Archive for horror movie review

The Mummy (Movie)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on October 13, 2017 by thiathebard

Written by: Bridget Cannon

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Written and Directed by: David Koepp and Alex Kurtzman
Starring:  Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella and Annabelle Wallis

What was it about?

War profiteer and soldier Nick Morton (Cruise) is looking for artifacts to sell on the black market while being stationed in the Middle East. His antics lead his commanding officer to him, and a site of a hidden tomb. Jenny Halsey (Wallis) is a Doctor working with the US military and demands to examine the site. Within the tomb, an ancient mummy has been buried in an odd fashion. Halsey convinces the military to help her transport the Mummy back to London with her. During the flight strange things begin to happen and an evil is set loose.

What did I think?

I really wanted to like The Mummy. It is the first in a number of horror movies that Universal Studios is remaking. The Dark Universe will be bringing all of these remade monsters together with a cool team trying to track, study and contain them. That idea is really promising and, frankly, exciting to me. The Mummy just did not deliver.

I did not care about the main character. At all. Nick Morton is a terrible person at the start of the movie, he is still terrible in the middle of the movie and he is just boring by the end of it. I didn’t care if he was safe or if he reached his goals. Which is a shame because if you are going to have a character set up a big franchise, who viewers will probably be stuck with later, it is a good idea to make them at least a little interesting. Not even necessarily likable, but at least give the man some layers to his personality.

Other characters had potential. I could see Jenny Halsey being more interesting as a recurring bit character, without Nick’s blandness holding her back, in future movies. Doctor Jekyll, yes THAT Doctor Jekyll, was very well played by Russell Crowe. His character and the organization he heads are both saving graces for the story.

The Mummy herself (Boutella) was a fascinating character. I enjoyed her effects. I just didn’t understand her and Nick at all. Her story seemed to take a backseat to his shenanigans a lot of the time instead of showcasing a great villain. They had no chemistry. In short, The Mummy was pushed back in her own movie for a boring man to just make poor life choices. Can we finally stop Hollywood from believing that we want our heroes to be wrecking balls who don’t seem to care about anyone around them except for sexual purposes? 

Seriously, though. Why was Nick so important again? We had a cool organization and an awesome Mummy to play with. Honestly, Hollywood, we could have had it all.

I also was a little… okay more than a little… off put by a few big mistakes about Egyptian mythology in the movie. There are fact checkers in Hollywood. Did The Mummy even have one? It was difficult to take a universe seriously when the building blocks are not there. Particularly when misinformation keeps being thrown at the audience.

The Mummy is also just not a strong horror movie. The themes were there, but it just did not deliver. Again, because I think that too much of the focus was on the wrong character. It was like the movie was reaching for something great, but then Nick would come on screen and it would just give up. The scenes that focused on the Mummy were good. I even jumped at one of the jump scares. However, one jump scare does not a horror movie make.

Would I recommend it?

It kills me to say this because I want the larger project of the Dark Universe to succeed, but no. There were a few laughs. A couple scares. Even with a fascinating premise, The Mummy just fell flat in the end.

I will say this, though. I think there is great potential for the greater universe that is being created. If they can tighten up their storytelling and focus more on the monsters, the rest of these films could be a fun ride for horror fans. Just not The Mummy

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Why I couldn’t finish “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty” (2016)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Supposedly based on the Grimm fairy tale “Briar Rose,” The Curse of Sleeping Beauty follows Thomas, a reclusive artist who consistently dreams of a beautiful sleeping woman that he just can’t wake up. When he inherits a property that’s been in his family for generations, his nightmares become real. He has to free Briar Rose from her prison in order to free himself from the property.

It sounds like it could be a beautiful story… if done right.

The movie was so awful, though, we couldn’t even finish it. We got about half-way through and turned it off. This is actually a big deal for Winters and me. In our entire friendship, we’ve only ever turned off three movies.

It’s especially a big deal for me given that I love bad horror movies. I’ll watch bad horror until the cows come home, but I couldn’t finish The Curse of Sleeping Beauty. Here’s why.

1) The acting was atrocious. While the actors were all beautiful in their own right, they weren’t right for the roles. Ethan Peck, at first, seemed perfect for a reclusive artist role. As the movie went on, however, it became obvious that Thomas was supposed to care about both Briar Rose and Linda, the woman helping him learn more about the mysterious property. Ethan Peck, however, continued with his emotionless character, causing his lines to fall flat. India Eisley, who played Briar Rose, was gorgeous in her outfit, but could have spent more time with a dialect coach. Her English accent was reminiscent of that of a teenager pretending to be “posh.” Finally, Natalie Hall’s Linda attempted to be the comic relief, but the delivery of her lines combined with the overall feel of the movie made that attempt fall short. We felt as though each of these actors was only hired because of their good looks.

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2) The script was just bad. The acting probably would have been better if the script was better written. Instead, there were lines that made no sense and major plot holes. Not only that, but near the middle of the movie, the plot changed from straight horror fantasy, where one or two people deal with an evil force, to an ensemble let’s-tackle-this-together movie. The dynamic completely changed when the two extra characters were added. Thomas and Linda were all that were needed, in my opinion.

3) They mixed several cultures together. This goes along with bad script writing, but deserves a point all to its own. The Sleeping Beauty story is of French origin. The movie takes place in America (I think!). All the characters seem to be American or Canadian, with the exception of Briar Rose, who is supposedly British. Richard (Bruce Davison), shows up in a car with a European license plate. And, finally, when they determine what the actual curse is, they reveal that it’s Middle Eastern… Dear writers, pick one and stick to it!

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While those are my three big points, there were a lot of little points as well. Let’s call it nitpicks. First, Thomas’ uncle supposedly lived in the mysterious house for 40 years, but it looked like it hadn’t been lived in for quite a long time. Second, Thomas at one point says he just wants to get out of this “godforsaken town,” but there was no introduction of the town itself or Thomas’ interaction with it. Finally, there’s a scene where a bunch of mannequins are attacking Thomas and Linda, attempting to protect the secret of the house from outsiders, and I was just reminded of an episode of Doctor Who, which took me right out of the story.

I didn’t see the ending, but absolutely nothing could have made this movie worth it. I assume Briar Rose turned out to be evil and they had to defeat her. Otherwise, they never would have introduced Linda as Thomas’ other love interest. I also assume that the 53 people who had gone missing on the property were the people inside the mannequins. But, hey, I could be wrong.

Watch it for yourself and tell me your thoughts in the comments below!

Review: Don’t Breathe (2016)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Written and Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette

What’s it about?
Three amateur thieves (Levy, Minnette, Daniel Zovatto) devise a plan to steal $300,000 from a disabled veteran (Lang) living in a house in an abandoned neighborhood in Detroit. The plan goes wrong, however, when they find they’re stuck in a house with a trained killer.

What did I think?
These kids are dumb. I can’t express how dumb these kids are. First of all, the man may be blind, but blind people can hear and smell really, really well. Don’t take your shoes off and certainly don’t take steps backwards if you’re not absolutely sure there’s not a creaky floor board. Secondly, the man’s a veteran. He’s not going to be defenseless, even if he is disabled. He had four locks on his front door for Christ’s sake.

I can’t say I was really scared during this movie. The people in danger broke into a house in a Stand Your Ground state. Of course the owner’s going to use deadly force to defend himself, his money, and the girl he’s got tied up in the basement. You can’t just walk in with one pistol and think you’ll be alright. I had no empathy for the main characters, so I found that I didn’t care what happened to them. This made the jump scares and the general suspense far less effective.

I’d much rather see the story of the girl he had tied up. Sure, he explained it, but that’s a far scarier situation to be in. Make that movie. Don’t try to make me empathize with a bunch of burglars who should know full well they’re in a Stand Your Ground state. He had every legal right to kill the intruders in his home, regardless of whether or not he has a hostage in the basement.

The acting was pretty good, though, despite the premise. Though, to be honest, not a lot of talking happened in this movie. The few times the main characters did talk (which, of course, was at the worst times), they were immediately bombarded with a bullet. They barely even had full conversations during the exposition, which I can get behind. The less talking, the less any particular actor can ruin a scene. Though, they all did facial expressions really well. And, because they had to be quiet to avoid this killer, there was no fake horror movie scream. Thank you for that, Fede Alvarez.

Do I recommend it?
Yeah, it’s pretty much just like every other horror movie, so you might as well go watch it. The main characters make bad decisions, so at least it’s a good opportunity to yell at your screen, if you haven’t done that in awhile.

Review: Split (2016)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson

What’s it about?
Split follows a man named Kevin (McAvoy) who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). One of his alternative identities kidnaps three teenaged girls in an effort to sacrifice them to “The Beast.” The three girls must find their way out while Kevin’s other alters work to either help or hinder the alter responsible.

What did I think?
I’ve got to be honest with you, I had no idea this was an M. Night Shyamalan movie until my boyfriend and I went to go see it opening weekend. I’m not on my game lately. I have to tell you, though, my assertion in my review of The Visit is still true: M. Night Shyamalan is back.

The acting was superb. James McAvoy’s ability to switch between Kevin’s alters within seconds is just astounding. Anya Taylor-Joy also brings an amazing performance to the table, which can only be expected after her excellent acting in The Witch.

The premise is terrifying, even if problematic. In a time when society is struggling to end the stigma against mental illness, M. Night Shyamalan releases a movie where the villain is a villain because he has DID. This can be harmful to the perception of mental illness in this country. If not for Kevin’s well-meaning psychiatrist, Dr Fletcher (Betty Buckley), who asserts that those with DID have ascended to a higher plane than us mere humans, it would be completely problematic.

Overall, though, the movie was scary and filled with an amazing amount of suspense. And the twist ending, which I’m sure you all already know about, is amazing. And, more good news, M. Night Shyamalan is going to make another one to complete his trifecta!

Do I recommend it?
Yes, despite its problems, it’s still an amazingly well-made movie. M. Night Shyamalan is definitely back… Let’s just hope he doesn’t revert back and try to make another Avatar

Review: A Cure for Wellness (2017)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: Justin Haythe
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth

What’s it about?
After being implicated in a crime by his employers, Lockhart (DeHaan) is recruited to travel to a sanatorium in Switzerland to bring back Mr. Pembrooke (Harry Groener), a former board member, so that he can sign papers that will allow for a merger to go through before said employer goes out of business. Here, Lockhart gets into a terrible car accident and is admitted to the sanatorium under Dr. Volmer (Isaacs). The longer he stays, and the more water he drinks, Lockhart begins to notice strange things happening.

What did I think?
The premise for this movie was unbelievable. If Mr. Pembrooke needed to be admitted to a sanatorium, he would have forfeited all rights to the company, leaving it to the other board members to complete the merger themselves. Lockhart would never have needed to go to Switzerland in the first place. It was implied that Mr. Pembrooke was supposed to “take the fall” for something, but that was not explained and the other board members could have used his admittance to the sanatorium to imply that he was not mentally fit to continue to run the company.

That being said, the rest of this movie was amazing. The history behind the sanatorium is enough to make you think that one thing is going to happen, but as the story unfolds, it’s something completely different. Justin Haythe (screenwriter) and Gore Verbinski (director) did an amazing job at building suspense and creating a twist.

I didn’t think the acting would be as good as it was. When you’re introduced to Lockhart, Dane DeHaan seemed like he was going to be a monotone actor who couldn’t get emotion across. Oh, how wrong I was. He captured Lockhart’s trauma like the pro he is. Jason Isaacs, of course, did an amazing job as Dr. Volmer. Let’s not forget about Mia Goth’s perfect portrayal of Hannah, a young woman who’s been at the sanatorium for as long as she can remember.

If Lockhart could have gone to the sanatorium under different circumstances, the overall experience of the movie would have been better. As it is, the movie is a mix of The Wolf of Wall StreetCrimson Peak and Shutter Island.

Do I recommend it?
Yes, I highly recommend you go see it. There’s violence, intrigue and a bit of a psychological component that makes any horror movie make your skin crawl. Not to mention forcefully feeding someone eels… Don’t ask.

Review: Sinister (2012)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Clare Foley

What’s it about?
A true crime writer (Hawke) moves his family to a new town in order to write his next best-selling book about a young girl who went missing. In the process, he comes across a box full of home movies that depict the gruesome deaths of several families. As he and his family begin to go crazy, they have to figure out who’s behind these murders and try to stop the same fate from happening to them.

What did I think?
Sinister keeps you on the edge of your seat. In true horror fashion, it keeps its audience in the dark until the very chilling end.

The acting is superb. Ethan Hawke plays crazy writer well, and that’s a hard role to fill as it’s been done so many times. Clare Foley is just the right amount of creepy to fill the role of the creepy horror kid.

The plotline wasn’t anything special, though the ending was definitely not what I expected. You have your typical, “strange things are happening, main character thinks he’s crazy” plotline up until you find out what’s actually going on. That’s where the true beauty of this film lies. The twist ending was not only terrifying, but also left me feeling sick and uncomfortable – the sign of good horror.

Do I recommend it?
Well, yeah. I mean, you’ve probably already seen it, but if you haven’t – watch it! It’s currently playing on Netflix.

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: