The Void (2016)

Score: 5/10

Length: 99

Rating: NR (R)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, monster, zombie, murderer, supernatural

IIIIIII don’t know about this Canadian movie. One friend hated it, one friend liked it. I fall right in the middle. On the one hand, I liked the cult members standing outside staring, not moving and the quick scene with the monster-zombies in the basement. On the other hand, I’m really over the cop, the pregnant lady, and a mishmash of unlikable others being trapped in the hospital. The third idea with the eighties alien-monsters was kind of fun, but it didn’t quite feel like it fit in. I also liked the first half a lot better than the second, and was pretty disappointed with the ending. I even went back to see if I missed something, because it took me three tries to finish this as I kept falling asleep. After all this, I’m left giving it an “inbetween” score because it’s just so equally good and bad. Made me want to watch Society again.

Satanic (2016)

Score: 4/10*

Length: 85

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, devil, supernatural, murderer

I’m going to start off real here. The only reason I’m watching this movie is because I hear they stay in a hotel room where a girl slits her throat, and her name is Laney Gore. “Laney Gore bled on the floor of 204.” (My name is also Laney, if you didn’t know). It starts off with some God awful script writing for the four young adults getting high in the car while driving to their first destination, the hotel. They stop at various macabre sights along the way to Coachella, but decide the follow some satanist store owners when they are mean to them in their store. I had to fast-forward through a few scenes like the party and any time the group is in a car. On top of the lame scenes and painful script, the music is mostly not for human ears. The main characters aren’t people you’d feel sorry for, either. After easily outing themselves to a group of Satanists, it becomes crystal clear that the spies deserve whatever comes to them, and you will not be routing for any of them, not even familiar face, Sarah Hyland. I did, however, enjoy that there was no bad CGI and I like the time loop thing even though it didn’t make much sense other than being just another factor in the nightmare that poor ‘Doe Eyes’ has to endure. I was disappointed that we didn’t get to really see any of the deaths, and any favorable feelings I felt were swiftly erased by the wtf ending. I guess Hell is unpredictable.

* Extra point for using my name a lot.

The Disappointments Room (2016)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 86

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, haunted house, ghost, murderer

Kate Beckinsale is a blonde wife and mother who moves into a new home in the country with her family. She starts seeing spooky things in the house, and her husband assumes it’s her mental illness, asking the cliche, “Did you take your pills?”, so it’s pretty original. He continually asks, “Do you believe me?” which doesn’t add to his likability. I don’t know if it was just me, but I got an off feeling about the family right away. The acting was strange and I immediately didn’t like any of them. I could barely understand the husband’s fat-tongue mumbling, and I really could have done with some subtitles. The idea of a room to hide your hideous freak-children is intriguing. Building off of other films and focusing the movie solely around the room is mildly interesting. I did like the dripping chandelier scene; it felt very dreamy. Pretty much any scene where the magazine mom wanders around the house/property- taking photos, slicing knives into a wooden block. There’s a cat that must have been drugged or it’s a thousand years old to let a child squish-hug it and then give it a soapy sink bath. There are some ghost people who are kind of creepy, but don’t really do enough to actually be scary and their makeup is underwhelming. I’m not sure how this film took up more than an hour because it didn’t really feel like anything exciting happened, while somehow, the movie felt short while falling short. This leaves me conflicted on the score, but if I was grading it, it’d definitely be in the ‘C’ category.

The Neighbor (2016)

Score: 5.5/10

Length: 87

Rating: NR (But clearly R)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, underground

As a Canadian, it pains me to put no ‘u’ in the title, but I suppose it’s an American movie and the paper mache mask on the cover makes up for it. It felt very familiar early on, like I had seen at least some of it before. Probably before passing out and then forgetting about it. This action-thriller film is about  an errand-man whose wife is kidnapped by their neighbour before they plan to split with a bag of cash. Josh Stewart does a great job of looking like Sean Penn’s druggy brother, but the acting from everyone is pretty decent.  I appreciate that the women weren’t just victims, they fought hard. It feels like The Collector series, but lacks some of the originality. Most of the gore seemed to be dead animals which definitely could’ve been skipped, but there were a splatter of blood and guts scenes throughout.  It had artistic spots, but it just wasn’t anything special or creative. Not a bad movie at all, but also not a memorable title or story. I could definitely see myself accidentally watching some of it again.

Raw (2016)

Score: 6/10*

Length: 99

Rating: R

Language: French

Other title: Grave

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, gore porn

This French film was a “must see” at the festivals. It’s akin to Teeth or Ginger Snaps in that it’s fresh, mildly original, and centred around a beautiful, flesh-biting teenager. However, as in most French movies I have seen, the gore is thick, and the blood is bright. Raw is about a vegetarian college student who is forced to eat rabbit during a hazing ritual, and as a result, gains an irresistible urge to devour humans. She lets her douchey sister who is attending the same veterinary school be cruel to her again and again as she parties with the crowds of other students. I guess maybe when you’re the younger sister you are very forgiving as you just want attention from your older, cooler, sibling, but it was frustrating to watch, nonetheless. There are a few really gory scenes, but the most cringeworthy was the finger-sucking. My biggest wish is that the film leaned more to one side- a dark comedy or a thrilling horror. Because of this, I felt it lacked a bit of… bite. Although the ending was nicely-wrapped, it was guessable and geared towards a non-horror crowd.

*Friend Score: 6.5/10

Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

Score: 5/10

Length: 99

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, ghost, devil, supernatural, good-bad, recommended, murderer

Let’s get right to the point here. Of course, this had nothing to do with “the origin of evil”. Obviously there were some bad, over-the-top CGi bits (including the increasingly popular, exaggerated mouth-stretching). There were even parts that only made sense to stoned people drinking chocolate milk. But much to the shock of my lower than low expectations, this wasn’t so bad! I actually had the opportunity to watch it several times over the last year and passed, because I assumed it was going to be awful. So tonight I got under the covers, turned off all the lights, and make sure my dog was making weird little yelping noises in her sleep before I pressed play. I didn’t even have to try that hard to enjoy it! There were lots of positive things about the film. I love a recent release that’s set in the fifties, sixties, or seventies eras. It gives it a sort-of alien, while also somewhat relatable, vibe to the story. It’s nostalgic, yet off-putting. I’m not sure that if The Box was set in the eighties or nineties I would have liked it enough to have watched it twice. The story is also pretty good. It’s about a mom and her two daughters who run a (fake) seance business. After the teenage daughter tries the board at a party, mom adds one to her supernatural set-up. After almost everyone ever plays with the board a million times, the youngest daughter becomes possessed, considering no one followed the pretty-basic and super easy rules. I really liked that the story was clear and structured all the way through, but not so that things were overly obvious. It was focussed around one ghost who had a somewhat creative history which I can really appreciate against the tangled-web offering of some similar movies that feel like their characters are an awkward Scooby-Doo monster mash-up.  The human characters were likable for the most part, and in a rare event *SPOILER ALERT* the ending wasn’t all sunshine and ambulances. Even IMBD rated the sequel higher than the original, so I’m not totally crazy. But honestly, I barely remember the first one. If you don’t recall it either, you can read about it here.

Edit: Oh! I just realized why this wasn’t too bad! Mike Flannigan (Hush, Occulus) directing. Although I expect WAY better from this guy, I’m hoping to blame it on a low budget.

The Monster (2016)

Score: 7/10

Length: 91

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, monster, woods, recommended

I unintentionally came across The Monster while searching for 2016 horror movies to watch. I was actually surprised to not have heard of it considering it looked good and was directed by Bryan Bertino who also did The Strangers. Apparently it seems that said director has only done three movies, and has produced only a few others. I’m hoping to see more from him in the future, as I loved The Strangers for its tension and realness of characters, and The Monster follows suit. The plot is not complicated- a young, alcoholic mother and her daughter get into an car accident when trying to avoid a wolf on the road. The car is damaged and they are stuck in the pouring rain waiting for help, when they discover a bigger fear than the missing wolf- the monster who took it. The movie is highly symbolic- it’s obvious that the monster represents addiction, and it is easy to see that the mother will have to try to overcome this beast to protect her child. The acting from Zoe Kazan is outstanding, and Ella Ballentine as the daughter isn’t bad either. What really brings everything together is how real-life the characters are and how it’s easy to feel empathy or compassion for them, even if they aren’t the best people. You are always routing for the characters to succeed instead of being pleased when they’re killed off. The masculine, ebony-skinned monster is revealed part-way through, but we never get to see every detail of him, even though he isn’t hiding in the shadows. There’s no bad CGI or weird monster movements that seem created by a computer. Everything about this movie is solid, except that although the tension is strong, it isn’t overly scary.

 

Holidays (2016)

The little treat featuring each of the biggest holidays of the year is composed of eight stories from different directors. Definitely one of the better horror anthologies to date.

Valentine’s Day

Director: Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes)

Score: four out of five Hershey’s kisses

A bullied outcast (not unlike in Carrie or The Craft) competes with the blonde popular girl for their swim teacher’s heart. Literally and figuratively. I tend to like a movie about obsessive love, and I really enjoyed this one. It’s memorable in a good way.

St. Patrick’s Day

Director: Gary Shore (Dracula Untold)

Score: three out of five snakeskin flasks

A woman who yearns for a child is put off when her new student begins doing strange things involving a snake. After waking in a parking lot, the teacher becomes pregnant with a reptilian creature. This episode is all well and good until it crashes and burns in a field where a silly CGI snake is celebrated by Danny Zuko’s animal-headed posse.

Easter*

Director: Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact)

Score: two and a half religious rodents out of five

A little girl who is uneasy about the Easter Bunny’s visit gets more than she fears when she stays awake and catches the character himself. The Easter Bunny is this creepy-as-fuck Jesus man-rabbit that’s all skin and no fluffy white fur. There’s not much to this one- she sees the creature and then is turned into a rabbit herself.

Mother’s Day

Director: Sarah Adina Smith (The Midnight Swim)

Score: three out of five bewitched baby bumps

A woman who cursed with a pregnancy every time she has sex goes to a fertility ritual gathering. She is drugged and kidnapped in the most romantic way, as she grows more and more pregnant with “the gateway”. This segment seems to focus on beauty over horror, and is in fact quite enchanting with all its natural female power. Sadly, the end really falls flat and is a huge disappointment in its unoriginality.

Father’s Day*

Director: Anthony Scott Burns

Score: four out of five deep daddy directions

Another woman (yup, the leads are all females so far) receives a mysterious package with a tape player inside. The recording is of her father who asks her to come find him. It’s very simple and vague, and relies heavily on the acting and your imagination. The story reminds me a little of Stranger Things, and I’d love to see how this short would do as a full-length film.

Halloween

Director: Kevin Smith (Tusk, the worst horror movie I’ve seen since Human Centipede)

Score: one out of five cringe-worthy car batteries

A douche who runs a scuzzy webcam business gets what’s coming to him when his cam girls rebel and use the power of three to cause some… er… discomfort. I’m all for a revenge story, but I’m not too into torture porn, and I really could have done without this episode ruining my favorite holiday.

Christmas

Director: Scott Stewart (Dark Skies)

Score: two out of five presented realities

Seth Green is out of luck when he is too late to get a last-minute Christmas present until he has the opportunity to steal the game from a man- or save his life. It sounds exciting, but all the episode is only comprised of a few virtual reality revelations and then it’s over.

New Year’s Eve

Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate)

Score: two and a half axe-girlfriends out of five

A tired single girl goes on a date with a yellow-toothed psycho, but he’s in for the quite the first date. I empathize, because I’d really like to do the same thing to some of the guys I’ve dated. Not a lot happens, and this episode seems like the shortest one, but it’s still mildly entertaining. Really great to watch before bed, because it makes you want to jump up and brush your teeth.

friend favorite

Friend Request (2016)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 92

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, supernatural, demon, murderer

Well friends, I haven’t reviewed anything in weeks, and here I go picking a lacklustre movie. This came out after Unfriended, and sounded just as bad, to be honest. But really, it’s a decent story idea, unfortunately sprinkled with Facebook bullcrap that is totally unnecessary. It’s about an outcast girl who ‘friends’ a mildly popular, mildly pretty, girl-next-door type. The loner is a greasy-haired, awkward, gothy-looking girl who, in no time at all, gets obsessive, and then angry when her BFF needs go unfulfilled. The Beast wants to make Beauty lonely like she is, so she kills off her friends and posts videos of them dying from Beauty’s Facebook account. Then it turns into a whole witchy-demon-mirror worship situation with lots of artistic fantasy elements which I quite enjoyed. This movie was never destined for greatness, but the problem is that they used social media to add some spice instead of… anything else. The effects are really 50/50 as some are actually well done, but there are lots of scenes that look like they were thrown in last minute to get an audience jump-scare, and I think we’re all over that by now. The videos and photos could have easily been linked to a website or blog instead of Facebook. Of course, they never call it Facebook, everything is just slightly altered, but it’s obviously Facebook. The acting from most of the characters is decent, are there are some really fun tension scenes. I found this film a little more watchable than Unfriended, but there is too much unnecessary nonsense going on for me to recommend this as anything other than a flick to watch when you’ve seen everything else. Just be advised, you will definitely have moments where you want to yell “JUST TURN OFF THE COMPUTER”, because obviously, no one ever does.

Film Face Off: The Conjuring 1 vs 2

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The Original, 2013

Score: 9/10

Length: 112

Rating: R

Frightful Feature: witches, ghosts, and dark spaces

The first Conjuring is FUCKING SCARY. Both in the theatre and at home. I will say the theatre experience was made more intense by the person behind me yelling “HOLY SHIT!” and “OH MY GOD!” at every scary part. But ridiculous person behind me or not, this film has intense tension and jumps. There is just so much build up and a really nice flow that doesn’t quite let you move anywhere except further to the edge of your seat. There are a lot of scares featuring the unknown, and incredible acting really solidifies these scenes. The film is smart and isn’t scattered or over-stuffed. The director, James Wan, directed the first Saw movie and will also direct The Conjuring 2, thankfully. This guy seems to know what he’s doing. Anyway, it’s about a famous duo- the Warrens (you might have heard of them)- who are paranormal investigators, working on a particularly nasty case. An evil entity along with a witch and a few ghosts have attached themselves to a family and don’t want to let go. We get to see glimpses of Annabelle, the witch herself, and the ghosts. Every character is created with craft, leaving some things to the imagination, and other parts well-imagined, boasting realistic makeup and effects which is a HUGE breath of fresh air. In my opinion, this is one of the scariest films of all time, and that’s saying a lot for someone who doesn’t find ghosts to be typically scary. Awesome acting, effective effects; loved everything about this movie except that I would have liked to see a little bit more of a cliffhanger at the end. Highly rated, highly recommended. No bullshit, and I appreciate it. These true stories, I tell yah.

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The Second Helping, 2016

Score: 7.5/10

Length: 134

Rating: R

Frightful Feature: ghosts and demons

Okay guys, I don’t generally like things, but here’s two in a row that are keepers. I can only find a few flaws, but luckily, there’s not too much bullshit going on. Tension, comic relief, uniquely attractive actors (Patrick Wilson- gorgeous even with those sideburns, Vera Farmiga-stunning; glowing), and a HORRIFIC NUN DEMON. Usually demony, Catholic stuff doesn’t scare me much (although I love it), but this menacing sister-dude leaves a lasting impression without being overly dramatic, making him more realistic. So here go the issues. The Warren’s daughter-why? And in both movies-but barely and for no real reason I can muster. Maybe she’s going to be the subject of the third movie (maybe, hopefully). And the crooked man. Nope. Unnecessary and cartoonlike; it didn’t feel like the character belonged in this film. I was cool with the grandpa and the nun. Don’t need to get all Insidious on me and throw in fifteen random villains that don’t below together. What does belong is the magical blend that Wan seems to create with his mystical horror wand. I care just enough about the characters to be bothered if they die, and the music is good- it gets me in all the right moods. No bad CGI, no over-the-top acting, not even too long. There are so many things that are hitting the mark in this film. Looking forward to Lights Out.

Willing to bet we’ll see at least one more flick in the franchise.