Sunday, December 21, 2014

At the Devil's Door (2014)

After diving into a classic 1980s slasher last night, I decided it was time to venture into something different this evening after finishing my short story for my college class. My selection for the evening was the 2014 entry At the Devil’s Door.

Plot/ When ambitious young real estate agent Leigh is asked to sell a house with a checkered past, she crosses paths with a disturbed girl whom she learns is the runaway daughter of the couple selling the property. When Leigh tries to intervene and help her, she becomes entangled with a supernatural force that soon pulls Leigh's artist sister Vera into its web - and has sinister plans for both of them.

This is a strange movie to place. Not truly a horror film, but not really a thriller. Actually, it comes across as a touch of a disjointed anthology, which has some intriguing elements that do not blend together in a manner to create something memorable. Sure, the performances, cinematography, and production elements are top notch; items that make this one of the more technically sound flicks of the year. Unfortunately, the disjointed feel of the stories, slow pacing, and the unsatisfying ending truly hurt the overall tone. In the end, this one sits somewhere near the middle of the road with some elements that will draw people in, but enough to turn some off. Not for everyone, this supernatural driven demonic flick will either be loved or hated, with very little middle ground.

The House on Sorority Row (1983)

There is nothing like diving into the classic slashers of the 1980s. Having grown up in that era, it is always fun to revisit the movies that helped shape my movie interests. Tonight was one of those nights, and I decided to revisit one of the cult classics, the 1983 slasher The House on Sorority Row.

Plot/ After a seemingly innocent prank goes horribly wrong, a group of sorority sisters are stalked and murdered one by one in their sorority house while throwing a party to celebrate their graduation.

One of my favorite eras in cinema is the 1980s and the great slasher craze that littered the shelves of our local video stores, and The House on Sorority Row has to be regarded as one of the better low budget entries from that time. This film features some decent performances, solid cinematography, creepy imagery, and enough atmospheres to create some tension throughout. Sure, some of the effects may seem a touch dated today, but this is definitely one of the better entries in the genre. In the end, any fan of the slasher genre must see this movie. If you have not seen it, check it out.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Stonehearst Asylum (2014)

After finally finishing all of the available episodes of Agents of SHIELD, I was excited to find something a touch different when I made my latest trip to Family Video. Being a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, I love finding adaptations of his works and grab them whenever I can. That made today’s trip awesome when I found the 2014 entry Stonehearst Asylum (AKA Eliza Graves).

Plot/ A recent medical school grad who takes a position at a mental institution soon finds himself taken with one of his colleagues - though he has no initial idea of a recent, horrifying staffing change.

Being a huge fan of Poe, I had to grab Stonehearst Asylum as soon as I saw it on the shelf. Yes, some of the recent adaptations (even loose ones) have been uneven; I always hold out hope. This movie is one of the better efforts, pulling together the amazing cast into a tight/coherent gothic thriller. The atmosphere works in a manner that keeps the movie suspenseful and dark, the cinematography is sharp, and there are enough intrigue to keep you entertained. Yes, there is a lack of overall humor like in the source story, but that definitely is a small flaw that does not impact the final product. In the end, this is a solid (albeit loose) Poe adaptation and an entertaining flick. If you are like me and love his writing, give it a shot. It is a movie that should be seen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Alien Agenda: Project Grey (2007)

It was so nice to finally have an evening at the house with nothing keeping me out until all hours. Over the past two weeks, it feels like there has been something everyday from band concerts, to Christmas parties, to working late, it has been a challenge. Tonight was different, and not only did I have a chance to watch some Agents of SHIELD, I was able to catch a low budget flick: 2007s Alien Agenda: Project Grey.  

Plot/ Dr. Schroder listens to her criminally insane patient as he recounts the story of the murder of his four friends. A story of infidelity, jealousy, and revenge takes a strange turn revealing an alien agenda. Chip implants, government mind control, Russian military, and alien visitors, form the puzzle pieces of this science fiction thriller. A search for the answers leads to the truth.

Although I have been caught up in the world of S.H.I.E.L.D lately and there are some alien overtones, I have honestly been in the mood to see some type of alien related flick. That is what I found with this one on HULU. A no-budget indie flick, this one is definitely far from perfect, but it did have some interesting aspects that at least kept me entertained. The storyline is interesting and there were some solid moments, the soundtrack was outstanding, and there were some intriguing cinematography aspects that seemed to work better than expected. Sure, the dialog and acting was a touch uneven, and the CGI effects and some scene transitions were laughable at best, but that did not destroy the movie. In the end, I understand that this low budget entry will not be for everyone, but it does have some entertaining moments. While not a masterpiece, if you enter into it with low expectations like I did, you could be surprised.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Not Safe For Work (2014)

This was a long weekend. Between finishing my college homework, the Christmas Party for the institute, and an awesome concert by the VFW Band (with my awesome daughter Genesis performing), I did not get to the computer much. I did check out a couple movies, like the 2014 flick Not Safe For Work.

Plot/ An office worker is trapped inside the building where a killer is on the loose.

This low budget entry was a quick and interesting watch. While there were really no over the top effects, gore, or nudity, there was just enough storyline to keep the short run time moving. Yes, there were some decent performances and the plot resonates with the reality that we live inside, but it did feel a bit cliché. Unfortunately, the cliché does create many predictable moments and there really is nothing new, and that does hurt the overall feel. In the end, this may not be anything great, but it is a decent little movie that can help pass some time. While I would not search this one out, if you found it during a late night for free, you could do worse.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dead Girls (2014)

After spending yesterday with my mind wrapped up in the genius of Tusk (#WalrusYes), I took a break from movies and just relaxed. Tonight was a different day, and it was time to get back into some horror. My next flick on the docket is the 2014 no-budget entry Dead Girls.

Plot/ This anthology features three stories of abused and forsaken girls who return from the dead to take their revenge.

Horror anthologies are often hit or miss. For some reason, the material between the segments often drifts and there is a lack of characterization developed inside and that can often kill specific fragments. While this low budget entry from Brain Damage Films may not be perfect, it does feature some creative moments and there are some entertaining parts that capture reality in a perfect way. Unfortunately, it does suffer from some of the same issues that plague no-budget cinema with uneven performances, some clichéd moments, and some stagnate areas with the scripting that does not help story development in any way. In the end, this movie is better than many of the anthologies I have seen even on a smaller budget. Is it perfect, absolutely not, and it is not for everyone, but it was at least entertaining in spots and came across better than most of the low budget flicks that have come out in the past few months! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tusk (2014)

This has been an interesting weekend, as I watched Genesis in a play, attended Steel City Con where I met Linda Blair from The Exorcist, and watched some killer movies. One of the best (and funniest) movies of the weekend was picked by my wife Brenda on Saturday night, the 2014 Kevin Smith entry Tusk! (#WalrusYes) 

Plot/ When podcaster Wallace travels to Canada to interview someone his plans don't go well and winds up meeting a strange man named Howe who has many stories to tell about is past life, during his interview he wakes up the next day finding out Howe isn't the person he thought he was, Howe has plans to surgically and mentally turn him into a walrus.

Let me start by saying that this one is definitely not for everyone. An extremely dark horror / comedy, this one had me laughing throughout, especially the ending, which is absolutely hilarious and in some ways shocking. There was a lot to like within the confines of this demented flick. The performances were solid, most of the storyline is believable (OK except for the Walrus), and there is a fun dynamic taking place (especially with the Johnny Depp parts). Yes, this flick is a touch unpredictable, outlandish, and has some very unrealistic moments, but that did nothing to bring it down. In the end, this movie works on many levels and should be seen with an open mind. Not for everyone, as I am sure that some people will not appreciate the idea of watching a man being transformed into a walrus, but Hell, it was hideously fun once complete! Give it a shot!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

As Above, So Below (2014)

After a big budget blockbuster (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and something lower budgeted (The Final Showing), it was time to venture into something a touch darker. The next movie up for review is the 2014 mystery / thriller As Above, So Below.

Plot/ When a team of explorers’ ventures into the catacombs that lie beneath the streets of Paris, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead.

This was a movie that I really wanted to see, so I had to grab it when it came out onto DVD. When I finally got the chance, I was not disappointed. While I did see some clichéd moments, for the most part, it was an interesting flick with some originality. Personally, I loved the cinematography and the location; ancient catacombs have always fascinated me. Couple the interesting setting with a claustrophobic atmosphere and some intriguing mythology and this was an entertaining adventure flick with some dark and supernatural elements. Yes, there was a lot that was too over-the-top and felt forced, and the performances and plot were uneven, but that did not take away from the overall feel. In the end, this may not have been the greatest movie out there, but it was darkly entertaining and should be seen.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Last Showing (2014)

After watching my oldest daughters Genesis’ Play tonight (in which she was Amazing) and then finishing my first assignment of the week for my class, it was time to kick back and relax. While doing that, it was time to catch up on one of the movies from earlier in the week, 2014s, The Last Showing.

Plot/ A couple trapped in a cinema are manipulated into becoming unwilling actors in a film being captured by CCTV cameras.

This one definitely surprised me. Going into it, I did not expect much. Fortunately, I was wrong. Sure, it is not perfect as there are some plot holes, and some of the character development was off, but for the most part, it was much better than I could have ever imagined. The storyline was somewhat original, Robert Englund was fun, and the ending is one of the better ones that I have seen in some time. In the end, this one may be nothing more than an entertaining flick to help pass some time, but it is better than some of the other stuff coming out today. Not for everyone, and lacking scares, it is a just a fun trip into insanity. Give it a shot you could do worse.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Over the past few days, my cold has finally subsided and I have been able to get back into some movies. While I was going to do the last horror flick I watched, yesterday, I watched something that I could not shake all day because of its message. A message that many in the world must wake up and understand as all of humanity is being attacked by a rogue globalist agenda (Agenda 21). That move was the 2014 Sci-Fi blockbuster Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Plot/ A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.

After missing this in the theater, I had to watch it as soon as I could, and honestly, I am pissed to have missed when it came out. While there are some predictable moments and some of the pace was uneven, this movie was one of the better entries in the series I have seen. The cinematography and effects were amazing, especially the CGI, which was incredibly accurate and created something special. Everything else works as well, with solid performances, tremendous scripting, and a perfectly matched score to carry it throughout. However, what stood out to me was the true look at mankind, and the rise of hatred toward war. As the world rages around us, one could substitute the apes for another culture, and this could be a drama worthy of discussion. This could truly be a science fiction trip into our world of conflict and show humanity how fragile our societies are. In the end, this was an amazing film and a movie that must be watched by everyone.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Over the past couple days; I have been caught up with both a cold and homework for my college class. While I definitely enjoyed my homework more now that I am writing again (math sucks), it was the sneezing that constantly beat me down. Over that time I was able to catch a few films, including the 2014 entry Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

Plot/ Co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller reunite to bring Miller's "Sin City" graphic novels back to the screen. Weaving together two of Miller's classic stories with new tales, the town's most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more notorious inhabitants.

The Sin City franchise is destined to either be loved or hated by the viewers, personally I love the mixture of film noir, violence, and sexual content inside the surrealistic world. While I waited to see this one at home, I was amazed at the detailed CGI and comic book realism that was again developed. The cast is outstanding, the performances solid, the storyline interesting (especially having never ventured into the graphic novel series), and there is an entertaining atmosphere throughout. Sure, there may be some rough transitions between sequences, and while it did have the wonderful contrasts of color, it did lack the overall innovative feel of the initial installment. In the end, you will either love this one or hate it, but it should be seen. This is one of the more entertaining adult themed trips into the bizarre that exists today. Give it a shot!