The Greasy Strangler

The Greasy Strangler

FILM REVIEW: THE GREASY STRANGLER

Directer: Jim Hosking
Writers: Toby Harvard and Jim Hosking

Starring: Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo, Gil Gex, Sam Dissanayake

Where to see it right now: Stream on Amazon Prime

Release Date: October 7, 2016

★★☆☆☆
s–o–m

★☆☆☆☆=waste of time
★★☆☆☆=a time waster
★★★☆☆=enjoyable
★★★★☆=excellent
★★★★★=perfection

Big Ronnie and Big Brayden discover love as a greasy killer strangles his way through town

There are not enough pearls to clutch or words to be written that can adequately describe the dirtiness I felt while watching The Greasy Strangler. Alarmingly, the optimal moment arrived when I turned the film off after 15 minutes as I finally felt like I could breathe unpolluted air once again.

The Greasy Strangler (from what I gather) is about a father and son duo named Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) and Big Brayden (Sky Elobar) who while giving a walking disco tour both fall head over heels for their curly haired customer, Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo).

In between lewdness, nudity and random acts of grotesquerie that can make any viewer wish to become blind or at the very least celibate, a killer who is obsessed with greasy food, dresses in a suit made of grease while killing random people while they portray the ultimate in stereotype.

The Greasy Strangler strives to compete with the early works of John Waters like Pink Flamingos and Mondo Trash. Whether it succeeds is up to you. The only question remains…can you make it through the entire film?

Climax

Climax

FILM REVIEW: CLIMAX

Written and Directed by: Gaspar Noé

Starring: Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub, Kiddy Smile, Claude-Emmanuelle Gajan-Maull, Gisele Palmer, Taylor Kastle, Thea Carla Schott, Sharleen Temple, Lea Vlamos, Alaia Alsafir, Kendall Mugler, Lakdhar Dridi, Adrien Sissoko, Mamadou Bathily, Alou Sidibé, Ashley Biscette, Mounia Nassangar, Tiphanie Au, Sarah Belala, Alexandre Moreau, Naab, Strauss Serpent, Vince Galliot Cumant

Where to see it right now: Stream on Amazon Prime

Release Date: May 13, 2018

★★★☆☆
s–o–m

★☆☆☆☆=waste of time
★★☆☆☆=a time waster
★★★☆☆=quite enjoyable
★★★★☆=excellent
★★★★★=perfection

Dancers move to chaotic and energetic LSD-fueled choreography that mesmerizes and destroys

Take two Excedrin and call me in the morning. You may need them if you are unaccustomed to long hours of thumping club bass, EDM and a discernible room full of cigarette smoke, so aptly depicted you begin to smell the thick of it wafting through your television. This is Gaspar Noé’s highly debated film Climax—the movie that transpires in a single location and sometimes even in a single 42 minute-long shot.

The French filmmaker [Gaspar Noé] is best known for creating experimental and demanding bodies of work—all of which strive to inform a kind of hell to varying degrees of success. For those unfamiliar with his 2003 film Irréversible—Roger Ebert called it “a movie so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable.”

As for Climax, the extreme violence we have come to associate Noé, is shed for a less tactile subject furthering his experimental style while exploring drug use. This is not to say the horror of incessant screams won’t make the person in the next room over wonder what the hell you are watching.

Climax begins with an interview of a group of professional dancers. They are introduced through an open-ended format of questioning then a rough cut transports us to the next scene, a dance studio where we linger for the remainder of the film. It is here we witness a dance so chaotic and energetic it can only be said to mesmerize.

This is the best of Climax. And once it is over the best is gone too.

At the completion of the dance, the members hang around to celebrate their successful choreography with a sangria punch, lewd conversation and more dancing. Unbeknown to anyone or most anyone—the sangria is spiked with a ferocious hallucinogenic.

For the summation of the film we witness the effects of the drug and its unraveling of the dancers making them paranoid, belligerent and even dangerous to themselves and others.

You will find buried messages throughout the film—messages that are an important part of the dialog today. Credit where credit is due, Gaspar Noé is not afraid of experimenting with intriguing concepts even in the face of failure. But sometimes it is the failure staring us down at the end. That does not mean we should ever stop trying.

The Butcher Possessions

The Butcher Possessions

FILM REVIEW: THE BUTCHER POSSESSIONS

Writen and Directed by: Dale Trott

Starring: Damien E Lipp, Stephanie Mauro, Sophie Wright, Tristan Barr, Tilly Legge, Lliam Murphy, Janet Watson Kruse, Peter Flaherty

Where to see it right now: Stream on Amazon Prime

Release Date: July 29, 2015

★★★☆☆
s–o–m

★☆☆☆☆=waste of time
★★☆☆☆=a time waster
★★★☆☆=enjoyable
★★★★☆=excellent
★★★★★=perfection

Creepy found footage film surprises with eerie moments and a perfectly manicured scary story

The Butcher Possessions is a bare bones, low budget Australian gem, that while obvious of its small budget, didn’t stop director Dale Trott from using all the resources at his disposal to create a successful found footage horror movie.

In the UK the film was released under its original title Beckoning The Butcher, and can currently be viewed on Amazon without additional charge for Prime members.

The Butcher Possessions is the story of Chris Shaw (Damien E. Lipp), a social media personality who performs rituals he finds on the web. Wanting to increase his viewership, Chris invites four friends to a weekend gathering in a desolate countryside home where together they will participate in a ritual called Beckoning The Butcher.

For the ritual, participants must write their name on a piece of paper, dab a drop of their blood next to their name and then burn the slip of paper while chanting a Latin phrase. The completed steps are said to then conjure the butcher.

With two video cameras recording at all times; one set up in the house and the other carried for POV, Chris’s hope of capturing even just a small moment of paranormal activity becomes more than he bargained for when the butcher shows up with a plan of his own.

The main moments of The Butcher Possessions are bookended with a backstory via sit down interviews by a family member, a psychic and a sheriff—all of whom add a well rounded linear structure to the narrative.

The Butcher Possessions (or Beckoning The Butcher, depending on where you live) is the perfect party night or Halloween night scary movie.

10 MOVIES THAT WILL SCARE YOU

A definitive list of the scariest horror films ever made

I love horror movies—my favorite are the kind that creep me out, make me feel uncomfortable and outright terrify me. For this list, I’ve provided those movies I’ve identified as most scary—ever.

1.

Baskin

RELEASED: 2015

Baskin freaked me the hell out when I saw it for the first time several years ago. I’ve rewatched it several times since and still love it every time. Baskin is a Turkish movie meaning ‘police raid’ and it is savage. A police unit called to an abandoned building becomes trapped in a surreal nightmare. Today’s Hellraiser, must have made Clive Barker proud.

Available to watch on Amazon.

The Wretched

The Wretched

FILM REVIEW: THE WRETCHED

Written and Directed by: Drew T. Pierce and Brett Pierce

Starring: John-Paul Howard, Jamison Jones, Azie Tesfai, Piper Curda, Kevin Bigley, Tug Coker, Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden, Richard Ellis, Blane Crockarell, Ja’Layah Washington and Madelynn Stuenkel as The Wretch

Where to see it right now: Rent on Amazon Prime

Release Date: May 1, 2020

★★★☆☆
s–o–m

★☆☆☆☆=waste of time
★★☆☆☆=a time waster
★★★☆☆=very good
★★★★☆=excellent
★★★★★=perfection

A crafty witch casts a spell compelling townsfolk to forget about their children—making her meal less of a battle

The Pierce Brother’s coming of age horror movie The Wretched, follows 17-year-old Ben (John-Paul Howard) as he busses into the quaint, boat-slipped town where he and his dad Liam (Jamison Jones) are to spend the summer.

As Ben tries to acclimate to his new summer digs—complete with the ‘warming up to dad’s new girlfriend’ and ‘trying to fit in with the local townies’—tropes, he begins to observe strange occurrences emitting from his next door neighbor’s house.

Unbeknownst, a witch has made the house its new quarters and begins to cast a spell over the townsfolk, causing them to forget their children so that it can easily devour the forgotten ones without a tussle (smart).

John-Paul Howard

When children begin to go missing though, Ben’s suspicions turn real and he must devise a plan to stop the witch and save the children. However, with a checkered past including drug use and stupidity—jumping from a second floor window-resulting in a broken arm, Ben is up against a wall as he finds it increasingly difficult to find people who believe in him.

With elements of Fright Night and The Lost Boys—meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers—all while on a snoozy summer vacation, The Wretched replaces vampires and aliens with a pagan root-like witch that prowls the woods and makes pit stops into peoples homes to eat their children.

There are no bad shots in The Wretched. Kudos to the Pierce Brothers for being natural born purveyors of horror. They know how to tell an effectively scary story. The dialog too, thank god comes off as natural and the acting is good—all of which creates a solid foundation for a decent creepy summer movie.

As always, there will be naysayers whom gloss over the accomplishments and only focus on the flaws. And The Wretched is certainly not without flaws. But follow through and you may be pleasantly surprised that more than a little thought went into making this film, and it shows.

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Blood Quantum

Blood Quantum

FILM REVIEW: BLOOD QUANTUM

Written and Directed by: Jeff Barnaby

Starring: Michael Greyeyes, Forrest Goodluck, Kiowa Gordon, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Olivia Scriven, Stonehorse Lone Goeman, Brandon Oakes, William Belleau, Devery Jacobs, Gary Farmer

Where to see it right now: Stream on Shudder

Released: September 5, 2019

★★★☆☆
s–o–m

★☆☆☆☆=waste of time
★★☆☆☆=a time waster
★★★☆☆=very good
★★★★☆=excellent
★★★★★=perfection

A zombie flick with social awareness that would make George Romero proud

“Just like the dog. Just like the fish.” The dead are coming back to life in Jeff Barnaby’s socially aware zombie flick, Blood Quantum. As an impressive ode to the legacy of George A. Romero, Barnaby has given us a tale of the end of the world-where only indigenous peoples are spared as the world burns in chaos.

Six months after the apocalypse, those who have survived now reside on Mi’gMaq reserve of Red Crow, where they have regrouped and implemented new rules to live by. Along with mostly indigenous people, a small handful of non-indigenous survivors have escaped the dead for now.

Joseph (Forrest Goodluck) and Lysol-yes that was the character’s name well before Covid introduced surreal anecdotes regarding disinfectants, (Kiowa Gordon) are two brothers who have arrived at fundamentally different understanding as to why the dead keep coming back to life.

The relationship between the two brothers is in constant flux as they try to grasp the fact that their father; town sheriff (Michael Greyeyes) was never around for his first born, Lysol, but was seemingly always present for Joseph, to dire consequence for the two brothers.

Just as the community of survivors comes to find practicality in their new reality a war is waged and a final battle begins, pinning the walking dead and humans alike of one belief system against people of a different view. In the third and final act the depravity of men becomes worse than what Mother Earth has unleash.

With a little tightening of the wrench, Blood Quantum could compete with the best of ’em. It is an entertaining zombie film; those of us who love the genre will especially dig it. The movie’s message is spelled out clearly and it plays out well as the metaphor that all of our decisions will come back and haunt us. Had the dialog used a little fine tuning, Blood Quantum could soar.

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The Treatment

The Treatment (De Behandeling)

FILM REVIEW: THE TREATMENT (DE BEHANDELING)

Director: Hans Herbots
Writers: Mo Hayder (novel) and Carl Joos (screenplay)

Starring: Geert Van Rampelberg, Danni Petit, Johan Van Assche, Laura Verlinden, Tibo Vandenborre, Dominique Van Malder, Roel Swanenberg, Cerci Letham

Where to see it right now: Stream on Amazon Prime or Shudder

Released: January 29, 2014

★★★★☆
✪✪ s–o–m

★☆☆☆☆=waste of time
★★☆☆☆=a time waster
★★★☆☆=very good
★★★★☆=excellent
★★★★★=perfection

A depraved visceral thriller of men and monsters

Inspector Nick Cafmeyer (Geert Van Rampelberg) is lead investigator in a case that drags him straight into the seedy underbelly of a network of pedophiles in Hans Herbots’s The Treatment.

When a mother and father are rescued from a botched abduction that leaves their young son missing, Inspector Cafmeyer frantically begins a manhunt to recover their child.

As the case unravels Cafmeyer discovers similarities from his own life experience decades prior that has left him with an open wound, ever since his young brother was abducted in front of him.

As the old and new cases converge, Cafmeyer becomes obsessed in solving the new crime hoping to gain some sense of closure for himself and for the families torn apart beyond comprehension by the completely maladjusted minds of men.

The Treatment is a grim procedural thriller—and that is putting it mildly. I found myself perusing other reviews to justify that I thought this film was incredibly poignant and well made. The sense of violation, repugnancy and depravity cannot be understated.

Many people, especially those with a weak stomach may not wish to watch as pedophilia involving the rape and incest of young boys is depicted. Even though Herbot has handled the taboo subject delicately, I found the scenes very much more so visceral than I would have hoped to have ever seen.

The Treatment, even in all its depravity is a true feat of filmmaking, beautifully handled by Hans Herbots.

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The New Mutants

The New Mutants: Is This Time For Real?

Ⓐⓖⓐⓘⓝ,

………Disney’s The New Mutants has created a massive buzz of hysteria and speculation. As the ill-fated, long-awaited film makes its way onto the big screen this summer, Disney/Fox is taking a huge gamble as expectations have either soared or for some, dropped to non existent. There was a time I was clearly ecstatic at the prospect of a horror movie spin-off based on the X-Men Universe. In the 3 years since I first learned of The New Mutants, let’s just say my expectations have tempered.

New buzz as The New Mutants gets a new August 28 release

It was during the beginning of the height of the horror movie revival (yes that is exactly where the name of this blog comes from), when all the world decidedly got hooked on horror. It was a thrilling thing to witness–as it meant their were more horror movies to watch–and on that, it did deliver. But as time passed by and the hairs on my head grew long and we even survived a pandemic, no word arrived as to when The New Mutants movie would finally be released, until now.

Anya Taylor-Joy & Charlie Heaton

I still remember the YouTube search I did a few years back after hearing about the movie for the first time. Then, the movie was slated to be released on April 12, 2018. I was psyched because the trailer was quite dark. At the time there wasn’t much talk about the film and it definitely wasn’t being promoted heavily, if at all.

One time only, I see the movie promoted and that was during a commercial break while watching American Horror Story back in 2017. Watching weekly TV shows was still a thing on network cable stations (yup, with commercials and all that antiquated fun stuff). After that, I never saw it promoted again, nor had I hear anything other than the occasional hearsay.

When I saw the quick trailer I was immediately intrigued by the subject of the movie, but also the film boasted an ensemble cast consisting of Game of Thrones star, Maisie Williams, The Witch’s leading lady, Anya Taylor-Joy whom has an intoxicating way of charming with her fine acting chops, as well as everyone’s favorite brother Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) from Stranger Things. This is exciting stuff for a movie nut.

The New Mutants, was originally slated to be released on April 13, 2018, before being pushed back to February 22, 2019, to avoid Deadpool 2, and then again to August 2, 2019, to avoid Dark Phoenix (which bombed btw). That was two years ago. Then it was one year ago. Then the buzz went silent.

But here we are. The New Mutants has its sixth release date and people are excited to see how a horror movie interpretation of a beloved action-superhero franchise will play out. I for one am not going to place a high bet on the film but I sure can’t wait to see it, finally.

One of the best comments I’ve seen on YouTube under the original trailer for The New Mutants reads:

“I quit smoking to live long enough to see this movie in 2060.”

The comment has over 2K likes and it definitely sums up this movie’s journey.

🆃🅷🅴 🅴🅽🅳

2020 trailer versus the teaser trailer from 2018

2020 Trailer

2018 Trailer

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Scream

We’re all Scream Face, as Neve Campbell hints at a Scream 5

In a recent interview, Christina Radish has us all screaming as Neve Campbell teases a potential return to the Scream franchise, Collider reports.

What’s your favorite scary movie? If it’s Scream, then you’re in luck – franchise star Neve Campbell recently offered an update on the status of Scream 5.

In an interview with Collider’s Christina Radish about Campbell’s upcoming movie Castle in the Ground, available digitally and on demand May 15th, Campbell offered some details about the potential fifth installment of the popular horror series, from Ready or Not directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillertt.

Image via Miramax

“Well, I’m not a hundred percent on it, but to be honest, the two directors ( Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett) have made some great work. I’ve watched their films, and they’re really talented. They wrote a letter to me, expressing what great fans of Wes’ work they are, and how honored they are that they’re getting the chance to make Scream 5 because the Scream franchise is the reason that they’re directors now. So, that was really sweet. They really wanna honor Wes’ style of work and honor the movies. That was a lovely thing to hear. So, we’ll see. Hopefully, we can all see eye to eye on everything and make something great, but it’s a process.”

scream-poster

Campbell also seemed to indicate that the next Scream film would in fact be a sequel and not a reboot by sharing some of her feelings about where her character, Sidney Prescott, would be in the 21st century.

“I think you can always tell them more with these stories, and they’re such fun films. There’s obviously a huge audience for them, and the audiences wants to see more of them. You can always go further with the journey. Certainly, with Sidney, she comes to some new shift in her life, at the time, and I don’t know. We’ll see.”

Scream was a breakout hit when it released in 1996, thanks to its subversive nature and macabre comedy. While the sequels never quite lived up to the original, the series has continued to be a mainstay in modern slasher films and has managed to redefine the genre at the same time as it skewers its many tropes. Ready or Not’s black comic tone is a perfect fit for Wes Craven’s ironically self-aware murder mystery, and as a fan of both movies, I’m beyond excited to see what these filmmakers do with the series.

Reporting by Christina Radish for Collider.

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The Haunting On Fraternity Row

Haunting on Fraternity Row

FILM REVIEW: HAUNTING ON FRATERNITY ROW

Director: Brant Sersen
Writers: Brant Sersen and Jeff Cahn

Starring: Jacob Artist, Jayson Blair, Shanley Caswell, Claudia Lee, Ashton Moio, Cameron Moulène, Molly Tarlov, Chester Rushing, Breon Pugh, Stephanie Honoré, Eduardo Losan

Where to see it right now: Stream on Netflix or rent on Amazon Prime

Released: November 2, 2018

★★★☆☆
s–o–m

★☆☆☆☆=waste of time
★★☆☆☆=a time waster
★★★☆☆=very good
★★★★☆=excellent
★★★★★=perfection

An effective comedy/horror that delivers on both with success!

My brain usually chugs along in accordance with the general consensus as I review horror movies, although I’m aware I may be slightly more forgiving than others. After watching Haunting On Fraternity Row, I excitedly began a search for the movie information I needed to write this review when I noticed the movie had a mere 3.8 out of 10 on IMDb. WTH, I thought to myself as I peered into the abyss of the low score number. Did a freak incident involving bad math produce this oddity?

Haunting On Fraternity Row is an American horror-comedy film, directed by Brant Sersen that delivers on both horror and comedy. By all means the film does not reinvent the wheel however it does enthrall and it will pull you into its anything but jejune world. The casting is spot-on perfect, as it provides likable characters whom are relatable as well.

Jason Blair, Eduardo Losan, Ashton Moio
Shanley Caswell, Claudia Lee, Molly Tarlov

For the film, Brant Sersen tweaked the frat guy persona adding introspection and kindness, even if at times he is still the ridiculous, oversexed jock. What we experience is not the stereotypical college bro; damaging everything and everyone in their path but a different kind of college jock that has a semblance of respect. The subtext is admirable especially when the character attributes could have been played in so many different directions. Furthermore, the actors demonstrate solid ability in their craft, garnering successful laugh-out-loud comedy within a bona fide horror movie.

Jacob Artist

Of course as is customary, the annual Luau procures an abundance of scantily-clad female sorority sisters including some incredibly funny cast members such as Claire (Marley Tolov, MTV’s Awkward), who is hysterical as every bro’s type of bro and the ridiculously over-the-top, Liza (Claudia Lee, The Girl in the Photographs), who along with their other sorority sisters are primed to get sloshed as they search for their perfect Mr. Right now.

While all the silliness is going down, a horror story is building up as a menacing spirit becomes accidentally freed after a keg falls down the basement stairs inadvertently revealing a secret tunnel into a small corridor covered in light fixtures. On a center alter a once covered chalice has now been knocked over, freeing its contents back into the world.

Ashton Moio, Cameron Moulène, Jacob Artist
Breon Pugh

There are several truly scary moments in Haunting On Fraternity Row, so do not be fooled by the comedic overture as the movie is a solid ghost story. Where the movie does unfortunately fall flat is in the CGI effects. While I have seen worse, the CGI should have provided for a more thoughtful look into the character of the movie’s evil spirit. Not only is the CGI not the greatest but the character itself seems rushed.

Haunting On Fraternity Row is a thrilling watch with all the elements one could wish for in a college-themed, luau thrown, booby-bouncing, butt-shaking movie that strives and succeeds to serve its horror wrapped in a comedy. So give it a try. Now streaming on Netflix.

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe

The Autopsy Of Jane Doe

FILM REVIEW: THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE

Director: André Øvredal
Writers: Ian B. Goldberg, Richard Naing

Starring: Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch, Olwen Catherine Kelly, Ophelia Lovibond, Michael McElhatton, Jane Perry, Parker Sawyers, Stanley The Cat

Where to see it right now: Stream on Netflix

Released: December 21, 2016

★★★★☆
✪✪ s–o–m

★☆☆☆☆=waste of time
★★☆☆☆=a time waster
★★★☆☆=very good
★★★★☆=excellent
★★★★★=perfection

A multi layer examination of fear that works perfectly on its viewers nerves

Norwegian film director André Øvredal (Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark) creates an almost-perfect, truly frightening scary movie with his careful handling in The Autopsy of Jane Doe.

Tommy and Austin (Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch), a father/son duo consisting of coroner and mortician, receive a late evening dispatch of an unidentified body from a curious crime scene. Town Sheriff Burke (Michael McElhatton) requests that the team complete an emergency autopsy so that he can report a cause of death in the morning press briefing. Teetering on twilight, The Autopsy of Jane Doe begins.

As the multi layer examination commences the physical uncovers that while the corpse of Jane Doe (Olwen Catherine Kelly) is immaculately preserved, the internal system presents with multiple fractured bones, eyes that are greyed-over, a missing molar and a missing tongue. All of these signs are indicative that the corpse should appear bruised and bludgeoned on the outside. During the exam, incidental and strange supernatural occurrences begin to happen in the embalming room.

Austin Tilden, Olwen Catherine Kelly, Michael McElhatton, Brian Cox

The second phase of the examination; the internal evaluation, produces unnerving results when ritualistic items are discovered inside the digestive organs. The missing molar, a shroud with unknown symbols on it and more are recovered from inside Jane Doe’s perfectly preserved body. Further questions arise when the internal organs appear burned and scarred with no indication the body had been altered on the outside. The discovery coincides with supernatural experiences becoming stronger and more dangerous in the mortuary, culminating in the first of several creepy encounters.

Brian Cox, Olwen Catherine Kelly, Austin Tilden

Øvredal’s execution of the autopsy is done with utmost respect throughout the film. Even the explicitly gory scenes are carefully handled. In doing so, Øvredal dreams up an exceedingly eerie atmosphere formed in reality compared to the many low budget horror movies who otherwise would treat the detail with abandon. When the supernatural events become fully realized, the contrast is that much more defined, creating a truly scary experience.

The cast of The Autopsy of Jane Doe is stellar. Brian Cox (HBO’s Succession) is at his best as is Emile Hirsch (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Into The Wild). The casting, the set design, the lighting and sound all contribute to make this one hell of a scary film, truly worthy of a watch.

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The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse

FILM REVIEW: THE LIGHTHOUSE

Director: Robert Eggers
Writers: Robert Eggers and Max Eggers

Starring: Willem DaFoe, Robert Pattinson

Where to see it right now: Stream on Amazon Prime

Release Date: November 1, 2019

★★★☆☆
s–o–m

★☆☆☆☆=waste of time
★★☆☆☆=a time waster
★★★☆☆=very good
★★★★☆=excellent
★★★★★=perfection

Industry giants Willem DaFoe and Robert Pattinson team up in a two-man cast (plus mermaid siren) to bring us Director Robert Eggers second feature film The Lighthouse; a small movie lush with grandiose feels.

When Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) lands a month long job as lighthouse keeper to foreman Thomas Wake (Willem DaFoe) the two instantly clash as they bring out the worst in each other. But as the conditions at the lighthouse worsen the two become more reliant on each other for grounding; with dire consequence.

It is no insult to say Robert Eggers replicates his genius storytelling skills in the same fashion he did when he brought into our lives horror movie visionaire, The Witch. It’s no insult as Eggers thus far knows success.

As one would imagine The Lighthouse explores the effects of isolation and grueling natural conditions on the body, mind and soul. It begs the question, if you had nothing except a small parcel of land on a rock and infinite amount of ocean, what would be your basis for reality?

Equally as important as the characters themselves is the time period The Lighthouse is set—New England in the late 1800’s which serves as the backdrop is already a precarious time for exploration and survival.

Fans with a specificity for the horror genre payoff will not find it as black and white as was laid out in The Witch; when against all odds we gazed in awe as Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) flies ecstatically into the night sky with her coven. (Balenziaga times a thousand!)

If you are seeking to feel enlightened and uncomfortable in your own skin; you will become voyeur to debauchery and madness of both the mind and the body as The Lighthouse serves you a dish you might not want to eat.

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Nightingale

FILM REVIEW: NIGHTINGALE

Director: Elliot Lester
Writer: Frederick Mensch

Starring: David Oyelowo, Barlow Jacobs (voice), Heather Storm (voice)

Release Date: June 17, 2014

★★★★☆
s–o–m

It’s not easy to call Nightingale horror. But then again if Nightingale isn’t horror, what is? David Oyelowo stars in the 2014 film from Executive Producer Brad Pitt’s entertainment company Plan B, helmed by Director Eliot Lester (Selma), as the tormented Peter Snowden, a man who is on the downside of a lifelong battle with mental illness. In this context the film solely relies on one-sided conversations on the telephone along with pitifully accurate vlog entries and their summonsed yet unsolicited comments.

The sparse production and singular location serves as a look into Snowden’s lacking support system and also paints a picture of what loneliness truly looks like.

As we follow Snowden’s descent into madness Lester feeds us the pieces of Snowden’s life we need to begin to understand the psychosis that brings him to this moment in time. In doing so Lester reminds us that mental illness is comprised of two parts; the first being the genetic makeup of an individual which makes it more likely to being susceptible to the illness and the second being the environment a person develops in, which plays a large role in a person’s growth-or lack of.

At one time relatable and almost silly David Oyelowo’s character work as Peter Snowden is complex; it almost appears too simple until we realize we’ve been fooled. Why do we question every interaction Snowden has with his acquaintances? Is he even speaking to another person on the other line or is every conversation living only in Snowden’s mind? Viewers will know the answer to that question as concretely as Snowden himself knows for certain the difference between reality and psychosis.

All the weight of Nightingale rests on its very conclusion where the very talented David Oyelowo serves a lifetime of pain and then a way out. It’s a bleak film, with an even bleaker ending. Then again, how many people do you know who suffer from severe mental disability who actually have their happy ending?

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The Buzz On Saw 9

Spiral: From the Book of Saw

Does anyone else find it odd that one of the biggest horror movie franchises of all time; which had an original release date for its ninth installment of the film on October 23, only to then bump it to the earlier date of May 15 as to not compete with Blumhouse’s Halloween Kills, does not have a whole lotta buzz? It seems to me like there may be a whole lotta confusion.

Chris Rock and Max Minghella

Firstly, what is the actual name of this movie? I have seen it referred to as multiple options, which had me initially guessing as to what the actual name this movie will be released under. Let’s take a look:

Spiral, Saw 9: Spiral, The Book of Saw, Saw 9: The Book of Saw, Spiral: The Book of Saw, Spiral: Saw 9: The Book of Saw, Spiral: Saw 9: The Book of Saw Starring Who Now?

The official name of the ninth installation Saw is, Spiral: From The Book of Saw (see Lionsgate official site).

Top billing goes to Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson, two names I never expected to see together, especially in one of the grizzliest horror movie franchises ever made. If I had to imagine one of the two names in this billing, I could picture Samuel L. Jackson as he already has crossed over to the creepy side of life being a M. Night Shamylan muse.

The two together though? That’s an exciting team-up.

Chris Rock
Samuel L. Jackson

The third cast member who was not given top billing, Max Minghella. Yes that Max Minghella of the very successful Hulu series, The Handmaid’s Tale. Minghella has had a robust career for years but manages to fly under the radar somewhat. Minghella is big name right now and rightfully so-he belongs up their with the best of the best-the man’s acting skills crush.

Spiral From The Book of Saw will be released possibly this month on Friday, May 15th or possibly on October 23. Due to the Covid Pandemic nothing is certain these days. But rest assured, this movie will make its way into our lives. Praise be.

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The Midnight Man

FILM REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT MAN

Director: Travis Zariwny
Writers: Rob Kennedy, Travis Zariwny

Starring: Summer H. Howell, Gabrielle Haugh, Lin Shaye, Robert Englund, Kyle Strauts, Grayson Gabriel, Michael Sirow, Emily Haine

Release Date: January 19, 2018

★★☆☆☆
s–o–m

The Midnight Man stars horror legends Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Lin Shaye (Insidious) in this remake of the 2013 Irish horror movie Midnight Man and presumed inspired by The Midnight Game, the 2013 film adapted from the creepypasta of the same name. Our legendary icon’s portrayals are not at their best, however it’s not the acting that disengages the audience, but rather writer and director Travis Zariwny’s bland script. Zariwny successfully creates a few moments of tension throughout but the missed opportunities are too many.

Robert Englund, Grayson Gabriel, Gabrielle Haugh

In the well-maintained attic fully furnished with a curious male mannequin and a gun with three bullets, a sealed box containing the pieces needed to play The Midnight Game, is discovered. The cursed pagan game awaits innocent curiosity to thus bring forth a demonic spirit, The Midnight Man—an evil so smart, its strength lies in its savvy to trick players to their demise.

Gabrielle Haugh, Lin Shaye

Follow the rules and you will be safe, don’t and you will die! Only problem with the ‘rules’ of this game is that time and time again we observe, the Midnight Man does not like to follow rules as he “does not like to lose.”

Decades before in the very mansion Alexandra (Gabrielle Haugh) now resides as caretaker to her declining grandmother Ana (Lin Shaye), The Midnight Game was played with dire consequence. Once again the box is finally opened by Alex and her friend Miles (Grayson Gabriel), who will wager everything for a few hours of trying to stay alive. Although one can’t help but wonder “why on earth would anyone would want to play this ‘game’?”

Grayson Gabriel, Gabrielle Haugh

Suspend your disbelief as we may for even the best of horror films, but unfortunately The Midnight Man still falls short on scares. Contributed to bland CGI, the monster’s lackluster appeal mixed with its obvious Halloween store allure, and The Midnight Man is a bore. The fact that the imminently endangered teens have full sentence conversations with the raspy voiced Midnight Man himself takes away from the suspense at once.

Emily Haine

Quite possibly the most absurd aspect of the film happens when in the midst of fighting off The Midnight Man, Alex and Miles find themselves answering a knock on the door by a third friend, Kelly (Emily Haine) who we discover is well versed on the Urban Legend and therefore remains in the house to help her friends. “You can get out now,” Alexandra tells Kelly. “I wouldn’t desert my friends,” she replies. (She probably should have heeded the warning if you catch my drift.)

Kyle Strauts as The Midnight Man

The Midnight Man is a glossy, commercial looking film that will keep viewers tuned in from start to finish. As a background movie or out of desperation, the film will suffice. The biggest crime though that The Midnight Man has commited is that you will likely not remember much of it after a short time.

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The Clovehitch Killer: Clever Little Thing

FILM REVIEW: THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER

Director: Duncan Skiles
Writer: Christopher Ford

Starring: Dylan McDermott, Charlie Plummer, Samantha Mathis, Madisen Beaty, Brenna Sherman, Lance Chantiles-Wertz, Emma Jones

Release Date: November 16, 2018

★★★☆☆
✪✪ s–o–m

In a refreshing take on the serial killer subgenre and in particular, a very loose interpretation of real life serial killer Dennis Lynn Rader, commonly known as the BTK Killer (Bind, Torture, Kill), director Duncan Skiles is at his best as he invites us to view a slice of Americana without exploiting the issues he depicts.

When Tyler Burnside’s (Charlie Plummer) life is rattled after finding evidence leading to the discovery that his father; the outgoing, community leader Don (Dylan McDermott), may be the notorious Clovehitch killer (named after the telltale knot which he leaves at the location of each victim), he and his outcast friend Kassi (Madisen Beaty) begin a search that may unravel young Tyler’s life to its core.

The plot glides over the small Kentucky town both eerily and quickly. As a drama and suspenseful mystery, The Clovehitch Killer remains consistent until its second act where the POV shifts and the movie becomes a true nightmare.

Without the use of gratuitous blood, Skiles relies on the story’s built-in-suspense to create the mood. In the same mode that Summer of ‘84, perpetuates a feeling of terror as adolescence and innocence is lost, The Clovehitch Killer, at its core is a story about Tyler more than it is about a killer. Strong acting by Plummer, McDermott and cast carries the film more than its actual script.

In choosing to inform us rather than dwell on the facts, Skiles tactfully holds back on sharing his own opinion regarding the tight-knit, Baptist community his characters live in. The Burnside family is devout, somewhat trapped in the 50’s and display a slight awkwardness toward each other, however they are also a loving and outgoing family that possesses a lighthearted side, which shines through.

If you are a person who finds it hard to suspend your disbelief, the middle and end of The Clovehitch Killer may become a little more than you bargained for, especially after its strong first act. But if you can go with the flow, you will find a clever film that is satisfying to the most hardened horror fan. I’m quite frankly surprised this film didn’t get a stronger release.

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories: A New Kind Of Anthology

FILM REVIEW: GHOST STORIES

Director and Writer: Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman

Starring: Andy Nyman, Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther, Paul Warren, Kobna Holdebrook-Smith, Nicholas Burns

Release Date: April 20, 2018

★★★★☆
s–o–m

Ghost Stories, written and directed by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson, takes us along the path of Professor Philip Goodman (Andy Nyman), an investigative writer and talk show host, who specializes in debunking the paranormal, spiritual and psychic experience. As a faulty and conceited man by nature, we have little empathy for Goodman when his fixation on proving others as frauds hurts innocent people along the way.

When Goodman is notified of three unsolved incidents by the mysterious recommendation of his long time idol and peer skeptic Charles Cameron (Leonard Byrne), Goodman learns that the man who had inspired him years before as a child, now believes he made a grave error in judgement concluding some cases cannot be disproved.

While Ghost Stories is an anthology tale, it removes the typical plotline we have become accustomed to. Each of the three creepy stories is interwoven with its main character and has actual affect on his life. As Goodman searches for answers, he becomes even more deeply connected to the questions.

The three interwoven anecdotes bring traditional horror to Ghost Stories without the use of cheap tactics like gratuitous blood and jump scares-but you will jump. In the first, a nightwatchman (Paul Whitehouse) is terrorized by an entity in an abandoned asylum. The second features a skittish young man (Alex Lawther) lost in the woods as a demonic creature hunts him. The third tale features a wealthy ex-banker (Martin Freeman) whose home becomes invaded by evil spirits just as his pregnant wife battles distressing childbirth.

As Ghost Stories enters its final act we discover the connections between the characters. For those of you who hate movies that leave many questions to the viewership, Ghost Stories does a complete job at summing up the whole. This effective, slow burn suspense leads us to a twist so grand, it produces a literal gasp amongst viewers; a sure sign the director has gotten it right.

A Demon Within

FILM REVIEW: A DEMON WITHIN

Directors: Ayush Banker, Justin LaReau
Writers: Ayush Banker, Justin LaReau, Michelle Beyda-Scott

Starring: Charlene Amoia, Clint Hummel, Patricia Ashley, Michael Ehlers, Cole Crawford, Veronika Bonell, David Sweetman, Laura Anne Parry , Tim Jenkins

Release Date: January 20, 2018

★☆☆☆☆
s–o–m

One hundred years ago, a demonic spirit preyed upon a family, resulting in the death of an innocent girl. Today, small town doctor Jeremy Miller (Clint Hummel) must stop history from repeating itself by confronting personal demons while fighting to save the life of a teenage girl whom with her mother, has recently moved into the plagued home he had once lived in.

Julia Larsen (Charlene Amoia) and daughter Charlotte (Patricia Ashley) hope to make a fresh start in picture perfect Crestwick, but when Charlotte finds herself possessed by Nefas, the demon residing in her home, the relationship between mother and daughter is tested.

The story is familiar and in the hands of not one but two directors- Justin LaReau and Ayush Banker, A Demon Within still never fully presents itself as a horror movie that works. In many regards it plays out like a college project, but even those have the potential to offer more inspiration.

The plot holes are unavoidable and the fact that the good, small town doc is plagued not once but twice by the same demonic force; only to a avoid its veracity both times, is not only annoying but also lamentable.

But the scene stealer (not for reasons intended), is the deep, manly voice Charlotte switches to whilst in her possessed state. These choices walk a fine line between scary and ridiculous. Unfortunately here, we experience the latter.

A Demon Within is the regurgitated story, once superbly told as a little movie known as William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. When recreating a horror movie that is the equivalent to undoubtedly one of the best horror movies ever made, it would be best to offer a new vision to the viewers. Here unfortunately, we see nothing new and the old tale is just stale.

Housewife

FILM REVIEW: HOUSEWIFE

Director: Can Evrenol
Writers: Can Evrenol, Cem Özüduru

Starring: Clémentine Poidatz, Ali Aksöz, David Sakurai, Alicia Kapudag, Defne Halman, Ömer Naci Gülalp, Zuri Zen, Resit Berker Enhos

Release Date: October 2, 2018

★★★☆☆
s–o–m

In a public restroom with the door guarded by friend Valerie (Alicia Kapudag), Holly (Clémentine Poidatz) squats in the sink to relieve herself. This is not the first time in Housewife we’ve seen Holly use a sink instead of a toilet, even when a toilet is right next to her.

As a child Holly witnesses her sister’s murder at the hands of her mother; drowned in toilet water until limp. Later that same night as young Holly hides behind curtains, grasping onto a pointy umbrella, she then witnesses the stabbing of her father.

And mother shouts “Go away visitors!”

Where there is only metaphor and nothing else grounding a plot in reality, viewers easily become confused as they are not in the mind of the creator. Director Can Evrenol knows this but does not care to expand upon it. Here we find Evrenol’s signature; one that was effectively in control when he brought us his freshmen vision, Baskin.

Present day Holly and husband Tim (Ali Aksöz), and their relationship to friend and ex-roommate Valerie, unfolds quickly when Valerie arrives unannounced at Holly and Tim’s house on the eve of much anticipated seminar called ULM (Umbrella of Love and Mind).

After little convincing the trio sets forth to the seminar where they meet up with another couple who is also intrigued by its leader Bruce O’Hara (David Sakurai). Here we discover those in attendance desire to be part of “the family” an intimate group of O’Hara’s closest devotees.

Before long as all in the crowd clap, cheer, hoot and holler their praise for their dreamy cult leader, we see Bruce turn his attention to one special guest who is apparently garnering all his energy. This energy of course is directed at Holly who appears stunned and nervous.

As Bruce speaks in riddles, Holly understands she must decide whether or not she’d be willing to revisit her painful past but is told in order to mend it she must take the entire journey or risk being lost in it forever. While Bruce’s words tell Holly she has a choice, we can’t help but to feel as though there is no choice at all.

If the story was ever linear to begin with, it is here in Housewife that chaos and confusion set in. Reality and nightmares align leaving Holly unprepared to distinguish between the two.

As I sat watching the first half of Housewife I thought I knew something others would not pick up on quickly. I was pulled in by Holly’s background story and giddily watched the slow burn play out. The second act I thought to myself, will surely blow us all away. This is the Can Evrenol signature of storytelling I knew!

The second act began and ended still holding fire to its slow burn. Maybe the boom is in the third and final act, I thought to myself. It will be short and sweet but obviously it’s going to leave me jaw-dropped.

Needless to say the frantic energy Evrenol created in Baskin, where he so beautifully changes course from a creepy slow burn to a nightmarish frenzy, easily contrived by the twisted mind of Clive Barker himself, unfortunately never materializes in Housewife. That’s not to say the movie doesnt pick up and get more chaotic. It does. The payoff however doesn’t offer enough bang for the slow burn we patiently wait through.

The Platform (El Hoyo)

FILM REVIEW: THE PLATFORM (EL HOYO)

Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Writers: David Desolo and Pedro Rivers (screenplay)

Starring: Ivan Massagué, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan, Emilio Buale, Alexandra Masangkay, Zihara Llana, Amigo de Baharat

Release Date: March 20, 2020

★★★☆☆
s–o–m

In an eat or be eaten world, director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s TIFF Midnight Audience Award winner, The Platform presents a slice of life inside the pit; a hellhole where prisoners at the top of the food chain have carte blanche to all the food they desire while prisoners below them eat only the scraps the upper level prisoners throw down.

It may be the new zombie craze which came after the vampire craze; a tale of inequity amongst the classes. And while this topic has been picked over many times before, it is now prevalent enough to be considered horror. Here in Gaztelu-Urrutia’s hands it is done horrifyingly well with a fresh new twist.

In the grimmest way possible, The Platform tells a literal tale of consumerism. We all know what works for the greater good yet we waste when there is excess, then pray to god when we have too little.

When Goreng (Ivan Massagué), volunteers to enter the prison system hoping to quit smoking while reading a book (each prisoner is permitted one item of their choosing), he is unprepared for what awaits him. Goreng learns the rules and ropes of his new life on the inside, in trials and tribulations with his pragmatic cell mate Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor).

In the following months when food becomes scarce to none Goreng must learn how to protect his life while adapting to different levels of starvation. His beliefs are shattered and decisions must be made quickly if he is to survive. All that he has ever known will be tested.

The Platform’s message is clear, however we never feel that we are being preached to. We receive the message and we can do what we want with it. The Platform is not for the faint of heart. It is a horror film at its core. It is bloody and violent and hellbent on making its message clear. But we still can and we will take we want from it and discard what does not fit our narrative.

And that is the point of The Platform.