Pyewacket (2017)

Score: 6/10

Length: 90

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, Canadian, forest, supernatural, murderer

This is yet another one of those films I was supposed to watch about a hundred times and never ended up actually watching it. I’m very sorry as a true Canadian, but I’m thrilled to see it today with my poutine, as I’ve been cheating on horror movies a lot lately with dark, sci-fi Netflix shows.

This super slow-burner is about a teenager who, in struggling with her relationship with her mother, completes a black magic ritual to kill her. In her fleeting moment of anger, she doesn’t quite realize what the demon she’s summoned is capable of, and how it will wreak havoc on her life. Although I felt like the film spent time developing characters that it could have spend building tension, it was a good idea, sort-of like a scary bedtime story. The twist was pretty obvious, but I was really appreciative that the ending wasn’t happy or neat. It definitely could have been stretched out a minute or two as I felt it was like: “TADA! Here’s the twist! The end!” Like it was just so great the movie should end right there. The demon-thing was also pretty well done- mostly shadows with some decent make-up when close-up. I could have done with a few more demon scenes thrown in there and a little more of a build-up with what happened with the freak-out friend. This witchy teenage film probably won’t leave  a lasting impression, but the acting was good, the scenery grand and familiar, and I can’t exactly fault this film for much besides being very slow to start.

Happy Canada Day!

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I Am Not A Serial Killer (2016)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 104

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer

A teen, who is a little too serial killery himself, discovers his elderly neighbour murders for fun, or rather the CGI blob who inhabits him does. It’s well-acted, with Christopher Lloyd and Max Records (the kid from Where the Wild Things Are) and it had a nice moody tone. However, this is just another film festival flick that’s quirky and well-pieced, but boring and forgettable. I’ve seen this type of movie a million times- it’s intriguing, it has potential, but it’s just not something I’d want to revisit or recommend to anyone.

Unsane (2018)

Score: 4/10

Length: 98

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, psychological, small space

At first I thought I was watching a made-for-TV movie, (it was shot with an iphone ffs) but then I remembered it was supposed to be directed by Steven Soderbergh, the man behind such horror classics as Erin Brockovich and Ocean’s Eleven. This is a film festival entry so I expected something artsy and different, but this one has a new way of gathering your hopes and raising them up high only to stomp them down halfway through the movie.  I got involved in the frustrating circumstances our character finds herself in quite quickly, and she’s very relatable. It felt a lot like Gothika in the beginning and I so I hoped for a twisty ending. Once you realize that’s not going to happen and that the film is more like Room, the rest is just a monotonous chore filled with details that make no sense in the real world. Most of the cast did a solid job, though intentionally or not, Matt Damon’s gravely bottom-of-voice talking was like nails on a chalkboard. With a story about a girl trapped in an asylum, you’d think this would be intriguing at the very least. But in this case, I’ve never been so surprised to be bored.

The Babysitter (2017)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 85

Rating: TV-MA

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer,

Well, I failed hard. The entire purpose of this site was to review movies so I wouldn’t rewatch the same stupid movie. Fail on this one.

I watched this months ago, didn’t review it and forgot about it, and then I see it pop up on Netflix. The child kind of looked familiar, but I didn’t remember any of the movie as I was watching it except the whole weird kid and babysitter best friends thing. The other problem is the movie Better Watch Out, is very similar to this one, so I just assumed I was thinking about this film and getting them confused. I ALSO forgot to review Better Watch Out, just to up my annoyance with myself, but the good news is, these failures will probably spawn a babysitter top ten list.

So this one is pretty simple. A kid stays up past his bedtime to see what the babysitter is up to, and finds out her and her friends are part of a satanic cult. The boy is caught awake, and has to get himself out of an increasingly bloody mess. The kid does make some bad-ass moves, and there’s a lot of gore, but this movie is just so forgettable. Most of the deaths are accidental and there’s just not much to the story. It’s not really scary or funny, and it feels like a children’s horror story with a bucket of blood poured over it. The idea of doing a children’s horror sounds awesome, but that wasn’t the intention of this movie. It’s not badly done at all, it’s just at this point I’m over the generic characters and bad babysitter theme. Thank you, next.

Six Scary Santa Shorts

When I was making Thirteen Days of Christmas Horror Shorts, I came across so many great Santa shorts I had to make a separate list. Even narrowing it down to six was hard! Here are my favorite Kris Kringles and Old Saint Nicks.

 

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6. Seasons Greetings (2015)

Length: 4:26
A girl wakes up to a present from Santa and a monster in her bed. Not much to it, but somehow this short has both fun jump scares and a cute vibe to it. Watch here

 

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5. Luchagore Christmas (2017)

Length: 1:43
The most gore (aside from the claymation) on the list, and a very sour-looking set. This super short is a great one because of the dirty, disgusting Santa, focus on disturbing details, and the gore galore. Very Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Watch here

 

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4. Christmas Presence (2015)

Length: 5:16
A babysitter arrives at an over-decorated house. It takes her a while to realize that the life-size Santa statue with the creepy white mask is not part of the family’s decor. One thing that really bothered me was that when the babysitter entered the house, you couldn’t see the glow of the outdoor lights and the interior was so sparsely decorated. Watch here

 

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3. Milk & Cookies (2017)

Length: 2:35 
When a girl doesn’t follow her father’s rules to not eat the milk and cookies, she suffers cookie-consequences. Sean Whalen as the dad in a Freddy Krueger sweater is fantastic. The snarl at greedy children on Christmas is appreciated. And best of all, the blue cookie-eater creature with the pointy nose and blood pouring out of his mouth was just spectacular. Maybe even my favorite horror Santa. Watch here

 

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2. Here Comes Santa (2016)

Length: 5:03
A child stays up to catch Santa on his video camera, but instead discovers he’s a hideous skeletal creature. Simple, cute, memorable. Watch here

 

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1. Winter Stalker (2009)

Length: 2:05
Arty and stylized, this short features Santa checking his list. He’s making a doll for Katie, and he’s been watching her closely. His voice sounds like Jigsaw, and our Santa is dire need of a bubble bath. A great short with a twist that leaves me feeling uncomfortable.
Watch here

Thirteen Days of Christmas Horror Shorts

Christmas is long and painful, but these mini movies are short and sweet! Here are my favorite holiday shorts under 15 minutes, from the weird and wacky to the disturbing and grotesque. Grab the eggnog and rum cookies and enjoy these stocking stuffers. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Also check out my Top Ten Christmas Horror Movies list!

13. I’ll Be Alone for Christmas (2015)
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Length: 7:09
The first of the lonely Christmas girl films on the list, this is simply about a girl stalked by a mysterious stranger. There isn’t much for the story, as it mostly centres around a text conversation. The acting is passable, but there’s a fun little scare.

12. Ghoul Log (2018)
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Length: 2:59
Clay people with gross teeth eat a feast with their mouths open. After they stuff their faces with yule log, the giant-handed puppets are trapped in trees. Horror ASMR. Part of Creepy Christmas Film Festival.
Watch here

11. Something Under The Tree (2014)
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Length: 4:26
A little boy watches Santa from the stairs. He rushes to open the present Santa leaves him, and finds a gift that will help him to rid of the elf under the tree. I wish there were a few minutes of character build and mood setting, as you’re just dropped into the start of the scene, but I enjoyed the tension and the sour turn of events.
Watch here

10. A Very Zombie Holiday (2010)
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Length: 3:11
A black and white instructional video for vintage ladies to survive Christmas… and zombies. It’s well-made and cute, but it’s in need of a bit of pop and pizzazz.
Watch here

9. Crafty (2018)
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Length: 3:34
This strange and original claymation is about a creature and his praying mantis friend who eat animals in a frenzy and then make the bones into a Christmas tree. The bone tree is displayed on top of the stump they live in, and a human child discovers it. Weird and gory, but definitely creative. Part of Creepy Christmas Film Festival.
Watch here

8. Elf on the Shelf (2017)
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Length: 2:00
The Elf on the Shelf toy comes to life and kills the babysitter and her boyfriend in the spirit of Christmas. The choice of the babysitter over family members seems like an odd and lazy choice. What parents go out on Christmas Eve, anyway? The Elf is creepy, yet charming.
Watch here

7. Eve of the Nutcracker (2016)
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Length: 5:59
There are a few good “gal drinking on the couch alone on Christmas” shorts, but I picked this one as the best because of the on-theme ending. Our girl receives a nutcracker which then seems to end up in a different spot every time she looks. She throws it away, but the giver of the gift isn’t too happy that the gift isn’t well received and… retaliates. The make-up could use a little love since we don’t know anything about the killer, but otherwise, it’s awesome.
Watch here

6. Twas the Night of the Tree Beast (2012)
Length: 6:04
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Josh decorates his video store, but is interrupted by holiday-hater, Kevin. Josh makes a Christmas wish and his tree comes to life when it’s plugged in. Unfortunately, the tree is hungry for money… and flesh. Very Canadian.
Watch here

5. Yuletide (2017)
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Length: 10:00
This is actually a short about Krampus! It starts off by introducing the family members/actors and then shows the cranky family silently eating dinner. Kelly smashes her antique present from her grandfather and ruins Christmas. A Krampus monster is discovered peeking out from the attic, and everything goes downhill from there. The cinematography is the best part.
Watch here

4. Slay Bells (2015)
Length: 11:23
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The main character (a girl who’s turn it is to host Christmas) is expressive and over-the-top, providing us with a hilarious and dramatic holiday short that’s fun for the whole family! This year, it’s the younger sister’s turn to host Christmas, and when the family ruins everything with their judgements, she has a meltdown, but in the end, gets the gift she’s been looking for.
Watch here

3. Do You See What I See (2016)
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Length: 14:01
A masked murderer with glasses crashes a Christmas party. When it’s discovered what is seen by putting on the glasses, a strange and quirky truth is revealed. Lots of character build (almost too much) and a fun storyline make this one a safe bet.
Watch here

2. Christmas Clay Massacre (The Beauty of Horror) (2018)
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Length: 2:05
In a commercial for a colouring book (yes, really), Santa gains Krampus-like qualities and decapitates reindeer with a chainsaw.
Watch here

1. Humbug (2016)
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Length: 6:59
Probably the most memorable on the list, this horror tale shows the contrast between the goth Christmas-hater and Mrs. Christmas herself. The problem is solved when the humbug is exertisely removed from our anti-holiday gal, so she can live her life the way it was meant to be- merry!
Watch here

Top Ten Christmas Movies…of Horror!

Can you believe I haven’t made this list yet?! And just barely in time for Christmas. Although I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas most years, I’m always a fan of horror. Unfortunately, there are no Chanukah or Kwanzaa horror-holiday films, so here are some movies about creepy Saint Nick and bad presents.

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Honorable Mention: Jack Frost (1997)

I don’t know why the cover image for this movie has a weird, CGI skeleton face, because the horror Jack Frost looks exactly like the kids movie Jack Frost except with angry eyebrows. But guess what… this one came out first! I love a good evil snowman, but this one ain’t making the cut because of the ridiculous carrot rape scene.

 

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10. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) or Christmas Evil (1980)

I’m cheating a little, here, but there aren’t a lot of Christmas horrors that are more than just set around the holidays. Both of these films are generic, eighties slasher nonsense, but they each have a good ole killer Santa.

 

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9. Christmas Horror Story (2015)

This four-pack anthology feels like a Christmas version of Trick R’ Treat. The film includes a lonely radio host, a group of teenagers investigating old crimes at a school, a creepy kid, a white-powdered Krampus, a Santa in need of a bath, and obviously, a group of zombie elves. The story about the changeling I liked best- it seemed very real, and was only ruined by the costumey look of the monster up-close. It’s about a family who loses their son in the woods and takes home the wrong version of him instead. The ending isn’t bad, but the movie could have been built with two of these stories.

 

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8. Krampus (2015)

I mean, it’s not the best movie. There is way too much going on and the gingerbread men and flashback animations almost push it into an unwatchable category. The Krampus idea hadn’t been used much before this movie came out, and I thought they did a good job with the look and feel of the character. It just needed a little more direction and focus, even though the idea of a family hiding from a Krampus storm seems like a pretty simple idea.

7. Better Watch Out (2016)

This home invasion horror-thriller doesn’t have a lot to do with Christmas, but there is a Christmas tree and lights and snow and such. There’s a twist in the middle, but overall, it’s pretty predictable. A babysitter and an awkward pre-teen who’s in love with her hide from intruders. It should have been better, but there was an unsuccessful attempt at a comedy shimmer that just didn’t work. It needed tension, creep, and more of a horror direction instead. (I recently saw the trailer, and if I had been tricked by this first, I probably would have appreciated it more, so watch that first.)

 

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6. Sint (2010)

Sint (Saint) is a Dutch scarytale about Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas), an undead bishop who rides around on his horse killing people. It’s an original movie with an awful climax and lots of holiday cheer and fear, although I’m not sure how I feel about the whole “Black Pete” situation.

 

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5. Silent Night (2012)

Another instantly forgettable Christmas title attached to a decent holiday horror. A killer Santa with a mask slaughters the naughty while police people, Sugar and Salty, fail miserably at trying to stop him from killing… literally everybody.  But you want everyone to die these random, horrible deaths because they’re all just disposable Barbies who make moronic choices like running straight towards the murderer. To wrap this little movie gift up nicely, it’s bad decisions and ruthless killing fun.

 

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4. Rare Exports (2010)

A film from Finland with an original story that I’m not even quite sure how to describe. Like a horror fairytale come to life where Santa is a giant Krampus-like creature who has been frozen in ice. The elves are old, hunched over men with wispy beards, and they want all the children for Santa once he’s melted. A little boy, his dad, and the hunters try to stop evil Santa and the elves in a part humor part action-drama sort of way.

 

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3. Gremlins (1984)

It all started in Chinatown… and when you buy a gift for someone in Chinatown, there are always strange rules that come with it, such as ‘no food after midnight’! About a sweet kid who breaks all the rules and endures the “horrors” of the evil-turned mogwais. Even though they’re mean and nasty, there’s a lot of cuteness going on in this film. It’s a very unusual and special Christmas movie, but not so heavy on the horror.

 

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2. Black Christmas (1974)

Here is your original, seventies, better than the sequels and decently constructed horror film. It’s about a group of sorority girls who are murdered in their home on campus. There’s no charcoal snow, or African Santas to make the title make sense, but the character development is refreshing and this well-directed gem is definitely one to watch. You can probably skip the remake, though.

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1. The Gingerdead Man (2005)

I really love the whole trilogy of Gary Busey as an evil, murderous, cookie. It’s not like there are all these amazing, scary Christmas movies out there, so might as well indulge in some yummy horror silliness. It’s probably already what you’ve guessed: a killer’s blood gets into some cookie batter resulting in the baked cookie going on a bite-sized murdering spree. I’m pretty sure I laughed at movie number two’s title for about twenty minutes. Check it out.

 

Buckout Road (2017)

Score: 6.5/10

Length: 97

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, recommended, witch, murderer, supernatural, ghost, woods

As seen at CIFF. The director, Matthew Currie Holmes, a Canadian known for his acting, was there and what a personality! He was handing out beers to the audience, and personally thanked everyone for coming. Luckily, it was a good film. Starring Evan Ross (who I just learned is Diana Ross’ son)! It’s all about urban legends, and although it focusses on a few of them, the idea doesn’t over-complicate the film. It centres around a bad boy, a girl with a past, and the sleepwalking twins as they try to solve a curse by investigating the past. The acting was strong, the photography was ideal, and the only thing I wasn’t really so fond of was the end. The whole “never can escape” thing was not the strongest possible ending I hope for, but it was satisfying enough. The movie was engaging, imaginative, and well planned-out, so I was pleasantly surprised, as you never know what to expect at a film festival.

XX (2017)

Score: 4/10*

Length: 80

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, monster, murderer, toys, anthology, holiday

This anthology is all female directors and lead actors (but not writers), so the disappointment with the film hit harder than usual. One of the stories is even written by the musician, St. Vincent who is a gifted visionary.  The film has four stories that aren’t related to each other at all, and none of them are original, memorable, creative, or provide any indication that this movie is focused on women. The only thing I can picture myself remembering when thinking of this film later is the strange, doll-head stop motion in between the segments. Also, I get why the film is called “XX“, but considering there’s a band already with the same name, they really could have tried a little harder. This whole film feels like a real lack of effort on everyone’s part.

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The Box

In one line: Cannibals at Christmas.

Good: I liked the mystery around what was in the box and this was probably the best story out of the four. It had clear direction to it.

Bad: The script was pretty cheesy, and there were parts that didn’t exactly make a lot of sense to me.

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The Birthday Party

In one line: Dead dad ruins birthday party.

Good: The struggles of a mom trying to make everything okay for her child’s birthday is relatable. The costumes are also hilarious, and I appreciated the quirky vibe.

Bad: It’s really just an episode of a woman dragging around a man’s dead body and that can get pretty dull.

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Don’t Fall

In one line: Monsters in the desert.

Good: The monster was fairly well done. Good makeup as opposed to CGI.

Bad: It was a pretty overdone story idea with nothing special added to it.

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Her Only Living Son

In one line: Teenager turns into violent werewolf-monster of sorts.

Good: Again, the mom’s struggles were relatable.

Bad: There wasn’t really an ending, and the son making the mom crawl towards him on her knees was pretty cringe-worthy.

 

* I’m giving this an overall score, as none of the shorts were anything special, and none were better or worse than any other, which is pretty rare. All in all, the meh movie is getting a meh overall score.

Annabelle: Creation

Score: 7/10*

Length: 109

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, toys, prequel, devil, ghost

Waaaaaaaaaaaaay better than the first one. Probably to do with the director, David F. Sandberg, who also did Lights Out. There are a few upcoming directors I’m following, and this guy might add himself to my list. The screenplay is by Gary Dauberman (Annabelle and the upcoming It and The Nun) and of course, it’s produced by James Wan. I don’t usually discuss the people behind the movie, but this is a real winning combination of horror minds. Lulu Wilson also stood out to me- I remembered her from Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Deliver Us from Evil. I hope she continues with the horror genre. So this one stuck with the demon/ ghost girl/ doll theme pretty well, although three things is already pushing it for me. I don’t particularly find dolls scary, so I’m glad the demon was involved. I feel more and more the importance of a movie’s consistency and main focus not muddied by other entities and useless storylines, so this was mildly refreshing. I was glad that the film focussed on the scares and darkness instead of lame CGI and a billion different monsters like some lazy movies…*cough*… Insidious. There were a few scenes and effects I could have done without, but overall, it was pretty solid. The acting was decent, and this film really knew how to drag out the tension. There were even a few cute touches thrown in, such as the original Raggedy Ann doll and the nun from The Conjuring, lurking in a photo. I could have done with more of a backstory to the girl and the doll and I’m still waiting to learn more about the demon. After seeing the first Annabelle, disappointment of the second installment was inevitable, however, I was quite impressed, which was most likely due to my low expectations.

*Friend score average: 6.2