Annabelle: Creation

Score: 6.5/10*

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

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

Score: 4/10*

Length: 97

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: recent, 2000s, murder, demon, ghost, supernatural,

It’s pretttttyyyyy clear James Wan didn’t direct this (although he produced it), because the skill of being able to drag the tension out just long enough to deliver the scare at the right time was severely lacking. The director is actually a writer and actor who has appeared in Saw, Insidious, and Cooties. He’s the ghost hunter with the beard in all the Insidious movies. It’s less all-over-the-place than the first, and had its central focus around “the man who can’t breath”. I have asthma, so I can relate. There was one scene I jumped at, but there was so much mushy nonsense I didn’t care about and the ending was awful. At times I felt like I was watching an episode of Charmed, especially when the mom ghost appeared. I didn’t care about the characters, and watching the scare scenes felt like when you are having sex, and just as it starts to get good, someone knocks on the door and it’s over. The worst idea in the movie was the girl whose face was hidden under her hair. The third installment of Insidious is about a young girl who is hit by a car, and has a demon attaches itself to her. There’s also our old friend, the ghost whisperer, who has the bride-witch-demon-thing trying to strangle her everytime she tries to help the girl find her ghost-mom.

*friend consensus

The Bye Bye Man (2017)

Score: 3.5/10

Length: 97

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, monster, ghost, devil, murderer

A nauseating couple and the guy’s childhood best friend move into a house in need of some renovations. They find some old stuff, say the bad bye bye words, and then the ghost-demon or whatever infects their brains, turning people into delusional killers. There’s a lot of stupid garbage in the movie. Like, the obvious one, the name of movie’s antagonist, and the title of the movie. Or perhaps, the dreadful script. The so-called (for reasons unknown) Bye Bye Man, who we see way too much of, reminds me of this guy from Beastly (which I obviously haven’t watched, but I remember the awful movie poster).  However, I did like the whole Vanilla Sky, “what’s real, what’s not??” situation. There were a few mini mind-fucks that caught me off-guard but there were a few dumb ones as well. This is not a film I’d recommend, but I didn’t feel like it was a waste of time or anything and the ending was kind of cute. If only that wit had been in the rest of the film.

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.

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.

Rings (2017)

Score: 5/10

Length: 102

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, ghost, religious, murderer

I will start off by saying that I’ve been waiting for this movie for YEARS. The 3D version, that is. When the first Ring movie came out I was still obsessed with 3D, and I fantasized about what it’d be like to see Samara crawl out of the theatre screen and towards a terrified audience. This film was delayed several times, and I didn’t realize until I had bought the tickets that this release was not, in fact, 3D and was now just titled Rings instead of Rings 3D. I was annoyed to say the least, but let me unenthusiastically review what I did get to see, by a director who has barely any experience (he’s only released one full-length film prior to this one). The third installment in the Ring series focuses around Samara’s birth mother and uncovering the story behind her suffering. The plot is easy to follow and mostly makes sense without being looking like there was minimal effort put into it. There are, however, a bunch of character decisions that make absolutely no sense. Like why was there no one helping the guy in the totalled car? And why on Earth did she think it was a good idea to wonder around exploring by herself and leaving her boyfriend to figure out where she might be? Stuuupid. But what I REALLY don’t understand is why the tape isn’t shown to someone who is going to die anyway. Say, someone with a terminal disease. You’d think that’d be simple solution. Besides the lazy choices, the movie doesn’t have many obvious faults except that I doubt an old ghost would know how to work technology that well. A movie within a movie…. pshht. There isn’t much tension, but there are a lot of silly jump scares. The acting is fine, the make-up and effects are good enough, and the ending (which reminds me of The Exorcist) isn’t an awful one. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get over the fact that the first movie pretty scary, and this one just wasn’t.

Fun fact: The adult contortionist playing Samara shares the same last name: Morgan.

Review for original Ring movie (2002) here

Tales of Halloween (2015)

This (mostly) Halloween-themed horror anthology is comprised of 10 stories which are individually rated below. (Segments are rated in comparison to each other, not to movies of the horror genre as a whole.)

Length: 92

Rating: R

Language: English

tales-of-halloween-brings-ten-times-the-horror-in-this-blood-splattered-trailer-unveiled-a-502643-1050x523

Sweet Tooth (dir David Parker)

Score: 7/10    Villian: monster, human

It’s almost a shame that they put the best story first. I forgot that I was watching an anthology and was disappointed when it ended. Although I liked some of the others, I might have preferred to watch a whole movie about this. It’s a simple spooky story about a monster who eats your insides if you inhale all the candy and don’t leave him any. It’s fun and creative, with an ending I can appreciate. I’m sure this was the reason I bought that box of over-priced Halloween candy at the grocery store.

halloween_2

The Night Billy Raised Hell (dir Darren Lynn Bousman)

Score: 5/10    Villian: devil/demon

A young kid dressed as a devil is pressured into pulling a prank on an old man. He is tied up while a look-alike demon wreaks havoc on the town with the old man devil snickering behind trees and such. The hot mom line was a little overdone and the cheesy noises and sound effects take away from the short. I would have preferred the same idea without the comedy.

talesofhalloweenrevfeat1

Trick (dir Adam Gierasch)

Score: 5/10     Villian: human

On Halloween, kids decide to trick instead of treat, killing the young adults in vicious ways. That’s all I can really say. I wish this segment had more. It was way too simple and easily forgettable. It deserves a like review.

 

nen1c3tntbidqp_1_a

The Weak and the Wicked (dir Paul Solet)

Score: 5/10            Villian: (monster), human

A kid who is bullied by three hoodlums on bikes returns as a young adult with an evil spirit to invoke his revenge. It’s mostly shots of the female leader of the pack slowly sucking on a cigar and trying to give fire eyes.

toh_still_0011-e1445008693489

Grim Grinning Ghost (dir Axelle Carolyn)

Score: 6/10             Villian: ghost

Nothing much happened in this segment either, but I could easily empathize with the main character and it has a nice climax build-up. The acting seems genuine and this is a nice, little spook. It’s about a woman at a party who is told a story about a ghost who cackles behind you as she follows. If you turn around, she gets you. After the party on the way home, the tale  comes to life as the frightened gal wills herself not to turn around.

dingdong_still1-tales-of-halloween

Ding Dong (dir Lucky McKee)

Score: 5.5/10           Villian: monster/human

This strange story about infertility feels like I’m watching the Babadook in a Bjork video. Probably the strangest out of the bunch and the most unsettling. A couple unable to reproduce, struggle to keep cheery faces on when floods of children come to their door. As the husband tries to make light of the situation, the monster inside his wife appears more and more. The husband is dressed as Hansel, however, he looks more like Stewart from MadTV.

talesofhalloween8

This Means War (dir John Skipp and Andrew Kasch)

Score: 6/10           Villian: humans

Two generations of Halloween-lovers fight over the better way to enjoy the holiday. Loud, metal music, gory decorations, and a big party -or- classic family fun with animatronics and spooky effects. In the end, no one wins. The idea worked well for a short story, but there weren’t really any surprises, and it left the episode feeling too cute.

talesofhalloweenmendezfeat

Friday the 31st (dir Mike Mendez)

Score: 3/10             Villians: alien cartoons, possessed humans, and Jason

Deformed freak and movie murderer Jason Voorhees meets a cartoon alien that looks like it could be from an Eiffel 65 video. He finds the creature annoying and stomps on it, which in turn allows the alien to possess a female victim who launches herself at Jason. They hack away at each other and then the alien goes home. I don’t think I need to give any additional comments towards this description.

k

The Ransom of Rusty Rex (dir Ryan Schifrin)

Score: 4/10                        Villian: gremlin

Two men kidnap what they think is a child, but what turns out to be a little imp-gremlin of sorts. The vertically-challenged monster torments the kidnappers as they do everything possible to get rid of it. This episode is mildly comical, but easily forgettable.

tales_of_halloween

Bad Seed (Neil Marshall)

Score: 6/10            Villian: killer pumpkins

This is probably my second-favorite segment, as the director really understands how to make horror cheesy and fun. It’s about an evil jack-o-lantern that eats humans head first. The idea isn’t anything fantastic, it’s the delightful little ending that gives it a small sparkle… of doom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour Episodes (Seasons 3 & 4)

R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour is a modern-day teen horror show that started in 2010 and plays on YTV (and I’m sure some other channels).  It was extremely hard to pick a top ten for several reasons- I had no emotional childhood attachments to any of these episodes, there are a lot of creative ideas, and none of them are really scary, but they’re all pretty much Goosebumps-style twisty-ended. They all have teenage cheese and they’re all watchable. Here are my top ten most memorable episodes from seasons 3 and 4 of The Haunting Hour!

the-haunting-hour-s3-e2-t

10. Grampires

Cute, creepy, and the season’s two-parter, this episode is about siblings who go to visit their grandparents in a retirement village. Unfortunately, soon enough, the kids learn the elderly folk are actually vampires, and rely on their grandfather to keep them safe. Normally, old people tend to be horrific in a frail and fragile way, but these grampires are more reminiscent of The Bailey School Kids book characters-comical.

 

rlstn

9. The Girl in the Painting

A young girl dreaming of a life of luxury finds a painting in the trash of a girl in a beautiful pink room. She becomes obsessed with living in the fantasy world of the posh painting. After the paining changes scenes and a voice is heard advising the way in is through the closet, the girl finds herself in the world she dreamed of. I think most little girls imagine themselves going into another land through the closet, all Chronicles of Narnia-style. The end is twisty of course, and unexpected, and laughable.

 

HauntingHourTheCast

8. The Cast

While playing a prank on and old lady, a group of boys get caught, and one falls, breaking his arm. He ends up with a cast, but the cast turns out to be a lot worse than just a cradle for shattered bones. I’ve never broken anything major, but the fear of the unknown comes into play here, and paranoia, and all of the possibilities of what could be lurking underneath all that plaster and bandage. In this case it’s rats, and while the guilt feeds delusions, in the end, everyone gets their just desserts. The moral of the story is: don’t lie or karma will get you.

 

im-not-martin

7. I’m Not Martin

A helpless boy in a hopeless horror- Martin is set for surgery, the only issue is he’s not Martin and no one believes him. As a kid, it would be pretty terrifying to be mistaken for someone else at a hospital, especially if that person is set to have their leg taken off. This episode is fairly nonsensical, but the desperation and fear of being trapped in a situation without having any control over it is pretty scary for a kid.

 

Detention

6. Detention

This isn’t just a ditzy episode about high school stereotypes stuck in detention, it’s about three teenagers who take ownership of their mistakes and learn a valuable lesson. Obviously written by a dad, but not too cheesy. The setting of the decoration-trashed school with no one around sets a terrific atmosphere, and the possible consequences of the unassuming kids ups the scare factor. In true horror way, however, I wish it would have ended with the prom princess going her own way.

 

Seance01

5. Seance

A younger sister wants to fit in with her big sister and her friend, and while following them around mercilessly, annoys the friends. Little sis, who also stars as a little sister in The Conjuring is the victim of a prank, but ups the ante she gets her revenge. Seances are fun and spooky, and I bet every younger sibling got a few ideas of revenge after watching this episode.

 

My-Imaginary-Friend-1

4. My Imaginary Friend

Another twisty story that ends kind of sad because you don’t really see it coming. It’s about a boy with an invisible friend who’s kind of a bad-ass, and is very much a negative influence. The boy’s good-natured brother doesn’t get along with his sibling’s imaginary friend and the conflict between the two goes from bad to worse. There are a lot of interesting ideas in this episode such as listening to your conscience and being able to control what you’d created with your own mind.

 

the-haunting-hour-s3-e18-t

3. Terrible Love

A Valentine’s Day episode where a girl wishes for cupid to make the popular boy like her… but she goes too far, and their love turns sour. This is another example of a mature episode that discusses jealousy and obsession in love. It’s creepy in a very real way and I appreciate how it’s guessable but still likable it can be. There’s a spotlight on awkwardness and desperation, and isn’t that every teenager’s nightmare?

 

 

the-haunting-hour-s3-e14-t

2. Lovecraft’s Woods

Time loops (in my opinion) are not used enough in movies, and I’ve definitely never seen it be used in a kid’s show, so this is all sorts of awesome. It’s about three friends who are trapped in the woods. One of the kids gets bitten and turns into a horrible creature who tries to warn her friends. Werewolves aren’t my usual horror cup of tea, but I fancy a spooky stroll in the forest, mind you.

rl-stines-the-haunting-hour

1. Le Poof de Fromage

The kid painfully trying to have a funny french accent may be hard to sit through, and the plot may be… ahem… cheesy, but it’s silly and fun and original. It’s simply ridiculous and I like that about it. This episode is about a foreign exchange student who moves in with a family to hunt down the alien cheese puffs that are trying to invade Earth. It kind of reminds me of 10 Cloverfield Lane because of the paranoia and flip-flop beliefs. Must be eaten with the puffy Cheesies, not the crunchy ones.

Also read: Seasons 1/2 Top Ten

Film Face Off: The Conjuring 1 vs 2

960

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.

the-conjuring-trailer-2-71

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.

 

The Abandoned (2015)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 86

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, haunted house, almost horror, murderer, ghost, underground, asylum

As I continue to watch this film, I realize that the title pertains more and more to the storyand I LOVE that. Too often are there films called House on… or Blank Lake or something vague like The Chosen or The Determined or The Scared. It’s also kind of funny because the original title was: The Confines, and although that’s not a bad title for this movie, The Abandoned has so much more meaning. Anyway… it’s about a young single mom who starts a new job as a second security guard in an empty, unfinished mansion. While wondering the extravagant halls, she finds a locked door that leads to an old room scattered with children’s toys and drawings. Evil things lurk, yadda yadda. The film is pretty well done, and it moves along at a decent pace. It even has a few twists at the end, and this was not a movie I expected any twists from. I thought the story was going to stay in the usual ghost direction, but it took the path of a thriller movie instead- a family-centred ending where everything is not-okay-okay. The one big problem is that although the environment is impressively scary, the incredible monotony of watching a security guard’s daily duties is akin to a dull headache. And the YouTube video really ruined things for me.

 

photo credit: http://www.dreadcentral.com/