Announcement of New Focus ‘The Damien Riley Podcast’

Hi readers and listeners. I have some exciting though maybe different sort of news for you today. After writing my own short version of movie reviews here at Riley on Film for several years now, I am stopping. I am doing this because:

1) I enjoy podcasting more than writing reviews and will continue to do so at thedamienrileypodcast.com and

2) Frankly, at nearly 49 years old I have to prioritize my art-making energy. Writing reviews has not yielded much attention in the way of comments or likes. So yeah, it’s kind of your fault along with mine 🙂 I have no desire to do solely written sites anymore.

But check this out!!!

I have some podcasting years in me so I hope you’ll support me and join me at thedamienrileypodcast.com

I will be writing a bit there as accompaniment to the audio reviews.

You can listen and subscribe to the Damien Riley Podcast at these various choices:

Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

To my readers at Riley Film: goodbye, and to the readers who end up listening: HELLO LISTENERS! 😉

Enjoy your day!

Damien Riley


Dark Country: Audio Review

My score: 8/10. A horror noir film set in Las Vegas. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and talk a lot in this episode about why it works. I hope you enjoy listening.

Dark Country (2009)
R | 1h 28min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller | 9 October 2009 (USA)

A couple en route from Las Vegas are forced to deal with a body out in the desert making their honeymoon one hellish ride.
Director: Thomas Jane
Writer: Tab Murphy
Stars: Thomas Jane, Lauren German, Ron Perlman

Berberian Sound Studio: audio and written review

My score: 9/10. Sound effects to me are so cool. I’ve always been interested in them. I recall they used to show how they made movie sounds in a pre-trailer ad for the Times. That was awesome, it made me realize that sound effects are cool. “The Berberian Sound Studio” is about sound effects in movies. There is also an underlying story that bridges horror with drama and a psychological twist. As an aside, I have changed my podcast name to “Why This Movie Works.” I explain why as an intro to this podcast. You can listen here.

Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
Not Rated | 1h 32min | Drama, Horror, Thriller | 31 August 2012 (UK)

A sound engineer’s work for an Italian horror studio becomes a terrifying case of life imitating art.
Director: Peter Strickland
Writer: Peter Strickland
Stars: Toby Jones, Antonio Mancino, Guido Adorni

I see a common theme in this film with “The Shining” where the protagonist is spiraling down into madness. You also see this in the classic lit tale “The Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe. This is common on many horror films. I think we are all worried about it to an extent.

In this film, a guy is hired to come in and do sound effects for film. He doesn’t know much about it. As he goes through his professional duties, we get to see how they make sound effects for movies. It is really cool! Later on in the film, we find out he is trapped there. He decides to take up his responsibility and just do the work.

The video of the film is never shown. We are kept guessing by the audio. It really shows how powerful audio is to movies.

I greatly enjoyed this film and I highly recommend it to you. I give it a 9/10. There is much more detail in the podcast you can listen to right here on this website.

Sami Blood: Audio Film Review

One review I read before watching this movie said, “Open up to this film.” That’s what I did and I am glad. It is beautiful to look at and it contains a timeless tale.

The haves vs the have-nots: one of the most ageless templates of humankind. This is a Swedish film with English subtitles. That’s what’s going on here in “Sami Blood.” Elle Marja is an old woman reflecting on her life as a young woman who is part of the “Sami Blood” or the reindeer farming peasants. After foul treatment at “school” and discovering a general malaise in the life style she was born into, she decides to impersonate someone in the upper echelon. She is desperate, she will do anything to be part of the higher society.

Sami Blood (2016)
Sameblod (original title)
1h 50min | Drama | 2 June 2017 (USA)

NOW STREAMING on Prime Video
A reindeer-breeding Sámi girl who is exposed to the racism of the 1930’s at her boarding school, starts dreaming of another life. But to achieve it, she has to become someone else and break all ties with her family and culture.
Director: Amanda Kernell
Writer: Amanda Kernell
Stars: Lene Cecilia Sparrok, Mia Erika Sparrok, Maj-Doris Rimpi

The Swedish landscapes are incredible and the hardworking director/writer Amanda Kernell makes sure they are in many scenes as background or even just filling the entire frame. These hills tell a story. In interviews she says she had to make decisions similar to this young character. Many of her culture had to decide where they would live. There is a powerful scene where the young woman demands an heirloom from her family so she can continue going to private school under a dead girl’s identity. The mother is torn as to what she should do. The “low people” are like native Americans the way they live. They do need money though so this is a demand that borders on insult.

She falls into a relationship with a young man. At first it appears as if they love each other. The cinematography of them dancing and enchanted time time together is wonderfully mesmerizing. Later though, his parents in whose home they are having their affair question her motives and they force him to turn her out. On her way out, she doesn’t state her love for him, she is desperate. She only pleads, “Tell them I can work here cleaning.” While a sad scene, it goes to show the invisible wall between these two castes of the Swedish countryside.

My daughters are going to “Vid-con” in a few months. We paid for their tickets at Christmas. There, they will see “The Gabby Show” and other of their favorite Youtube stars. These rich famous people are their stars. I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to the lower and upper people in this film. Maybe America hasn’t come very far in its middle class. Still, I am happy my kids have tickets to something they feel excited about.

As the film concludes, we aren’t given a nicely wrapped conclusion. This is one of those films you have to make your own mind up about. For me, it is about the age=old controversy between upper and lower class. The middle class is a new thing America has produced. THrough time people have been either “Haves” or “Have-nots.” Can we judge Elle Marja for wanting something better? Was this her only option? He young sister stayed faithfully with the Sami Blood. At a point near the end, at her sister’s funeral, Elle Marja rips off the casket lid and her sister’s weathered face is revealed. Which lived a truly happier life? This is a longer, historical period piece in a foreign language. It won’t appeal to everyone. As for me, I was deeply touched. It lost one point because several scenes took longer than they should have. Beyond that, it’s excellent. I give this film a 9/10.

Man Pedicure

Sarah made me get a pedicure. They used what looked like a standard cheese grater on my cracked heels. “It will be relaxing” they said. 😉 Well in truth, it has felt pretty good. Guys, go for it. This isnt my first but the first time they got out the cheese grater. lol.

via Instagram: theDRpodcast

Now Watching Sami Blood

Now Watching this foreign drama. One review said “Be open to this film.” That was all I needed. If it’s amazing I’ll let you know. Anyone out there seen it? Care to share? Spoilers are fine w me.

via Instagram: theDRpodcast

Barracuda: My Audio Movie Review

My score: 8/10. Damien Riley’s Audio review of the film “Barracuda” (2017). This is a great thriller! The music was so so but it worked to serve the plot. As a thriller/drama, this film gets 8/10 with me. There is nothing so much fun as a great thriller. There’s also a bit of mystery to figure out as well. Now streaming on Amazon Prime. Listen to my review here.

1h 40min | Drama, Music, Thriller | 11 March 2017 (USA)

With Prime Video
A strange woman comes to Texas to meet her half-sister and stake a claim to the family music legacy-one way or another.
Directors: Jason Cortlund, Julia Halperin
Writer: Jason Cortlund
Stars: Allison Tolman, Sophie Reid, JoBeth Williams


My score: 8/10. “Barracuda” is an interesting film about an unexpected visit from a supposed 1/2 sister. Allison Tolman is the most recignizeable one and she puts on a great performance. This thriller was very exciting though seemed to lose its way once or twice.

via Instagram: theDRpodcast

Prometheus: an Example of a Great Prequel

Ridley Scott has said numerous times that this is decidedly not a prequel to the Alien franchise. I would say that is a somewhat misleading statement. It takes place in the same Alien universe with the same sorts of life forms only other species thereof. This could be considered a prequel that requires another movie to really explain what is going on in the Alien movie itself. Furthermore, there is an alien creature at the end that is a child version of the ones we know so well from the franchise. Listen to my audio review of Prometheus:

Prometheus takes us back to the time before Ridley Scott’s Alien. It fills in a few gaps for us as fans of the franchise and opens all sorts of curious new doors. It stars a relative newcomer who really packs a punch in her role. The actress who plays the tough and sexy Elizabeth Shaw, Noomi Rapace, is well known for playing Lisbeth Salandeteen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series (Swedish version). Other actors with outstanding performances include Logan Marshall-Green, known for Devil, and Michael Fassbender as the android.

The movie starts out slowly though it reveals some truly amazing cinematography of Saturn and other parts of the universe in the story. In the beginning a human-like creature drinks a poisonous mixture and the special effects of his demise pull you in right away. There are, in fact, some really gruesome scenes in this movie. No special effect is spared when actors are taken out, Alien anyone? Still, despite the obvious resuscitation of an old sci-fi hit, Prometheus has a lot of treats all its own not the least of which being the question of how we came to be as a species. This movie says that aliens created us then decided they’d made a mistake, and then made aliens to wipe us out. It’s actually a pretty interesting premise, though it sounds really simplistic now as I write it.

Here’s a summary: The crew of a ship named Prometheus are heading to another planet that has some of the features of Earth and is able to sustain life. When they get there they find cave drawings and dead bodies of ancient creatures that died around 2,000 years prior. One cool piece of trivia is that the cave paintings are derived from and include some of the actual cave paintings from Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams. In discovering these giant caverns, they set off dormant life that was meant to destroy humanity. This was not the life of their creators but rather created beings to destroy humanity. It is evident that “the engineers” or, those who created humans didn’t really care much about us and in fact decided we were destroying Earth’s environment to we therefore needed taking out.

There is a token android on board along with a bunch of men and women that are almost identical in character to those in the Alien movie. After a lot of gratuitous violence meant to show the aliens truly hate people, Elizabeth Shaw discovers as one of the last living crew members that she must destroy a disembarking ship designed to kill all life on Earth. She manages to destroy it with the self-sacrifice of a few of the remaining crew who die. In the end, Elizabeth takes off with the severed head of an android (?) and sets out to “search” for the engineers. The movie isn’t over before an alien is “birthed” in the usual way. As I said, there are a lot of commonalities between Prometheus and the Alien movies.

Final Thoughts
In the final analysis, Prometheus is a visually stunning, well crafted and well acted movie. It starts slowly but when it picks up it is the ride of ones life. I haven’t seen a sci-fi this exciting and enjoyable since … well, since Alien. All the questions I ever had about Alien were answered here. Well, all except one: will there be a second prequel to catch us up to the beloved sci-fi horror film we know and love so much?

I Origins

My score: 7/10. Interstellar brought in a new sub-genre of sci-fi we can call “oddity.” “I Origins” fits into that category I think because there is a whole lot of oddity going on here. Most of it is interesting and intriguing but there are times I have to admit the details were lost on me.

I Origins (2014)
R | 1h 46min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi | 19 September 2014 (South Africa)

A molecular biologist and his laboratory partner uncover evidence that may fundamentally change society as we know it.
Director: Mike Cahill
Writer: Mike Cahill
Stars: Michael Pitt, Steven Yeun, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey

The director gave us “Another Earth” which is also a sort of dreamy sci-fi netherworld. I don’t think all things in his films are meant to be understood but rather felt. Retina photos are like fingerprints which allow a scientist to identify people anywhere in the world. That, in fact, is where this film takes him as he studies and makes conclusions based on people’s eyes.

I thought things were jumping around in time but discovered there is only some of that going on. This film will require your full concentration to get what is happening. At the same time, if you open yourself up to the film, I think you will be pleased with it and its final result. Because it will not appeal to traditional audiences who prefer more simple answers, it loses a couple of points. Still, I did enjoy it but understand it does require your full attention until the end. 7/10.