Friday, June 19, 2015

Zombeavers Movie Review - We cannot turn against each other right now. That's exactly what the beavers would want.

Runtime: 85 minutes
Release Date: March 20 2015
Rating: R
Director: Jordan Rubin

Two truck drivers (including one played by John Mayer who I did not recognize until the very end) are driving down the road and not paying attention, which causes them to hit a deer and drop a barrel of toxic waste into the local water supply where beavers live.

Cut to Mary, Zoe, and Jenn arriving at a cabin owned by Mary's cousin for a girls' weekend getaway. Zoey is the stereotypical slut who freaks out because she can't use her phone and takes off her top within 10 minutes. Mary is the "smart" girl, and you know she's smart because she wears glasses and talks about school. Jenn is just upset because her boyfriend Sam was tagged on Facebook getting down with another girl.

While hanging out by the lake, they see a bear, but luckily, a random hunter named Smyth pops up and fires his gun to scare it away. He then warns them about dressing like whores before wandering off. Later that night, the guys show up. Tommy is Mary's boyfriend, Buck is with Zoey, and Sam came to talk to Jenn. After kissing him and kneeing him in the balls, Jenn settles down a bit. Jenn goes crazy after finding a crazy beaver in the bathroom. They attack and kill the beaver before leaving it outside, but when they go to the water the next day, the beaver is gone. Once crazy zombeavers attack Buck in the water, our group kind of/sort of figures out what's going on.

Can I just say that I now have a new favorite guilty pleasure movie? Zombeavers was so insane and over the top that you can't help but like it. It made me feel the way other people did the first time they saw Sharknado. I didn't get it when I saw that movie, but I get it now. It was clearly done by someone who loved bad and cheesy horror movies because everything about Zombeavers seems like something I've seen in a bad 80s horror flick.

Not only do we get the classic stereotypical characters, but we get that moment where the main character suddenly becomes a human-beaver-zombie hybrid and allows a second character to take the lead. We even have that plot "twist" that anyone can see coming. Hint: it turns out that the girl Sam had the fling with isn't a random stranger.

And oh my god, the beavers! They were so fucked up and crazy looking that I want like six of them for Halloween to hang out in my front yard with a few zombie flamingos and one I can leave sitting in my living room year round. My only one minor complaint is how often the characters mention that they're in Indiana given that the background looks absolutely nothing like Indiana. I loved Zombeavers so much that I think I might go watch it again, right now.

Oh, and if you're a fan of The Office or a Parks and Recreation fan like me (save for the last season), keep your eyes peeled. The actors who played JJ on Parks and Recreation and Bill Vance from The Office are both in very minor/almost cameo roles.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Honeymoon Movie Review – I Just Want Us to Be Us

Runtime: 87 minutes
Release Date: September 14, 2014
Rating: R
Director: Leigh Janiak

Honeymoon starts out with footage recorded at the wedding of Bea and Paul. Bea talks about how he proposed to her after setting up a tent on top of their bed, and Paul talks about how he got sick on their first date and spent the rest of the night on her bedroom floor. It then cuts to the two of them arriving at a cabin owned by Bea's family for their honeymoon. After giving him a short tour, they spend time making love in every room and on nearly every surface they can find.

When they take a boat out on the lake, Bea contemplates jumping in before discovering that the water is ice cold. She also takes him to the only restaurant in the rural community, which turns out to be closed according to the man working there. He reveals himself as Will, a friend of Bea's from her childhood, and introduces them to his wife Annie. Annie almost instantly tells them to get out and warns them about staying. When Will attempts to calm her down, Paul grows worried because he thinks the man is abusive.

One night, Paul wakes and discovers that Bea is missing. He finds her outside in the middle of the woods completely naked. She claims she has no idea how she got there or what happened earlier that night. When Bea begins making excuses as to why she doesn't want to sleep with her new husband and Paul finds her bloody and ripped nightgown in the woods, he tries to find a reason behind her new attitude. Once Bea begins bleeding from a spot I won't mention, he realizes that there is something darker happening to his new bride.

Honeymoon confused the hell out of me. A few weeks ago, my roommate and I saw a trailer for it, I said something about how we saw it before, and he looked super confused. When I sat down to watch it, I realized we really never had seen it. I know I saw a movie with a similar premise. Husband and wife go on their honeymoon to a cabin in the woods, wife disappears in the middle of the night and then starts acting weird. I just can't remember the name or even the ending. If anyone knows what the hell that movie was, please let me know.

I personally thought Honeymoon was a lot better than most of the reviews say. There is a great dynamic between the actors playing Bea and Paul, and the director does a great job of setting up their relationship before any of the odd stuff starts happening. There are all these little nods that go back to the beginning of the film to let you know something weird happened, like Bea not remembering where they went on their first date or how she can barely remember how or when he proposed.

It also has that vibe that you expect from a movie like this and some great music too. When Paul goes into the woods, the music intensifies and the lights dim as he gets closer to the nightgown. I also want to give some props to the writer for making Paul a completely believable character. Instead of instantly thinking it's aliens or some creature in the woods, he naturally assumes that Will attacked his wife and that she's now in shock. Plus, don't get me started on her bleeding scenes. It sent me back to the first time I watched Cabin Fever and left one of my roommates briefly wondering if he would ever have sex with a woman again. While I wasn't crazy about the reason for her actions or the very end, Honeymoon was definitely one I'll watch again.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Mirror Movie Review – Haven't I Seen This Before?

Runtime: September 8. 2014
Release Date: 88 minutes
Rating: NR?
Director: Edward Boase

Have you ever sat down to watch a movie and halfway through had this weird feeling that you already saw it before? That's how I felt watching The Mirror. It's not that I actually watched the movie before, but it played like something I've seen many, many, many times before.

Matt, Nate, and Jemma are three roommates who want to win this big prize. The only way they can actually win is if they can show scientific proof of paranormal activity. After browsing eBay prior to the start of the film, they found and haunted mirror and decided to buy it. As one character kind of puts it, they must have seen him coming. The movie picks up with them recording the mirror and the things that happen to them.

The worst thing that happens for a good portion of the film is when one character starts sleepwalking in the middle of the night and doing random things. Now, I could tell you which character it was but frankly I don't really remember who is who except for Jemma. The weird stuff intensifies, which leads the three to decide that it must really be haunted. Since it's a horror movie though, there's really nothing they can do about it.

I heard that some people compared The Mirror to Occulus and fans complained that it wasn't fair because Occulus had a way bigger budget. I'm all for horror movies made on cheap budgets and actually enjoy some of those movies. Hell, I have a few reviews coming up for cheap movies I actually liked. This one does not make the list.

I'm not sure if it's because I'm getting older or what, but I just don't have patience anymore for younger characters in horror movies who are so completely dumb and annoying. Jemma spends a good portion of the film crying or laughing, and the other characters spend most of the movie laughing about all the random things that keep happening and/or talking about the big prize they might win.

It's also ridiculous the way in which the director expects us to suspend disbelief. I've seen teenage girls/college girls moping and whining on Facebook after getting a cut, and the characters in this movie constantly hurt themselves and do other crazy stuff without once even thinking about possibly seeing a doctor. Not to mention the fact that one of the characters goes crazy and the other two just ignore it. Never once do they even consider or bring up the idea of calling the police. I would buy that they don't want to involve the cops because they don't want to get their friend in trouble, but since they never mention it, I guess that never crossed their minds.

And let's just consider the premise for the entire movie, shall we? It's a movie called The Mirror about a haunted Mirror. You might think that the mirror would do something at some point, wouldn't you? Instead, we get 80+ minutes of younger people acting crazy for no apparent reason. It could have literally been anything: a doll, a chair, hell even a plate. I'm really getting tired of horror movies where nothing seems to happen and horror films that offer nothing new, just like this one.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Now on Netflix: The Sacrament Movie Review

Runtime: 99 minutes
Release Date: May 1, 2014
Rating: R
Director: Ti West

I am probably one of Netflix's favorite customer types because I never run out of things to watch. My queue (I refuse to call it my list) currently has 496 titles in it, and every time I dip below 490, I wind up adding another 5-7 titles. Since my queue has a number of horror movies in it, I thought I would do a new feature where I try to review a horror movie now available on Netflix every few weeks or so. First up? The Sacrament.

Patrick is your average normal guy who just so happens to have a recovering addict for a sister. When Caroline invites him to come visit her in the middle of nowhere at the retreat where she lives called Eden Parish, he isn't too keen on the idea. That all changes when he finds out more about the mysterious history of the place and how it now has guards watching over it 24/7. When he tells his friends about it, they decide to go with him and make a documentary about the place. Along for the ride Sam, a reporter, and Jake, the cameraman.

Once they get there, the helicopter pilot they hired to take them informs them that if they aren't ready to leave when he comes back the next day, he'll leave without them. They then find a large group of guards with big guns watching over the entrance who initially refuse to let them through. They finally get inside and briefly consider leaving before Caroline appears and tells them lots of stories about her new life. Though they receive free rein to wander through the compound, it doesn't take long for them to realize they made a huge mistake.

The Sacrament is easily one of the most unsettling horror movies I've seen in awhile. It wasn't that long ago that I watched a documentary on the Jonestown Massacre, and with all that fresh in my mind, The Sacrament had me squirming in my seat.

One of the more unsettling moments occurred early in the film when Sam has the chance to sit and talk with Father, the leader of their group on camera. Though initially promised that he would answer any questions, they later learn that he will only answer general questions about specific topics. He then demands that the interview take place in a public forum right before some big party. The way Father turns the tables on Sam and the way the people just stared at him with shiny eyes made me truly uncomfortable.

Then there's the woman and her young daughter who clearly have some problems. The guys learn that the little girl is mute but that there might be a reason why she no longer talks. They then find themselves surrounded by a group of people who want nothing more than to get the hell out of the compound and that they would rather leave with these strangers than spend one more day with Father.

Oh, and did I mention how a wholesome and innocent looking nurse tells them about how all their followers sold off everything they owned and gave the money to Father before they could even move in?

The ending left me feeling fairly empty and left me watching 3rd Rock From the Sun for the rest of the night. The Sacrament is definitely one of those movies that will leave you feeling unsettled and out of sorts after you watch it. While it might not be a horror movie in the larger sense of the word, it's definitely a disturbing movie that will make you think about what you would do in the same situation.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Movie Review: The Pyramid

Runtime: 89 minutes
Release Date: December 5, 2015
Rating: R
Director: Gregory Levasseur

A group of archaeologists are working in Egypt when they uncover an odd pyramid with three sides. Among those working on the dig are Dr. Holden and his daughter Nora, who is also a doctor in archeology. Though they manage to access the pyramid and find a tunnel that leads deep inside, as soon as they gain access, some weird gas comes out and kills a ton of people.

Not long after, they receive word that they must leave for their safety. Another riot occurred nearby and the area is no longer safe for the doctors and their researchers. In the hopes of getting some information quickly, they send in a robot to capture some video and photos. The robot suddenly goes dark after being attacked by something they can barely see. Instead of getting the hell out like normal people, a group of five, led by the father daughter doctor team, decide to go in and check things out.

It doesn't take long before they find themselves hopelessly lost inside the pyramid and its many tunnels with no hopes of escape. When a section of the roof collapses and pins one of the group beneath, they make the decision to leave him behind and go in even deeper to possibly find a way out. The rest of the movie plays out just the way you might expect with the exception of some killer thousands old Egyptian cats.

In a long ago and far off place, namely my living room about a month ago, we saw a trailer for a new horror movie that looked great. The movie showed a small group of people trapped inside a pyramid with unseen creatures following them. Think The Descent but in a pyramid instead of a cave. Instead of getting that movie, we got The Pyramid.

The main problem with The Pyramid is that it didn't feel unsettling. How can you have five, then four, etc. people trapped inside a pyramid without it feeling unsettling? It actually rarely felt like they were in any type of danger. They would spend 10-20 minutes walking around without anything really happening. We would get one shot of them in danger, then it would end too quickly, and it was back to the same old, same old. Not to mention the fact that we lost two of our main characters in what felt like five minutes.

We had Nora constantly worrying about the guy they left behind, and we had the doctor constantly worrying about his daughter. And can I just say that Nora is extremely annoying? Just once I would like to see a horror movie with a father and daughter where I actually gave a damn about the relationship they had. Nora was so bad at times that I was literally yelling at the television and begging him to leave her behind.

The one good thing The Pyramid had going for it were the cannibalistic Egyptian cats. The first time these cats came out of nowhere, I did a little half jump in my seat. They popped up just enough times to get your heart going without being too annoying. As I had a small gray Egyptian looking cat curled up on the floor next to me, it did give me pause. Sadly, my little cat is scarier than this movie was.

Monday, May 4, 2015

From the Dark Movie Review – Two People, One Monster

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Rating: NR
Director: Conor McMahon

Sarah and Mark are a couple heading off on vacation together in the country. Though they followed the directions perfectly, they make a few wrong turns and wind up lost in the countryside. Though Sarah wants to call her father for help, Mark makes her put down the phone and volunteers to go for help himself, claiming there must be a home nearby.

After following the road, Mark finds a home in the middle of nowhere. As no one answers the door, he lets himself in and shouts for help. Instead of finding help, he's tasked with providing help after the owner of the home stumbles in bleeding profusely from his neck. Waiting back at the car, Sarah begins wondering if she made the right decision believing in her boyfriend until Mark pops back up and demands that she come back to the house with him to help its owner. They get there just in time to find that the man transformed into a monster and that he's looking for his next victim.

I cannot believe that more people aren't talking about this film and that it didn't get better reviews. It was one of those movies I watched with no expectations and ended up liking it so much that I keep recommending it to others.

The director does a good job of setting up the tension between the two very early on. Sarah continually makes fun of his new hair cut, which seems to irritate him, and he confesses to her on the car ride that he will probably never get married. By the time they separate and he goes for help, it's easy to understand why she would rather call someone for help than trust him to actually find help.

Conor MacMahon, the director, also added some intense atmosphere to the scenes where Sarah is on her own. There is a moment where she's leaning on the car and smoking a cigarette. The background gets a little fuzzy, which makes it hard to see what's happening behind her, until you realize that there is someone standing in the woods and watching her. Another intense scene occurs when she bends over to do something and a hand comes out of nowhere and moves right past her face.

The first half of the movie is really good, but the second half drops off a bit. The two attempt to escape through the woods and wind up running back to the house, which lets the monster stalk them and leads to them hiding in a bathroom with the door locked. Once Sarah finally goes off on a search for help by herself, it really gets going again.

Despite some ups and downs, I would probably rank From the Dark one of the best horror flicks I've seen this year. It has some great acting, a few intense moments, and just enough tension to leave you on edge.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Houses October Built – Go Behind the Scenes

Runtime: 91 minutes
Release Date: October 10, 2014
Rating: UR
Director: Bobby Roe

Zack, Jeff, Brandy, Bobby, and Mikey are a group of friends who decide to make a documentary about what really happens behind the scenes of haunted houses and other attractions. Armed with a motorhome and a camera, they hit the road to film some of the top haunted houses and talk with the people who work in those houses.

Despite getting some good footage, they can't help noticing that they keep coming across the same places. It seems like every spot they hit has the same scares and even the same type of people working there. Though Jeff keeps promising them that they'll find something better at the next stop, the creepiest thing they see is a little girl in a porcelain mask with no hair who seems to show up at every stop.

That leads to one of the creepiest and weirdest scenes in the movie, where that same costumed character follows them back to the motorhome. Despite asking her if she needs help and trying to talk to her, she just sits down and starts making strange noises before eventually screaming and running away.

At one of their later stops, Jeff comes across two guys who claim they know how to get to the Blue Skeleton, one of the hottest and scariest attractions in the country. Often considered an urban legend, the location changes every year and visitation is by invite only. After finding the first clue to its location, they discover that someone or something is stalking them. They find a bloody heart in their refrigerator, footage of them sleeping on their camera, and blue skull masks left on the front of the RV that reveals a group spent hours watching them the night before. Even before they find the last clue, they realize that finding the Blue Skeleton might not be all they thought.

The Houses October Built actually comes across like two different films, and both are pretty damn good. The first is a documentary of what happens behind the scenes at haunted attractions. We see interviews with costumed workers and hear some stories about people who actually died in those attractions. The second film is a found footage documentary about what happened to a group of friends who went down the rabbit hole. Mixing the documentary footage with the character footage was a smart choice. We get a little break from those characters and learn more about what might motivate them to go on a hunt like this.

As many of the actors have little to no experience, I went in not expecting a whole lot and was pretty surprised. Zack Andres as Zack and Jeff Larson as Jeff were the two real standouts. All of the actors though did a great job of making me believe they were actually friends and that they really would take a random road trip together.

And can I just say that the porcelain doll character was just plain creepy? Since she kept randomly popping up, you never really knew when she might appear next. It got to the point where anytime the characters went down a dark street or opened a door, I expected her to be standing there staring at them. Add to that a scene with two rednecks accosting Brandy in the bathroom of a grungy bar, and I was all in.

Though it got some poor/bad reviews, I enjoyed The Houses October built. It's currently on Netflix for those who want to give it a try.