If you're into modern gore movies, the chances are you'll have happened upon Hardgore Core's page on YouTube, in which a beefed-up hulk in a ski-mask called Harry Collins reviews the bloodiest and grossest horror films out there.
Collins is the alter-ego of Nathan Hine, and late last year he completed work on his own short gore film - THE LAST DAYS OF LIVERMORE. SexGoreMutants were fortunate enough to be sent an online screener for review purposes.
Opening to a haunting piano-led score from Will England and David Jannarone, the film's first moments detail a largely silent car journey to the titular cemetery. Tucked away in the heart of the American countryside, a sense of isolation is immediately felt as a young couple pull up at the cemetery gates and exit the vehicle, making the remainder of their trek on foot.
The girl (Karla Lander) voices her concerns about returning to the cemetery. However, she keeps up with her silent boyfriend (Hine), who resists answering her questions as to why he feels the need to visit this place one more time, and instead forges onwards towards his destination.
As the couple enter the cemetery, an atmosphere of dread builds: graves stand erect but dishevelled; a light mist forms in the distance; not a single human soul can be seen or heard for miles around. The man strides with purpose to a particular plot in the graveyard, his partner looking on anxiously as she tries to guess his next move.
And then, for the first time, he speaks. He declares that things aren't working out and reveals it's time to move on. Ah, his girl doesn't take to this news so well...
LIVERMORE hinges on a twist which makes it fairly impossible to expand any further.
With little dialogue throughout and plenty of establishing shots to pad out the running time, THE LAST DAYS OF LIVERMORE makes for a very deliberately paced 19 minutes. This works in its favour, events building slowly but surely towards their key moment when we realise what's occurring. The journey there is ambient and foreboding, Hine's measured direction conspiring with the aforementioned score and some really great cinematography (from the director and Darren Ricci) to create an impending sense of doom long before the shit begins to hit the fan.
When it does - again, no spoilers - the blood runs red and thick. Like, really thick. I haven't seen gore this treacly in a long time. And it looks great. Okay, some of Jake Frye's flesh-tearing FX work is a tad primitive - it reminded me at times of Leif Jonker's celebrated DARKNESS - but on the plus side, it's all practical and there is no holding back when it comes to letting the red stuff flow.
Performances are adequate for what I assume is a very low-budgeted affair, the lack of dialogue for the most part probably working in the film's favour. There's an element of expressionism felt as a result, which comes across as more beneficial than having slightly self-conscious actors get bogged down with an abundance of wordplay. Hine has an agreeable screen presence, at once imposing and relatable, and it's with no disrespect to the likeable Lander that I say he more or less carries this in terms of drama.
Check out the closing montage of misty images too. They're simple, but quite beautiful and evocative (the cemetery used is a great location). I can see Hine honing his talents in future films and becoming a very good filmmaker indeed.
With echoes of DEAD MAN'S SHOES, THE SIXTH SENSE and perhaps even classic early 80s Fulci, THE LAST DAYS OF LIVERMORE is shot on HD and clearly aspires to offer viewers a little more than mere sick kicks. There's something to ruminate over here. That's not to say you won't be impressed by the amount of grue on offer, as mentioned in my previous paragraph.
The film currently has its own Facebook page where you can keep up to date with its release progress. As of the time of writing this review - late February 2017 - THE LAST DAYS OF LIVERMORE has three potential DVD releases planned. A self-released, extras-laden director's cut is in the works. The film is also set to be included on Yan Kaos's European DVD release of GORE ANTHOLOGY 4, and Stateside as part of FRAMES OF FEAR 2.
Look out for THE LAST DAYS OF LIVERMORE or, better yet, like its Facebook page and get to know more about both its release progress and its maker - whose next project, THE SIDELING HILL, sounds like something else to get excited about.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Directed by Nathan Hine|