A Dark Song (2016)

Score: 5.5/10

Length: 100

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, supernatural, devil, haunted house

I was actually terrified to watch this film, because when I was looking it up, THIS happened:

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However, I finally got around to it. The film was very much a slow burner. Like a dull headache that grows more and more painful. Not to say the movie was bad or anything, it’s just that it really focussed in on the torture and despair that drove the painful practises. No jump scares or tension-building. More of like a bad dream you wake up from in the day time. It’s about a woman who has suffered a loss and is looking to do a little dark magic with a guide, which takes intense dedication and strength, in order to see the one she’s lost. Unfortunately, the ending is very fantasy-filled and hopeful. If it were another movie that was less depressing, it would have worked, but it just didn’t quite fit with the rest of the film. Perhaps if they had changed the glowing image and ended the film on a dreary note, it would have been a winner. A ghost, or macabre icon, singing a song would have been better-suited. Because, guess what, there are no songs or singing of any sort in this movie.

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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.

Face Off: The Mist (2007) vs The Fog (2005)

Two types of weather, two very different monsters lurking in what we can’t see. Tonight I’m reviewing The Fog and The Mist to see which one comes out on top!

The Mist (2007)

Score: 6/10

Length: 127

Rating: R

I’m honestly surprised that there’s only one movie about this, but at least there’s a TV show out now. This is your typical people trapped in a grocery store because of mist bug aliens. They do dumb things like continuously try to leave and go out into the mist in search of something or other and ALWAYS DIE. There’s your regular good guy family, the old people, the bad crew, the romance, the family, and the crazy evangelical. All the usual ingredients for the blurry dessert that is this movie. I mean, for it being from 2007, the CGI alien bug monsters weren’t too bad. It’s a typical King movie. Not overly scary, but a good story and decent (although mildly cheesy) acting. A really strong ending to this one as well. The surprising thing, however, was that this movie was two hours (also in typical King fashion), but it didn’t feel long or action-deprived for a second. I’m not overly into bug and alien movies, such as, I won’t go out of my way to see them, but in the end, I didn’t feel like my time was wasted here. I’m sure you’ve also heard about the ending. It’s a great twist, but the desert music is a little over the top.

 

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The Fog (2005)

Score: 3/10

Length: 100

Rating: PG-13

I’m going with the 2000’s version of The Fog, as the eighties are always better, and this is a more fair option. I totally saw this in theatres for some reason, and at the time, it felt very ‘Halloween TV marathon’. It starts off strong with some Fall Out Boy… oh, and Tom Welling from Smallville in a chunky turtleneck. Should be terrifying…

It’s about some ghosts getting revenge in the dumbest way possible. The movie is littered with bad party scenes and awkward flirting, and the acting/script/directing isn’t very strong. There is just so much going on and so many awful CGI effects. It’s a Simpsons and Are You Afraid of the Dark episode wrapped up and spit out into a movie. This fog is just too complex and random and you don’t really care about the characters until it’s too late. The was one part that gave me a jump-scare, and I enjoyed the scenes with the ship as well as the kid with his scotch tape, but that’s about it. There was also a twist ending, and it was so surprising it was truly laughable.

 

My brain might be foggy and my eyes might be misty, but there’s a clear winner here. I’m shocked to say that alien bugs won over leper ghosts, but The Mist was just a better movie in every aspect. I suppose now that I’ve seen them both, the 1980’s version of The Fog likely would have been a tighter race.

We Go On (2016)

Score: 6.5/10 (as a drama)

Length: 90

Rating: NR (PG-13-18)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, ghost, psychological, supernatural, almost horror

Boy, 2016 is really turning out to be a great year for movies. This is a fantastic idea about a man who goes to the extreme to prove that there is life after death. He puts out an ad and meets with three very different people in the hopes of seeing a ghost or learning about how he dies. But he’s most intrigued by a mysterious caller who seems to see the unbelievable. Our awkward, on the verge of madness hero finds himself tethered to a ghost and struggling to rid himself of the lonely lost soul in love. It all feels like an awful nightmare that isn’t plagued by bad CGI, so it’s actually creepy. The actors in this are mostly from TV or unpopular films, so it’s interesting to see characters by actors with no big Hollywood past. It made them seem very real and more relatable and the acting was pretty decent. It also kind of felt like part adult Are You Afraid of the Dark episode, part novel. Much more of a drama than a horror, but there was lots to appreciate. I’d recommend watching this when you’re by yourself, not ready for a full-on scare fest. This will help you to “keep it together, dude.”

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

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