extreme isolation, despite living in a metropolis. In the end, Carter does steal the show, but Sean Young and Brian Morvant are also excellent in their small but effective roles. Larry Fessenden also has a small cameo towards the end, which is always a pleasant surprise.

Mickey Keating’s direction is also inspired, with German expressionist undertones and classic horror atmosphere permeating every scene. The monochrome visuals may be off-putting to some, but they are masterfully used here, enhancing some of the gothic imagery instead of looking cheap. Darling does have some pacing problems, but the slower scenes are almost all done in service of mood and atmosphere, so these moments are easy to forgive.

There may be quite a few other films out there with a similar premise, but Darling is too charming and impactful to criticized for being derivative. The minimalist script and direction leave you mesmerized, and Lauren Ashley Carter’s stellar performance simply can not be ignored. It may not be a perfect horror film, but it’s damn good one, and I hope to see more of Keating and Carter in the future.

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December 2, 2015
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Daily Dead Reviews FESSENDEN COLLECTION

Patrick Bromley over at Daily Dead just wrote a review of THE LARRY FESSENDEN COLLECTION.

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“If ever there was to be a Mt. Rushmore of modern horror, there’s no question that the face of Larry Fessenden would get prominent placement. One of the patron saints of indie horror, Fessenden is a true auteur and a true original whose incredible career is now being celebrated with the Scream Factory release of The Larry Fessenden Collection, containing four of his films and hours of bonus features that help illuminate just what a vital voice Fessenden has been in the genre for more than three decades. This is one of the best horror releases of the year … Scream Factory has done such great work with The Larry Fessenden Collection that it’s one of those rare cases where the supplemental content is every bit as good as the film(s) it’s supporting.”

Read on for the full review. 

November 10, 2015
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Dread Central: FESSENDEN COLLECTION “one of the most important releases by Scream Factory”

Dread Central‘s Anthony Arrigo examines THE LARRY FESSENDEN COLLECTION.

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“Fessenden is a man who makes deeply personal films, raw & full of emotion, with horror merely an undercurrent complicating already troubled lives. He fully embodies the auteur theory by writing, directing, editing and sometimes acting in his own films. And he’s actually a pretty decent actor, too. Everything seen on screen comes directly from his mind, with no compromises or studio interference. There’s a real sense of cinema verite to his work; his characters look and act like real people in real situations. This is personal, introspective filmmaking without pretense.”

Read on for the full review.

October 27, 2015
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Fessenden in the News

Over the past few days there has been a deluge of interviews, reviews, and features on Fessenden.
We’ve assembled snippets of each here, with links to the full pieces.

Larry Fessenden Is the Greatest Horror Film Director You’ve Never Heard Of
VICE.com
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“I’ve worked pretty hard to get all these movies back under one roof—
I had to sort of rescue Wendigo from total obscurity. So that was a challenge.
I’m a collector-minded person, and none of my movies were on Blu-Ray,
and none of them had been well transferred onto DVD since their VHS days, either.
So I did it as an act of self-preservation.”

‘The Larry Fessenden Collection’ – 4 Films from the Mind of a Genius
Bloody-Disgusting.com
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“What Scream Factory and IFC have put together makes for
one of my favorite Blu-ray releases of the year.
While I think each film holds up on their own individual merits,
there really is something special about watching them together as a collection.
You get to see a director morph in front of your eyes
and grow as a director while never once straying from his roots.”

Needing Bigger Boats: FFC Interviews Larry Fessenden
FilmFreakCentral.net
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“When I was younger, one did buy into the theory of progress.
That we would invest in freedoms. Not George Bush freedoms,
but freedoms to flourish, freedom of sexual expression,
you know: freedoms. That we would take council from scientific discovery.
That we would stop putting DDT into our gardens.
But the way that we’re wired is so much more primitive.”

Fessenden on Festivals:
Indie Horror’s Larry Fessenden Reflects on the Fests that Shaped His Career

MovieMaker.com
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“What I found discouraging was that at Sundance
they were not programming thoughtful horror films,
but just schlocky B-movies that played at midnight.
The genre was not being treated seriously,
it seemed to me, and as a result my aspirations
to elevate the horror film was being frustrated.”

Here’s What Happens When Great Indie Horror Directors Make a Video Game
Indiewire.com

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“The unique voices of Fessenden and Reznick
come through clearly in the story.
Isolation is a theme both writers have circled
with an almost predatory focus in their previous work.”

September 18, 2015
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I SELL THE DEAD Vinyl Soundtrack Review

Check out the kind words from a fan of the new I SELL THE DEAD Vinyl Soundtrack, and take a peek at the color of the record itself.

Uploaded by youtube user 1quickGT

Copies still available for sale from Deep Focus Records.

September 1, 2015
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Tribeca Film Reviews UNTIL DAWN and Speaks with Co-Writer Graham Reznick

Matt Barone, writing for Tribeca Film, spoke at length with Graham Reznick about UNTIL DAWN, the PS4 Horror Video Game written by Reznick and Fessenden.

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Until Dawn gives you a very stereotypical approach and very stereotypical characters and has them do the things you’re familiar with, but then it puts you in control,” says Reznick. “Our players are given a certain amount of control over the characters, which allows you to take a stereotypical character and mold them into something that’s more reflective of you, the person who’s playing. That immediately raises the stakes and makes things scarier, because you’re truly invested in the characters. With each move and decision they make, the game’s characters start to resemble aspects of the player’s own personality.”

Read on for the full review and conversation with Graham Reznick.

August 24, 2015
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Mashable Loves UNTIL DAWN

Mashable just posted an awesome review of UNTIL DAWN. The PS4 exclusive, which hits stores tomorrow August 25th, was written by Fessenden and Graham Reznick, and features a butterfly effect based on every decision you make as a player!

Read on for the whole review.

August 3, 2015
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4th Act Film Collective Looks Back on HABIT

4th Act Film Collective, a new cinema blog, just posted an in-depth retrospective on Fessenden’s HABIT. Written by Craig Ian Mann, the piece is part review/part remembrance.

From ‘Death and Drink: Remembering Larry Fessenden’s Habit’:

Written, directed and edited by Fessenden, Habit is a truly sad, mesmerising and ultimately brilliant film about addiction, urban alienation and, yes, vampirism. But despite its inherent genre trappings, a documentary aesthetic – reminiscent of George A. Romero’s Martin – lends Habit a certain sense of realism. This is a beautiful if depressing snapshot of New York in the mid-1990s; a place where anything seems possible, but it is all too easy to get lost amongst the neon and noise. The film’s naturalism only renders its artistic flourishes more effective; Fessenden often cuts away from his characters, laying the soundtrack of their poignant dialogue over a montage of New York’s late-night city streets. And when the film does become truly surreal, – such as a scene that may or may not be a dream sequence in which Anna, withered and rotting, visits Sam in the middle of a fitful sleep – Habit’s grainy, choppily edited style only renders these moments all the more terrifying.

And Habit is terrifying. Perhaps it is not frightening in a way we might traditionally expect of a horror film – there are no jump scares here, and only a few scenes genuinely designed to shock. Instead, it is a chilling portrait of self-destruction. Fessenden’s is the stand-out performance; a realistic, unnerving portrait of a spiral into the abyss brought to life by a man who has clearly witnessed the devastating results of addiction first hand. And it is his ascent into the bottle that is really at the heart of Habit’s horror. A debate exists as to whether Anna is or is not a literal vampire but, honestly, the answer doesn’t matter; the true blood-sucker here is alcohol, a substance that slowly drains the life from Sam until he is a husk of his former self with nothing left to do but drink himself to death. Snaider’s uncaring vamp is simply along for the ride.

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July 20, 2015
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Fangoria Revisits Fessenden’s HABIT

Fangoria just released an awesome write-up/revisit on HABIT, written, directed, and starring Fessenden. As writer Ken W. Hanley states, HABIT is “an astoundingly well-made tale of sex, blood and psychological distress that functions as not only a great horror film, but a great film period.”

From the article:

For those unfamiliar with this macabre indie masterpiece, HABIT follows a young, alcoholic man grieving the loss of his father and a recent break-up, who meets an enigmatic young woman at a Halloween party. Soon, he finds himself inexplicably obsessed with the woman, with whom he embarks in a sexually-driven relationship that involves violent nightly trysts and orgasmic bloodletting. However, the man soons finds himself experiencing an inexplicable illness, and as his symptoms become worse, he begins to suspect that his partner may be something more vicious than a vixen.

But to Fessenden’s credit, HABIT doesn’t look like a horror movie; in fact, the style of the film is incredible indicative of the work of his indie contemporaries Abel Ferrara, Jim Jarmusch and Richard Linklater in that there’s a very purposeful, intimate composition of every shot, yet the camera is allowed to breathe and move around. The film’s descent from urban fantasy to hallucinatory fever dream terror is gradual and contemplative but also hypnotic in a sense, and the audience gets almost a claustrophobic sense from the predicament from our hero. And once the film goes firmly into genre territory, it’s completely in line with the narrative, with drives just enough doubt into the situation to ride the line of psychological horror and full-on vampire flick.

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