Friday, May 31, 2013

The Fourth Kind Movie Review – In the End, What You Believe is Yours to Decide

Length: 98 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: November 6, 2009
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi

Milla Jovovich ("Resident Evil") opens "The Fourth Kind," telling the audience that the film is based on true events that happened in Nome, Alaska. Jovovich plays Dr. Abigail Tyler, a woman left to raise her two children alone after someone murders her husband. Tyler tapes sessions with her patients, and she begins noticing that many of her patients tell her similar stories.

After multiple sessions, she decides to use hypnotherapy. Two of her patients tell her stories about seeing a dark and scary creature enter their homes, and one of the men kills his family after a session. As she digs a little deeper into their stories, she begins experiencing similar things at home, leading up to the disappearance of her daughter.

I cannot believe that I managed to sit through "The Fourth Kind" twice in my life because this film is painful to watch. It was one of the first faux documentary films in the sci-fi genre, but it shows that found footage themes aren't always the best idea. When I watch a movie, I want to get caught up in the story and the characters, which is hard to do with films of this type.

The best found footage films are the ones that show you characters and let you believe that these actors are the real people. With "The Fourth Kind," we see Jovovich playing Tyler, and then we see another actress playing Tyler in the supposedly real footage. It doesn't help that Jovovich introduces the film and says that she's playing the doctor. As soon as you start to believe Jovovich in the role, it shows the "true" footage and takes you right back out of the film. Luckily, I only wasted time watching the movie on Netflix and didn't waste any of my own money.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lake Placid: The Final Chapter Movie Review – And Britney Needs Her Head

Length: 86 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: September 29, 2012
Director: Don Michael Paul

The residents of Lake Placid now know that giant crocodiles live in their city, but they built a giant fence to enclose the lake. They still have a few places where they can swim and have fun, but they try to avoid anything behind the lake. Sheriff Giove (Elizabeth Rohm, "Angel") is the single mother of a teenage daughter, but she has to jump into action when her daughter winds up behind the fence.

The girl and her friends are trapped there when the bus driver accidentally drives through an open gate and takes them to the forbidden lake. While trying to escape, they run into Jim Bickerman (Robert Englund, "Nightmare on Elm Street"), a poacher who agrees to help them get out. Meanwhile, Reba (Yancy Butler, "Witchblade") makes a return appearance, hoping to kill off the crocs once and for all.

Is it bad that I hope this isn't the last film in the franchise? I still remember seeing the original "Lake Placid" in theaters, and I remember watching the second one with friends based on a recommendation from my father. The last film in the series was tolerable, but this one is actually pretty entertaining. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and it seems to know that people will laugh with it, so it amps up the camp factor.

Englund chews the scenery like a pro, and you can practically see him giving fans a wink and a nod from the screen. It was also nice to see Butler hamming it up, especially since she's been painful to watch in her last few movies. Rohm was also a nice touch. Though I wasn't a fan of hers on "Angel," she's a talented actress. It's sad that she sometimes tries to take things a little too seriously, but she doesn't do too bad.

"Lake Placid: The Final Chapter" has its funny moments. The quote in the title of my review comes from a scene after the kids discover the dead body of a friend hanging upside down in a trap. When someone mentions that they need to get out, another snaps back, "and Britney needs her head." Those campy and funny scenes made me wish that there were more of those moments in the last one. And yes, the crocodiles are CGI and look ridiculous, but the movie was still a lot of fun.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Day Movie Review – When the World Ends, We All Become Cannibals

Length: 87 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: August 29, 2012
Director: Douglas Aarniokoski

A group of three men and two women wander down a bleak road until they come across a charming farmhouse. Adam (Shawn Ashmore, "Frozen") flashes back on his life before joining the group. He remembers leaving his wife and daughter alone in their car to rifle through an abandoned house, only to have someone break into the car and steal them both. Shannon (Shannyn Sossaman, "One Missed Call") explains to Mary (Ashley Bell, "The Last Exorcism") that Adam, Rick, and Henson were best friends before the world ended, which is how they ended up together.

Rick discovers a treasure trove of canned food in the basement and shows it to his pals. Henson is especially happy because he's near death and they apparently haven't had food in awhile. Moving the food sets off an alarm that lets those outside the house know that someone broke in. As those people attack, Rick dies, and Mary tries to attack one of the men. Shannon overhears Mary talking to the man and learns that she has a tattoo that identifies her as part of a similar group. When they get back on their feet again, they need to decide what to do about Mary, while Mary attempts to decide what to do about herself.

"The Day" is a film with a lot of promise, but I can't help feeling like it missed the dark. The director uses heavy contrast, which gives the movie a dark apocalyptic feel. You seldom see many shades other than black, white, or gray, and when the film does introduce color, it creates a jarring effect. When blood is shed, the bright color of the blood against the black and white backdrop is pretty amazing.

Many of the actors and characters in the film are interesting especially Mary. The woman rarely speaks to anyone in the ground, which leads to a showdown between she and Shannon. Shannon lets her know that the group is a family and that if she can't act like they do, she needs to leave. While she has a tattoo that marks her as a cannibal, she knows that she can't go back to that life and live that way again, but she doesn't know how to explain herself to the others.

We don't get a lot of backstory about anyone else. Rick and Shannon are apparently in a relationship, but after his death, she just turns into a bitch. We get one scene that shows them together, and then she suddenly forgets he was even part of the group. All she cares about is killing Mary and moving on. Even when the others agree to let her redeem herself, Shannon still wants her to die.

The Adam backstory is a little out of place too. We see him cradling the head of a baby doll in one scene, and he flashes back to losing his family. We learn that the doll belonged to his daughter, and while he does mention her a few more times, it doesn't really make sense. If he was traveling with his wife and daughter, how did he wind up with the group? Shannon even points out that they've been a group for years. It also explains why he hates cannibals, but it doesn't explain why he lets Mary redeem herself. He goes from wanting her dead because she's one of the people who killed his family to risking his life to save her just a few scenes later.

"The Day" was far better than I thought it would be, but it does have a few flaws. Ashmore is a great leading man, and I look forward to seeing him in more movies. Bell is an even stronger actor, and given that I really disliked "The Last Exorcism," I was surprised at how well she did here. She definitely has more of a range than I previously thought. As for Sossaman, had I known she was in the film, I probably would have skipped it.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Gothika Movie Review – What's Real and What's Not?

Length: 98 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: November 21, 2003
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz

Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) is a doctor working in an asylum not far from her house. After a long day, she heads home in the middle of a massive thunderstorm. Along the way, she swerves to avoid hitting a girl who runs out into the street. When she attempts to talk to her, the other woman grabs her hand and Miranda passes out.

She wakes up in the same hospital where she works, discovering that after her accident, someone killed her husband. Her close friend and potential love interest Pete (Robert Downey, Jr.) serves as her personal doctor, but it's clear that he isn't sure if he believes that she doesn't really remember what happened that night. Miranda sees her former patient Chloe multiple times. Chloe always claimed that someone in the hospital raped her several times, but Miranda doesn't believe her until she actually witnesses the rape herself. As she starts flashing back to the night of the murder, she realizes that some of the things she sees in her mind actually happened to someone else, and she needs to figure out the secret behind the murder to get her life back.

I first saw "Gothika" when it came out on DVD. In fact, I actually bought a copy because so many people told me what a great flick it was, only to turn around and sell it a few months later. I mentioned wanting to see it again recently, and found a copy for $1 at a used store so it seemed like fate. Was the movie incredibly great? No. Was it a lot better than I previously thought? Yes.

"Gothika" has the kind of ending that lets you create your own decision about what happened. Was Miranda truly crazy all along? Did she have a life altering moment? The director also manages to create some chilly moments through the use of dark colors and musical background notes. When Berry drives her car down in the pouring rain, you might feel a little twinge at the back of your neck.

That doesn't mean the movie isn't without its flaws though. Charles Dutton, who plays Miranda's husband, is a great actor, but he and Berry have almost no chemistry whatsoever. Watching them kiss is almost disturbing to watch. She does have good chemistry with Downey Jr., but it doesn't take long before he admits that nothing ever happened between them though he wanted it too.

Whoever wrote "Gothika" has no clue about how doctors actually work though. Berry's character worked in the hospital for years, had relationships with patients, and formed relationships with her co-workers. There isn't a chance in hell that the court would send her to the same hospital after she supposedly killed her husband. Considering that she thinks she may have had an affair with Pete and he becomes her doctor was enough to kill any belief I had in the movie. If you can overlook that though, you might actually enjoy this one.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Haunted House Movie Review – Stick with the Scary Movie Franchise

Length: 86 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: January 11, 2013
Director: Michael Tiddes

"A Haunted House" opens with Malcolm (Marlon Wayans, "Scary Movie") welcoming the arrival of his girlfriend Kisha. On the day she moves in with him, she accidentally runs over his dog. He then sets up a few cameras around the house, and the couple notices some paranormal activity happening. After hiring a security expert who installs more cameras, the activity increases.

It all leads up to Kisha becoming possessed by an unknown entity. Malcolm arranges for a priest and a television crew to come to the house to perform an exorcism and possibly help his girlfriend. Somehow, this is all supposed to be hilarious.

"A Haunted House" does a fairly good job of spoofing the "Paranormal Activity" franchise, but then again, it's easy to poke fun at that series. The movie does have a few truly funny moments, but I only laughed out loud maybe twice throughout the whole movie. If you've seen "30 Days of Paranormal Activity...," then you might find yourself comparing the two films. When Malcolm and Kisha smoked pot, and the ghost started smoking with them, I actually turned to my friend and asked if he remembered seeing the exact same scene in that flick.

I was actually surprised when I heard that a sequel was in the works. The "Scary Movie" franchise was funny because it made fun of those moments in other films that we rolled our eyes at and cringed about while watching. With this movie, there aren't nearly as many laughs. It's been years now since the first "Paranormal Activity," and this one doesn't stray too far from that film. When you watch "Scary Movie," you pick up on moments from multiple films, but this one tries too hard to make fun of a single movie.

The other problem is that it feels rushed. I don't mean the story, which actually seems to drag at times, but rather the production. The producers clearly wanted to get this one out by the time "Scary Movie 5" landed in theaters, and I can't help feeling that the other film is better. My friends and I are still quoting a few scenes from that film, while I can barely remember watching this one.

Monday, May 20, 2013

"Smiley" Movie Review – I Did it for the LULZ

Rating: R
Length: 90 minutes
Release Date: October 12, 2012
Director: Michael J. Gallagher

Smiley is the current generation's version of Bloody Mary, which is sad because Bloody Mary is awesome and Smiley sucks. The film opens with a young girl learning the story behind the legend. If you video chat with someone and type "I did it for the lulz" three times in a row, Smiley will come out of nowhere and kill the person on screen. After the young girl hears it, her chatter does it and she winds up dead.

We then meet Ashley, a college student who moves in with a girl named Proxy. Proxy is pretty wild and crazy, while Ashley is mellow and a little shy. Proxy convinces her to come to a party and introduces her to a bunch of random guys. They tell her the story of Smiley, which she thinks is lame and just another urban legend. While chatting online with a group of strangers, they decide to cycle through different chat sessions and look at different guys.

They come across a man who flashes them, and they decide that he's their best bet. Ashley types "I did it for the lulz" three times, and Smiley appears on screen before killing the man. Ashley is so freaked out by what happened that she starts thinking she sees him everywhere on campus. She tries asking the police for help and talks to her classmates, but they all think she's playing a prank. Ashley starts getting stalked by the masked figure, leading her to question what is real around her.

I did it for the lulz is one of the stupidest things I've come across in recent years. It reminds me of those stupid acronyms that teens come up with that are supposed to be oh so cool but really just make them sound stupid. Yolo, I'm looking in your direction.

Up until the end, "Smiley" plays as just another teen horror film. The end is what killed it for me. Have you ever seen a movie and after it ended, you felt really pissed off? That's what this one did for me. If you don't want to read any spoilers, you'll want to skip this next section.


Ashley comes home and finds a bunch of people wearing Smiley masks in her bedroom. As they approach her with knives to kill her, she decides to jump out the window. They see her dead body on the ground and pull off their masks, revealing them to be her classmates including her roommate. Even the guy she chatted with and "killed" is there. It turns out that they were behind the killings because they wanted to keep the legend going. They also reveal that there are other kids on other campuses doing the same thing.

Why the FUCK would you do that??? What is up with the cattle mentality today? Really, killing people is cool? Some random guy from your school tells you that all the cool kids are killing people today, so you think you should do it too? It doesn't even make sense either! How would they know who people would talk to so they could get there and kill people?

*****END SPOILER*****

So yes, I didn't enjoy "Smiley," and the end made me want to kill someone. It still ticks me off to even think about it, so I don't think I’ll be watching this one again.

Friday, May 17, 2013

"The Ghostmaker" Movie Review – Also Known as "Box of Shadows"

Rating: R
Length: 91 minutes
Release Date: November 2012
Director: Mauro Borelli

Kyle is a drug addict who can barely function, but that doesn't stop him from occasionally working or finding time for his girlfriend. His roommate Sutton is stuck in a wheelchair and stuck paying for him when bills come due. In one memorable scene, he lets him know that it's his turn to pay the bills, but he just keeps fooling around with his girlfriend, leaving Sutton to wheel away and say that he'll pay yet again.

When Kyle discovers an old coffin while cleaning out the basement of a woman's home, she warns him against using it but then tells him he can take anything he wants. After discovering some odd gears inside, he shows it to Sutton who figures out how to make it work. They discover that when they climb inside and turn it on, they become ghostly figures who can walk and move around.

Kyle learns from a college professor that the box probably belonged to an ancient baron who was burned to death. Kyle uses the device to get an eye on his drug dealers, which is probably helpful given that they want to kill him for not paying him back, while Sutton uses the box to stare at Kyle's girlfriend who he secretly loves. Despite knowing that there's something wrong with the coffin, they just keep using without thinking about the future.

I watch a lot of bad horror movies, and "The Ghostmaker" is one of them. The film spends too much time showing Kyle's flaws and showing us how great Sutton is before completely flipping it. Kyle is the type of guy who can't go a few hours let alone a single day without using crystal meth, and he somehow manages to hide his drug use from his girlfriend. He makes her leave after sex so he can score more drugs, treats her like complete shit, and contemplates sleeping with another woman for more drugs. Sutton pays all of the bills, gives him a roof over his head, and watches the woman he loves from afar. This is seriously how both characters are for the first ¾ of the film.

Then, we're suddenly expected to love Kyle and hate Sutton. Kyle decides to finally give up drugs, but that doesn't stop him from using the coffin to see where his dealers hide their money. I guess it's totally okay to steal from drug dealers and use that money on your girlfriend instead of using it to pay your bills? Sutton learns that by using the coffin, his legs are getting stronger and he no longer needs the wheelchair. This leads to him stalking Kyle's girlfriend and eventually trying to attack and rape her.

I'm surprised that I made it all the way through "The Ghostmaker," but I'm also happy that I don't have to sit through it again. I'm fine with a character redeeming himself for the greater good, but I'm not fine with two characters completely switching roles and a film demanding that viewers change their allegiances.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Hitchcock" Movie Review – The Story Behind Psycho

Rating: PG-13
Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: December 14, 2012
Director: Sacha Gervasi

Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins, "The Silence of the Lambs") recently released one of this biggest films of all time, but he isn't sure what to do next. After reading a review that claims he should retire, he decides to do something that his fans and those in Hollywood wouldn't expect. He turns down multiple films in the hopes of adapting the book "Psycho."

As the story has a major twist early on, he decides that he doesn't want viewers to know about the twist ahead of time. He buys every copy of the original book that he can find until the films lands in theaters. When the studio denies his request for money and help because it thinks the film will be a failure, he raises the money himself and uses his own film crew. The film then focuses on the making of "Psycho."

A review of "Hitchcock" is probably the last thing that people who check out this blog would expect to read, but the story involves one of the greatest horror movies of all time. Hopkins does an admirable job of playing the infamous director, though the makeup and expressions that he uses are sometimes distracting. The film also introduces some of the controversial elements of his career but shies away from explaining what actually happened.

A good example of this is the relationship between Hitchcock and Vera Miles (Jessica Biel, "The Texas Chainsaw Masacre"). Hitchcock viewed her as one of his top leading ladies and signed her to an exclusive contract, but when she decided to focus on raising a family, he made her live a living hell. The film will sometimes show the animosity between the two, but it never shows the actual hell that he put her through. It also doesn't spend much time on the relationship that he had with Janet Leigh. In real life, Leigh wasn't fond of Hitchcock because he pushed her too far on set, but in this film, she flirts with him and seems to enjoy being around him.

While "Hitchcock" had its moments, this is a film that I'll probably never watch again. There was a nice moment at the end with Hopkins and a raven where he mentions that being another story, but if "Hitchcock" is any indication, I think I'd skip another outing.

Monday, May 13, 2013

"Storage 24" Movie Review – Will Their First Contact be Their Last?

Rating: R
Length: 87 minutes
Release Date: June 29, 2012
Director: Johannes Roberts

Charlie can't believe that his girlfriend Shelley dumped him after years together. His best friend Mark agrees to drive him to the storage unit they shared so that he can get some of his belongings. Charlie is so heartbroken that all he wants to do is talk about his relationship, and they completely miss an airplane crashing right over London. "Storage 24" lets us know that things aren't right by showing us something attacking several people in the front of the storage facility.

While walking through the facility, they hear a few voices and discover that Shelley had the same idea. She's there with her own friends Nikki and Chris, but she almost immediately comes across as a bitch by joking about his taste in furniture. Charlie thinks that they'll finally have the chance to talk about things, but Shelley just wants to finish things up so they can both move on with their lives.

As this is a sci-fi/horror film, it needs to get to the action. Once the group discovers that aliens are invading the city and found a way into the facility, they need to figure out a way to get out. Unfortunately, the doors are locked and it doesn't look like there is any way to escape. Charlie elects himself as the leader, hoping that by finding a way out, he can repair his relationship with Shelley.

"Storage 24" does a good job of combining two different stores. The main story is the attacking aliens, but it also focuses a good portion of the story on Charlie and Shelley. Not long after running into each other, we learn that the reason Shelley dumped him is because she started dating his friend Mark. Putting off that twist until later in the film might have been smarter than introducing it so soon.

By telling us that the two are together, it makes it hard for viewers to root for any of the characters. We don't want to see Mark survive because he broke the bros before hos code, and we don't want Shelley to make it out because she's a cheating bitch. It even makes it hard to root for Charlie because he makes it clear that if it weren't for Shelley, he'd probably give up and let the aliens win.

The best thing about the film is that it doesn't go the typical route. It would be so easy to fill this film with a bunch of characters who jump at the slightest sound or whine throughout the film, but we actually get a few strong characters. Chris is a little whiny at times, and Mark turns out to be a huge douchebag, but the other characters are pretty great. Shelley is probably the worst of the group because even when Mark makes it clear that he only cares about himself, she still follows him and ignores Charlie.

The actors playing Charlie and Nikki have really great chemistry. I found myself hoping that he would at least acknowledge it if not make a move on her, but he's more content just to moon over Shelley. Even after he discovers the reason behind their breakup, he still goes the extra step to save both her and her lover.

"Storage 24" wasn't a well receive movie, and I find it hard to understand why. It's not easy to make a film that takes place in a confined space, but the actors and director did a great job. Though the majority of the movie takes place in a storage facility, I barely noticed because I was so caught up in the film.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Spiders Movie Review – Beware of Big Bugs

Length: 89 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: February 8, 2013
Director: Tibor Takacs

What can you say about a film that deals with giant spiders attacking New York City? On paper, "Spiders" sounds like the type of movie that I would love, but in reality, it misses the mark.

Patrick Muldoon ("Starship Troopers") stars as Jason, a man with a few issues. While commuting home to work one day, the subway starts shaking as a space station falls from the sky. Spiders begin attacking the city, leading to people fleeing for their lives. Jason, unfortunately, can't do the same thing. He discovers that his daughter is lost in the city, and he and his wife decide to do whatever it takes to bring her home safely.

Ugh. That's probably the word that best describes "Spiders." As a fan of SyFy films and straight to DVD releases, this one just made me cringe from the opening scenes to the end credits. We're somehow supposed to believe that a girl, who can clearly find her way around the city, doesn't have the common sense to get the hell out of town when giant spiders attack.

At the same time, we get multiple shots of military tanks and soldiers bringing down the spiders, people leaving, and announcements that everyone must evacuate the town. We even see the soldiers yelling at people to get the hell out. Yet, Jason and his wife just casually stroll around town, sometimes jumping behind dumpsters when they see people approaching. I just kept watching the clock, hoping it would end soon.

Friday, May 10, 2013

"Scary Movie 5" Movie Review – We're Looking for a Book That Can Stop Evil Spirits

Rating: PG-13
Length: 86 minutes
Release Date: April 12, 2013
Director: Malcolm D. Lee

Charlie Sheen brings home Lindsay Lohan and immediately starts setting up his video cameras. Though she isn't on board with the idea, she quickly gives in, which leaves her open for a possession. Once the first five minutes pass, "Scary Movie 5" jumps into its main storyline.

Jody and Dan are a single couple who discover that his brother kidnapped his children and they all went missing. When Snoop Dogg and his friend stumble across the kids living in a cabin in the woods, the couple wind up taking custody. They agree to move into a large house and have their lives tapped to keep track of the children. Things go a little crazy when the girls start talking about an unseen entity that they call mama. Do you see where this is going?

"Scary Movie 5" got a lot of negative and bad reviews, but damn, I really enjoyed it! If you haven't yet seen "Mama," I highly recommend that you watch it first. We managed to see it a few weeks ago (still haven't gotten around to doing the review), and if we hadn't seen it, there's no way that I would know what was going on in this one.

I'm a big fan of the franchise, but I think this one is probably the best one after maybe the first or second one. It pokes fun at everything from "Evil Dead" to "Fifty Shades of Gray" with some "Paranormal Activity" thrown in for good measure. Remember the pool vacuum from that film moving on its own? Well in this one, the pool vacuum actually throws its own wild and crazy party with other vacuums from the neighborhood.

The only thing that didn't really fit in with the film was the "Black Swan" parody. Jody suddenly starts flashing back to her younger years and how her mother (Heather Locklear) was a huge ballet star. That leads to her deciding that she wants to start dancing again, which leads to far too many scenes involving ballet class, dance rehearsals, and other dance scenes. The only bright spot is Molly Shannon, who turns up playing an over the hill ballet star.

Some of the best moments in the film come when it pokes fun at other horror movies. The "Evil Dead" scenes are the best. Jody and her rival/friend venture to a cabin to track down a book that can end the curse on her family, and they stumble across a group of kids having a good old-fashioned bible study. After Jody says the right word, it curses the kids. See Bow Wow cut off his own arm with a chainsaw was worth the price of the ticket, especially when the kids get uncursed a few minutes later.

"Scary Movie 5" is bound to have some haters, but if you liked the others in the series, you'll like this one too.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"The Bay" Movie Review – Leave Mother Nature Alone

Rating: R
Length: 84 minutes
Release Date: November 2, 2012
Director: Barry Levinson

We see a lot of horror movies that deal with Mother Nature rearing her ugly head, but "The Bay" focuses on what happens when human beings screw with ecology.

Donna is quite possibly the worst reporter on the face of the earth. Sent to a small New England town to do a story on its Fourth of July celebration, she's filming the downtown celebration when she hears a report of a domestic abuse situation turned murder. Grabbing her camera man, she starts her report on the scene only to learn that what's happening goes beyond a simple murder.

One by one, other people in town start dying of mysterious circumstances, and even more residents find themselves going to the hospital to seek help. They notice weird rashes popping up and other symptoms plaguing them. The main doctor in town does what he can, but he also sends footage to the CDC in hopes of getting help. "The Bay" also tells us that this true story was covered up by the government and that all footage left is what we see in the film. Everything might be connected to the fish that started turning up dead in the local water source, which just so happens to be what most people in town drink.

"The Bay" is one of the few found footage films of recent years that I actually enjoyed. Instead of using a single camera to show the action, the director does a smart job of introducing other camera types and views. We might see one scene from the camera attached to a police car, another scene shot with surveillance footage, and another camera from inside the hospital. Plus we have our trusty report with her powerful camera. We even get a few scenes from characters sending video messages with their cell phones or filming footage from their computers.

Some of the early reviews I read whined and complained about how "The Bay" was Levinson's pet project and spent too much time talking about how people should take care of the environment. Those reviews basically said that this was an ecological horror movie that focused on what will happen if we keep screwing up the environment. Those moments are in the film, but there are so many other great moments that I barely paid attention to the greater message.

"The Bay" never shies away from the action. We see some of the goriest things I've seen in recent years, and the camera is always there when something happens. The main issue that I had with the film was the character of Donna. The film sets it up that she's a new reporter, or possibly an intern, and this is her big break. All that really does is give her an excuse to act like a novice. Between her whining and crying, I just wanted her to go away. The moments where she doesn't appear and the film focuses on other characters are far better than the scenes where she's on film.

Not everyone with enjoy "The Bay," but it is a solid film. It had just the right amount of gore and an interesting story, which kept me entertained for much of the runtime.

Monday, May 6, 2013

"Shadow People" Movie Review – Also Known as "The Door"

Rating: PG-13
Length: 89 minutes
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Director: Matthew Arnold

Charlie Crowe (Dallas Roberts, "The Walking Dead") is the stereotypical down on his luck guy. His wife left him for man with more money and now has custody of his daughter. He works as a radio DJ, but his show is on a weird time slot, which means that he doesn't have many fans. Just as he thinks that things couldn't get any worse, he gets a phone call from a young man who talks about the shadow people following him before killing himself on air.

Charlie quickly discovers that people tuned in to that show, and those people now become his biggest fans. Almost anywhere he goes, they stop him on the street to talk about the caller. While some think he's full of shit, others believe his rantings about the shadow people. He also gets a package in the mail that talks about these so-called shadow people. The more he starts researching the mysterious figures, the more he discovers that his former caller might have been telling the truth all along.

"Shadow People" is one of those films that's hard to describe. It uses the found footage genre to a point, mixing fake found footage with filmed footage featuring Roberts and other actors. The film wants us to believe that Crowe was a real DJ who lived through everything portrayed in the film. It even introduces a young actor to play Crowe's son as he discusses the changes that he noticed in his father.

The end result is a little jarring at times. We'll see Roberts for 15 to 20 minutes, and then the film throws in some footage of an older man talking about his own experiences. While the mixture can sometimes work, it winds up being the downfall of the film especially at the end. The "real" Crowe appears on film to say that he made everything up and that it was all a lie. After spending an entire film watching the "real" events unfold, it's annoying to reach that conclusion. Granted, Crowe supposedly did it to save his town, but it still comes across as something of a cheat.

Roberts is without a doubt the standout of the film. Having watched him this season on "The Walking Dead" and seeing him as the bad guy/serial killer in "The Factory," it's nice to see him as the hero. He has believable chemistry with the boy playing his son, and he even has nice chemistry with the actress playing his ex-wife. The two snip and snap at each other in the same way that a real divorced couple might fight.

"Shadow People" is a low budget film, but it's easy to overlook the budget. It has some interesting elements and a nice storyline, but the mixture of found footage and traditional footage is sometimes a little irritating. I almost wish the director stuck with the main story and let Roberts and the other cast members tell the story because those were the best moments.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

"The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia" Movie Review – The Ghosts of the Underground Railroad

Rating: R
Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: March 2013
Director: Tom Elkins

Lisa is, for all intents and purposes, a little fucked in the head. Not only does she occasionally see dead people, but she frequently sees her dead mother who seems to give her advice. When her daughter begins showing some similar signs, she and her husband Andy (Chad Michael Murray, "House of Wax") decide to buy a home in rural Georgia and move their daughter there. Joining them is Lisa's sister Joyce. Joyce and Andy have an antagonistic relationship, which leads to Joyce living in a camper outside of the main house.

Not long after they move to their new home, Heidi (the little girl) begins seeing people who aren't really there. She frequently talks about her new friend Mr. Gordy, but Lisa isn't sure if her daughter has an imaginary friend or sees a ghost. Andy discovers a few traps hidden deep in the woods surrounding their house, and they discover some unusual facts about the house from a local reverend. After discovering that their house was a stop on the Underground Railroad and that a former owner of the house helped slaves, they wonder if that has a connection to the odd things happening in the house. It doesn't help when they also discover that two slaves went missing along with a few other people over the years...

All right, so I loved "A Haunting in Connecticut." I heard whispers a few years ago about a potential sequel, so I was pretty excited to learn that it was finally coming out. My best friend, who watched the special on the actual Georgia haunting, was excited too. According to him, the film has almost nothing to do with the real story save for the mention of Mr. Gordy.

"The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia" is a straight up straight-to-DVD film. While most of the film was dull enough that I found myself reaching for a book, it did have a few bright moments. Katee Sackhoff as Joyce was a nice touch. Joyce is the kind of crazy chick who you want as your best friend. She also sees things and inherited their mother's "gift," but she's perfectly fine with it. She encourages her niece to be happy even if she can see dead people, which is a nice change of pace from Lisa.

You know those horror movies where you want to see one specific character die quickly? Lisa was that character for me. She's been on so many different medications that she can barely cope with life, and yet the other characters in the film often leave her alone with her daughter or just decide that she'll probably be okay. The character is written so poorly that she comes across as someone who belongs in an institution, not out roaming the streets.

It does have a pretty cool scene towards the end that involves a woman pulling things from her mouth that connect to the ghosts of the house. It's hard to explain, and I don't want to ruin the film for anyone, but that was a pretty enjoyable little scene. The rest of the movie plays like something I've seen before.

The real problem with "The Haunting in Connecticut 2" is that it takes too long to get going. Heidi meets Mr. Gordy and starts talking about him fairly early in the film, but he has no connection to the actual haunting. There's far too much backstory and talking about what might happen before anything actually happens, and by the time the interesting moments start happening, the film is almost over. I can safely say that I'll probably forget about this one and never watch it again.