Category Archives: Horror

Waiting for October

I don’t know where August went, and September is flying by too! Some of you may know that by day, I work full-time as a medical librarian. Classes started back up in August and frankly, work has been crazy busy. I looked back and was horrified to learn I haven’t watched a horror movie since the second week of July. I have still been participating in the horror world, though. In July I renewed my Horror Block and Box of Dread subscriptions and have been enjoying those. I’ll try and do a better job of adding unboxing posts to the blog. And last week I received my pre-ordered copy of Until Dawn. I’d like to post a review of that here too but in short, it’s an awesome game.

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For September, I expect to have a little break before things get busy again. October for me work-wise is a strenuous month; we have to teach a series of classes to medical students, I have to plan some programming activities for my library in celebration of National Medical Libraries Month, and I also will be traveling to Puerto Rico to attend a medical library conference (I’m presenting a paper and a poster too, yay!). These are usually how Octobers are for me but this year, I am making a point to actually enjoy my favorite month. I have a mini-vacation scheduled for the BF and I to visit Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, Florida. I haven’t been to HHN since 2009 and the BF has never been. We booked a cat-friendly hotel to take our special needs kitty and will be visiting HHN for 2 nights. I am totally hyped! Especially for the Insidious and Freddy vs Jason houses.

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Super Shorty Reviews

In lieu of full-length reviews, here are a few mini-reviews for some of the films I’ve recently seen.

The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014) – Original concept, highly recommended
The Sacrament (2013) – Unnecessary, not recommended
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014) – Silly and irreverent, recommended
Snowpiercer (2013) – Okay, I could take or leave it
The Quiet Ones (2014) – I don’t get the hate, I enjoyed it
As Above, So Below (2014) – Okay, I enjoyed it

While unintentional, most of the recent movies I’ve seen have been first person/found footage. Some people aren’t fans of this style but I don’t mind these types of films (as long as the camera work sin’t too shaky). Longer reviews to come (sooner than later, I hope!)…

 

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Movie Review: “We Are What We Are” (2013)

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To belatedly celebrate Thanksgiving, I decided to post a review of a movie that really stuck with me. I watched We Are What We Are months ago but its cannibalistic theme makes a fun seasonal addition to my review blog.

First off, I didn’t realize We Are What We Are (2013) is a remake until I began working on this review. The original version came out in 2010 and was a Mexican release. I don’t know anything of the original, how or if it varies from the 2013 American version, but it may be worth watching.

I’d heard this film mentioned in a few upcoming horror blogs that I follow and was interested in watching it as soon as it came to a convenient format for me.  So when the film hit Netflix, I added it to my queue knowing only the premise that cannibalism was involved.

Synopsis:

The film begins with the story’s matriarch passing out in a ditch during a torrential downpour. There’s a small-town atmosphere and the local sheriff breaks the news of his wife’s death to Frank, an overbearing father of two teen girls Iris and Rose, and a young son Rory. Frank is too upset to identify the body and sends his teen daughters to town instead.

We soon learn that the family lives in a remote area of the woods and also that the mother was essentially the glue holding things together. The family functions around their extremely deep-rooted traditions. The children are home-schooled, the home is extremely modest with no technology, and the father assumes the role as bread-winner. In the wake of their mother’s death, Frank-an abrasive bear of a man-soon demands Iris and Rose fulfill the role of the homemaker, including all the grisly-and occasionally implied-details that go with the territory.

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As the story progresses, we see the sheriff conducting a investigation of the case, including an autopsy of the mom, researching her condition, and also interrogating the family. Things are personal for the sheriff because his own daughter went missing in the area, adding to the laundry list of other missing teens.

And that’s where I will end my summary as I don’t want to spoil too much here for those who are interested in experiencing the film on their own. There is a lot more going on than I described, various layers of the plot, however for me, part of the intensity of this film was seeing those first-hand.

Overall Impression:

I really enjoyed We Are What We Are. It’s a smart, tense, and unique movie that has subtle yet gruesome developments. The actresses who play the teen daughters, Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner did a great job and really carried the film. Plot-wise, the story is really rich and I’d love to see some literary criticism of all the subtexts and nuances buried within the plot.

My main annoyances with the movie are more personal. I’m a medical librarian and some of the research doesn’t hold up but hey, it’s a movie so I can forgive that.

If you’re looking for something smart and different that will get under your skin, I highly recommend We Are What We Are.

Pros: tense, good build up and character development, great acting, psychological
Cons: slow-paced, not necessarily in your face horror, subtle, a little predictable

Mash-up Status: The atmosphere and pacing remind me a bit of Stoker (2013) with the same uneasy father feelings as Frailty (2001).  I’ve seen some compare this to The Hamiltons (2006) but since I haven’t yet seen The Hamiltons I can’t say so myself.

Rating: 7/10

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Movie Review: “Wolf Creek 2” (2013)

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I’m superseding the two posts I’ve been working on to publish this review of Wolf Creek 2 solely because this movie was that impressive to me. I own the first Wolf Creek (2005) and enjoyed it more than I expected I would. While I typically don’t favor the torture sub-genre, I did find the first to be a fresh take on this popular niche. I also liked the ambiguity of the ending. I might have read more into it, but I did like the idea that maybe this horrible caricature of a villain didn’t exist-that possibly some cute young guy could be the malicious murderer.

I was really surprised when I learned that a sequel was in the works. Wolf Creek came out nearly a decade ago and gained popularity as more of a cult favorite among horror fans. I had no knowledge of the plot for the sequel and only learned that it had been released when I saw it pop onto Netflix’s “Recently Added” queue. So on a whim this past Sunday night, I decided to go ahead and watch it, having little expectations, and my God, what a brutal film this was.

Plot-wise, there is very little of a story. I don’t want to give away too much but to explain the story development, I do need to disclose some spoilers. Skip to the end of this review if you don’t want to be spoiled!

The very first characters we encounter are a pair of corrupt police officers. It is pretty obvious where things are going to go once they encounter Mick, the jovial Aussie villain from the previous Wolf Creek. Trying to pin a false speeding violation didn’t go over so well. There was a nice first kill scene followed by a rather predictable second.

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The next characters we meet are a young German couple-Rutger and Katarina-who are hitchhiking their way through the outback. This was very reminiscent of the first Wolf Creek, as Rutger and Katarina too are visiting the Wolf Creek Crater national park. Unlike the first film, these foreign tourists’ time on camera was very short lived. We get to know them well enough to see they are affectionate, carefree and altogether a very sweet couple. There was a fair amount of time developing these characters so how their story progresses surprised me.

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After a long day of hiking, the couple sets up camp for the night only to meet Mick, who initially comes across innocently enough. When Mick insists the couple are violating park rules by camping overnight, things get tense with Rutger. After a confrontation, and in a scene that plays out like an homage to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), one character leads Mick to the film’s third major character, Paul.

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From here on out, the storyline essentially follows Paul as he tries to outrun and outwit Mick. I won’t go into too many details here but the latter part of the film, we get to see just what an elaborate holdup Mich has built, complete with an array of torture devices, secret passages, and mementos-and bodies of!-previous victims.

Overall Impression:

I am a horror movie enthusiast so obviously I’ve seen a fair amount of gore and violence over the years. With Wolf Creek 2, I was physically disturbed by the brutality and senselessness of Mick. For whatever reason, I decided to watch this movie before going to bed. I had to stay up a hour after the movie was over watching old episodes of Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers just to get my mind off the film.

At the beginning of the movie, I was rooting for Mick as he encountered the corrupt policemen, however the story developed in a way I did not imagine. The other characters we encounter onscreen don’t necessarily fit the mold of justifiable horror movie murder victims. They weren’t promiscuous, one character smoked pot for maybe half-a-second, and all the characters were compassionate and likable to me. The manner that they are killed was so brutal, it’s hard to rationalize the mercilessness of Mick.

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It was somewhat of an emotional experience for me as a viewer; I had rooted for Mick in the first Wolf Creek as the characters were so annoying (really, the embodiment of your typical horror movie delinquent). With the sequel, the first murders we encounter are the crooked cops which felt validated. But then Mick turns and we see that he has no set of rules other than wanting to violently obliterate all tourists.

There were a few things I didn’t like. Early on, Mick wears out the whole “head-on-a-stick” torture method (watch the first Wolf Creek to understand this reference). There were also the typical grumblings, like how is Mick everywhere? How is he always a step ahead? Parts of the movie bordered on feeling too similar to the Hostel series. There was an extended car/truck chase scene (technically there were 2-3 of these). I’m not a big action movie fan so my mind kind of wandered during these parts. I guess because I know in my heart that a significant character is probably not going to die in a magnificent 80s TV-style car crash as Mick almost certainly prefers to play with his prey before dispatching it.

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Overall, if you are a hardcore horror fan, I highly recommend Wolf Creek 2. I highly don’t recommend this for your friends or girlfriends if they don’t have the same appreciation for horror. You will look like a psychopath if you sit down with unsuspecting friends to watch this. But for the true horror fan, you should be pleased. And you don’t really need to have seen the first (which is something I am usually particular about). As far as action, the budget is substantially higher than the first. There are some great scenes of gore; the make-up and kill scenes are disturbingly realistic. Accordingly, I would rate Wolf Creek 2 equally with the original-which is something I don’t know that I’ve personally said of a sequel. It is raw, brutal, and fresh. And Mick is easily one of my favorite horror villains.

Pros: nontraditional story development, impressive gore, John Jarratt’s acting is insanely awesome
Cons: disturbingly gory and violent, cheesy CGI moment involving a troop of highway kangaroos

Mashup status: Think Wolf Creek (2005) meets the automotive action scenes of Joyride (2001) with the same uncomfortable scenes of torture and despair of The Strangers (2008) and Hostel (2005). Some may liken it to Funny Games (1997/2007) but I didn’t care for any those characters so it’s less similar of a comparison for me.

Rating: 8/10

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Movie Review: “Haunter” (2013)

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I first learned of Haunter (2013) when I saw it listed on Netflix Streaming. I did a bare bones/spoiler-free search online to see if it was well-received and was surprised to see a lot of positive buzz about it. Once I saw that people liked it, I stopped researching it because-as usual-I wanted to be surprised. I also wanted to watch it at the right time so I ended up waiting several weeks until I could give it the attention it deserved. The BF joined me and I have to say, we were both very pleased.

I will insert a disclaimer here that while I generally try and keep my blog posts spoiler-free, to describe the main plot of Haunter, I really need to explain some of the “twist” part of the movie. I don’t necessarily find this to be a spoiler as the viewers learn this twist 20-30 minutes into the movie, but if you want to be surprised like me on my first time through the movie, don’t read any further.

We first see main character Lisa as she is waking up. Her younger brother is calling her on his walkie-talkie. She wake sup and goes on about her life as a typical, angsty teenager. She snaps at her mother about the laundry and later has an uncomfortably silent dinner with her family. Tomorrow Lisa wakes up to the exact same day. And each day on, she becomes slightly more aware of her family’s situation, that everyone is dead and they remain in this limbo time-loop, reliving the same day over-and-over again.

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As brief as that synopsis was, I don’t really want to go into more plot detail to preserve the direction of the story for readers who do want to be surprised. I will say there’s contact with the present day teen living in the house, a disturbing invisible friend relationship that Lisa’s younger brother Robbie maintains, and a visit to the house by a creepy maintenance man, and the realization that the family cannot physically leave the home.

Overall Impression:

One criticism I have of the movie is what happened between 1985 and the present day? We encounter pre-Lisa victims from the 1940s onward to modern day teen, Olivia, so there’s definitely a trend here. But yet there’s no explanation of the time after Lisa’s family lived in the home. Perhaps the house sat vacant? Maybe a family without children lived in the home? I don’t know but a casual acknowledgement of this would help strengthen the plot for me.

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Another minor criticism is this was not my favorite Abigail Breslin performance. She seemed a bit checked-out throughout the duration of the film. The unique plot was enough to secure a high rating from me, but if Breslin was more emotionally invested in this, the film would have scored bigger.

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Other audiences report that the movie doesn’t feel 80s enough, specifically Lisa’s hair and the fashion choices of the other characters. I think a hyper-stylized 80s setting would have distracted from the story line so I am fine with how the decade was depicted.

Ultimately, Haunter really surprised me, held my interest, and delivered a modern take on my favorite horror sub-genre, the haunted house/ghost story. I’m surprised it didn’t make it into theaters because I think it would’ve done well. If you’re looking for something fresh, this is for you.

Pros: modern, unique take on the ghost story
Cons: acting felt wooden, some plot holes

Mashup status: Think Groundhog Day (1993) meets American Horror Story: Season 1 (2011) and The Others (2001) with a nod to Beetlejuice (1988).

Rating: 8.5/10

 

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Movie Review: “House Hunting” (2013)

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Not a bad looking cover, but I was tired of looking at it so I wanted to go ahead and watch this so I could delete it from my queue.

This is yet another Netflix movie that I saw knowing nothing of the plot. I put it in my queue ages ago, based purely upon the mediocre star rating (which mediocre star ratings on Netflix for horror movies are usually an indication of a decent movie). I finally got myself in the right mood to watch a marginally unknown cast deliver try and deliver some horror on a slim budget.

House Hunting  begins with a split story, following two separate families as they are searching for a new house. Family #1 consists of husband Charlie, teen daughter Emmy, and new wife Susan. Family #2 consists of husband Don, teen son Jason, and matriarch Leslie. During the day’s home searching activities, both families encounter a peculiar man. This man turns out to be the seller of the same house that both families roll up to at the same time. An aside, I recall how awkward it was when I was house hunting once, and another family stopped to look at the house at the same time I did. There was an odd, darting of the eyes, uncomfortable stand-off of who liked the house better, was the other party interested, etc. I digress.

So both families get to the remote home at the same time and discover the house is abandoned. The families encounter a severely traumatized young woman running through the woods, who they discover has had her tongue cut our and she cannot speak. The families drive away from the house in an effort to get this young woman some aid, however they are unable to leave as the road keeps taking them back to the house. After all afternoon of trying to escape, they families concede and retreat inside the home.

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At this point, the movie turns into a psychological standoff between the families; both fathers are pretty overbearing. And slowly the families unwind…going crazy having to stay put in this house for days and then weeks. Predictably they have to face their inner demons. While there are some supernatural elements, including a few out-of-place ghost cameos,  House Hunting is mostly a psychological thriller.

Overall Impression:

If this was the first horror movie I’d seen to utilize the “twist” cyclical concept, then I would have given House Hunting a better rating. There are just far better executed of these types of films, which I am hesitant to list because if you know the other movies like this, then there is no twist. So I will do you a kindness and discreetly list them here behind a strike-through: Dead End (2003), Triangle (2009), Timecrimes (2007), The Butterfly Effect (2004), The Machinist (2004), and Donnie Darko (2001)

Ultimately House Hunting was very slow-paced, a little boring, obviously low-budget, but it did have an interesting idea (although this idea is not exactly novel to modern thriller cinema). The acting fell flat for me as well. In fact, I was really distracted by Don (Art LaFleur) in the trivial sense that to me, he will forever be Silver Fox from 1995’s gem of a teeny-bop movie Man of the House (JTT!!).

Pros: unique, twist, thoughtful plot
Cons: tried to be too many things, slow/tedious, low-budget, wooden acting, unlikable characters

Mashup status: See strike-through above for spoiler list of similar movies.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Movie Review: “Sorority House Massacre” (1986)

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I somehow managed to go nearly 30 years without viewing this gem. As a child, I remember the Sorority House Massacre VHS cover in the rental store and thought it looked pretty menacing. An aside, I first began watching scary movies as a young girl, mostly enjoying USA’s Up All Night and TNT’s Monstervision weekend B-movie series. So I rarely actually checked movies out from the rental stores until I was older. But when my dad and I would peruse the stores after school, I would usually wander off into the horror section and admire the glorious 80s cover art. I digress…

When I saw this cover posted in Netflix, I instantly remembered it from when I was a child and realized I had never actually watched it and added it to my queue. I didn’t let it hang out there for long and sat down to watch it the following weekend.

Much like a lot of great 80s cover art, the depiction is misleading. It isn’t about a rogue, sex-crazed maniac who has carefully selected a sorority house full of scantily-clad, defenseless chicks. But rather, the film revolves around Beth, a doe-eyed college student who is checking out a campus sorority to see if she wants to become a member. Through flashbacks and  scenes at a local psychiatric hospital, we learn that as a child, Beth’s brother Bobby slaughtered their entire family, but was captured before he could kill Beth.

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Beth doesn’t remember any of this, and the audience doesn’t officially learn all of this backstory until later in the movie. But the allusions are clear so there’s really no surprise. It’s also not surprising when Bobby escapes the mental hospital and treks back to his childhood home, which is now the campus sorority house.

I will end this relatively vague plot summary here and note that Sorority House Massacre is extremely predictable, but is still fun. The sorority sisters aren’t “naughty” and we only see a smidge of nudity here and there, mainly when the sisters are getting ready for class. And I’m a girl so I can say this, but at no point during my college career-and I lived in the dorms for all 4 years-did I shower or change freely amongst my roommates. So this is just another little silly yet completely characteristic of the B-movie slasher.

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One thing I’d like to add is that I saw this very close to when I first watched the remake of Black Christmas (2006). This is worth bringing up because unless you watch Sorority House Massacre before the Black Christmas remake, then you’ll most likely find yourself comparing the two throughout the viewing of Sorority House as I did. The similarities are glaring, especially regarding the sorority house being the former location of a mass murder and the killer has escaped from a mental hospital to hunt down a family member.

Of note, Sorority House Massacre is also frequently compared to Halloween (1978). I don’t disagree with that statement, but to me, Sorority House feels more like the Black Christmas remake. Sorority House obviously pre-dates the Black Christmas remake so I don’t hold at fault for Sorority House for having such a similar concept. I doubt you will encounter the same similarities with the original Black Christmas (1974) because it does have a different story than Black Christmas (2006)/Sorority House Massacre.

Overall Impression:

There are a little too many conveniences for me to rate this any higher than a 7-like how Beth mystically finds her way to the sorority house that happens to have been her childhood home. And that Bobby would know his sister is there, or that he would even know how to get back to the house after all those years. But part of the cheese of Sorority House Massacre is B-rated charm so this is relatively easily overlooked.

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The dream sequences were pretty spooky. There was an eerie scene with the family sitting around the dining table; they looked like mannequins and then blood began dripping from the chandelier. There was also some decent yet tame kill scenes. These scenes weren’t graphic but the gore felt unique (a little reminiscent to me of the Italian giallo style).

Pros: fun, classic B-movie 80s slasher
Cons: silly-not genuinely scary, felt too similar to other horror classics, bad acting

Mashup status: Ancestrally speaking, this is the child of Halloween (1978) and the aunt of Black Christmas (2006) with most every cliched 80s B-movie horror gimmick you can think of.

Rating: 7/10

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Movie Review: “Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia” (2013)

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I don’t know who this ethereal woman is, and levitating and fog have absolutely nothing to do with this film’s story, but I still really liked this movie!

As much as it pangs me to admit, and despite the fact that I will probably receive a lot of criticism for my approval, I really did enjoy Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia. I’m a supporter of all production categories of the horror film genre; I truly enjoy B-movies, low budgets, direct-to-video/streaming, indie, and yes even mainstream horror. I do think that mainstream horror has gotten a bad wrap in recent years (with the exception of some-for example, James Wan) but generally, I have liked much of the big budget horror I have seen recently.

Two other reasons I enjoyed this Ghosts of Georgia: 1) the ghost story is my favorite sub-genre of horror and 2) I’m from Georgia. I was interested in the historical aspect of the south because-I’m not biased or anything-but I think the south has such a rich (and albeit unsavory) history, I was interested in how it would be depicted in this movie.

I was also anticipating this movie because I genuinely enjoyed the first Haunting in Connecticut movie. I had also heard that this one-despite the odd name and having zero to do with the first-is loosely based on a true story. I know, I know-there are oodles of horror movies “based on true events.” In this one, the characters have the same names, and the story about Mr. Gordy is reported to have happened, however beyond that, the crux of the movie-the underground railroad-was Hollywood’s way of elevating the story. For me, it worked.

We begin with perhaps one of the most cliched horror movie openings: a family is moving from the hectic city life into a “new” (read “old and haunted”) house in the remote countryside. In addition to mom, dad, and young daugther Heidi, mom’s flitty sister Joyce also moves in with the family. She is staying in an uber creepy RV on the property. Some spooky things begin to happen at the Wyrick ‘s new residence, namely with Heidi; she is an only child and begins to have conversations with an invisible friend named Mr. Gordy.

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Mom-who is of the high-strung, stay-at-home variety-begins to get weirded out and fearful of Heidi’s relationship with her “imaginary” friend. We learn that mom has psychic abilities-she can see/talk/interact with dead people-however she represses her abilities by taking loads of medication. As Heidi’s relationship with Mr. Gordy develops, Mom worries that her daughter might have inherited her psychic abilities. Predictably, we learn that a man named Mr. Gordy once lived at the Wyrick’s home, and Heidi can even pick him out of a collection of pictures unprovoked.

Through her interactions with Mr. Gordy, and some encounters mom has while off her meds, as well as the typical horror movie research/investigation done by the family, we learn the property was once the part of the underground railroad. The former owner-the Stationmaster-was also a taxidermist. And in the woods, underneath the ruins of the former cabin is a labyrinth of dirt hallways used for housing slaves.

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This is where I will end my plot summary. I will say there is a twist, one I was generally surprised by. There was also the expected “save the kid from evil ghosts” action scenes. These were pretty silly and predictable but the bad guy was creepy enough that I tolerated these scenes. The ending was a cheesefest but stick around until just before the credits and you’ll see some candid photos of the actual Mr. Gordy and the Wyrick family.

Overall Impression:

I liked this much better than the first Haunting in Connecticut film-I have no qualms admitting that I enjoy a “sequel” more than an original since these two movies are really not related. On that note, I will say that Ghosts of Georgia feels similar to the first.

Overall, the movie was fun, moved quickly, and really held my interest. Abigail Spencer (the mom) was tiresome but perhaps that was just her character. And Chad Michael Murray I felt was miscast; I could see him netter as an older brother rather than the dad. The star was Emily Alyn Lind; child actors can typically wear on me but Emily carried this movie well.

Beyond the cast, I also commend the writer. The Civil War is really overlooked by the horror movie industry. I can rattle off a dozen Nazi zombie flicks but I struggle to think of other Civil War movies besides than this one, Dead Birds (2004), and perhaps Ravenous (1999).

Pros: great pacing, spooky, rich story, genuinely scary bad guy
Cons: absurd and misleading title, cheesey ending, mainstream

Mashup status: Think The House of Dies Drear (1984)-shoutout to those who know this movie!-meets Scarecrows (1988) and The Messengers (2007)/Messengers 2: The Scarecrow (2009).

Rating: 7.5/10

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Movie Review: “The Loved Ones” (2009)

I don’t usually buy movies before seeing them, but I took a chance and went ahead and bought The Loved Ones shortly after it was released on DVD. I heard it was a breakout horror flick so I had intentions of viewing it soon but wasn’t sure when I’d be available through Netflix or Redbox. Well one whole year later, I finally got around to viewing it. And three months later after watching it, I am finally getting around to reviewing it!

The film begins with a flashback; teenaged Brent is driving while his father is alongside him in the passenger’s seat. The two are laughing and having fun and it is obvious the two are close. Out of nowhere, a battered figure stumbles across the road, causing Brent to veer into a tree, killing his father.

We flash-forward 6 months to see Brent looking disheveled, a bit broken, but is still chugging along with his high school life. He is decidedly going to the upcoming prom with his girlfriend, Holly who looks well-adjusted and is supportive of Brent. After school, Brent is approached by timid Lola, who asks him to be her date to the dance. Brent is genuinely apologetic but obviously hurts Lola’s feelings when he declines her invitation. Shortly after, we see a shot of Brent and Holly gettin’ it on in Holly’s car while Lola watches in fury. Soon after, we see Brent leaving home to go on a walk through the Australian outback. He has his beloved dog along with him, as well as his tunes and his weed. After scaling a scarily-jagged cliff, Brent is zoning out when he and his dog are attacked. Brent wakes up tied to a chair in a tacky prom suit being held hostage by Lola in her family’s kitchen. The brutality begins and doesn’t let up until the credits. The only relief the audience gets is the contact switch from Brent’s situation to Brent’s chubby-goofy friend Jamie, who is attending the prom with his dream girl goth chick Mia.

This is where I’ll stop my plot summary, leaving this a relatively-spoiler-free review. The scenes with Brent and Lola’s sadistic family are difficult to watch, although they are some of the most unique torture scenes on film I’ve seen. Such so that I (as a medical reference librarian by day) did some research on the lobotomy technique Lola’s family used. There is also uncomfortable intimate tension between Lola and her father.At the end, there is some predictability with Holly coming to Brent’s rescue. There is also a connection to the battered figure we see in the beginning flashback when Brent’s dad was killed in the car accident, as well as a connection with Mia.

Overall Impression:

Torture horror doesn’t generally rank high for me but The Loved Ones had enough of a unique plot and good acting to keep me entertained. The gore is creative and different and just when you think the camera will pan away–it doesn’t. The movie balances the darkness with enough comedy that it doesn’t end up being a completely serious film.  

My criticism is that there is an unnecessary amount of focus on Jamie. I obviously understand the connection between Mia’s brother and Brent, however it felt a bit excessive to have nearly half the film centered around Jamie’s story. I guess the director was trying to juxtapose the two characters and demonstrate how ironically different their prom nights were, but I think that could’ve been communicated with less time dedicated to Jamie/Mia.

This minor problem aside, I would rank this one up there as one of the best horror films of the year. Certainly not for every horror fan, this is a stand-out movie with enough originality to be enjoyed on that note alone. Recommended to those who enjoy a side of comedy with their gore and for those who aren’t turned off by brutality and graphic, creative methods of torture.

Pros: brutal, unique, fast-paced
Cons: maybe too brutal, disturbing scene of animal violence, distracted Jamie side story, predictable ending

Mashup status: With a setting reminiscent of Wolf Creek (2005), think the sadistic Sawyer family from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and possessive Annie Wilkes from Misery (1990) meet the torture/comedy feel of Hostel (2005).

Rating: 7/10

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Movie Review: ‘Grabbers’ (2012)

I was browsing Netflix Streaming last night looking for something entertaining, perhaps mindless to watch. I’ll interject here that I don’t typically watch Netflix movies during the week; my boyfriend and I had eaten an early dinner and were looking for something to watch on TV and there really wasn’t much on. Well, there were a few shows I’d have been okay with but the BF vehemently despises commercials and during prime time news, commercials seem more annoying than usual. I digress.

grabbers-poster

So I’d not heard of Grabbers, nor did any of the cast members ring a bell. The title was really off-putting- it sounded like a total cheese-fest, however, since I was honestly considering Sharknado, silly movie titles obviously don’t scare me away. The synopsis  for Grabbers states, “When alien monsters go on a murderous rampage on an Irish island, the only survivor is drunk ” because alcohol makes blood toxic to the aliens. Now, as a sober cop tries to stop the carnage, the rest of the town must get wasted in order to survive.- I wanted to participate in the film as much as I could, so I cracked open a 24-oz can of Natural Lite I bought at a gas station on the way home from work and the BF and I hit the play button.

As the movie begins, I was impressed with the quality of the film. It wasn’t low-budget as I had initially thought. We first see a shot of the ocean and fisherman’s boat and then a fireball colliding into the water. The action begins almost immediately into the movie when viewer sees a quick shot of a tentacle erupting from the sea shortly after the fireball, grabbing hold of one of the men. The effects are obviously CGI but really well done. We’ll see more CGI later in the film. Enter our two main characters, Ciáran O’Shea, a slobby mediocre looking GARDA officer is picking up his temporary replacement partner, Lisa Nolan, a young, beautiful and no-nonsense officer from the Irish mainland.

At first, the dueling cops concept is a bit off-putting; its been done thousands of times before in film and on TV. But I reminded myself that the name of this gem is Grabbers and the only way of combating the bad guys is by being drunk, so obviously this movie doesn’t take itself too seriously so decided not to either. After some back and forth banter in the cruiser, the pair gets a call that several killer whales have washed up on shore. Ciáran and Lisa meet up with a local medical examiner, Dr. Smith who is unable to determine the cause of the whales’ demise. While the whales have been obviously attacked gruesomely by some creature the the officers don’t seem altogether concerned at this point.

So after the main cast of characters has been introduced, the scene cuts to an unknown couple. Bad news, they are probably doomed since we’ve never seen them before. The audience witnesses a satisfactory kill-scene which is shortly followed by another scene in which we get to know the village’s favorite hobo-looking drunk, Paddy, a bit more intimately. We also get to see more of the creature, which cannot get the upper hand in the drunken altercation with Paddy. The viewers also learn that Miss Alien is a mom, and has conveniently laid her slew of eggs on the beach.

After taking an alien monster hostage, the motley crew perform a few novice experiments on the creature and soon determine that a substantial blood-alcohol level has magical defensive powers against the alien octopus. Oh no, though, because conveniently, beautiful Lisa admits that she’s never been drunk before! Apprehensively, Lisa agrees to throw back several pints, including some homemade moonshine that Paddy cooked up. After she’s predictably sloshed (and giggly and still beautiful, perhaps even more attractive than before) Ciáran and Lisa invite the entire village to a local pub for free drinks in an effort to safeguard the townsfolk from the monster alien.

The pub gets comically drunk, the crew gets expectedly the upper hand, and overcomes the big momma alien with a flare gun plus the remainder of Paddy’s homemade brew. The alien’s babies, who have mostly hatched, are also easily dispatched. We cut to Ciáran and Lisa engaging in their celebratory buzzed-make out session (did I mention that none of the main characters ever had to pee?). The end. Or is it? Cut to an unhatched alien egg on the beach.

Overall Impression:
I was generally amused and unexpectedly enjoyed Grabbers. It was comically predictable but fun and well-executed. My main criticism was the actors’ heavy Irish accents. To be fair, the audience didn’t really need to understand all of the dialogue for the movie to work so it wasn’t too much of a detriment and was only mildy distracting.

Cons: Dialogue difficult to follow, not-so original idea, obligatory romance
Pros: Good special effects, decent gore, fun and funny

Mashup status: Think The Mist (2007), Slither (2006), and Tremors (1990) monsters meets the pub charm and camaraderie of Shaun of the Dead (2004) with a slight nod to Duchovny’s sci-fi comedy Evolution (2001)

Rating: 7/10

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