Friday, July 31, 2015

Extraterrestrial Movie Review – Don't Go in the Woods, Seriously, Just Don't

Runtime: 101 minutes
Release Date: October 17, 2014
Rating: NR
Director: Colin Minihan

Extraterrestrial opens with an unnamed woman sobbing and running through the streets to reach a phone booth. Just as she gets inside, she disappears without a trace.

Cut to April, your stereotypical girl who is about to leave the small town and her small town boyfriend behind for life in the big city. The boyfriend, Kyle, decided to surprise her in a terrible way by turning their weekend cabin getaway into a miniature party with their friends Seth, Lex, and Melanie. Before they even get there, a local cop pulls them over because Seth tried to launch fireworks out of the car.

Things get even worse when they get to the cabin. Kyle takes the opportunity to propose to her and seems heartbroken when she turns him down, though honestly, it kind of seems like she isn't even sure why she turned him down. After seeing something in the woods, they realize it's a UFO and rush back to barricade themselves inside the cabin.

The small town cop, who is actually the sheriff, then arrives. Though his deputy doesn't believe their story and points out all the alcohol and drugs littering the cabin, the sheriff believes them because he thinks aliens abducted his wife, who is still missing. Before they can do anything, one of the aliens appears and makes the sheriff shoot both his deputy and himself. Even as they try to save themselves, it quickly becomes clear that no one escapes from these aliens.

What do you say about a movie that features Michael Ironside as a pothead? He plays Travis, a local man who grows and sells his own weed. April and her friend uncover his stash and almost wind up with bullets in their brains until Travis recognizes her from when she was a kid. He's also the only person who believes them. It's a little confusing though. Given everything that likely happened out there in the woods, why did the aliens never attack or take him before?

There were a few things I really liked about Extraterrestrial. If you haven't seen the movie and don't want to see it, just stop reading now.

One thing I liked is when they actually got on the ship. Seth's death scene made my roommate wince so much that I thought he might actually get up and leave the room. The director and set designers also did a good job of decorating and designing a space that actually felt like a spaceship. However, I'm not a big fan of April and Kyle finding each other, the aliens letting them go for no explained reason, and them just dying, nor did I like how they had to have her put the ring on before she died. Yup, because their love meet nothing until she agreed to marry him. On the other hand, how can you not like a science fiction film that includes a blatant reference to the Cigarette Smoking Man at the end?

Extraterrestrial got some extremely poor reviews when it came out, but I definitely liked it. It's currently on Netflix for those interested.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Jack Frost Movie Review - “It ain't Fucking Frosty!”

Runtime: 89 minutes
Release Date: November 18, 1997
Rating: R
Director: Michael Cooney

Once upon a time in a not so far away land, I lived in my parents' house with my older brother. As we both loved horror movies, we would often head to Blockbuster to surprise each other with bad horror movies and watch them together. Jack Frost is one of the movies that I remember watching with him, but watching it now, I'm not entirely sure how we ever got through it!

I could give you a whole big plot synopsis, but do you really need one? Jack Frost, who had the poor misfortune of actually growing up with that name, killed multiple people before a small town sheriff captured him. Cut to police later transporting him to another prison for his execution because I guess they somehow let a serial killer roam free at a minimum security prison or something. While on the way, a truck filled with toxic acid hits them. Jack winds up getting hit full on with the toxic waste, which leads to him melting away into the snow. He then comes back as a living snowman to murder anyone who gets in his way.

With a plot like that, how could this movie ever be bad? Toss in Shannon Elizabeth in one of her first movie roles as a stereotypical dumb hot girl, and this movie should be gold. Did I mention that the sheriff who captured Jack is now living in the same town and has a daughter? Seriously, this should be cheesy gold. Note how I kept using the word should?

There are a few moments in the movie worth mentioning. At one point, Jack somehow manages to wed his massive snowman body into a police car, which results in him running through the streets of town in the car. Sadly, he only gets to mow down one person. I'd love to see him chasing people Twisted Metal style through the streets.

We also get a great scene with Shannon Elizabeth. While lounging her slutty self in the tub, she feels something in the water with her and naturally assumes that it's her boyfriend, so she encourages him to keep going. Just as she's really getting into it, she finally opens her eyes and sees Jack Frost. Before he kills her, he finishes what he started. Hey! The guy was in minimum security prison for like two whole hours, what did you expect him to do?

There are also a few funny moments with the sheriff and his crew trying to hunt Jack down and kill him. You would think killing a snowman would be easy but apparently not. They try shooting him, which is probably how they take down other serial killers, but it just goes right through him. The best is when they decide to just melt him with a bunch of hairdryers. I guess they couldn't find heaters in a town filled with snow.

Sigh. I think this is a case of seeing a movie years ago and thinking it was all in good cheesy fun only to later find that it's just awful. Watching Jack Frost now makes we wonder how that horrible movie Uncle Sam will hold up...

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Evidence Movie Review – Never Trust Hot Girls

Runtime: 94 minutes
Release Date: July 19, 2013
Rating: NR?
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi

Detective Reese (Stephen Moyer, True Blood) and Detective Burquez (Radha Mitchell, Silent Hill) are two detectives tasked with going over the brutal footage left behind after a murderous slaying in New Mexico. Through video footage we meet Rachel, an aspiring filmmaker who can't seem to put down her camera long enough to see what's happening in front of her. She films her best friend Leann as Leann's boyfriend proposing to her and as she turns him down.

Later footage reveals that while Tyler was heartbroken at her rejection, he reluctantly agreed to go with the two girls to Las Vegas on a trip they planned beforehand. They make friends with the others on the bus, including a teenage runaway, a stripper (excuse me, dancer), and a woman who seems way too worried about the bag she brought with her.

The driver takes them off the main roads and onto dirt roads, claiming that it's the way he always goes. After driving over something left in the road, the bus flips over and crashes. Everyone manages to escape relatively unharmed and finds their way back to a seemingly abandoned little town they passed earlier. As the sun sets, the group finds themselves stalked and killed by a menacing figure with a blow torch, leaving the two detectives to discover exactly what happened that night.

My main problem with found footage movies is that the found footage element gets to be too much at times. That it why I'm glad the director set this movie up the way he did. It jumps back and forth between the detectives in the present day with the footage filmed by the people on the bus. I thought it might be a little jarring, but it actually plays well.

I've always had a fear of drowning, but after watching this movie, I turned to my roommate and told him that I had a new worst way to die. There is a scene where the figure in the mask with the blow torch attacks a woman and literally cuts her arm off with the torch before setting her on fire. The way he kind of just stands back and watches her burn for a few second before walking away was actually chilling.

It seems like a lot of movies have to showcase stereotypes, but Evidence did a smart job of not falling back too much on those stereotypes. We naturally have the slightly dorky teenager who somehow knows magic tricks and the guy pining over the girl he loves, but the movie jumps between the characters enough that no one person takes center stage and no one stereotype takes over the movie.

While the scenes set in the abandoned town were pretty intense, the same can't be said of the scenes set in the present day. There are literally scenes where Moyer will say one line to Mitchell, she'll nod her head, and then they both go back to watching the footage they have. It felt like too much exposition or as if the director wasn't sure we would pick up on something that happened, so he had to take that moment to let us in on what they found. Thanks, but I watched that scene and I get it.

Other than that, I'd recommend Evidence. It's currently playing on Netflix.

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.