Amy Mead

DANE GRANGER FILM REVIEW

DANE GRANGER FILM REVIEW

By Amy Mead 

Dane Granger emotions

Dane Granger 

A Thru the Lens Production

Directed by Stephanie Hensley and Brian Jolliffe

Starring Frankie McKay and Linda Schrader

 

Dane Granger is a 25 year old lesbian who left her small Indiana hometown after graduating high school to escape the tragedy of her adolescence, and the demons it brought with it. Unfortunately, Dane is still plagued by those demons, which manifest themselves as a silent, faceless man that silently watches over her, tormenting her. Dane is also haunted by an unhealthy desire to be with the love of her life, the all american hometown sweetheart, Grace Harper. 

After escaping her small hometown life, Dane becomes a well known actress but in spite of her fame, fortune and glory, she struggles with the memories of her past and the events that shattered her family when she was just a young girl. Dane’s life was forever changed in an instant when her father not only commited suicide, but took her little brother with him. She has never been the same. 

A few years later, Dane is forced to return home to attend a the funeral of a very close friend who was not only Dane’s roommate, but Grace’s sister, Matty.  Dane of course runs into Grace and and is forced to face her past, and the faceless man who torments her, head on. Soon, Dane is spiraling out of control when she finds out Grace is soon to be married. Grace is, was, and always will be Dane’s Kryptonite, her one and only weakness. Before long, Dane’s descent into madness begins as she struggles to figure out who, and what, she really is. 

Dane has many demons. So does Grace. And their demons do not play well with each other. Dane and Grace truly are a match made in hell. Grace could very be the end of Dane, as her desire slowly drives her into a careless existence.

Dane Granger is a heartbreaking tale of madness, turmoil, and heartbreak. 

“Madness is the symptom, love is the disease”…

Shortly after reading Stephanie Hensley’s book Dane Granger Reborn (which I absolutely loved) it was announced that a movie was in the works. I have been eagerly awaiting the films release since then. It’s no secret that I have been a champion of this project, and as luck would have it, I was asked by Stephanie herself to give the first review of the finished product, which is truly an honor. 

In most cases where I have read the book first, I am usually not particularly fond of the screen adaptations but with Dane Granger, the screenplay was written by Stephanie herself and as such, not much gets lost in translation. I was seriously blown away and FAR from disappointed with the finished product. And just like the book, I was in tears by the films end. That doesn’t happen often. 

While not an out and out horror film, Dane Granger definitely has it’s horrific moments and the things that float around in Dane’s head are truly frightening. Watching her wrestle her demons and fight to find some peace within herself is hard to watch at times. You want to hug and comfort her while simultaneously beating the shit out of her. Dane is a beautiful, tragic mess and that in itself is horrific.

The direction of Hensley and Jolliffe was nothing short of amazing and some of the shots are simply gorgeous. This film does not look like it’s the first for either one of them. Their passion for it is clearly evident and they make a fabulous team. Their work is seriously impressive and I will definitely be looking forward to seeing more from both of them in the future. The only real issue with the film are some issues with the sound, but other than that, this film is truly a work of art. 

Frankie McKay’s performance as the titular character is nothing short of mind blowing. Frankie IS Dane, without question. And this comes from someone who was extremely skeptical about the casting choice. within the first five minutes I knew my initial thoughts were way off the mark. In all honesty, I don’t think a  better casting choice could have been made. 

The Dane Granger indiegogo campaign recently ended and hopefully that’s a sign that the film will be unleashed upon the masses very soon. I seriously cannot recommend it enough.

If you like indie cinema, drama and psychological thrills, this is definitely one you need to check out. I am already looking forward to getting my physical copy upon the films release and watching the beautiful craziness that is Dane Granger all over again. 

 

 

 

Posted by Amy Mead in IN THE SPOTLIGHT, MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
DEMONS 3D?!

DEMONS 3D?!

By Amy Mead

Demons Metropol

 Demons 3D?!  Are we headed back to The Metropol? Well, much to the excitement of many horror fans, rumors of a remake of the classic Italian horror film, Demons have recently begun to surface. It seems as though the films original creators are discussing it. And not just a remake, but a remake in 3D at that. 

Argento.  Bava.  Stivaletti.  If you are an Italian horror fan like myself, these are names you’ve heard before and in all likelihood, have come to know and love. Since the rumors began, many fans seem to be of the mind that at least it’s the original team taking on the project and that they are all for it. I am not so sure. I cannot wrap my head around Demons 3D. Like at all. 

I was literally stunned into silence when I saw the headline pop up in my newsfeed last night. To put it simply, I was devastated. And when I was finally able to pick my jaw up of the floor, I also had to pick up the pieces of my broken heart. I know that sounds extreme, but those of you out there that know me, are well aware of how hard I nerd out when it comes to this film (and its sequel, Demons 2) and that it truly is one of my favorite films of all time. I love it so much that I have not one, but two tattoos to honor it. I am a dedicated fan and while it may seem like no big deal to most fans, (most likely due to the overwhelming amount of remakes that have become so common these days) I find it somewhat disheartening that the creators themselves feel as though this classic needs to be remade. Or that it can possibly be improved upon. Do they not see what a masterpiece it is? 

Suffice it to say that I do not share what seems to be the popular opinion about the potential remake. I for one, am less than enthusiastic about one of my all time favorite films being remade. Especially in 3D, man. Demons 3D? Can you imagine it? All I can see is what were once awesomely over the top practical effects getting drastically cheesed out and undersold with bad CGI and hokey 3D effects. UGH. Visions of cheap jump scares relying heavily on the 3D aspect are literally dancing in my head as I write this. And it bums me out hard. My son on the other hand is all for it and thinks it will be amazing, much like many of you out there seem to. 

I wish I could be as optimistic as the rest of you but I have seen the last few Argento films. They aren’t good, and any true Argento fan knows it. Dracula 3D was so awful, not even a seasoned veteran such as Rutger Hauer or a topless Asia Argento could save it.  I am a HUGE fan of the man’s work, but sadly, the revered maestro  has lost his touch and his last few offerings have left much to be desired.

Should this rumored Demons 3D project actually come to fruition, my only hope is that it will maybe garner a new audience for the many of the old school Italian horror films that so many of us love. The Italian horror sub-genre deserves wider recognition and respect so while I am not looking forward to remake, I am hopeful that it will possibly spark a renewed interest these forgotten treasures, as they truly are some of the best horror films out there. 

I’ve never really been a remake snob but I do feel that there are some films that simply just don’t need to be remade, re-imagined or regurgitated.  For me personally, Lamberto Bava’s Demons is one of those films. It’s timeless, it’s a classic, and it’s a film that should stand alone. It does not need improvement by any stretch of the imagination.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way. 

 

Posted by Amy Mead in EDITORIALS, HORROR NEWS, 1 comment
An Exclusive First Look DANE GRANGER

An Exclusive First Look DANE GRANGER

 By Amy Mead 

Dane Granger Madness

Thru the Lens Productions presents

DANE GRANGER

Directed by Stephanie Hensley & Bryan Jolliffe

Written by Stephanie Hensley

Starring Frankie McKay & Linda Schrader

 

Back in 2014, House of Tortured Souls’ very own Stephanie Hensley released her first book Dane Granger Reborn. Having been on staff as a writer with Stephanie at both Traumatic Cinematic and From Dusk Till Con, I had become a big fan of her reviews and interviews. So naturally, when she announced that she was looking for reviews of her book, I jumped at the chance.

When the book arrived, I sat down and read it cover to cover in one sitting and was in tears by the time I finished it. I loved it, and to this day it is still one of the best books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. The book was well received and garnered some great reviews, so in 2015, Stephanie released the follow up Dane Granger Recovered, and it was just as good.

Having loved the books so much, I was very pleased to find out that Dane would soon be making her way to the big screen, an undertaking that Stephanie, along with the help of co-director Bryan Jolliffe, have put blood, sweat and tears into. Already their efforts have begun to pay off as the film was nominated by Horror Society as one of the most anticipated films in 2016.

There are many who are eager to see this film, and we here at House of Tortured Souls were lucky enough to have Stephanie bestow us with the honor of bringing this exclusive first look to the hungry masses. 

So, without further ado, House of Tortured Souls proudly presents an exclusive sneak peak at Stephanie Hensley’s first film, DANE GRANGER!! Sit back, relax and enjoy but please be advised that the video clip contains nudity and language and may not be suitable for all audiences. 

We will, of course, keep you up to date with new information on the film as we receive it. I have been asked by Stephanie to give the very first review of the film as soon as it is available, so you can look forward to my review sometime in the near future.

For more information on the DANE GRANGER film, check out the IMDb page or the Facebook page.

And if you have not read the books, Dane Granger Reborn or Dane Granger Recovered, I urge you to do so immediately. Grab yourself a copy of each and enter Dane’s crazy world!

Dane Granger image

 

Posted by Amy Mead in COMING SOON, EXCLUSIVE, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, 0 comments
HORSEHEAD FILM REVIEW

HORSEHEAD FILM REVIEW

By Amy Mead

Horsehead movie poster

Directed by Romain Bassett

Starring Lily Fleur-Pointeaux, Catriona MacColl, and Murray Head

All her life Jessica has been plagued by strange and peculiar nightmares that terrify her. These unsettling nightmares have led her to study the science behind dreams in an effort to understand her own.

One night she receives a call from her mother who tells her that the grandmother she barely knew has passed away and asks her to come home for the funeral. Upon Jessica’s arrival at the family home, it quickly becomes apparent that the relationship between the two woman is strained and distant. She is much closer to her stepfather, who seems genuinely happy to see her, much to her mother’s chagrin.

After a long and restless first night in a room next to her dead grandmother’s, Jessica suddenly becomes quite ill and wrestles with a raging fever. Jessica decides to use this to her advantage and attempts lucid dreaming for her studies. Using ether as an aid to go deeper into her dream state, Jessica is soon immersed in a bizarre world where there are different versions of the people in her family and before long a mystery presents itself…

Beautifully shot, bold, and extremely artsy, the real star of Horsehead is the cinematography and although it is very visually pleasing, the film will most likely not be remembered for much other than that. Even with repeated viewings, the film makes little sense and is more than slightly confusing.

I didn’t hate the film, but I tried very desperately to like it. In spite of the appearance of one of my personal genre favorites, the lovely Catrionna MacColl (whose performance was of course thrilling to watch for a Fulci fan like myself), I was left wanting more out of this story. Much more. There was plenty more there, it just wasn’t played out to its fullest. 

Although the creep factor is high and there are some definite nightmarish qualities, it just seemed incomplete and unfinished. Additionally, too much of the focus was placed on the visual aspects of the film, which harken back to days of Italian master Dario Argento, and not enough emphasis on the twisted story line, which actually had a great amount of potential. 

There are a few horror films already in existence involving nightmares but none like the potential Horsehead had going for it. HAD. Unfortunately it appears that all that potential was forced into the back seat by the intense visuals, and we are left with quite a literal narrative rather than being able to extract the films themes of shame, guilt, and regret for ourselves. 

While not one of my favorite recent horror films, I do recommend it, if only for the stunning visuals and the rather fitting soundtrack which seems as though it was made just for the film and works extremely well with it. However, if you are someone looking for a complete package in a film, you may want to sit this one out. Sadly, Horsehead is a film that prides itself on being much smarter than it really is and it disappoints in that aspect.  

 

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
INTRUDERS (2015) FILM REVIEW

INTRUDERS (2015) FILM REVIEW

By Amy Mead

Intruders-Movie-Poster

(Original title Shut In)

Directed by Adam Schindler

Starring Rory Culkin, Beth Riesgraf, Martin Starr, and Jack Kesy

For ten years, Anna has been afflicted with Agoraphobia so debilitating that she has not stepped outside her family home in which she resides with her cancer stricken brother, Connie. Very quickly, Connie succumbs to his illness and Anna is left all alone.

On the night of Connie’s death, Anna is visited by the charismatic and somewhat charming Dan, who delivers Connie’s meals every day. She breaks down in front of him when he tries to make her smile with his usual goofy banter. She invites him in, he consoles her, and she ends up offering him a paper bag loaded with a small fortune. Dan respectfully and awkwardly declines even though she claims that has more than enough to spare.

On the day of Connie’s funeral, in spite of her best efforts, Anna cannot bring herself to leave the house and attend his funeral. While she is making tea, she hears a car pull up to the house and sees three unknown men advancing toward her home. It is immediately apparent that they believe she is at the funeral and intend to break in for the money.

All too quickly, they are inside and she is unable to flee because of her crippling illness. They capture and restrain Anna, but she escapes and a deadly game of cat and mouse soon begins. Little do these intruders know that there is something more to her psychosis than her Agoraphobia, and they have severely underestimated her. There is much more to Anna AND the home she lives in than what meets the eye…

Having been a long time fan of home invasion films, this is one that I had been eagerly awaiting. I was also intrigued by the thought of someone with a disorder such as Agoraphobia being in that situation and wanted to see how it played out. Fully expecting the worst, I checked Intruders out the minute the film became available (because I like to torture myself) and I was very, very pleasantly surprised.

A bit of a mash-up of home invasion thriller and vigilante justice, there is a bit of a twist to Intruders and it’s a pretty badass concept that I rather enjoyed. For me, there’s just something that’s extremely rewarding about watching some deserving assholes get what’s coming to them and seeing that karma (as well as Anna) really is one evil bitch. 

In addition to the film’s theme, I was really taken with the character of Anna, and Beth Riesgraf’s beautifully nuanced portrayal of this complicated character is a damn fine one. The change we witness her go through is fun to watch, and seeing her unleash the fury within her was one hell of a payoff. 

Although the script may leave a little to be desired, Schindler’s direction really saves the film. It’s suspenseful, brilliantly paced, and he keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. 

Overall, I found the film to be highly enjoyable and entertaining, and it may very well climb it’s way to the top of my favorite home invasion films. If the home invasion sub genre is your thing at all, I recommend giving this one a watch. It’s definitely worth checking out at least once, and it’s one that I will likely be adding to my own collection. 

 

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
FINAL GIRL FILM REVIEW

FINAL GIRL FILM REVIEW

By Amy Mead

Final Girl poster

Directed by Tyler Shields

Starring Abigail Breslin, Wes Bentley, and Alexander Ludwig

After unseen events take her parents from her at a young age, we see our heroine Veronica being “interviewed” by a mysterious man named William.  At the completion of the “interview” and seeing that she seems particularity unfazed by the death of her parents, he asks Veronica if she’d like to come and stay with him and be trained for a job for “special” people.  After asking if she can have ice cream and being told that she can have as much as likes, she agrees.

Flash forward twelve years, and we see how Veronica is put through training exercises and situations of varying degrees of intensity. From running barefoot through the forest, being injected with a combination of truth serum and a psychedelic drug that makes her face her fear, and learning how to fight and protect herself,  she is shaped into a force to be reckoned with. Finally, he tells her that her training is finished and explains to her exactly her “job” will be.

It seems that there is a group of virile young men who like to “hunt” and kill girls.  The girls are selected by their ringleader, and they are always blonde.  Veronica is to be their next “victim” and she must kill them all on her own, in order to survive.  She is to be the murderous group’s Final Girl…

Not to be confused with the campy horror comedy The Final Girls, starring Malin Akerman, Tyler Shields’ directorial debut Final Girl is a revenge/payback thriller that feels like the ultimate mash up of female ass kicking films in the vein of Sin City,  Sucker Punch, and La Femme Nikita.

Although fairly refreshing and a nice departure from so many overused formulas we see in horror lately, the script feels a little underwritten and mildly underwhelming. The lack of character development, although seemingly intentional, leaves the audience less invested and maybe somewhat confused. We don’t get much back story with any of the players, but that in itself seems to speak volumes about the strange relationship Veronica and William seem to have and is most likely an intentional and integral piece of the film.

Breslin and Bentley do their parts justice with their acting and this unlikely pair seemed to fit really well together, but unfortunately they don’t have much on screen time together as Veronica is to take on this band of assholes without the assistance of her mentor.

After a long wait for the action to begin, it is sadly underdone, almost painfully predictable, and the outcome is not much of a surprise nor does it feel like much of a victory for Veronica, more of an obligation. However, the ending seems a little open ended and the audience is left with a desire to see more of Veronica and William, a little more vigilante justice from them, maybe even see them kill together.

All in all, Final Girl was a decent film for what it is, and definitely worth a watch.  It’s just far less brutal than some of the other female-centered revenge films out there.  For me personally, the lack of character development really affected my enjoyment of watching her kick ass. I only wanted to see her defeat these young men because they were so unlikable, not because I related to her and I kind of wish that aspect had been a little different. Overall, Final Girl is entertaining and I would recommend giving it a go.

 

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
GOODNIGHT MOMMY IS A MOTHER’S NIGHTMARE

GOODNIGHT MOMMY IS A MOTHER’S NIGHTMARE

By Amy Mead

Goodnight Mommy poster

Directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz

Starring Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz and  Lukas Schwarz

 

After what appears to be an idyllic summer for a young set of twins, their young mother returns home to them after an unseen incident causes her to have facial reconstruction surgery. The boys seem a bit taken aback by her appearance, almost hesitant and afraid to approach her, as she is still healing and her head is swathed in bandages.

Almost immediately her behavior seems very odd and based on the boys reaction, it is very much unlike her. She imposes harsh rules and guidelines for play and she seems almost hostile with the twins, particularly Lukas who she refuses to speak to or even feed.

When she suddenly begins lashing out at Elias with violence, the boys begin to question if this woman is really their mother and not some sort of replacement. This woman seems like a stranger to them with each passing day and it doesn’t take long before the boys take some pretty extreme measures to find out is she really is in fact their mother. This culminates in some fairly shocking images of torture and a twist ending that won’t soon be forgotten once witnessed, even if it is easy to be seen coming very early on in the film. 

Like many others, I was enthralled by the trailers for Goodnight Mommy when they first began to surface and was anxiously awaiting the films release. Unfortunately, the trailer is very misleading and all the things that  seemed to draw an audience in are sadly shown in the first thirty minutes of the film.

Not only that, Goodnight Mommy is one hell of a slow mover with a lot of prolonged periods of silence. There isn’t much action to be had. That being said, the silences do really seem to work for the film, giving it an unsettling and almost melancholic feel while simultaneously helping to build the tension and atmosphere within the film.

Goodnight Mommy offers a very limited but talented cast but the three key players, knock it out of the park with their performances. There’s something very unsettling about the twins (Elias and Lukas Schwartz) and they play their roles brilliantly and Susanne Wuest also gives a very chilling performance in her role as “The Mother”. The audience is never really sure how to feel about any of them and this effectively dials up the creep factor and gives the film a little darker edge.

Goodnight Mommy is definitely a film with an art house feel but that doesn’t make it any less creepy or tragic, it in fact adds to the film. It’s a psychological thriller but there is also a great deal of sadness and an underlying sense of loss that keep it from ever becoming a full blown horror film.

While entertaining and full of some pretty graphic and horrific elements, it never fully lives up to it’s potential and it almost feels as though there is something missing. Some vital piece we are not made privy to, however we are unable to stop watching or look away and have to see where the film takes us. The films end is one that is likely to stay with you after the credits roll and the final five minutes could very well be what brought on all the critical acclaim the film received when it hit the festival circuit. 

Even if mildly confusing and somewhat disappointing, Goodnight Mommy is definitely worth a watch. It didn’t deliver in the way I had expected it to or hoped it would but is does still deliver. Check it out and judge for yourself. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
KNOCK KNOCK FILM REVIEW

KNOCK KNOCK FILM REVIEW

By Amy Mead 

Knock Knock poste

KNOCK KNOCK

Story by Anthony Overman and Michael Ronald Ross 

Screenplay by Eli Roth, Nicolas Lopez and Guillermo Amoedo

Directed by Eli Roth

Starring Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas and an appearance by Colleen Camp

Due to work, DJ turned architect Evan is forced to stay behind at home while his wife and two children go on a short beach vacation without him. After saying goodbye to his family, he settles in for a long night of work.  Just as he decides to take a break, there is a knock on the door and he finds two scantily clad and beautiful young women, Genesis and Bel, standing in the pouring rain and soaking wet.

The girls apologize for the intrusion and explain that they are lost. They were headed for a party but due to a dead phone battery they no longer have the address. Being a nice guy, Evan lets them in and offers to call a car for them.

After discovering that there will be a 45 minute wait, the girls quickly make themselves right at home while Evan dries their wet clothes and makes them tea. They begin to regale him with tales of lovers in every city they fly to in their jobs as stewardesses and before long, it becomes obvious that they are subtly coming on to Evan.

The car arrives for the girls and he discovers them in the bathroom, naked, in a bubble bath and waiting for him. He tries to resist at first but a night of extramarital bliss unfolds despite his weak protests.

The next day Evan wakes up and finds the girls in the kitchen, making a huge mess, eating like pigs and basically acting like assholes. He politely asks them to leave and they seem completely unconcerned the he wants them gone and they carry on with their antics, going as far as defacing his wife’s original art pieces. He threatens to call the police and they respond by calling him a pedophile and informing him that they are minors and they will have him charged with statutory rape. Craziness ensues and it takes him actually calling 911 to report a break in before the girls finally agree to leave.

But later that night, they come back, knock Evan unconscious and tie him to the bed. It seems these girls are playing a viscous game and it becomes clear that they have done this to others before. What started out as a genuinely kind act on Evan’s part leads to a dangerous and terrifying  game that he may not survive…

Knock Knock is a fun mix of borderline softcore porn, laced with a touch of  home invasion thriller and a splash of horror/comedy thrown in for good measure. If you’ve seen the 1977 exploitation flick Death Game (the original film that Knock Knock is based on) then you pretty much already know how this is going to play out.

The performances by the limited cast are better than in most of the previous Roth films and fans of his work will recognize a few familiar faces from his previous films, such as Roth’s real life wife, Lorenza Izzo (Aftershock, The Green Inferno, The Stranger) Aaron Burns (The Green Inferno, The Stranger) and Ignacia Allamand (Aftershock, The Green Inferno). For the most part, the acting is much better by these three than in the past Roth films. As for Keanu Reeves, it’s hard to tell if his performance is so stilted and wooden was what Roth was shooting for or if it’s just typical Reeves fashion. whatever it is, it works well enough for the film, especially when the laughable “free pizza” scene goes down. The real scene stealers however are Izzo and de Armas who were delightful in their femme fatale roles, even if you are inclined to beat the living shit out of them through most of the movie. These girls are crazy and clearly just do not give a fuck. 

Although the premise is unbelievable (how the hell are these two doing this repeatedly and never getting reported by the men they torment or caught by authorities?!) and often comedic, the ending is a bit anticlimactic and the social commentary on infidelity, pedophilia and our growing social media obsession is heavy, watching what these two women do to make this poor guy suffer, does have some entertainment value and is not completely unrewarding. By the time these girls finally leave, Evan has basically been raped, tortured, his home is in virtual ruin and his marriage is almost guaranteed to be all but destroyed. 

If you are looking for a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, I recommend Knock Knock. Just go into it expecting it to pay off like the exploitation thriller that inspired it. 

 

 

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
KRAMPUS: STOMPING THROUGH THE SNOW

KRAMPUS: STOMPING THROUGH THE SNOW

By Amy Mead 

Krampus Poster

Krampus

Directed by Michael Dougherty

Starring Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Emjay Anthony, Conchata Ferrell and Allison Tolman

 

KRAMPUS is a horror comedy film which focuses on  The Engel Family and their Christmas celebration at their suburban home with family members from out of town. Right from beginning, there is a sense that no one is particularly thrilled about this yuletide gathering. The two families are from two different worlds. with the Engels being well to do and the rest of the family being loud, gun-toting jerks who do nothing but bully and complain. There seems to be no excitement, only apprehension. Everyone seems to be on edge and filled with dread instead of cheer. No one seems to have much holiday spirit except for young Max (and his beloved grandmother “Omi”), who is desperately trying to hold on to their old family Christmas traditions, including his belief in Santa. He wants to keep Christmas as it has always been.

After the arrival of Max’s Aunt Linda and her family, things quickly begin to go south. Max’s cousins steal Max’s letter to Santa and read it at the dinner table, mocking and embarrassing him in front of everyone, thus making him cry. He flees from the room but not before tearfully screaming  that he hates everyone and hates Christmas. In the safety of his room, he angrily rips up the letter to Santa and quickly throws it out the window, in essence saying goodbye to Christmas as he has always known it to be and eschewing any traditions. Almost immediately, a massive, freak blizzard hits and predictably, the entire neighborhood loses power. Now forced to coexist together in one room without heat, electricity, phones or internet access, the family quickly reaches a peak in its dysfunction. 

The next day, An ominous looking snowman has strangely appeared in their front yard as if by magic and a mysterious bag of gifts has been left at the front door. The family brings it inside not knowing that Max has unwittingly unleashed the fury of Krampus by turning his back on Christmas. And by the end of the night, things quickly go from bad to worse, particularly when Max’s sister Beth ventures out into the blizzard to visit her boyfriend down the street and never returns.

When the family does not heed Omi’s tale of Krampus (and what happened to her on Christmas so many years before) allies must quickly be made amongst the feuding family members when it becomes apparent that they need to stick together if they are going to survive.

Krampus' gingerbread henchman

Although somewhat flawed with poor character development and a bit slow to get moving, Trick R Treat director, Michael Dougherty brings us something new and original with Krampus. While it may not be as thrilling or as terrifying as some of the past Christmas themed horror films that so many of us have come to love, it has much to offer fans of something with a darker theme and twist.

The acting in the film is all top notch it is brilliantly acted by a more than qualified cast with the talents of Adam Scott, Toni Collette and David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrel, Emjay Anthony and Krista Stadler all on the roster but they are hilariously upstaged by all the different toys and minions that are brought to terrifying life, most notably the gingerbread henchman, the band of marauding elves and the horrifying jack in the box. And of course, Krampus himself.

Loaded with both comedic and scary moments, Krampus stays well within the confines of its PG-13 rating but it is by no means a family friendly movie however. Krampus is a film that is definitely geared towards an older audience in spite of its camp and its rating and offers up plenty of truly nightmare inducing visions with some incredible practical effects and limited CGI.

A cross between the likes of Home Alone and Gremlins, Krampus is nothing groundbreaking by any means but it sure is a hell of a lot of fun in spite of its flaws. It beats getting a lump of coal in your stocking or the dreaded socks under the tree on Christmas morning and if the box office numbers for opening weekend are any indication, it’s almost a certainty that Dougherty’s second holiday filmed effort will achieve the same cult following as his first.

Krampus bell

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, YULETIDE TERROR, 0 comments
ANIMAL (2014) FILM REVIEW

ANIMAL (2014) FILM REVIEW

By Amy Mead 

Animal 2014 cover

ANIMAL

Directed by Brett Simmons 

Starring Joey Lauren Adams, Keke Palmer, Amaury Nolasco, Elizabeth Gillies, Thorsten Kaye and Jeremy Sumpter 

Animal starts off with a group of four people, two couples, running through the woods, fleeing from some unseen screaming creature. They are panicked, terrified and there is nowhere to go. A woman in the party trip and is quickly ravaged by the unseen beast.  The groundwork for something terrible has been laid.

Flash forward to a group of five close friends, Alissa, Jeff, Matt, Shawn and Mandy are head into the wilderness for a weekend of fun. Jeff and Alissa used to come here all the time as kids but it’s been years since their last visit. They set out for a day hike and naturally they don’t head back before sunset and quickly become lost. They stop to rest and Mandy spots the remains of something that has been slaughtered. There is blood, lots of it, and entrails and and bones strewn everywhere. Then they hear something  emit a blood curdling shriek and it’s enough to make their hair stand on end and shake them to their very core.

In short order, they come face to face with the creature and are pursued by the flesh hungry beast and lose on of their party to the vicious beast.

Frantic, they gain entry to an isolated broken down cabin and discover another party already hiding there.  They are the same group from the beginning of the film, now a party of three that has been hiding for some time and have already lost one of their own.

The first group has been there long enough that they know a little bit about the creatures habits and what to expect from it, and together the two groups devise a plan to escape, which of course fails miserably. Can they make it out before they are torn limb from limb or will the creature get them all? Who will be left?

I love a good creature feature so I was eager to see this one. And although I found it more than mildly disappointing, Animal was still kind of fun to watch, strictly for the jump scares alone. It is loaded with them and you just  know they are coming, but they still get you anyway due to the sheer loudness that accompanies them. I was had more than once by the blaring sound effects. 

That being said, there isn’t much else here, sadly.  The plot is painfully predictable, almost laughably so, and the ending can be seen coming a mile away if you are a seasoned horror fan such as myself. 

The characters all one dimensional, the acting leaves much to be desired and the dialogue made me want to punch most of them in the face. The mere thought of being trapped in this type of scenario with these whiny dumbasses alone made me want to kill them all and feed them to this damn thing myself. I really didn’t care if any of them survived or not, even the pregnant one. 

The creature design also left a lot to be desired and overall Animal is a waste of a good creature feature. I wanted my hour and a half back. There are far more more constructive ways to waste your time such as, I don’t know, sleeping perhaps?? Had it not been for the little bit of fun with the jump scares Animal would be a complete yawnfest. I have seen a few decent things come from Chiller Films, but unfortunately this isn’t one of them. 

I give Animal  4/10 which might be just  a little too generous… 

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
NO ONE LIVES (2012) FILM REVIEW

NO ONE LIVES (2012) FILM REVIEW

By Amy Mead

No One Lives movie poster

No One Lives

Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura 

Written by David Lawrence Cohen

Starring Luke Evans, Lee Turgesen, America Olivio, and  Adelaide Clemens

Betty and her nameless companion (credited only as “Driver”) are a couple who are on the road, making a move. Straight away, we can see that there is tension between the couple and things seem more than a bit off in their dynamic. It appears as though Driver has done something terrible to expedite the cross country relocation and Betty seems both resigned and reluctant and there is a sense of despair that seems to emanate from her.  

They find a hotel for the night and decide to get something to eat. Before long they encounter seasoned criminal Hoag and his crew of accomplices while having dinner in a dive bar.

The band of would be robbers have just come from a robbery gone completely awry. One of the crew, Flynn, had an itchy trigger finger when the homeowners showed up to their vacation home unexpectedly, killing them and causing Hoag to call the whole thing off. Hoping to redeem himself for the botched robbery and killing a few people, Flynn set his sights upon the young couple, and targets them, convinced that they are wealthy and can help offset the crew’s earlier losses. 

When the couple leaves. Flynn decides to have them run off the road and apprehended by another one of their crew, Ethan, who then holds them captive and attempts to question them about where their money is and how to gain access to their funds.

Things take a shocking turn when in the middle of all this, Betty suddenly gives Driver a speech about how she “can’t do this anymore” and suddenly commits suicide by slamming her neck onto the blade Ethan is holding against her throat. This sends Driver into a rage and he breaks free from his handcuffs, killing Ethan. 

Meanwhile, Flynn takes the couple’s vehicle and trailer back to Hoag’s house and soon makes a shocking and unexpected discovery that changes everything. It seems this couple has been holding a young woman captive in the trunk of their car. Shortly after this discovery, Hoag’s daughter realizes she has seen this woman before. She is Emma Ward, daughter of a well to do family, who vanished from a party where many of her friends were violently slaughtered. The crimes, her disappearance, and the two million dollar reward for her safe return have all been highly publicized, and after seeing the story on a rerun of a crime show, the crew thinks they have discovered their golden ticket. But Emma is no cash cow. They have no idea what is in store for them or the lengths that Driver will go to get her back…

WWE Studios film, No One Lives has gotten a lot of flack from many critics but I don’t share the general opinion of most of them. I had a lot of fun with this film. I had originally seen the film when it first hit the new release shelves back in 2013 but was distracted during the viewing and didn’t give it my full attention. I put the DVD away and then just sort of forgot all about it.  I recently pulled my copy out and gave it a second watch and I was seriously blown away by it. How did I miss all this the first time around? I could kick myself. I have been missing out and if you have yet to see it, so have you. 

While this film is nothing groundbreaking by any means, it is fast moving, entertaining, and if you are into gore, this film should be right up your alley. There is gore aplenty in this action packed thriller and some of the kill scenes are so brutally unrestrained that I was actually cringing and squirming in my seat. There’s just something about seeing someone’s head being lowered into a metal grinder that does it for me. And the best thing about it? It’s practical effects, no fake looking CGI to be had here, folks. It’s fucking beautiful. Truly something to behold if blood, guts and gore is your thing and on that basis alone, I can’t recommend it enough. I can’t help it, I love the gore and Kitamura (Midnight Meat Train) unflinchingly delivers as far as that goes. 

However, that being said, there are a few things I had issues with that many may not be able to get past. some of the acting isn’t the greatest and the way this band of idiot criminals are always screaming at each other and making some pretty dumbass decisions gets a little annoying. The acting talent of  Luke Evans and Adelaide Clemens are truly the saving grace of No One Lives. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to be had by way of a story line here and at times, the dialogue is flimsy and just a touch annoying. Overall, the story seems like maybe there is something missing and seems a bit incomplete but it was a fun watch for me all the same. There’s nothing wrong with a little mindless carnage and blood splatter from time to time, at least not for this girl. 

I give No One Lives 6/10

 

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
UNNATURAL (2015) FILM REVIEW

UNNATURAL (2015) FILM REVIEW

By Amy MeadUnnatural-Movie-Poster8 FILMS TO DIE FOR

UNNATURAL

Directed by Hank Braxtan

Starring Sherilyn Fenn, James Remar and Allegra Carpenter and featuring a cameo appearance by Ray Wise

 

Global climate change prompts a huge laboratory corporation, Clobirch Corporation, to totally screw with Mother Nature. They foolishly create and study genetically modified polar bears. Because Polar bears aren’t deadly enough.

Predictably, there is a mishap at the lab, the modified beast escapes, killing some scientists in the process, and chaos ensues. You would think that the middle of nowhere in Alaska might be the safest place for an experiment such as this, but you would be wrong. Dead wrong. 

It just so happens that the polar bear break out is going down just as a rude and pretentious photographer is arriving at the Black Snake Lodge, which is located not far from the lab site, with a couple of ultra bitchy models and his long suffering assistant in tow. They are there to do do a “Girls Gone Wild” type of photo shoot in the snowy locale, oblivious to the fact that something far wilder and more deadly then they can imagine is stalking them. Something is watching them and waiting.

Having been a long time fan of the After Dark’s 8 Films To Die For film series (and a long standing woman crush on Sherilyn Fenn), I was eager to check out this years series of films and decided to start with Unnatural because of the lovely Ms. Fenn’s appearance.

I hate to say it, but I was tremendously disappointed. In the beginning, the film shows a great deal of promise with what could have been a pretty solid story line, a seasoned cast and absolutely stunning locations. As the film progresses, however, it sadly falls short of its promise and for the most part, does not deliver. 

The pacing is slow and at times often boring and the gore is minimal, which is surprising given the premise of the film. The cast’s talents go completely underutilized, which is a shame given the strength of some the more seasoned cast members. Sadly, only James Remar is really given the opportunity to stand out and be memorable. Remar is the glue that holds Unnatural together and if it weren’t for his performance, there wouldn’t be much of anything redeeming about the film – unless you factor in genre veteran Ray Wise’s cameo appearance as the head of the Clobirch Corporation.

Unnatural polar bear

The creature effects leave a great deal to be desired. And what we do get to see of the creature is mostly fleeting, unexciting, and dare I say it, borderline cheesy because it is of course, loaded with CGI. Unfortunately, most the kills are lackluster and there isn’t much to be had in the way of suspense or gore. There is no real sense of dread or urgency. There is no real sense of fear and some of the characters are so unimaginably stupid in their decision making it made me crazy.

While James Remar’s performance does make Unnatural worth a one time watch, don’t go in expecting to be wowed. It isn’t going to happen. Overall, there just isn’t much about this film that really stands out and once the credits roll, it is easily forgettable. 

As I mentioned earlier in this review, I have always been a fan of the After Dark film series offerings and I really hope that this film is not indicative of what the rest of this year’s line-up might be like. 

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
REVIEW: THE BLOOD LANDS

REVIEW: THE BLOOD LANDS

By Amy Mead

The Blood Lands poster

THE BLOOD LANDS

(original title WHITE SETTLERS)
“They don’t belong here”
Directed by Simeon Halligan
Starring Pollyanna McIntosh, Lee Williams and Joanne Mitchell

 

Sarah and Ed are a newlywed couple looking to get away from their stressful city lives in England. They find an old vacant Scottish home at an unbelievable price and after seeing it, they decide to take on a renovation project and dive into the quiet country lifestyle head first.

Their first day on the property and in the home is an idyllic one. The stuff newlywed dreams are made of. But the boxes aren’t even unpacked before Sarah begins to feel that maybe they are not alone and things begin to get decidedly creepy and unsettling. It doesn’t take long before there are unwelcome masked visitors who come calling. And they are not friendly.

Perhaps the incredible price they got on this old homestead wasn’t such a steal after all…

 

I am really fond of home invasion type films so when I saw The Blood Lands while surfing through netflix selections,  I had to check it out. Home invasion films really get to me as far as fear levels go, so I was all in. 

For the most part The Blood Lands is your typical home invasion film but from time to time, there were a couple of nail biting scenes that were filled with tension and I found myself unable to sit still. 

The film does start off a little slowly but once things start happening and the cheap false scares end, the creepiness really begins to assert itself as the film begins to pick up speed and it manages to pull you in. Sort of. 

The acting is decent and the picture lighting and sound quality were excellent and because of that, the scenes were loaded with plenty of extra tension and adrenaline. There really wasn’t much to be had in the way of gore but we do get a few glimpses of it now and again. 

I quickly became a little annoyed at the poor decisions exhibited by Sarah after she and Ed become separated and I spent over half of the movie waiting for Sarah to grow a spine and start defending herself instead of just trying to elude her attackers. Reduce the numbers of those trying to kill you, I always say. But maybe that’s just me.

Although she does have some considerable skill at eluding the attackers, Sarah just sort of aimlessly drifts from place to place with no real intent on her part becoming clear. It doesn’t even appear that she is actively looking for her husband, which for a newlywed couple seemed very strange to me but I digress. When she finally discovers him tied up in the barn with one of the pig mask wearing attackers it’s more like she just happened upon it but it is then that she finally starts to show some initiative and strikes back, attacking the man and wounding another.

Their characters become a lot less likable as they continue to make one stupid decision after another and the further into the film I got I kinda just want to assist the masked assailants that are terrorizing them. It was almost as if they had no instinct to fight back or even attempt to protect themselves. It seemed to take an unusually long time for them to go into survival mode. Because of their lack of action, it was hard to get emotionally invested with them and care much either way if they survived the night or not. 

As far as home invasion films go this one was a bit on the weak side and a bit predictable at times. I was a bit surprised the ending but had it not been for one key scene in particular (which I won’t spoil for you) I would have enjoyed the film much less. All in all it wasn’t a terrible film but it was nothing groundbreaking either. 

I give The Blood Lands  7/10 territorial douchebags

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments

COMING SOON: INTRUDERS

THEY SHOULD HAVE LEFT HER ALONE…

Intruders poster

Back in August of 2014, it was announced director Adam Schindler (Delivery: The Beast Within) was set to direct upcoming home invasion horror thriller, Shut In, which was originally slated for a 2015 release. The name has since been changed to Intruders and is finally set for its theatrical and VOD run on January 15, 2016 and will be released through Momentum Pictures (an E1 company).

Film fest hit Intruders will star Beth Riesgraf (TV series The Librarians) , Martin Starr (Dead Snow), Rory Culkin (Signs, Scream 4) and Jack Kesy (TV series The Strain) and is reported to be a home invasion horror with a bit of a twist, a sort of Home Alone meets You’re Next. 

The synopsis of the film is as such:

A trio of criminals breaks into a house thinking it is abandoned. However, it is inhabited by an attractive young woman with a severe case of  agoraphobia so incapacitating she would rather stay in the home and contend with the bad guys, than venture out of it in an attempt to escape them. Little does this trio of bandits know that agoraphobia is just ONE of her mental issues.

There is much more to this demure woman than meets the eye and soon a deadly game of cat and mouse unfolds as she pulls a few tricks of her own and wages a war on the unsuspecting criminals who never saw her coming. 

Beth Reisgraf

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RETRO REVIEW: BOXING HELENA

RETRO REVIEW: BOXING HELENA

By Amy Mead

Boxing Helena

Directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch

Story written by Phillipe Caland

Screenplay written by Jennifer Chambers Lynch

Starring Julian Sands, Sherilyn Fenn, Bill Paxton, Kurtwood Smith and Art Garfunkel

 

Dr. Nick Cavanaugh is a successful surgeon living on a posh Atlanta estate who is as lonely as the day is long. Lonely and harboring some pretty hardcore mommy issues, he becomes obsessed with the beautiful and beguiling Helena after a clandestine one night stand. He is unable to shake the memory of her, in spite of being engaged to his lovely fiance Anne. His enchantment with Helena leads him to many careless acts, including climbing the trees outside her apartment and peeping on her and pretty much stalking her. 

Nick throws a party one night and foolishly invites Helena. He is forced to witness her flirt with a young man at the party. Helena becomes the talk of the party when she removes her dress and goes for a nice, sexy stroll through the majestic water fountain in Nick’s garden and then leaves with the young man she just met. The way Nick feels for Helena is written all over his face as he watches her in the fountain, leading to an angry confrontation with his fiance Anne in which he denies any sort of relationship with Helena. 

The next day Helena returns to Nick’s estate to retrieve something she mistakenly left something behind at the party.  This leads to an awkward standoff between Nick and Helena and she tries to leave in a hurry and winds up getting hit by a car in front of Nick’s property, leaving her with some pretty gnarly damage to her legs.

Lucky for Helena (or is it?), Nick is a surgeon and he is able to treat her right there in his home and keep her alive. However, when Helena finally wakes, she discovers that both of her legs are gone and she is virtually a prisoner in Nick’s palatial home. Nick uses excuse after excuse as to why he is keeping her there and eventually Helena tries to strangle him. bad move on her part as she then wakes up and her perfectly healthy arms have also been removed.

She is now completely dependent upon the man who has taken his obsession to another level and she is beginning to resign herself to the fact that she may never make it out alive…

 

 

Boxing Helena is the directorial debut from Jennifer Chambers Lynch and it garnered just as much controversy during its creation as it did once it played to shocked audiences upon its completion. There were many legal woes as a lawsuit was filed against Kim Basinger for backing out of a verbal agreement to play the titular role. The studio won and it cost her a cool seven million dollars, thus placing the film in the spotlight before it was even in the can. 

It turns out it was what was best for the film in the long run. I cannot see this film being even half as good with Basinger in the role of Helena. I have a hard time seeing anyone but the sexy siren Sherilyn Fenn (yes, she is my woman crush) playing her, even knowing that Madonna was up for the role at one point. Sherilyn Fenn is Helena. No question about it for me. I think she is the only one who could exude the sexiness required for the role and do it any justice.

Jennifer Chambers Lynch gets a lot of hate for this movie but I personally love it. I have since my first viewing upon the film’s video release WAY back in the nineties. I don’t care what anyone says, I think her direction on this film is fantastic. I have also heard that Fenn and Sands have both received criticism for their performances in the years since the films release, but I think the roles of Nick and Helena were played exactly the way they needed to be, by who they needed to be. Being that Chambers Lynch adapted the screenplay from Phillipe Caland’s story herself, their performances were more than likely exactly what she was after. 

Given the subject matter, one might be led to believe that the film would be ultra gory but that is not the case here at all. We are not made privy to the act of Helena’s limbs being taken from her, we are only made witness to the aftermath and Helena’s shock upon waking up and realizing that parts of her are missing. We witness her downward mental spiral and it is truly horrific and heartbreaking to watch her decline into anger, sadness. and despair and it is almost heartbreaking to watch, until we start to see that in spite of everything, she has retained her fiery spirit after all. She unleashes her fury and holds nothing back with her verbal tirades upon Nick. She abuses him right back with her words and it’s very refreshing to see. 

While Boxing Helena is not your typical horror film by any means, even without the gore and jump scares, the film is quite terrifying purely based on its subject matter alone. It takes a really unhinged person to subject someone you “love” to the humiliation he places upon Helena. The thought of going through what Helena does makes my skin crawl. SO creepy. 

Say what you want about Boxing Helena, but I myself love it. It may not be in your face horror but it is truly horrific nonetheless. I have watched it countless times and will watch it countless more. If you haven’t seen it yet (and I don’t know how that’s possible) you need to. Immediately. 

I give Boxing Helena a solid  9/10 

 

 

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, RETRO REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
REVIEW: LET US PREY

REVIEW: LET US PREY

Sin wears many faces

By Amy Mead

let-us-prey-poster-us

Let us Prey

Directed by Brian O’Malley
Starring Pollyanna McIntosh, Bryan Larkin and Liam Cunningham

 

Let Us Prey opens up on waves crashing upon a shoreline and a man, mysteriously appearing on top of the jagged rocks and then advancing toward the rural seaside Scottish village. 

This mysterious man, (known to us only as Six) has decided to appear on what is PC Rachel Heggie’s first night on the job and almost immediately, craziness and confusion begin.

After waking from a horrible nightmare, Rachel prepares for work and on her walk into the precinct, she witnesses a  speeding car hit a man who is just standing in the middle of the road. She approaches the vehicle, but upon further inspection, she sees that no one is there. No wounded, broken body. No victim. The man has simply vanished. She hauls the driver in and alerts fellow PC’s to be on the lookout for the man. 

A team of fellow officers apprehend the man and bring him to the station. Straight away things seems off with him somehow and begin to get weird and this man Six, seems to know a lot things he shouldn’t about the other people in the building, officers and criminals alike. Things that there are no way he could possibly know.

Before long this mysterious stranger seems to be running the show and seemingly takes over the minds, and souls, of everyone present and they all become increasingly aware of the various crimes they are guilty of, as well as the price that must be paid for them. 

Through a series of flashbacks, it becomes evident that Rachel survived some sort of horrific ordeal when she was young and we see that she and Six have met once before, a long time ago and we begin to get a sense that maybe this night’s happenings are not as random and off kilter as they appear…

Let Us Prey moves along a little slowly and is slightly confusing at first but in the long run, it does a lot to help feed into the apprehension and tension of the film. Once the film gets moving, and some questions are answered, the more carnage there is. There was a fair amount of blood, for a gore hound such as myself to enjoy and some of the kills were pretty gruesome indeed (My personal favorite is the table leg in the socket kill) and once it starts, it’s pretty much relentless until the very end. 

In addition to blood and carnage,  I am also a big fan of watching total douchebags who deserve a proper ass kicking get what’s coming to them and Let Us Prey definitely delivers in that aspect.  Watching Rachel’s fellow officers get their comeuppance was truly a delight and even though I could sympathize with the prisoners more than the officers, it was fun watching them meet their end as well. 

I also really enjoyed the acting by the whole cast but particularly the interaction between Rachel and Six, especially at the films climax. 

In spite of the slow burn I did enjoy this one tremendously and would recommend the rest of you giving it a watch. There are far worse ways to waste your time and money, trust me. Do yourself a favor and check this one out. 

I give Let Us Prey 7/10 assholes who had it comin’

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
THE CHILDREN (2008): YULETIDE TERRORS

THE CHILDREN (2008): YULETIDE TERRORS

By Amy Mead

The Children poster

The Children

Directed by Tom Shankland

Starring Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Hannah Tointon and Jeremy Sheffield

 

2008 Ghost House Underground film, The Children focuses on two sisters and their respective families who gather together to celebrate the Christmas holiday. The celebration starts out as a typical and idyllic family gathering, complete with laughter, screaming kids and  an angsty teenage girl who would rather be anywhere but there. The pleasant atmosphere quickly turns into a living nightmare for the parents when all the children start exhibiting signs of some sort of sickness. Something which they had earlier dismissed as car sickness begins afflicting all of the kids and they all have the same symptoms which culminates in some very erratic behavior. 

The kids all begin vomiting up some seriously nasty looking goo and before you know it, they all become infected with some sort of strange virus/murderous rage and turn on their parents without much provocation, and seemingly with glee. Before the parents involved can completely grasp the full scope of what’s happening, the kids begin killing them methodically and once they get started, they make damn quick work of it. 


The Children is a bit confusing in that we never really get any questions as to why this is all happening really answered. What triggered this whole thing? Why the hell is this happening? And why are only children affected? We are given a few hints but they come so early on in the film that we don’t realize we need to be looking for them. And Unfortunately the few hints there are, really don’t clear much up for the audience. 

The film is well acted, extremely well shot and it is filled with plenty of shock value. Fortunately, the violence against the children is never overplayed or drawn out, the kill scenes are blessedly short and thankfully, not exceedingly graphic, thereby making it much easier to watch. Although the scenes are still quite gut wrenching to witness and they give off a general feeling of unease and discomfort.

Anything involving violence towards small children usually makes me more than a little squeamish and I normally find it really hard to watch it, if I can at all. The way Shankland shoots the scenes make them much easier to digest, but it doesn’t change the creep out factor by any means. The fact that these kids are just going wildly homicidal on their own parents and people they once loved, from out of nowhere was/is profoundly disturbing and Shankland doesn’t shield us from that aspect of the story at all. If you’re a parent, you’ll totally understand where I’m coming from. 

As far as killer kid films go, The Children stands tall and is definitely worth a one time viewing and who knows? Maybe you’ll even end up making it a part of your holiday horror traditions like I have in my house. 

 

 

 

Posted by Amy Mead in IN THE SPOTLIGHT, RETRO REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, YULETIDE TERROR, 0 comments
REVIEW: TOOLBOX MURDERS 2: COFFIN BABY

REVIEW: TOOLBOX MURDERS 2: COFFIN BABY

By Amy Mead

Coffin Baby

Toolbox Murders 2: Coffin Baby

Directed by Dean Jones

Starring Chauntal Lewis, Bruce Dern, Brian Krause and Chris Doyle

 

After the body of her murdered sister is discovered and the crime, as well as countless others, continue to go unsolved, our main character Samantha is abducted, held captive, tortured and branded for no apparent reason other than the antagonist is a twisted psycho.

After being forced to not only sleep with corpses but consume them, she slowly begins to lose what fragile hold on sanity she has retained after her sister’s tragic and senseless murder. 

It seems that Coffin Baby is at it once again.  And unfortunately, and that’s where any similarity to its 2004 predecessor, Toolbox Murders ends. 

I have no idea what the hell it was I just watched. I went in thinking that Toolbox Murders 2: Coffin Baby would be a continuation of the story that we were given with the 2004 remake of 1978’s The Toolbox Murders. I was wrong. Seriously wrong. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to anything that was happening and there was zero character introduction to be had, so when awful things started happening to victim Samantha, I genuinely could have cared less what was happening to her, let alone feel any sort of sympathy for her.

The film rolled and with each minute, I became more and more annoyed by the character and her incessant (and unconvincing) screams and pleas for help and I cared even less what happened to her. I actually wanted her to die. Violently. And as soon as possible. 

I  watch a lot of indie productions and as far and cinematography, lighting and sound go, this was some of the worst I have ever seen. And I’ve seen my fair share of terrible movies, believe me but this one in addition to all its other shortcomings also barely has a plot. 

Unfortunately, for the most part, the acting was even worse. Chauntal Lewis’ portrayal of Samantha was completely unconvincing and not believable in the least. Instead of commiserating with our victim, I wanted to slap her in the face with a hammer and kill her myself.  Sadly, veteran actor Bruce Dern is the only real talent in this film. 

Aside from what are some pretty good practical effects, the only other thing I liked about Toolbox Murders 2: Coffin Baby was that it ended.

Having been a fan of the 2004 remake, I  had been looking forward to it since I first heard about it a while back,  but for me personally, it was probably the biggest disappointment of 2015. It was an utterly pointless, confusing and uneventful yawnfest. I almost fell asleep twice while watching it. 

I’m pretty sure knowing in advance that it was pretty much a sequel in name only and had nothing much to do with the previous story line (other than Coffin Baby once again being the perpetrator), wouldn’t have made me hate the film any less. Although, I may have avoided it altogether.

By the time the credits rolled I wanted both my time and my rental fee back. Unless wasting your time and money is what you’re into, I suggest you avoid this piece of cinematic garbage like the plague. I wish I had. 

I give Toolbox Murders 2: Coffin Baby 4/10 

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments
REVIEW: THE FINAL GIRLS

REVIEW: THE FINAL GIRLS

By Amy Mead

The Final Girls movie poster

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

Starring Malin Akerman, Taissa Farmiga, Alexander Ludwig, Nina Dobrev and Alia Shawcat

The Final Girls starts with Max, the daughter of former scream queen, Amanda Cartwright, sitting in a car waiting for her mom to return from an audition. While waiting, she watches a trailer for an old 80’s horror film and looking over her mother’s new resume and head shot. Amanda soon returns, lamenting on the drive home about how she will never be taken seriously due to her role as “Nancy” in the 80’s slasher film, Camp Bloodbath, which has now become a cult classic among horror fans. Sadly, they are involved in a horrific crash and never make it home. Max is the only survivor.

Flash forward to the third anniversary of her mother’s death and we see Max hanging out with her friends Gertie and Chris. They are soon approached by Gertie’s stepbrother (and horror nerd supreme) who convinces Max to attend a special back to back screening of Camp Bloodbath and it’s sequel, Camp Bloodbath 2: Cruel Summer, that is being shown later that very night.

During the screening, all hell breaks loose as overzealous fans accidentally set the theater on fire. In a panic, Max cuts a hole in the screen for her and her friends to safely escape the blaze and they are somehow suddenly transported into the world of the film. They all wake up in the woods and realize where they are, that they have survived the inferno at the theater but they are now trapped within the movie.

Not only will Max be reunited with her mother, but she and her friends will soon realize that they will also have to fight the films villain, a deranged machete wielding killer known as Billy Murphy and play the film out to it’s violent end in order to make it back home…will Max and her friends ever make it out of the Camp Bloodbath world alive? And who will be the Final Girl?

 

 

 

 

The Final Girls is a very much an homage to the revered 80’s slasher that so many of us know and love and I had a lot of fun watching it and while the premise of being sucked into a movie has been done before, I am not sure it’s been done quite this well.

There is a nice balance of scares and laughs to be had here but gore lovers beware. Largely in part to the films PG-13 rating, there isn’t very much of the red stuff to be seen here, but it does offer up some inventive kills that are hilarious and a lot of fun to watch, not to mention a nostalgia inducing 80’s soundtrack that can’t be beat. 

The actors are all spectacular and do a fantastic job but Malin Akerman and Taissa Farmiga really kill it in their respective roles as mother and daughter Max and Amanda (aka Nancy) and their talent and range of emotion adds a surprising amount of depth not only to their characters, but to the film. Making it almost kind of touching somehow. 

With The Final Girls, director Todd Strauss-Schulson offers up a very pleasant mix of typical horror tropes used then and now, making excellent use of many horror film elements such as flash backs, slow motion (which I laughed like a loon at) and of course cashing in on, and giving a bit of a spotlight to, the often overused premarital sex and boobs bring the killer around angle. All the comedic elements are present, making The Final Girls a thoroughly enjoyable watch that I highly recommend. If you are looking for a few good laughs and a film that doesn’t get caught up in itself, look no further. This is it right here.

If you haven’t seen The Final Girls yet, you must remedy that. Immediately.  It may not be everyone’s shot of tequila, but it was certainly mine. And my favorite part? We are shown a perfect set up for a sequel at the film’s end. A sequel I would watch without hesitation.

I give The Final Girls a solid 8/10 badass, psychopath killing virgins

 

 

 

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, 2 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Kristy (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Kristy (2014)

By Amy Mead

Kristy poster

KRISTY

>Directed by Oliver Blackburn

Starring: Haley Bennet, Lucas Till, and Ashley Greene

Kristy starts off with a group of hooded youths at dawn returning from an apparent murder and are seen, photographing the body of a young girl. We then move into a sequence showing a website devoted to the annihilation of “Kristy”. “Kristy is pretty, pure, blessed”. The site encourages users to find them, hunt them, kill them and then share the murders to the site, saying, “Kristy is a follower of God. Kill Kristy, Kill God”.

Due to financial woes, young college student Justine has decided to stay on campus with her roommate Nicole for Thanksgiving break. She returns from doing laundry the first night only to discover that Nicole has gotten a surprise ski trip invitation to Aspen from her father at the last minute. Nicole ends up leaving Justine alone in the dorm but only after leaving her the keys to her BMW to use while she’s gone.

On the second day, Justine goes on a run for some Ben and Jerry’s and through a creepy encounter at a convenience store with a strange young woman, she unknowingly becomes a target for a group of violent cult members who are after “Kristy”, because they believe her to be a privileged girl due to her appearance and the car she is in. Little do they know she is on a work study program and the car is not her own.

She is tormented by a group led by the woman from the convenience store on the short drive back to the campus, and narrowly avoids an altercation. A dangerous and deadly game of cat and mouse quickly ensues and before the night is through, she must dig deep and find the strength and courage to conquer her fears, fight back and outwit the murderous cult in order to stay alive…

I am a sucker for home invasion type films, and I also really enjoy films where the female protagonist suddenly grows a pair and turns around and brutally kicks some antagonist ass. Kristy is kind of a mash up of The Strangers and You’re Next all rolled into one and I really enjoyed watching intended victim Justine get even with her cult crazed stalkers. The film is geared towards survival rather than revenge and thus is somewhat light on gore, but there were some great kills in spite of that, although I wish there had been a few more.

There is minimal character development to be had in the film but for me personally that made it more effective. Sometimes fucked up shit happens to people for no good reason and for me that’s what makes this film frightening. Stuff like that truly scares the shit out of me. If you’ve ever done the babysitting gig in an old creepy house or been in a big building alone, this film will make you uneasy and maybe even raise your blood pressure a little.

While a bit predictable and filled with jump scares, Kristy is a tense, beautifully shot thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat through a good portion of its run. The film’s overall sense of creepiness is bolstered by the direction of Oliver Blackburn (Donkey Punch) and the performances of Haley Bennet (The Haunting of Molly Hartley) as the proposed victim and Ashley Green (Twilight) as gang leader Violet, who both really deliver in their respective roles. While Kristy is nothing ground breaking by any means, it is definitely worth a watch if you are into psychological thrillers. I could think of far worse ways to spend an afternoon.

I give Kristy 7/10
 

Posted by Amy Mead in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments