Archive for Horror Movie

Review: Malevolent (2018)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2018 by Xander Woolf

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Starring: Florence Pugh, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Scott Chambers, Georgina Bevan & Celia Imrie
Directed by: Olaf de Fleur Johannesson

Netflix is killing it with their original content. Shows, mini-series and movies alike, Netflix knows content and has the budget to do these projects justice. Not the least of which is Malevolent, a horror movie about a young woman that inherited the medium gifts that eventually took her mother’s life.

What’s it about?
Brother and sister duo, Jackson (Lloyd-Hughes) and Angela (Pugh), decide to use their mother’s name to create a side gig for some extra cash. The children of a famous Scottish medium, they set Angela up to be the face who speaks with ghosts, while Jackson gets the gigs and their friends, Elliot (Chambers) and Beth (Bevan), help with the tech. They put on a show for their clients, then make off with the cash before it’s discovered that they didn’t actually do anything.

This all changes when they take on a job a little too big for their britches. Mrs. Green (Imrie) supposedly lives alone on a large estate. She used to run a girls’ school, but tragedy struck and all of the girls ended up dead, their mouths sewn shut. Now, she hears laughter and screaming and she just wants a quiet house. Jackson accepts the job, against Angela’s wishes, and the team heads to this remote estate in the Scottish countryside.

What awaits them, however, are mutilated ghost children and a revelation about what actually happened all those years ago.

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What did I think?
Like with most movies, there are pros and cons to Malevolent. The ambiance is fantastic. The setting is perfect. It’s a very well-made film in general. It actually scared me. Give me Scottish ghosts and I’m putty in your hand.

It’s a fairly typical haunted house movie. The protagonists arrive, thinking none of the stories are real. We start with glimpses of ghosts and mini-jumpscares. Then, all of a sudden, the unknown becomes known and our protags are in very real danger.

While the acting was great, the characters themselves were a little off for me. Angela is quiet and angsty — straight out of a YA novel. Jackson is unfeeling and overconfident, despite his life being in danger after borrowing money from the wrong people. Elliot is the puppy dog that follows Angela around and Beth doesn’t really seem to add much value to the plot. They’re all a little two-dimensional.

Mrs. Green, on the other hand, was phenomenal. With a base need for quiet as her driving force, Mrs. Green is multi-faceted. Celia Imrie really brings her character to life, which is to be expected of such a celebrated and talented British actress.

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Despite all this though, the relationships between the characters felt real. There were times when tears came to my eyes because the raw emotion that Florence Pugh put forth caught me off guard.

Story-wise, I’m left with more questions than answers, which I’m not a particular fan of. If it was a series and this was the first part, I’d be okay with this, but it’s a standalone movie, with no plans that I can find for a sequel. The haunted house plot wrapped up nicely, but there are questions about Angela that I’d like answered.

Do I recommend it?
Yes. While it has its flaws, this movie pulls from classic horror archetypes and introduces some twists that I didn’t expect. It’s worth a watch, especially since you won’t spend any extra money on it. You can find Malevolent on Netflix.

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The Power of Silence: A Quiet Place Review

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on September 7, 2018 by Xander Woolf

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I know, I know, I’m late to the party!

Sometimes it’s difficult or impossible to see a movie when it just comes out. Believe you me, I’ve been trying to see Slenderman for weeks and it’s just not happening yet. But Winters and I finally got to sit down and watch A Quiet Place, thanks to Amazon and their 40% rental discount.

We went into the movie not really knowing what to expect. I know it’s been out awhile, but we were good about staying away from spoilers. We knew that they couldn’t make noise, or else something bad would happen. We knew the oldest daughter was deaf, and so was the actress who played her. We knew that John Krasinski had written it for his lovely wife, Emily Blunt. We knew all that, but we had no idea what the movie was actually about.

Turns out, there are monsters that somehow showed up (per Wikipedia, they’re aliens). They’re blind and they’re covered in a naturally thick hide that serves as armor. They attack noise and wiped out most of humanity in a matter of months.

The Abbott family survived by staying silent and vigilant. They can communicate because they already knew sign language – having a deaf daughter, Regan – and they formulated countless in-case-of-emergency plans.

The movie begins on one of the family’s outings to gather supplies from the abandoned supermarket in town. Their four year old son grabbed a toy rocket from the shelf. As they were headed back, the boy turned on the toy, which became very, very loud. Before Lee (Krasinski) could get to him, one of the creatures grabbed the boy and killed him.

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A year later, the Abbott family is expecting another little one. Evelyn (Blunt) and the two remaining children – Regan (Simmonds) and Marcus (Jupe) – take to soundproofing the basement of their old barn so that mom and baby can recover without attracting the beings. Meanwhile, we are shown exposition as Lee works in the basement of the house on a new hearing aid for Regan.

The plot follows this family’s plight for survival as multiple unexpected things start to happen – as they do when you have a wife about to go into labor and two children who are incapable of seeing the big picture. Over the course of the mostly-silent movie, we are shown the very emotional dynamic of this family. Lee, Evelyn and Regan all constantly blame themselves for the death of the youngest, Beau. Regan believes that Lee blames her for Beau’s death and thus their relationship is strained.

The acting throughout this is phenomenal. Without dialogue, each of them were able to convey exactly what the characters felt and wanted. The emotional connection between these four was palpable and brought tears to my eyes on multiple occasions.

The most powerful part of this movie, however, was the silence. The use of sound – and lack thereof – was my favorite part about this movie. Sure, the beings were terrifying and the CGI was well done. We could easily relate to the family and the amount we could gather without dialogue was fantastic. But the sound. The sound made this movie.

While there is a traditional movie score in this movie – as Krasinski did not want the audience to feel as though they were part of ‘a silence experiment‘ – it is used in such a way that we, as the viewer, can still feel the silence. Every noise was deafening and caused myself and Winters to jump several times.

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Every noise made me genuinely afraid for the well-being of this family. Every single noise evoked some kind of emotion in me, which cultivated in my outright sobbing later on in the movie. But I won’t go into detail about that because I don’t want to spoil anything.

I honestly can’t think of anything bad to say about this movie. I have no suggestions for improvement and no criticism whatsoever. This was masterfully done. The story was captivating, the acting was superb, and the ambiance was enough to keep me at the edge of my seat.

I highly recommend this movie. Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

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

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: