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Possesed By Evil

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.