Archive for Horror Movie

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:

 

 

 

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.***

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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: The Forest (2016)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2016 by thiathebard

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Dir. by: Jason Zada
Starring: Natalie Dormer, Eoin Macken, Stephanie Vogt

I think that most horror fans have a favorite sub-genre. One of mine is Japanese Horror, or J-Horror. I love creepy schoolgirls that just pop out of the shadows, ghosts that kill people with their hair and the overall physiological shocks that these movies bring. I was excited when I thought that The Forest would be able to have many of those qualities. I was also worried, like many other people, that the movie would be disrespectful of the Aokigahara Forest.

The Aokigahara Forest plays a large part in the movie. It is the setting for the majority of it. The forest could also be argued to be the antagonist. Now, why would a horror movie center around a forest in Japan that is also a popular tourist attraction? Partially because it’s very dense and without much wildlife. This gives it an eerie quiet. The other reason is because it’s a popular site for people to commit suicide and is supposedly haunted by angry spirits of the deceased.

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Thus brings about the plot of The Forest. Sara Prince (Dormer), an American, receives a phone call explaining that her twin sister, Jess (also Dormer), might be dead. Jess was last seen going into the Aokigahara Forest. Her sister has always been troubled, so Sara travels to Japan for answers. When she ends up with more questions than answers, she decides to go look for Jess in the forest itself.

The movie is good. The Forest is not great, but also not as bad as I thought it might be. I still have some complex feelings about the story, though.

I loved the hints of J-Horror; the darkness of it. The scenes in the older buildings made me think of other movies I love. It put me on edge. Trust me when I tell you I wanted those ghosts. I wanted the twists that come with them. Every time Sara talked to someone outside of the forest, I kept wondering, “Is this person really alive? Are they being interacted with by anyone else?”

I still feel torn because The Forest does have a white person just charging into a place and a culture that they don’t entirely understand. I don’t think that The Forest was disrespectful of the Aokigahara Forest, but the movie is also clearly from an outsider’s perspective. I think that made it lose some of the scares that could have be there. Instead of being properly afraid, Sara just stomps along expecting everyone to fall in line. I hate to admit that I always love when characters like that get tormented.

Please understand that I did like Sara. I understood her abrasiveness. I appreciated her need to get things done to save her sister. As I learned her backstory, her actions also made more sense. I just wish that the main character would have had a better understanding of the lore of the Aokigahara Forest. Having American Sara, who researches so little beforehand, also gives us less to be afraid of from the start because we have so little information about the Aokigahara Forest and its possible ghosts.

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Why are people going to commit suicide there? What possible energy could be stuck there? What emotions still fill the space? All of this kind of information could have been given to Sara before she went and the audience could have had more to jump at. As an American myself, I want to know all about it. Give me the history. Every theory. Let it fill my brain up with possibilities. Instead, we are rushed through. I suppose that was supposed to make it mysterious and more scary – fear of the unknown and all that – but I think it did quite the opposite.

I think Jess knows. I think Jess knows the lore and the history. I think she goes into the forest with respect on the trip and with the intention of acting upon her knowledge. It is one of the differences between the sisters. Sara is so fast paced and sure. Jess is not. The audience also only sees Jess through Sara’s eyes. We see Japan and the Aokigahara Forest through Sara’s perspective. I honestly think it would have been more interesting through Jess. Her knowledge and immersion in the culture would have made the film so much richer. We get so little of an appreciation for the culture surrounding the main setting of the film.

Overall though, I did like the film. I liked the characters. I was concerned and unsure when I should be. The settings lent to the story. Some of the effects were unnecessary. I was a little disappointed with the end, but it has left with me with a few theories.

My rating stands at: Good.

Watch the trailer here: