Saturday, 28 February 2015

Horrors of 2014: Life After Beth (2014)

Life After Beth (2014)
Director: Jeff Baena
Starring:Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, and John C. Reilly
Running Time: 89 min

  This is a horror/comedy by writer/directer Jeff Baena, who co-wrote "I Heart Huckabees" with David O. Russell (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook).  This is Baena's first project in ten years and his first time directing which makes me a little nervous but he seems to have wrangled some good talent like John C. Reilly, Dane DeHann and Aubrey Plaza, for the film, so how bad can it be right?

  Zach's girlfriend Beth has just died from a snakebite and after the funeral, Zach starts spending time with Beth's grieving parents, Maury and Geenie Slocum.  While playing chess and getting high with Maury, Zach admits to him that he think that Beth wanted to break up with him but Maury comforts him and says that he's sure that Beth loved him and to hold on to the moments that were special to him.  Zach ends up losing track of time and comes home at three in the morning to his parents disapproval, but he doesn't care because he misses the love of his life.
 The next morning, Zach's parents try and get Zach to cheer up and try to set him up with one of his mother's friends daughters, Erica Wexler.  Angry that his parents could be so cold, Zach marches out of the house and heads over to Beth's parents place.  Unfortunately, they don't seem to be answering the door, nor are they answering or returning any of his phone calls.  After a day of being ignored, Zach goes into the backyard and peaks through the Slocum's window and to his astonishment the sees Beth walking in the hallway.  He runs to the door and starts banging on it and yelling for the Slocums' to answer the door but they call security instead.  Zach's douchebag security brother comes and removes him from the premises.
  Zach returns that night to the Slocums to find out what the hell is going on.  Zach breaks in and finds Beth alive in the house!  Her parent's are furious with Zach but try to explain that Beth just showed up in the morning after they had their chess game.  Zach thinks that the Slocum's Haitian maid had something to do with Beth coming back from the grave but the Slocums don't think she had anything to do with it and think that she has been resurrected, like Jesus.  Anyway, Beth is back but she doesn't know that she is dead and Zach is told by the Slocums not to tell her.  She also doesn't remember wanting to break up with Zach, so everything is great.
  Not really because she is not the only person who has been "resurrected" and as the days go by, other people start returning from the grave.  Beth and the others hunger, for something they can't put their fingers on, is rising and their ability to control their rage is getting worse.  Has a zombiegeddon manifested itself in Zach's neighbourhood and how can he stop it without hurting the ghoul he loves? 


  This is a very different kind of zombie movie and it focuses more on the romantic comedy aspect than it does on the horror.  Like "Warm Bodies", writer/director Jeff Baena has an interesting rom/com/zom movie but it has an added twist that these people were in love before the the dead started returning from their graves.  The heart of the story is the relationship between Zach, played by Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, Lawless) and Beth, played by Aubrey Plaza (Safety Not Guaranteed, Scott Pilgrim vs The World) and howthese bonds can change, grow and at some times die.  The film does have a certain charm to it and there are definitely some amusing moments peppered throughout the film.
  The best parts of this film are with Aubrey Plaza and her characters' development throughout the picture.  She is fantastic in this and she absolutely nails every scene.  Whether it be the loving girlfriend, the innocent daughter, jealous girlfriend or the viscous zombie, she hits her marks every time.  Also, she has an excellent sense for comedic timing and gets most of the laughs as the film progresses.


 Although there are some good parts of the film, there are some issues that I found with the film. For one, Zach's family don't seem very realistic at all.  Paul Reiser (Aliens, Whiplash) and Cheryl Hines (Waitress, Curb Your Enthusiasm), who play the parents, sadly aren't developed at all and are given these one note characters to portray.  Which is such a waste because both are such talented comedians and if used in a better way, could have made the film so much funnier.  Additionally,  Zach's brother Kyle, played Matthew Gray Gruber (Excision, How To Be A Serial Killer) is a mean douchebag for no reason at all.  There is no explanation throughout the film and isn't held accountable by the parents for his douchebaggery.  Again, it's another talented person being wasted with a one note character.   
  Also, some horror fans may be disappointed with the lack of blood or gore in this film.  For a zombie movie, there isn't very much zombie stuff going on until the end of the film and even then, it's all done off camera.  However, they do show zombies being killed but if you're looking for any real carnage, then this may not be for you.


  With that film, this movie was pretty good, unless you're expecting a full out zombie film.  There is an interesting story, about two young people trying to work out their relationship as things change,  there is some alright jokes, again mostly Plaza but John C. Reilly has a couple of moments as well,  and the ending is somewhat satisfying.  So, if you're looking for a zom/rom/com but without the nasty blood, then this will give you something to gnaw on.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Horrors of 2014: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Starring: Addison Timlin, Veronica Cartwright, and Anthony Anderson
Running Time: 86 min

  I'm not usually that crazy about seeing remakes of films but I enjoyed the original film, so I thought I'd giver a shot.  Also, the director has worked on a number of episodes of "American Horror Story", so he must have some idea on how to tell a scary story.

  It's Halloween and Jami and Corey are on a date at the drive in watching the annual viewing of the 1976 classic horror film, "The Town That Dreaded Sundown".  The film was based on a series of murders that happened in their small town of Texarkana in 1946, by a mysterious killer named the Phantom, who has never been caught to this day.  Sadly, Jami is not that into horror movies and suggests that her and Corey skip the movie and go for a ride.  Corey is smart enough to not have to be asked twice and the teens head out to lover lane.  When they get there, Jami ends up talking and eventually they start making out a little bit, but they are interrupted by a man in the bushes, who resembles "The Phantom" killer.  Corey and Jami lock the doors and try to leave but the man dressed as the "Phantom" smashes Corey's window and forces them out of the car with a gun.  He tells Jami to turn around and not to look, then gets incredibly stabby with Corey.  Jami looks, freaks out and runs away with this new "Phantom' hot on her heels.  Sadly, the "Phantom" catches her but inside of killing her, he leaves her with a message for the town.  He tells her that "This is for Mary. Make them remember" and lets her go.  She ends up crawling back to the drive in, where people help her out and call the police.
  The town is shocked that there could be a new "Phantom" and the police think that this might be just some nut, who has seen the movie too many times.  However Jami is still stunned, puts on her Nancy Drew hat and begins investigating the "Phantom" case to see if she can crack this 60 + year old case.  Sadly, only a few weeks later, the "Phantom" strikes again and brutally murders a couple at a crummy motel.  Now the "Phantom" has the attention of the Texas Police force as well as the Arkansas Police force, who ban together to stop this monster from killing again.  Also, Jami is still getting text messages from the "Phantom", who is telling her that she must tell the press that "This is for Mary".  Will this sleepy little town be afraid to walk the streets at night again or will the police and a scrappy young woman be able to outwit the"Phantom"?


  This was an interesting film because it wasn't so much a remake as it was sequel to the original.  I like that director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (American Horror Story, Glee) created this reality that incorporated not only the actual case of the "Phantom" but the movie as well.  The back story was able to be told a little quicker and the film was able to get into the new story right away.  Additionally, I like that the new "Phantom" mimics the original killer and uses some of the same M.O's.   Especially, the scene where he kills someone with a trombone, that just slays me.
  Also, this film comes from one of the survivors eyes.  In the original film, which I really enjoy, it's focused on the police and their investigation into the case.  Coming from Jami's perspective makes the film less cut and dry and gives it a real human element.
 Furthermore, I like that the producers put some thought and money into this film.  There is some good talent in this film like Gary Cole (Office Space, American Gothic), Edward Herrmann (The Lost Boys, The Shaft) and Ed Lauter (Cujo, Leaving Las Vegas). As well as Addison Timlin (Odd Thomas, That Awkward Moment), who gives a great performance as the lead Jami.  As well as the production on the film looks great and there a number of ferocious slasher scenes that are really terrific and shouldn't be missed.


  With that said there were still some issues that made me scratch my head, like it's pretty fortuitous that some of the murders worked out the way they did.  The most obvious is that two teens are going to go make out and one of them will have a trombone with them.  I love this scene but it's such a stretch.  No killer is that lucky.  Anyway, there are moments in the film like that, where you may have let your imagination stretch a little further and just let it go.
  Also, the cell phone that keeps calling Jamie, why don't the police just track it?  And why is the killer still using her dead dates phone? Is he putting minutes on it? It's a minor thing but it did bug me, especially near the end of the film.
  Which brings us to the ending, which isn't horrible but I'm really not that impressed with.  It just seemed a little tacked on and there are things that really don't ring true.  Again, it's a real stretch for any sort of logic.


 However, the film was surprisingly pleasurable and it's worth checking out if your into slasher films.  This wasn't quite what I was expecting but there is an interesting story here, with some excellent talent and some good bloody scenes.  So, if your dreading sundown & searching through another pile of horror remakes to watch, give this a shot and you may be pleasantly surprised.


Monday, 23 February 2015

Horrors of 2014: The Canal (2014)

The Canal (2014)
Director: Ivan Kavanagh
Starring: Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Rupert Evans, and Hannah Hoekstra
Running Time: 92 min

  Over the years of doing this, I've discovered that Ireland has put out a number of fantastic films that are pleasantly terrifying, so I when I heard that this was from the isle, I was very excited to see it.  Although, the director and the cast are not new, I'm not familiar with most of their work, so this should be a fantastic introduction and I'm looking forward to it.

  Film archivist, David and his wife, Alice are a happy young couple with a bun in the oven and are looking for a house to buy for their budding family.  The house that they are looking at is perfect but David thinks he sees another person walking into the backward, so he tries to catch up but this leads him into a empty backyard and a open sewer grate.  He closes the gate and dismisses what he saw, then heads back inside to see if Alice loves the place as much as he does.  Which she does and the young couple buy the house and live happily ever after. Not.
  Five years later, real life has set in for David and Alice and the strains of their relationship, work and having a child have really tuckered them out.  They're still in love, as far as David knows but it's hard to find time these days to be affectionate.  Luckily they're going out for the evening to Alice's work party and this should be fun.  But it isn't.  David is pushed aside to the bar by Alice's boss to discuss business with clients and while he's at the bar, David notices a man acting very familiar with his wife.  Touching her arm, caressing her shoulder and other harmless but intimate gestures while they chat.  After the party, David talks to Alice about this gentleman but she says that he is just another one of her clients and they leaves it at that.
  Meanwhile at work, David is watching some interesting footage from a 1902 murder case, which to his surprise, involves his house.  Apparently, the previous, previous, previous owner murdered his cheating wife by stabbing her an ungodly amount of times and then he killed their two children.  After seeing this footage, David starts having terrible nightmares about the house, the crime & his family and starts seeing and hearing strange things around his house.  However, these things do not detour his investigation on his wife and her "client".  He spends an afternoon following his wife around and eventually follows her and her gentleman friend back to his place.  Upset but determined to find out what is going on, David sneaks inside the house and finds them having sex on the floor.  David quietly picks up a hammer... but leaves right away, throwing the hammer into the canal.  Luckily there is a public washroom on that street, which he gets into quickly and starts to vomit.  While vomiting he is approached by what looks like the spirit of the man who killed his family in 1902 and David is told that "the Master wants to see you", then he blacks out.
  David is awoken by his son, Billy's school wondering when is he going to pick his son, cause it's really really late.  David rushes over to the school and David brings Billy home, puts him to bed and waits for Alice to show up but she never does.  So, David goes down to the police station and reports her missing.  The police officer lets him know that he is a suspect and they go through the usual police investigation.  The officer asks him if he knew about his wife having an affair, but David denies it and eventually they find Alice's body in the canal.  Fortunately to the medical examiner, it look like an accident, she tripped and drowned, so David is not kept for any more questioning.  Unfortunately, as time passes David starts seeing more and more ghostly figures and he starts believing that they want to kill him and Billy!  Can David escape the terrifyingly ghostly figures that torment him and his family or are they just figments of his deranged imagination?


 This was a very solid ghost thriller with some very delightful displays of deadly dementia.  Writer/Director Ivan Kavanagh (The Fading Light, Tin Can Man) skillfully puts together a fascinating spooky tale about a man fighting to save himself and his son from what he believes are supernatural causes.  As the film progresses, the specters seem relentless and to the outside world, David seems to be hanging on to his sanity by a thread.
  Rupert Evans (Hellboy, Asylum Blackout), who plays David is excellent and carries the film well as the lead.  Evans's character seems to be spiraling with a variety of demanding emotions and with Evans expertise, he is able to project these emotions exceptionally across on the screen without any issue.  He makes the character believable and therefore the film more enjoyable.  
  The ending is twisted and visceral and epilogue doesn't pull any punches.  I have seen a number of scary films over the years, so I love it if a film make me flinch.  There is a scene during the end of this film, that made me wince and turn away, so bravo to you Mr. Kavanagh! Also, the epilogue is one of the most chilling and creepy endings I've seen for a while and I could easily see a sequel for this.
 

  There are a few minor things that didn't sit right with me, like that the film starts to drag a bit in the third act because the focus shifts from the ghost story to David and Billy's relationship.  I understand that this is necessary and important piece of the overall story, the dynamic between them, but the story really seems to slow down just before the third act.  However it's not for too long and once the the final act begins then it's full steam ahead.
  Also like most horror movies, the police are always so many steps behind and in this film it's no different.  Don't get me wrong, Steve Oram (Sightseers, The World's End) is great as detective McNamara but it would have been nice to see him or have more a of police presence around the David character after he was cleared by the medical examiner, to let him know that they are unconvinced of the accidental death theory.  Still the police eventually get on the right track, but something like this could have created a little more tension.


  However, those are just very minor things in an overall really good movie and definitely something to check out if you like really violent ghost mysteries.  The story is very strong, there are some great bloody moments and the the ending will make your skin crawl & it might make you turn away from the screen.  So, if you're looking for a film with spooky specters and demented dads, then this should be at the top of yer list.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Indie Horror: Cut! (2014)

Cut! (2014)
Director: David Rountree
Starring: Sam Scarber, Dahlia Salem, and  David Banks
Running Time: 104 min

  So, I'm excited to watch this movie because it has some killer credentials.  This film has won four awards at the 2014 Independent Film & Television Festival, including Best Director, Best Leading Actor and Best Film overall, which is pretty awesome.  Also, it was one of the top 5 horror movies of 2014 according to Movie Rankings, which is another feather in it's cap.  So, I'm going to sit down and see what all the hub bub is about, bub.

  Lane Hayes is a young ex-con with a bad habit of beating up hookers.  Luckily, his buddy Travis was able to get him a job at the film equipment rental place where he is the manager.  Lane rolls in late again from another night of sex, drugs and violence and is unbelievably obnoxious to his co-workers and the customers but Lane doesn't give a fuck because this business is closing it's doors at the end of the month and he'll be out of job anyway.  However, Lane's shitty attitude inspires Travis, who is an aspiring film maker and suggests to Lane that before the business goes under that they borrow and use the film equipment during the night to make their own low budget horror film.  Lane loves the idea and suggests that they scare the bevy of hookers that he likes to use as punching bags.  So, Travis writes up a loose script and they decide to head out to shoot their masterpiece.
  Unfortunately, they run into some complications with their "Talent", with one lady of the night getting pissed off because she didn't know she was being taped and an then later an encounter with an angry pimp.  However at the end of the night, they meet a sexy German call girl and hire her for a scene the next night.  That night Travis realizes that the need a menacing villain to make their picture good and asks Lane to see if he can find any scary dudes hanging around the lot, looking for some extra work, while he sets up the camera.  Frustrated Lane goes out and brings back the only dude he can find, which is a larger, crazy looking black homeless guy.  Travis says that he'll have to do and leaves Lane at the monitor outside the studio with the homeless dude, while he goes in with the camera to shoot his scene with the hooker.
  While Travis is getting all sexy, Lane is trying his hardest to explain to the homeless man what they want him to do.  Over and over Lane tells him to go in and just scare the girl, but when he sends him in for the scene, the homeless man goes crazy and the camera cuts out and Lane can hear screams coming from the studio.  He runs down the hall and finds that the homeless man has gone crazy and killed the hooker.  Damn it!  So, Travis and Lane calmly ask the homeless man to leave and Travis cleans up the body while Lane waits in the truck.  Travis dumps the body in his truck and then they  dispose of the body in the ocean.  However, this incident gives Lane a new idea and suggests to Travis that they just kill people on camera for their movie because it will make it look more authentic.  Has Lane gone off the deep end and will he start murdering people for their art and bring back the "snuff" genre or will one of them come to their senses in time to realize how distrubed they have gotten?


  This was a good movie and it had some really good twists that I didn't see coming.  Director/Co-writer David Rountree and co-writer David Banks create a very smart, dark and twisted film that will keep you glued to the screen.  I don't want to give anything away but they have created a very thrilling conclusion that will put depraved grin on your face.
  Also, David Rountree tempers the violence through out the picture and creates excellent collection violent vignettes, which grows and gets more sadistic as the films goes on.  And although, it's not excessively gory at times, there are plenty of scenes that will send shivers down your spine.


  However, there are a few things that I wasn't that crazy about.  I wish David Banks (Coffin, Halloween Party), who plays Lane would have toned it down in a couple of scenes at the beginning.  Most of the film, he nails the character but some of the initial scenes in the equipment rental place were just so over the top that I think it was too much.  I understand, where they were going with it but if they were going to have that, then I think David Rountree character, Travis should have been tougher on the Lane character for his actions because it was a little too unbelievable.
  Also I found the ending too tight.  I like the ending but I just found that things happened a little too quickly and it leaves the viewer feeling a little overwhelmed.  If they would have stretched it out a little bit, then it would have added a more to an already good film. 


  Even with that said, I really enjoyed the film and thought that the story that David Rountree and
David Banks created really translated well into film.  This is a different twist on a horror film and there are some interesting elements that even people outside of horror genre can appreciate.  So, if you're looking for a good independent film that have some devious twists and turns, then this will etch a terrifying memory for years to come.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Horrors of 2014: As Above, So Below (2014)

As Above, So Below (2014)
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Starring:  Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, and Edwin Hodge
Running Time: 93 min

  I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about this film, some people think it's really great and others find it be tedious & dull.  This is another "found footage" film from director John Erick Dowdle, who brought us a "The Poughkeepsie Tapes", which was okay, "Quarantine", which was the American remake of (REC) & surprisingly enjoyable and of course "Devil", which was... well it just was.  Anyway four years after "Devil", Dowdle is back and he's under the streets of Paris with his hand held cams looking for more scares.  I hope nobody gets trapped in an elevator in this one.

  Scarlett is this young professor who is trying to complete her deceased father's work and find the philosopher stone, a legendary alchemical substance that has the abilities to turn lead into gold and grant eternal life and was to have been discovered by Nicholas Flamel, a long long time ago.  She is like a female version of Indiana Jones and has smuggled herself into Iran to find the fabled "Rose Key", which is the Rosetta stone for all things alchemy.  She easily finds it after smashing through an ancient wall with priceless text on it and she has just enough time to film all the sacred writing before the building collapses and she barely squeaks out alive.  She then heads to Paris with her cameraman, Benji, to search of her not so old friend, George because Aramaic seems to be the only language that she doesn't speak.
  Anyway, they find George illegally fixing an old bell of a church and Scarlett begs him to help her but he is reluctant to help her because they last time they were together, she left him rotting in a Turkish prison.  However after some eye batting, George says that he will help but only with translating and nothing more.  So, he sneaks Scarlett and Benji into a museum during the night to try and translate the tombstone of Nicholas Flamel.  After some Nancy Drew riddle figuring out and finding a secret note on the back of the tombstone, they group realizes that they have to go into the catacombs of Paris to find the philosopher stone.
  After a guided tour that gets them nowhere, a local suggests finding a guy called Papillon, which means butterfly, to help them get access to the closed off areas of the catacombs.  They find him in a french bar and convince him and his friends to join there expedition for half of the treasure that Scarlett promises should be there.  The next day, they gear up and head into the catacombs but George is reluctant to go, fortunately a police raid on the entrance forces George into the caverns with the rest of the crew and after they evade the police, their real adventure begins.
  They end up wandering around the tunnels and end up going through a hole in the wall that Papillon believes is cursed.  Once inside this cursed tunnel, they find Papillon's not so old friend, The Mole, who was never seen again after going into the cursed tunnel.  Amusingly he asks why no one came to look for him?  Anyway,  he leads them through the underground labyrinth and eventually they find a chamber of secrets and Scarlett discovers the philosopher stone, it was right next to the goblet of fire.  However, when Papillon and his team try and unlock their treasures, it causes the ceiling to collapse on them and most of their party is injured and there doesn't seem to be any way to go but deeper and deeper into the deadly tunnels.  Can Scarlett and her team escape this complex network of tunnels and free themselves of this tumultuous predicament or as they delve deeper into this godforsaken maze will they find a fiery plane only thought to be a myth?


  This is a very slow movie and things don't really pick up until like an hour into it.  I think that the story that co-writer and director John Erick Dowdle is telling here is very interesting and there is a ton of cool historical/myth fact stuff that is blended into this story but it just doesn't work for me.  They spend so much time building the suspense wandering through those sewers/catacombs that it gets boring and repetitive.  Also there is no real payoff at the end of the film, there is no retributive justice for tampering with things beyond their earthly world and costing the lives of people on their team.  It's just another day for some of these characters at the end of the film.
  Also, I think these characters seem to be too young to be doing what there doing and it doesn't seem authentic.  I'm sure that there are some brilliant young adults out there but the motivations and the way these characters interact with each other seem years past the way of the people playing them.  It just doesn't feel real to me.
  Finally, there is a stock creepy girl that shows up in places that is never explained or ends up really have an overall impact on the whole story.  It's like she is/was the girlfriend of either the producer or director and she put in the movie because she wants to be in it.  There is no development of this character or explanation and therefore a waste of everyone's viewing time.  I don't blame the actress but the writer to think that throwing in a creepy girl would make the film better.


  What I did like about the movie is the research that John Erick Dowdle and his co-writer Drew Dowdle put into the film.  I find the topics about Nicholas Flamel, alchemy and hell in general, fascinating.  They did some good research and tried to put together what could have really fascinating story about a lost treasure and a earthly doorway to hell.
  Also, it was awesome that they were able to film in the actual catacombs in Paris and to be able to convince the government to sign off on that is commendable and may have opened a doorway for other young filmmakers to use in their productions in the future.


  I was expecting more or something better from director John Erick Dowdle, like Bigfoot movies, there are a whole slew of these underground tunnel films that have been popping up recently and you really have to something in it to make the film pop.  The story is a good idea but the people they have here to portray the characters don't seem right and I think they might be to young for these roles that they are trying to portray.  Also, there isn't a sign of any immediate danger until like an hour in and then there are some spooky stuff but most of it has been done before and lacks originality.  Furthermore, the ending is really blah and there is no real justice for the characters that created the situation, which is frustrating because it's sad to see really bad decisions go unpunished.  If you're really really into found footage films and enjoy watching people traverse the tunnels of underground Paris then maybe give this a shot but if you're looking for a terrifying thriller that has some real scares then I would leave this film unfounded.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Horrors of 2014: 13 Sins (2014)

13 Sins (2014)
Director: Daniel Stamm
Starring:  Mark Webber, Devon Graye, and Tom Bower
Running Time: 93 min

  I'm going into this movie blind, all I know is that it is directed by Daniel Stamm, who directed "The Last Exorcist" which I thought was a decent enough film.  The poster looks interesting, very Illuminati-esque and menacing, so how bad can it be?

  Elliot Brindle is a nice guy but that is his biggest fault.  He is too nice and lets people push him around and as a sales person, this is a terrible quality to have, according to his company.  After refusing to upsell to an elderly customer, Elliot is fired from his job, which was the only peg left holding everything together.  He has a handicapped brother, Michael who needs his insurance to stay in the nicer care facility, than the state's mental institution.  He also has a racist father, who he has to take care of, even though he disapproves of Elliot marrying a black woman.  As well as his fiance, Shelby who he is marrying and paying for the wedding, the reception and they also have a baby on the way.  So when Elliot loses his job, he's not sure what the hell he's going to do.
  Suddenly while he is waiting at a stop light, Elliot receives a mysterious phone call asking him to kill a fly for 1,000.  Elliot thinks that somebody is playing a trick on him until the caller lets him know about a number of personal facts about him.  Elliot kills the fly and gets a message that a thousand dollars has been put into his account.  He then get another phone call that asks him to eat the fly for another 5 grand, which he does and another 5 grand is put into Elliot's bank account.  He then gets another call and the caller explains that this is a game and Elliot has now completed 2 of the 13 tasks that need to be completed to win the grand prize of millions of dollars and a new life.  The caller tells Elliot that if he fails to complete a task, reveals the game to anyone or interferes in any way during the game, he will lose everything that he has already earned.  Elliot agrees to play and the caller says that he will be in touch tomorrow.
  The next day while picnicking with Shelby's family, Elliot gets a call and he is asked to make a child cry.  Elliot reluctantly finds a little girl and tells her that she is adopted and her parents don't love her.  She starts crying and runs away and so does Elliot!  He runs back to Shelby and tells everyone that he's got to get going.  Elliot rushes Shelby to the car and an irate mother starts banging on the passenger side window, screaming at him.  Elliot floors it and Shelby has no idea what's going on.  Then Elliot gets another phone call and pulls the car over, he tells Shelby that he has to do some stuff, like a surprise for her and the wedding and runs off after a homeless man.  As the tasks progress, they become more and more disturbing, which includes arson, desecrating a corpse and chopping someone's arm off, and Elliot feels that he has no choice to complete these tasks because the police are now looking for him and if he doesn't win, he'll be going to jail for a very long time.  Can Elliot complete the twisted tasks and win the grand prize to help his family or has he already lost more than he already knows?


  I'm not usually to big on remakes but I thought this one was pretty fun.  This was based on the Thai film called "13: Game of Death", which I saw when it came out but not since, so I can't really compare how close to the original it is because I can't remember.  However, I did think that this version was pretty enjoyable and director Daniel Stamm blends a good mix of dark humour and horror violence into it.
  I like the Elliot's character, played by Mark Webber (Jessabelle, Scott Pilgrim vs the World) and how he goes from this nice guy push over to someone who can finally stand up for himself when it's necessary.  His character arc is good and Webber has some excellent comedy chops for some of the sillier parts of the film.  Also, I think that Ron Pearlman (HellBoy, Drive) is excellent in this as well.  He plays a cop, who may or may not be working for the mystery voice on the phone and is searching for Elliot to find out what's really going on.  Pearlman's character holds his cards to his chest the whole film and his reveal is pretty decent at the end.  
  There are also some deliciously depraved scenes in the film, like Elliot having to pull a "Weekend at Bernie's" while sitting in a diner surrounded by cops or an terrific arm chopping off scene that is reminiscent to something from "Hostel".  The effects are top notch and they even made me wince and chuckle at times.


  However, there are some issues with the story that I found, like the ending.  Not so much the ending but the epilogue.  For such a dark film the epilogue is rather cheerful and some people survive that maybe shouldn't have.  For me, there needs to be a karmic balance and some sort of retribution for actions taken in the film and I don't think justice is properly dealt out here in the end.
  Also a one point, Elliot breaks out of a police station by kidnapping a police captain and that story disappears like in the next scene, after he busts out a window and onto the street.  Seriously, Elliot runs a block, then the police chase is over and the story moves on.  I can accept the ostrich element, the arm cutting off and even the smashing of the ballroom but this is where the film jumps the shark a bit for me.  It's one block people, I'm sure even the police force in New Orleans can run a couple of blocks.


  With that said, this is still an okay film.  It's not the greatest movie you'll ever see in your life but it's an amusing movie that will keep you on your toes and give you a giggle.  The story is decent, even though it goes a little of the rails near the end, there is some good violence and it's nice to see Ron Pearlman not wearing a dress in an smaller budgeted film.  So, if you're looking for an interesting film about a pushover playing a bizarre and terrifying game for big cash and prizes, than you have hit the jackpot with this one! (ding ding ding ding)


 

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Horrors of 2014: Annabelle (2014)

Annabelle (2014)
Director:  John R. Leonetti
Starring: Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, and Alfre Woodard
Running Time: 99 min

  I was very excited when I heard that there was going to be a movie about the Annabelle doll.  I really enjoyed the Conjuring and the doll that they had created as the Annabelle doll was so creepalicious that I'm expecting some serious toy terror and devilish doll destruction.  So, I cleaned my room, washed my hands and I can't wait to pull that string and play.

  It's 1969, John and Mia Form are expecting a baby and enjoying another church service.  After the service, they go home and talk to their neighbours about how excited they are about having a baby and how they haven't chosen a name for their child yet.  After a little chit chat, John and Mia head over to their home and feel guilty, like most good Catholics do in1969, about talking to their neighbours about the baby because they know that there elderly neighbours only daughter has just ran away from home and joined a satanic cult.  Isn't that always the way.  John tells Mia not to worry about it and they go inside and lock the door. (click)
  That night, Mia is listening to the news about the Mason family murders and John is frustrated because there is to much noise to concentrate on his doctor work.  He snaps at Mia about his whole life sucking, which upsets Mia and to apologize John says he's sorry and gives her a really big ugly creep ass doll that she has been looking for, for her collection.  Mia is happy again and they go to bed.  However that night, Mia hears screams from next door and sends John to go check it out.  She wanders outside to see what's going on and John runs out of the neighbours house covered in blood.  He screams at her to call an ambulance and she runs inside to make the call.  Unfortunately, the killers have also come next door and they try to attack the pregnant Mia.  She scream and John runs in to help her but he's too late because the female assailant as already stabbed Mia in da baby gut.  Luckily the police arrive and chase the female assailant into the baby's room.  The police give her a couple seconds to let herself surrender and then gun her down beside the crib while she is holding the creepy doll John just got for Mia. 1960's justice!
  After Mia is rushed to the hospital and find out that the baby is okay from the stabbing, the police tell John and Mia that the perps were their neighbour's daughter Annabelle and her friend/husband/bready guy, who had joined a satanic cult, The Devil's Ram, and were performing some sort of ritual killing but not to worry because everything is fine now, their dead.
  So John and Mia go home and just to make sure everything is fine, Mia forces John to throw away the creepy doll that Annabelle was holding when she was violently murdered in there baby's nursery.  He dumps the doll in the trash and heads back inside to his double homicide home.  That's the end of that.  Unfortunately it isn't and things aren't looking up for the Forms because Mia's cable seems to be going out all the time in the bedroom and then a huge mysterious fire destroys their kitchen.  Once again, Mia is brought to the hospital after the fire and when John arrives, he meets his new daughter, Leah.  Mia tells John that she never wants to go back to that evil house again and John agrees.
  So they move to Pasadena and live in an incredibly large apartment.  Just as they are finishing unpacking, Mia discovers that the creepy doll is in one of the boxes.  John tells her that he's sure that he threw that out and tries to take it from Mia but she says it's all right and the doll that the satanic cult woman was holding when the police riddled her with bullets can stay in their baby's nursery.  Good times, great memories.
  Unfortunately, things start going wonky at this new place too, the neighbour kids giving Mia drawings of Leah being hit by a semi, the ghost of Annabelle is chasing Mia around the apartment when John is at work and at one point the doll, finally, hovers in the air and a demon is hiding behind it and scares the crap out of Mia.  So Mia puts on her detective hat, makes friends with the used bookstore lady, who happens to live in her building and reads "Demon Possession for Dummies", then she is ready to battle this evil spirit head on.  Can Mia and John escape the demons wrath and save their family or will this demon feed on their souls and reincarnate itself into the body of Leah?


 I think that there was one thing that this movie was really lacking for me and it was featuring the Annabelle doll.  This film had a whole bunch of horror type stuff like Satanists, ghosts of satanists, and demons but the doll didn't really do anything creepy, expect for the hovering but that was more demon inspired.  Anyway, I think that writer Gary Dauberman (Blood Monkey, Swamp Devil) and director John R. Leonetti (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Butterfly Effect 2) really missed the mark here by not focusing on the principle character, which is Annabelle the doll.  Going into this, I was expecting something similar to "Child's Play", "Dolly Dearest" or "Dolls" but the doll doesn't do anything and it's really disappointing. It's the evilest doll in the universe and doesn't do shit.
  Additionally, I would nominate the Mia character as perhaps the worst mother of the year.  I don't know where the baby is half the time when she is out playing Nancy Drew but she ain't around her.  Also, when she does come to the conclusion that the demon may be after her baby, she leaves it in front of giant bookshelf because she heard a noise and of course the spirits take advantage of this and locks her in the nursery.  It's so dumb, this character makes such bad decisions throughout the film and it loses all believability by the end of the film.
  Which I thought the ending was a mess, heavy handed and didn't really make that much sense.  The couple seems to have given up by the end and another character that hardly knows them pays for their bad decision making.  I think it's suppose to be heartfelt and uplifting moment but is so far from reality that it just came off frustrating and lazy.


  I thought the doll was really creepy looking and who ever designed the look of the doll did a nice job.  However it brings up the question, who would ever buy that creepy ass doll and want it in their home.  The "real" Annabelle doll was a "Ragedy Anne" doll and it's interesting to think that something so innocent could have such an evil and malevolent presence trapped inside it.  As well you could understand how that doll could be passed around without being notice, but the Annabelle doll in the film, would not get inside my house.  I would decline the gift immediately. No Thanks.


  I found this film very disappointing and was expecting a lot more out of it.  It's a by the numbers film that doesn't understand what people are paying to see, which is the doll.  Whether the doll came from a satanic cult, a voodoo priest or washed up on the shores from the ocean, it doesn't matter because people just want to see that doll messing people up and that doesn't happen here.  So if you're looking for a doll horror movie about everything but the doll, then you can bring this one up to the till.



















Monday, 9 February 2015

Don't Watch This At School! The ABC's of Death 2 (2014) DVD Review

ABC's of Death 2 (2014)
Director: Various directors
Starring: Martina Garcia, Tristan Risk and Various Actors and Actresses
Running Time: 125 min

  With all the controversy and heat about the teacher bringing the first ABC's of Death film to school, showing his class & going to jail, I couldn't think of a better time to release this fantastic sequel.  Man, you can't buy that kind of press.  Anyway,  I saw this in October during it's theatrical/VOD run and I've been really looking forward to seeing this again because I thought this was a really enjoyable collection of twisted shorts.

  The series of shorts has a terrific animated opening credit sequence with kids playing and being mutilated at school.  From there, just like last time, they start with the letter A and tell a terrible tale that accents a word that begins with that letter until they get to Z.  Each letter has a different director from someplace around the world.


 
  Again, I really enjoyed the film and thought that this was an incredibly strong collection of horror shorts.  My favourites being Steven Kostanski's letter W, who takes every 80's kids dream and turns it into a feverish nightmare, Hajime Ohata's letter O, who turns the zombie genre on it's ear, and Erik Matti's letter I, who has family members trying to brutally murder their mother.  Great stuff! My all time favourite though is still Rodney Ascher's very clever and interesting throwback piece with the letter Q.  I don't want to get to into them because it might spoil the surprise and they have some terrific twists.
  I think the producers Ant Timpson and Tim League did an excellent job collecting all these talented people and gave them an exceptional opportunity to showcase their skills and after watching it again, I've even come to dig some of pieces that I was that crazy about.
  With that said, there are 26 different pieces from 26 different people and not everybody is going to love them all.  This ABC's of Death has a bit more humour than the first one and there aren't as many pieces here that push that extreme limit like some of the directors of the first one.  However, there is also hardly any existential & exploratory art pieces like in the first one either.  Mostly solid horrorific situations with a bit of fun and scares.  
  

  I really enjoyed the special features on the DVD and would recommend listening to the audio commentary to any writer, director or anyone looking to get into the film industry.  Almost, every film is talked about by the director of their piece and they mostly describe the process and how they collaborated with their team to create this piece.  Most are very insightful, some are humorous but they all give you an idea into how much time and energy go into making a short film.
  Also, there are some very fascinating Behind the Scenes footage for some of the pieces and they give you a much better appreciation for the people who work behind the camera.  You get a chance to see all the practical effects work being done and see the creatures and weird things being created for Soichi Umezawa's letter Y piece, as well Steven Kostanski's letter W.  There is one that looks at Vincenzo Natali's letter U piece and how he has only 12 hours to shoot it before he loses his location.  These are fascinating behind the scenes stuff that any film nerd will really dig.
  Also most of the films have at least a gallery of stills.  So, you can see some candid shots of you're favourite shorts.


  All around this is a great DVD/Blu-ray for any horror fans collection.  This is outstanding collection of horror shorts by talented directors, as well as an incredible compilation of behind the scenes footage that will give you a better appreciation for the work and artistry that goes into creating them.  So if you're looking for an anthology of terror that will scare and surprise you, than this is film for you but don't bring it to school, just watch it at home.


Sunday, 8 February 2015

Horrors of 2014: Exists (2014)

Exists (2014)
Director: Eduardo Sánchez
Starring: Samuel Davis, Dora Madison Burge, and Roger Edwards
Running Time: 106 min

  There has been some many horror films about Bigfoot over the last 2 or three years that the sharks are getting jealous.  However, I'm feeling good about this one because it's from director Eduardo Sánchez, who also did the Blair Witch Project, Lovely Molly and an interesting & fun short on V/H/S 2.  So with Sánchez leading the way, I'm willing to venture into the dark woods in search for a good Sasquatch film.

  Brothers Matt and Brian are bringing their friends, Todd, Liz and Dora out to their Uncles' secluded cabin for a weekend of freedom and fun.  Of course, Brian has brought a dozen or more GoPro cameras to record the frivolities of the trip for a super awesome Youtube video!  
  It's night time and they are almost at the cabin, but as they drive on the dark deserted road way the car hits something.  After a driving a few more feet, Matt stops the car so the gang can get out and see what they hit.  The right side of the car is damaged but there is no deer carcass or any other signs of them hitting anything.  Suddenly, the hear a terrible wail in the forest and they all retreat back to the car in fear of what may be out there lurking in the woods.  Brian goes over the camera footage from the car and can't make out what they hit but he thinks it could be a....................................... Sasquatch!
  Unfortunately before they reach the cabin, they find the only road towards it blocked by some trees.  They get out and walk the rest of the way to the cabin and when they get there, the gang is not that  impressed with their accommodations.  The place is literally a pigsty and even has it's own pig, which they chase out of the cabin.  They all decide to sleep in the car that night and clean up the place tomorrow.  They head back to the car and go to sleep, but Matt and Brian can't sleep and quietly talk about the old stories about Bigfoot living in the area that their uncle used to tell them.  Brian decides that he is going to be the one to finally capture film footage of this elusive beast and goes to sleep, dreaming about the many many hits on Youtube  he's going to get. (zzz, one likes, two likes, three, three likes, hahaha! zzz)
  The next morning, I'm guessing the gang cleans up that cabin and then heads out to have some fun.  They head down to the old watering hole and do some impressive bike tricks off a jump into the water.  Brian gets really pervy and follows Todd and Liz into the forest for some alone time and starts recording them making out.  However while being a douche, he sees what he thinks may be a Bigfoot strolling by.  He freaks out and Todd and Liz run over to beat the crap out of him.  Fortunately, Matt calms everyone down and brings peace back to the group.  That night, Brian sets up cameras everywhere and awaits the Bigfoot on his hammock and getting high.  Then he hears a sound and follows it into the woods, quietly begging the Sasquatch to pop up so he can get the creature on film and become an internet sensation.  Sadly, it's just Todd and Matt messing with him but while they're clowning Brian, that unusual wail echoes through the dark forest again.  Terrified, the three of them run back to the cabin but it's too late.  When they arrive there, the beast from the forest has followed them and is banging on the cabin doors!  Can this group of friends survive the savage attack from a Bigfoot or are they destined to be lost in a cabin in the woods forever?



  I don't know about this film, I think I was expecting way more from this film because it was created by writer Jamie Nash (Altered, Lovely Molly) and director Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project, Lovely Molly), who have created some impressive work in the past.  However, this film is a pretty pedestrian creature feature that falls into a thick forest of B-rated Sasquatch films.  I was hoping for some sort of monstrous twist at the end but it followed simple reasoning and there was no real surprises at all.  Which was disappointing at best.
  Also, I almost turned the film off when I was watching the opening credits.  It was a terrible cheap looking montage of the friends having fun on their way to the cabin during the day.  Fortunately, the look of the film improved vastly when the film got into the actual story but I couldn't believe how awful the opening montage was. 



  The saving grace to this lackluster film is the look of the Sasquatch and how well Sánchez utilizes the creature.  The make-up and effects team created a decent Bigfoot and able to creature some great wounds for it as it gets attacked, pummeled and shot.  The team does a fantastic job with the look of the creature and should be commended for their fantastic work.
  Also, Sánchez does use the less is more approach to showing the creature.  He gives tiny glimpses at first and as the film progresses you see more and more of what this group of friends are up against and how truly terrifying it is.  This is does well but unfortunately, one scary monster does not make a great film.


 
  This isn't a terrible film but from somebody who re-birthed a style and had such an impact with this found footage horror genre, I think that I was expecting a lot more than such a simple bare bones monster movie.  So if you're looking for the elusive awesome Bigfoot film, then your search will have to continue but if you're willing to sit through another film filled with screaming young adults and people who don't have the sense to put their cameras down, then you have the hairy beast in your hands. I mean the movie, not...

   

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Horrors of 2014: Starry Eyes (2014)

Starry Eyes (2014)
Director: Kevin Kolsch, and Dennis Widmyer
Starring: Alex Essoe, Amanda Fuller, and Noah Segan
Running Time: 98 min

  This is like the kickstarter dream story if I have ever heard one.  The majority of the funding for this film came from their campaign and then their project blows up with so many rave reviews, awards and it becomes noted as one best films of the year, I mean this is the Cinderella of horror movie kickstarter campaigns.  I really amazing, so how can I not be excited to watch this film and find out what all the hub bub is about.

    Sarah is a struggling actress in La La land and like so many, she is a young pretty girl with big dreams and hopes of being a movie star.  Unfortunately, she is stuck working as a waitress at a "Hooters" knock off restaurant called "Big Taters".  Her roommate and friends are a group of young directors, writers and actresses, who are always talking about putting together projects that never see the light of day.  Also, her "friend" Erin loves letting her know that she was the one that got the role for the commercial, not her and likes to take digs at her whenever possible.  Bitch.  So like many young actresses she searches the net trying to find interesting projects and while doing so, she stumbles upon one called "The Silent Scream".  She likes the idea of the story and the role, so she sends in her head shot and her information.
  After a couple of days she gets a call back and heads over to the audition, the casting directors impolitely go through her scene with her and at the end of the scene, tell her that "They'll be in touch."  Sarah almost begs them to give it another shot, but the casting directors firmly let her know that they've seen enough, thank you.  Frustrated, Sarah goes to the bathroom and has a complete melt down and ends up pulling out clumps of her hair.  Once her tantrum has settled, she opens the door to the lavatory and discovers that one of the casting directors over heard her fit.  The casting director invites her back to the audition, on the condition that she performs the tantrum again.  Embarrassed but wanting the gig, Sarah goes back to the room and tries to recreate her meltdown for the movie the casting directors.
  After words she feels that the casting directors may have been just making fun of her and heads back home with her tail between her legs.  However, the studio does call her back for a second audition and Sarah is totally pumped, but the casting director tells her that this time it will be a little different.  When she arrives that evening for the audition, the room is pitch black with the exception of a small spotlight in the center of the room.  Sarah finds her way into the spotlight and the casting directors ask her to disrobe.  Sarah tells them that she doesn't remember the film having any nude parts and the casting directors tell her that if she wants the part then she'll let herself go with it and take off her clothes.  She does reluctantly and as she stands there naked with the camera rolling and flash bulbs popping, she feels a surge of freedom that she hasn't felt before.  She goes home with a sense of vigor and a fresh take on life.
  She gets a call back from the studio and they request a final meeting with the head of the production company.  Totally excited, she ignores the no phone rules at "Big Taters" and is forced to  have a meeting with her boss.  He gives her the Tater's team talk and she quits because she feels that she needs to prioritize her acting career.  That night she goes to the final meeting with the producer but things go horribly wrong for Sarah.  Ends up that the producer is not only interested in her acting ability  and has his hand up her skirt.  Sarah freaks out and leaves because she feels that no part is worth that, no matter how big..., the part... in the movie is.  Will Sarah ever reach goal and become a superstar in the movie biz or will she have to go back to her shitty job, beg for it back and be forced to become the topic of gossip amongst her friends?  Is there another way and at what lengths will she go to transform herself into a star?


  This is a very enjoyable film and it reminds me of a mix between, Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" and Ti West's "House of the Devil".  The film is so low key and there is such a slow build at the beginning, that when you get hammered in the face with some very impressive violence in the second act of the film, it really catches you off guard.  Also the ending has this incredibly visceral feel and look to it that will stay with you for days. 
  I think the casting was terrific in this, Alex Essoe is fantastic in the role as Sarah in every facet.  She plays the character very meekly in the beginning with her friends and at work and as the film progresses and she starts focusing and sorting out her priorities, she becomes stronger and more vicious. Her scenes with Pat Healy (Cheap Thrills, The Innkeepers) who plays her boss at "Big Taters", are fantastic and just ring true because I know we've all had bosses like Healy's character.  Also, I really enjoyed Maria Olsen (Paranormal Activity 3, Scream Zombie Scream) and Marc Senter (The Lost, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever), who play the casting director and the assistant.  They nail the performance and give off just the right feel of arrogance & creepy that these characters need to come across just right.
 

  Although, I understand that this is a slow burn picture and I can appreciate what directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer are building up to, I think that it might be a little too slow for some horror fans.  After seeing the whole picture in retrospect, I know what they are doing but in the first 50 minutes, I was wondering, so where is the scary?  Again, I liked how it turned out but if they could have given a few more touches or glimpses into what was coming than it might have been better to keep the audience involved in the horror aspect.  All I'm saying is that some people may find it too slow but if you/they/he/she stick with the film, it does pay off rather brilliantly in the end.
  Also I did wonder about how the Sarah character's course of actions in the later part of the film won't have some serious repercussion from the law.  I'm sure those matters will be handled by the fictional studio in the film because I'm sure they probably have some connections but it's just a thought when you see bloody knives and weights being discarded so frivolously about.  You can't be a superstar if you're in prison, unless you're Charlie.


  Overall though I agree with the accolades that this film has received.  Although it is a little slow at the beginning, it turns into a very smart, sharp & gory film in the end.  This is the kind of outside the lines horror that is equally strange and fascinating to watch and I'm looking forward to seeing what these directors have in store for us next.  So, if you're looking for a slow burn film that will satisfy you're bloody cravings than look into these starry eyes and let your self go... see it.


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Horrors of 2014: Ouija (2014)

Ouija (2014)
Director: Stiles White
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, and Daren Kagasoff
Running Time: 89 min

  I remember when I was a kid, my sister and I got a Ouija board as birthday present.  We thought it was sooooo cool and we were very excited and nervous to play it.  We turned off the lights, it was in the middle of the day and we still had the sunlight through the windows to see, and we put our little fingers on the planchette and tried to speak to the spirits.  Then something happened that as a child and a good catholic school kid would never expect, nothing happened.  So, we got bored of the board and we went off to play with our other toys.  Hopefully, this movie won't be as disappointing as that.

  Laine and Debbie are little girls and Debbie has brought over her Ouija board for their sleepover.  She explains the rules to Lain, Never Ouija alone, Never Ouija in a graveyard, Don't Drink and Ouija because you'll regret it in the morning and always say Good-bye at the end.  Laine nods in acknowledgement and the two start their mystical journey into the world of Ouija.  They ask the spirits a question and then there's a noise...but it's only Laine's annoying little sister, Sarah.  However, they're pretty jazzed about getting spooked and keep playing into the night.
  Fast forward to the present, Debbie has apparently forgotten all the rules that she emphatically told Laine and is playing the Ouija alone.  After saying goodbye, she stuffs the board into her stunning fireplace and then gets a call from Laine, trying to convince her to come out and party with them.  Laine will not take no for an answer, so Debbie goes outside to let her know that she is okay, how excited she is to eat left overs and asks Laine if she remembers that game they used to play, what was it called again Monopoly, Parcheesi, Clue, no, the Ouija board! The thing that she just burnt but still can't remember the name of.  Anyway, Laine wishes her a good night and says that she'll see her tomorrow for breakfast, after a night of partying.  Debbie goes back into the house and finds the Ouija board that she just burned sitting untouched by the flames on her bed.  She then eats her shitty leftovers, takes down her Christmas lights and then hangs herself with them.  Those were some pretty terrible leftovers.
  The next morning, Laine and her boyfriend, Trevor, are hanging out at their hipster faux 50's diner waiting for Debbie and are being waited on by their other friend, Isabelle.  Laine gets a text that her dad needs her to come home right away.  She says goodbye to her friends, heads home and when she gets home, her whole family tells her the Debbie is dead.
  After the funeral, everybody is gathered at Debbie's house, including Debbie's boyfriend Pete, and Laine wonders up to Debbie's bedroom for old time sakes.  She think that she hears a noise coming from the closet.  She goes to investigate and gets startled by Debbie's mom.  She tells Laine how much Debbie loved having her as a friend and then asks her to keep an eye on the house for them while her and Debbie's dad on a vacation.  Laine agrees to it and finds Debbie's old Ouija on her bed.  The next night, Laine convinces her sister Sarah and her friends, Trevor, Isa and Pete to have a seance at Debbie's house to say goodbye.  They go to Debbie's house and Laine pulls out the old Ouija board, gives everybody the rules and then proceeds to summon the dead.  And they get somebody on that spiritual line.  The board spells out, "hi friend" and when asked who it is, the planchette points to the letter "D", so it must be Debbie.  This freaks the group out and they quit for the night.
  The next day on their way to high school(?), these students must have been held back a lot, each one of them gets a scary "hi friend" message.  So, they go back to Debbie's house that night and try to channel her again.  They get the same creepy spirit but after looking through the eye of the planchette, Laine sees that it is not Debbie but a little girl with her mouth sown shut.  And this little creepy ghost girl is being chased by her evil mother ghost!  This freaks the group out and there is now enough proof that Debbie didn't kill herself but it must have been the evil ghost mom spirit who did it.  Can Laine and her friends stop this evil ghost mom from growing stronger and killing them all off, one by one or is it too late and they have opened up a hellish doorway to the spirit world that can never close?


  Ummmm, I remember in the eighties there was a big controversy about toy company's making cartoons about their toy franchises because they thought that the cartoons were more of a half hour commercial for their product than an entertaining and stimulating show for youngsters. After watching this movie, I think that producer Michael Bay and the people at Hasbro have now taken that one step further with Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and now Ouija.
  This movie wasn't very good and could have probably left the rating at PG because there is really nothing here that is that scary.  This is the most by the numbers horror film that I've seen.  I like the concept, but the film plods along into unrealistic avenues and all attempts of believability are completely lost by the end.  For instance, Debbie is excited to clean the attic and records video of her exclaiming her love of cleaning.  Then comes down and records herself after she has found the Ouija board and her playing it alone.  Maybe I'm old, but who does that?  Also, Laine goes into the attic later on in the film and finds old pictures of the evil ghost mom and her daughters.  Wouldn't Debbie have found these pictures when she was cleaning and thought, cool old pictures of some freaky stuff or even the parents would have found them when they first moved in and wouldn't they have thrown that stuff out?  It's too far fetched for me.  There are so many things like that in this movie and by the end it just drove me nuts.  They find the dead body of a little girl in a secret room and neglect to call the police! WTF!
  Also, the characters, look far to old to be in high school and I feel bad for Ana Coto (DisConnected), who plays the badass girl Sarah because she has the worst looking haircut throughout the film.  It's ridiculous, these kids look to be in the mid twenties and there is no waaaay that they could pass for teens.  Why not just put them in college or something more apt to there age.
 Finally the worst part is that they gloss over the deaths.  This is a horror movie and I didn't think that the death scenes properly executed.  They were hinted at and touched on but weren't given the proper light that I was expecting.  We only find out one character is dead because Laine gets a phone call, who knows what happened to him/her.  Maybe he had his mom character call them and tell them that he was dead so he could get out of this film.

Buy a Ouija Board from Hasbro

  I think that there was an interesting story here and I like the idea of the reveal at the end, even though you can see it coming miles and miles away.  The make-up for the little girl is decent and so is the look of the corpse of her when they find it in the basement.


  This is a dull horror that has more flawed logic than it does jump scares.  Although, the idea of the story is alright, it gets muddled in it's over the top big budget, bad casting and overall unbelievability when it all comes together.  You have disappointed me again, Ouija.  So, if your looking for a far fetched, PG rated blockbuster horror that seems more like a commercial for a Ouija board, then play at your own risk.