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Friday, August 26, 2016

Don't Breathe (2016) Horror Thriller

Don't Breathe (2016) - In an attempt to support horror movies more actively I have been trying to commit to see more films in the theater. Tonight Don't Breathe and its bad idea gone worse plot was the target. My wife and I headed over but we never seem to agree on movies since she can not deal with scary at all, so she went off to see Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) while I went in to see this film. At the 7pm showing the audience was about 40 people a mix of young and older with some talkers that were not too annoying. Not a great crowd but at least I could gauge some reactions when the film was over. What I heard was very positive with quite a few people clapping and some of the younger people talking excitedly about the movie. If representative of other audiences I think this film will get some good word of mouth.
  The plot about three out of luck twenty somethings Money (Daniel Zovatto), Rocky (Jane Levy) and Alex (Dylan Minnette) who using information and keys gained from Alex's father's security business are robbing houses for small time gains. Set in Detroit with its bleak abandoned neighborhoods we get the picture that options are really slim for the three. Still Alex is cautious while Rocky and boyfriend Money would love a bigger score. That opportunity comes when Money hears about a blind man who is sitting on a boatload of settlement money. The Blind Man (Stephen Lang) has a sad story an Iraq veteran who was blinded by a grenade explosion who lost his daughter to a wealthy young woman who killed her in a car accident. The settlement money from that event is the target of the three burglars. He lives alone with his rottweiler on a mostly empty street and seems to the kids an easy target. The film does quite a few things that say something about wealth and poverty. Set in poverty we see the thieves targeting mostly nice houses, taking enough from each to survive. The owners of those houses are seen as having more than they need. The woman who killed the Blind Man's daughter got off because "rich girls don't go to jail" so for the poor there is no justice. Both the Robin Hood idea and the injustice of wealthy is to try to build sympathy for The Blind Man and the thieves. Rocky is seen with her really shitty Mother basically having to care for her little sister in her Mom's place. She wishes to get enough money to take her sister and escape to California. The blind man is the victim that will have to loose his money so she can do this so the film makes them both victims.
  After drugging the dog with some tainted meat the trio find there way into what is a really well locked down house. In the house they are not finding much but a door so locked they figure it has to be where the money is. While Alex is outside they are interrupted by the Blind Man who wakes and comes downstairs. Money and Rocky freeze and Money pulls a gun on the man with some unfortunate and awkward line about knowing what's behind the door. His mistake when the Blind Man ends up winning the struggle for the gun. Rocky standing silently watches as her boyfriend is killed. The blind man figuring out that there is at least one more person in the house proceeds to lock every possible exit and start listening. Here now begins the thrilling cat and mouse game as Alex and Rocky try to get out of the house alive and with the money they eventually locate. A twist in the story that should not be given away makes the audience realize that the Blind Man is not so innocent or helpless for that matter. Still Writer director Fede Alvarez and co-writer Rodo Sayagues pull punches with the character giving ample reasons why he has done what he has done. Maybe its because they made him a military veteran but boy they work hard at making him sympathetic. A injured soldier, grieving father and the last bit on the television report at the end of the movie all really are designed to make things okay with the Blind Man even though he is a killer (granted Money did break in and pull a gun) as well as another twist that is more than repulsive. It can not be overlooked or explained away with grief, the Blind Man is really mentally ill but his actions are awful and should not be explained away.
  The action and thrills with Rocky, Alex and the Blind Man with his again awake dog is really well done. The struggle to survive and escape with the cash and the blind man with a gun are enough to keep the audience on the edges of their seats throughout the taut 88 minute run time. A little slight of hand camera work later in the film is well played in making us think one thing when something different happened. Some really great sequences with quite a few well timed jump scares by the dog make the film really active considering the small set and limited number of characters. Everyone gets bruised and battered by the end fighting to survive The struggle plays out well but the strangely upbeat ending felt like another punch pulled. The acting is good with Lang toning down his regularly larger than life energy to pull emotions without being big. An intimidating actor who is big and strong looking he really is perfect for this role. Levy who is usually the best person in whatever she is in carries her role well and makes a great final girl. She was Mia in the Evil Dead (2013) remake and carried the under rated television show Suburgatory. Alverez does a great job keeping the pacing up and delivering tense, danger filled scenes. This film is very much worth seeing and you should all head out to the theater and give this film some money.
  As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back. (Not really expecting that though) It really is an experiment and where I love the horror community it is a way to keep track of what is going on by the people involved in it.  I am now following over 188 people while the followers is only 31 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow just anyone back. :)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Intruders (2011) Horror Psychological

Intruders (2011) - This is the first time I am writing a review while participating at home with a Stream Queens Podcast usually I just follow along at home and enjoy listening to the podcast. This film though is interesting enough that here are a few thoughts on it. First off this movie was a giant bomb if you look at the numbers on IMDB. It is a 13 million dollar movie that never was shown on more than 33 screens in the US and so failed to come close to making its money back and really worldwide made no more tha six million dollars back in 2011 when it came out.  The star of the film Clive Owen was several years removed from a string of good films, SinCity (2005), Children of Men (2006), Inside Man (2006) then more recent such as Shoot 'em Up (2007) and The International (2009) all making him a more known quantity to American audiences; so the fail of this movie is rather surprising. I for one don't really remember this film and maybe there was a lack of resources put into it on the marketing side. It came and went and really quickly and until it was picked for the podcast subject I really had no memory of it. Directed by Jaun Carlos Fresnadillo who also directed the pretty cool flick Intacto (2001) and then later 28 Weeks Later (2007).
Intruders is not bad with some turns that make sense after they are revealed. The story follows two story lines with strong parallels as we switch between each. A young boy, Juan (Izan Corchero) is terrified of night terrors featuring a character he has created called the Hollowman. This boogeyman is a character with no face who wants to steal the face of the little boy. He hides in the dark corners of the kids bedroom waiting, leaving little Juan frightened. Played with Spanish subtitles the and with short on the nose editing this story line seems like it could be happening a world away from our main story.  The second almost identical tale is of Mia (Ella Purnell) a twelve year old English girl who finds the story of the Hollowman in a hole in a tree near her grandparents house. She then uses the story as part of a school project and suddenly the man is showing up in her life. Is the Hollowman real? In both stories the character seems real as can be, Juan and his Mother Louisa (Perez Lopez de Ayala) fight off the Hollowman one night so you know she and he see it. Mia and her Father John also confront the intruder in her room and fight him until he flees. So we have a belief that the Hollowman is an actual person in both stories.
   Ah but that is where things change with the introduction of "Folie à deux (/fɒˈli ə ˈduː/; French pronunciation: ​[fɔli a dø]; French for "madness of two"), or shared psychosis, is a psychiatric syndrome in which symptoms of a delusional belief and hallucinations are transmitted from one individual to another." Now we see that Louisa trying to get help from the local priest (Daniel Bruhl) but the priest being really skeptical. After John fights off the Hollowman he has a camera and alarm system installed in his house. This solution then shows that he also is not really fighting anyone off but is alone in the room with his daughter. He is confronted by the police, his wife (Carice van Houten), and psychologists to this fact and we then spin towards the ending Learning that Juan and John are the same person turns the movie again the story is how he had a shared delusion with his Mother and then as an adult with his daughter.
  As a child Juan's terrors centered around an incident that killed his ex-con Father and the Hallowman was the reaction to that trauma. In adulthood the death of a coworker in a similar fashions triggers the rebirth of the Hollowman this time connected with Mia. The resolution is a bit off with basically the father convincing his daughter that the Hollowman is gone forever. It is a thin premise that this biy/man seems to be able to share his psychosis with his Mother / Daughter but I think the story brings it to the fore pretty handily.  So much of this film depends on the editing the cutting between Juan and John story lines and not without fully giving away the twists that complicate the storytelling. When we finally see the full story that the Hollowman is really a psychological creation by Juan to deal with the trauma of his father being killed. We know that the parallel stories of he and his mother having a Folie à deux and he and Mia doing the same years later are drawn with an ending that is a bit less than satisfying. The whole construction is clever but the story lines too similar that it really feels a bit on the nose. Still this is not a bad movie there is something to take away even if the ending ties everything up in a bow.  So a mild kind of recommendation for this missed horror film.

  As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back. (Not really expecting that though) It really is an experiment and where I love the horror community it is a way to keep track of what is going on by the people involved in it.  I am now following over 188 people while the followers is only 31 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow just anyone back. :)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Holidays (2016) Horror Anthology

Holidays (2016) - Anyone who regularly checks in on this blog will know that I love horror anthologies. There is always the promise of that distinct clear piece of horror that the short format is made for. Some writer and director work in unison with a small crew to create the perfect little shock, dread, surprise making the viewer remember that story above all the others. So many times one or two parts are the cliche cream that rises to the top. Then of course there are segments that do not get the raves, sometimes by very established writers and directors. It's okay though in this format. Not everything connects with everyone and the great thing about an anthology is that the discussions that come out of this tidbit about personal taste can be just as entertaining. Where I can love the creeping dread of one story, someone else can see it as a plodding road to nowhere. Where the 80's kitsch of one piece is not appreciated by some twenty something it is relished by an older person. There is usually something for everyone though so I will keep reviewing them and welcome feedback about what connected with you.
 Dennis Widmyer and directed by Kevin Kolsch who did the wonderfully creepy Starry Eyes (2014) about how far one can go to find fame. The style is very different in this segment about a picked on dreamer who has a crush on her gym teacher. Written (I'm guessing) to play on the mean teen movies of the eighties and nineties it at first seems the characters are overly stereotyped and acted. Then we shift and see the surreal fantasy of the main character Maxine (Madeleine Coghlan) as she daydreams and realize that this is all very much an aesthetic choice. Her crush on her gym teacher and  her abuse at the hands of the mean girls lead by Heidi (Savannah Kennick) put the viewer in one headset only to have it shift a bit later into a more sinister scene. Still playing the line of being a lost segment from a Creepshow film it goes from a cheesy story of a picked on girl to a wonderfully threatening stalking sequence and back to that fanciful if somewhat expected ending.
 Holidays is a collection based on a set of holidays, Valentine's day, St. Patrick's day, Easter, Mother's day, Father's Day, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. Chronologically may be the way to present this review so let's start with Valentine's Day written by
  St. Patrick's Day by Gary Shore plays first on that disturbing child motif where the smiling child just creeps the shit out of you. Shore who directed the recent Dracula Untold (2014) has written a piece that centers around the myth of St. Patrick who drove the pagans from Ireland but is said to have driven the snakes from the Island the more commonly known metaphor. In this little tale a teacher Elizabeth (Ruth Bradley) desperate for a child in her life teaches at primary school with a strange new student. A girl Gráinne (Isolt McCaffrey) who is isolated too being new to the school. Efforts by the teacher to engage are met with a gift, a straw snake with the sentence, "Only your deepest wish can make me smile." Using quick and sometimes off putting editing to move the timeline along the film plays out a story of dark desire and the unexpected consequences a wish can have. Built in to that those is some really creepy child smiling and a continuation of the snake pagan of Ireland myth setup in the first scene. What I like about this film is the sharing of the knowledge of the the baby inside Elizabeth is not quite right and still her insistence that she carry it to term. The strange birthing scene in the tub that shifts to the pagan ritual in the next it all plays out in a cool little crazy journey.
  The simple but dark tale for Easter is about a small girl who is told that little kids have to go to bed the night before Easter and not get up. That they are not allowed to see the Easter Bunny.  The opening scene with her Mother reminded me of putting my daughter to bed and how sometimes it takes a lot to get them to settle and for the parent to get out of the room. To connect the Easter story to Jesus this is a family morning the death of the Father so the kid has questions about death and Jesus coming back from the dead. Now its been a while so I am not totally sure how age appropriate those question by little girl (Ava Acres) but it does setup the late night encounter well. Writer Director Nicholas McCarthy (At the Devil's Door) , (The Pact) does the scary house scene well hitting all the right notes and the effects for the man in the bunny suit (Mark Steger) are wonderful. The dread felt for the little girl is palpable throughout their encounter. Weird but very enjoyable!
  Mother's Day is a twist of a tale where we have a woman with a fertility problem instead of a infertility one. Kate (Sophie Traub) has the problem of getting pregnant every time she has sex. The pain of multiple abortions has her at her wits end. Dr. Harding (Jennifer Lafleur) suggest she go to a women's group centered around fertility. A bit unusual but maybe she can find some solace there. Here is where writer, director Sarah Adina Smith twist things. We all think that the women there are there because they can't get pregnant and that is true; but there is a more sinister meaning to why they want Kate there to be in their fertility ritual. The most adult of the stories in the collection the appropriate nudity is insignificant to the more mature ideas of rape under the influence and kidnapping. The shocking if a bit unrealistic visually, ending does not do justice to what is a serious story in my opinion.
  Father's Day written and directed by Anthony Scott Burns takes a more cerebral approach telling the story of Carol (Jocelin Donahue) a teacher who years before lost her Father. In this present she receives a box that includes a cassette tape. On it is a message from her Father. He apologizes for leaving her but at the same time takes her on a present day journey where they can be reunited. The film covers her struggle with his message and then the suggestion that she could now join him where he is. We watch Carol take the journey. The tape as it plays and guides her melds the past with the present is a very original way. Scary as it draws to its conclusion we relive Carol's childhood trauma while anticipating her future one. A really nice complete story about one woman's desire to see her Father again and the horrific consequences of the desire.
  My least favorite story of the collection was Kevin Smith's Halloween. The unlikable lead character Ian (Harley Morenstein) was just too much to overcome even if he gets his comeuppance. He is a man that lures young woman to Hollywood to be Cam girls, woman who perform on webcams. Taking advantage of young women he is a sweet talking on the phone until he has them at the apartment and then he is a real dick to them. We see this in two scenes one where he is sweet talking girls on the phone to get them to move to his pace, and then his other side as he verbally abuses his current girls because they want a night off to celebrate Halloween. Really the only connection to the holiday is, it is when the events take place. Even the ridiculous monologue about the witches coven does little to add an atmosphere captured more readily by the other stories. I am saying it is a wonderful little torture the three women end up afflicting on Ian making him the star of his own webcam show. The story is vulgar and not really in the spirit of horror more than a revenge story.
  The Christmas centered story is about trying to get the hottest toy on the Market for his kid. uVu is the latest in virtual reality with the slogan uVu shows you you! It's Christmas eve and Pete Gunderson (Seth Green) thinks he has landed the sought after item but after rushing down to the store he finds the last one is walking out the door not held for him as he thought he had an agreement for. Pete tries his best to get the guy who scored the head wear to sell it to him but to no avail. When an unexpected occurrence happens Pete has a morally challenging decision to make. Does he step in to help or take advantage of the situation for his own gain. His wife is thrilled that they got the device and when Pete tries it for the first time he is so surprised at the mental connection and how it shows a surprising fantasy hiding in his mind. Of course these things have a way of flipping and soon the guilt feeling from his decision show him a nightmare that leave him reeling. When his wife Sara (Clare Grant) confronts him later looking at his images since he forgot to log out things shift. Writer Director Scott Stewart, (Legion, Dark Skies) has the story asks questions about the secrets that couples keep from each other and challenges the idea of being completely open in a relationship. Well turned the story is a creepy little tale of unexpected behavior.
  The final story by Adam Egypt Mortimor, written by Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes) was quite enjoyable, establishing a sick serial killer who preys on date site victims and then turning it all on its head was really great. Andrew Bowen is the creepy serial killer Reggie who on New Year's Eve get more than he can handle from his internet date Jean (Lorenza Izzo) the last story is tight and taut with tension before exploding into violence and murder. It is a very good capping piece to what is a very good collection. This one is good and recommended so get it and see it.
  As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back. (Not really expecting that though) It really is an experiment and where I love the horror community it is a way to keep track of what is going on by the people involved in it.  I am now following over 186 people while the followers is only 31 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow just anyone back. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Lights Out (2016) Horror Ghost

Lights Out (2016) - After hearing this film talked about on the Zombiegrrlz Podcast I decided to break my general rule of avoiding the movie theater and hop over to Solomon Pond Mall to see this scary little film.  The film based off a short was pretty decent if you want my opinion. Yeah well this is a horror blog and I suppose if you are reading it you actually want my opinion. The film has an opening that sets up the present day story Paul (Billy Burke) is working late and gets a call from his son Martin (Gabriel Bateman) because the son is concerned with the behavior of his depressed Mother Sophie (Maria Bello). His father reassures him that he will get a handle on Sophie's mental health problems but after some really scary stuff does not get the opportunity, Some of the groundwork is set up here, Mom's mental state, how the ghost works in that you can only see it in the dark and it can only harm you if you are in the dark. There really is no story at this point so like the opening scene of Supernatural the scene is to set the stage and all will be explained later.
  The present day story is after old Billy Burke's character was buried and the kid martin is living with his off her meds Mom. After watching Burke on the television show Revolution I have to admit watching him die was somewhat of a secret pleasure. Even though I don't think any actor could save the writing on that show. We are introduced to the female lead of the film, the lovely Teresa Palmer as Rebecca. She is Martin's step sister who left home after the last time her Mother was having hallucinations and she is somewhat reluctant to get back involved with the family. Or anyone else for that matter, she has a boyfriend she can't seem to commit to Bret ( "Say what again!" I know its unrelated but when ever I hear that name). He is a good guy but she has her own issues since her father left the family years before when Sophie's mental illness flared up when she was just a girl. Abandonment issue will mess a girl up. So she lives in a little apartment in the city has a not too friendly relationship with her Mother.
  Martin bears the brunt of the crazy, now alone with Sophie he is terrified of the ghost in the house and because of it is not sleeping so well.  The ghost for its part is a long arm female that does not seem happy that the kid is around. Martin gets in a bit of trouble for sleeping in class and since crazy Sophie is not available the school calls Rebecca. She and Bret ("mmmm, that's a tasty burger.") arrive and when she hears the kid out she decides to go to the house to find out what kind of shape her mother is in. We learn through the story a bit about the ghost named Diana (Alicia Vela-Bailey) and her connection to Sophie and the kids lives.
The film has a good amount of character development and relationship development that make it a much better film than a horror film. The horror elements are there but are surrounded with a decent story about mental illness and the effects of it on the family. We learn who Diana is and why her ghost is around the family Also though we see the horrible implications of untreated mental illness and its impact on those close to the affected person. The writer Eric Heisserer off a story by David F. Sandberg connects all the dots that explain how this being is connected to the family and the tragedy of the impacts over time for the entire family. The back story of the ghost may not totally make sense with the shaky premise that she gets in peoples heads as the line the viewer has to swallow to suspend disbelief.  That and the way too convenient but necessary power outage but in general a very well constructed film.
  Palmer carries the story with a sure footed and calm performance that hit the right notes for the character. She plays the adult where adults are hard to find with Sophie effective off balance throughout the film. Palmer just seems to hold the emotions until things happen that should get larger reactions, a very convincing job. Bateman adequately plays the scared child and Alexander DiPersia is solid enough as boyfriend Bret ( "Is Marsellus Wallace a bitch? Then why you fucking him like one?")  Maria Bella is just exceptional as the off her rocker Sophie. She is fragile while still being just a bit threatening, using her eyes to carry a great deal of the conflicting emotions the character has. Sandberg directs and seems to have gotten good performances from his cast. The scares are there and are really what we want when we go to a horror film. So this film is somewhat enjoyable and I already have my idea for the double feature with Darkness Falls (2003). So go support horror in the theaters and see this film.
As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back.. It really is an experiment and where I love the horror community it is a way to keep track of what is going on by the people involved in it.  I am now following over 160 people while the followers is only 23 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow just anyone back. :)