Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Darkness Rising (2017)








DIRECTOR: Austin Reading

WRITER: Vikram Weet

CAST:

Tara Holt
Bryce Johnson
Katrina Law
Heather Mazur
Ted Raimi
Myk Watford
Daisy Sklar
Christian Ganiere

PLOT:

Madison, her boyfriend Jake, and her best friend Izzy decide to break into Madison's childhood home. Madison has decided to return to her childhood home as she wants to grab some of her possessions that were left behind after her mother had become mentally unstable and tried to murder her as a baby. The house is being demolished, and her return will soon awaken the house trapping the three of them inside of it.







Where do you begin with a movie like Darkness Rising? Looking at the poster for the film, I thought I was in for an absolute mind melt. The poster has elements of Stairs by M.C. Escher, the vastness of space and time, a forest, and a woman with murky black eyes. It genuinely looked bizarre. I expected something special. I didn't watch any trailers before going into the movie as I didn't want to spoil anything about this film. I hoped for something that would break the mould.

Darkness Rising is nothing like I thought it would be, it's sadly littered with problems. This is a movie that has some intriguing ideas at its centre but can't execute a single one of them. After I finished watching the film. I thought, to myself, what the hell did I just watch. If this was a film that a studio released. It would be the sort of film that studios would drop into a January time slot with no critic screening and pray to god that they make their money back opening weekend.

I'll start with the first problem that I had with Darkness Rising. The film is bookended by two scenes that are connected but make no sense by the time that the end of the movie rolls around. They involve a little girl and her father who is played by the great Ted Raimi. The opening scene see's them frolicking through the woods, and they both end up witnessing something horrible. While it eventually reveals a connection to the main character at the end and what they observe. It feels like it makes absolutely no sense. This happens a lot throughout the film.

Another glaring plot hole that is never explained comes down to the childhood home and entire setting of the movie. The house is clearly its own entity. It makes people see their greatest fears. It also makes people kill and torture themselves. However, when all three of our main characters break in after they return to the house, it's all boarded up. Yet, it's in pristine condition when they enter it. There is no explanation as to why the house hasn't had homeless living in it. Why haven't burglars broken in and stolen the contents? It seems very unlikely.

The film introduces many different elements but never explains a single one of them. We have a dog that guards the house. It can reanimate and come back from the dead when killed and can transport to any part of the grounds outside the house when our three main characters try to escape. The house is also surrounded by a forcefield. We have the number five introduced as the number that an ancient evil needs to bring on something evil, but all of these elements amount to nothing in the end. You'll be left scratching your head instead of getting answers.

The acting is pretty hit and miss in Darkness Rising. The worst example of this is our leading actress Tara Holt. She is gorgeous and leading actress material, but her entire performance is all over the place. At times, I was wondering if they were watching the dailies. Did the director do multiple takes or just went with the first one every time. It was uncomfortable to watch. She is lucky she had Bryce Johnson and Katrina Law as her companions as they both seemed a lot better in their respective roles. Not even Ted Raimi can save this film. His scenes feel like an afterthought.

Now we come to all the gore, violence, scares, and tension. I thought that Darkness Rising sadly lacked in those departments as well. The gore itself has a few moments that will likely gross people out who have a weak stomach for lots of eye trauma. The blacked out eyes on the poster are clearly a hint of things to come. When it comes to the scares, the movie at least tries to deliver the jump scares and suspense. While it's not very successful at executing them, I still can't hate it for at least trying.

Lastly, I think the film is well directed. For a lower budget horror film, I thought that director Austin Reading tried to add a bit of flair to a movie that is set in one location. The camera pans up through floorboards, spins and spirals up staircases, speeds up and slows down throughout the house and film. I thought that they at least tried to work in as much visual trickery with the cinematography. It's not a bad looking film. I think there is talent there from the director. He just needs a more coherent story to work with, in the near future.







DEATH TOLL: 3

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A babies crib is found empty and covered in blood.
- A woman pulls a shard of glass out of her leg.
- A man slams his hand down on a nail.
- A man is attacked by a dog.
- A dog is hit and killed by a fire poker.
- A man is seen hanging from a railing.
- A woman is stabbed in the eye with a key.
- A woman is smacked in the head with a vase.
- A woman pours bleach all over her face.
- A dead rotting child is found in a bathtub.
- A man is stabbed in the stomach.
- A man is impaled through the eyeball, and his eyeball falls out.
- A doll is seen bleeding from the eyes.
- A girl dies from her injuries sustained in a haunted house.








Darkness Rising is a film that has a pretty interesting poster and tries for some out there themes. We have time lapses, alternate realities, a supernatural death house, and forcefields. Sadly, the writer is unable to coherently connect a single thing in the story. By the time that the credits roll around, the movie ends up leaving the entire audience with more questions than answers. It's a mess of a movie. Some gruesome gore and great use of cinematography can't save this movie from being a pretty wildly uneven story. Look elsewhere for supernatural chills.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

12 Feet Deep (2017)








DIRECTOR: Matt Eskandari

WRITERS:

Matt Eskandari
Michael Hultquist

CAST:

Nora-Jane Noone
Alexandra Park
Tobin Bell
Diane Farr
Christian Kane Blackburn

PLOT:

Jonna and Bree are two sisters who while taking a swim at the local indoor pool, get trapped when the owner closes up the pool for the long weekend. The two sisters end up getting trapped in the pool while trying to retrieve a wedding ring from the drain. The fibreglass pool cover traps them in the water but with the temperature dropping fast and Bree suffering from Diabetes, this isn't the only problem they face when a sadistic employee also plans on making their lives hell.







With 12 Feet Deep, we have another film that delivers a movie that is set mostly in a singular location. This time around, instead of just being trapped in a phone booth, room, hotel room, coffin or on a chairlift in below zero temperatures we are trapped with two sisters who have been locked beneath a fibreglass cover in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. This seems pretty relaxed compared to a lot of the other films that have tried to use this single location as a way of creating unease and tension.

Once I had finished with this movie, I found a lot of problems with it. With 12 Feet Deep, the setting is not the problem here. I'm happy to sit and watch a movie where two people are trapped in an Olympic pool for an hour and a half. It's everything else that takes place in the film that really left me cold to this film. I found that I didn't connect to anything or anyone and this was immediate from the first scene. This just wasn't a fun experience at all.

The biggest problem with this movie is the characters. Not one single character here is likeable. We have two sisters who spend the entire film bickering and fighting. I get that the situation they are put into causes both to stress and tensions set in. But the number of problems these two sisters have, I was left wondering how these two even stay in contact with each other. Their relationship is riddled with jealousy and the amount of secrets that arise from their arguing made me wonder why they even try and stay friendly. I'd have cut contact with my sibling if they were this messy.

The other two characters come in the form of the rude pool owner who is played by Tobin Bell who is Jigsaw from the SAW films. His brief scene doesn't give him much other than playing a cold and emotionless character who appears as the first villain-like character. The second character is the pool cleaner. She's a parolee and a thief. She's the one that is the film's villain. She is sadistic and basically tortures the two sisters. One of the sisters continues to talk down to her and scream obscenities which do nothing to help the sisters escape. It's just really annoying after the second time and it happens for the entire film.

The film also tries to throw in ways that the sisters try to escape their predicament. The way they end up trying to escape is one of the most frustrating things in this film. The sisters wait right until the very end to try something they originally try at the beginning of the film. Instead of sticking with it, they give up and argue for an hour and a half and when something is revealed about one of the sister's concerning her health, only then do they try to repeat the same thing and it's just all too easy. The ending of the film also just ends and the evilest person in the film gets away. It's all very annoying.

Visually, I think 12 Feet Deep looks great. For a movie set in a pool for most of its running time, it has a lot of neat visual tricks up its sleeve. We have a lot of slow motion shots of people swimming, gorgeous tracking shots and some really beautiful underwater takes. These are the things that I found most appealing about 12 Feet Deep. The rest left me rather cold. It doesn't help that a lot of the film is drenched in dark tones and the film is drained of all colour besides blue.

On a scary level, I think all the tension is completely removed due to how poor the character decisions and actions are in the film. The characters spend so much time bickering, arguing, swearing and fighting with each other. The movie just loses all steam as well as tension because every single time a scene that requires it starts, the characters scream and complain all the way through it. It just was overshadowed by everything else happening in the film.

Lastly, the acting is terrible. Really sad for a movie that features Tobin Bell but he is only in the film for two minutes. Nora-Jane Noone from The Descent plays one of the sisters and is the least problematic of the four characters in the movie. She delivers the best performance but that's not saying much at all with one. Both Alexandra Park and Diane Farr are two characters who spend most of the film arguing. One is the screw-up sister who causes all the problems and Diane Farr plays an angry ex-con who likes a bit of sadistic torture.







DEATH TOLL: 0

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A woman is stabbed in the ear with a piece of plastic.
- A woman slices her arm on fibreglass.







12 Feet Deep is a movie that uses the singular location as the setup. While the film has a lot of visual flourishes that make the movie look great on a visual level but I think everything else is terrible. We have poorly written characters with underlying problems that spend most of the film arguing and bickering at each other. The movie keeps repeating the same things over again and we have a villain who tries to play sympathetic but she's just as bad as the sisters and the nasty pool owner. This movie is not an enjoyable one. A complete mess.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Shimmer Lake (2017)








DIRECTOR: Oren Uziel

WRITER: Oren Uziel

CAST:

Benjamin Walker
Rainn Wilson
Wyatt Russell
Ron Livingston
Stephanie Sigman
John Michael Higgins
Rob Corddry
Adam Pally
Matt Landry

PLOT:

When a bank heist goes wrong, the three criminals that are believed to be attached to the crime are hunted down by the local sheriff and his deputy. Also on the trail of the three criminals are two agents who also want to bring the offenders to justice. One of the criminals who is on the run is the brother of the local sheriff. He will try and bring his brother to justice before it ends badly.







For several months, I passed over Shimmer Lake when it debuted on Netflix. I wasn't sure what to make of the movie. It looked like it fell somewhere between a homespun murder mystery that the Coen Brothers would cook up with elements of a pitch-black comedy. I decided to finally give it a shot when the movie was talked about on several horror podcasts that I listen to regularly. Not exactly a horror movie but fit the criteria to be discussed, so I finally caved in and gave it a watch.

We'll start with the positives of Shimmer Lake. First up, I really enjoyed the way that the story unfolded. It's not every day that you witness a movie that tells the story in reverse. We begin at the end after a bank heist has already taken place and all three criminals are currently on the run. The movie is shown in a day to day format. So we start on Friday and make our way back in days. Each day uncovers more twists and turns in the story. Some more successful than others.

The acting, for the most part, is excellent. I found myself really enjoying most of the cast here. Rainn Wilson as one of the criminals who is on the run is at his most mean. He is actually pretty unlikeable here. It serves his character well. His sheriff bother is played by Benjamin Walker who I'm aware of from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. His probably the only likeable person in the story. With each reveal, it gives us more and more characters who we don't care about or if they live or die.

The supporting cast is filled with talented comedic actors. We have Adam Pally as our deputy who only manages to get the backseat every time he jumps in the squad car. Rob Corddry and Ron Livingston as our two bumbling FBI agents are there for a bit of comic relief and John Michael Higgins is great in his small role as a married judge who has a thing for meth-addicted rent boys. Each actor brings their talents to all of their respective roles. It's just a shame they are all written to be utterly unpleasant.

Now, onto the issues that I had with Shimmer Lake. I found the tone of the movie to be really uneven. At times the film is a crime thriller with moments of bloodshed, and the very next scene has the script injecting comedy into it. I think a black comedy or a comedy horror has to have the right balance for it to work. I don't think Shimmer Lake is quite there for me. I think the thriller element outweighed the comedic stuff. The comedy didn't land quite as much as the shocks with the twist and turns.

During the film, I think I laughed maybe two or three times during the entire movie. One just happened to be a moment where a kid tells a deputy to 'sit his fat fucking ass' in the back of a cop car because she is riding up front. I also thought the entire meth-addicted rent boy scene was hilarious. Just as quick as I'd start to laugh, the movie would deliver blood and violence. It felt almost wrong or like not enough time had passed for it to feel warranted. This is indeed no Fargo.

The final reveal towards the end of the movie didn't hit as hard as the director/writer had hoped it would. It leads up to this big reveal as to why two of the three major characters who have survived the ordeal have this big secret and a revenge plot in mind. The person they seek revenge on is so unlikeable that his comeuppance feels warranted. It's not a moment that feels like it adds anything to the story. This feels incredibly light on plot. If it wasn't for the backwards storytelling device, this might have seemed even less impactful.

Lastly, I just wanted to bring up the character development. A lot of the smaller parts in the film feel like they aren't given enough exposition. Characters come and go, are there one second and murdered the next. In saying that, though. When a well-known cast member is killed off suddenly, it provides some decent shocks. The ones that you expect to stay around don't. I think with little to no building on any of the supporting characters, a lot of them don't feel important.








DEATH TOLL: 4

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A man is seen lying on the floor, covered in blood.
- A man is gunned down.
- Someone is shot in the stomach and head.
- A man is shot in the head, and his brains are exposed at the back.
- A guy is blown away with a machine gun.







Shimmer Lake joins a long list of smalltown homespun murder mysteries. While not the worst of the bunch. This falls just short. While it feels like it tries to capture the same spirit as movies like Fargo, it sadly doesn't come close to the brilliance of that film. Underwritten and unlikeable characters, a plot that amounts to nothing, and an uneven tone can't be saved by the talented cast and backwards storytelling device.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Sealed Room (1909)








DIRECTOR: D.W. Griffith

WRITERS:

Frank E. Woods

CAST:

Arthur V. Johnson
Marion Leonard
Henry B. Walthall
Linda Arvidson

PLOT:

A king exacts vengeance upon his faithless mistress and her lover.








As I ventured into D.W. Griffith's short film, The Sealed Room. I wondered to myself if this would even be eligible to review as part of my dive into the short films that began the horror genre. Listed as a Historical Dreama. The only two pieces of information in which it gave me hope was that it was included on a list of horror short films from the early nineteen hundreds and it was inspired by an Edgar Allen Poe story. I decided to sit down and watch it with my fingers crossed and that lent itself to the horror genre.

Immediately as The Sealed Room had begun, an ominous music starts playing over the silent short. Nothing on screen would indicate that the short film was horrific or macabre, yet the music was genuinely unnerving. We see a Count and his Countess at several gatherings, and we see that the Countess is being unfaithful with a staff of the Counts. This is where things start to build towards what is essentially the first film that I've seen that uses the downbeat ending.

While the ending of The Sealed Room is no Se7en in terms of a gut punch. The short is incredibly gloomy. Until now, I was yet to see a short film besides The Execution Of Mary, Queen Of Scots kill someone on screen. So for a short, that was created in the early nineteen hundreds to build towards this type of ending where a man seeks his revenge on an unfaithful lover and the person she is cheating on him with and have it end in both of their deaths from suffocation. I applaud the bleakness of the short.

The score for The Sealed Room is haunting. I am not sure if this short I watched was intended to have a score, or someone has placed a score over the images, but it did work here. The score from the opening titles, right up until the end of the film creates a sense of dread. We know what's coming, but the score really does help and set the mood for this one. I really dig the effort if someone out there has crafted a score for the short. Well done to whomever it was that created it.

Lastly, we come to the performances. I've said it many times before in my previous short film reviews that I find it hard to praise or review a performance from a silent film. There is no dialogue, and I'm used to being enthralled by performances and the words spoken. If I can say anything, I thought the entire cast did well. I thought that Arthur V. Johnson as the scorned Count was excellent. His final few seconds of gleeful revenge were fantastic.







DEATH TOLL: 2

BLOOD AND GORE:

- Two lovers suffocate to death in a sealed room.








The Sealed Room is a rather unnerving short film. At eleven minutes, the short builds towards a gut punch ending. Made in 1909, I'm sure this would have horrified all the unsuspecting audience members. Never gruesome or bloody, the last few seconds of being sealed in a room without any air to breath and slowly succumbing to death is a pretty wicked thing to watch in a short film from that era. The score only adds to the rising tension. A very well made short film that hits home the point of 'Don't Cheat'.


Friday, June 23, 2017

The Evil Within (2017)








DIRECTOR: Andrew Getty

WRITER: Andrew Getty

CAST:

Frederick Koehler
Sean Patrick Flanery
Brianna Brown
Dina Meyer
Michael Berryman
Kim Darby
Tim Bagley
Francis Guinan
Matthew McGrory

PLOT:

Dennis is a thirty-year-old mentally disabled man. He lives with his brother John. It's when John decides to redecorate Dennis's room by putting in an antique mirror that problems arise. Soon Dennis begins having horrific nightmares and visions. He see's his evil reflection, and the evil side of himself starts telling him to do things. Dennis begins going on a murderous rampage and killing all those closest to him. Dennis is quickly becoming a serial killer.







The production of The Evil Within is as bizarre and depressing as the finished movie itself. Director Andrew Getty first went into production on the movie in 2002. Back in the early stages, the movie was called The Storyteller. He conceived the idea behind the movie from when he was a child as he used to have horrible nightmares. Filming began in 2002, and the film was filmed inside the director's mansion. Sounds like the movie got off to a great start right? Wrong. Things only got worse for the production.

The movie itself would stop and start production over the next decade. These issues would range from funding problems to the director having clashes and conflicts with the cast. A lawsuit from a studio assistant would cause significant setbacks. The cast and crew had many changes during the lengthy production. Both Michael Berryman and Matt McGrory also had health problems. The movie seemed to be doomed from the very start. This wouldn't be the last of the obstacles.

From the time the film went into production in 2002. Director Andrew Getty worked on perfecting the film. He created the special effects and was editing it. In 2015, he sadly died due to intestinal bleeding caused by his methamphetamine use and heart disease being contributing factors. It would take a further two years for the movie to finish post-production and finally get released. Sad to know that the director spent close to thirteen years on this film and wouldn't get to see it finally get a release. It automatically has a sense of sadness surrounding it.

When I first saw the poster for The Evil Within. I brushed this off as another micro-budget horror film that deals with the supernatural. The poster didn't do anything for me. I judged it solely based on the terribly cheap poster. It took me six months to get up the courage to finally sit down and watch it after two of my favourite podcasts said that the movie was an interesting one. Both of them gave it positive reviews. All I can say is that looks can be deceiving, that's for sure. Don't judge a book by its cover.

The Evil Within feels like a movie lost in time. A time capsule if you will. This is a cast of once famous and up and coming actors who are all at the forefront. We have Sean Patrick Flanery, and Dina Meyer who had both had some solid movies come out in the late nineties and early noughties. The entire vibe and look of the film feel very dated, and this would be because the film was filmed back in 2002. Just about everything in this film felt weird and odd. At times I was left with my jaw on the floor in amazement to being left utterly mindfucked as to what I was witnessing on screen.

The visuals and imagery of The Evil Within must be praised. I haven't seen anything like this in years. I think because the movie took fifteen years to see the light of day. Today's audiences won't know what hit them when they witness this oddity. The film really is like nothing else that's out in today's current horror climate. This movie falls somewhere between early David Lynch and the early music videos of Michel Gondry. Weird stop-motion puppetry with trippy glitchy images are all over this film, and it is truly nightmare fuel.

The problems that I had with the film are all story related. The story is actually pretty simplistic. While I loved the narrative. We essentially have a descent into madness. A man is driven to kill, but things aren't always executed well or very clearly. Dialogue is also cringe-worthy at times. The movie stands on its own because all of the visual effects are so twisted and macabre. Because it doesn't look or feel like anything else, it feels entirely original and a unique vision.

Lastly, we have the acting and performances. I found the entire cast to be incredibly strong. While Frederick Koehler as Dennis is sometimes grating as he spends a lot of the movie complaining, I thought he did a great job when he was playing his evil self. Sean Patrick Flanery is fantastic here, as was Dina Meyer. I loved both of their roles in the film. It's a shame these two actors aren't in bigger movies as both can hold their own and have shown their versatility in other movies. Michael Berryman also looks incredibly creepy in the film as well.







DEATH TOLL: 8

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A man is zippered open, and a demon climbs inside him.
- Three children are murdered and thrown in a freezer.
- A woman is decapitated with shears.
- A man shoots himself in the head.
- A man breaks in half at the torso.
- A woman is drilled through the head.
- A man is stabbed in the head.
- A woman is hit and killed by a car.
- The body of a dead dog is seen being put into an esky.
- A rat is caught in a rat trap.
- A giant spider drains the blood out of a man till he's a hollow shell.
- A cat is killed.
- A man's throat is slashed.
- A demon chews off its fingers down to the bone.








It's sad that The Evil Within will have this darkness shrouded around its production. It will always be known for the lengthy and troubled production history. I initially judged the film based on it's less than impressive poster art. I recommend giving this twisted little bit of nightmare fuel a watch just to see a movie trapped in time. This is a movie like nothing else out this year or in recent memory. The visual effects are some of the creepiest and the film will surely mind-fuck some people. It deserves to be seen even if the movie isn't perfect.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Get The Girl (2017)








DIRECTOR: Eric England

WRITERS:

Eric England
Graham Denman

CAST:

Justin Dobies
Elizabeth Whitson
Noah Segan
Scout Taylor-Compton
Jerry Purpdrank
James Landry Herbert
Adi Shankar
Daniel Quinn

PLOT:

Clarence is a wealthy young man. He is also in love with the barmaid at his local club. When she still doesn't notice him after years of attending the club. He pays a man to help him get the girl. The suggestion in winning her over is to kidnap her and play the hero. So with their plan set into motion, one of the kidnappers is killed in the process, throwing the entire idea into chaos. He must now try and actually save her life while not letting it slip that this was all a ruse.







While Get The Girl is described as a Crime Comedy on IMDb. I believe the movie also lends itself to being considered a mean-spirited, macabre, and violent suspense flick. The movie has many moments that play up the absolute absurdity of the situation at hand for laughs, but you can't help but laugh as things continue to escalate towards a conclusion where the red stuff is thrown about by the bucket load. I think Get The Girl comes close to riding that line of horror when it comes to the bloodshed on display.

Going into this movie, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was worried that I'd watch this and get halfway through the film and realise that I couldn't even review it on the blog as it didn't fit my horror, thriller, and sci-fi horror movie criteria. Lucky for me, this is a pretty nasty little film. While the comedic element always takes the front seat. We, the horror movie audience get just enough carnage candy to keep our gruesome little hearts satisfied.

The movie takes roughly twenty minutes to get the ball rolling. These twenty minutes of the movie are there to lay out the exposition about the plan. It's also there to show us what a chump our leading actor is. As our villain and head kidnapper states, you're rich, and you can't get laid? We learn that he's just a genuinely nice guy who believes in love. His love just happens to be directed at the barmaid, and she is going through a rough patch with her ex-boyfriend.

Once the kidnapping happens, and we get the troubled barmaid back to the enormous luxurious mansion. This is where things start getting really fun. After our hostage first manages to escape, one of the men is killed when she tries to defend herself against him. It's a gruesome moment where I realised that we are indeed in for a wild, bloody ride. From this moment on, the film becomes a bloodbath as our kidnappers who are all in on the plan with the hero are trying to keep control of things while not letting our victim know he's apart of it all.

There is a twist that comes into play during the third act that I didn't see coming. It's one of the reasons why I gave Get The Girl a fresh rating. It manages to push the film just over the line for me. The twist while not precisely groundbreaking was still a gut punch. I thought it was an enjoyable way to tie everything and everyone together at the end. It was one of those a-ha moments. I'm sure smarter people will get the twist immediately, but for us less intelligent folks, it was a smart twist to me.

Now we come to the movie's issues. One of my biggest problems that I had with the film was that most of the kidnappers minus our lead kidnapper are all disposable and annoying. Only Noah Segan as Patrick was likeable or remotely charismatic out of the group of bad guys. The rest of them spend the entire movie fighting or bitching at or about each other. It's a surprise that they managed to get the plan off of the ground with how many problems the characters had between them all.

Don't even get me started on how terribly the kidnappers are written. They have been written to be bumbling morons. Within five minutes of getting to the mansion, we see our victim escape. This happens several more times during the course of the film. We have our kidnappers shooting themselves in the face, and we have them not tying or taping the victim up. It becomes tiring when you see how many times they end up making these mistakes. Just poorly written characters.

Lastly, we come to the acting. Justin Dobies has a pretty unfortunate last name but is luckily a solid actor and charming lead. I think he carries the film along with Elizabeth Whitson. I think even if the last few minutes between the actors is a bit on the cheesy side, they both deliver during the film. I've come to know Noah Segan as a man who plays the weird bad boys, and this is no exception. I think he's great as the movie's villain. The only real issue I had was with the supporting cast. Shocker! Scout Taylor-Compton whinges and cries through the entire film. I just don't get it. I'm not a fan.







DEATH TOLL: 5

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A man's fingers are slammed in a van door.
- A police officer is shot in the cheek.
- A man is shot in the head.
- A man is shot in the stomach.
- Someone is stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors.
- A woman is shot in the throat.
- A man is shot in the arm.
- A man is shot in the stomach.
- A woman is shot in the leg.

- Someone lands throat first onto a piece of glass.
- A man falls down stairs and repeatedly shoots himself in the face.








Get The Girl falls somewhere between a pitch black comedy and a thriller. The kidnap and hostage movie with buckets of the blood. More often than not successfully blends the two genres. The movie isn't without it's faults. We have terribly written as well as annoying characters and the decisions they make. What drags this film just over the line at the end is the pretty clever twist. You could do worse than much Get The Girl. It's fast-paced and bloody. Most horror fans should find something to enjoy here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Frankenstein (1910)








DIRECTOR: J. Searle Dawley

WRITER: J. Searle Dawley

CAST:

Augustus Phillips
Charles Ogle
Mary Fuller

PLOT:

Frankenstein is a young student who discovers that he can create life. With science, he plans to build the perfect human being that the world has ever seen. It's when his creation turns out the be a hideous monster that he returns home defeated. When he returns home to his sweetheart, his monstrous creation follows him and turns out to be jealous of anyone else who tries to get close to Frankenstein.








I'll be the first to admit that I've never read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It wasn't a requirement for us to read during English class when I was in school. We were stuck reading The Outsiders and Romeo And Juliet. So I've never really been that interested in the whole story and legend behind Victor Frankenstein. With my sudden interest in delving into the early short films of the late eighteen and early nineteen hundreds. I decided to tackle my first film adaptation of the classic story.

As the short began, I was immediately pulled in. The film while silent had a score and title cards to get us from one scene to the next. Up until this point, none of the other short films had done that. At fourteen minutes, this is also the longest short film that I've reviewed to date. I was entirely into the way this short was structured. It felt like it was the first glimpse that I was getting into what would eventually become the way that Hollywood now makes movies. It felt like a proper scene and act.

The standout moment of this short is the creation of Frankenstein's monster. A scene that is both dazzling and horrific. I'm so used to the scene featuring electricity being the element that revives his monster. This is something else entirely. His creation is created in a cauldron. The body goes from ash and over a few minutes, regenerates from nothing to flesh and bone. It's a haunting visual that had even me wondering how they created this in the early nineteen hundreds.

Frankenstein is drenched in a golden hue. This wasn't in black and white like the four previous short films that I had reviewed on the blog. I'm not sure if the version that I watched was a newly restored version of the short or this is how it initially played to audiences. It almost looks like the film stock had been exposed to the sunlight and it caused the film to be ruined nearly. While grainy regarding quality. I thought that the orange tinge of the film gave the film a visual that set it apart from the other short movies that I've watched.

The score that was created for the short film is fantastic. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was especially effective during the creation of Frankenstein's Monster. I also liked it during the scenes where his monstrous creation followed him home. I thought it was a genuinely well-done score. It really does show how much music can change a scene in a movie. Without it, the fourteen minutes may have played entirely differently. This could have been a completely different experience without this excellent soundtrack.







DEATH TOLL: 0


BLOOD AND GORE:

- A body is seen of fire and regenerating from bone to flesh.







It's hard not to appreciate the creativity in the first-ever film adaptation of the classic, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The score is fantastic, the title card and use of letters to propel the silent story forward is neat, and we have some truly haunting visuals in the infamous Frankenstein's Monster creation sequence. This is worth a watch, just to say that you've witnessed where it all begun for Frankenstein on a visual level.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Found Footage 3D (2017)








DIRECTOR: Steven DeGennaro

WRITER: Steven DeGennaro

CAST:

Carter Roy
Alena Von Stroheim
Chris O'Brien
Tom Saporito
Scott Allen Perry
Jessica Perrin
Scott Weinberg

PLOT:

A group of filmmakers set out to make the first 3D Found Footage film. With a small crew, they decide to head to their remote filming location and begin production. As the camera starts to roll, strange things start happening on set. The crew will soon discover that a dark entity has made its way into their movie and they will become part of their own horrific found footage film.







Word of mouth for Found Footage 3D has been around before I even started Schlock Horror back in early September of 2016. I follow Scott Weinberg on Twitter who stars as himself in the film. He's been actively promoting the movie for a good year and a half. So the movie has always been in the back of my mind. I've had it on my must-watch list for almost two years. So when I finally got given a screener for the movie by a friend, I decided to watch and review it.

I'm glad I saw the movie only just now and not last year when it was on the festival circuit last year. In 2016, I saw so many Found Footage movie that I was burnt out. Had I watched Found Footage 3D back then, I may have enjoyed the film even less than I did seeing it now. I think these days, it's hard to create a found footage movie and have it break a lot of new ground. With the sub-genre being done to death, it's hard to give us something we haven't yet seen.

What Found Footage 3D does get right is that this takes a meta-like approach to the found footage genre and tries to skewer and play on all the tropes that we've come to expect from the sub-genre. For the first hour and ten minutes, the movie plays like a comedy horror. We have a lot of the characters being self-aware during the escalating tension. I loved that they were name dropping other famous found footage movies. It was the element that set itself apart from most of the other films of this sub-genre.

The self-aware and meta element of the film may also be its downfall during the third act. The movie while setting itself apart goes and falls right back into everything that it's trying to skewer earlier on in the movie. The third act of the movie turns out to be like every other supernatural found footage movie over the last decade. Once all hell breaks loose, we get several minutes of violence, and the film ends. Just like all of the Paranormal Activities, The Final Project, They're Watching, etc. It just feels like it loses its way.

Another issue that I had with Found Footage 3D was that I couldn't connect to any of the characters in the film. The only one that I enjoyed was Scott Weinberg who turns up right before the movie descends into chaos. I loved that he played himself in the film. I thought it was very clever of the director/writer and added a real-world quality to the film. It's just a shame that the rest of the characters are all written so terribly when it came to their personalities. I found the bickering and the in-fighting to start to grate my nerves after it happens for the entire first and second acting.

Found Footage 3D on a gore and violence level is kinda enjoyable towards the end of the movie. Watching someone being completely decimated by a demonic entity that looks like the smog creature from Lost wasn't half bad. We also see an entity burst through someone's chest. The movie does deliver in the third act when it comes to giving the gore hounds something bloody and violent. The Final Project from 2016, could have used this and it may have garnered a few points more from myself.

When it comes to the suspense and tension, I sadly found the film lacking. The movie played the comedic elements much better than the horror. I think where the film lacks scares is that the monster isn't all that scary. While it's all fun and games watching it obliterate a human. It's not spooky at all. It wasn't frightening on Lost, and it's really not scary here. Who knows though, someone out there may have a huge fear of smog creatures. If so, this movie is for you.

Lastly, we come to the visuals. I've watched my fair share of found footage movies. I think being found footage, you do run the risk of having a lot of scenes fall into shaky cam. While that happens in the third act, I think this still looked a lot more impressive than a lot of other found footage films that I've seen over the last year. I sadly didn't see the movie in 3D, so I can't say if the 3D makes this any better or worse. I don't know if the 3D affects the way the shaky cam plays out or not. In 2D, the movie was a pretty well-made film.







DEATH TOLL: 6

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A woman is hit in the head by a falling plank of wood.
- A man is slashed across the back.
- A woman is consumed by a demonic entity.
- A man is repeatedly hit in the head with a hammer.
- A demonic entity is seen breaking out of a man's chest.
- A man is attacked by a demonic entity.
- A woman wakes up with deep slashes across her arm.
- A kitchen is shown covered in blood and gore.
- A woman is hit and thrown by a demonic entity.
- A man's body is found dead in the woods.
- A body is picked up off the ground and dropped and exploded on impact.








Found Footage 3D sadly fell short for me. I had seen the movie being talked about for over a year on Twitter as I follow and respect Scott Weinberg. After watching the film, I think it has equal parts positives and negatives. The film adds a satirical and clever look at the found footage genre but in doing so, also falls right back into the tropes it pokes fun at. Sadly the comedic elements play a lot better than the horror stuff. One outweighs the other. Had they tried to blend both better, it may have felt less tonally uneven. Not the worst found footage movie but far from joining the ranks of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. It won't break any new ground.


Monday, June 19, 2017

The Limehouse Golem (2017)








DIRECTOR: Juan Carlos Medina

WRITER: Jane Goldman

CAST:

Bill Nighy
Olivia Cooke
Douglas Booth
Sam Reid
Maria Valverde
Daniel Mays
Peter Sullivan
Eddie Marsan
Henry Goodman

PLOT:

Inspector John Kildare has been assigned to a case where a series of brutal murders have rocked Victorian London. The grisly murders are believed to be the work of the Golem. John Kildare with his fellow inspector believes that the killer may be the dead husband of a woman who has been accused of his murder. Together, they must crack the case before more murders take place.








When I sat down to watch The Limehouse Golem, I had no idea what to expect. I kept seeing it pop up on lists of horror movies released this year. Not watching the trailer, I honestly thought the film was a costume drama based on the posters that I had seen online. While the promotional campaign was moody, I still didn't click that this movie was a horror. So I was never really interested in watching it. I decided to dive in after several horror movie podcasts talked about it and I was left pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the film.

After watching The Limehouse Golem. I got a very similar vibe from this movie as I did with From Hell starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham. The film is set just before Jack The Ripper started his gruesome killing spree that led to him being the most notorious serial killer ever to walk the streets of London. So with only several years between the events in this film and his reign of Jack The Ripper. The look and setting of the two films, both feel very similar to each other. I couldn't help but make comparisons between these films.

The entire mystery at the heart of the film is hit and miss for me. It's where the film ultimately loses points. It feels weird to say that a movie has so much going on when it comes to all of the characters and red-herrings yet still feels like it doesn't amount to much at all. The plot spends so much time switching between the backstory of our central female character and the acting troupe that she has joined while littering the story with side characters who may be the potential killer that it all becomes a bit of a mess. They are trying to juggle so many elements that they end up dropping the ball.

When it comes to the eventual reveal of the identity of the Golem, it's not much of a shock. I found it to be rather predictable. They've spent so much of the running time trying to push the audience in the direction of one character while screaming about the innocence of another that we sort of guess early on that the killer will, in fact, be the one that our inspector has believed to be innocent all along. It's not exactly a big surprise when the killer reveals themselves to be the homicidal maniac. It's a rather gruesome flashback scene that affords the film a ton of brutal gore moments.

Another element of the movie that I think people will have problems with is the entire middle section of the film. The Limehouse Golem, for the most part, is incredibly slow burn. While the movie is littered with gruesome kills. The story feels like it's plodding for a large chunk of the movie. That's not to say that it's a terrible film as it has a lot of other elements going for it that drag the movie across the line. It just feels rather weighed down at times by its pacing. Pacing and a predictable twist sort of lose the film points for me.

Now we come to the good things of The Limehouse Golem. The movie is fantastically acted. The entire cast is exceptional. Bill Nighy as our chief inspector is excellent. It's Olivia Cooke who indeed gets to shine in the film. This is Olivia Cooke as we've never seen her before. I thought she looked like she had an absolute blast, getting to really cut loose in the role. Douglas Booth who rounds out the main cast is also great. They have given him a snaggletooth and uglied him up for the role. I loved how much fun he looked like he was having in drag.

Visually the film is fantastic. Like From Hell, they capture turn of the century Victorian London perfectly. While not as dirty looking and filthy as they made it appear in From Hell. In The Limehouse Golem, they really nail the setting. It feels like that period of time. You have to admire a production crew that can make you feel like you've been transported back to a time such as the late eighteen hundreds. I feel that the budget would've been relatively high and they throw every ounce of it on getting the look of the period right.

Lastly, we come to the gore and violence. Don't be put off by the rather bland looking poster for The Limehouse Golem. Don't go into this movie expecting some English-y Midsommer Murders type of bloodless mystery. This is an incredibly dark and insanely violent movie. I was shocked at how far they managed to push the gore in this film. If you want to see throat slashings, disembowelments, decapitations, and a castration, you won't be disappointed by the gruesome gore on display here.







DEATH TOLL: 15

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A man is found dead in bed from poisoning.
- A man's severed penis is found in a book.
- Two women are hung from the gallows.
- A woman's throat is sliced, and she is decapitated with a saw.
- A woman dies on her deathbed.
- The killer kicks a dwarf down a flight of stairs.
- A man is suffocated with a pillow.
- A man and woman's throat is slashed.
- Two bodies are found with their mouth split open.
- A woman is repeatedly stabbed, disembowelled, and her eyes are cut out.
- A prostitute has her tongue cut out, and she's strung up to a wall.
- A man's head is bashed in, and he is disembowelled.
- Two children are murdered off-screen.








While The Limehouse Golem suffers from a plodding pace and a predictable mystery. I still found the film to be somewhat enjoyable. The story manages to rise above being just another mediocre serial killer flick with incredible gore, a gorgeous production, as well as a committed cast. The movie feels very similar to From Hell in both tone and the violence, and that's never a bad thing. An above average horror tale of Victorian London terrified by a sadistic killer.