Film Review: Loop Track

Starring: Thomas Sainsbury, Hayden J. Weal and Tawanda Manyimo
Directed by: Thomas Sainsbury
Rated: NR
Running Time: 96 minutes
Dark Sky Films

Our Score: 3 out of 5 Stars

At the opening of “Loop Track,” Ian (Thomas Sainsbury) is ignoring call after call as he parks his car at the edge of a New Zealand wilderness. Sweat percolates his head even though it doesn’t appear to be hot outside. Once he sets out on a hike, to who knows where, he avoids hikers as best as he can. It’s obvious that something is going on with Ian, but we don’t know what it is. Is he outrunning somebody? Is he worried about running into someone he knows? Why is he seemingly escaping into the woods for a hike?

The potential answers are sidelined when Ian runs into the overly talkative Nicky (Hayden J. Weal). Instead of revealing what bugs him with the Nicky, who overshares about everything, Ian doubles down on the awkwardness and sweating. Stuck together, the duo stops at a hiking trail cabin for the night, encountering a honeymooning couple, Monica (Kate Simmonds) and Austin (Twaanda Manyimo). Just like the viewer, they realize something is off with Ian, but no one can figure out what it is. Oddly enough, they have a lot of patience for his panicky shenanigans.

“Loop Track” is a near masterclass in suspense, making you wonder if Ian is experiencing stress-induced delusions, if he’s legitimately seeing something distant and foreboding in the surrounding woods, or if he’s the true terror. I give major props to Sainsbury, who also wrote and directed the film. So much of the film is carried through his embarrassingly shy, self-loathing cringe character. Sainsbury also writes a perfect counter balance to Ian through Nicky, an unnaturally cheery, comic relief who seems more focused on getting laid by every female he encounters, rather than Ian’s growing paranoia. The newlyweds play as a middle ground between the two, reacting with nuance and grounded reality to Nicky’s horniness and Ian’s fears.

The payoff in the film is unpredictable, truly. Is it a good payoff though? It’s something I’ve been struggling with. My emotions in the final act ranged from genuine surprise to disappointment. That being said, the movie is crafted in such a way, even if the payoff doesn’t work for you, it has it’s claws in you and you can’t turn away. While Sainsbury may be known more for his comedic chops and talents, he has a keen sixth sense for horror. If “Loop Track” is a sign of Sainsbury’s prowess for horror, I can’t wait to see what he has in store next.

MediaMikes helps usher in JawsFEST: The Tribute

9:00 a.m. came early on the island of Martha’s Vineyard this morning. But that didn’t stop Dave Picton and I from covering the opening ceremonies of “JawsFEST:The Tribute,” a salute to the film “Jaws,” which was filmed here in 1974.

The day began with a mob of people assembled in front of the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown, waiting for their chance to purchase their admission bracelets. As the purchases began a buzz went through the gathering as an old-style fire truck approached, transporting many of the special guests that the masses had come to see. Among those on the truck: Production Designer Joe Alves, co-screenwriter and co-star Carl Gottlieb, co-stars Jeffrey Kramer and Susan Backlinie and Hollywood make up master (and Media Mikes pal) Greg Nicotero. My day got off to a great start. A special batch of Media Mike’s t-shirts had been printed for the event and the first recipient was Wendy Benchley, whose late husband, Peter, had written the original “Jaws” novel. Several people in the crowd were Media Mikes fans and clamored for the shirts. Thanks to everyone there, especially those of you that complemented our site. Several of us with media credentials were allowed an early peek at what is sure to be one of the event’s most popular attractions, a display of memorabilia entitled “Behind the Screams.” Inside fans will be greeted with various items detailing the making of the film. I’m happy to say that several items from my own collection are prominently featured and I couldn’t be prouder. But what fans are going to fall in love with is a group of lifelike character sculptures of Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss greeting them from the transom of the ORCA. The sculptures are the work of Greg Nicotero, who had built a full size mock up of the mechanical shark’s head for the first JawsFEST in 2005. These sculptures are truly works of art and are so realistic and lifelike that many fans found themselves doing double takes.

One of the highlights of my day came when I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Ms. Virginia Shaw, whose late brother Robert played Quint in the film. I also had the chance to talk with Erik Hollander, director of the fan driven “Jaws” documentary “The Shark is Still Working,” which will finally be released next week when it is included on the upcoming “Jaws” Blu-ray DVD.

As the day went on, fans spent their time touring the exhibit, attending a book signing with Matt Taylor, Jim Beller and artist Paul McPhee, who collaborated on last year’s award winning book, “Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard.” They also took a (2) hour bus tour around the island visiting various locations where the movie was filmed. There are three more tours planned for the rest of the event. Friday’s tour will be hosted by Lou and Yana Pisano, whose “JawsFest” film series is popular among fans. I’m very proud to say that I will be hosting Sunday’s bus tour. For tickets visit


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MediaMikes’ The Best and Worst of 2011

Happy New Year!

What better way to begin the new year then to discuss the good, bad and ugly in film from 2011.  Keep in mind that some of the films that may be honored in the upcoming Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations (“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “The Iron Lady”) may have only played in New York City and Los Angeles for the past two weeks to qualify them for those awards and haven’t been screened yet.  Just a caveat in case one of them is GREAT and you ask us “how could you leave “THAT” off of your ten best list???

Here are the films the Mikes thought were the best of the past year.  With the exception of the first film noted, in no particular order:

Mike Smith

1. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
“The Artist”
“War Horse”
“The Descendants”
“The Way”
“The Conspirator”
“Crazy Stupid Love”
“Water For Elephants”
“Super 8”

Mike Gencarelli:

1. “Midnight in Paris”
“The Adventures of TinTin”
“The Descendants”
“Fright Night”
“The Help”
“The Muppets”
“Final Destination 5”
“True Legend”

And, of course, the 8 worse:

Mike Smith:

“Shark Night 3D”
“Red Riding Hood”
“Green Lantern”
“Gnomeo and Juliet”
“I Am Number Four”
“The Tree of Life”

Mike Gencarelli:

“Shark Night 3D”
“Conan the Barbarian”
“Mars Needs Moms”
“Scream 4”
“Red Riding Hood”


A MEDIAMIKES EXCLUSIVE – On the set of “The Avengers”

If you travel to the city of my birth, Cleveland, Ohio, you will find many great things to see downtown. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Progressive Field. Cleveland Browns Stadium. New York City.

You read that right. Smack dab in the middle of downtown Cleveland the new Disney/Marvel Films production of “The Avengers” is going full force, with Hollywood doing it’s best to turn “C-Town” into the Big Apple.

From what I can tell, parts of New York City have been badly damaged. Piles of rubble and vehicles, including a city bus, are strewn across East 41st Street (one quibble with the production if I may – the “East 41st Street” sign was large and purplish – not what you’d normally see if you visited Times Square. If these scenes are, in fact, set in New York City – the bus and taxi cabs bear New York state license plate – let’s be accurate).

“The Avengers,” starring, among others, Robert Downey, Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Renner, is scheduled to open on May 4, 2012.

A vacant city bus rests against a pile of rubble.

Note the New York State license plate.

 Taxis stacked liked pancakes.

More destruction.  Note the sign on the Parking Garage reads “Premium
      Parking for Grand Central.”

On Set.

MovieMikes’ “The Guild” Interview Series

Like Video Games? Like Web Series? Well then “The Guild” is definitely for you!! This web series started in 2007 and since then has aired four seasons.  The series is extremely popular and even spawned two hit songs and music videos on iTunes.  With season five on its way this summer, Movie Mikes wanted to speak with the cast of this series to discuss working on it and the upcoming season.  Hope you enjoy these interviews!


J. Teddy Garces

Jeff Lewis

Robin Thorsen

Sandeep Parikh

Vincent Caso