Film Face-Off: Without Name vs. The Nameless

The only thing that might make this face-off better is to snack on various no-name brand munchies while watching them.

 

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Without Name (2016)

Score: 7/10

Length: 93

Rating: NR but probably PG-13

This film is about a surveyor who works on measuring a gorgeous, Irish forest with his lover-assistant while staying at a cabin on the land. The shots of the forest and trees were stunning each time, and if the entire movie was just the camera moving through that forest, I wouldn’t be upset. It’s artsy, it’s earthy, and it has something to say. It makes me want to open my windows and breathe the air of the trees. I mean, I live in the city so it’s only like, five trees on this block, but that’s okay. The problem with the film is that the second half is so dreamy with vivid images and murky with hallucinations that it’s difficult to really remember anything exactly when the movie is over. This is more of a visual trip than a horror movie, but luckily, I’m into flashing tree lightning.

 

The Nameless (1999)

Score: 4/10

Length: 102

Rating: R

There’s a mom, who is sad and depressed, grieving for her deceased daughter. A call comes in, supposedly from the dearly departed, and the mother begins to question if her daughter is really dead, or if she is captured by a cult and the body belongs to another child. ‘The nameless’ are pretty much described as crazy angels, and they may have captured the daughter and are keeping her in this earth angel house. I’m not sure if it’s the script or the translation, but the lines are so awful it’s distracting enough to ruin the movie. There are a few stories going on, but none is too exciting, and the film just drags on until the nonsensical climax. I kept realizing as I went on, how much of this I had already fallen asleep to on the first attempt. Cloudy clues, retro slasher music, and needless repetition like the movie wishes it were a soap opera mini series. And the whole thing with the nipples… what’s up with that?? A ridiculous ending finally finishes off the film and leaves you only feeling relieved that it’s over. My favorite part of the whole movie was the creepy dude (pictured above) in the asylum talking in riddles. His blotchy skin patterns made the movie, in my opinion.

 

*!Winner!*:

Without Name, without a doubt. Although I forgot what this movie was about and had to watch it a second time before reviewing it, the film was a lot easier to enjoy than The Nameless. Devoid of bad writing and dullness, Without Name is my Film Face-Off champion!

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Hereditary (2018)

Score: 8 the first time, 8.5 the second /10

Length: 127

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, recommended, SPOILERS, supernatural, murderer, devil, psychology

Here comes a spoiler in stars that you may or may not want to read. I, personally, would have appreciated it before watching the film. *No matter what direction you think the movie may be going in, it is supernatural and demonic.* I spent half the movie paying attention to the wrong clues because I was hell-bent on it being about multiple personalities. I love Toni Collette, she has a really emotional ugly cry and always gives it her all. I loved her show about D.I.D. titled, United States of Tara. The pieces mostly fit together and everything was making sense, until the ending smacked me across the face like a wet glove. My friends have also mentioned that they weren’t prepared for the ending, even though they had most likely watched the previews and went in open-minded. This is just one of those films that you have to watch, read up on, and watch again. The ending definitely wasn’t a predictable let-down like in The Witch, but it seems to leave the viewers intrigued, though left in the dark. It’s about a family with two strange kids going through the motions of grief. Moreover, it’s the story of a woman suffering complicated relationships and horrible circumstances. Each character is well-fleshed out, and even though most aren’t entirely likeable, they’re captivating and unique at the very least. The family members are just relatable enough to watch, but each are tormented in their own individual and strange ways. Psychology intermingles with tension and witchcraft, and the viewers who find the beginning too slow, I’m sorry, don’t appreciate strong acting and character build. I wasn’t bored for a second, even though there weren’t many jump scares or bloody scenes until the second half. Overall, I thought everything in this film was strong from the costumes to the location to the pure creativity. The ending could have been glued together better to make it easier to stomach and understand without having to research it online. I recommended seeing the movie with a chocolate bar in your hand.

The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)

Score: 7/10

Length: 85

Rating: R

Language: English

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

I didn’t notice that the title included “Prey at Night” which is obvious, meaningless, and just plain dumb. The director for this sequel is different, but he follows the original enough so that you can’t tell if you don’t focus on it. This one has a tense but loving family (though the mom and dad have a lot of similarities to the couple in the original) who stay at a trailer park and are stalked and killed off by the three masked strangers. Since there are more people to kill (an aunt and uncle, others in the campsite), there are fewer mind games and slow tension scenes which is the only thing making this film stand apart from the first. Strong acting from Bailee Madison who I’m excited to see evolve from the over-dramatic characters she played in R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour. A few scattered jump scares and mini-twists make this second-go entertaining, but it’s lacking the intense tension that makes the original a memorable favorite.

Incarnate (2016)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 91

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, demon, murderer

A little bit of The Exorcist and a little bit of The Cell, Aaron Eckhart goes inside the mind of the possessed to expel the demon. He’s been searching for one demon in particular for years- the same who killed his wife and son, and it seems like this demon has recently entered an eleven year old boy. This is the Dr. Demon-Banisher’s last chance to kill and get revenge on a devil from his past. Although this idea is fairly fresh, and the story is well put-together, it’s very predictable and there’s not enough tension and gore to bump it up from a drama to a horror. Hence, the rating. There’s not really any plot holes and everything makes sense like a well-wrapped package. But that might be the problem here. It’s too much like the original exorcist movie to be a success on its own, but as usual, I wish there was more of a story to the demon. I had actually seen this movie before and had to re-watch it to remember the plot. A great film to put on when you’re not fully paying attention or you’re hanging with someone who scares easily.

 

From A House on Willow Street (2016)

Score: 3/10

Length: 90

Rating: NR (R)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, woods, demon, zombie, monster, murderer, ghost

This movie is a mess. The idea isn’t too bad: the daughter of a wealthy man is taken hostage, but the kidnappers soon find out that their plans have changed when she turns out to be possessed by a demon. Somehow, this film is short yet feels long, and is overly complex, yet dull. There’s lots of gore, the makeup isn’t bad, and the characters all have a story. But ugh, it’s just all over the place and with the ridiculous CGI… over it. The acting was a little painful, but the movie starts off decent focussing on the kidnappers instead of the victim. There are a few scares that don’t make sense yet and although it’s fairly guessable, the movie feels like it’s going somewhere. As it continues towards the crash and burn that is the ending, watching it gets harder and harder to bear. The Indian priest’s character and lines were just awful and awfully acted. I found I cared less and less about everyone as the film went on and then those goddam spiky tongues. Unfortunately unforgettable. I’d say it’s a mix between Th13teen Ghosts and Don’t Breathe, but those are both good movies and this one is not.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2016)

Score: 5/10

Length: 93

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, demon, girly, hotel

As obvious by the film’s poster, there are two stories here. One about two girls left behind during break at their boarding school, and the other about a young, escaped mental patient who is taken in by a man and his wife. There are hints throughout this movie that lead to the twist, and it’s a good one. However, there are too many problems in this film to make it work. *Spoiler section* The first issue I have is why they couldn’t make the girls look alike. They put zero effort into this besides the fact that they are both blonde. The girls look, dress, and act totally different from each other for no reason. Even if you are thinking of yourself as an alter ego, your hair might be different, your clothes might be what you’d ideally wear if you were more confident, sure, but I’d assume at least your face shape would be the same, no? The second biggest annoyance is that the “rescue dad” has no idea what the girl who killed his daughter looks like. I find that a tad hard to believe. And what’s with the beheading? There could have been a really easy reason given as to why beheading was the preferred kill method. I would have taken anything that fleshes out the story of the demon a little more. Because, let’s be real, no one really cares about the dark-haired girl that much, and considering she dies so quickly anyway, it would have made more sense to focus on the demon.

*Spoilers over* Besides these three things, the story was strong, the acting was solid, and there was lots of tension and atmosphere. It’s so disappointing that this could have easily been a great film, akin to The Witch.

Here Alone (2016)

Score: 5.5/10

Length: 98

Rating: NR (18A-R)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, zombie, woods, murderer

This survivalist film isn’t heavy on the horror. It’s a slow, building storytale of hard decisions and remorse. A woman’s backstory is weaved in through her current actions which are mostly about pouring piss and animal dumps on herself and eating maggots. It’s not all bad though- a teenage girl and her mother’s boyfriend stumble across the loner’s campsite, and thet share meals and hide from the rain together in the car. A lot of predictable events happen, but the last bit takes a spin into unchartered territory and I didn’t mind the ending. The characters could be more likeable, even though the entire film has you involved with their lives, close up. In actuality, this is a zombie movie, but there aren’t many appearances of the undead, and it really just feels like a horror version of Last Man on Earth. (Which isn’t exactly a bad thing.)

 

Don’t Knock Twice (2016)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 93

Rating: R

Language: English

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

Now this is a story all about how this witch got twist turned upside down. There is a witch demon, there’s blood, a slave lady, some sappy scenes, a lot of flickering lights, and an ending isn’t much of an ending. The storyline of the mother and her estranged daughter is solid and well-acted, but the early scares were unnecessary and clouded the film’s tension building. None of the actors are overly likable, so I think those spots could have been filled with more character insight. I loved the details in this like the BITCH DON’T KILL MY VIBE floral Forever 21 sweater and when Jess pulls off the baby’s clay face. I liked the music/ sound effects and the crime scene fairytale situation. But when people got sucked above and below and the Stranger Things world started happening, it felt like a pizza with way too many different toppings piled on. The ending consists of several loose strings and it falls apart quicker than you can say ‘hanging old lady demon boob’. If the saying goes ‘don’t knock it until you try it’, ‘well, I’ve tried it so I can definitely knock it’.

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.

 

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 movies 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.