Monday, November 18, 2013

The Last Exorcism 2 – Why, God, Why?

Runtime: 88 minutes
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Rating: PG-13
Director: Ed Glass-Donnelly

Remember Nell, that bat shit crazy girl from The Last Exorcism? Well, now she's back. She somehow managed to escape the events from the first film, and some random people discover her crazy ass. The movie then cuts to a few months later and lets us see her new life. She now has a job and a place to live, and she even finds herself interested in possibly dating someone.

Naturally, the demon inside her probably doesn't want her to have a life without him. She starts having weird dreams and seeing strange things during the day and night. The more she tries to escape her past, the more she questions what happened to her. Despite wanting to move on with her life, it doesn't take long before Nell discovers that her old life isn't ready to let her go.

That line up at the top doesn't indicate any quotes from the movies but rather my own opinion. When I heard they were making a sequel to The Last Exorcism, I had to ask why. Are there really that many people who liked the first movie? It was one of those horror movies that left me feeling pissed off and wishing that people would stop making crappy horror flicks. The only redeeming thing about that was seeing the former Professor Lasky from Saved By the Bell: The College Years Acting again. Surprisingly enough, that movie still has a fairly good rating of 5.6 on IMDB.

The Last Exorcism 2 was just plain bad and so bad that it made the first movie look like a piece of art. The movie was just so dull and bland. Just a few hours after watching it, I couldn't remember any of the main points of the film or even what really happened, and my roommate remains convinced that we never even watched it because he doesn't remember a single thing about it. Looking for someone completely forgettable? Watch The Last Exorcism 2!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Identity Movie Review – "As I Was Going Up The Stairs, I Met a Man Who Wasn't There."

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: April 25, 2003
Rating: R
Director: James Mangold

Malcolm Rivers is bat shit crazy, which explains why the serial killer is sitting in a room on a dark and stormy night. After introducing us to this character, the movie jumps to the middle of nowhere. A group of people, including Ed, a former police officer played by John Cusack, Samuel, a cop transporting a prisoner, a prostitute on the run, a young married couple, a famous actress, and a married couple with their young son, all find themselves stuck in a motel run by the unbelievably sexy John Hawkes.

As the rain falls down around them, they realize that they can't go anywhere for the night, which complicates things given that one of the group is near death after being hit by Ed's limousine. When the actress goes missing, they discover that a room key was left behind with her clothing. The group also learns that they all share the same birthday, but it doesn't take long before they discover that there is something else darker happening and that they might not all make it through the night.

I love, love, love Identity. While flipping through Netflix one night and learning that my roommate never saw it, I instantly put it on and made him sit down and watch the movie that same night. It's one of the few movies that I bought brand new when it first came out and without hearing a lot about it just because of Cusack. Sadly, Cusack isn't his best here. He pales in comparison to most of the other actors, including Amanda Peet. Though I'm not a fan of her work, she does a great job as a hooker with a heart of gold who just wants something more out of her life.

Identity also has a number of twists and turns that make you actually sit down and focus on the movie. Just when you think you know what's going on, you learn that you were wrong. It twists the identity of the killer, the people in the film, and even who the characters are, and it has one of the best and most talented casts in horror films. John Hawkes, who I obviously have quite the crush on, always plays those weird and quirky and sometimes smarmy characters, and he does it best here.

If for some strange reason you still haven't seen Identity, go watch it on Netflix. Seriously, go watch it right now. I'll wait.

Monday, November 11, 2013

While She Was Out Movie Review

Runtime: 88 minutes
Release Date: March 26, 2009
Rating: R
Director: Susan Montford

Della is the type of housewife that you see a dozen times a day and don't think twice about. She can't really handle her children, who seem to run all over her, and she definitely can't handle her abusive husband Kenneth. After yet another fight with him, she decides to go the nearby shopping mall and pick up some things for Christmas. After seeing a car taking up two spots in the crowded parking lot, she leaves a nasty note.

Later, Della comes back to her car and sees the car from before pulling up behind her. In a stupid move, she hops out of her car and confronts the men inside, whom threaten to rape and murder her. When a security guard tries to help, they shoot and kill him. Della races away, but they follow her. After a car accident forces her from her car, she finds herself on the run in the woods with the young men hot on her tail.

I saw a trailer for While She Was Out a few years ago, but I never heard anything about a release date. It was a nice surprise to see the movie sitting on the shelf at my local rental place with a rental price of 50 cents. The movie itself isn't bad and it's even entertaining at times, but it was one of those movies where I spent more time screaming at the television than paying attention to the movie.

It starts with Della leaving the note on the car. We already know that she's doormat and that everyone walks all over her, so why would she feel the need to act out at that moment? Then, when the car comes back, she decides to get out and actually talk to them. Why would she do that? If some random car pulls up next to me in a deserted parking lot, I am taking off as fast as possible. I'm sure as hell not coming out and asking what their deal is. The movie establishes her as a docile doormat, but she suddenly becomes a big and strong woman.

While She Was Out asks viewers to suspend belief for awhile, but it finally gets to the point where you just can't do it anymore. If the movie gave us any reason to show Della's strength, we would understand her motivations. She doesn't think about her children or her husband, and she never explains why she suddenly decides to stand up for herself or where her strength comes from. She just goes from a blank character to a strong character. I can understand that the director wants to show the change that Della goes through, but it seems to happen a little too fast. I wanted to see just a little more character development in this one.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Final Destination 3 Movie Review – "Not Again!"

Runtime: 93 minutes
Release Date: February 10, 2006
Rating: R
Director: James Wong

Wendy is spending Senior Night at an amusement park with her best friend, boyfriend, and her boyfriend's best friend Kevin. Kevin is also dating her best friend and plans to propose, not knowing that she wants to dump him. When it comes time to ride the big roller coaster in the park, Wendy and Kevin end up stuck together in the back. The roller coaster goes off the tracks, and she sees everyone die before flashing back and realizing that it was just a premonition.

Wendy instantly wants off, and she tries to get others to follow. A few people willingly give up their seats, while others get thrown off because of a fight. Her boyfriend, best friend, and everyone else dies on the roller coaster. Like all of the other Final Destination movies, death comes after each person who should have died that day on the coaster. Kevin is the only one who believes her, and everyone else thinks that she's crazy even as she goes out of her way to save their lives.

I said before that the Final Destination movies are my favorite horror movie franchise, but this one isn't as good as the earlier films. For every good death in the film, there's another that doesn't seem nearly as good. We get two vapid girls trapped in a tanning booth as a fire breaks out that literally melts them, but then we get a guy smashed in a gym. We also have a random death of a person killed when a post goes through her body, but the movie doesn't even establish her as a character. The other films did a good job of making us care about the different characters and become involved in their stories, but this one just wants us to focus on the deaths.

Wendy eventually learns that her little sister should have died on the roller coaster, but even that storyline seems forced. We constantly see the two of them fighting and Julie acting like a spoiled brat. She only cares about herself, wants her sister to do things for her, and doesn't seem to even care that her sister just lost her best friend and boyfriend. By the time we learn she was on the coaster, I wanted to see her die. Instead, we see one of her friend's die, and that character only appeared maybe twice before that scene.

Had Final Destination actually spent some time on character development, I think it would have been a stronger movie. Despite that, the movie did make me look twice every time I see a tanning salon...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Abandoned Mine Movie Review

Runtime: 95 minutes
Release Date: August 15, 2013
Rating: PG-13
Director: Jeff Chamberlain

Sharon and her friends are ready for their next Halloween party. I really only bothered to learn her name because all of the characters are pretty one dimensional. There's a guy studying medicine who doesn't seem to know anything about medicine, a stereotypical football player, Sharon's best friend and roommate, plus a random Indian guy named Ethan. They decide that instead of spending Halloween at yet another party, they'll head into a haunted abandoned mine.

Naturally, the mine is actually haunted and not just some weird joke or urban legend passed around town. They head deeper into the mine, and someone cuts their rope, leaving them stranded inside. Since they didn't tell anyone where they were going, they have to go even deeper into the mine in hopes of finding a way out. They don't realize that someone wants them all dead until they start getting separated one by one.

Despite a runtime of just 95 minutes, Abandoned Mine feels like a much longer movie. It's like the director decided that he needed to add more to the movie, so he went back in and shot stuff that just doesn't fit. Sharon and her roommate go through an endless montage that involves them dressing up in different costumes, looking in the mirror, and dancing around the room. This seriously takes up at least three minutes of the movie. They then decide on costumes, we see them getting ready in the mirror, and then the movie picks up with them in completely different costumes. What the heck? We literally just saw them getting ready in different outfits!

While I wasn't a huge fan of the movie, I did enjoy the little twist that comes later in the film. There are actually two twists towards the end. I don't want to ruin it for anyone, but we learn that the ghosts might not actually exist and that it might be a human messing with them, only to find out that maybe the ghosts really do exist after all. I realize that doesn't make sense if you haven't seen the movie, but it's hard to explain the twist without ruining anything.

Abandoned Mine served as a nice distraction for an hour and a half, but I don't think I would sit down and watch it again. I've read reviews that call it a modern example of a classic horror flick. I wouldn't go that far either. There was just something about the movie that seemed lacking to me. It had an interesting premise, but there are much better films about haunted mines and people trapped in tight confines.

Monday, November 4, 2013

I Spit On Your Grave Movie Review – "That's What I Like in a Woman – Total Submission."

Runtime: 101 minutes
Release Date: November 22, 1978
Rating: NR
Director: Meir Zarchi

Jennifer wants nothing more than to spend some time in the country to focus on her writing and work on her book. After renting a house in the woods, she makes the "mistake" of actually talking to men and letting one stop by her house to drop off some groceries instead of keeping to herself and being barefoot and pregnant. The men also think she wants them because she has the "audacity" to sit inside her own yard in a bikini, wear a bikini on the water, and talk to them in town.

One day, four of those men decide to make her wish she never came to their town. They confront her in the woods, brutally rape her, and let her walk away. After she wanders through the woods for hours, they come out of the shadows and do it all over again. Jennifer finally escapes and makes it home, only for the men to come out and rape her again. They finally leave for good, but send their mentally challenged friend back to kill her. He chickens out and tells them he did the deed.

Jennifer recovers from the rapes and beatings long enough to think about how she can enact her revenge on those men. She lets them know that she's still alive, which leads to them beating the snot out of their friend. She then lures that man back to her cabin, where she has sex with him before strangling him and hanging him from a tree. Jennifer then takes the time to slowly dispatch of each man in a new and horrifying way.

I Spit On Your Grave is one of those films that you watch once and never forget, but in my case, you watch it once and remember it as much harsher than it actually was. A friend watched the remake, and when he mentioned that he never saw the original, we decided to sit down and watch it recently. I kept talking about how dark and disturbing the movie was, so much so that I only ever watched it once before. It somehow went down a little smoother the second time.

Watching the movie for a second time, I couldn't help wanting to see his reaction at some of the death scenes. While he squirmed during the penis-capitation scene in the bathtub, he didn't find anything else very dark. That led me to wonder why I remembered the deaths as so dark and intense. One man gets an ax to the back and another gets a boat engine on him, but the film doesn't really show anything too dark. In today's world, we don't have a problem showing someone's penis laying on the table or at the bottom of the ocean, but I Spit On Your Grave asked you to use your imagination. When we see the blood spurting around the bathroom, that's all you need to see.

The rape scenes in this movie really left a lasting impression on me. As soon as I knew those scenes were coming up, I found excuses to get up and walk to the bathroom or grab something out of the kitchen. Camille Keaton really sells her part well. When Jennifer locks the bathroom door on the man, walks downstairs, and sits down while listening to the man's screams, you can't help but feel something for her.

I can see kids today watching this movie and rolling their eyes, but for true horror fans, it's something that they can't miss. While the death scenes weren't as dark as those scenes were in my head, I Spit On Your Grave is still a dark film that leaves me feeling unsettled.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Final Destination 2 Movie Review – "We're All Going to Die."

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: January 31, 2002
Rating: R
Director: David R. Ellis

Kimberly (A.J. Cook, Ripper) is a college kid ready to enjoy spring break with her friends. After talking to her father, she climbs in a car with her best female friend and two male friends. They stop just before getting on the highway, and she flips the radio from a report on Flight 180 to music. When they finally get on the highway, a truck carrying logs crashes on the road, leading to a massive wreck that leaves everyone dead. Kimberly then looks up and realizes that they're not yet on the highway and that she had a premonition. When she blocks the road, a local sheriff named Thomas hops out of his car to talk to her. They see the car wreck happen from the safety of the road, but the cop saves her life before the wreck takes the lives of her friends.

Like with all the Final Destination movies, death decides to come back for those who escaped. After researching premonitions online, Kimberly learns that Alex and Carter from the first film died. Though Clear survived, she checked herself into a mental institution and plans to stay there for the rest of her life. She and Thomas go to see Clear, who warns them of death's design. Fearing they didn't believe her, she checks herself out and follows them, arriving in time to warn them to look out for future premonitions and to warn the others that death is coming.

Final Destination 2 decided to increase the gore of the first film, which is something that every other film tried to do. Instead of something simple like a hanging, this film makes sure that everyone dies in the worst way possible. We get a teenage boy crushed like jelly by a piece of glass falling on his head, a paramedic shaking a car with the jaws of life which causes a log to go through a woman's body, a woman decapitated by an elevator door, and a man ripped into pieces by a flying wire fence, and that doesn't even include the explosion that occurs towards the end of the film.

This all leads me to a painful conclusion: Final Destination 2 is even better than the original. We get the hunky Michael Landes (who I always remember from either Special Unit 2 or Lois and Clark) popping up as a cop who not only believes in premonitions but actually tries to help, and we get the adorable Keegan Connor Tracy turning up as a bitchy city girl. We even have A.J. Cook taking over the lead role. If you haven't seen Ripper yet, do it now.

Final Destination 2 didn't really need to make a connection to the first film, but it makes that connection in a fairly realistic way. We learn that death wants these people not just because they escaped the highway crash, but because they each escaped death once before. Each character survived a deadly situation before because of Flight 180. One woman missed dying in a gas leak because she didn't arrive at her hotel due to hitting Terry in the first movie, and someone else avoided death because he helped clean up Billy's body from the train death.

While I don't watch the second movie as much as I watch the first one, after seeing Final Destination 2 again recently, I might start watching it a little more.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Little Eye Movie Review – "Do You Think They're Punishing Us?"

Runtime: 95 minutes
Release Date: October 4, 2002
Rating: R
Director: Marc Evans

Like The Real World, five strangers agree to live in a house in the middle of nowhere and let someone film everything that happens. The deal is simple. If they all survive until the end of the six months, they walk away with $1 million. If even one person drops out before the end, no one gets a dime.

The first few weeks go off without a hitch. Though they struggle with boredom and some personal issues, they manage to get through their days. Their unknown benefactor then decides to up the ante by limiting their food and making them find their own supplies. They then begin learning of things that might make them run from the house. The loveable Danny receives a message that his beloved grandfather died, but he decides to stay there instead of leaving for the funeral. The quiet and sometimes meek Emma discovers blood drops on her pillow that no one can explain, but even that won't make her leave.

One day, a man named Travis stumbles across their home. Claiming that he got lost in the woods, they agree to let him stay for the night. After Travis tells them that he works around computers every day and never once heard anything about the reality television that they're on, they begin wondering if they're really part of a new show or if there's something darker happening.

Years ago, I stumbled across a little movie called My Little Eye when searching for horror films on Netflix. I told multiple people of the movie and recommended it to several friends. Recently, a friend and I sat down to watch the movie, and I wondered how my memories and the actually movie could differ so much. My Little Eye definitely isn't as good as I remembered it in my head.

The movie takes place during the early days of the Internet. The idea of seeing a group of people trapped in a house for months seemed new, fresh, and different, but now, we can look online and see hundreds of similar shows every day. I think that's the main problem with the movie: it no longer seems fresh and it actually seems pretty dated. Today, we could just grab a cell phone and surf the web for any mention of a show, but these people are completely stranded in a house in the middle of nowhere.

The main reason we watched the movie is because my friend is a big fan of Bradley Cooper, and this was one of his early films. He plays Travis, the strange man who turns up on their doorstep, and the character is easily one of the oddest in the film. While having sex, he takes the time to look up at the camera and make it clear that he knows exactly what is going on. What makes it odd is that Travis disappears in the middle of the night. The other characters should find this odd, but they barely even note his disappearance.

My Little Eye was a good film during its time, but today, it plays like just another movie that many people will watch and forget.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Among Friends Movie Review – A Killer Party?

Runtime: 87 minutes
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Rating: R
Director: Danielle Harris

Danielle Harris finally steps behind the camera, and her first outing is...okay.

Among Friends opens with shots of various men and woman getting dressed up for a party at their friend Bernadette's house. Three men and three women eventually reach the party thanks to the help of a limousine driver played by Kane Hodder. They share a few drinks, but when they sit down, they realize that they can't move. By the time they realize that they're paralyzed, they also realize that Bernadette is whacked in the head.

It turns out that Bernadette brought them all there for a little vengeance. From the hidden cameras she installed in her home, she knows all their dirty little secrets, and she enjoys rubbing salt in their wounds. They each receive a special present from her that somehow relates to their secret. She knows that one of the men raped one of his friends, that three of them engaged in a threesome, and that one masturbated while watching two of his friends have sex.

Bernadette also reveals that their missing friend Lily came to her with a secret. After her "friend" raped her, she learned she was pregnant and asked Bernadette to take her to the abortion clinic. Bernadette decides that each of the people should be punished for what they did wrong, and she is the one who should dole out the punishments.

Among Friends had an interesting concept, and I think it could have been a much better movie than it was. Jennifer Blanc and Brianne Davi were two of the standouts in the movie. Blanc portrays one third of the three some group, and she does a great job sitting at a table as her friend throws her past in the face. When Bernadette gives her the option to be punished or let a friend take her place, you can actually believe the dilemma she faces. Davis is just as good, playing an actress who trips during the entire dinner party. She believes that she's on the set of a film and confuses the people at the table with other actors.

If you read the box, you'll see Harris listed as a "scream queen" on the front of the box. While she does appear in the film, it's in a brief blink and you'll miss it scene. Those who remember her from the Halloween series will get a kick out of seeing a grown up Harris dressed in a red-and-white clown costume.

Among Friends doesn't really have any major issues, but it seemed slow at times. Bernadette is the perfect crazy chick, but we don't get any real motivation for why she does what she does. Raping a friend is a horrible thing, but is that what really caused her to snap? She already had cameras scattered around her house, and it's clear that she tracked her friends for years. We never learn why she went crazy, why she picked this night to enact her vengeance, or even why she didn't just convince Lily to go to the cops. While entertaining at times, Among Friends just left a number of unanswered questions behind.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives Movie Review

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: October 15, 2010
Rating: NR
Director: Israel Luna

Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives plays out like three different movies in one. The first third of the film takes place in a club where the self-professed trannies talk about the ins and outs of relationships and men. The second third of the film takes place when the women find themselves attacked by a group of men that are less than happy to learn that the chicks they sought out have a little more under the hood. Then the film spirals into a third film that is a straight up exploitation film.

After suffering extreme violence at the hands of a group of men, one of the characters calls back to the club to explain what happened. Though they expect to get the help they need, they actually find themselves beaten again and left for dead. By the time Bubbles (the main character) gets out of the hospital, she just wants to move on with her life again, but she instead finds the men coming back to her for another round. That finally causes something inside her to snap, which lets her focus on making those men regret messing with her and her friends.

When I restored my Netflix membership after an absence of a few years, this was one of the few films that was still in my queue. I hazily remembered that a guy I dated recommended the movie when trying to get me interested in the exploitation films that he loved, but I didn't know anyone else who watched the movie, and I didn't know much about it. It turns out that Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives is one of the funniest revenge thrillers I've seen in awhile.

This movie has it all for exploitation lovers: a cool story, brutal scenes of violence, and actors with little experience in front of a camera. The only thing that really detracted from the movie was the lack of acting experience in the cast. I've found that some of the actors do have some experience, which is a little odd because many of the actors are really bad in this film. They seem more like people who randomly decided to make a movie without much money, and it sometimes plays like something they made for their friends than a real movie.

That doesn't mean that I hated the movie. I actually found it pretty entertaining and recommended it to a few friends. It had a number of moments that made me laugh, and some of the violence in the film is pretty dark. Netflix removed the flick from its streaming services, but if you can find a copy, give it a try. Ticked-off Trannies with Knives isn't a classic horror flick, but it's an entertaining movie.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Final Destination Movie Review

Runtime: 98 minutes
Release Date: March 17, 2000
Rating: R
Director: James Wong

Alex (Devon Sawa) is about to take a school trip with his buddies. After reaching the airport and climbing on Flight 180, they take off for Paris. An engine problem causes an explosion on the plane, and Alex sees everyone killed in gruesome ways. Alex comes to and realizes that it was a horrific premonition of what will happen. He flips out, and he throws such a big fit that the airline makes him get off the plane. One of his teachers agrees to stay behind and sort things out and some of the other students get off too. While working things out, they see the original plane exploded just like it did in his premonition.

Everyone suddenly looks at Alex a little differently and some even blame him for the explosion. The only person seemingly on his side is Clear (Ali Larter), an artist classmate who he previously never even noticed. His friend Tod dies in a way that the police deem as suicide, but he and Clear meet William Bludworth (Tony Todd), who tells them that death is coming for all of them. After Alex changed death's plan, death wants to come for them. Though Alex doesn't believe him, he has to change his mind when each person he saved begins dying in the same order they would have died on the flight.

Let me clear something up right away: I love the Final Destination movies, and it's probably my favorite horror franchise or at least in the top two or three. I saw this movie six times in the theaters, and I probably watch it once a year. There is almost nothing about the movie that I don't love.

There's the bully Carter, who somehow thinks that Alex was responsible for everyone dying but learns that Alex actually saved his life. Terry, Carter's girlfriend, who thinks that he should put aside his issues and be grateful for what he has. We even get a teacher that can't let go of what happened and a dorky sidekick type character.

Granted, it does get a little grating when they constantly blame Alex for what happened, and Miss Letwon is the worst of the group. She is so afraid to be around him that she basically tells him to just go. She feels guilty for letting another teacher stay on the plane, and she doesn't know how to cope with her own survival. It's also a little odd that the police get involved when multiple people die. They somehow decide that Alex must have something to do with the unexpected deaths even though they have no proof.

Eh, I can totally overlook those problems. Final Destination has a number of great deaths. The scene where a girl tells them to "drop dead" before getting hit by a bus ranks as one of m favorite shocking/surprising deaths in a horror movie. We also get a scene of a killer wire, a man getting decapitated by a piece of flaming train debris, and multiple people dying in an explosion. Not to mention that I still take a moment to look around when I hear John Denver. Despite seeing a number of recent horror films that I enjoyed, Final Destination still ranks as one of my faves.

Monday, October 21, 2013

4closed Movie Review – Jamie Kennedy Be Creepy

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: August 9, 2013
Rating: NR
Director: Nick Lyon

4closed opens with a realtor preparing a walk through of a newly foreclosed home. Somehow, all the doors in the house lock at the same time, and she can't escape. A dark figure comes out of the shadows and brutally murders her before she can get out.

It then jumps to a family out shopping for a new home. Since I can't remember the names, I'll just use their real names. James Denton and his wife Marlee Matlin need to find a new house for them and their daughter Christina DeRosa. After looking at multiple homes that are too expensive or too small (for three people, WTF?), they finally find the house of their dreams. The realtor tells them that it was a foreclosure that the bank foreclosed on after the owner died. They fall in love and decide to move in right away.

When moving day arrives, they find Jamie Kennedy waiting inside. He tells them that it's his house and shows paperwork that backs up his claims. The police can't do anything until they straighten things out, so the family move into a hotel. Marlee's dad, Paul Sorvino, makes it clear that he isn't happy and has them move into his large house.

Jamie's lawyer drops the case when he learns that his mother left everything to a bunch of charities. I don't think the writer really understands how foreclosures work. If she owned the house, the bank wouldn't foreclose on it, but the movie wants us to believe that she owned it and just left it to a charity. He moves out, but as soon as the family moves in, things go wrong. James, who is a recovering alcoholic, suddenly discovers rumors swirling that he started using again, and poor Christina discovers that her new online friend really isn't who she thought it was.

4closed sounds like some awful and cheesy movie, but damn if I didn't like it! There's something nice about seeing Kennedy go back to his roots. The one thing I kept thinking when I saw Scream 4 was that I wish he somehow could have appeared or that they would at least mention him. With his scruffy beard and crazy eyes, he really does seem like someone who could hardwire a house to obey his commands and live underneath a home with no one knowing.

This movie plays like one of those cheesy horror films that landed straight on video during the 1990s or even the 1980s, but there's something almost refreshing about that. The movie doesn't go all out with the blood and guts, and most killings take place off screen. It asks you to think about how those killings happened in your own mind. It also has a number of things that you know will happen, like Christina making a new friend online. You know that it isn't really that cute guy from her new school, but you also can't wait to see what happens or how she learns the truth.

4closed could easily be just another forgettable little film from The Asylum, but there was something about the movie that I really liked. It's easily one of the better movies from the company that I've watched recently.

The Purge Movie Review – "Now Get the Hell Out of My House."

Runtime: 85 minutes
Release Date: June 7, 2013
Rating: R
Director: James DeMonaco

James (Ethan Hawke, "Gattica") is a salesman responsible for selling a large number of alarm systems around town. On his way home from work, he stops to talk to some of his neighbors, warning them to lock their doors and stay inside for the night. James lives in a time where unemployment rates are low and crime drops because of a night known as The Purge. For twelve hours every year, American citizens can go anything they want for those hours with no worries of what it might mean. Theft, rape, and even murder are all allowed.

James arrives home to his wife Mary, son Charlie, and teenage daughter Zoey. Mary lets him know that Zoey isn't happy with him making her end her relationship with a slightly older boy named Henry, and his son seems content to just play with a creepy radio controlleve vehicle he made from an old doll with a camera attached. While the family prepares to lock down their house for the night, Mary has an encounter with a neighbor who makes it clear they aren't happy with the family flaunting their new wealth. Zoey takes the time to make out with her boyfriend for a few minutes before sending him home for the night.

As they lock down the house, Charlie expresses some doubt and concern with what The Purge means. When he hears a man screaming for help outside and a pack of people following the man, he makes the decision to unlock the doors and let him inside. The pack then demands that they either release the man or they'll come inside and get him. James wants to send him on his way, but his family disagrees. It doesn't help that Zoey's boyfriend attempts to kill James, which leads to James killing him. While all this goes on, the people outside wait for help to arrive so they can break into the house.

The Purge is one of those movies that I wanted to see from the moment I watched the trailer, but now that I watched it, I'm glad I waited. It's one of those movies that you just want to watch as you scream at every character to stop being so fucking stupid. First, there's Charlie. He's clearly old enough that he's lived through multiple Purges, and he even mentions that they studied it in school. He knows how everything operates, but that doesn't stop him from opening the door to save a random stranger. Even when the people outside make it clear that they will kill him and his family, he thinks he needs to save that man.

Then, there's Zoey. Not only does she continue seeing a man her parents don't approve of and lets him sneak into her house, she doesn't notice the cryptic comments that make it clear he won't just walk away. Once the shootout with her father occurs, she spends most of the movie hiding upstairs and running around like a crazy person instead of taking the time to check on her family or even respond when her mother calls for her.

It doesn't help that Hawke is incredibly unlikeable in this movie. He is so smug that I wanted to punch him in the throat multiple times. He is always right, everyone else is wrong, and there's no middle ground. While I agree with his wishes to protect his family, he doesn't see anything wrong with bragging about how money he made that year and how their house is better than all the other houses in the neighborhood. He also doesn't take the time to let his family know that their alarm system isn't 100% safe until a threat arrives.

The Purge didn't have nearly as much action as I expected. The trailers made it seem like the plot involved a game of cat and mouse between a family and the people stalking them, but most of the good moments appeared in the trailer. There is also a "twist" that you must be blind not to notice. There is so much foreshadowing and mentions of the neighbors that most people will find themselves just waiting until the twist finally happens. Though interesting at times, The Purge didn't really make much of an impression on me.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters – "We learned a couple of things while we were trapped in that house."

Runtime: 88 minutes
Release Date: January 25, 2013
Rating: R
Director: Tommy Wirkola

"We learned a couple of things while we were trapped in that house. One, never walk in to a house made of candy. And two, if you're gonna kill a witch, set her ass on fire."

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters opens with two young children finding themselves alone in the woods after their father abandons them. After they find the home of a witch, the witch tries to fatten them up and prepare them for her next meal, but they trick and kill her. Where the fairy tale ends, this story picks up.

The two now devote themselves to slaying witches and stopping the spread of witchcraft across the country. They head to a new town, where they see the sheriff planning to execute a witch. The two immediately go through the motions of showing him that this woman isn't a witch, and after saving her life, they decide to stick around and kill a group of witches who recently kidnapped several children from around town. This leads to the two to partner with a young local boy, meet a troll, and discover that they have a connection to witchcraft they never knew of before.

Confession time: I actually saw this movie back in May at the drive-in, watched it, and rolled my eyes. When it came out on DVD, I gave it another try and realized that I really liked the movie. I even bought a copy when the video rental place near me clearanced it out for $5. The movie has the perfect combination of cheeziness, horror, and action to keep me entertained.

Jeremy Renner is the perfect Hansel, while Gemma Arterton is the perfect Gretel. The two actually look similar and do a good job of playing brother and sister. Famke Janssen does an equally good job as the beautiful yet sometimes scary witch Muriel. Horror fans will also get a kick out of seeing Peter Stormare as the sheriff who cares more about the money he makes killing "witches" than he does learning if those people are truly innocent.

The major misstep in the film is the character of Mina. While she does have a connection to the plot, it sometimes feels like she was shoehorned into the movie. After sharing a naked moment with Hansel, he learns that she's a good witch and that not all witches are bad. She goes from being a small background character to one of the major characters in the movie, and I sometimes wished they would focus a little more on the witches than on her.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters also does a smart job of adding to the story. These two weren't dropped in the woods because of the same reasons found in the story. These two found themselves stuck in the woods because their father realized it was the only way to save them after the townspeople learned that their mother was a good witch. It even adds some humor to the film in the form of Ben, a young boy who adores Hansel and Gretel from afar and wishes that he could do the same work they do.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters came out awhile ago, but if you haven't watched it yet, give it a try before its proposed sequel lands in theaters.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Movie Review: Bad Kids Go to Hell – "What a Bitch"

Runtime: 91 minutes
Release Date: December 7, 2012
Rating: R
Director: Matthew Spradlin

The Breakfast Club takes the horror movie route in Bad Kids Go to Hell. The film opens on a scene of SWAT team members running through a school and and finding a single student standing in the middle of a library with an ax in his hand and a series of dead bodies on the floor. It then jumps back six hours in time to show us what happened that led to that moment.

Crestview Academy is a typical private school filled with a bunch of rich and snotty kids. Six of those kids find themselves stuck in the library for the day for Saturday detention. Their teacher assigns them a new project to keep them out of trouble for the day, which is when the issues unfold. One of those students discovers that the school was built on top of land once owned by Native Americans and that several bloody battles occurred in the area. When they attempt to leave, they learn that something doesn't want them to escape, which in turn leads to the students being killed.

Bad Kids Go to Hell had the chance to be a solid horror film, but it somehow missed the mark. Despite Judd Nelson, who I secretly still crush on from the 80s, it was one of those movies that started off good and then somehow went downhill. Even my boyfriend, who finds redeeming factors in every horror movie I make him watch, left the room at several points and then later admitted that he couldn't get into the movie.

The problem is that most of the characters have no redeeming factors. When you watch a movie about a group of teens stuck in one place for 90 minutes, you want to root for someone. I just wanted to see them all die. Every character in the film is one note without any dimensions. The girls are bitchy, gossip about each other, and are just generally rude, while the guys are just as bad. I wish I could say something interesting about the movie, but Bad Kids Go to Hell just missed the mark with me.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Alyce Kills Movie Review

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: May 24, 2013
Rating: NR
Director: Jay Lee

Alyce (Jade Dornfeld) is something of a party animal. Despite her calm demeanor, innocent looks, and job working in an office, she loves partying with her best friend. The early parts of the movie show the two drinking too much and having a little too much fun. After having a little too much fun with some drugs, they find themselves on the roof of Alyce's building, and she accidentally shoves her friend over the side.

This releases the inner Alyce, a woman who wants nothing more than to kill those around her. Though she behaves normally with the police officer who comes to her house with news of her friend, she later heads to a drug dealer and scores some more drugs after stripping naked for him. Alyce launches a new adventure on her own that leaves viewers wondering if everything that unfolds is real or just a figment of her imagination.

What can you say about a movie that involves a normal looking woman trying to chop a man apart in her living room floor with a kitchen knife? Oddly enough that scene is one of the funniest in the movie. After the man arrives in her home, she stabs him and tries to dismember his body with a knife, the garbage disposal, and even a blender before borrowing some tools. She then lets his girlfriend come over, where she proceeds to smack that woman in the head with a baseball bat, but only after letting her see her dead boyfriend's head on the floor.

Alyce is clearly a disturbing person, and the director doesn't shy away from showing that. When she realizes her friend survived the fall and can remember what happened, she smothers her to death with a pillow. At the woman's funeral, she lays down on the coffin and attempts to molest her in front of the woman's family and friends. Alyce feels like the relationship she had with her friend was her last chance, and without her, she doesn't know how to go on with her life.

Alyce Kills is definitely a strange movie, and I'm not sure if I liked it or not. Dornfeld is a great Alyce. Her Alyce is the type of woman who has no problem killing most people but can't handle the idea of killing someone just like her. After losing her job, she heads back to the office to kill the woman who fired her because she didn't show up to work one day. When the woman reveals that she just wants people to notice her, Alyce drops her bat and slips away without her former coworker even noticing.

Alyce Kills does have a really great ending, and it's one of those endings that just makes you laugh. If you're looking for a movie that gives you answers and wraps everything up with a nice neat bow, this isn't the movie for you. It does, however, have an interesting story and some great kill scenes. I'm still a little undecided on whether I liked the film, but it was entertaining.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

V/H/S 2 Movie Review

Runtime: 96 minutes
Release Date: June 6, 2013
Rating: R

"VHS 2" opens with a private investigator blackmailing a married man into giving him more money for footage of him and his mistress before he turns it over to the man's wife. He then explains to his partner that a mother called him about her missing college-aged son. The two sneak into the son's house, where they find a series of tapes. Ayesha begins watching the tapes, while Larry searches the house for any sign of the missing man.

Phase 1 Clinical Trials

The first video involves a man getting a new implant in his eye after a car accident left him partially blind. On his way out of the office, he sees a woman looking at him funny, but he doesn't think twice about it. Later that night, he sees someone in his bed, and when he pulls off the sheet, no one is there. He turns to find a dead man standing just behind him. He begins seeing dead people everywhere he goes, and the woman from the doctor shows up to explain what happened.

A Ride in the Park

My favorite segment of "VHS 2" is this one. Out for a morning ride, a man receives a phone call from his girlfriend as he hooks his camera up to his helmet. After talking to her, he runs into a woman screaming for help and covered in blood. When he tries to help her, she bits him, and he discovers a group of zombies in the woods. He tries to get away, only to find himself infected and biting those who try to help him. I'm not sure the director intended to make it quite as funny as we found it, but I still liked it, especially when the zombies invade a child's birthday party.

Safe Haven

My least favorite segment of "VHS 2" is this one. A group of filmmakers meet with the leader of a cult who moved his "family" to a compound on the outskirts of town. Though he initially denies their request to meet with his family, he later changes his mind and agrees to the meeting. It doesn't take long until they realize that something odd is going on. He passes out drinks to his people, and some of the men begin killing themselves. All I will say about this one is that my boyfriend fell asleep during this one but stayed awake for the rest of the movie.

Slumber Party Alien Abduction

Left alone for the night without their parents, a younger boy invites his friends over, and they pull a bunch of pranks on his older sister and her boyfriend, including jumping out with strobe lights while they're having sex to film them. Later that night, they see a weird light on the lake and the power goes out in their house. They see some strange men standing outside their door, and they wind up running outside. After plenty of shaky cam work and what seemed like a really long time, we learn that it's aliens randomly chasing them, and we see it all from the point of view of the dog.

I almost rented "VHS 2" on Demand for $9.99 last month, but I'm glad that I waited to rent it for $1 from Redbox. It had some good points, and I really liked the second segment, but it didn't hold my attention like the first one did.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Getting Ready for Halloween

I write for a living, which means that by the time I finish writing for other people, I don't always have the time or energy to sit down and work on any of my blogs. That explains why I didn't update this blog for around a month. But, Halloween is my favorite time of the year, and I hope to make regular posts in the next month.

I originally wanted to write a new review every day, but I don't see that happening. I'm aiming for at least 2-3 reviews each week, and with so many new horror movies coming out this month, I'll hopefully have a nice mixture of newer and older movies up in the next few weeks. Look for reviews on films like:

*Twixt: Val Kilmer does another bad horror flick.

*Rites of Passage: Christian Slater talks to a sock monkey!

*The Tortured: What would you do if someone stole your child?

*Ticked Off Trannies with Knives: The title says it all!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I Spit on Your Grave 2 Movie Review

Runtime: 106 minutes
Release Date: September 20, 2013
Rating: R
Director: Steven R. Monroe

Katie is a former Midwestern girl now living in New York City. After a "friend" points out that her photos look like she's a small town girl, she agrees to meet with a photographer and do some new shots for her portfolio. The photographer tries to convince her to take off her clothes and pose for some even better pictures, which she rightly refuses. She later wakes to find Georgie, the brother (or cousin) of the photographer in her apartment and taking photos of her with his cell phone. He brutally rapes her and murders her neighbor who comes to her rescue before calling his family for help.

One of the men forces her to take a large dose of ketamine before they throw her in a box and she passes out. When she wakes up, they send in their "father," who proceeds to use a cattle prod on her multiple times and rape her. Katie eventually escapes and learns she's in Bulgaria, but she finds herself brought back to the same house for a second dose of abuse. When the men decide to dispose of her once and for all, she escapes again, but instead of heading home, she brings vengeance down on the men who wronged her.

There's a scene in "I Spit on Your Grave 2" where a man puts a cattle prod in a very sensitive spot, which made me wince and close my legs a little tighter. My boyfriend laughed at me, until we got to the scene where she places a sensitive part of the male anatomy in a vice and cranks it. That left us both wincing and wondering what the hell we were watching.

"I Spit on Your Grave 2" is an extremely dark movie, which made me feel a little odd for saying that I liked it. The original film had such an impact on me that I still tell people about the bathroom scene. Even though I only saw it once, it left a lasting impression on me, and I feel the same way about this one. The remake was one of those films that I watched once and promptly forgot about. It didn't seem as dark or as gritty as the original, and it felt a little bland to me. I felt completely different about the sequel.

The movie starts out with Katie talking to a friend about her modeling career, and you think you know where it's going. When they stuffed her full of ketamine, I assumed they were trying to frame her and make it look like she murdered her friend before dying of a drug overdose. She later wakes up and finds herself chained to a pole in a weird basement. When she finally escapes from the basement, she discovers that the men somehow sneaked her into Bulgaria, but that's far from the only twist in the film.

Katie is a likeable character, which is rare in a newer horror film. Jemma Dallender, the actress portraying Katie, goes from a sweet and innocent young woman to a vengeful woman who only cares about tracking down the men who took away her innocence, and she does a great job of making me believe in her growth.

"I Spit on Your Grave 2" also has a few gruesome deaths. I don't want to ruin it for anyone, but keep your eyes peeled for a scene involving a man dying of a severe infection brought on by literal shit rubbed into his open wounds. It's the type of film that had me feeling a little squeamish and wondering who comes up with this stuff. Though it's not the type of movie I would watch on a regular basis, it's definitely a solid horror flick and one of those rare sequels that is better than the previous film.

Monday, August 12, 2013

"Escapee" Movie Review – He's Out and Can't Be Stopped

Runtime: 98 minutes
Release Date: September 2, 2011
Rating: R
Director: Campion Murphy

Abby is a psychology major who feels uncomfortable when her college class takes a field trip to an institution. Despite reassurances that the students won't get anywhere near the patients, Jaxson finds a way to get close to her. After the orderlies drag him off, she feels a little shaken and just wants to go home.

She and her two roommates settle down for the night, and Abby starts to forget about what happened, but Jaxson can't forget about her. He manages to escape from the institution, and he heads off in the hopes of tracking down Abby. At the same time, several police officers are hot on his trail including one who has a connection to both Abby and Jaxson.

The best thing about "Escapee" is seeing the number of actors who pop up in a few scenes. Dominic Purcell plays Jaxson, while Danny Nucci shows up as a police officer. Kadeem Hardison also turns up as a cop, and Faith Ford is the one cop who seems to actually give a damn about an escaped inmate.

Once you get past seeing the different actors and wondering what you know them from, the story seems to falter. Purcell is a great psychopath, but his character becomes grating at times. There are only so many scenes that you can handle of someone talking gibberish about a random girl he just met before you want to scream. Scott Elrod does an adequate job playing yet another police officer, but after he keeps popping up to warn the girls of any problems, you start to wonder why he isn't out there looking for the escapee.

"Escapee" is one of those films that you watch once and forget. I'm sure that I'll come across it in a few months and flip it over to read the back before realizing that I already saw it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

"When A Stranger Calls" Movie Review – Have You Checked the Children?

Runtime: 87 minutes
Release Date: February 3, 2006
Rating: PG-13
Director: Simon West

Jill is a typical high school student with a boyfriend and a high cell phone bill. Her dad is so upset over her most recent bill that he grounds her and takes away her phone, and he arranges for her to take a babysitting job for a couple she never met before. As the kids recently were sick, the mother recommends that she just let him sleep, leaving Jill to rummage through the house and watch television all night.

A stranger calls her on the phone, makes some vague comments, and hangs up. When he calls back, she calls the police and asks for help. They can't really do anything, but let her know they might be able to help if he calls back again. Her best friend Tiffany randomly shows up, and when Jill makes her leave, the killer dispatches of her friend. Throughout the night, he keeps calling back until he finally begins asking about the children, leaving Jill to wonder what he really wants.

The original "When A Stranger Calls" is one of my favorite campy films, but the remake is a close second. I know a lot of people hated this film, but I didn't have a problem with it, and I think it holds up well. The mid-2000s saw a number of PG and PG-13 rated horror films hitting the theater, and horror films complained. I saw this in the theater, bought a copy when it came out, and I've probably watched it once a year ever since then. There is just something campy about the movie that I really like.

Camilla Belle manages to carry almost the entire film on her shoulders. For a good portion of the movie, she only interacts with a voice on the phone. She does a great job of playing a teenager who doesn't know what she should do. She doesn't want to call her dad and make him think she's a kid, but she also doesn't want to stay in the house alone.

Speaking of the house, this is easily one of the coolest films I ever saw in any film let alone a horror movie. The house is unbelievably cool and creepy at the same time. If you haven't watched "When A Stranger Calls" because of the bad reviews, just give it a shot.

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Warm Bodies" Movie Review – A Zombie Film for Hipsters

Runtime: 98 minutes
Release Date: February 1, 2013
Rating: PG-13
Director: Jonathon Levine

R is a zombie, but the film skips over what happened that turned people into zombies. Since he can't remember his name, he just calls himself R. Unlike other zombies, the ones in this film form close relationships and connections with each other, and they hunt in packs. R heads off with a group one day after leaving the airport where they live, and they encounter a group of very much alive humans.

After killing a guy named Perry, R absorbs some of his memories, which leads him to grabbing Perry's girlfriend Julie. He keeps remembering moments that the two shared, and he decides that he must save her. He takes her back to the airport, and the more time they spend together, the more he starts to remember about humanity. When Julie leaves him for the comfort of her own people, he and a group of outsider zombies must find her to save the world.

Before "Warm Bodies" came out, I decided to read the book, and it was probably a mistake. The further I read into the book, the more I wanted to roll my eyes. The book is clearly a zombie story written for hipsters, and the movie version plays like a zombie movie for hipsters. This is a movie where the main character wears Beiber-style haircut and a red hoodie for the entire film, and he woos a woman by playing her music that he other people already know, but hipsters decided was cool again.

The entire time I watched the movie, I kept rolling my eyes. Oddly enough, the two guys I watched it with actually liked it a lot better than I did. After reading the reviews, I couldn't understand why so many people loved it. Then I started reading all the little teenagers comparing it to "Twilight," and it suddenly made sense. Adding to it was probably a blurb I read about the author of the book. It mentioned how he wrote several other books before making it big, and made it seem like it was such a struggle for him. Big deal. I've been working as a freelance writer for over five years now, and even though Hollywood hasn't knocked down my door, I still manage to make a good living and feel successful.

I fully admit that I went into the movie with preconceived notions, but "Warm Bodies" didn't leave me feeling warm and fuzzy. While the two leads had some chemistry, their relationship didn't make sense. The book actually did a better job of setting things up between them, while the film had them spend a few days together and fall crazy in love. It also didn't seem like Julie had any real feelings for him, but we were still supposed to root for them as a couple.

I also missed seeing any explanation for the outbreak. R just tells us that he doesn't remember what happened, so we don't know why people became zombies, if they turn other people into zombies, or how some humans managed to survive. The lack of background and the poor excuse for a love story just left me feeling cold.

Friday, August 2, 2013

"Asylum Blackout" Movie Review – When the Lights go Out, the Inmates Will Rise

Runtime: 85 minutes
Release Date: May 4, 2012
Rating: NR
Director: Alexandre Courtes

It's almost impossible to make a living as a musician, which is why the three main characters in "Asylum Blackout" work at a local mental institution in Washington. They don't think it's odd in the slightest because they work behind locked doors and they rarely come into contact with any of the inmates. That all changes when a storm knocks out the power.

Something like this should have a simple resolution. The guards working should know how to round up the inmates, take them back to their cells, and lock them in safely. Instead, the guards don't really know how to do their jobs, making it clear that the asylum, which is again in Washington where it always rains, never thought it might lose power. Those guards demand that the three men help them take care of the inmates. You probably know what happens next. The inmates revolt, kill several guards, and all hell breaks loose.

"Asylum Blackout" shows that not all modern day horror films suck. The lead actors occasionally leave something to be desired especially the actor playing George. At the beginning of the film, he makes it clear that all he cares about is his music. He doesn't work late because he has to practice, and he even turns down his hot girlfriend's offer of sex because he wants to hit the studio. While it makes it believable that he would want to help the guards so he can get home, it doesn't explain why he doesn't really seem to care until the film is almost over.

Some of the scenes in the film are incredibly dark, and there is a fair amount of gore too. I read somewhere that during a screening, two people passed out because of the violence. I don't know if that's true or not, but I also don't think the film is quite that gory. It's better than a number of films made with larger budgets, and it does a good job of showing what filmmakers can do without using CGI.

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Super Cyclone" Movie Review – A Storm's A Coming

Runtime: 89 minutes
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Rating: NR
Director: Liz Adams

Somewhere in the ocean is an oil rig that is drilling for oil. Big surprise, right? They hit a volcano on the ocean floor that someone turns into a massive cyclone that heads toward land. Someone who works for the oil company wants to help stop the storm because he wants to save the men still on the rig, while another woman (Ming Na) has to try and help too.

That is probably the worst synopsis I ever wrote for a film, but that's because this film really doesn't have a lot going on. The entire film just feels like an excuse for the filmmakers to cram in as many unrealistic moments as possible into one film. For no reason that anyone can explain, the sky suddenly catches on fire. The characters in the film just use that moment to explain why they need to amp up their efforts to stop the storm.

We also get a few scenes where the wind is strong enough to pick up a massive truck and tip it over or knock over a thousand ton boat, but the wind doesn't make Na's hair move even an inch. Not to mention the men on the oil rig. They are a major component of the film because they're the ones who drilled into the volcano. They appear in multiple scenes, trying to help stop the storm, and we get multiple scenes of people talking about how important it is that they save those men. Want to guess what finally happens to them? They decide to jump overboard into the fiery ocean and die.

By the time that scene hit, my boyfriend and I looked at each other and asked why we were still bothering to watch it. Though we did wind up finishing the movie, both of us were just waiting for the credits to start rolling.

Friday, July 26, 2013

"Evil Dead" Movie Review – Everything's Gonna Be Fine!

Runtime: 91 minutes
Release Date: April 5, 2013
Rating: R
Director: Fede Alvarez

"Evil Dead" opens with a bunch of random strangers in the basement of a cabin. When a father realizes that his daughter is possessed, he shoots her with a shotgun. It then jumps to Mia, a recovering drug addict, and her friends. Her brother David, his girlfriend Natalie, and their friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas, "The Covenant") and Eric all want her to get better, and they plan on spending the weekend there, in the hopes that she'll get over her addiction.

Eric finds the Book of the Dead and reads from it, releasing the evil surrounding the woods. After an argument, Mia storms from the house, steals a car, crashes it, and finds herself possessed by a demon. She then vomits on Olivia, turning her crazy, and they lock her in the cellar to recover. As things spiral out of control, her friends realize that it isn't just a case of delusions or her addictions taking control of her.

The original "Evil Dead" film didn't need a subplot to explain why a group of friends decided to go to an old cabin in the woods. They were there to party and that was it. With the remake of "Evil Dead," they feel the need to explain that Mia is an addict. I hate to say it, but that's probably where they lost me. I find it impossible to root for a drug addict in any film, and that's pretty much what the writer and director want us to do here.

That's not to say that I didn't dislike the film because it had its moments. It definitely increases the grossness factor of the original. Someone gets stabbed multiple times in the face with a needle, a man beats a woman with part of a sink, and someone rips off their own arm when it gets stuck under a car. There were definitely a few moments in the film when I either pulled a face or actually said something out loud.

My main issue is that it didn't have the campy factor of the original. I love 1980's horror films, and the "Evil Dead" franchise is one of my favorites. This film was just too dark and serious. I know that sounds bad because horror fans want dark films, but it just felt like something was lacking. I know it had a lot of fans, but I can't say I'm one of them.

Monday, July 22, 2013

"Ghost Storm" Movie Review – Not Your Usual Storm

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Rating: NR
Director: Paul Ziller

"Ghost Storm" is the type of film that you start watching and think is yet another release from The Asylum before you realize you're watching a television movie. It's not necessarily a bad movie, but it plays like a TV movie done on a low budget, which is exactly what it is.

A bunch of random kids hit a local cemetery to make out and run around like jackasses, but they decide to do this in the middle of a massive lightning storm. At some point in history, a bunch of people in town killed themselves, and while hanging around the memorial to those citizens, lightning strikes the monument and kills one of the teens. The ghosts of those people then spring to life, running through town and killing people.

Hal is a police officer in town and the father of Daisy, the girl who was dating the boy killed in the cemetery, and he decides that he has to take control of the situation. Since they live on an island in the middle of nowhere, they can't do something like pick up the phone and call for help, so they have to rely on themselves.

"Ghost Storm" is the type of movie that I should love, but it's actually a forgettable film. The only thing that really kept me watching was Carlos Bernard, but I expected a little more from him. If you like movies where a group of random strangers must run around like crazy because of cheap CGI ghosts taking over an island, this is the movie for you. If you don't really care about anything in that sentence, just move on.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"The Conjuring" Movie Review

Rating: R
Length: 112 minutes
Release Date: July 19, 2013
Director: James Wan

Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson, "Insidious") and his wife Lorraine are paranormal investigators who open the film with their latest case, which involves a haunted doll. After explaining that the doll is actually a conduit, the film jumps to the two talking to a classroom of people about their experiences. Lorraine makes a joke about people calling them frauds, which is funny given that most of their cases turned out to be frauds.

We then meet Roger and his wife Carolyn (Lili Taylor, "The Haunting") and their five daughters who just moved into a new home. The first night in their new house, they leave the dog outside, and one of the daughters finds the dog dead the next morning. Most of the activity seems to come about when the youngest daughter discovers an old spinning toy that lets her talk to her new friend Rory. The daughters begin seeing weird things in the house or feeling people tugging on their feet, and Roger discovers a cellar filled with old furniture and junk that someone blocked off.

The activity gets so bad that they resort to sleeping together in the living room, and Carolyn decides she can't take it anymore. She approaches the Warrens after another speaking engagement, and though they initially refuse her case, they change their mind after she begs them. As soon as they get there, Lorraine "senses" the presence in the house, and the duo decide to bring in some help to find the truth behind the haunting.

No matter where you go, you're bound to see a review that calls "The Conjuring" the scariest film of the year. I even read a review that said it would make you nervous about going home alone or trying to fall asleep. The truth is that the film really doesn't bring anything new to the genre. It had one scene that made me actually shriek, and that scene involved hands coming out of the dark and clapping right behind the mother. The rest of the film? Eh.

"The Conjuring" really plays like two different films. The first is the story of a family trapped in a haunted house. Like the Lutzes in "The Amityville Horror," they paid too much for the house and can't move without losing more money than they can afford. The moments that take place in the house are fairly creepy and left me feeling uneasy. Ron Livingston, who plays the father, and Taylor are really great in their roles, and the younger actors do a great job too.

The problem with the film is that the other plot is prodding and even a little boring. Once the Warrens decide to "help," it turns into any other horror film. Since the Warrens are very religious, they find proof that a "witch" once lived in the house and scarified her seven-day old son before killing herself. Lorraine makes sure to tell us that she was a direct descendent of one of the "witches" killed in Salem during the seventeenth century, so you know she cursed the house. I guess Lorraine never paid attention in school when we learned the true story of the Salem witch trials.

Those haunting moments, including the one that made me yelp like a little girl, were sadly missing from the second half of the film. They naturally find a bunch of connections that the house has to women who killed their kids and themselves, and they manage to find a hidden passage and other things that the family never once noticed in the entire time they lived there. Once it reaches the point where Wilson must preform an exorcist on the mother, I just wanted the film to be over, but unfortunately, there was still a good 20 minutes left.

"The Conjuring" isn't a bad film, but it received way too much hype in the weeks leading up to its release. Wilson, who was so good in other films, is terribly miscast here, and it doesn't help that he gets a truly poor story. Apparently, Lorraine saw "something" when working on another case, and now he goes out of its way to try and make her avoid a lot of cases. Shoehorn in a storyline about their daughter being obsessed with the possessed doll from the beginning, and it's just too much for a film that isn't even two hours.

While the film did have a few good scares, many people in the audience when we saw it actually laughed at some of the "jump scares," and towards the end, people even started talking over the characters. I read a comment from someone saying this was the scariest movie he ever saw in his entire life, but the only one who felt that way when I saw it was the four-year old some woman decided to bring with her. "The Conjuring" had its moments, but sadly those moments were few and far between.