Archive for movie review

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.

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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.***

wolfout

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.

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Review: Stonehearst Asylum (2014)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2016 by Lilliandra Winters

Dir. by: Brad Andersonposter
Written by: Joe Gangemi (screenplay), Edgar Allan Poe (based on a short story by)
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, David Thewlis

This was another movie that sat on my Netflix queue for far longer than I am willing to admit. Of course, the amount of names in this movie is a draw, but throw Edgar Allan Poe at me and I’m nearly salivating to see what lead someone to invoke his name.

An hour into Stonehearst Asylum and I’m curious to see what brought such big names to the script. The names that I didn’t notice were rather large, to me at least. Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine, Brendan Gleeson, David Thewlis, Jason Flemyng… hell, I almost expected Harry Potter to pop out at one point.

We follow Dr. Edward Newgate (Sturgess) as he enters the Stonehearst Asylum to study under Dr. Salt (Kingsley). He encounters Eliza Graves (Beckinsale) who is a patient there. Of course, not everything is what it seems. Edward is infatuated with Eliza, who begs him to escape and never come back, but he won’t leave without her. It is quickly revealed that Dr. Salt is a patient. The real Dr. Salt (Caine) is locked in the basement with the rest of the staff as the inmates have taken over the asylum.

There is a beauty in the dance that Dr. Newgate performs to keep Silas Lamb (Kingsley) and the rest of the staff unaware that he knows. Eliza helps him perform it with grace. Going forward, you realise that Silas had the best of intentions for the inmates and wanted to do nothing more than stop the barbaric things (truly barbaric and sadly true to life) that happened to mental patients in the late 1800s. He saw that insisting people are broken only breaks them. Embracing, accepting and accommodating many of the mental illnesses that are present causes most of the patients to thrive and grow, but horrors still lie beneath it all, as not all illness is so easily handled.

Going much further into the story will give away so very much and I don’t want to ruin all of the twists. The acting was as incredible as you would expect it to be from this caliber of talent. Some names took much smaller parts than I would assume from them, but at the end it was an amazing story and a good movie.

I’m finding it hard to put thoughts onto paper in regards to my issues with the movie. Everything about it was absolutely stunning: the acting, the sets, the beautiful wardrobes… all of it. However, this movie was more drama/love story/horror and even that felt like a bit of a stretch. Yes, there was one gory scene and the way that mental health is treated is an absolute horror but… it lacked the same feeling; it lacked any fear for the actual characters and so much of the emotion that I associate with a horror movie. At the end of the movie, I felt it was more akin to a thriller.

Now, that all being said, it is a fantastic movie that I would recommend anyone watch who is into thriller/drama/love story type movies. Again, the talent alone is enough to draw you in and even though I found myself questioning the choice of movie mid-way through, those questions were not based on the movie but my own first impressions. As I stated, horror, to me, feels like a stretch and several actors had much smaller roles than I anticipated.

Watch it. Tell me if I’m wrong. Tell me what category you would put it under. Tell me where to buy Kate’s wardrobe.

WintersOver4

Review: Final Girl (2015)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2016 by Lilliandra Winters

Dir by: Tyler Shieldsfinal-girl.jpg
Writen by: Adam Prince (screenplay), Stephen Scarlata (story)
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Wes Bentley, Logan Huffman

I was browsing through my Netflix horror section and came across Final Girl. This was a film that I had passed several times. The cover picture has always caught my eye, especially since I recognized the lead actress for her earlier work (Haunter and Scream Queens). I was fairly sure she was a child actress (She is: Little Miss Sunshine) and I was interested in seeing what she had to offer as an adult. Not only that, but the description enticed me, as many do:

A man teaches a young woman how to become a complete weapon. Later she is approached by a group of sadistic teens who kill blonde women for unknown reasons. The hunting season begins.

It isn’t any longer than other movies, so why not? I instantly began to recognize other actors. Besides Wes Bentley, I also knew Cameron Bright and Alexander Ludwig. I wondered how this would all play out and hoped for the best.

The premise of the movie is interesting enough. A young girl’s parents die. She, being intelligent, was brought into what I can only assume is a special program. This is where the story ripples for me a little bit. It is suddenly years later and Veronica (Breslin) and William (Bentley), who originally brought the Veronica into the program, are obviously much older. I’m assuming late teens. Now, I would imagine that she was being trained all of these years, but that isn’t what is even remotely portrayed here. It actually comes off that she had little to no training up to this point and is just now learning, as he is explaining to her what she must do. This part is the most confusing. He seems to be cramming all the information she needs to succeed in her mission into a mere day or two, but why? Why not use the years you’ve had with her?

Here’s the long and short of it. Four boys (Huffman, Bright, Ludwig and Reece Thompson) love to dress in tuxes and take girls out into the woods and hunt them. After this group has killed many young women, Veronica is tasked with infiltrating and taking them down. Simple and elegant.

I very much enjoy the idea, but the execution is sloppy. The beginning of the movie doesn’t add up and it feels rushed. We don’t need a training montage of her as a child learning to kill people, but why does she begin her training so late in the game? She could have showed more skill if she had been trained for years. What happened in all that time? It almost seems that the middle of the movie was thought up first and they slapped together a beginning and an end. The end wasn’t confusing, but didn’t leave me feeling accomplished. The ending was honestly something I’d expect more from a TV show than a movie. So much is left unexplained that you end up questioning the entire experience.

That all being said, I enjoyed the dialog for the most part. I found most of the actors to be spot on, but Veronica felt off. Breslin’s role never clicked for me. Her choreography was well done and I was impressed at her fighting scenes, though. I enjoyed the glimpses into each character, which didn’t drag me down with unnecessary details; just enough to gain a small bit of understanding and intrigue.

I would like to tell you exactly how I feel about the movie as a whole, but, as I sit here typing this, all I can tell you is that I’m indifferent. I neither liked nor disliked the movie, which is an uncomfortable feeling, since I enjoy passing judgement in this manner. So, I leave you with a mostly well acted, but rushed story with good choreography?

I don’t know. Watch it for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments below!

WintersOver4

Review: The Witching Season (Web Series)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2016 by Xander Woolf

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Created by: Michael Ballif of Witching Season Films

The Witching Season is an anthology of short horror films. As of right now, Witching Season Films only has three episodes available to watch, with a fourth episode currently in production. As these three episodes are three separate horror short films, I will be structuring this review a little differently: by episode.

Episode One: “Killer on the Loose

Written and Directed by: Michael Ballif
Starring: Hailey Nebeker, James Morris

What’s it about?
A convicted murderer escaped from prison and is lurking in the shadows of one residential neighborhood on Halloween night.

What did I think?
This 15-minute film is not only well done, but also intensely suspenseful. The story is simple, as it generally has to be for such a short piece, but keeps you locked in from the first moment. The acting by Nebeker and Morris was on point. The ambiance (cinematography, score, set dressing) of film as a whole was enough to keep me at the edge of my seat up until the end. And the ending… oh, man. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I will say that it’s good.

Episode Two: “Princess

Directed by: James Morris
Written by: James Morris (screenplay), Michael Ballif (Short Story)
Starring: Emily Broschinsky, Anita Rosenbaum

What’s it about?
A mother and daughter move into a quiet suburban house. What they find there, however, isn’t very welcoming.

What did I think?
The only thing I could possibly fear more than clowns is dolls, and this film preys on that fear. The story is simple, like in the first episode: a possessed doll has it out for its new owners. Despite the simple story, the film has an air of terror that seeps in through the score, the sounds of whispers in the air and, of course, the creepy rabbit doll that I would never in a million years keep in my house. The acting was very well done and the ending… well, I have a feeling Witching Season Films is always going to have a killer ending.

Episode Three: “Not Alone

Directed by: James Morris
Written by: James Morris, Michael Ballif
Starring: Sean Hunter

What’s it about?
UFO sightings have been reported across the country. Kyle is awoken by an earthquake to see a strange shape standing still in the darkness. It becomes increasing clear that he is not alone.

What did I think?
This film is only 10 minutes long, but it’s no less powerful or terrifying. I’ve never found aliens to be all that scary, but when one is standing in the dark recesses of your room, just staring at you, it becomes pretty frightening. As with the first two episodes, everything is very well done. The story is simple, yet suspenseful. The ambiance created terror in the hearts of the audience. And the ending, of course, was stellar.

Do I recommend it?

Yes, I do. Not only are these films well written, the production value is off the charts for YouTube shorts. Go and watch them.

To see more from Witching Season Films, visit their YouTube channel!

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