Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Encounter (2015)

Last night I took a break from the blog so I could focus some on my upcoming script project for class. At this point, I am still struggling to solidify an idea, but believe I have it narrowed down. Tonight, I did want to get back at it, and my selection was the 2015 found footage entry The Encounter.

Plot/ What started as a simple camping trip in the mountains of Northern Arizona quickly descended into an amazing and terrifying story that is truly out of this world. As the sole survivor of this deadly close encounter, Collin must try to explain the unexplainable.

Found footage movies are often a mixed bag and really, no one knows what to expect until watching them. Unfortunately, that was definitely the case with this entry, which takes on an interesting topic in a rather clichéd manner. Yes, there are a few intriguing moments, which featured some atmosphere and suspense, along with some outstanding special effects and make-up. Other than those brief moments, much of the movie suffers from the typical ailments that plague low budget found footage entries, such as uneven characterization, jagged performances, rough dialog, and an overwhelming amount of repetitive/clichéd moments. In the end, this was a low budget entry that did not inspire or create anything memorable or groundbreaking. Plus, it is a found footage flick, which as a whole, is a genre that needs to disappear for a while. While it is not the best in the genre, I have experienced much worse on a larger scale with a bigger budget. Not for everyone, but if like me you enjoy supporting low budget cinema, give it a shot. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Lily Grace: A Witch Story (2015)

After taking a journey into the surreal with Star Leaf, I needed to watch something different. That selection was the 2015 low budget entry from Midnight Releasing, Lily Grace: A Witch Story.

Plot/ After the death of his estranged father, Ron returns to his childhood home. His first night there he is visited by a supernatural being. Haunted by feelings of guilt, convinced this entity has something to do with his father’s passing, he stays to uncover the truth behind the witch named Lily Grace.

When I grabbed this one, I was unsure of what to expect. What I found was something different that took a basic storyline and created a solid low budget entry. While it is not terrible, it is also not that memorable. Full of heavy atmosphere and subtle dialog, the movie is definitely an unconventional but simplistic journey into something dark. Unfortunately, it does suffer from some of the same elements that plague low budget cinema, with uneven performances, an underdeveloped plot, and an odd pacing structure that focused on characterization more than the horror elements that were set to come. In the end, this one will not be for everyone, but it is an interesting piece of storytelling that does help pass some time on a chilly evening.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Star Leaf (2015)

With the kids selecting another play of the horrid Poltergeist remake earlier, I needed something mindless to get that misery out of my mind. After some debate with the voices in my head, I decided on the 2015 sci-fi flick Star Leaf.

Plot/ Hikers find a secret grove of extra-terrestrial marijuana and must fight for their lives when they anger the otherworldly forces protecting the plants.

This flick is definitely a mixed bag for viewers. Not really a horror movie, not really a thriller, I guess it would have to sit inside the sci-fi arena, although that is a touch of a stretch as well. Honestly, it is a hard movie to classify. While the storyline was actually a entertaining with some trippy moments and aliens thrown in for good measure, it was far from a perfect film and was extremely uneven. The scripting was all over, the characters imbalanced, and the dramatic elements seemed a little forced at times. In the end, this movie was better than I expected, but it was nothing like I anticipated when I picked it up at Family Video. Not for everyone, this one will be an acquired taste, and a movie that will fit with the stoner crowd.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Hollow (2004)

After watching The Watcher last night, I decided to see what would come out if I just left Hulu play. That movie is my next review, the 2004 entry The Hollow.

Plot/ Restless spirits stir this Hollow's Eve, beckoning Ian Cranston, the last blood relative of Ichabod Crane, back to Sleepy Hollow. Thundering hooves unleash a wave of bone-chilling screams as the ghost of the Headless Horseman rides again! Ian must try to save the town and his girlfriend, Karen and determine whether the sword-wielding stalker is their clownish classmate, Brody in costume, or the dark rider himself. If it's truly the Headless Horseman... how do you kill what's already dead?

The Hollow is an interesting modern adaption of the Washington Irving classic tale of Ichabod Crane; unfortunately, it does not fully deliver of the idea. While the cinematography is not bad, the pacing decent, and some of the effects do deliver, for some reason it just does not make an impact. Yes, it was targeted for a younger audience, but it comes across like a mixed up Saturday Afternoon Special that was trapped somewhere in the 1980s. Of course, this could be from the clichéd moments, the uneven scripting, and some questionable performances (not to mention the subpar headless horseman costume). In the end, The Hollow would be good for some type of teen Halloween party, and should not be added to your horror collection.

Jericho Season 3: Civil War

On the Internet there are stories galore published by conspiracy theorists talking about the end of days, or an impending apocalypse. Of course, many of these are deep rooted inside strange interpretations of prophecy and the rise of the antichrist, but there are some stories that are spawned from a deep-rooted fear of the government and the military industrial complex that falls under control of the New World Order.

Incredibly, many similar theories were brought to life in pop culture by the cult television sensation Jericho in 2006. While Jericho was not for everyone and was cancelled due to failed ratings, many of the storylines in this post-apocalyptic series resonated throughout the underworld of conspiracy theorists, especially those who view the military industrial complex and the government as the biggest enemy to the country’s sovereignty. 

Through this remarkable show, viewers were able to see the emotional gambit of surviving a nuclear attack on American soil, and the turmoil that arrives when the country is turned into two nations. As America discovered in the 1800s, two nations is not an optimal situation. Unfortunately, CBS pulled the plug before fans could see the completion of the impending civil war and many were left with too many unanswered questions. 

In 2009, the shows’ creators and writing staff came together with Devil’s Due Publishing to produce Jericho, Season 3: Civil War. This six issue series (and eventual IDW graphic novel) from the minds of Dan Shotz, Jason Burns, Matthew Federman, and Robert Levine and the artwork of Alejandro F. Giraldo, Matt Merhoff, and Michael Stribling gave fans everything they wanted to know about what happened after CBS shut them out. 

This series starts at the exact moment the show ended and transports the reader to the safety of Texas, where antagonists Jake Green and Robert Hawkins present evidence from the initial bombings that destroyed the United States. While there, mastermind John Smith, who needs their help, contacts Jake and Robert and they must decide how to venture into the future. 

There is at least a small flashback for those unfamiliar with the show, which will potentially open their eyes to the layered backstory from the show and the vile depths that a corrupt government would go for power. However, that also shows how comic series and the graphic novels were clearly written for the fans of the original show and filling in the gaps that remained after the cancellation. While the fan base of the classic show continues to grow, because of the material covered inside this series of books, a new reader may not be able to completely relate to what is going on unless they have digested the full backstory of the television series. 

Seeing the storyline evolve from television to comic form is powerful and thought provoking, with each issue acting as an episode of the show, even leaving off as a cliffhanger? From the ease of transitioning between issues, the influence of the shows experienced writing team is apparent. Unfortunately, because of the authentic feel and relationship to the source material, this graphic novel feels like it ended too soon, even if it was not able to truly capture the emotional feel of the show. 

The artwork throughout the series was amazing, and consistently captured the likeness of the characters throughout the season and portrayed the dismal atmosphere of the show surrounding the main antagonists in a believable way. More importantly for fans of the original show, the subtle imagery that was always present inside the town is still present. The only flaw with the artwork surrounds the new cast and characters that were sprinkled in, as they did not have the same detailed feel of the main cast members that came to life on the television. Of course, this could be the fan in me becoming overly critical and those minor elements do not hurt the overall product in any way. 

As a fan and a closet conspiracy theorist, Jericho Season 3: Civil War gave me enough answers to keep me intrigued, and leaving me to find Jericho Season 4 (released as a graphic novel in 2014) to find the answers to the cliffhanger. While this format may not truly capture the full emotional toll and detailed characterizations that helped propel Jericho into the hearts of fans, it is still a great way for the creative team of the landmark show to continue to build a following and keep those like me enthralled by the complex nature of the storyline.