The Witching (2016)

Score: 3/10

Length: 80

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, anthology, ghost, supernatural, demon, witch, murderer, woods

I know I say a lot of movie feel like a Goosebumps or Are You Afraid of the Dark episode, but this is actually a group of people around a campfire telling scary stories. It’s a shame the campfire group with their podcasts and video recordings are so stupid, because the shorts in this surprise (I thought this was going to be a movie about witches) anthology aren’t as bad as the wraparound. There are six stories in this film. Here’s a short recap of the mediocre tales:

  • Grief – A grieving mother is haunted by her dead son who leaves his toy truck around the house. Turns out it’s not her son.
  • Sleepwalker – A woman wakes up to find her face smeared with black sand and discovers she is being visited by the demon version of the Sandman.
  • The Hourglass Figure – A housewife finds her mother-in-laws secret: an hourglass that stops time for an hour a day. Unfortunately, if the one-a-day rule is broken, there are dire consequences.
  • Next Caller – A radio show host has a guest who tries to prove herself by having God and Satan call into the show.
  • Graveyard Shift – A security guard tries to help a woman who is overdosing, but she runs away and disappears. Turns out she’s a ghost.
  • Sweet Hollow – A woman pulls over for a man who tells her that her tire is loose and tries to fix it. They are apparently going to the same party, so he’s allowed to ride in the car with her, but when she receives a call from her sister, she finds out the man is lying.

As you can probably tell, the shorts are not well thought-out, and not only are they lazy, they’re forgettable. The best out of the group for me was probably the hourglass story, since it’s the most interesting idea. It’s a watchable movie overall, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.

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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.

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.

ABC’s of Death 2.5 (2016)

Score: 5.5/10

Length: 85

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, anthology, murderer, alien, monster, zombie, devil, vampire,  horror comedy, holiday, gore porn

Another film of shorts! This one, brought to you by the letter ‘M’. Because I guess they had a lot of ‘M’ entries. I love anthologies because there is always something for everyone but I really could have done without the scratchy title music. For this review, I’ve decided to give each segment a grade and just a quickie synopsis of a few words.

Magnetic Tape – Silly, gory, nerd fun. (B)

Maieusiophobia – Terrifying waxmation birth. (A)

Mailbox – Skippable vampire trick-or-treat. (C)

Make Believe – Mediocre murder and kid fairies. (c)

Malnutrition – A well-done zombie segment. (A)

Manure – A memorable, May-like poop monster. (A)

Marauder – A hipstertastic black and white tricycle race. (B)

Mariachi – Murders in a death metal music video. (C)

Marriage – A creative and captivating therapy session with a surprise ending. (A)

Martyr – A cult ritual that I could have sacrificed. (C)

Matador – A sick and twisted gorefest of intensity. (A)

Meat – A dark meatmation segment that is unique and thought-provoking. (A)

Mermaid – A stupid mermaid meal. (C)

Merry Christmas – Krampus feels bad for himself with a prisoner who has a face for acting. (C)

Mess – Oh God, why. You deserve to know now that ‘the mess’ is water poop coming from a belly button. (C for can’t. I can’t.)

Messiah – A woman is captured by masked forest-people. (A)

Mind Meld – A clever, gory experiment. (A)

Miracle – Well, it’s about box… it was too short and quick for me to comprehend anything else. (B)

Mobile – A man gets torture text instructions with a twist. (A)

Mom – A light zombie-kid romance. (B)

Moonstruck – An unexpected paper cartoon about romance, betrayal, revenge, and death. (A)

Mormon Missionaries – An encounter with two missionaries takes a turn for the worst. And then it gets worse. (A)

Mother – A giant CGI spider. (C)

Muff – A hilarious hotel sex encounter goes fatally wrong. (B)

Munging – Gross and awful topic, but the corpse’s make-up was great. (B)

Mutant – Eager losers shoot at flying mutants that break out of people’s faces. It was good until the the first bat was revealed, and then it got really bad. (C)

 

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.

7

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.

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.”

The Belko Experiment (2016)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 90

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, psychological, strangers in a small room

It’s like if The Office went on lockdown. A corporate company shuts down the building and asks the employees (aka participants) to kill each other in timed intervals. Strangers in a small space, kill or be killed. There are a whole slew of characters, the good little guys and the bad CEO guys. Some are fairly well fleshed-out and others are simple and forgettable. There were some fun deaths with a tape holder, but I really would have appreciated the campiness of more people being murdered with office supplies instead of guns. I think overall, it needed to decide if it was going to be true horror or on the side of comedy. Although a thriller, at times it felt like a drama. This would be a great film for the TV show, Community to do an episode of. If you’ve seen any other movies about strangers in small spaces, you’ll know it isn’t overly original. And that’s surprising considering how many big names are involved in directing and producing.

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

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.