Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Exorcism Files Haunted Boy Review

Runtime: 88 minutes
Release Date: October 1, 2010
Rating: NR
Director: Christopher Saint Booth, Philip Adrian Booth

This documentary is the perfect example of why you should never read the description on Redbox without finding out more about a film. Described as a documentary about the true story of The Exorcist, Redbox described it more as a found footage movie that deals with that story. I didn't really get either thing.

The Exorcism Files: Haunted Boy is a documentary from The Booth Brothers that should have been more interesting than it was. The author of the book drew inspiration from a case he read about in the local paper. Hoping to keep the identity of "Robbie Doe," as he was known at the time, William Peter Blatty agreed to change the character in his book into that of a little girl.

While researching an idea for a book, I wrote about a local college that is supposedly haunted because some of the artifacts used in the actual exorcism were stored there. Writing that article led to more research into the true story and some info on both the book and film. All that information was fresh in my head when I sat down to watch this movie, which might have tainted my experience a little.

The original boy is still alive, but he naturally doesn't want to talk about his experiences. The filmmakers then went to one of his relatives to get an idea about what he went through. They also tracked down archival footage from priests involved in the case and some who knew the original priests. That gave the documentary a "he said, she said" sense that left me wondering what was true. I can tell you what so and so said to me on camera, but does that mean I'm telling the truth?

They also try way too hard to make a connection between the actual case and the hauntings in the area. The former hospital where Doe once stayed was torn down. They talk to men who saw or moved some of the furniture that he used, and they all claim that they felt weird things and saw strange shit. They also talk to some of the people involved with the demolition of the hospital, who also say his former room was haunted. Plus, we get to see a big crack in the parking lot, which is supposedly the same spot where his former room was.

Even more ridiculous is the in-depth exploration of the house where Doe once lived. The owner of the house bought it because it was "the exorcist house," so you know anything he experienced there is tainted. It doesn't help that he basically cleaned out Doe's former room and doesn't use it for anything. A completely empty room in the middle of a big house? Yup, that wouldn't seem creepy at all.

At one point, my roommate checked, saw there was still 40+ minutes left, and threatened to live the room if I made him watch anymore. Sadly, we stuck it out. I would recommend it for those interested in learning more about the true story, but that explains my roommate and he barely made it through.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Antisocial Movie Review

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Rating: NR?
Director: Cody Calahan

Sam is just like any other college student except that she's in love with a total tool. After talking with her boyfriend, who seems anything but a good boyfriend, via video chat, she tells him that they need to talk about something. Sensing that she wants to break up, he decides to pull the plug on their relationship and end things completely. Upset, she turns to RedRoom, the Facebookesque site everyone on campus uses to keep in touch, where she learns that he spent the night with another chick the night before.

Luckily, she has her best friend and the much cuter Mark by her side. As it's New Year's Eve, he suggests that she come over to his house for a party. Though she isn't really in the mood to party, she agrees to stop by, which was probably a huge mistake.

See, there's a virus sweeping the country that seemingly uses RedRoom to spread. Kaitlin wants nothing more than to party and have fun with her boyfriend Steve, while Jed seems more interested in video chatting with one of his friends online. While Kaitlin does a strip tease for Steve upstairs, Jed's friend warns them of the upcoming danger.

A knock on the door reveals that one of their friends from earlier in the night came back. Jed warns them that he's infected and showing some of the more common symptoms, and they agree to send him away. Sam throws up in the kitchen sink, but no worries, she's not infected. She's actually pregnant, which is what she wanted to tell her boyfriend about earlier.

After checking out RedRoom on his phone, Steve becomes infected. It doesn't take long before he starts showing symptoms, so you know Kaitlin is infected too. Sadly, the whole group is stuck inside a house that they locked down and barricaded from the world, so who knows who will make it out alive? Well, I know, but if you want to know, you need to just watch the movie.

I first heard about Antisocial a few months ago while checking out trailers on XBOX Live. It looked really interesting and made me tell my roommate about it, but I promptly forgot about it. Picked it up at Redbox the other night, and I'm glad I did. Antisocial was a refreshing change of pace from the Hollywood hack films that came out lately.

It's hard to explain what the movie is because it tends to jump around. It's definitely a plague/virus film, but it later turns into something of a zombie flick. We've all seen too many bad zombie films lately, so it's nice that this one offers something a little different. We all use Facebook or some form of social networking nearly every day, and this one might make you think twice before you log on the next time.

Antisocial does a good job of setting up the plot early in the film. Sam, while still chatting with her boyfriend, sees a man seizing on campus, who later turns out to be one of the first victims. We also see some video clips from two young girls on their blog as they succumb to the virus. When the movie jumps into an explanation of what happened and how the virus spread, I started to lose focus. When it jumped to a cure for the virus, I was all in.

I know I’ve said this a few times lately, but Antisocial is one of my top horror picks for the year. It had characters I cared about, some nice acting, and a strong story that hooked me in and made me keep watching.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Birth of the Living Dead – The Start of Romero

Runtime: 76 minutes
Release Date: October 18, 2013
Rating: NR
Director: Rob Kuhns

You know how you sometimes watch the "making of" and special features on DVDs and just kind of roll your eyes because all the information documented is something you've seen before. That's pretty much how I felt about Birth of the Living Dead.

I've watched a number of documentary films on Netflix, and I have a tendency to love the ones that cover B movies, cheesy films, and horror movies. When this one popped up as a recommendation for me, I added it to my queue and sat down to watch it when I had a few minutes. I assumed it would be something like The Elm Street Legacy, but it came across as a been there, done there kind of film.

When I discovered that this has a fairly high rating, I was shocked. Do people really enjoy it that much, or is just a case of giving it a high rating because it involves George Romero. I kept waiting for it to touch on something new or at least give me some inside stories that I never heard before, but it just felt like a rehash of information I can find dozens of other places.

Maybe it's because I’ve owned and watched DVDs on everything from Night of the Living Dead to Survival of the Dead, but it felt more like an ode to Romero than a documentary that would actually cover the making of the film. Oh, Romero lost the rights to the film and now every one and his brother can sell copies? Gee, that must explain why it turns up on EVER horror movie compilation of all time. Oh, he didn't mean to make a statement when he cast a black man in the lead role? Where have I heard that before? Oh that's right, on every single interview he ever gave in his life.

If you're looking for something basic that gives you a brief introduction on the original Night of the Living Dead, head on over to Netflix. If you want an in-depth documentary on the actual making of that film, keep looking.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Frogs Movie Review: If you're squeamish, don't worry

Runtime: 91 minutes
Release Date: March 10, 1972
Rating: PG
Director: George McCowan

Pickett Smith, who I absolutely did not realize was Sam Elliott, is a photographer working on taking pictures of animals and nature. While working in a canoe in the swamp, siblings Clint and Karen speed by in their boat, which causes his canoe to tip over. After snapping at them about losing his work, Clint offers to replace all his damaged equipment. They take Pickett back to their family home, which is the Crockett Estate on an island nearby.

There, he meets the head of the family. Jason is stuck in a wheelchair and doesn't seem too happy. Though he wants to celebrate the Fourth of July and encourages Pickett to remain for the festivities, he can't stop complaining about the snakes and frogs living near the house. He sends one of his workers out to use some pesticides to kill the animals. Pickett finds the man's dead body and notices that he's covered in snake bites, but despite learning of the problem, Jason decides to push forward.

You know exactly where this is going. As they start planning for the holiday, amphibians keep flocking to the island and killing everyone in new and not so interesting ways.

Frogs is a film that I added to my Netflix queue when I went through a "killer animals" phase last year. There's a good chance that the movie's been in there since I had an account 6-7 years ago too. When I noticed some of those older movies expiring, I decided to take some time to watch some of the older horror movies before they disappeared too. Frogs was the first one on my list, and if it's any indication of what might come, it's probably time to weed out my queue.

Frogs is easily one of the worst movies I've seen. It wasn't one of those "so bad it's funny movies" either. My roommate and I giggled once or twice, but for the most part, we just kept checking how much time was left. At one point, he even begged me to just shut off the movie or move on to something else. I persevered and got through the movie but it's probably not something I should brag about.

This came out at a time when directors mixed existing footage with new footage to make a film. While that sometimes works in the right way or the funny way, it didn't work here. You get multiple scenes of frogs, snakes, and crocodiles moving through the wild before seeing someone thrashing around on the ground and screaming in pain or mock horror.

The one funny moment came when a man was attacked by a crocodile. The way he was rolling around in the water made us laugh and contemplate whether he was fighting or playing with it. This was one of the smaller crocodiles, and the way he kept looping his arm around it and dragging it around make it look like the poor thing just wanted to escape the bad movie.

If there's one reason to see the movie, it's for Joan Van Ark. Given the frightening way she looks today, it was kind of fun to see her back when she looked normal and even pretty.