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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: 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: Tattletail (Video Game)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2017 by Lilliandra Winters

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Furbies were fucking everywhere. I mean everywhere. You couldn’t get away from them. If you didn’t have one, then you knew someone who did and that was that. They were adorably creepy and I can’t tell you how entertaining I find it that my mother was constantly jump scared by mine. I remember they weren’t allowed to be in most places because they held the ability to record. Fast forward and those of us who find dolls terrifying now have a reason to fear furbies, or Hatchimals, if you want to be more current.

So, it’s days before Christmas and you wake up in the middle of the night to go peek at your presents and discover that you are receiving a Tattletale, the hit toy for the holiday season. You are so eager that you open it up and immediately play with it, but the Tattletale is much more than it seems. The Tattletale is increasingly demanding, requiring grooming, actual food and charging at its station in the basement. Also, don’t forget about Mama.

This game is fucking terrifying. It combines several fears together and shoves them into a child’s toy. After the first night, I am constantly wondering why you would go back but it seems like these fuckers, once unleashed, will NOT go back to sleep. Every night, you have to deal with this tiny demon, feeding, brushing and charging. However, Mama doesn’t like you. (THEY NEVER SAY WHY, SHE JUST DOESN’T, LIKE A JUDGEMENTAL BITCH!) You are sent on these crazy quests, having to take Tattletale with you (who WON’T SHUT UP). (I KNOW YOU LOVE ME, SHUT UP ALREADY!) However, there is a reason for the chaos. You realize that shit is much worse than previously thought, it is creepy as fuck once you figure it out. Don’t forget to collect all of the eggs for the ‘good’ ending.

This game is amazing. The concept is terrifying. It’s well written, the art/graphics are incredible, and the music/sound creates so much anxiety on top of what you already have to go through. Panic on top of panic is how you want to play a horror game. An extreme sense of urgency makes it easy to forget that you are a terrified child just trying to survive your own Christmas toys and make it the joyous holiday of gift giving. I can’t give this enough praise, the fear is real, the ending is almost perfect and I’m setting every Furbie I see on fire. Play it for yourself, FFS it’s only $5! Prepare for some jump scares and have fun sleeping!

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: Hellevator

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2016 by Lilliandra Winters

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Since Hellevator has been renewed for a second season, I thought I would take a look at the show and its success.

Having first released in 2015 under Blumhouse Productions, the Soska Sisters started an american horror game show, words I can say I never thought I’d see together. However, in the age of American Horror Story being on network TV, this isn’t far fetched.

The Soska Sisters, or The Twisted Twins, are producers, screenwriters, directors and even actresses. Their film, American Mary, is on my list of must watch horror movies and I find myself even more interested now. They are the hostesses of Hellevator and I can see why.

The show is about three contestants who have to ride the elevator down and survive four floors. Each floor is a series of jump scares and terrifying challenges that a contestant must get through. They have to complete their tasks and run back to the elevator before the time runs out. Completing the floor successfully means you win the prize amount for that floor and are able to help your teammates on other floors as well as join the combined effort on the fourth and final floor.

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The Soska Sisters

Each floor gets harder, but grants more money when you beat it. Each teammate MUST do a floor, but the order is up to you. Of course, each new episode follows a new tale of dread that the twins weave to the contestants over the speakers. From the stories I’ve checked out, they are all made up. I was hoping that they would be a little bit more wrapped in urban legend, but the stories are frightful enough to be entertaining.

So the doors open up, the contestant runs out. Typically they encounter horrifying actors before finding their way into the puzzle room. While in that room, the teammates in the elevator try to help with walkie talkies while looking at a screen to see what’s going on. The elevator opens up to provide some crucial piece that’s needed for their friend to beat the puzzle and return to them in the minimal amount of time provided. If they don’t complete and return, the elevator closes and continues on, leaving the lagging teammate trapped on that floor.

After all three floors, they have the option to win an additional $20,000 on the final floor. All remaining teammates must get through the labyrinth, grabbing as much money as they can and getting back to the elevator before their time runs out. If each floor is completed ($5,000, $10,000, and $15,000) plus all the money is grabbed in the labyrinth ($20,000), three contestants could walk out with $50,000, which is a nice chunk of change for getting the crap scared out of you.

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Contestants on the Show

I love the concept. I love the twins. However, for me, something is missing. Maybe I’m desensitized? I love horror, haunted houses, all of it, so maybe the veil is too thin for me and I can see the man behind the curtain. My favorite moments are how utterly dismissive and bored the twins sound when anyone is doing well. Their delight at the terror and fear of the contestants fills me with a twisted joy.

If you are into watching other people get the crap scared out of them or two awesome horror ladies laughing at other peoples’ misery, this is the show for you. Even if you’re not, check it out. It is definitely not like anything else on TV right now and we need a little more of that, in my opinion.

Now Xander and I just have to figure out how to get on the show. I think we would be able to do it.

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Review: Silverfish (Book)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2016 by thiathebard

Author: Hobie Anthonysilverfish
Publisher: Tentacles Press
Date Released:December 7, 2015

Review by Bridget Cannon

Silverfish is a compilation of short horror stories by Hobie Anthony. The setting is a dystopian world ruled by one twisted man. The stories have different settings and twists while keeping with the overall theme. Despite the theme, and the hard work that was clearly put into the stories, I was not a fan of Silverfish.

The stories in Silverfish were not a style that I am overly fond of reading. Particularly the first story which shares the name of the main volume itself.

The first story utilizes a style of writing that can be confusing if the reader is not accustomed to it. The lack of punctuation and flow was off putting until I realized what Anthony was doing with the story. Instead of it adding to the story, I found it disjointing. It is set in a dystopian future that heavily utilizes shock and sex in the narrative. There was one twist that I did enjoy, but other then that it fell flat for me.

The other stories do have a better pace. Perhaps if Anthony had started with one of them, it would have been a better way for the reader to be introduced to his writing.  I did enjoy Anthony’s verbiage. After getting past the first story his vocabulary was able to shine.

There was a story that I did enjoy called “A Cleaner Today, A Brighter Tomorrow.” It was able to keep the grit and shock that are a big part of the overall novel. The main character in this story was a lot more interesting to me then the others. She seemed less flat than the others.

 Silverfish has a lot of great tropes. I can see where the author tried to make his characters gritty and have more of an anti-hero quality. A lot of them just felt like I was reading caricatures that were meant to shock me, though they never really did.

The idea behind the stories were good. It just never really reached the point where I was scared or excited. 

While I did not enjoy it as much, it has gotten some very good reviews on Amazon, so if you like dystopian or shock horror, perhaps you might want to try it.

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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