Attention Horror Fans: Another Interview with acclaimed Writer and Director Lauand Omar

curse 10

More than three months have passed since I had the pleasure to interview acclaimed writer and director Lauand Omar about his upcoming projects and productions. In November he was looking for funds to continue the production of his highly anticipated horror movie Curse of Mesopotamia which is based on a terrifying legend from Kurdistan.

I am glad to announce that Lauand and his amazing team were able to continue filming, and they are adding the finishing touches to what I expect to be the biggest, scariest and creepiest horror tale of the year, if not even the past several years.
During this stressful time Lauand was able to squeeze in a few moments to do a quick follow up interview and tell us more about the movie:

Lauand, Please tell us again why you had to stop filming Curse of Mesopotamia last year?

We started production last summer in Erbil, Kurdistan Iraq. I shot my first movie there, back in 2005. Right
when we started filming Curse of Mesopotamia ISIS entered Iraq through Syria, we lasted 2 weeks before we had to stop, they got too close, some of our Kurdish Local crew went to fight them, flights got cancelled, massacres and real life horrors happening all around us.

Wow, that sounds terrifying. So when were you finally able to continue the production?

It took us almost 7 months to be able to continue with new Producers and Investors. Making independent films is not easy! But it will be all worth it, we are very happy with the footage of the new shoot.

How was it to see the entire crew back on set?

Curse 6

 

We decided to finish filming in the Kingdom of Jordan. We teamed up with Jordan Pioneers and MENA Films, the best in the Region, so it was a mixture of returning cast/crew and the new Jordanian/Palestinian Staff and Talents. It was surreal to see my actors back on set. Amazing feeling. We couldn’t believe we were about to finally finish the movie! I will never forget the smile on Stacy Thunes face (who plays Dr Barbara) when we hugged each other on her arrival in Jordan.

During the break did you make any changes as far as the script or storyline go? Were any characters added or erased?

curse 2

I think the best thing in having to stop for that long, besides the amazing locations we found in Jordan, is the changes that I made to the story. Having time and looking at the footage from Erbil made me go back to previous ideas from former drafts of the script and also gave me a few new ideas that were added. Some characters were slightly changed. The Character of Ahmed was added, played by Palestinian Actor Ahmad Massaad, a tragic character driven by fear, he sees only one solution, joining ISIS. There was no ISIS a few years back when I wrote the script, now making a movie about 5 foreigners going for group therapy in Northern Iraq doesn’t work anymore, so you can say the Script went through an update, yes it is Horror and supernatural, based on a legend, but very current and real.

Also, Ana Carla Sinclair originally came on set to Erbil for a few days to do interviews for Mexican TV but ended up doing a scene, she did amazing, and I really wanted to see more of her in front of the camera. I wrote her a bigger part which works perfect for the overall storyline.

That sounds very exciting. I really can’t wait to see the result. How do you feel now since the release of the movie is getting closer and closer?

It’s been 9 month now since I first shouted Actioooooon. Imagine, like giving birth! Now I can’t wait to finish the edit, and then introduce our Baby to the world, our Demon Child (laughs diabolically). I’m excited, already missing some of our Mesopotamia family even though we just parted ways a few days back. I can’t wait to hit the festivals and theaters and watch the movie on the big screen with them and see how the audience will react to it.

Curse 4

Looking back what was the hardest and most exciting part about the production?

The unexpected halt of production and the wait to be able to finish was the hardest part for sure. Things take time, and I’m not the most patient person around. The most exciting part for me was seeing my actors BECOMING the characters that were in my head for so long. Watching it becoming real.
Meeting and working with so many different people from different country’s was nice too. International cast and crew, all giving their best to make it happen. Fuck borders, we are all the same.

Is there going to be a premiere party?
You bet! Once it’s all ready, it’s time to party! We suffered enough haha. We are planning 2 premieres before the actual release and the festivals, one in Kurdistan Iraq and one in Amman, Jordan, to show our gratitude for their support and hospitality.

In our previous interview you referred to yourself as “(…)a Kurd without a country,(…)” because you and your family had to leave Syria for political reasons, and have been constantly moving to different areas and countries when you were a child. Is there a place you can call “home” now?

Not yet, once the movie is out I’ll find myself a new home (smiles). Or go back to a previous place that made me feel like Home, maybe a quick stop in NY or Acapulco, recharge, and the journey continues.

Since you already revealed that Curse of Mesopotamia is getting a sequel can you tell us if you are planning on having the original cast in it, or is this still top secret?

I can’t tell you who is returning just yet, let’s see who survives the Curse first (giggles) No, seriously, the good thing is that we are playing with reincarnation, so nothing can stop me from bringing back a character from the death (laughs).

Smart move. Last but not least, please tell us when Curse of Mesopotamia will be released, and through which channels or media it will be available.

We will be announcing release dates soon, all I can say for now that this summer we will start spreading the curse, Festivals, then Theatrical Release and pay per view before DVD and ultimately TV. Follow our Facebook Page to stay updated, and thank you Simon and all readers for your interest and following up with us.

The pleasure was all mine, Lauand. :-)

Please make sure to follow the Curse Of Mesopotamia Facebook fan page and Lauand’s personal fan page:

https://www.facebook.com/curseofmesopotamia and https://www.facebook.com/LauandOmar1

Make sure you support and follow the Curse.

Curse 8

Curse 11

Curse 1

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) – Underwhelming, however, It didn’t Suck

collection-fiftyshades-gallery_0

Category: Drama/Erotic
Actors: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Victor Rasuk, Luke Grimes, Marcia Gay Harden, Rita Ora, Max Martini, Callum Keith Rennie, Andrew Airlie, Dylan Neal, Elliat Albrecht, Rachel Skarsten, Emily Fonda

Duration: 125 min
Rated: R

You might Like this Movie if you enjoyed:
Romance (1999), Secretary (2002)

Long Story Short:

Literature student Anastasia has the opportunity to interview multi billionaire Christian Grey. Right from the start the two feel very attracted and oddly fascinated by each other. When they start spending more time together, Christian introduces Anastasia to a dark but exciting world of sexual desire, whips, chains, rules and obedience. But is pleasure and pain equal to love or is there a difference?

holding-fifty-shades-of-grey

Review:
I am reviewing this movie simply as a movie and not as a book adaptation. I have started the book but I wasn’t sold after the first 20 pages mainly because the way it was written wasn’t appealing to me, so I put it aside.

Unlike what other people claim I think there is a chemistry between the two leads. I am guessing that given the explicit topic shooting the movie was a little uncomfortable for Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, and therefore they seemed naturally awkward but that gave the movie a certain charm. However, because of this awkwardness it was hard to imagine that Dornan was that kind of man who likes to dominate others, at the same time it’s usually still waters that run deep. But in this case it didn’t quite add up.

The sex scenes were actually underwhelming and not as graphic or erotic as advertised in the trailers, and knowing that this movie was targeting mainly women I think they didn’t show enough of Christian Grey nudity-wise. The main focus was on Anastasia. Is the world not ready to see a penis on the big screen? I understand that adding more nudity would have caused the movie to be released in a limited number of theaters which play movies with NC-17 rating but I feel like since the major focus was the sex they should have dared to do so, and offered the movie on demand at the same time. I am sure many fans would have been more pleased then.

I am not entirely sure if the creator of the story knows anything about SM but I think the way it is portrayed in the movie is a little too harmless. SM can go way deeper than that.

Back to the movie, I think the story is a little lame, however, the two lead actors kept me interested and tried to carry the thin content somewhere, but at the end I wasn’t sold.

I was hoping for more redeeming qualities and complexity and depth of the characters but I didn’t get that. The only suspense the story has is the dark secret that Christian Grey carries that apparently explains why he has those sexual preferences. Not knowing what the secret was I already guessed it and had it confirmed by a friend who has read the book. So it is not really hard to guess.

Again, as someone who hasn’t really read the book and didn’t have any expectations of how the characters should look like, I thought Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan did a nice job. I also love the soundtrack. But the storyline needed more depth and thought.

If you like the erotic kind of movies you might want to try Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986), Eyes Wide Shut (1999) or Romance (1999) first.

Rating: 5/10

Babadook (2014) – Small budget, big Surprise

babadook_quad_art_3
Category: Horror/Drama/Suspense
Actors: Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, Noah Wiseman, Michelle Nightingale, Tiffany Lyndall-Knight, Tim Purcell, Benjamin Winspear, Cathy Adamek, Peta Shannon, Craig Behenna, Hayley McElhinney, Carmel Johnson, Michael Gilmour, Barbara West, Adam Morgan

Duration: 93 min
Rated: UNRATED

You might Like this Movie if you enjoyed:
If you know a movie that is comparable to Babadook please leave a comment

Long Story Short:
One night Amelia’s son asks her to read a book to him he found in their house. No one knows where it came from. As soon as she begins reading she realizes it is more than just a bed time story. She awoke something evil that will make the boogeyman look like a joke.

Review:
Babadook is a kickstarter project that raised a little over 10,000 USD, and is therefore a low-budget production. So if you expect CGI effects that will blow your mind, you won’t get it here.

What you get, however, is an atmospheric mix of drama and supernatural thriller that convinces especially towards the end.

The actors are engaged, the script is fluent, but the character of the little boy is so annoying. For the first half all he does is screaming. I wished the director would have decided to show his character in a different way; all I was thinking was: I hope the Babadook takes him, so we can all enjoy watching the rest of the movie.

The second half was very creepy and fun to watch; it kept me at the edge of my seat. The ending is not bad, but due to the little budget it wasn’t as big and bold as I hoped for.

All in all I enjoyed Babadook, it’s a great watch for Halloween, and I think I would watch it again.

Rating: 6/10

Annie (2014) – Why the Bad Rating?

183580
Category: Family/Comedy
Actors: Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, David Zayas, Cameron Diaz, Zoe Margaret Colletti, Nicolette Pierini, Eden Duncan-Smith, Amanda Troya, Dorian Missick, Tracie Thoms, Mike Birbiglia, Stephanie Kurtzuba

Duration: 118 min
Rated: PG

You might Like this Movie if you enjoyed:
It Take Two (1995), Matilda (1996)

Long Story Short:
Annie is a foster kid dreaming of finding her true parents. When she crosses paths with the rich and eccentric Will Stacks, who is running for mayor her life changes drastically, because his advisor is suggesting to take her in to better Stack’s public image.

Review:
Annie is another remake of the beloved musical which has been brought to life for the third time in the past three decades: the first one was released in 1982 and the Walt Disney version came out in 1999. The twist in this one – I am sure you have noticed – the main characters are black.
Is that a bad thing? Not at all. It might actually be a welcome change to not see black characters in a tragic movie about slavery or drugs, which are usually the ones that get attention.

Does it mock the original movie version of Annie? According to some very hateful tweets it does, but I don’t think it does, if even, I believe it opens a door for all the other kids in the world who can identify themselves with the new Annie. Annie doesn’t have a color; Annie is a kid with hopes and dreams, and even though these dreams don’t seem to come true, she never gives up, and keeps a positive attitude about life. But patience, perseverance, and her kind heart eventually open the door of happiness for her.

Even if we don’t know the story, it is very easy to guess how this movie ends. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it a lot. It made me smile, laugh, and if I wasn’t a robot (most of the time) I even would have cried a little. I actually went to see it twice to show extra support, since I believe the bad reviews it received were absolutely unfair and made people stay away; some may have not given it a chance, because they felt like they disrespect the 1982- version if they go and see this one. Pure stupidity. It is a whole different take, set at present times and targeted to the newer generation.

Cameron Diaz – often mentioned as miscast – did a great job, especially towards the end. I have to admit, the evil foster mother doesn’t fit her very well, but her character had a soft side which made it perfect for her.
Fun Fact: Originally, Sandra Bullock was offered the role, but she turned it down since she dislikes musicals.

Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis are terrific and so much fun to watch. Quvenzhané is a superstar, and with only 11 years old I can see her competing with the big names, which is why she is nominated for a Golden Globe. One thing I have to criticize about her acting is that a few times I wished her facial expressions were a little stronger. In those few scenes it seemed like she got her role confused with the one of the girl in Beasts of the Southern Wild – another great movie, but a total different character. The blank faces worked there, but not for Annie.

Another character I enjoyed was Grace, played by Rose Byrne. Byrne played her part well, and is an amazing actress.

The songs are great, and even though the movie is almost two hours long it never gets boring.

Why did it get such a bad rating? I am guessing because everyone refers to it as “the new Annie”, not just Annie. It is normal that the new always gets compared to the old. While the old one was cute, the new one is more hip. And I am sure had they stuck more to the original, people would have wondered why it was even made. I think the skin color of the “new” Annie plays a significant part as well. It’s a shame that color still matters. We are all the same, no matter how we look.

Annie is a sweet, wonderful movie, and a great way to start the new year. It is also the perfect movie for the holidays. The last time I went to the movies on Christmas I watched Django Unchained and Les Miserables, so much for getting into the holiday spirit.

Stop comparing and enjoy this movie for what it is: A wonderful experience.

Rating: 7/10

Calling all Horror Film Lovers – An exclusive interview with acclaimed writer/ director Lauand Omar

10301542_536113333157792_664014562586204534_n

2014 was a bad year for horror movie fans; the hand-held-camera or documentary-style genre was probably at its peak and has hopefully reached its end. So how much longer do we have to wait to see a decent horror movie? What if I told you there is a chance that we will get see a horror movie with motivated and talented cast and crew, an original and very creepy storyline that is not just a cheap copy from other movies, and a breathtaking setting? I know you just heavily nodded full of excitement and asked “Who? What? When? Where?”

10369029_10154226642655322_5009651494962030355_oAcclaimed writer and director Lauand Omar already made a name for himself in the Middle East and North Africa and is about to take over Europe – France to be precise – with a new TV series.
One of his latest movies, Curse of Mesopotamia, will be released in the United States in Spring/Summer 2015. It is a horror movie based on a terrifying legend from Kurdistan.
The movie is about half way done. The crew started shooting the movie in Iraq when all of a sudden it came to an abrupt ending. Due to a crisis that involved Isys they had to leave the country, and are now in need of funds to finish the movie and spread the Curse of Mesopotamia.

It is up to you now to help them shoot the remaining scenes and present this interesting movie to the world. Before we continue, have a look at the creepy teasers that are out right now.

Did I promise too much??

I had the pleasure to interview Lauand Omar and find out more about this highly anticipated movie and Lauand himself.

How did you know about the legend of Kawa, and what made you come up with a story about him?
I’m Kurdish from Syria so I grew up celebrating Newroz with my family, every march, the Newroz celebration is like celebrating New Years for Kurds and Iranians and others from the region formerly known as Mesopotamia, parts of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey.
I always loved horror movies and the legend itself is about a Demon that tricked a King in to eating children’s brains, very creepy! Magic, Witches and Demons – I always thought a modern take on it would be fantastic! So I took the legend and played with it. My story plays with re-incarnation; it’s set in both the present time and the past. Also, the legend of Kawa has never been told, like so many other legends and stories from this region, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only film lover that is ready for something fresh and original.

How would you describe your directing style?
I’m a big fan of 70’s cinema. I would say my storytelling style is very character and dialogue driven. I’m not much into the quick cut style that has become more and more popular. I love long takes, where the characters take you on a journey with them, for that strong dialogue and great actors are needed.

Name three movies that inspired you to become a director.
I spent half my childhood in the video store annoying the owners to let me rent horror movies! The Omen was one of the first movies I remember that left a huge impact on me, and is still one of my all-time favorites. Also Rosemary’s Baby, a classic, copied so many times but no one has been able to get close to its magic. Oh, and also The Goonies (smiles)

Are there any directors you look up to?
I love David Lynch! I was hooked to Twin Peaks when it came out and still watch the DVD’s every now and then. Also, Mulholland Drive is one of my all time favorites. David Lynch is amazing, his characters are so interesting, so original. he has such a magical view on the dark side of life.
I also love Gregg Araki’s movies. Again, interesting characters, I love how he explores characters that are not considered mainstream, be it LGBT characters, troubled heroes or just plain out crazy Motherf****s. Nothing predictable with him.

Where did you grow up and who inspired you to be the person who you are today?
Life itself inspires me, my family, my loved ones. We had to leave Syria for political reasons when I was little and I grew up between the Middle East, Tunisia and Germany. Being a Kurd without a country, and moving all over the place kind of stuck to me. After Germany I lived in Mexico for 4 years, then went to film schools in the US and Canada. Then work has taken me to live in UAE and Morocco. I spent the last couple of years between France, North Africa and Kurdistan Iraq.

What’s after the Curse of Mesopotamia?
It’s hard right now to jump in to new projects, there is the fear of losing focus on finishing Curse of Mesopotamia, but it has been 4 month since we had to stop filming and things need time. For now I’m lucky to be able to work on 2 exciting series, one for France and one for Tunisia. I will be writing, Switchers and Aassas, which made a lot of noise and had huge success in Morocco and Algeria last year, Switchers becoming the most watched web series in all Africa and the Middle East, Aassas (Al Khamsa in Algeria) the first supernatural/comedy TV series for an arabic audience, currently in post-production, both directed by my co-creator Aksas Actarus.

Judging by the teasers I want to see a sequel. Do you plan on writing/directing a sequel?
OH YES! The Sequel is in the works. I shouldn’t say much yet, but be prepared to see Kawa fighting alongside one of your ancient hero’s maybe….Each part of the world has some legends that should be told. Finding the way to cross over from the past into the present and taking care of unfinished business is one of the main themes of the sequel I’m writing.

In my opinion 2014 was a horrible year for horror movie fans. As a horror movie lover, can you name or recommend any good scary movies that have been released this year?
You are right. I’m so bored of the same story told over and over again. I have been very busy this year but I tried to watch as many movies as possible. I stayed away from the sequels and remakes, and from what I have read and heard I didn’t miss out on much. The only movies I remember watching this year are The Canal, really really good! Also an indie called The possession of Michael King. It had some really creepy moments.

Tell us one interesting fact about you that no one would guess?
I’m an open book, whatever you guessed is probably true, and worse! (Laughs loudly)

What would it mean to you if the funds for the movie were covered?
Finishing the movie and getting it out there means everything! I have been trying to make this movie for 3 years now. And it will hopefully happen, one way or another. Having a script and trying to get funding is hard enough, having to stop in the midst of production after starting to see amazing footage is the real nightmare! Feels like a curse almost, but when you start a curse, you have to finish it. (smiles)
We are eying a LA or Morocco shoot to finish the remaining 3 weeks, all depending on when and how much of the required budget we can raise. We got what we needed most from Kurdistan Iraq, which are the 600B.C. scenes, most of them filmed in the 6000 year old castle Citadel. Now what is left are mostly the present day scenes, which could be shot anywhere. If all goes well we will be happy to present the world Curse of Mesopotamia early summer 2015.

Thank you, Lauand for this great interview!! I am sure I’m not the only one who can’t wait for the movie to be released!

TO DONATE AND HELP LAUAND OMAR AND HIS AMAZING TEAM TO FINISH CURSE OF MESOPOTAMIA PLEASE KLICK ON THE LINK BELOW.

http://igg.me/at/mesopotamia

And to finish this whole post, here’s a little sumary from the master himself, Lauand Omar:

Annabelle (2014) – Average horror movie with good Cast

annabelle-2014-movie-poster
Category: Mystery/Horror
Actors: Annabelle, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Alfre Woodard, Kerry O’Malley, Brian Howe, Eric Ladin, Ivar Brogger, Geoff Wehner, Gabriel Bateman, Shiloh Nelson, Sasha Sheldon, Camden Singer, Robin Pearson Rose, Keira Daniels

Duration: 99 min
Rated: R

You might Like this Movie if you enjoyed:
Rosemarie’s Baby (1968), Insidious (2010), The Conjuring (2012)

Long Story Short:
After their home has been invaded by members of a satanic cult, a couple experiences supernatural activities that seem to be related to a vintage doll.

Review:
Annabelle starts off strong, with a few jump moments, some mystery and a little gore. After we have been introduced to the major plot, however, there aren’t following any surprises or twists any more.

We see cliché jump scares, people in bad situations not reacting in the brightest way at all, and an ending that was rather predictable than surprising or refreshing.

I have to be honest, I wished James Wan would have gone all out there and basically created a more evil and vicious doll than Chucky, I actually wanted the doll to chase people and kill without remorse, but maybe his budget wouldn’t allow those kind of special or CGI effects.

Don’t get me wrong, Annabelle is not a bad movie, it is probably one of the best horror movies that has been released this year – but 2014 was probably the worst year when it comes to horror movies – it is just nothing new.

I also enjoyed the acting a lot, especially Alfre Woodard did an excellent job, even though I didn’t like her character development as much, because it was just too predictable. But that’s not her fault.

Go rent Annabelle on a cold winter night and cuddle up on the couch with your significant other or a friend, or have a buddy night and order pizza and have some beers. Either way, it is not the worst you can do with your time.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Annabelle is based on the true story just like The Conjuring? But the plot of the movie itself was entirely made up, none of the main characters actually existed. The doll, however, existed and did some scary things to its owners. It is sitting in a wooden box behind a glass door in Monroe, Connecticut.

Here is a picture of the real doll and paranormal researchers Lorraine Warren:
lrndl

This and more interesting images and facts about Annabelle can be found on historyvshollywood.com

Rating: 6/10

Horns (2013) – Starts of promising, Ends in a huge Disappointment

Horns-Movie-Poster-All-Seeing-Eye
Category: Drama/ Mystery/ Fantasy
Actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson, Juno Temple, Kelli Garner, James Remar, Kathleen Quinlan, Heather Graham, David Morse, Michael Adamthwaite, Nels Lennarson, Don Thompson, Jay Brazeau, Alex Zahara, Kendra Anderson

Duration: 120 min
Rated: R

You might Like this Movie if you enjoyed:
N/A

Long Story Short:
After being accused for his girlfriend’s gruesome murder, a man grows horns and realizes that they give him the power to find the person responsible for the death of the love of his life.

Review:
I was looking forward to see Horns, mainly because I loved the whole idea of it, and was excited to see Daniel Radcliffe in a movie that actually takes place at present times. Little did I know that this was going to be the biggest disappointment I had in a while.

The movie starts very odd and the script feels very cartoony especially the dialogues, but since the plot was interesting I was willing to overlook that. After 30 minutes I got frustrated with the main character and how he doesn’t use his “powers” in a smart way, but instead, runs around without a clue, transforming from what I thought was going to be the hero of the story, into an annoying cry baby.

This genre is definitely not Alexandre Aja’s strength, he should stick with directing horror movies. While this movie is advertised as a horror mystery it is more of an intense mystery drama with a few comedic elements. The acting seems forced and lifeless. There are no emotions, nor motives given to the characters, which is why they seem constantly confused, and at the end when the final showdown was supposed to happen, I was not even surprised that it fell flat.

The entire time I kept wondering if the book the movie is based on is just as bad. It was written by Stephen King’s son, so I would have expected something different.

I wouldn’t know who to recommend this movie to. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even know what to compare it with. I felt sorry for all actors involved since none of them couldn’t really show what they are capable off. Daniel Radcliffe to me is like Kristen Stewart: While I think he is good actor, it seems hard to find the right character for him to play due to his one dimensional performances. But maybe he hasn’t been given the right script yet.

Rating: 4/10