Review: Reincarnation (2005)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2016 by thiathebard

By: Bridget Cannon

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Dir. by Takashi Shimizu
Starring: YûkaKarina, Kippei Shîna

This is a movie that does not get enough love. Yes, I am starting with that statement because it is true. Reincarnation is a movie about an up and coming actress who is offered an amazing role. As the movie progresses and the cast gets closer to filming on location the creepier things get.

Reincarnation comes from Takashi Shimizu, the director that gave us Ju-on and The Grudge.  Nagisa Sugiura is offered the role of a lifetime in a film about a professor who killed his two children, guests and himself in an experiment about reincarnation. Nagisa begins to have dreams about the murders and starts to think that she is actually the reincarnation of the professor’s murdered daughter. Other members of the cast also begin to have strange experiences. One actress shows a friend a scar that makes them believe that she is the reincarnation of one of the victims. As the cast and crew finally assemble in the hotel where the murders took place they are placed or drawn to the areas where victims were killed.

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Reincarnation meets a lot of the checklist requirements of great J Horror for me. The story is good and keeps the viewer guessing. There are ghostly apparitions. There is lore that is explored throughout the movie. Great settings. No jump scares, which is a wonderful tool of J Horror that really spooks myself and others who are more accustomed to their over utilization in our films.

I would rate it: Must see.

Warning: Japanese with subtitles is how the viewer will have to watch it. This movie is totally worth it though.

You can watch the trailer here:

 

 

 

Review: Outlast & Outlast: Whistleblower DLC (Video Game)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2016 by Lilliandra Winters

Dev/Pub: Red Barrels
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS
Release Date: September 4, 2013 (DLC: May 6, 2014)

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Outlast Original Game:

You are a journalist armed with a camcorder who is investigating an insane asylum after you were given leads that would indicate abuse and neglect of patients, among other possible atrocities. You wander into the hospital, only to find murderous scenes before you. Hoping for the best, you continue on and soon learn that the whole institution has become a bloody shit show, complete with viscera and entrails strung about the place. The threats are abundant and smarter than you’d think.

As you traverse this gruesome landscape, your senses are almost constantly assaulted with screams, yells, creeks, eerie music, drips and drops, grunts and groans or the blood, gore, body parts, destroyed hallways, random medical equipment, fires, notes written on the wall and all the disturbing information you read about in the files you pick up as you go. It’s dark, dirty and deeply disturbing. As if finding body parts or bodies in various stages of ripped up or dissected aren’t bad enough, sometimes they are still alive, which obviously indicates experiments on living inmates. There isn’t a single thing about this game that isn’t a true horror show.

Outlast is by far one of the most terrifying video games I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The ambiance, the graphics, the twists and turns, the gore, and the dialog are all terrifying. Even for an older game, the graphics are haunting. I can’t tell you how many times I jumped, cried out and had issues sleeping. You can’t fight, you can only run, hide, or die. You’re equipped with just your camcorder, which you can use to zoom in and out. However, it is mostly used for the night vision (as long as you have batteries), helping you maneuver the maze of the nearly destroyed hospital which is mostly in pitch black.

If you are interested in playing this game, sit down because you have hours of gameplay to get through. This isn’t a quick game. It is a well thought out series of mind fucks, high tension, and not always random creepy music. The best part is that not everyone you run into is hostile, but good luck telling the good from the bad and holy crap are they creepy as fuck. You couldn’t pay me enough to do any of this crap.

This game has more elements than I could even do proper justice. It isn’t just about insanity, it is far more complicated. Initially, I went in thinking that insanity was all that was offered; however, there are parts of the story that dabble in the supernatural and scientific. Those lines felt blurred to me, though, and – please correct me if I am wrong – the ending felt weird. It was as if the story that you followed most of the way through was a strong misdirection and the actual story wasn’t explained until the very end of the game. The story made the beginning part of the game… moot, pointless.

I am torn about the ending. It wasn’t a bad ending by any means, but a little confusing. I think that it could have been integrated into the story better instead of being slapped on at the end. That being said, it is a phenomenal game that you have to play. It’s well put together with amazing game mechanics, interesting twists and turns, and enough terror and jump scares to give you some sleepless nights. Simply a wonderful and enjoyable game.

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Outlast: Whistleblower DLC:

If you didn’t think that Outlast could get better or more grotesque, I have news for you. The Whistleblower DLC tells you the story behind Waylon Park, the gentleman who sent you the original email in the first place. You get to see everything that happened after that email was sent and is it an amazingly crazy ride. I won’t delve too much into it, but here is what I will tell you.

The story continues to be amazing and a treat to experience. You run into new and old characters throughout the gameplay. It is definately worth the price; it adds so much to the game, which is what you look for in a DLC. I actually walked away from this DLC with a sour stomach, which is so hard, but there are a few scenes that even made me cringe, and for good reason. Actually, I think not cringing says more about you than it does the game, but not as much as the person who thought it all up. My mind was blown on more than one occasion.

I cannot stress enough how much this DLC added to the game and could have almost been a stand alone game itself. If you played Outlast without the DLC, you are seriously missing out! Now I’m going to scrub my brain with bleach.

WintersOver4

Review: Almost Mercy (2015)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2016 by Xander Woolf

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Dir. by: Tom DeNucci
Starring: Danielle Guldin, Jesse Dufault

What’s it about?
Emily (Guldin) and Jackson (Dufault) have had rough childhoods, to say the very least. Bullied in school, sexually assaulted, verbally abused, molested… the atrocities that happened in these kids’ lives seem to be never ending. Now in high school, the two are close to breaking. The question is, who will break first?

What did I think?
Almost Mercy has a film-making style that shows its influences clearly. There were scenes that reminded me of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and others where I was reminded of Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys. It also had elements of slasher films, high school horror and psychological thriller. No wonder Netflix gave it 4.25 stars.

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Emily (Guldin) and Jackson (Dufault)

While this movie contains major gore, violence and other terrifying situations, I don’t think I could classify it as horror like Netflix does. I wasn’t scared by it. It’s more of a dark (extremely dark) comedy, where you find yourself laughing at the way people are being killed, rather than scared for those people’s lives (much like A Clockwork Orange). It’s ridiculous that way. I mean, selfies are taken with freshly murdered bodies. That’s not meant to be scary.

Danielle Guldin and Jesse Dufault did amazing jobs as Emily and Jackson. Troubled and angsty youths, they were able to show us the absurd side of their actions while also making us cheer for them. And the supporting cast were just so very good at making us hate them with a passion. I’m one of the most empathetic people you’ll ever meet, but even I think those people deserved what they got in this movie.

The biggest problem I had with Almost Mercy was the story behind Mercy Brown, a young girl who had died about 100 years prior from Tuberculosis. The two teens hail themselves as “The Friends of Mercy” and she’s important enough for her name to even be in the title, but she had very, very little to do with the actual movie itself. They could have worked the story into the plot in a much stronger way, so we could make the connection more easily, but it fell short.

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Mercy Brown

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the ending. I won’t give it away, I promise, but it’s not realistic. Sure, I smiled because I felt good for our main characters, but when you really think about it, that many murders would lead to a much more severe outcome. Perhaps it’s all part of the absurdity.

Do I recommend it?
Oh, yes. Most definitely. Go and watch it. On Netflix. Now.***

***If you’re triggered by depictions of sexual assault, molestation, child abuse, gun violence or bullying, DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE.***

wolfout

Tim from Last Week Reviews: Criminal Macabre – A Cal McDonald Mystery #1!

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2016 by Tim from Last Week

Story: Steve NilesCriminal Macabre #1 cover
Art: Ben Templesmith
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Released: 4/20/2001 (collected 8/2011)

Steve Niles is well-known for his horror comic writing, as well as work outside of comics. He has written Spawn, Spawn: Dark Ages, and Hellspawn for Image Comics; 30 Days of Night (et. al.) for IDW Publishing; Batman: Gotham County Line and The Creeper for DC Comics; as well as writing the script for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s F.E.A.R.3 video game.

Ben Templesmith has created the art for some of comics’ creepiest titles, including Hellspawn, Hatter M, Fell, and Ten Grand for Image Comics; 30 Days of Night (et. al.) and Silent Hill for IDW Publishing; Gotham By Midnight for DC Comics; as well as art for Steve Jackson Games, Wizards of the Coast, and White Wolf Game Studios.

The cover of this book starts us off right. If this is your first exposure to Ben Templesmith’s art, get used to it: he creates some creepy art. Here, we see Cal McDonald, our “hero,” with a shotgun in his hand, blood on his chest, and a creepy dude (vampire?/demon?/something?) over his shoulder. The city is dark and gritty behind them, so I’m thinking things are bad.

It seems it’s been bad for Cal since childhood, when he found a headless body, and it’s only gotten worse from there. Cal headed west, to L.A., to try to stop monsters. Regular old, nasty, monsters. Cal works with some undead folks to battle the demons, werewolves, vampires, whatever.

The book opens with Cal telling some cops “what went done”, and they don’t believe his tales. Turns out Cal has some addictions, and some history, and the cops don’t really like him. As Cal tells his tale, we see it. Seems he was working a vampire case (cops couldn’t figure out why some college students were dead and missing their blood…). He gets some info, grabs his gear, and heads on out. As it turns out, there are beasties everywhere. Some are just trying to get through life, like us. Cal knows them all, but he’s most comfortable with the ones who lurk around the shadows. They don’t really make trouble, and they don’t tend to be noticed. Cal tracks his vampire, but his rules dictate he can’t just kill the baddie in front of the world. After lifting his wallet, he hopes to track the vamp home (to kill him), but notices another address while checking the I.D. When he gets to the address, he fights his own urges to bolt and get high, even though the gig doesn’t feel right. Cal’s vampire and some friends are talking inside, but he’s surprised to see different types of monsters, together. Instead of running scared, Cal pumps some adrenaline, and ends up interrupting the bad guys. Some monsters escape, some end up bloody, and Cal ends up with little information.

Time passes, and some beasties break into a lab (with the security codes…), to steal a chemical. They efficiently dispose of the records of their passing, but don’t kill the guard. When the police arrive, they find out that a rare strain of black plague was stolen. Records show it never killed anyone, but legend says it wiped out a town in the 1300s. Evidence indicates werewolves, but the crime doesn’t fit the wolves’ m.o.: hunting and killing. Cal stumbles home, hoping to dull the pain with his various vices, but ends up finding his ghoul friend, Mo’lock, in his place. Mo’lock informs Cal that the city’s ghouls want Cal’s help to solve a mysterious attack, so Cal and Mo’lock go deep into the sewers to talk to a gathering of ghouls.

So, I like Cal McDonald. He’s not a great guy, so far, but he is doing what he can do to keep the worst of the worst from damaging the normal way of life. Not that he gets to live that life, and not that he’s necessarily doing it out of love for people; just an obligation, a job. But, he’s also not just a random monster hunter, who kills just to kill. Bad guys may need to go down, but if you’re not a bad monster, it looks like he’ll leave you alone. Seems like a solid plan. This is not my first exposure to Steve Niles. I read all of his old Spawn work when it came out. And, frankly, this was not as scary as his older stuff, but I like the fun nature of this work, much better. The Spawn books were trying to show how evil evil can be, and I think Criminal Macabre is trying to show that there is another side to what we traditionally think of as monsters. I like that treatment much better (Hell, that’s how I view people!).

So, Ben Templesmith is great at creating mood. A lot of it comes through in his color choices, but even regular people can feel creepy under his hand. During the police interrogation, you can tell everything you need to know about the cops just by how their faces appear. I love this stuff. Cal goes through minor transformations from scene to scene, sometimes looking tough, sometimes beat down, sometimes even a little wimpy, and that’s all about Ben’s work. And, of course, we get to see a bunch of different creatures, and his art sort of re-interprets some of the old looks that we generally associate with these monsters. However, through all of the color palette changes and all of the different looks for the characters, there is never a moment where you can think it’s not a dark and gloomy book. We are shown the underbelly of the city, and the only place to go is down.

I really enjoyed this comic, and I plan to read through the rest of the stories. This is the first part of a 5-issue mini-series, but there have been a bunch of mini-series published (mostly) by Dark Horse Comics, who also published the omnibus edition that I used for this review. Criminal Macabre Omnibus volume 1 contains 2 complete series, plus a one-shot story (Love Me Tenderloin), plus another complete series (Supernatural Freak Machine), totalling 392 pages, all for $24.99. There are 2 more Criminal Macabre Omnibuses available, containing 368 pages per volume, also $24.99 each.

Criminal Macabre, and other great comics, can be found at Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex located at 4456 Main Street, Manayunk, PA 19127. Visit him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jdsherocomplex/

Review: Emily Wants to Play (Video Game)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2016 by Lilliandra Winters

Dev.: Shawn Hitchcock
Pub.: SKH Apps
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Android, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Mac OS
Release Date: Dec. 10, 2015

**This review contains SPOILERS**

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If you didn’t like dolls before, this will make you hate those fuckers with the passion of a thousand fiery hells. If dolls terrify you, turn around and walk away from your computer or go look at pictures of fluffy kittens. I won’t mind, promise. Go ahead.

Still here? Well, I warned you. You are a pizza delivery driver who is answering an online order to this random ass house in the middle of the night. This game warns all delivery drivers to never open the fucking door if no one answers. Seriously, dude, yeah you reading this. You don’t get paid enough for this bullshit. Anyway, the delivery driver opens the door and walks in to call out that he has arrived and the door shuts behind him and cannot be opened again. I would have thrown the fucking couch through the front window, but that’s me.

You wander around a house that appears to be devoid of people in some state of packed. You hear a story about a murdered couple found in a house with the door wide open and you find creepy ass notes around. If you are interested in playing this game, and I will tell you that you should, it is amazingly full of jump scares that rival Five Nights at Freddy’s and an interesting story. Sorry to give away my feelings so soon, but if you want to play, I will give you one tip: do the opposite of what the white board in the kitchen tells you. Now stop reading.

The first doll that you will encounter is Kiki. Kiki looks like me on a good goth day. She is a small white doll with black hair and a black dress. She giggles when she is around you. You have to turn and stare her down until she disappears with another giggle. Next, Mr. Tatters, the clown, (oh yeah, that’s right, there’s a fucking clown doll) will laugh. Don’t move! Don’t even turn to look! He will make a curious noise and then a disappointed noise. After the last noise, you can move as normal. Chester, the next doll, will laugh and you have to run the fuck out of the room. He looks like the typical old school ventriloquist dummy. He’s fucking terrifying. They are all terrifying.

This is by far one of the best horror games I’ve come across. The story is even disturbing: the family moves into this house and their daughter Emily starts acting strange; so strange that she begins acting out violently and is eventually kicked out of school. They lock her in the basement (this is a weird leap in the story), where she finds dolls and begins talking to them as if they can respond. Soon, Emily dies suspiciously. She has no marks and nobody has any idea how. After she dies, however, the dolls start moving around the house by themselves until the parents are eventually found dead.

I adore this game. Each jump scare, each doll, each rule. All of it. The story is a little odd. I would have worded it a bit differently and I don’t see why Emily had to be locked in the basement. There seems that there could be a better way to have done it, but it is literally the only thing I would have changed. I won’t spoil all of it, there are some things I am leaving out so you’ll have to play to find out. Tell me what you think and make sure you watch your own dolls.

Review: Hush (2016)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2016 by Xander Woolf

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Written and Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Also Written by: Kate Siegel
Starring: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr

There’s a heat wave in LA and I only have AC in the living room, so I took time out of packing and getting ready for my move across the country (more on that in another post) to sit down and watch some good old Netflix horror movies.

Hush had been showing up on my recommended list for quite some time. It looked to me like just another serial killer home invasion movie. I wasn’t wrong, but it’s got itself a nice twist on a classic.

What’s it about?
Maddie (Siegel) is deaf and mute. In what I can only imagine is an homage to the great Stephen King, she lives alone in an isolated cabin and writes murder mystery novels. One night, she is targeted by an intruder (Gallagher), but just because she can’t hear doesn’t mean he has the advantage.

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What did I think?
Upon watching Hush, I was delighted with it. I was eager to see how Maddie could get herself through this situation without being able to hear him. Most horror heroines rely very heavily on their sense of hearing, especially when they’re hiding. Maddie has to see her attacker in order to keep tabs on him, which means that Maddie can’t really hide.

After some further consideration, however, this movie falls a little short. Kate Siegel does an amazing job as Maddie. Maddie did everything I would have wanted her to. It’s the intruder (who is nameless) that I have issue with.

We at no point come to understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. This makes him ineffective as a villain. John Gallagher Jr doesn’t portray the intruder as a psychopath – he was too much like a normal guy. He’s not frightening after he takes his mask off. He doesn’t even act like he’s enjoying what he’s doing. There’s no laughter at her pain; there’s no menacing monotony in his voice when he’s speaks to her. There are no signs of psychosis other than the fact that we know he’s trying to kill her.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the actor. He did a very good job as directed. It’s the director that made this choice for the character. The whole movie would have been more effective if he had left his mask on and did not speak to her. He would have been scarier, especially since we learn nothing about him, other than the fact that he’s killed 13 people with his crossbow.

Everything else with this movie was well done, though. The lighting, the atmosphere, the portrayal of a deaf and mute victim. However, the ineffective villain left me calm throughout the whole thing. Not one jump; not one second at the edge of my seat.

Do I recommend it?
If you have nothing better to do, go ahead and watch it. Tell me if you think I’m wrong. Other than that, though, don’t make time in your schedule for this movie. There are much better picks out there.

wolfout

Review: Dead End Road (Video Game)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2016 by Lilliandra Winters

Dev: DDD Wares
Release Date: July 8, 2016

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What the fuck? So, nevermind that the graphics are old school pixels, I don’t care about that. Some amazing games are pixel-based. I even enjoy the premise: you are trying to complete a dark ritual to achieve your ultimate goal. I’m down. Deal with the devil. Crossroads pact. I get it. How you are magically teleported across the county is confusing, but okay, I’m trying to follow your logic here. So, you have to drive to different cities to find a book, a bell and a candle and something to light them with? Okay, I’m still with you.

Why the hell does the middle feel like a driving simulator from hell? I get the point, it is very obviously a challenge to make sure you are worthy or have the strength of whatever cliche you want to throw at me. That’s fine, but it could make a little more sense. It could be structured better. It would be amazing if every time you screwed up, you didn’t have to start the whole fucking game over again! What bullshit is that? You could just start at the last town back or something like that instead of having to start the whole annoying process over again, especially since the last drive makes going to hell seem like a simple task.

And please don’t get me wrong, I am all for hard. Make me work for it, don’t just hand me the ending, I want to earn it. By the time you finally get to the end of this game, you would rather throw your computer out the window because that would feel a shit load more satisfying. It took every ounce of my being to not type that out all in caps and I am sure you appreciate that I didn’t, but HOLY SHIT did it feel impossible and anti-climatic when the game was finally beat. Two of the endings I encountered were both disappointing and making me wish for all that time back.

Let me know what you think. Am I utterly wrong or filled with righteous rage quit?

WintersOver4