Monday, December 31, 2012

“Halloween: Resurrection” Movie Review

Runtime: 94 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: July 12, 2002
Director: Rick Rosenthal

What happens when you mix current (at the time technology) and an “urban vibe” with a classic Michael Myers tale? That would be “Halloween: Resurrection.”

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) escaped the last film by killing her brother, but when she learned that she actually killed a paramedic, she went crazy and landed in the mental hospital. As the nurses gossip about her, she stuffs her pills in a secret compartment in her favorite doll, revealing that she's totally sane and actually waiting for her brother to come back. He does and despite a massive battle between the two, Michael finally gets the job done and kills his sister before taking off for his hometown.

Jen (Katee Sackhoff, “White Noise 2: The Light”) tells her best friend Sara that the two were picked for an Internet reality show taking place in the former Myers' house. Along for the ride is their friend Rudy (Sean Patrick Thomas, “Dracula 2000”), Donna, Jim, and Bill. When they get to the house and start investigating, Sara realizes that much of the house is rigged to scare them. They find Michael's old highchair with fake leg irons added to it and other items designed to show that he was a crazy child.

Sara recently launched an online relationship with Deckard (Ryan Merriman, “Final Destination 3”), which she uses to her advantage. Though she doesn't know it, he's actually a teenage boy, stuck watching the show from a party that his friend dragged him to that same night. When Michael starts randomly killing people in his former home, she turns to Deckard for help.

Halloween Resurrection” usually gets picked as the worst film in the franchise, which is sad because I actually dig it. I remember seeing an early work print of the film with the original ending, and then seeing it as it was released and being surprised that they changed the ending. That probably only made sense in my head, but I will let the statement stand.

Most people remember this one as the movie with Busta Rhymes. Yes he is here, and yes he is pretty good. It's almost like he knows that people will make fun of him, so he goes overboard. Whether he's karate kicking to tempt Michael or flirting badly with Tyra Banks, he's a gem. Just before I wrote my review, I checked the details and was surprised that this is rated R. There is a little nudity, but the movie doesn't have nearly enough violence to warrant that rating.

It's also a little fun to check out the high-tech and cutting edge technology of the time. When Sara pulls out her PDA (multiple times) to communicated with Deckard, I had to laugh. I had to laugh again when they showed the headset cameras the characters wear throughout the movie. “Halloween: Resurrection” tried so hard to be on top of the times that it definitely comes across as dated today.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

“Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” Movie Review

Runtime: 90 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: October 27, 2000
Director: Joe Berlinger

A random group of people show up in Burketsville to create their own documentary about the Blair Witch. Tristen, who is pregnant, and her boyfriend Stephen want to write a book about the witch, while Kim is a psychic and goth girl and Erica (Erica Leerhsen, “Wrong Turn 2: Dead End”) kind of seems to just go along for kicks. They're lead by Jeff (Jeffrey Donovan, “Hindsight”) who claims that he had thousands of satisfied customers leading tours of the areas associated with the previous film, though it turns out he just meant people who bought crap from his website.

They head out on a tour of the woods, eventually settling in the ruins of an old house for the night. After a night of partying, they wake to discover their belongings trashed. The group ventures back to Jeff's house to go over the footage they shot, and things turn even weirder.

Here is where I lose any bit of horror street cred that I have: I actually liked this film. I saw “The Blair Witch Project” in the theater with a friend who also loved horror films, and we were both pissed by the time it ended. I have never seen the movie again, and I have no interest in seeing it. I bought a used copy of this movie from a store here in Dayton, and the cashier tried to upsell me to the two-disc set for $1 more, which included a copy of the first film, and I completely shot him down.

I frequently tried to tell people that “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” was a good movie and way better than the first one. I still maintain that it's far superior to the last film, but after watching it recently, I don't know why the hell I once liked it so much. Granted, Donovan is creepily hot in the movie, and it has an interesting ending but that's about it.

The problem is that there is just something a little too slick about the film. If you haven't read about the problems between the director and the studio, go read about it. It's like the studio decided that everything original about the previous film wasnt't good enough for a sequel, so they decided to make a traditional horror film. After watching it again, I think it probably would have been better to make this as a stand-alone film with no connection to the Blair Witch.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Movie Review: “The Raven”

Runtime: 110 minutes
Rating: R
Director: James McTeigue
Release Date: April 27, 2012

Baltimore, Maryland police officers are on hand when the body of a dead woman turns up in her apartment. After some investigation, they discover that the murder is similar to one from an Edgar Allan Poe story. Poe (John Cusack) falls in love with a beautiful young woman, but her father forbids her from seeing him. When he goes to talk to the father, the man suggests that he offer his services helping the police investigate a series of murders that seem to draw inspiration from his stories.

Fantastic set dressings? Check. Killer costumes? Check. Amazing performances from top-notch actors? Check. With all those things going for it, “The Raven” had the chance to be a strong film, unfortunately it just didn't deliver. As a Cusack fan, I've had the opportunity to sit through some terrible shlock over the years, and I hate to say it but this one will probably make the short list of my least favorite films.

There's something missing from the movie that I just can't put my finger on. I watched it with several people, and they all enjoyed it but I found my mind wandering. This is one of those films that I ended up watching while flipping through a magazine because I couldn't get into the story. It kind of seems like one of those movies that you have to be in the right mood for, and I'm not sure that I'll ever be in the right one.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

“The Loved Ones” Movie Review

Runtime: 84 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Sean Byrne
Release Date: June 1, 2012

Brent is an ordinary guy who gets into a car accident with his father. A few months later, we learn that his dad died in the accident and that he's about ready to go to prom with his girlfriend Holly. He also uses pot and mutilation to get through the bad times, and he recently turned down an offer by this girl Lola to go to the prom with him.

While at the prom, he gets knocked out when something hits him from behind. He wakes up to find himself tied to a chair in Lola's house with her dad and another woman. The woman clearly had a lobotomy and now has a vacant look on her face, and the dad seems willing to do anything that Lola wants him to do.

I have seen a lot of horror movies over the years, and Lola is one of the most fucked up characters of all time. Among the acts that she commits on Brent are:

-She throws salt on wounds that she inflicts
-She and her father nail Brent's feet to the floor
-She gives him an injection of bleach so he can't talk or cry
-She drills a hole in his head to give him a lobotomy

“The Loved Ones” is so wicked that I made enough “agh” and “ack” sounds that my roommate came in, watched five minutes, and decided that he had to watch it over again from the very beginning. The first ¾ of the film are easily the best. It keeps you on your toes, wondering what could possibly happen next. The ending is slightly predictable, and it falters a little when Holly suddenly pops back up in the film, but it definitely makes you wonder why foreign countries have such better horror films than we do.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Movie Review: “The Terror Experiment”

Length: 82 minutes
Rating: UR
Director: George Mendeluk
Release Date: April 1, 2010

Oh how the mighty have fallen. “The Terror Experiment,” also known as “Fight or Flight” proves that horror films sunk quite a bit in recent years, and that some beloved stars really can't catch a break in Hollywood. First though, let's get the plot out of the way.

“The Terror Experiment” is what happens when the government lets private citizens with ulterior motives run loose on secret projects. There's this random guy who decides to release the newest form of toxic gas loose on the world by sneaking into the Federal Building and placing it in the ventilation system. Naturally, the gas turns people into mindless zombies and there are a small band of people in the building that must work together to escape.

I love C. Thomas Howell. I don't care how old or creepy he looks, I still love him. I actually squealed when I saw him turn up in the newest Spider-Man film. Maybe it's because I watched “The Hitcher” approximately 700 times, but I am absolutely crazy about the guy. As soon as I saw his name on the box, I knew this was one that would make its way into my home.

Howell isn't the only famous face popping up in this one. There's also Jason London, Judd Nelson, Robert Carradine, and even Lochlyn Munro of dozens of straight-to-DVD horror films. Sadly, this movie is a piece of garbage. I can usually find some redeeming features, but “The Terror Experiment” is something I saw once and almost immediately forgot about.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

“Back From Hell” Movie Review

Length: 95 minutes
Rating: NR
Director: Leonardo Araneo
Release Date: 2011

“Back From Hell” tells the story of a group of friends who decide to escape the hustle and bustle of city life for a relaxing vacation in the country. Everyone seems to have a few problems. There's the couple expecting a baby who don't seem happy together. She wants him to grow up and act like a father, while he just wants to have fun with his friends.

All that changes when one of the friends starts acting a little odd. He goes from acting strange to seemingly talking in tongues and just acting like a crazy person. A random priest pops up every now and then, warning them about the weird things going on around them. He seems to have something important that he wants to tell him, but he has a bad habit of starting to talk and then rushing off.

Did I mention that this is one of those found footage films? To keep track of everything that happens, the group decides to film themselves throughout the trip. That might be interesting, but this film just goes to show that not everything needs that type of plot. If your best friend jumped out of a window on the second floor and dashed through the woods, would you really take the time to grab your camera to follow him?

“Back From Hell” also has the kind of ending that will leave viewers wondering what the hell just happened. It pretty much gives the audience a huge middle finger by saying that everything you thought was happening wasn't real. There are two possible explanations for the ending: either the director wanted one film all along and stuck with his original ending, or he really just stopped caring and tacked it on. Either way, I was just glad when it ended. The sad thing is that I watched it with friends while cooking for Thanksgiving dinner and despite doing multiple things at once, I paid more attention to the film than those who were actually watching it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

“Silent Night” Movie Review

Runtime: 94 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: November 30, 2012
Director: Steven C. Miller

Silent Night” opens with a young man strapped to a chair with Christmas lights and a murderous Santa standing nearby. As he begs the man to let him go, we quickly learn that he was having an affair with a married woman and that Santa does not like cheaters. Once he electrocutes the man, which leads to his eyeballs popping out, I quickly get over my crush on Brendan Fehr (“Christina's House”) and Santa moves on to his next victim.

Sheriff James Cooper (Malcolm McDowell, “Halloween”) hates everything about his small town, which hosts a massive Christmas celebration. His deputy Audrey (Jaime King, “My Bloody Valentine”) lost her husband a year ago and isn't too happy about celebrating, but she frequently gets annoyed when the sheriff takes over for her. He's just excited that he finally gets to do something.

Since the town hosts one of the biggest Santa costume contests in the world, our killer gets to roam around town and no one takes a second look. Audrey and Cooper discover that Santa is killing people who made his naughty list, and they target Jim Epstein (Donal Logue, “Shark Night”), a traveling Santa who delights in telling kids the truth. Despite bringing him in for questioning, the real Santa is still out there.

I was one of those annoying people who got up in arms when they announced plans to remake “Silent Night, Deadly Night.” Luckily, this film has almost nothing in common with the original. Is it the worst horror movie ever made? No. Is it the best horror film ever made? Not at all.

While it isn't a fantastic movie, it's far better than some of the other remakes that we've seen in recent years. The top star of the film, no matter what the poster says, is Logue. I have loved him since “The Tao of Steve” and “Grounded for Life,” and I love him even more after “Silent Night.” He only appears in a few scenes, but those scenes are worth every penny. When he told one kid that he would bring him everything on his list and if they weren't there on Christmas Day, it meant that his parents sold the gifts on eBay, I almost bust a gut.

Then there are the kill scenes, which are much better than most horror movies. One particularly bratty tween tells her mother, “fuck Christmas,” which leads to Santa pulling a hammer from his bag of treats. Then there's the naked woman tossed in a wood chipper and the daughter of the mayor and her boyfriend who Santa interrupts in the bedroom.

My main problem in the film is King. I know that some people really like her, but I find her a pretty terrible actress. She almost always has a vacant look in her eyes, and when she needs to take a stand, it seems unbelievable. McDowell is far better, playing every scene like he's in an Oscar-nominated movie. One of my favorite movie lines is now, “don't put avocado on the burger,” which is why he tells Audrey when explaining that the simplest explanation is usually the best. “Silent Night” probably won't make any top 10 lists at the end of the year, but it might just become one of those films I pull out during the holidays.

Movie Review: “Rec 3: Genesis”

Runtime: 80 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: September 7, 2012
Director: Paco Plaza

“Rec 3: Genesis” opens with the traditional slideshow presentation that everyone secretly hates from weddings. Through two cameras, we learn that Koldo and Clara are the lucky young couple. After exchanging vows and doing a truly lame rehearsed dance at the reception, Koldo's uncle Adrian interrupts with what he claims is a dog bite. Naturally, the dog bite turns out to be a bite from an infected person.

Once he bites a few people, everyone in the party starts running for the hills. Koldo winds up with a group that includes a little girl from the wedding party, his cousin, the wedding videographer, and oddly enough, a man who shows up at wedding receptions to see what songs the band plays so he can make sure musicians get their royalties. Clara heads off with the priest and eventually finds herself with the best man Rafa.

“Rec 3: Genesis” is essentially a love story that takes place in the middle of a zombie attack. Clara and Koldo basically do anything that it takes to find their way back to each other, even if it means donning medieval garb like Koldo does, or taking a chainsaw to her wedding dress like Clara does. The film also has a nifty little ending that is just as bleak and unhappy as the ending to the other films.

What I particularly liked about this one is that it introduced some humorous elements. There's the children's performer hired for the reception who goes by the name of SpongeJohn because of his generic SpongeBob costume, and Rafa who is more concerned about getting lucky than he is about the potential outbreak. Clara has a few great moments too, like when she puts the heel of her shoe through the eye of one zombie, and she later takes out two more with a chainsaw through the head. Oh, and that outfit on the poster? She actually makes it herself by sawing through her dress with the same chainsaw.

What I didn't like about the film is that it relies more on slick camera work than the handheld cameras that permeated the earlier films. While some might applaud the fact that “Rec 3: Genesis” uses better cameras, I have to say that I miss the “found footage” elements from the other films. I appreciate that it uses those elements early on, but when it jumps to the newer cameras, it feels a little jarring.

The relationship between Klodo and Clara is a little unbelievable at times too. They have their funny moments, like when she announces over the loudspeaker that she's pregnant, but then tells her family that it wasn't a shotgun wedding. It seems like she's more willing to save him than he is to save her. In one scene, she climbs a ladder from a tunnel under the building because he's standing over a grate above her. He tells her to climb back down, knowing that there are infected people there, to retrieve a screwdriver that his group lost earlier in the movie. Really Klodo, you couldn't find a butter knife or something in there to unscrew the grate yourself?

I'm also not a big fan of the religious aspects of the movie. If the infected can be stopped by quoting the Bible, why did no one ever try this before? Despite that, it gets two big thumbs up from me. The kill scenes kept me entertained and the humor kept me laughing. As one of my friends said after the credits rolled, “why can't we make horror movies like that?”

Monday, December 10, 2012

Movie Review: Cursed

Runtime: 97 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: February 25, 2005
Director: Wes Craven

Jenny (Mya) and Becky (Shannon Elizabeth) stop by a fortune teller one night for kicks. The fortune teller looks at Jenny’s hand and sees a dark future, but the two think she’s full of it and walk away.

Cut to Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg, Camp Hell) driving with his older sister Elle (Christina Ricci, Sleepy Hollow). Elle swerves to avoid an animal in the road and crashes into another car, sending it off the street. When they rush to help the driver, they find Becky inside. She immediately starts complaining, and as they try to pull her out, an animal grabs her. The animals slashes the two leads before disappearing with the woman.

Jimmy naturally decides that he must be a werewolf because he thinks the creature that scratched them was one. Elle thinks he’s crazy, and grabs a silver picture frame to show that nothing is wrong. Even though she denies his claims, she notices weird things happening like smelling fresh blood from across the office. Jimmy has troubles of his own because he can’t get close to his crush due to the school bully Bo (Milo Ventimiglia, Stay Alive).

Elle starts ignoring her brother to focus on her career working on a late night talk show. She also manages to squeeze in some time with her boyfriend Jake (Joshua Jackson, Shutter) even though he seems like an ass and has a little too many past relationships. As the movie continues, the two realize that someone they know might have a connection to the animal that attacked them.

Cursed is one of those films that I can’t quite get a handle on because it does have some moments, but those moments are few and far between. I saw it when it originally came out and thought it was far better than the reviews, but I didn’t like it nearly as much upon further viewing. I actually picked up one of those horror sets because it had two films I liked and I thought I could at least use the rest for the blog. This was one of the films I thought I liked.

Writer Kevin Williamson likes to mix comedy and horror, but he did it a lot better in other films. It almost feels like it tries too hard to be funny. Like, oh, the werewolf gave the cops the finger, hardy-har-har. Or, Becky’s first comment in the middle of a car accident is that she hopes they have insurance.

The werewolf action is several lacking in the film too. When the boyfriend saw the first werewolf, he said, “that is an…interesting take on the werewolf.” We really don’t see the wolf itself until the movie is almost over, and by then, do we really care?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dracula 2000 Movie Review

Runtime: 99 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: December 22, 2000
Director: Patrick Lussier

Matthew Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer, Possessed) runs a large antique company in England with his assistant Simon (Johnny Lee Miller, Mindhunters). A group of men break into his vault one night, and it turns out they were led by his employee Solina (Jennifer Esposito). She has a romantic relationship with the leader Marcus (Omar Epps, Scream 2), but he’s unhappy because they find almost nothing of value in the vault.

The men eventually discover an ornate coffin, and while trying to get some jewels off the top, a sensor goes off, killing two of the men. They manage to get the coffin onto a plane bound for America. Nightshade (Danny Masterson) gets the lid off the coffin and discovers a body inside covered with religion iconography and leeches. The figure in the coffin suddenly comes to life, killing Nightshade and attacking the others.

While all of this is going on, a young woman named Mary (Justine Waddell, Three) begins having visions of Dracula (Gerard Butler, Reign of Fire). She talks to her roommate about it as well as a priest (Nathan Fillion, Slither), but no one seems to have any answers. When the plane crashes in New Orleans and Dracula gets loose in the streets, all of the stories come together as the characters race to stop the vampire.

I loved Dracula 2000 so much when it first came out that I actually saw it twice on the same day. Yes, I paid to see this two times in one day, and in fact, it was the day the movie opened. I started watching it a few weeks ago, and my roommate watched it with me because I kept gushing about it. After watching it though, I had to wonder why I once loved it so much. My boyfriend watched it the other day, and I actually got up and did some dishes instead of watching the last 30 minutes.

This is easily one of those horror films that does not age well. Everything about it seems a little dated, including the special effects and even the actors. Johnny Lee Miller seemingly never ages, but Gerard Butler looks like a teenager here compared to how he looks now. Then again, I will watch almost anything if it involves Shane West, even in a small cameo.

There are still a few good moments in the movie though. One comes when a reporter gets attacked by Dracula. We see the attack through the lens of the cameraman, and since vampires do not show up on film, it looks like an invisible figure is attacking. When West gets the same treatment though, it basically looks like he’s trying to strangle himself.

Due to the inclusion of Dracula 2000 on multiple compilation DVDs this season, I am now the proud owner of at least three copies. Here’s hoping that I discover I love it the next time around.

Monday, December 3, 2012

We Are the Night Movie Review

Runtime: 96 minutes
Rating: NR
Release Date: May 20, 2011
Director: Dennis Gansel

Three women are on a plane where the entire flight crew is dead and bleeding. One of the woman discovers a living flight attendant and breaks her neck before they jump out of the plane. The movie then jumps to a young woman named Lena. After stealing a man’s wallet, she rushes off with a cop chasing her. She quickly changes clothes and runs into the cop again. Though she has a connection with Tom, he tries to arrest her and she hits him and takes off.

Lena joins a long line outside a hip nightclub. The three women from earlier watch the line via hidden camera, and select Lena. We meet the leader Louise, who dances with Lena and bites her. Though Lena runs away, she discovers that her life has changed when she wakes up the next day and cannot stand the sunlight. After confronting the group, Louise forces Lena to become a prostitute. Her pimp attacks her and she kills him. As all hell breaks loose, the other girls come to her rescue. With Tom hot on their trail, Lena discovers that she’s trapped between her former life and what they made her.

I added We Are the Night to my Netflix queue when I originally had it. I let my membership lapse but went back a few months ago, and it was one of the only titles still in my original queue. I kept putting off watching it and when I finally did, I could kind of see why. I know the movie got a lot of good reviews, but it really wasn’t my cup of tea.

This is like a vampire movie that doesn’t want to admit that it’s a vampire movie. No one in the film ever says the v-word, but it’s pretty clear that’s what the women are. Sometimes it wants to be an action movie, sometimes it wants to be a thriller, and sometimes it wants to be a romance movie. It all winds up being a little too confusing.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Movie Review: Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf

Runtime: 100 minutes
Rating: NR
Release Date: 2010
Director: Andrew Cymek

Johnny Morgan (director Cymek) lost his sister to the sadistic serial killer nicknamed The Wolf. As an adult, he partners with Elliot Carob (John Rhys-Davies, Sliders) to track down the killer. After snaring The Wolf, they learn that he got off by pleading insanity and is being sent to an old insane asylum. To make things worse, Johnny’s soon-to-be ex-wife Jamie (Brigette Kingsley) works there and the two no longer get along.

Compounding matters is that Wolf’s lawyer Gillian (Mercedes McNab, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) shows up at the hospital. She is worried that Johnny will do something to her client, and she wants to ensure that he gets the proper treatment. Dr. Robert Parker (William B. Davis, The X-Files) is also on hand as the creepy doctor in charge of the patients. When the hospital loses power and the patients get loose, Johnny must protect his wife from the people prowling the hospital.

Okay, so my description of the plot completely sucks, but I totally admit that. That said, I actually kind of dug this movie and I was surprised to see such bad reviews for it. Rhys-Davies is such a great actor, and he carries the early part of the film. Davis pretty much chews the scenery in most of his scenes, but he does such a great job of it that he kept me entertained.

Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf probably suffers some problems from those who go into it expecting a werewolf movie. I know I did when I saw the title, and I’m pretty sure that Netflix labels it as a creature movie, which is funny because it’s a straight up serial killer movie. Just keep in mind that this is a TV movie, which means limited blood and guts, but I still thought it was pretty good.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Darkness Movie Review

Runtime: 102 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: December 25, 2004
Director: Jaume Belaguero

A dark and abandoned house in Spain gets a new chance at life when a family from America moves there. Forty years before they moved there, a cult did an ancient ritual that led to six children disappearing. Regina (Anna Paquin, Trick ‘r Treat) is a typical teenage girl who doesn’t want to move and seems more concerned with her little brother Paul (Stephan Enquist) than helping around the house.

While her dad starts working, her mom Maria (Lena Olin, Queen of the Damned) tries to get the family on track in a new city. Her father-in-law Albert (Giancarlo Giannini, Hannibal) pops up frequently to help the family and try to help them when the father has problems. Mark (Iain Glen, Resident Evil: Apocalypse) begins suffering from breakdowns that occur in the middle of the day, sometimes when his children are in the car with them. To top it off, the house suffers from electrical problems that plunge the entire family into total darkness. Regina begins wondering if something darker is happening to her family.

I have probably seen Darkness six times by now and I seldom remember any of it. I tested a friend of mine because he claims that he loves this movie. He borrowed my copy about a month ago, and when I asked him about it, he had to admit that he barely remembered the movie. I have also seen the PG-13 version and the unrated version, and I couldn’t tell you the differences between the two cuts. It’s just another of those movies that I watch once and then forget about.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Movie Review: Case 39

Runtime: 109 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: October 1, 2010
Director: Christian Alvart

Emily (Renee Zellweger, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation) is a social worker who often handles the toughest cases. She feels a connection with a young girl named Lilith (Jodelle Ferland, Silent Hill) who has problems with her family. During her investigation, Emily finds that the father wants nothing to do with the child and the mother denies any problems. Though the parents meet with the boss and deny any problems, they later try to kill Lilith by roasting her alive in the oven.

For some reason that defies logic and laws, Emily gains temporary custody of Lilith after her parents wind up in a mental institution. Lilith immediately begins acting weird, being way too clingy with her temporary mom and acting like she is her real mother. Emily discovers that one of her charges killed his parents, and the boy received a call from her house right before doing it.

Emily asks her friend and lover Doug (Bradley Cooper, My Little Eye) to meet with Lilith because he’s a psychologist. The little girl acts like an adult, making condescending comments and treating him like trash. When he admits his greatest fear is hornets, she smiles. Later that night, he gets an unusual phone call that leads to hornets attacking and he dies in the aftermath. Once she realizes there is something off about the little girl, Emily discovers that she might be too close to see the real problem.

I actually bought Case 39 back when we still had Blockbuster stores around us because I needed one more movie for the big sale and a friend who has similar taste told me he really liked it. I did like it the first time I saw it, but I just saw it a second time and I didn’t find it nearly as entertaining. Part of the problem is Zellweger who I absolutely cannot stand. I have a hard time buying her as a concerned social worker. She seems like she’s acting a little too hard through most of the film. And Cooper, who I absolutely adore, shares little chemistry with her onscreen.

Ferland is really the standout in the movie. This chick is so creepy that she should just spend the rest of her life devoting herself to horror movies because I can’t wait to see what she does as an adult.

What it really boils down to is that Case 39 asks you to suspend belief while setting the movie in a realistic world. Would any court actually give custody to Emily when she has no mothering skills or abilities whatsoever? Why does no one do anything when Emily clearly acts like she lost her mind? She keeps running around talking about how the little girl is a demon or possessed, and they don’t take away custody? It’s all just a little too much.

Monday, November 19, 2012

House at the End of the Street Movie Review

Runtime: 101 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: September 21, 2012
Director: Mark Tonderai

Sarah (Elizabeth Shue, Piranha) is a former party girl who leaves that life behind when she divorces her musician husband and moves her daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games) into the middle of nowhere. Sarah isn’t fond of the dilapidated house next door, especially when she learns the story behind it. The family who lived there sent their son away to care for his aunt, and their daughter Carrie-Ann murdered them both before disappearing.

Naturally, Elissa meets Ryan (Max Thieriot, My Soul to Take), Carrie-Ann’s brother and starts to like him. He tells her that when they were kids, they were extremely close and played together like kids. During flashbacks, we learn that their mother was a drug addict who seldom paid attention to them. While playing on the swings, Carrie-Ann fell off and cracked her head on the ground. She had the mental capacity of a child and started acting out, which led to him leaving.

Even though Ryan literally seems like the sweet guy next door, Sarah is incredibly nervous about him being around her daughter. She asks Officer Weaver (Gil Bellows, The Shawshank Redemption) what he thinks, and the man gets a little upset. He tells her that people in town blame Ryan for what happened and that he’s constantly defending the boy. Sarah decides to make things better by inviting him over for dinner, only to tell him that he can’t be alone with her daughter. Since Elissa is a teenage girl, she naturally gets even more interested in Ryan, which leads to her discovery of what actually happened years ago.

I cannot believe the shitty reviews that I read for House at the End of the Street! I actually enjoyed it, especially compared to the crap that I’ve seen lately (The Possession, I’m looking at you!). It had one scene that actually made me jerk in my seat because I should have seen it coming, but I got a little too comfortable. There are also a few squirm-inducing scenes in the film.

One of those scenes comes when a character knocks over a lamp and lets the heat from the bulb burn through the restraints keeping her tied down. Watch closely, and you can actually see blisters forming on her skin around the bandages. Another comes when a guy gets his leg broken in a truly disgusting way. It won’t bother some viewers, but it definitely grossed out my ex-Marine boyfriend.

I have a girl crush on Lawrence, and my boyfriend has a crush on Shue, so this was a great movie for us. It had a nice mixture of creepiness and darkness that I really loved. I will most likely end up adding it to my collection in the near future.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Area 407 Movie Review

Runtime: 90 minutes
Rating: NR
Release Date: April 27, 2012
Director: Dale Fabrigar, Everette Wallin

It’s New Year’s Eve and a bunch of random people are on a flight from New York City to Los Angeles. A little girl films everyone with her camera as she travels with her older sister. There’s also a professional photographer who seems inappropriately interested in the older sister, a belligerent drunk who hates everyone, and a quiet woman who is actually an air marshal.

Not long after celebrating the New Year, the plane crashes in the middle of nowhere. The little sister hands the camera over to her big sister, which is a mistake because that kid should not get as much screen time as she does. The crash survivors almost immediately divide into two groups. One group wants to build a fire and wait for help to arrive, while the other group wants to wander into the dense forest and look for help. Naturally, those who leave suddenly begin screaming in horror. One man manages to make it back to the group, but he won’t tell them what happened or what he saw.

As the group goes through the supplies, the photographer and the drunk get into a miniature fight. The drunk thinks that his head wound is worse than anyone else’s injuries, and he isn’t willing to sit down and shut up. Once everyone calms down, the flight attendant goes back into the plane to find blankets and food. When the drunk asks for a drink, she laughingly goes to get one before screaming. By the time they find her, she’s dead, and they are all on a fight for their lives.

I enjoyed Area a point. The little sister is such an annoying character that I literally winced every time she walked onscreen. You know how you sometimes watch a movie and you root for one character to die quickly? That’s how I feel about this chick. The older sister is not only a better actress but far less annoying, which makes it sad when she becomes the camera holder.

Area 407 lacks any real character development too. Did you notice how I keep referring to characters without using their names? Yeah, that’s because I never bothered to learn them. The annoying little sister stays the annoying little sister throughout the movie, and the asshole drunk remains the asshole drunk. It’s also funny that the little sister looks like a tween/early teen, but she skips and dances around like an eight-year-old.

It’s also missing the blood and gore that modern films have. When someone gets attacked, the camera immediately pans to a horrific look on one of the character’s faces without showing us exactly what happened. We also have to sit through a lot of screaming and scenes of the camera pointed at the ground as characters run away.

Still, the end of the movie makes it worth sitting through. We get a few glimpses at what happened to the travelers and why it happened, but Area 407 manages to keep the exact secret under wraps until the last few seconds.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Howling IV: The Original Nightmare Movie Review

Runtime: 94 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: November 1988
Director: John Hough

Marie Adams (Romy Windsor) is an author who admits that she gets her book ideas from visions and dreams that randomly come to her. After one particularly frightening vision, her friend and agent Tom (Antony Hamilton) comforts her in a way that friends shouldn’t. Richard (Michael T. Weiss, The Pretender), her husband, talks to her doctor and they decide that she needs to get away from the city for awhile. Cut to Richard renting a cabin for her.

Tom takes her on the drive to the cabin, which annoys Richard. The two men puff up their chests for a few moments before Marie asks him to stay and he slinks back to the city. Almost immediately, she begins noticing weird things around town. She starts having visions of a nun inside the cabin, the same nun she saw at the beginning of the film. She also hears wolves howling in the woods, and she meets an odd artist named Eleanor who seems to know her husband a little too well.

Before long, Marie meets Janice (Susanne Sevreid, Don’t Answer the Phone) who acts like a fan of her books. Janice later admits that she was a nun and that she’s investigating the disappearance of another nun who died after rambling about the original town where the new town now sits. When Marie learns that the woman is the same nun she has visions about, she realizes that something dark lurks in Drago.

I can’t remember the first time that I saw Howling IV, but I think it was when I was a kid. One of the rental stores had a 3-$1 special, and we used to rent dozens of horror movies. I watched it again a few years ago, and when I popped it into the DVD player, I was prepared to fall asleep at anytime. Instead, I discovered that it really isn’t as bad as I remembered.

Granted Howling IV isn’t going to win any big awards and it’s not even the best werewolf movie that I’ve seen lately, but it really isn’t that bad. The biggest complaint seems to come from people who complain that it doesn’t have enough werewolf scenes, but I can overlook that given its low budget. Plus, I get to see Weiss in a mullet.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Movie Review: Sound of My Voice

Runtime: 85 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: April 27, 2012
Director: Zal Batmanglij

Peter (Christopher Denham) is a teacher working on a project with his girlfriend Lorna (Nicole Vicius). The two heard about a cult that centers on a young woman named Maggie (Brit Marling) who claims that she is from the future, 2054 to be exact. When Sound of My Voice opens, the two have already made a connection with the group. The cult makes them take a shower and change their clothes before blindfolding them and taking them to Maggie.

Maggie tells her followers that the future is a bleak and dark place. She constantly tests them, claiming that they need to be strong to handle what’s coming. She has each member make themselves throw up after feeding them because people in the future have less food. Lorna quickly gets caught up in her story and begins believing that everything Maggie says is the truth, while Peter serves as the voice of reason.

Peter worries about his girlfriend and constantly pushes her with the truth. He points out that Maggie doesn’t give any specifics and cannot verify her claims. When Maggie pushes him about his own home life and his mother in particular, he caves and cries in her arms. He later snaps out of it, telling Lorna that Maggie did the same thing that all cult leaders do. Instead of making any specific claims, she simply asked him questions until she found which buttons to push.

Lorna finds herself on the opposite side when she goes for a hike with one of the cult members. The woman takes her into the middle of nowhere and pulls out a gun before showing her out to shoot. Just as Lorna begins doubting, Peter finds himself caught in Maggie’s trap. When she asks him to kidnap one of the children in his class, the film takes an even darker turn.

I saw a trailer for Sound of My Voice a few months ago and found it fascinating. I left myself a note in my phone to find it when it came out on DVD, but I completely missed it coming out until this week. I decided to add it to the blog because it has a darker theme that kind of fits in the world of horror.

The world of cults is interesting, and this film definitely shows the dark side of things. When one man begins questioning her, she immediately has him banned. His wife/girlfriend watches as he leaves and though he begs her to go with him, she just shakes her head and says that she believes in Maggie. It’s one of those movies that makes you think.

Why do these people believe in her? She tells them that she woke up naked in a bathtub filled with water and was thrown out on the street. One of her followers found her and knew she was from the future because she had an anchor and the number 54 tattooed on her ankle. After a few weeks, she “suddenly” remembered who she was.

The followers believe her no matter what. At one point, she proves that she’s from the future by singing a song from The Cranberries, and only one man has the guts to tell her that it’s a song from the past, which she explains away by saying that it was famous by another artist in her time. They even believe that she can only eat organic foods grown in the garage and that she cannot handle anytime outside because of the toxins in our air, despite the fact that she even admits to wandering the streets on her own after waking in the tub.

It’s hard to explain what makes Sound of My Voice so powerful. It ends on an ambiguous note, leaving it up to the viewer to decide what actually happened. If the proposed sequel comes along, I guess we will get answers to some of our questions.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines Movie Review

Runtime: 91 minutes
Rating: 5
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Director: Declan O’Brien

Wrong Turn 5 literally starts right after Wrong Turn 4 ends, which is a nice bit of continuity. One-Eye, Three-Finger, and Saw-Tooth reunite with their dad Maynard (Doug Bradley, Hellraiser). Apparently, this is supposed to be the same guy from the first two films in the franchise, but he looks nothing like him since this is an entirely new actor.

They make their way to Fairlake, West Virginia, which conveniently is getting ready for the annual Mountain Man Festival. Billy and his girlfriend Cruz start having sex in their tent when their friends interrupt them. While making breakfast, Billy promptly reveals that he brought massive amounts of drugs with them, right before driving away with the drugs in the car.

Maynard decides to basically throw himself in front of the car so he can snag some hot booty for his sons. They go back to check on him, but when he stabs one of the guys in the leg, they retaliate by kicking the crap out of him. Just before his boys jump out of the woods, the police arrive. Sheriff Angela Carter (Camilla Arfwedson) decides that the easy thing is to just arrest everyone and sort things out back at the station.

While loading the guys and girls (who by the way did nothing) handcuffed into her car, her deputy discovers Billy’s collection of drugs. This gives her more reason to haul them into the station. Once there, his friends gang up on him, and the sheriff reluctantly lets the others go free. When running Maynard’s fingerprints, she discovers that he is wanted in multiple states, and that pretty much leads to her keeping him locked up for the night.

Back at the accident scene, the deputy she left behind finds himself attacked by the mutant cannibals. The mutants then decide to head to the police station and get their daddy an early release…

As a fan of the first two Wrong Turn films, I never know what to expect from the franchise. The first film is a favorite, the second film was a great outlet for Henry Rollins, the third put me to sleep, and the fourth was entertaining. Wrong Turn 5 somehow manages to fall somewhere in the middle of the films.

I often talk about suspension of belief/disbelief in horror films, and this one takes the cake. The festival is somehow such a big deal that literally everyone leaves town for it. The sheriff sends all of her men to the festival except for the one left behind, which leads to her deputizes a bunch of random kids and a man that she literally locked up hours earlier for public intoxication. Even as our characters wander through town, they only encounter a few teenage boys making trouble and the sheriff’s husband. There’s a small town like this near here that has an even bigger festival every year, but the shops are still open and people still walk around because not everyone loves the festival.

Once you get past that though, this is actually a solid little film. The mutants don’t look as great as they did in the earlier films, but I can overlook that given the shrinking budget. The characters are all pretty one-dimensional, but most of them die off pretty quickly so that isn’t a problem.

Wrong Turn 5 also has the classic deaths that we want in these films. One (two actually) involves a man buried in the ground with only his head sticking out as a mutant rides a commercial lawn mower, and another occurs in a Saw-like trap involving a car. Then there’s the moment when Maynard decides to dispense with one character by cutting out her eyes with nothing but a letter opener.

Not everyone is going to like Wrong Turn 5, but if you were disappointed by the last few films, this one will make it all better. It has the appeal of the original with some modern twists.

388 Arletta Avenue

Runtime: 87 minutes
Rating: NR
Release Date: May 18, 2012
Director: Randall Cole

James (Nick Stahl, Mirrors 2) and his wife Amy (Mia Kirshner, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days) lead a seemingly idyllic life. The only downside is that someone keeps filming them, and they have no idea about the stalker tracking their every movements. The man seems content to follow them from the street, filming the couple as they come and go from their house. One day, he sees them tuck the spare key in a hidden spot, and he uses the key to gain access and plant cameras around the house.

Nothing seems amiss until James climbs into his car and the music starts blaring. He pulls out a mixed CD from the dash, and realizes that it contains music he never heard before. He confronts his wife, thinking that she made it, but she completely denies it. Amy then convinces him that he probably made it years ago and forgot about it. She even shows him his music library, which contains the same songs. James thinks something is odd because he doesn’t even remember downloading those songs.

Despite his hinky feelings, James continues on with his life. When he comes home from work one night, he discovers a note left by Amy saying that she’s taking a break. He doesn’t think it’s her handwriting and calls her friends, but no one will listen to him, not even the police. Now that the stalker has complete access to his home, he starts playing a deadly game with the man.

I’m a little surprised by the horrid reviews that 388 Arletta Avenue got because this really isn’t a bad movie. The entire film lands on the shoulders of Stahl who proves that he can handle the movie. It does require a large suspension of belief though. Would you really have no idea that someone was sneaking into your house and filming you? I work from home, and I hear every noise in this house, including the neighbors hammering things in the wall. I can’t imagine someone walking around in my basement without anyone noticing.

On top of that, you have to believe that (a) he never notices a single camera in his house and (b) that the cops have no interest in his claims. The stalker hides a camera in his bedroom, giving it the perfect angle of his bed and yet he never notices it. Other cameras are scattered around the house, and he somehow never sees a thing. The cops meanwhile, aren’t even willing to take a missing person’s report on his wife, despite the fact that none of her friends or family have heard from her. In today’s world of Laci Peterson and the like, it seems pretty unbelievable.

When James finally takes matters into his own hand, you can actually believe that he would do something like that. He tracks down Bill (Devon Sawa, Final Destination), a man from his past who he thinks might have something to do with his wife’s disappearance. Unfortunately, he takes things a little too far in the end without any evidence or real reason to believe that the man has anything to do with what happened.

Granted 388 Arletta Avenue has some slow moments, especially in the middle, but I’m surprised it didn’t get a wider release. Maybe the off-screen antics of Stahl have something to do with it, or maybe it’s just the fact that American audiences in particular don’t seem to have much love for the horror or quasai-horror genre anymore.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mortuary Movie Review

Runtime: 94 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: March 25, 2006
Director: Tobe Hooper

Leslie Doyle (Denise Crosby, Dolly Dearest) decides to move her two children to a remote house after the death of her husband. The old house was the mortuary in town, and she wants to start fresh and reopen the old building. Jamie (Stephanie Patton) is a little too young to really care, but Jonathon (Dan Byrd, The Hills Have Eyes) isn’t too happy with the change.

Jonathon heads off to the local diner to pick up dinner, and he runs into a local loser who somehow manages to have two girlfriends. The guy tells him the legend of Bobby Fowler who once lived in his house, and how Bobby was abused and horribly deformed. Rita, the owner of the diner, interrupts, telling them that Bobby never died, and she knows because she sometimes sees him scrounging for food out back. Jonathon doesn’t really pay attention because he’s too busy crushing on Rita’s niece Liz.

Cal and his girlfriends head into the cemetery near the mortuary and start fooling around when Bobby wanders out. It turns out that Bobby is actually infected by some weird disease and he passes it on to the teens. The teens disappear for a few days, which leads to the sheriff looking for them. They naturally start spreading the infection to others in town, including Leslie, leaving Jonathon and his friends as the only ones who can stop it.

Mortuary is easily one of the best Tobe Hooper films out there, regardless of what some might say. I saw it for the first time years ago, watching it on YouTube, and I recently bought a set that had it included with 7-9 other films. While those pretty much suck, this one is aces.

Lee Garlington who plays Rita is worth the watch all by herself. After one of the infected teenagers vomits on her, she flashes back to the 1960s and 1970s when she was a crazy drug user. She even manages to add humor when she’s not onscreen, shouting in the background about seeing colors. I also have a minor crush on Dan Byrd, which was once creepy, but now less so given that he’s of legal age.

Mortuary is an interesting film because it mixes horror and comedy without going too far in the comedic direction. The humor is definitely there, but it’s a little blacker than some might expect. I’m personally a big fan of the movie and even though I disliked most of the other movies in the set, I’ll definitely hold onto it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Movie Review: The Possession

Runtime: 92 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: August 31, 2012
Director: Ole Bornedal

An older woman is sitting at home and trying to find a way to open an old wooden box. The woman tries to break it open, but something grabs her and tosses her around the room. Her son suddenly arrives and starts banging on the door, but she remains passed out on the floor.

Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Supernatural) recently went through a divorce with his wife Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer). It apparently didn’t slow her down any because she’s already dating a dentist named Brett (the yummy Grant Show, Melrose Place) who makes breakfast for them and hangs around a lot. Clyde takes his daughters Hannah and Em for the weekend and shows them his new house. Em seems a little upset because it means her parents aren’t getting back together.

On the way home, Hannah makes her dad stop at a yard sale because he needs dishes and silverware. Em finds herself drawn to an old wooden box with weird inscriptions on the sides, and Clyde buys it for her. When she wants to open it later, he can’t find a way to get the lid off. Later, the box mysteriously comes open, and she finds a dead moth, a tooth, and a ring, which she puts on her own finger.

Clyde tells the girls that he saw raccoons on the front porch. A few days later, they come home and find something in the kitchen. The thing rushes out the doggy door, and Clyde assumes it was an animal because he finds the refrigerator open and food all over the floor. Em begins developing an attachment to the box, even taking it to school with her and getting into a fight with another child. Just as Clyde starts thinking that there might be something more to the box, Stephanie begins doubting his role in their lives.

What can you say about a movie where a man’s teeth actually begin falling out of his head? That scene alone made the movie. The other scene that got to me was when the little girl was standing in front of the bathroom mirror staring at something in her throat. As she held a flashlight in her hand, she saw fingers coming up her throat. Granted the trailer showed that scene frequently, but it still got to me.

It’s funny because when I left the theater after seeing The Possession, I didn’t think it was very good. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that I actually enjoyed it. I do have to admit that I have a crush on Morgan, but he’s looking a little rough here, which gave me the chance to stare at Grant Show. I can definitely see myself watching this again when it lands on DVD.

Movie Review: Paranormal Entity

Runtime: 88 minutes
Rating: NR
Release Date: December 22, 2009
Director: Shane Van Dyke

Paranormal Entity opens with a warning, letting the viewers know that a young man named Thomas raped and murdered his sister and another woman before jumping into the film.

Ellen (Fia Perera) lives in her home with her daughter Samantha (Erin Marie Hogan) and her son Thomas (Shane Van Dyke). The family lost their husband/father the year before, and Ellen started talking to him after his death. After a chance encounter at a “weird store,” a woman tells her that she can contact the dead by writing letters. Ellen begins writing letters to her dead husband, which leads to a haunting in the house.

Thomas starts recording the family early on, hoping to capture evidence of the haunting. As the film progresses, Thomas starts capturing some odd footage of his mother seemingly contacting something from beyond. Once the ghost starts attacking Samantha, the family realizes that the creature haunting them is not their dead father.

Paranormal Entity is one of those films that I passed dozens of times at the video store (yes, we still have one or two of those left in these parts). When I saw it pop up on Netflix, I added it to my queue, thinking that it was one of those movies I would never get around to watching. Then, I bought a random set of horror films from Walmart and decided to watch all of those movies in a row, which included this one. Is it wrong that I want my 50 cents back?

This film calls itself an homage to Paranormal Activity, but it’s just a pure rip-off. When Thomas decides to investigate things in the attic, I kept waiting for him to come across burned/destroyed photographs. Despite that, it does have one or two good moments.

One of the best scenes comes when Ellen wanders downstairs in the middle of the night, sits down at the coffee table, and starts writing. The vacant look on her face and the dark lighting definitely ups the creepy factor. Unfortunately, most of the movie feels like something I’ve already seen before.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Paranormal Activity 4 Movie Review

Runtime: 88 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: October 19, 2012
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

I have a confession to make: I despised the Paranormal Activity movies for a long time. I watched the first one and spent the entire film waiting for something to happen. I watched the second one and walked out halfway through it. By the time the third one came along, I was ready to give up on the franchise entirely. Imagine my surprise when I sat through all three films and discovered that they weren’t too bad.

Paranormal Activity 4 opens by rehashing the last few minutes of Paranormal Activity 2. Katie (Katie Featherstone) steals Hunter away in the middle of the night. The film then jumps ahead a few years, and Alex (Kathryn Newton) is filming her little brother’s soccer game. As she pans the camera across the field, she spots a strange little boy sitting by himself.

The same little boy starts showing up unexpectedly, hanging out in the treehouse when no one is there and acting oddly. One night, Alex hears an ambulance at the house across the street where the little boy Robbie lives. The next thing she knows, her mother Holly (Alexondra Lee, Special Unit 2) takes the little boy into their house until his mother (Katie from the other films) comes back from the hospital. Naturally, odd things start happening in their home, and Alex manages to capture the footage on cameras placed around the house.

As soon as the movie ended, my boyfriend whispered under his breath, “thank god it’s over.” It probably didn’t help that the only other people in the theater were a group of teenagers who screamed every 10 minutes even when nothing remotely scary happened. That’s my major qualm with these films: nothing ever happens. You spend most of the movie sitting on the edge of your seat and maybe one or two scares happened.

But I do have to say that I found a few things interesting in Paranormal Activity 4. I loved the use of the Kinect, and my boyfriend immediately wanted to go home and do the same thing with ours. I also enjoyed the use of laptop webcams, but I can’t imagine any computer that would continuously shoot footage all day long without anyone touching the camera. Case in point: Alex turns on the camera on her mom’s computer, which she uses in the kitchen. The woman only uses it once throughout the whole movie, and she somehow has no clue that it records her every action.

Several reviews and comments about the movie claimed that it would answer a lot of questions from the previous films, but I ended up with more questions than ever. Why would she steal her nephew only to let him go and track him down later? How many freaking people are in this weird cult, and do they all live in the same area? How the heck can Katie afford to keep running all over the place, paying for hospital treatments, renting new houses, etc. without a job?

I didn’t think Paranormal Activity 4 was a horrid film, but I expected more from it. I’m disappointed that I wasted the money to see it in the theater because it’s definitely a rental only.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Forget Me Not Movie Review

Runtime: 103 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: October 22, 2009
Director: Tyler Oliver

Forget Me Not opens with a little girl running home from a cemetery in tears, only to reach her parents with no memory of what happened. The film then jumps to the present day as a group of teenagers prepare to celebrate their recent graduation. Sandy (Carly Schroeder, Mean Creek) and her little brother Eli (Cody Linley, Cheaper by the Dozen) recently scored full scholarships to Stanford while their friends all have plans of their own.

Their friend TJ (Sean Wing) invites the group over for a party at his house. Later, they head to the cemetery seen at the beginning of the film and start playing a game they did as kids. A young woman comes out of nowhere and asks if she can play. After heading deeper into the cemetery, Sandy sees the young woman standing on the edge of the cliff. When the girl realizes that she doesn’t remember her, she says that she will soon and jumps over the edge. The police investigate but find no sign of the girl.

While it takes awhile for the film to reach this part, it quickly becomes a little more interesting. Sandy’s friends slowly begin disappearing, dying in new and unusual ways. One girl gets dumped by her boyfriend who slept with another woman the night before. After tossing his class ring in the lake, he leaves her there and she begins swimming across the lake, only to find the body of the same girl from the night before floating. It’s the last thing she sees before drowning. Another man disappears after the same girl crawls into the backseat of his car and forces him off the road.

The creepiest parts of the movie come when the audience learns that only Sandy remembers those friends. The others have no memories of the people who died. She realizes this when she sees her friend Layla having sex with another man and no one thinks she is cheating because she doesn’t have a boyfriend.

It also leads to a scene where the group finds themselves at TJ’s house, which is now abandoned and deserted. This is a great scene because as Sandy wanders through the empty and destroyed house, she flashes back to the moments they shared the night before. She can clearly see the past and the present, but she has no idea why. Even though the people around her make it clear that the present is how they remember things, she knows that something weird is going on.

I actually really liked Forget Me Not up until the end of the film, mainly because it was a little confusing. There are two possible endings to the film. One is that everything occurred because of something they did as children, and the ending becomes a little more cut and dry. The other ending is more of a psychological ending where everything that happened only occurred in her mind. No matter which ending the director intended, this is one that I could watch again.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Movie Review: Alligator X aka Xtinction: Predator X

Runtime: 90 minutes
Rating: NR
Release Date: August 18, 2010
Director: Amir Valinia

Laura le Crois (Elena Lyons, Club Dread) comes back to her home town to discover that her father is missing. He owes the bank a ton of money, and they are threatening to foreclose on his land. She has a brief run-in with Charles LeBlanc (Mark Sheppard, Supernatural, Warehouse 13), a doctor who offers to buy the land before the bank forecloses. After the two fight and he leaves, she meets with Sheriff Tim Richards (Lochlyn Munro, The Terror Experiment, The Tooth Fairy). Richards reveals that LeBlanc has started acting a little weird and doing experiments in the swamp. Do you see where this is going?

A young man and his girlfriend stop by and hire the boat. Since her dad is missing, Laura decides to lead them on a swamp tour herself, despite not being in the swamp in years. Naturally, the boat dies in the middle of nowhere and they find themselves hunted by a giant alligator. Laura begins wondering if her ex-husband, the infamous doctor, had a role in the genetic engineering of the monster.

I absolutely love creature features, especially bad ones made for television and those that go straight to DVD. Alligator X should be right up my alley, but it was so bad that I spent most of the movie rolling my eyes. Some of the reviews I read claimed that Lyons was a great actress, but I thought she did a terrible job. I’ve seen her on several television shows, most notable USA High as a teen, and she always seems to play the same snobby, stuck up character. Even here, when she’s supposed to be a poor girl who made good, she still comes across as incredibly snobby.

The one bright spot in Munro. Munro made a career playing a variety of roles in straight to DVD and low budget films, and he seems to have a preference for horror films. He actually does a believably job as portraying a man who is still in love with the girl he loved in high school, and you can believe that he is willing to do anything to save her.

Sheppard is almost as good in the film. He seems to know that this is a low budget movie, but he still puts his best foot forward. He does a great job playing a man who might have feelings for his ex-wife even though he wants to keep working on something that will change the world. If everything in the movie was as good as the acting of those two, Alligator X could be a much better movie.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bait Movie Review

Runtime: 91 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: September 1, 2012
Director: Kimble Rendell

What can you say about a movie that involves blood thirsty sharks running loose after a tsunami hits a beach town? These are the kind of movies that I love because I know that I will get a kick out of them, but Bait actually comes across as a little boring.

Josh (Xavier Samuel) opens the film, lounging on the beach with his girlfriend Tina and talking about their upcoming move. His best friend gets attacked by a shark, and while he tries to save him, the man dies. Josh then broods about his life, breaking up with Tina and quitting his job.

One year later and things aren’t looking up for Josh. Tina comes back into town with a new man, and Josh works in a grocery store, which gets held up by two men, including Doyle (Julian McMahon, Charmed). Nothing really happens until the tsunami strikes, sending thousands of gallons of water into the grocery store.

One group of survivors climbs on top of the shelves, and the group includes a cop named Todd (Martin Sacks), his shoplifting daughter Jamie (Phoebe Tonkin), Tina, her boyfriend Steven, Doyle, his partner Kirby, and two people who work there. An underground tunnel provides access to the parking garage where Jamie’s boyfriend Ryan (Alex Russell) and a couple named Heather and Kyle get stuck. Naturally, the sharks begin attacking and both groups must figure out a way to survive.

I thought the premise of Bait sounded interesting, which is why I gave it a shot, and believe it or not, it does have a few good moments. Heather is easily one of the most annoying characters, constantly carting her dog around with her. When Kyle risks his life to get away with her dog, you will find yourself screaming at him to just drop it. When he finally does, you can’t help but laugh. There’s another nice moment between the two when Heather refuses to get out of the car because of her expensive shoes, and he has to admit that he lied and said they were designer shoes.

The group in the grocery store isn’t quite as entertaining. McMahon is a great actor and a personal fave of mine, but he almost seems to sleepwalk through the movie. When he suggests making a large fishing hook to catch the shark, it’s so ridiculous that I found myself waiting for someone to make a fake drum sound.

Bait never really delivers any scares, but it doesn’t seem like it should either. Despite having a bigger budget than most of the films that I watch, it plays like a basic run of the mill creature feature made for Syfy.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

American Horror Story Asylum Season 2, Episode 1: Welcome to Briarcliff

Leo (Adam Levine) and Teresa (Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Tamara) are newlyweds taking an unusual honeymoon. The two explore haunted sites, and their journey takes them to Briarcliff Manor Sanitarium, an old mental institution. Leo leads her around the building until they find one of the old examine tables.

After strapping his wife down, they start to have sex, but hear something wandering outside. They find the noise coming from behind a locked door, and Teresa promises to go down on him if he will see what’s causing the noise. As she begins going to town, he suddenly screams and drags back his arm with a bloody stump on the end.

It then jumps to 1964 and Kit Walker (Evan Peters, American Horror Story) working in a gas station. After blowing off his friends, he goes home to see his African American wife. She wants to tell their family about their secret wedding, but he’s too afraid of what people think. After having sex, Alma makes a joke about burning dinner. Lights suddenly fill the room. Just before he passes out, Kit sees that Alma disappeared.

Lana Winters (Sara Paulson, American Horror Story) is a spunky reporter who makes up a story to gain access to the asylum. Though she says she’s writing a story on the kitchen, she actually wants an exclusive interview with Bloody Face, an infamous serial killer being brought there. Sister Jude (Jessica Lange, American Horror Story) denies her request immediately. Lana still sees Bloody Face exit the police car, and we learn that it’s actualy Kit. Kit says that aliens abducted his wife, but the police believe that he killed and skilled three women.

In his first few hours at the asylum, Kit meets Shelly (Chloƫ Sevigny, American Psycho), a nymphomaniac who immediately tries to get him into bed. He also meets Grace (French actress Lizzie Brochere) and Spivey (Mark Consuelos, All My Children). Grace is nice enough to help him in the common room and bring him food when he finds himself placed in a straight jacket after fighting with Spivey who describes his wife in a derogatory term.

Sister Jude goes to see Dr. Arden (James Cromwell, The Green Mile), a man working with patients in the asylum. She mentions that several patients mysteriously disappeared, but it only seems to happen to those without any loved ones. After making up an excuse, he starts working on Kit. He finds a hard lump in his neck, which turns out to be a high-tech spider type creature that pops out and flees.

Lana goes home from the asylum and reveals that she’s a lesbian who lives with Wendy (Clea DuVall, The Faculty), an elementary school teacher. Wendy encourages her to follow her dreams, which leads to the woman sneaking back onto the asylum grounds. After something comes out of the woods, she gets knocked unconscious. She later wakes up and discovers that Sister Jude had her committed by blackmailing Wendy into signing the papers under threat of her revealing their secret relationship.

Sister Jude has secrets of her own. After applying a healthy dose of perfume and some sexy undergarments, she spends the day making dinner for Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes, Flash Forward). She confronts him over dinner about hiring a doctor at a religious hospital. Suddenly, she crosses the distance between them, straddles him, and they begin kissing. Just as suddenly, the image changes and we realize that it was a fantasy she had about him.

The end of the episode moves back to the present day. Leaving her husband bleeding on the floor, Teresa promises to come back for him. She begins running through the asylum, but she finds that the door they entered through is now locked. Just as she thinks she finds a way to escape, she discovers that Bloody Face is waiting for her.

While American Horror Story Asylum lacked the intense creepiness of the first episode of the first season, the first episode did have some great scenes. Here’s hoping that Ryan Murphy and his group can reach that intensity level in the coming episodes.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

No Tell Motel Movie Review

Runtime: 84 minutes
Rating: NR
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Director: Brett Donowho

A group of friends head off on a trip together in a motor home belonging to one friend’s parent. Each one has their own secret that they keep hidden from the others. Kyle (Andrew MacFarlane) found himself addicted to drugs after a football injury stopped him from going pro, and his brother Spencer (Johnny Hawkes) is secretly in love with Kyle’s girlfriend Megan (Chalie Howes). Meanwhile, Megan also does a pregnancy test on the trip and discovers that she’s knocked up. Somehow this is absolutely shocking and impossible for her to believe because Kyle always uses condoms, and there is absolutely no way that a teenager could possibly put a condom on wrong! There’s also a few other friends on the trip, including Corey (Angel McCord) who is a secret cutter.

After goofing off in the RV, they accidentally tip it over and find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, there is an old abandoned motel nearby where they can spend the night. Things go to hell when they begin separating and find themselves face-to-face with a little girl who actually died in a hit and run accident in front of the hotel.

Kyle is only concerned with finding more drugs and injecting himself with morphine that he finds in one of the rooms. Megan spends much of the movie pouting over her pregnancy and ignoring her boyfriend, though she is convinced he is the perfect guy for her. Poor Spencer wanders around pining over Megan, to the point where you want to grab him and shake him.

The film takes a darker turn when one of the girls sees a little girl in the road. She rushes to save her, and finds herself the victim of an accident. The group drags her body out of the road, and Megan finds herself stuck helping the man who just killed her best friend. Corey meanwhile does the smart job of trying to find some type of help, though it leads to disastrous consequences for her.

You know those movies that you watch and then you feel a little confused later? Yeah, well that is No Tell Motel. I actually wanted to like the movie, but the characters were so unbelievable that it’s hard to root for any of them. Take for example Megan. When she finds her dead friend’s body, her main concern is the fact that the girl has scars on her arms from cutting herself. Instead of showing remorse or sadness, she moans about how she never even knew the girl had a problem.

Then there’s Spencer. He might seem like the lovable goofball at first, but then it turns out that he helped Megan home one night after she passed out from drinking. While cuddling in bed with her, he decided to have sex with her. He calls it “sleeping together,” while she calls it rape, and that somehow justifies what she does to him in the end.

That doesn’t even include the drug addict and the generally unappealing other characters. The movie is also confusing at times, jumping back into the past and then showing our current characters as watching major moments unfold. There’s Mary, the mother of Angela, the little girl who died at the hotel. She finds herself chained to a table and impregnated by a man who might be her husband but might just be some random guy. It’s all just a little too much to take in.

On the plus side, the actress playing Angela is creepy as hell at times. She looks just like the spooky little girl who would haunt a rundown vacant hotel. Sadly though, she can’t carry the movie on her own, which makes me glad that I only watched it once.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Choose Movie Review

Runtime: 83 minutes
Director: Marcus Graves
Rating: R
Release Date: March 16, 2011

Choose opens with a typical teenage girl chatting online with her friend. When her dad interrupts their chat, her friend signs off and she gets ready for bed. A few hours later, she hears a noise coming from her parents’ room and goes into check on them. A masked man grabs her from behind and gives her the ultimate choice: kill her mom or kill her dad. After she makes her choice, it jumps into the main plot of the movie. Oh, and did I mention that this all takes place in the first five minutes?

If you think that beginning sounds a little like Scream, hold on because the connections just keep coming. Fiona (Katheryn Winnick, Killers) lost her mom and has a fractured relationship with her father. Her mother died a few years before, committing suicide in a motel swimming pool. She left behind a note, warning her daughter that life has choices. Do you see where this is going?

Fiona’s dad, Tom (Kevin Pollak, The Usual Suspects) is conveniently the sheriff, while Fiona is a college journalists who dreams of being a star reporter. He and his partner Benson (Richard Short, American Horror Story) are investigating the murders, and he just wants his daughter to stay away. Bruce Dern (Silent Running) also shows up as a doctor who is the connection between the killer and the reason for his killings.

You cannot help comparing Choose with Scream even if you overlook the earlier things. There’s one scene where Fiona sits in a crowded library and an unknown figure suddenly pops up and stars IM-ing her about her mother’s death. Hm, I seem to remember a similar scene in Scream 2.

That might sound like I didn’t enjoy Choose, which isn’t true. Unlike other horror movies where you have to sit through way too much exposition before the murders start happening, this one never lets up. The killer goes from victim to victim, seemingly picking people at random, and it isn’t until the end that you learn why. There’s the pianist who has to choose between losing his fingers or his hearing, and the model who has to choose between her looks or her sight. Any film that can make me blanch a little is one worth watching.

Pollak is probably the best actor in the movie. Granted, he might not be the first actor you reach for when making a horror movie, but damn if he isn’t good. He somehow makes you believe that he genuinely cares about his daughter, while at the same time make you wonder if he has something to do with the murders. Choose begins to get a little predictable towards the end, and there are some things that feel reminiscent of other movies, but it still has a solid plot that kept me entertained.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tales from the Crypt Presents: Ritual

Director: Avi Nesher
Runtime: 99 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: 2006

Alice (Jennifer Grey, “Dirty Dancing”) is a New York City doctor who has a young patient about to die. She wants to use an experimental drug, but the other doctors keep shooting her down so she uses the drug anyway. The little girl dies and Alice finds herself without a job and without a license. She finds an unusual job taking care of a sick man in Jamaica and takes off.

Paul Claybourne (Craig Sheffer, “One Tree Hill”) introduces her to his younger brother Wesley (Daniel Lapain, “Brokedown Palace”) who suffers from a rare disorder, but Wesley claims that he’s actually a zombie. She also meets Matthew (Tim Curry, “IT”), a former doctor turned veterinarian and Caro (Kristen Wilson, “Doctor Doolittle”) who mainly walks around half-dressed and seems to know everyone’s business.

Alice tries her hardest to help Wesley recover from his illness, but it’s hard given that he refuses to admit that he has a problem. He seems convinced that dark voodoo turned him into a zombie and that modern medicine cannot cure his problem. Naturally, she falls in love with him and decides to do whatever possible to help him. At the same time, she finds herself confronted with the dark underbelly of Jamaican voodoo.

“Ritual” is one of those movies that I literally stumbled across by accident. I didn’t even realize that Tales from the Crypt did a third movie, but when I saw the words Jennifer Grey and horror film, I knew I had to watch it. Here’s my secret confession: as much as I love horror movies, “Dirty Dancing” ranks as one of my favorite movies of all time. It just goes to show you that deep down I’m a girly-girl.

The movie comes across as really low budget, even for a TFTC movie. I have no clue if they actually filmed in Jamaica, but I would guess not because the movie spends a lot of time inside buildings or filming outside in close-up shots. On the plus side, there are a few good actors here. Sheffer does a great job of playing a concerned brother who might be a douche bag, while Curry is equal parts creepy and funny. Watching him parade around in a souvenir tee shirt and baggy shorts is worth sitting through the entire movie.

Before writing the review, I did a little research and discovered that this was originally a planned TFTC film, but “Bordello of Blood” did so badly that the producers removed all references to TFTC from the movie. Apparently the movie hit foreign markets in 2001+, but didn’t land in the US until 2006, and the DVD version actually has the Cryptkeeper on it. I couldn’t tell you though because I watched it on Netflix.

This isn’t the type of horror film that you take seriously. The CGI effects offer a good laugh, especially anytime any character notices vines crawling all over them, and it has an ending that you will see coming from miles away. Despite all that, it did have a few good moments. I actually got a kick/laugh out of the actual ending, which offers a little comeuppance for the main villain of the film.