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.