CONTRACTED: PHASE II (2015)
By John Roisland
Holidays is a 2016 horror film i just checked out. I want to say i liked it, but it’s not one that I think I'd add to my library.
Holidays is another anthology film set much like the ABCs of Death, in that they gathered up a handful of writers and directors, and instead of them pulling letters out of a hat, a calender was thrown in the mix and each was given a holiday to make a short on.
Holidays tackled include:
- Valentine's Day (a nerdy swimmer in high school cutting out a team member’s heart to give to their coach)
- St. Patrick's Day (a woman giving birth to a snake with a pompadour)
- Easter (a deformed half Easter bunny and half Jesus)
- Mother's Day
- Father's Day
- Christmas ( Seth Green puts a smile on your face)
- New Year's Eve
The New Year’s Eve segment, directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer, who brought us Some Kind of Hate in 2015, stole the show.
Ending the year and the film was New Years Eve
The big name throwing his hat into the ring is Silent Bob himself, Kevin Smith who brought us Red State in 2011 and Tusk in 2014 and countless non horror films. Smith brings us a rather different event for my personal favorite holiday, Halloween... webcam porn. I'm gonna leave it at that for you to check out, but i will tell you that it IS in Smith style and one other thing, i clinched!
All writers and directors added their own dark twist and flare on not only the holiday, but added a bit of folklore into some of them as well. Some pieces I obviously enjoyed more than others, as I'm sure you will as well. Some were moved along, some tended to drag, others honestly made me wonder just what the HELL did I just watch!?!
I for one am a huge fan of anthologies, maybe because if one sucks, you know its not going to be much more than 10-15 minutes long, or maybe its because my brain can only comprehend for that amount of time. Regardless, i enjoy and welcome them.
Holidays is worth a watch and is currently on Netflix. Run time is about 1 hour and 45 minutes, and the film actually is not rated. But, no, this is not one for the kiddies!
I give Holidays a 6/10
Keep It Evil..
By John Roisland
Some people say that art is murder and murder is art, and in this little movie I found on Netflix, it seems so. The Girl In the Photographs is a 2015 horror film that was directed by Nick Simon, who also brought us The Pyramid in 2014.
When Colleen (Claudia Lee from Kick Ass 2), a local girl in Small Town, USA is targeted to find murder pix posted in her grocery store where she works, she freaks a bit, and because there's no proof, local police just chalk it up as a prank with bad taste. It’s soon found out the a serial killer (Luke Baines) is on the loose. This killer dismantles his victims. poses their bodies to mock famous glamour model magazine shots, and then photographs the victims (hence the name...The Girl In the Photographs) to leave for Colleen. When the word of this does finally hit the Internet, Peter Hemmings (Kal Penn from Harold and Kumar), an LA hotshot photographer who once lived in this same small town immediately takes a road trip back home with a few models as well as his entourage and set up shop for a week to do a photo shoot with some of the local women.
His game plan, to taunt the killer by having Lee star as his local model for his shoot, goes south when the killer shows up unannounced at the final party before they all leave to head back to LA, taking Lee with them in promises of making her the new big model
I'm not going to give away any spoilers, what kind of ass hat would I be to do that? But what I will tell you about The Girl In the Photographs is this: I was pleasantly surprised, not only with this film in its entirety but with the ending was as well. It managed to surprise me some, so it wasn’t 100% predictable. I really enjoyed that! It's a slasher film a with brain that still delivered on a good amount of suspense and gore!
I also very much enjoyed a surprise 2-3 minute scene that starred Katherine Isabelle, from Ginger Snaps and, of course, American Mary, that opened the film. Way to go, Netflix. It’s about damn time! So if your scrolling Netflix horror endlessly looking for something that catches your eye, give The Girl in the Photographs a shot. I think you'll surprised.
Keep It Evil.
By John Roisland
So what do you do on 4th of July when its shitty weather out and even the local fireworks have been postponed? You watch a horror film! Today's choice from the never ending line-up of endless shit on Netflix is Hellions.
The basis of Hellions is that a young teen who just found out she's pregnant must survive Halloween night alone. Okay, doesn't sound too bad, kind of cliche (survive until morning), nevertheless, I'll give it a go.
From the get go, I felt that this one isn't going win any Oscars, yet something about Hellions just kind of dragged me in. Our young maiden Dora Vogel, played by Chloe Rose... (Wait. First off, I've got to say this: every damn time I heard someone say or start repeating her character's name in the film, all I could think about is that loud bitch DORA the EXPLORER.....FUCK!!!) Anyhow, Dora finds out she's knocked up, goes home, and waits and waits and waits for her boyfriend to pick her up for a Halloween party. 'Cause going out to a party is what you're supposed to do when you find out you're prego! Soon a knock on the door brings what appear to be children in, yes, kind of creepy costumes, screaming, "Trick or treat!" When their bags are opened to fill with candy, Dora's old man's head is in the bottom of one.
From this point on I'm expecting a typical but possibly cool Halloween home invasion flick. What I ended up with is a cross between Michael Doughetry's Trick r Treat and a heavily dosed acid version of Rob Zombie's The of Lords of Salem.... sorta.
From this point until about the last three minutes of the film, it's entirely shot in this soft pinkish-purple hue. And it's nauseating as hell! The film unfortunately fell flat where I personally think it could have been great!
To me a good Halloween-based film is always a good thing, and this one really had something different. There was no axe- or butcher knife-weilding escaped mental patient on the loose, slashing and hacking at teen girls - not that that is a bad thing - but this was somewhat original. Our little demons asking for candy were actually some kind of Halloween spirits that were there trying to take the unborn child to sacrifice.
The film was released in 2015, directed by Bruce McDonald who also brought us Pontypool (loved that one!) and co-stars Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgement Day) as a local police officer. (My guess is he owed for a favor and got stuck doing this role.)
Sorry guys, but this isn't one for the personal library.
Keep It Evil.
By John Roisland
A few weeks ago I finally had a little time to myself, so I decided to watch a movie. As I scrolled through the entire horror section on Netflix (Which is, in my opinion, becoming worse and worse every month. I mean no disrespect, but the selection dwindles down to crap that even kids don't want to watch anymore.) I came across the 2010 movie called Monsters. The description sounded interesting and the screenshots that they provided kind of caught my eye. So I figured I'd give it a shot since it's something that I had not seen yet (and I hoped it wouldn't end up being a total shit sandwich).
The opening scene of the movie was in night vision. You see military personnel fighting a large monster, kind of a scene out of an old fifties sci-fi/horror film. I thought that was pretty cool. The monster itself looked like a giant squid or octopus on stilts and appeared to be about 50 feet tall, something a bit different. I liked that! However, as the movie goes on, the action/horror and the titular monsters themselves become less and less part of the film.
Monsters takes place in Mexico (gee, imagine that, aliens that are from Mexico, go figure), so the writer obviously had a huge sense of humor when first coming up with the idea from the film. The movie is actually well done, but the problem is that it is slow. Incredibly slow.
The story revolves around a photographer who is on assignment in Mexico when he receives a phone call from his boss telling him that the boss' daughter just happens to be vacationing in that same area. The boss tasks the photographer with safely escorting her back through what is now considered the contamination/danger zone of Mexico and into the US.
The two trek through the jungles (paying their way) guided by local guerrillas who are fighting these monsters as they try to get home safely. The two of them build a small relationship (of course) as the perils of their journey home bring them closer. The movie is very, very slow, but the ending was well done and actually kind of surprised me. If you are looking for an action-packed, scare-filled, or traight up monster movie, this is not it. If you are looking for a slow-moving adventure borderline romance movie then Monsters is the one for you. It gave you enough to keep you watching, but fell short on delivery ONLY because of lack of action.
The cinematography in the film actually has some great moments, and the acting was surprisingly good. Monsters stars Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able and was both written and directed by Gareth Edwards who also directed the 2014 Godzilla.
Keep It Evil.
By Nick Durham
Henry Rollins is one of my all time favorite people ever. The legendary punk vocalist and author is no stranger to the horror genre, having appeared in Feast and Wrong Turn 2 over the years, and now he has the starring role in He Never Died; a very unique film that definitely isn’t how it appears to be on the surface. Mixing elements of pitch black comedy and blood-curdling horror; He Never Died is something surprising and maybe even a little bit special too.
Rollins plays a guy named Jack: an antisocial misanthrope that does little other than sleep, watch TV, and frequent a local diner. The thing about Jack though is that this seemingly middle-aged man is a reclusive immortal, with an occasional taste for human flesh. Jack receives a visit from the teenage daughter (Jordan Todosey) he never knew he had, is gleefully unaware of the waitress (Kate Greenhouse) that has a crush on him, and eventually runs afoul of a crew of local gangsters. Naturally it doesn’t take long for shit to hit the fan, as you can probably imagine.
I have to say this right off the bat: Rollins is wonderful. He’s never really given much of a bad performance in anything I’ve seen him in, but here, good ‘ol Hank is something else. His deadpan delivery makes the comedic scenes laugh out loud funny. His revelations on his origins aren’t loaded with remorse or even emotion; they convey that this is a man with everlasting life that is just so damn tired of going on and on with no end in sight. If there’s no other reason to watch He Never Died, it’s Rollins’ performance.
As for the rest of the film, well, it’s definitely interesting and even somewhat original too. There’s a number of directions that writer/director Jason Krawczyk could have gone with the material, but instead of going full on tongue-in-cheek, he chooses to tell the film in a somewhat serious tone with various sprinkled moments of dark humor. I really can’t imagine the tone of this film being any different, because in all honesty, it wouldn’t have taken much for the whole thing to fly off the rails; great lead performance or not. Story wise, there’s still plenty of questions that don’t get resolved, with the rumor being that Krawczyk and Rollins will return with more adventures of Jack sometime in the future.
So yeah, you’re not going to see many films like He Never Died. It’s startlingly original and features a fantastic performance from Henry Rollins, which is reason enough to check it out. It may be an acquired taste for most however, so proceed with a little bit of caution. It’s currently streaming on Netflix, so now’s your chance to give this a look.
By Nick Durham
Do you want to see some of the worst that mainstream horror has to offer? Look no further than The Lazarus Effect. A shit-stained retread of Flatliners that features a very talented cast all amounts to a total waste of 83 minutes of your life. Seriously, I can't shit on this movie enough, even if I tried. I could eat a full course meal from motherfucking Taco Bell and I still wouldn't have enough shit to spew towards amalgamation of awfulness.
Frank (Mark Duplass) and Zoe (Olivia Wilde) are an engaged couple that are working on a serum to bring the recently deceased back to life. Their assistants range from an annoying smoker (Evan Peters), a tech guy/shitty comic relief (Donald Glover), and camera girl (Sarah Bolger) that doesn't do much besides look hot. All five of these actors on their own are talented, but all five of them are phoning it in so hard in their performances as shitty stock characters that we literally don't give two shits about what happens to them. Ray Wise is here too in a blink and you'll miss him cameo, but in that literal minute and a half screen time he has, he gives the most memorable performance out of the whole fucking crew.
After bringing a dog back from the other side, bad things happen, and eventually Zoe finds herself among the recently deceased. Why not try this new miracle on her? She comes back, and one by one, everyone gets picked off. It's so damn predictable that you will be able to figure out who gets whacked when, and even with the attempt of giving Zoe some kind of character arc thanks to a traumatic experience in her childhood, nothing helps elevate The Lazarus Effect as anything more than being cheap, easily digestible, mainstream horror bullshit that deserves none of your time. Not to mention that even though the film is predictable, it's also flat-out boring and anything but scary. I caught this on Netflix recently out of sheer boredom, and I wish I'd spent my time doing something more constructive, like watch my cock get smaller.
So yeah, in case you can't tell, I didn't like The Lazarus Effect. Everyone involved in this deserves better, and goddammit, I deserve better for sitting through it. Fuck this movie. No wait, you know what? Don't fuck this movie and don't let your friends fuck this movie either; it's un-fuck-worthy.
By Nick Durham
We’ll get to the badness of this movie in a bit, but there’s one thing I feel I need to address right off the bat, and it’s the confusion over the actual title of this piece of shit. First and foremost, I discovered Mine Games on Netflix, and noticed that it stars Briana Evigan (Sorority Row, The Devil’s Carnival, Paranormal Island). Anyone who knows me well enough knows that one of the things I love more than horror is ogling Briana Evigan, so I was sold right away into pressing play. As soon as I did, the film’s title card appears, but doesn’t say Mine Games, and is instead titled The Evil Within. Imagine my confused state, for not only am I now watching something I didn’t select, but I may also not get to ogle Briana like I had intended.
As I feared that my penis would soon begin to weep along with my eyes for fear of seeing no Briana, I soon realized that I would be weeping internally as well, because no matter what this movie is called, it’s a piece of dogshit either way. Upon further examination, it turns out that this film was titled and re-titled a couple different times throughout a turbulent production period, and an even more turbulent post-production period as well. The story of all that itself is infinitely more entertaining than the actual film itself, but that’s a whole other story.
Anyway, the plot of Mine Games revolves around a group of friends that consist of stock type toolbags and airheads going on a nice, relaxing trip outdoors, and all eventually getting slaughtered. This involves a claustrophobic mine and looping timelines and multiple versions of the characters that doesn’t amount to a lick of fucking sense. This is made all the funnier because the film actually believes that it is being clever, and it isn’t at all; it’s just confusing and boring. The characters are all stock types: jocks, annoying partyhounds (but one here has a British accent, so that makes him charming!), a hippie, a maybe psychic chick (with no explanation how), and the previously mentioned Briana Evigan plus Julianna Guill (who had a legendary sex scene in the 2009 Friday the 13th remake) absolutely both refuse to show much skin, which in turn helps make my penis sad in addition to the horror nut inside me.
So yeah, in case you can’t tell by now, Mine Games is a total stinker. Like I said before, it’s on Netflix right now, and if you’re a masochist, I’d say give it a look and hate yourself later. For the rest of us though, this piece of crud is better left not being seen…by anyone.
By Nick Durham
What the fuck happened to Tobe Hooper? That was my first thought when watching Djinn; the long delayed Arab/English horror film that has been sitting on the shelf since being originally filmed in 2011. But then throughout the course of watching the film, I remembered something: Tobe Hooper hasn’t been the same director that he was in decades. Here’s the thing: Hooper will forever be a horror icon for crafting the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, along with Poltergeist and Salem’s Lot. He’s helmed some super enjoyable films as well, including The Funhouse, Lifeforce, and Spontaneous Combustion; but over the past couple decades, he’s been a shell of his former self with his work. Djinn is not excluded from that sad, sad fact.
Djinn revolves around an Emirati couple who return home from America after the death of their infant child. Their glorious new high-rise apartment building though appears to be built upon a part of land that also houses some very, very malevolent spirits that have ties to the local culture. Soon enough our couple realizes that things aren’t all what they seem with their home, or with their new neighbors either. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that some very bad things are going to happen, and no one is coming out of this one hundred percent intact either.
Djinn actually features a ton of promise from its first shot onward. There are some genuinely creepy images and moments peppered throughout the film, but sweet fucking Christ does it ever plod along. Seriously, the pacing of this film is all over the fucking place. One minute things are moving at a brisk pace, the next minute they slow to a crawl. It feels like a decent amount of footage was left on the cutting room floor, which would explain the erratic pacing. Considering this film sat on the shelf for a few years (released in some parts of the world in 2013, and the rest over the following two years), this wouldn’t be much of a surprise.
The acting isn’t too bad (mostly), but despite the creepy moments that Djinn does offer, it doesn’t pack nearly enough scares, tension, or suspense. Back in the day, no one could do scares, tension, and suspense like Tobe fucking Hooper. Until you’d see his name in the credits, you would never know that he helmed this, that’s why it’s so hard to believe that this is the same guy that graced us with a handful of classic films decades prior.
So yeah, Djinn is a stinker, but in all honesty, I didn’t really expect it to be much else given Hooper’s previous few works. It’s available on Netflix right now, though I can’t say I really recommend it, no matter how bored you may be. What happened Tobe? Seriously, what the hell happened?
By Nick Durham
Well, this is…something.
What happens when your crazy, war-vet brother claims he’s found something in the woods that is some sort of blood-hungry, otherworldly beast? Well, you go stage an intervention of course! That’s pretty much the basis of Pod; a super brisk (about 78 minutes long) dirge of a thriller that has a quite a surprising amount of positive things going for it for about half of its running time. After that though…well, read on and find out.
From writer/director Mickey Keating, Pod tells the story of bickering brother Ed (Dean Cates) and sister Lyla (Jug Face‘s Lauren Ashley Carter) who unite to take a road trip up north in an effort to stage a possible intervention for their seemingly mentally ill brother Martin (Brian Morvant). When they arrive at Martin’s cabin, they learn his dog has been slaughtered, the windows and doors are secured and boarded and taped up, and there’s something in the basement that Martin keeps referring to as a pod that he claims is responsible for his behavior and the death of his dog…along with much, much more.
Fairly minimalistic in its presentation, Pod has a lot going for it. From the initial trip and tour of the dilapidated cabin to the first encounter between the siblings, this film manages build a shitload of wonderful tense moments. The camerawork, editing, and acting are all wonderfully impressive given the film’s almost barebones nature. That’s all pretty much the first half of the film though, as all the good things that are built up initially are betrayed as Pod stumbles towards its conclusion.
The major flaw of this film is that from the beginning sequence onward, we pretty much know that this monster exists and that Martin isn’t totally crazy. Pod could have benefited as being more of a psychological-based thriller if this wasn’t known right away. If instead the film kept playing with the viewer, making you wonder if this thing is real or if Martin is as much off his fucking rocker as it seems. Instead it degenerates into a creature feature, with a predictable hoot of an ending. Oh, Larry fucking Fessenden is here too in a small, yet pivotal, role as someone whose presence never gets explained. I swear, I can’t fucking escape him.
That’s the other thing about Pod: nothing is ever really explained. We don’t know if the creature is some kind of mutant or a fucking alien or what. The film’s promotional material kind of makes the film look like an alien abduction-style affair (which is what I thought this was at first glance) but in reality it’s little more than a monster-in-the-woods affair. The little to no explanation of things about the film is something I actually kind of dig. There’s no cell phones present and the cars are old models, so we know this film takes place in the past, but we’re never sure exactly what decade. Little things like this kind of elevate the whole thing, at least to me that is.
All things considered, if you’re looking for a brisk and somewhat enjoyable thriller that actually does tension (mostly) right, Pod may be for you. It doesn’t wind up being as promising as its first half makes you think it might be, but it isn’t horrible either. It was just added on Netflix, so give it a look.
By Nick Durham
What? Another micro-budgeted found footage movie from Blumhouse Productions that features actors you've actually seen once or twice before? Well, here we are. Mockingbird comes from writer/director Bryan Bertino, whom we haven't gotten anything from since his solid 2008 debut The Strangers. That film was a home invasion thriller that didn't offer much up in terms of the motivations of our assailants, where as Mockingbird...is more or less a quasi-home invasion thriller that offers no explanations of the motivations of our little-seen assailants.
Bryan Bertino is a weird fucking guy.
Anyway, Mockingbird takes place in the magical year of 1995, where things like cell phones weren't widespread, people still had landline phones with easily cut wires, and finding a mysterious camcorder at your front door is the gift that keeps on giving (fun fact: 1995 was the year I discovered my infantile schlong was made for more than just peeing, which is why this year is so special to me). A handful of seemingly unconnected people all find mysterious camcorders at their doorsteps. This includes a husband and wife, a college student, and a mama's boy loser that ends up donning clown makeup. It doesn't take long to realize that there is some bad shit afoot, and it's more than likely that no one is coming out of this intact.
One thing I can definitely praise Mockingbird for is its opening scene. If that doesn't grab you by the throat, nothing will. Sadly though, the rest of the film is pretty much downhill from there, which is massively disappointing because that opening scene will kick you straight in the gut. The creepy moments that unfold drag on and kill a lot of the film's momentum. The suspense never really ramps back up except towards the film's climax, but by that point things become a tad predictable...except for the end reveal of the masterminds behind this whole thing. It is pretty well-acted though, but the setting of the film seems to only make sense so Bertino wouldn't have to worry about today's technology getting in the way of the film's leaps in logic.
So yeah, Mockingbird is a fairly predictable found footage dirge that has a lot of wasted potential. It's disappointing considering this film actually has a lot going for it, but it doesn't deliver on it at all. Still though, that opening scene man...holy shit. It's currently on Netflix, so check it out for that alone.
By Amy Mead
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...
By Nick Durham
Good old fashioned revenge flicks have made a bit of a comeback over the last couple years. One of which, 2013's Blue Ruin, probably being the best of the bunch (and by all means, you need to go check that out). In this little revenge flick renaissance, I've come upon Bound to Vengeance (thanks Netflix); a relatively brisk film about a captured young girl (Tina Ivlev) who turns the tables on her captor (Richard Tyson, aka the asshole villain from the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Kindergarten Cop).
Bound to Vengeance begins with Eve (Ivlev) waking to find herself in the captivity of Phil (Tyson). It doesn't take long for her to free herself and turn the tables on our villain though, and it takes even less time for Eve to embark on a journey to find and rescue all the other girls that Phil seems to have captured and scattered all over the place. Of course things don't seem to work out well for anyone involved, and naturally, things aren't quite what they seem either. What? You thought this would be by the numbers and easy to follow? You've come to the wrong place then motherfucker.
That's the main problem with Bound to Vengeance: it tries too damn hard. First it tries to be somewhat subdued in terms of the extremes this kind of thing could offer...then it tries to get all twisty and even a tad noir-ish. It doesn't work as either sadly, and comes off as a more bloody and less overacted episode of Law & Order: SVU instead. The film also has a severe lack of atmosphere and for being a 79-minute long movie, it often drags along. At least the cast is good though. Tina Ivlev has a bright future ahead of her, and Richard Tyson is a typically wonderful scumfuck.
So yeah, Bound to Vengeance isn't anything special or remotely good. Still though, you can certainly do far, far worse in terms of revenge flicks. It's short and new to Netflix, so if anything I've described sounds interesting to you, give it a look. Then again, you'd be much better off checking out Blue Ruin instead.