Sunday, February 26, 2017

Jack Goes Home (2016)

As I progress through my writing and can finally see the end of the tunnel, it has been nice to kick back and relax for a few moments this weekend. The next movie that has helped me pass some of this time is the 2016 horror/thriller Jack Goes Home.

Plot/ After his father is killed in a car crash, Jack travels home to Colorado to help nurse his mother (who was injured in the crash) back to health. There, he uncovers long buried secrets and lies within his family history, his parents, his friends and his very identity.

While there was nothing really new in this one as it is an interesting take on the mental anguish one can go through during a traumatic event, it does have a dark atmosphere that makes it somewhat more enjoyable than the typical entries in this genre. The performances are solid, the cinematography works, and some of the moments are both creepy and surprising considering the time of the film. Unfortunately, there are also many disjointed moments within the spiral of madness that make the movie difficult to enjoy at times and also predictable. Yes, I like non-linear and surreal movies, but these issues led us on a journey through cliché instead of mystery. In the end, there is really nothing new in this one, and the movie suffers from that. However, it is an entertaining watch and a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. If you are looking for something on a chilly night, this one could help you pass the time.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Possession Experiment (2016)

As I said in one of my last entries, I have been focused on finishing After the Static over the past few days and haven’t had the time to switch gears into review mode. While that has been the case most of this week, I did have a chance to watch a few different movies to help keep the motivation up. Next up for review is the 2016 entry The Possession Experiment.

Plot/ When a student takes on a theology project, he taps into another side that had been hidden away from him.

This was an extremely frustrating film to both watch and review because of the amount of unevenness that’s on hand. The opening sequence was amazing and really sucked me in. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there with uneven production values, flat and underdeveloped characters, too many clichés and flashbacks, and rough performances throughout the movie. The opening scene with the exorcism was amazing and had the film maintained that quality and depth it had the potential to be something much better than it is. Yes, I do understand that it had a lower budget, but even with that, the movie could have been much better. In the end, there are much better films out there for you to watch and I would recommend you finding one of those instead of venturing into this one.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Zombie Massacre 2: Reich of the Dead (2015)

I have taken a couple of days off to focus solely on my book project After the Static. Of course, as I am writing, I love to have some horror on in the background to help me stay focused. One of the movies that aided my cause is the 2015 entry Zombie Massacre 2: Reich of the Dead.

Plot/ Set in the WWII it tells the story of a bunch of American soldiers fighting against a horde of zombies created by the Nazis using the prisoners of the camps.

First off, I can’t say that I ever heard of Zombie Massacre and had no idea that there could be a sequel. After seeing this one at Family Video, I was interested in the story even though I figured that it would be littered with the same clichéd moments as most in the arena and I was right. While I did not find it the worst zombie flick I have watched, I really think that this one had a chance to be more than it was. Between the head scratching decisions, the flat characters, and the story that was rather incoherent, there was nothing really memorable. This one was really inconsistent in every aspect (even for a low budgeted film) including the effects and cinematography. In the end, while I was excited to venture back into the zombie genre as I am working on my first zombie-themed novel, this may not have been my best choice. Stay away, I am sure there are much better options out there.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Arrival (2016)

One of the best things about hanging out and relaxing over my birthday weekend is that I got full run of the television and was able to absorb a few different flicks in different genres. One of the first films I picked up at Family Video is the 2016 sci-fi entry Arrival.

Plot/ When twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.

This movie will definitely be polarizing. More of a drama than sci-fi flick, this story dives into many elements that make it interesting and thought-provoking. While this one is not perfect, there are certain points that will stick with you long after watching it. The cinematography is amazing and captivating, the performances are believable and natural, the atmosphere is tense, but not overwhelming, and the storyline is an intriguing look at how a situation like this would likely occur with the differences between cultures and governments that exist in the world today. Yes, the pacing is a bit slow at times, some of the actions with the alien creatures are odd, and the scripting does have some uneven moments, but those do nothing to take away from the power of the story. In the end, if you are hoping for a flashy, action-packed invasion movie, this one is not for you. However, if you are looking for an alien film carrying a deeper non-linear meaning, you should definitely check this one out.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Abattoir (2016)

If you have read my blog, you would now that Darren Lynn Bousman is one of my favorite directors. Not only is an alumnus of Full Sail University like me, he has also created some of the most visually appealing movies of the past decade. Between his work on the Saw franchise, Repo: The Genetic Opera, and The Devil’s Carnival, there is an artistic flare that is not usually seen in horror. Next up for review is his next movie, 2016s Abattoir, a film that I honestly believe may be his best work.

Plot/ An investigative reporter teams up with a Police officer to solve the mystery of why a seemingly good man murdered her sister's family.

I had been waiting to see this since I first heard about it, and I was not disappointed by what I found. While I can see why this movie could be somewhat polarizing, it is an interesting take on the haunted house/curse genre and is both intelligent and visually appealing. More of a slow burn, as the tension building throughout, I found myself drawn to the main characters and the storyline. The cinematography and visuals are tremendous, the performances are solid, and the atmosphere inside the film is dark and heavy. Yes, I am sure that the scripting will cause some viewers some issue with the way it embraces an almost retro feel with a prose-like style that seems more suited for a vintage film than a modern thriller and the ending is definitely one that is both somewhat predictable and refreshing, but those issues should in no way impact the overall viewing experience of watching this film. In the end, this is one of the most memorable and entertaining films to hit the shelves in some time and left me wanting more. If you have not seen it, you are definitely missing out.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Calling (2014)

After enjoying a mindless gorefest, I decided that I needed to find something with a little more depth. With that in mind while searching through Family Video, I decided on a serial killer driven religious thriller: 2014s The Calling.

Plot/ Detective Hazel Micallef hasn't had much to worry about in the sleepy town of Fort Dundas until a string of gruesome murders in the surrounding countryside brings her face to face with a serial killer driven by a higher calling.

I picked this one up the other night and was definitely surprised that I had not grabbed it earlier. This serial killer based thriller, was both enlightening and entertaining. Different than most films in this genre, the movie moves along at the proper pace and somewhat builds throughout. The cast is tremendous, the performances are solid, the atmosphere works, and the storyline is deeper and more intellectual than others made in the save vain. Yes, there are some plot holes, but I would like to think they were intentional and the overall film lacked the character development that could have taken this story to another level. However, these flaws are easily overlooked within this underrated thriller. In the end, if you enjoy thought provoking serial killer entries, this one is a great choice. You should definitely check it out if you get the chance.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Truth or Dare (2013)

After taking some time off to work on my book project, it was time to get back at it with a review of a film I grabbed at Family Video. This is a no-budget entry from earlier in the decade: 2013s Truth or Dare.

Plot/ Six college kids find Internet stardom when they make "Truth or Dare" videos with a violent twist. It is all fun and games until their number one fan decides he wants to play by his own rules.

I know that this one is going to be extremely polarizing because it lacks many of the elements that have saturated the horror genre over the past few years. However, this one has everything a viewer would want if the enjoy micro-budgeted gorefests. For me, I love low budget horror and watching what can happen when people who love the genre are involved. The effects are bloody and at times over the top, the idea is interesting, and there are enough psychological aspects inside to draw you in. Of course, some of the performances are uneven and there are some pacing issues, but those aspects are expected when one considers the small budget. In the end, this was a fun movie to watch and kept me entertained on a snowy night. If you love no-budget horror, give this one a shot.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

After checking out The Ring last night, I decided to let Jolene pick the next movie that would be reviewed. Predictably, she chose her favorite movie for our viewing pleasure tonight, 1975s The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Plot/ A newly engaged couple have a breakdown in an isolated area and must pay a call to the bizarre residence of Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

Before I begin, I know that The Rocky Horror Picture Show can’t be given its just due unless you watch one of the midnight shows that make it an amazing journey into the surreal. I love watching it in that setting and can’t wait to go into the next show (hopefully, next week for my birthday). However, this film can be enjoyed at home, if you watch it with and open mind and a sense of humor. We try to watch it at least once every couple of months, and after that atrocity that was remade for television, I had to definitely wash that out of my mind before enjoying another show. As a movie, it is mixed with good and bad, but overall it is extremely entertaining. The minimalist cast is tremendous, the musical aspects are catchy and perfect for the show, and the script is spot on. Yes, the special effects are uneven and the production qualities in some ways are lacking, but that is to be expected in a low budget B-Movie. In the end, I am amazed at the amount of people that have never seen this film either at home or live on a Saturday night. This is one of the first cult classics and a film that should be watched and enjoyed for generations. I just hope no one tries to remake it again; it can’t be done!

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Ring (2002)

After taking a few days off to do some writing on my project, I decided to start the weekend off with a review of one of the classic films from the early 2000s. While I am sure many have watched this one, with a sequel in theaters, it was a nice trip back in time. That flick is the 2002 entry The Ring.

Plot/ A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape, which seems to cause the death of anyone in a week of viewing it.

There are times when I like to revisit some films in preparation for seeing sequels and such, and that was the case with the Ring. While some call this a remake and others an adaptation of the Japanese film Ringu, it does not matter because it is one of the best horror films of the 2000s. There are a ton of positives with this film, as the writing is tremendous, cinematography/direction is stylistic and creates a great atmosphere, and the cast does a tremendous job bringing the characters to life, as well as bringing the layered storyline out to a creepy and dark place. Yes, there are some smaller flaws with the amount of jump scares added in and some of the pacing felt off, but those do nothing to bring the film down. In the end, this is one of the most memorable films in the genre, and a film that must be seen. If you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Witching (2016)

After hitting the 70s yesterday, the winter temperatures decided to return and they are bringing snow with them. While I knew that the warm weather was a tease, it was still nice. Now, with the dreaded wintery mix started outside, it is time to review the next flick on the list: 2016s The Witching.

Plot/ With Halloween only hours away, the members of a popular podcast, The Witching Hour, gather to swap scary stories in the dark. But they bargain for more than just ratings when they venture to the site where the Woodland Valley Witch was brutally murdered.

This one was not what I expected after seeing on the shelf at Family Video. I really expected something more related to the Woodland Valley Witch instead of a grouping of stories in an anthology with the location/witch being the glue to keep things flowing. While there is nothing wrong with a far-reaching anthology, it was just something that I didn’t really expect. As with most anthologies, the short horror films were interesting and kept things moving at a solid pace and there weren’t a ton of disjointed moments. Sure, some of the performances were rough, the run-time felt short, the quality of the different episodes were uneven, and the ending felt extremely rushed and abrupt, but that did not do anything to bring down the overall feel of the film. In the end, this may not be for everyone and it does have some flaws, but it was entertaining enough to keep my mind off the snow falling outside.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Thirst (2015)

Now that I am settled in after spending the day with the family, it is nice to kick back and relax. It is also a perfect time to catch up with the blog. The next movie here set for review is the 2015 flick Thirst.

Plot/ When a group of wayward teens arrive at a desert boot camp, with no communication, and nowhere to run to, they realize their only chance for survival is to fight for their lives.

There are times when I need some mindless horror or sci-fi action and that is exactly what this movie gave me. Yes, this one is flawed and will never be on the red carpet at a major awards show, but it is far from terrible. The storyline was interesting, the film had the right pace, and the casting and effects were on par with the budget. Sure, the characterizations and scripting felt somewhat flat and did not allow the characters to be memorable, there were a ton of clichéd moments, and it was rather predictable. In the end, this movie is what it is, a nice mindless journey with some horror/sci-fi action. If you are looking for a movie to help pass some down time, give this one a shot, you could do much worse.  

APT 3D (2014)

I have taken a couple days away from the blog as I have been dealing with the passing of my Grandmother. While I realize that she lived a long and prosperous life, it is still difficult at times to come to terms with the loss. With her burial tomorrow, I decided to get back at it, do some writing on my book project, and write up one of the movies I watched this weekend. The next movie up for review is the 2014 low budget Sci-Fi flick APT 3D.

Plot/ Strange events affect a couple that has recently moved into their New York City apartment.

This is a movie that I debated on for some time when seeing the box at Family Video. While it is far from perfect, I found the idea somewhat interesting and at very least different than the typical apartment themed films. Yes, this is in no way a true paranormal driven movie, it does attempt to bring those elements out, although they feel lost once the reveal is made about what is transpiring. More of a straight Sci-Fi movie than anything, this one has a storyline that matches the uneven performances from the minimalist cast. It is definitely a story that you have to pay attention to, as the entire package is somewhat confusing (although it does touch on some important aspects of society). The pacing is rough and with a run-time of roughly 79 minutes, it never allows the atmosphere to truly breathe. Sure, there were some moments with some quality production values and for a lower budgeted film, the effects were good enough, but that does nothing to make this film movie above the average category. In the end, I have definitely seen worse low budget films and this one at least kept my attention. Is it perfect or overly memorable? No, but neither is a majority of the movies released on a larger budget.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Girl on the Train (2016)

Now that I have settled in for the evening after spending some time with my father, it is time to get back to the blog and finish a review on one of the films I have watched this weekend. The next movie up is the 2016 mystery/thriller The Girl on the Train.

Plot/ A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.

Movies based on books are often hit and miss. Luckily, I did not read this one, so I cannot mention how the adaptation went. This mystery/thriller is interesting although it definitely lacked the tension that I had hoped for. The performances really worked within the storyline, the plot was solid, and there were many elements that helped improve the overall feel. Unfortunately, there was too much going on and the pacing/editing was all over. On top of that, the characterization never took hold and it was definitely difficult to relate to any of the characters. In the end, this one was difficult to review as it was hard to stay interested throughout. It was definitely similar to Gone Girl, but it lacked most of the qualities that made that one interesting and memorable.