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The Box Set Project

Living in Peril

box10movieMV5BMjA1NzEwNDQyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTMwNDMzMQ@@._V1_UY268_CR3,0,182,268_AL_.jpgFirst let’s make this clear this is not a horror movie. Its at best a rear window, basic instinct thriller. At worst, it’s a TV movie with f bombs. Seriously, if it weren’t for language I swear this was a lifetime film.

Rob Lowe plays an architect who is driving up to some California area to design a building for Jim Belushi. On the way there, he’s almost run off the road by crazy tracker. Once he arrives in his apartment strange things begin to happen… Rats in the apartment, drawings destroyed, a dead body in his bed.

I don’t really care one way or the other for Rob Lowe, but I usually enjoy Jim Belushi and I adore Richard Moll. Moll is criminally underused here, usually he brings a little bit of light into the production. He just sleepwalks through this movie. I think it’s just a cheap job for a lot of people. Dean Stockwell was a delight – when he’s not chewing his cigar, he is chewing the scenery as the grumpy landlord of Lowe’s apartment building.

At the end of the day, it’s your basic television mystery with a dash of paranoia. They never really manage to build up the suspense,  I never really feel like we are… Living in Peril.


Legacy of Evil

box10movieMV5BMjAzNjAzMDExOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzU2MDcyMQ@@._V1_UY268_CR7,0,182,268_AL_Legacy of the Evil begins with a shot of a man in the wilderness, wandering into a bar where he is surrounded by the laughter of the somebodys  voices.The walls begin to shake and I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be ominous.

Still, I have some hot progress even though the credits once again look like this is a television production… I’m eager to see what Phylicia Rashad does here. She’s a little underrated as an actress. Bill Cosby casts a long shadow, but Creed was a great remider of just how good she is. The psychiatrist role she is billed in seems like something different than what we’re used to seeing her in. Sadly, it ends up being her playing her usual type – it almost becomes a distraction from the horror.

Visions continue as the stepfather here settles into life with his new family. Something outside the window actually managed to elicit a jumpstart from me. Our stepfather runs index.jpgout of the house to discover the family greenhouse on fire – and I’m genuinely getting a Amityville vibe here. That makes sense, the box bills this as a possession flick. Even the way smoke and stuff billows around the corner from the stairs that the house is set up with, the design language speaks to amityville. Sadly possession far too often in this film looks like dodgy CGI. They get credit though, they spend a lot of time exploring slow descent into possession from the perspective of our stepdad who is being taken over – it’s a technique we don’t see often, but one that worked extremely well in the “Exorcism of Emily Rose”. index2.jpgOf course we see him less as the possesion deepends and we do get a explanation for the flashes – those are flashbacks to his previous marriage. Turns out, possiesion has been slowly taking hold for a very long time. Despite a television budget, they managed very creepy moments that create an effective atmosphere, and I really dig their explanation for where the exorcism team comes from.

You’re going to have to track down the movie yourself to see both that and how they finally banish the spirit though! Seriously, this is a nice solid creepy film – and exactly The sort of hidden gem that is the reason I buy these box sets!


DeVour

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index.jpgDevour starts off with a college birthday and some ominous foreshadowing – a gun being thrown into the lake, quick cut flashes and a mysterious email.Work, party, email – it seems like a typical college drama.That is, until our hero is introduced to a creepy website. It’s a game – not a video game, but rather one where you put your information in and they send you tasks and favors. After he’s fired from his job the next day, the game calls and offers to help him get even. And we’re off to the races.
If this seems tame to you, I assure you, as the tasks become more extreme the visions become more terrifying and the gore ramps up…because the hero isn’t the only one involved in the game – his best friend and (sorta)girlfriend are too – and the stakes seem deadlier for them and the bodies begin to pile up. The end twist is a bit weak – it’s not set up early enough, but that’s index3.jpghonestly my only quibble here and it’s a minor one at best.
Devour is intriguing and intelligent. Smart enough to rely on weirdness and suspense, but wise enough to be generous with monster effects and blood. Throw in a dash (just a pinch) of satanic cult action and you’ve got a satisfying balance and almost certainly the best film in this set.


Insanitarium

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index.jpgI had some high hopes for Insanitarium – asylum horror is usually good stuff. The good news is Armin Sherman is in this! The bad news is so is Olivia Munn.

We get the premise upfront – dudes sister was mentally ill, but the assignment really telling what he needs to know so he gets himself committed . Olivia Munn checked him in, and I’m hoping that the last we see of her – I also spotted David Sussman! Most people know him as Stuart from Big Bang, but I still remember him from his days doing cell phone and Best Buy commercials. He’s got a significant role actually as one of the inmates and is positively an exposition machine. It’s weird to see him playing his usual nervous schtick straight this time rather than for comedy. He explains why the creepy prisoners in the white cells have huge dilating eyes and expresses the general feeling that the head doctor experimenting on them.

index2Our hero finds his sister – she is suicidal but he’s not ready to leave yet. We get a lot of the typical tropes – a evil guard, group therapy session with the head nurse straight one flew over the Cuckoo’s nest. During group therapy one of the prisoners goes nuts and attacks our hero – obsessed with blood from his cut thumb.

The thing is, despite what sounds like a genuinely creepy premise, the film isn’t particularly atmospheric – and I don’t get a real sense of danger until we hit the third act when all hell breaks loose.

It’s definitely worth sticking around for, with gallons of blood and inventive kills – the last 30 minutes of this film are exciting and visceral, I just wish they could spread a little more of that around earlier.


The Plague

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indexThe Plague lists Clive barker as a producer. That actually got me a little excited about it, but I don’t really see his dna in this story any more than I do in the later Hellraiser sequels. Still, familiar faces like James Van der Beak and Dee Wallace give it some credibility ad made me interested in seeing what was going to happen.
As the film opens, the kids in this town are all falling ill and comatose, landing them in a catatonic state that lasts for a decade. Suddenly, they all wake up at once and are murderous – acting it seems, in conjunction with each other.
It’s more like the Crazies than it is like zombies, but these hordes of kids with red eyes and veiny sore skin make for a terrifying image.Our heroes are trapped in a school that was set up as a hospital, giving us long chases through dim hallways occasionally punctuated by bits of minor gore.
inde2xThey escape in a police car, and hole up in a Church (and equally creepy setting) with the plan to regroup and head the safety of an air force base, but the kids are hot on their heels.

It’s an interesting film, but I’d like a little more information on what the plague actually was. We get some abstract philosophizing about it, but no concrete answers (and it’s not the sort of art film that can get away with defying answers). A fun watch with a somewhat unsatisfying ending.


Wind Chill

boxpossesedindexI wasn’t sure what I was getting into here. At first it looked like it might be something like Adam Green’s “Frozen” but in a car instead of a ski lift. The movie starts out straightforward enough. A girl looking for a ride home from college for the Christmas break. As we drive along, the guy behind the wheel gets a little suspicious, like he knows just a bit to much about our heroine – having just met her. At this point I wonder if we’re going more for a stalker sort of film, but no. We end up with something completely different. When he decides to take the “scenic route” and get off the freeway, they find themselves run off the road by a mysterious car and stranded on a lost road in the middle of nowhere. The temperature is dropping to minus 30 degrees and the gas tank is cracked and leaking. Shapes move in the woods around them and  they begin to realize they are not alone in this haunted place.

Wind Chill is good. I mean really good. It knows when to creep you out and build imagessuspense, and when to hit you with a jump scare. The ghosts are done effectively and we are fed details of the curse and the history of this road slowly, a bit at a time. By the end of the movie we know everything that was going on and still end up chilled by it. I so love a well thought out film with such good scares. The characters are sympathetic and it’s quite strange that we get so attached to them considering the film doesn’t EVER GIVE THEM ANY NAMES. Nevertheless Emily Blunt does a fine job making a prissy popular girl into a sympathetic victim.

Of all the films on this set, this is the one I think I’ll be heading back to.


Vinyan

boxpossesedindexLet me just say right off the bat, this movie isn’t for me. That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just not my kind of thing and if I’d spotted it at the video store, I would have passed right by.

A couple are looking for their child who was lost in the tsunami. While watching video footage, the wife spots what she believes to be their kid, playing amoungst the mud cover natives. So they journey into the Thai-Burmese jungle, accompanied and led by various unsavory characters until they find the haunted place where their search comes to an end.

This is mostly an atmosphere piece. You can get lost in watching the people venture farther and farther into this alien world just a continent or two away. There’s some tension and suspense, but it’s not so much a horror film as it is an art film. It’s very french, with the way the cinematography is framed and the manner in which they index.jpgdelve into some of the set pieces.

We don’t get any real horror until the last fifteen minuets or so. I frequently hang in until the third act of horror films because I’ve learned that this is when most of them go off the rails, but even in this third act, we don’t get any really engaging scares until almost the end. There is a singe gore set piece in the eintre film. It’s the last scene, well done but not worth the wait.

I hate to dog on this film though because it’s excellent. It’s so well made and shot, it just doesn’t belong in this set. Give it a shot if you like French suspense.  Otherwise, pass.

 


Slaughter

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indexSlaughter starts out with cringe inducing country music and flashes of a girl tied by her hands and feet, being drug somewhere… We know don’t where.

My first reaction is “is this another redneck cannibal movie? Because I feel like I just saw this in the other box set”

We cut to a couple of young women driving into the city, so I’m hoping  that it’s not exactly a backwoods Hillbilly horror.

Our ingenue is starting over a new apartment, running away from an abusive relationship – she almost immediately makes new friend in the city invites round to her country home. The farm turns into a convenient hiding place when the ex-boyfriend tracked her down.

The new roommate and friend is little bit of a party girl and man eater. But dire things happen to her hookups. Pigs At the farm are hungry. We only get glimpses of the farms patriarch – father and daughter don’t get along, and our ingenue is a bit of an interloper. The situation feels almost as dangerous as the one she is leaving. Dangerous secrets lay hidden behind metal doors in the barn, building she is forbidden to enter, but that she cannot resist.

There is a greater story about abuse here that’s hidden in the background – it’s terrible and really pushes this more towards the “message movie” style than the allegory I think it’s meant to be. You can see by the torture porn in the third act and the mild twist at the end that this really wants to be a horror film… or at least a different kind of film than what it is.

The third act drags – that’s saying something considering there’s so much action, but they’re trying to go to many different directions at once and a good chunk of this probably should’ve happened in the second act leaving the very most frightening parts for the finale.

The uneven tone in Slaughter makes me unlikely to revisit this film, but it’s not bad. There is a good story in here somewhere, but I think needed to be better thought out.


Perkins 14

box8filmsindexPerkins 14 – the name alone has my interest, and look at that pulp style poster! Sadly, there is nothing you do with Anthony Perkins or Psycho or anything like that. Honestly, the film starts as a Silence of the Lambs wannnabe with a prisoner who might have information on the sheriffs lost children. As he plays mind games with him, things come to a head and the sheriff takes revenge– that’s when the film turns into The Crazies. Once the madness hits, killers are activated somehow, and things get bloody fast. Still, it’s a long wait, trying to get to get to the good stuff. Honestly, my recommendation for this is the skip to the halfway point and bypass the psychological and emotional drama. It just doesn’t resonate (and I’m a guy who likes drama). I really wish this wasn’t the first movie in the collection I’d seen – it doesn’t bode well.


Butterfly Effect 3

box8filmsindexThe Butterfly Effect part three start off with a brutal murder – much bloodier than anything were used to seeing in these films. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

Everything about this worries me – the after dark productions are meant to give exposure to small indie films that couldn’t get made otherwise, and a sequel is a weird choice… As if somebody bought the rights to the franchise and intended to crank out low-budget sequels one after another, match the way Dimension has done with Hellraiser and Children of the Corn.

Our main character has a reputation as a psychic cop, a profiler like Will Graham in Red Dragon. His task is to solve the mystery of his dead girlfriend, and his dilemma how to use the Butterfly Effect to do that.

indexYou can already see he’s a practitioner of the Butterfly Effect. We are not slowly discovering it this time, it’s not a secret or a surprise. The skill is a firmly established thing, approached with a methodology to maximize and monitor it (using a bthtub full of ice and electrodes to monitor his vitals). He has a mentor who cautions him about using it, in particular using it to change its own past and timeline. It serves as both exposition and foreshadowing, but the almost casual approach to the Butterfly Effect almost robs it of its mystery. Basically the series has shifted from horror edged sci-fi to superhero without a costume, much like Jumper or Wanted.

Still, the suspense ramps up as he makes his first jump back to try and save the girlfriend and discovers the murderer, but as it always does, things take a turn for the worse. We are treated to more gore. More and importantly, in the new timeline there are more murders. His time jump created a serial killer which he must now stop or prevent from ever existing.

It’s an interesting premise, and makes for a very different kind of film than what we’ve seen before in the series… Indeed, it almost feels like fan fiction set with in the Butterfly Effect universe. It feels as if it were written by someone obsessed with the mechanics and rules of the power and the chaos theory driving it. The part of me that loves reading sourcebooks and who’s who reference books really digs that. They don’t overdo it, it’s kind of like a television pilot – it’s enough that someone who hasn’t seen the previous films will be able to understand what’s going on in what is otherwise a solid but average film. I do need to mention, it’s got a great ending, with a curious twist. As far as quality goes, it fits right in with the rest of this box set collection, however despite some impressive gore, it’s not horror and that does make it the odd man out. The simple story entertains but makes it forgettable.

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Autopsy

box8filmsindexAutopsy is definitely the standout picture of this collection. It’s also arguably the best movie here, not because it’s the most intelligent, thoughtful, well written piece, bbut rather because it simply the most fun.

What we have here is a basic slasher film set in a creepy hospital. It hits all the right notes and practically throws the gore at the screen while not always taking itself too ridiculously seriously. A group of kids get involved in a car accident in the woods – running over body, and the whole group is taken to the hospital they are picked off one by one, by staff that’s not everything that it seems.

Of all the films in this collection, this is the only one I’ve actually heard of. The Butterfly Effect 3 is an obvious sequel, but nevertheless not one I was really aware existed. Autopsy I’ve seen, though I can’t remember if it was Netflix or SYFY . Still, of all the films in this set, index2it managed to break out on its own and deservedly so.

If you’re looking to turn your brain off for little while and just enjoy a fun and gory picture, this is it. This movie alone was worth the price of admission.


Broken

box8filmsimages2I like the way broken start us off in a dreary rainy London – it puts me in just the right mood for this movie… Especially since I’m watching this in the middle of hurricane season.

Doctors and upper middle-class homes, Whiskey in a decanter,this could be a drama. That is, until a mirror breaks… Then things start to get spooky.

Beautifully shot, the movie draws you in to a feeling of unease with eerie images, views from inside the mirror, and numerous false jump scares.  they dole out the creep moments out slowly, with a dream sequence here, and a false start there. as we sink  into paranoia imposter syndrome takes hold. It’s a crazy slow burn to get to the third act, but we kickoff the final stretch of the film with brilliant and bloody kill that reveals exactly what’s going on.

I’m not sure how much rewatchability this has, but it’s definitely worth your time first time through – it’s a horror movie disguised as a thriller with well done twist at the end that ultimately satisfies.


From Within

box8filmsimages4From Within starts off with a bang!  With blood and death and pervasive shadows it hits the ground running. In a small religious town, suicides start to break out and yet, one has to wonder if that’s what’s really going on.

We don’t get our first monster in till the half hour mark, but when we do – it’s a doozy. As we continue on, the local town begin to suspect a curse has been laid by the local village witch– she was murdered before the movie begins, But her, children remain.

In a last ditch effort to reverse the curse, the witches son grabs the local pastors daughter to search for the witches last grimoire, but will it be enough?

Despite being wonderfully creepy, I can’t stand behind this one. The film bothers me in its portrayal of Christians in a very red state in a very Hollywood stereotypical display.  I’m never a fan of these sort caricatures, and I get the feeling that someone has an axe to grind. The betrayal of the wiccans isn’t any more accurate, it’s very Hollywood magic. All around it gets up my nose enough to make me pass on this one.


Dying Breed

box8filmsindexDying breed start interestingly enough with a history lesson, escape, and a beast. It’s definitely trying to get on my good side with the copious amounts of blood, although the CG wolf could’ve been better done.

Fast forward to modern day on an airplane. We’ve got attractive young people heading to an exotic destination – in this case Tasmania – and children creepily recitng nursery rhymes on the trip there. We also get a couple of flashbacks which make it feel very much like this is going to be a beast movie… or is it a backwoods movie with a beastial flavour? Interesting idea, considering Tasmania is not usually thought of as a lost or hidden environment. It’s treated as a mysterious backwater, highlighting the more grimey elements of Australia. Wood walls and Sheetmetal… It’s not that we generally expect from ozploitation.

images2They stay the night at a local pub, and I kind of feel bad when they leave in the morning – the colourful locals are one of the best parts of this movie. Indeed, the standard issue ominous little kid shows up 15 minutes into the movie and you know things are about to go down.

The third act begins slowly. It’s not that it drags, but rather it’s deliberate. I’m not in entirely certain what or who is stalking our group, all I know is that it’s hungry. It’s still 2008, so remember we’re going to get some tortured porn, but it’s tasteful – it’s Texas Chainsaw meets Saw. Indeed, watching this I’m pretty sure the filmmakers have read Jack Ketchum’s books.

imagesAt the end of the day, it’s not the sort of movie that I should like – but the setting and the cast elevated to the point of being something I really enjoy. I’m not certain that I’d ever bother to watch again, but I’m glad I saw it. It’s a sort of movie where if it shows up in the middle of a film festival, say a surprise act of sorts, I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed.


Voices

box8filmsindexWe get some j horror up next with voices. It has a strong opening that makes me think of poltergeist with more blood and is a good way to wash the taste of the last horrorfest movie out of my mouth. We head directly to a Japanese high school, complete with all the stereotypes you can expect from one of these films. There is a wedding coming up this weekend. Well there WAS a wedding, until the bride jumped off the balcony and slammed into the floor.

I’m not sure where this is going, but I’m still engaged – in no small part because I wanna get to that scene I witnessed at the beginning. Besides, the hospital the bride is being treated in is incredibly creepy in a ghost story kind of way… and what happens next is quite bloody.

Indeed, Voices is full of brilliant bloody imagery, creepy dream sequences and moves at a nicely quick pace, maybe too quickly as I sometimes give confused as to what was going on.  I’m not sure if the schoolgirl main character is cursed or haunted here, but it’s certainly never drags.

All around our ingenue, people are dying or trying to kill her as she searches for answers. For someone familiar with anime or Japanese film, this movie is comfort food. Everything, the themes, characters, all of it is very familiar. That’s not a bad thing by the way, it’s everything I want from a horror film. Its supernatural with blood and character. Indeed, it’s exactly the sort of thing that made J horror popular in the early to thousands – and I imagine of all the films in this set, this is the ne I’m most likely to revisit!


Backwater

bannerpdindex.jpgBack water starts up with happy music and a happy couple heading into the woods. That shaky cam look is immediately putting me off

It’s weird, I almost get a “Blair Witch” vibe  with the shaky camera, forest and the strange voices coming from the woods. Indeed, when the couple gets attacked in their tent it’s very on the nose. We are left wondering, what’s going on? Is it the creepy fisherman or the suspicious policeman? Are they McGuffins? The first act of the film seriously seeks to keep you off balance, wondering what kind of movie it is.

It’s a very smart personal story being told here, and red herrings do not surprise me one bit. It’s really attempting to draw horror from this young couple being terrorized through the night… until the third act twist, when survival horror turns into a whole other kind of survival horror.

I really don’t want to give anything more away, because this film is not what it seems and its worth watching just for that. It’s not the best movie in this set, but it’s definitely worth a try for something different.

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Pelt

bannerpdindex.jpgPelt lifts it’s intro directly from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, right down to the sound of the photographs. This way we know what kind of film we are getting into before it quickly transitions over to the local bar. A group of party girls and their boyfriends plan a backpacking trip (and getting on the wrong side of the local bikers) following a trail which of course takes the least traveled route… Easier to get them lost, you know? The trail they’re looking for however, goes through private property (That’s what we call foreshadowing).

Once they set up camp for the night, hijinks ensue. The killing starts just before the half hour mark.

The comparison is to TCM aren’t unwarranted though, it’s redneck horror with some images1.jpgscattered influences. The moment one of the girls crashes through a window to escape the killer once again reminds me a lot of TCM – though they take it even further with a glass gag that will make you squirm in your seat. Indeed, there are more than a couple of cringeworthy snares built-in to this film, gore that isn’t cartoonish like “Hatchet”, But crueler and more uncomfortable like in “Saw. For instance, the actual “Pelt” scenes again feel like TCM to me, but cranked up to 11.

images3.jpgPelt maybe derivative, but overall it’s good solid bloody fun. It’s worth a spin on Netflix, might even be worth buying this set for!


The Sacred

bannerpdindexThe Sacred tries to creep us out  right from the beginning, with imagery of spiders and blood and eyes over the credits before dropping us into 1709 and Indian (they say Native American, but they sure look Inuit to me) ceremony hosted by a high priest with cockroaches in his being. The creatures that come from the human sacrifice ramp up the creep factor with a satisfying amount of blood before blasting us back into the present day

A group of geology students sail into the wilderness, guided by a mysterious stranger (The doomsayer that’s in evey slasher film). At this point if feels very “Creature From the Black Lagoon”, but I suspect there’s no monsters here – just ghosts. Indeed, upon finding a totem pole, there are strange voices to be heard in the distance.

Creepy things start to happen once they arrive at their cabin. They discover their grounds were a place of judgement, and execution – they’re not the first to come here, but index2.jpgthe last group didn’t leave alive. The land remembers, the land haunts and the land kills.

The Sacred is haunting and creepy and beautifully executed – one of the best films in the set. They’re proficient with the gore but don’t over use it. The film relies more on atmosphere to support some really well done kills and creature effects. I’m overwhelmingly impressed with how well directed and shot the film is – it may not be original material, but they play in this familiar sandbox really well, and the bloody antagonists of the climax to the entire film justice. This movie alone it’s worth the price of admission and a great reason to buy this collection.


The Lights

bannerpdMV5BMTUwNjY0NDg4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTc4NjcyMw@@._V1_UY268_CR8,0,182,268_AL_.jpgThe fact that the lights opens with credit in a font that I recognize dismays me a little bit. It’s still keeping with the backwood theme of this set, a dead cow in the grass, and woodland countryside all around with mountains in the distance. The heavy metal music that plays over the post credits baseball game seems out of place though.

We finally get the movie started about 10 minutes in, with a group of twenty somethings on their way to the woods to see the meteor shower. By the time the Jehovah’s Witnesses arrive, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what kind of film this is. It’s a lightly cracked redneck killing intruders in his woods. (or more specifically, anyone who knocks on his door). There’s some clumsily interjected lore about mysterious lights that might drive someone mad but it’s not well explained.

This film is full of weird filler, Like our characters pulling off the side of the road to pet ponies or swim in the creek with soft music overdubbed. It’s weird because a movie like this that’s under 90 minutes shouldn’t actually need filler material. It’s a clumsy attempt to build empathy with our group, but it comes off more as a bunch of cheesy 80’s montages.

At 54 minutes in, things finally start to happen – it’s still slow, but at least the story progresses. I make a point to slog it through to the third act of most horror movies because even if nothing else happens to the entire film, the third act usually picks up. Not so much here. The movie dosen’t really get too much of a climax until the last 10 minutes as our protagonists are slowly dispatched one by one.

There are some decent kills in concepts at play here, but ultimately “The Lights” fails to satisfy. More world building and more competent character development would’ve gone a long way towards salvaging this film.


Monsters in the Woods

bannerpdMV5BNjU2OTA3NDM0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjkyNTA1Nw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,777,1000_AL_Monsters in the woods starts off playing to the stereotypes hard. A couple going at it in a tent are murdered bloodily by a masked killer. But almost immediately they turn the tables and go meta, revealing that this is actually a scene in a horror movie being filmed.

I was surprised to see the familiar face of Glenn Plummer. He’s a marvelous actor that I remember fondly frm Strange Days, Showgirls and even a spot on the fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He plays angry well. He’s got a powerful personality and is such a good actor that I wonder why exactly he’s in this movie. But he seriously lends some credibility to what is otherwise a very cheap looking film.

There’s a lot of footage that is all over the place, but it’s trying to be found footage, done as the behind the scenes documentary on this movie set (I use the term “set” lightly since we’re in the woods). The first act drags as they go through the more technical aspects of movie making and set politics.

Right around the thirty minuet mark, the first body shows up, but it’s apropos of nothing as we’ve been given no context. Are  the woods haunted? Is there a psycho crew member (It IS a colorful bunch). The whole “Camera shakes and drops” followed by a dead body dropping into frame gag gets old really quick.

Ultimately it’s attempt to switch between meta and Found Footage detracts from what might be a decent film. Put it on in the background and do something else. It’s not bad, but it dosen’t exactly stand out.


The Lake on Clinton Road

bannerpdMV5BZjExYWQ3Y2QtMmM2Mi00YmI1LWI1ZWUtODk0MGM2ODljYThiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjUzMzMwMjE@._V1_UY268_CR44,0,182,268_AL_We start out in a police interrogation room with a woman being questioned about her drowning her son. A glass of water tips in front of her and she goes NUTS, screaming “He’s not dead!”

We dive into credits overlayed on news articles about haunting in Clinton road and the nearby lake and the scene is set. Once we ull out of the credits (complete with the eye rolling addition of “Based on true events”) we dive into the story proper, discovering that the whole interrogation was part of a TV show. We’re then introduced to a bunch of 20-something CW types on a road trip, goofing off in a mini van, in the woods, in the cabin all with the same annoying synthpop running over it. (Could be worse. It could be metal).

Thre’s a half hour of this before we even get a glimpse of creepy. But once you see it, you know exactly who’s going to be heading off on tonight’s killing spree. They get some credit for trying to haunt us a bit before peole start going missing. However, the Grudge, this ain’t and the flat lighting seriously undercuts the fright factor. Even the strobe lit finale is overexposed. The ghosts, or whatever they are, just aren’t that scary, though a number of the haunting effects are quite clever and the use of sped up frames is quite effective.

I really like what they are trying to do here, but the film lacks the necessary tension to make a capable use of it’s fun effects and decent story. Maybe crank up  the contrast on your TV before watching. It’s worth a view, and is the kind of movie that would kill on the festival circuit.


Pretty Dead

bannerpdPretty-Dead-2013Sound mix guys. Say it with me. SOUND. MIX. Boom mic good. built-in camera mic bad.

The movie starts of with a very strong scene explaining the concept. Gun in her hand, our main character declares “I don’t want to be a monster. I don’t want to be an experiment. I’m dead already, I’m just having trouble lying down.” We shift to an interrogation scene in a hospital with the girl in much worse looking shape than what we saw previously…and then we shift into a full on found footage movie (but you know, with a musical soundtrack).

I feel like I’ve been bait and switched.

It actually ends up being a mix of found footage with cuts back to the interview for the main character to narrate the other scenes. She documents the changes in her appetite for medical waste, lack of sleep and super healing.

vlcsnap-2018-11-21-10h40m20s612There’s actually a good story somewhere in here, tying the idea to the “Killer fungus” that kills insects – a news story that was hot a few years ago and all over Facebook. The mix of documentary and found footage reminds me a bit of the “I Zombie” movie that Fangoria put out about 20 years ago. The director makes excellent use of stock footage and filters, but the whole thing is drug down by a the low production values that have been ineffectively put together and make it difficult to get through. I think I want a do-over on this one. I’d really like to see these film makers come back with a little more experience, and see this film done with a little more finesse.

 

 


Occupied

box10movieindexWhen Occupied opens to a pretty blonde with a nice spiral perm sleeping on the beach under a blue filter and new age music, it immediately got me worried that this is going to be an art film. Rolling her bicycle down the woodland road to a log cabin does nothing to allay my fears.

Still, the production values are good – video and sound are professional quality as the blonde is greated by what appears to be an extended family member (a niece?) that she is staying with at the house. Weird that we don’t see the parents though, the father – who has set up in cameras all through the house – makes a phone call to check up on our characters and about the 21 minute mark, but otherwise there’s not another human it sight.

Our first act is spent getting to know our main character and her niece, exploring the index2area – the little girl with a video camera constantly in her hand.

As we begin the second act, the voices began to swirl in our main characters head. More creepy new age music pops up as she writes strange things in her notebook and tries to find her way into the forbidden room… Did I mention, the log cabin has a forbidden bedroom? It’s always locked and off-limits the niece informs her. Her father works in there and keeps it locked even when he’s working (Don’t sweat it. That whole thing is a red herring. So are the cameras).

It’s the notebook though, the notebooks seems to be the trigger of her madness. As she begins her descent in earnest I find myself wondering more and more what’s going on – is this a procession flick? Is it just a crazy girl movie? A haunting? This is kind of information I need, and it’s index.jpgnot apparent on the box.

In the end, The best way I can describe this is as a suspense film made by an art film student who watches too many lifetime movies. Being under 90 minutes, it’s not over long – the film takes exactly as much time as it needs, no more, no less. There are some interesting moments here, and occasionally we hit a really well done emotional beat. You really do feel for the niece in particular. Ultimately though, nothing actually happens in the film.  It comes off too much like a soap opera and feels out of place in this horror set (Though I can’t imagine where else it would play).


Bunnyman

bannerpdindexBunnyman starts with a low res shot on video bit featuring a girl running from the house and getting murdered. It’s very reminiscent of Texas chainsaw massacre actually, fortunately it’s just the appetizer and the rest of the film is done with a higher quality video. It opens with a girl stuck in a refrigerator and once again, running from something – it’s a weird enough opening to grab your attention and steel you for what comes next

We get some kids on a road trip, who managed to anger the large truck behind them. It’s not a promising beginning and I feel like I’ve seen this before too many times already.

The truck driver begins to stalk them, and action made all the more ominous by the brief glimpse we see of the fur covered hand inside the trucks cab. By the way, the girl we saw running earlier? She is in the back of the truck and about to be chained to a tree.

Eventually the images2kids are run off the road and the Bunnyman continues on to his evil deeds. We’re treated to some excellent gore. It’s our first glimpse of the bunny man, and he won’t be back though until the 50 minute mark.

The kids travel on foot, looking for help, and as the night wears on, things get dire and ominous. It’s a slow strech – not a slow burn, just a middle section that drags. However, when the Bunnyman shows back up and the stalking begins things ramp right back up.

I kind of wonder if there just wasn’t enough in this movie for a full feature. Seriously, imagesthis may have been better off as just a short. The suit is too stark, though it provides a surreal image on occasion and that helps. Still, the film feels weak, and I’d kind of like to see it redone with more care and gore.

Wait, what? What do you mean they made two more of theses things?

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