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.

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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

Top Ten Canadian Horror Films

Happy Canada 150, my fellow proud Canadians and adoring non-Canadians! Here are my favorite scary Canuck movies to watch after the fireworks, or hungover the next morning, accompanied by Canada’s top snacks.

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10. The Brood  (1979)

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One of four Cronenburg and sons films on the list, it’s about a woman driven by her psychologist to do some pretty strange things, among them, lead a brood of lumpy lawn gnome look-alikes. The skin sack is a hard image to forget, so you may want to have a couple 2-4s and mickeys on hand.

Canadian Snack: Watch a woman lick her bloody baby while you nosh on some flavour-packed Lays ketchup chips and guzzle down a spicy Caesar with a green bean.

Review here

Trailer here

 

 

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9. Terror Train (1980)

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A satisfying New Year’s Eve slasher movie about med students at a costume party held on a train who are killed off by a masked murderer. What a kerfuffle with everyone stuck on that train. Better grab your toques and runners and get a move on.

Canadian Snack: In order to stay up past midnight you’re going to need some caffeine. But since we’re on a moving train, better reach for a Coffee Crisp instead.

Review here

Trailer here

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8. The Fly (1986)

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Jeff Goldblum and Gina Davis are surrounded by a hefty helping of that goopy, slimy, eighties blood and gore. It’s pretty much every superhero story, without the superhero part, leaving just- man turns into fly, and it doesn’t go too well.

Canadian Snack: If there’s one thing that flies like, it’s sugar. So give them what they want in a sweet, buttery treat: the butter tart.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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7. Black Christmas (1974)

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This is a film about a woman calling for her cat, Claude… I mean… it’s about sorority girls trapped in a house with a mystery killer. And also Christmas! So it’s snowing and no one is really around to help. Better than the 2006 version by a million kilometres, but not necessarily thrilling.

Canadian Snack: Our country doesn’t really have much to do with Christmas dinner, so instead, grab a Tims double double with a maple-glazed donut for breakfast.

Review here

Trailer here

 

 

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6. Dead Ringers (1988)

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Who wouldn’t want to watch a movie about twin gynecologists addicted to drugs, both played by Jeremy Irons? I generally dislike it when a movie is two or more hours long, but I didn’t mind it in this case. Felt like I was just watching a few episodes in a row of Twin Peaks. It’s labeled as a drama / horror / thriller, but it doesn’t have the typical tension of a horror or thriller; I found it heavy on the drama end.

Canadian Snack: Nothing goes better together than a Montreal-style bagel and Montreal smoked meat.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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5. Antiviral (2012)

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A film about a business that offers diseases (carried by celebrities) to the public, in order to allow the fans to feel closer to the famous person they’re obsessed with. So strange, and so creative with such a fantastically interesting lead character played by Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out). Lots of drug hazes, needles galore, and so many blood-soaked white things that even Tide couldn’t clean.

Canadian Snack: Some good ole fashioned brand-name KD with a dollop of ketchup. The Canadian way.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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4. Cube (1997)

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Out of the three Cube movies, the first has the best ending- with a twist. A group of people are trapped in a room-filled structure, where each room has a different violent booby-trap waiting for them.

Canadian Snack: We’re too hip to be square, but a homemade nanaimo bar is to die for, and angular enough to accompany this franchise.

Review here

Trailer here

3. American Mary (2012)

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A revenge flick about a med student turned underground body modifier is American only by title.

Canadian Snack: To go with the American theme, believe it or not, the popular sushi order, California roll, was invented by a Japanese sushi chef who moved to Vancouver in the seventies.

Review here

Trailer here

2. Ginger Snaps (2000) 

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Good things come in threes, but the original of the well-known Canadian trilogy is the best. Nothing beats some simplistic teen werewolf angst, eh?

Canadian Snack: Unfortunately, ginger snaps aren’t really Canadian, so instead how bout some Chinese food? Surprisingly, ginger beef was invented right here in Calgary, AB. I think a werewolf would prefer meat over cookies anyway.

Review here

Trailer here

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1. Silent Hill (2006)

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This dreamlike fantasy horror about a mother searching for her daughter in an eerie, ash-covered town gets the top spot. This fantastic goth film is an adaptation of a survival video game and couldn’t have been done better. Around every turn is a mysterious creature, its details creatively imagined. I’d pay a lot of loonies and twoonies to see this at the theatre in 3D.

Canadian Snack: The number one spot deserves nothing but the number one Canadian food. So versatile and comforting, you can’t do better than a proper poutine.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

 

BONUS! The legendary tv show, Are You Afraid of the Dark, is of course, also Canadian.

Looking for more? Try Pontypool, Hobo With a Shotgun, Pin, The Changeling, Videodrome, The Shrine, Prom Night. 

The Clinic (2010)

Score: 6.5/10

Length: 94

Rating: R

Language: English (Australia)

Categories: 2000s, murderer, recommended, SPOILERS

This well-developed story is about a mother who is kidnapped and surgically robbed of her child. She wakes up in a bath of ice in some sort of factory warehouse and soon finds out that she’s not the only one searching for her baby. There are lots of twists, and it’s a film that keeps you guessing. Although parts of the reveal are quite silly if you think about it, I didn’t feel any disappointment about how the film closed. The only thing I may have liked to catch a glimpse of was what happened to the other babies. This felt like a lady-version of Saw, with strong, emotional acting and an engaging and original plot. I don’t even really have anything sarcastic to say about it, because I can’t think of any part that was stand-out bad. The tension is there in many different scenes, but at the same time, nothing bad happens to the dogs or the cows! Just the right amounts of gore, tragedy, and build-up make this movie well worth a watch. (Unless you’re pregnant, maybe.)

Absentia (2011)

Score: 7/10

Length: 87

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, monster, alien, animal, underground, recommended

I love a good mystery-horror! And this one is quiet, sad, and haunting. Another monster movie with an “underneath” (it seems like everything good these days has some sort of Malcovichian land and/or a demon-bug). My favorite thing about this low-budget film, is that the only way you can tell it’s not on movie posters at the theatre is because the characters look like normal people. And that’s quite exciting really, because you can imagine them in your apartment building, checking their mailbox and walking their dog. They don’t look like celebrity New Yorkers or muddy red-neck farmers. They’re pretty relatable, though maybe still your run-of-the-mill characters (a woman falls for a cop after her husband disappears, the drug addicted sister, you know). But our main gal is pregnant and going through some major life drama, and the emotions along with the horror tension really make this film one I’d recommend. The story is similar to that of Stranger Things (even though it came first) in that people go missing in a underworld inhabited by a supernatural creature. I liked the filming, I liked the jumps and the twists. It was a pretty decent movie that was really careful to not be over-the-top and to leave a little mystery.

The Monster (2016)

Score: 8/10

Length: 91

Rating: R

Language: English

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

I unintentionally came across The Monster while searching for 2016 horror movies to watch. I was actually surprised to not have heard of it considering it looked good and was directed by Bryan Bertino who also did The Strangers. Apparently it seems that said director has only done three movies, and has produced only a few others. I’m hoping to see more from him in the future, as I loved The Strangers for its tension and realness of characters, and The Monster follows suit. The plot is not complicated- a young, alcoholic mother and her daughter get into an car accident when trying to avoid a wolf on the road. The car is damaged and they are stuck in the pouring rain waiting for help, when they discover a bigger fear than the missing wolf- the monster who took it. The movie is highly symbolic- it’s obvious that the monster represents addiction, and it is easy to see that the mother will have to try to overcome this beast to protect her child. The acting from Zoe Kazan is outstanding, and Ella Ballentine as the daughter isn’t bad either. What really brings everything together is how real-life the characters are and how it’s easy to feel empathy or compassion for them, even if they aren’t the best people. You are always routing for the characters to succeed instead of being pleased when they’re killed off. The masculine, ebony-skinned monster is revealed part-way through, but we never get to see every detail of him, even though he isn’t hiding in the shadows. There’s no bad CGI or weird monster movements that seem created by a computer. Everything about this movie is solid, except that although the tension is strong, it isn’t overly scary.

 

Holidays (2016)

The little treat featuring each of the biggest holidays of the year is composed of eight stories from different directors. Definitely one of the better horror anthologies to date.

Valentine’s Day

Director: Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes)

Score: four out of five Hershey’s kisses

A bullied outcast (not unlike in Carrie or The Craft) competes with the blonde popular girl for their swim teacher’s heart. Literally and figuratively. I tend to like a movie about obsessive love, and I really enjoyed this one. It’s memorable in a good way.

St. Patrick’s Day

Director: Gary Shore (Dracula Untold)

Score: three out of five snakeskin flasks

A woman who yearns for a child is put off when her new student begins doing strange things involving a snake. After waking in a parking lot, the teacher becomes pregnant with a reptilian creature. This episode is all well and good until it crashes and burns in a field where a silly CGI snake is celebrated by Danny Zuko’s animal-headed posse.

Easter*

Director: Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact)

Score: two and a half religious rodents out of five

A little girl who is uneasy about the Easter Bunny’s visit gets more than she fears when she stays awake and catches the character himself. The Easter Bunny is this creepy-as-fuck Jesus man-rabbit that’s all skin and no fluffy white fur. There’s not much to this one- she sees the creature and then is turned into a rabbit herself.

Mother’s Day

Director: Sarah Adina Smith (The Midnight Swim)

Score: three out of five bewitched baby bumps

A woman who cursed with a pregnancy every time she has sex goes to a fertility ritual gathering. She is drugged and kidnapped in the most romantic way, as she grows more and more pregnant with “the gateway”. This segment seems to focus on beauty over horror, and is in fact quite enchanting with all its natural female power. Sadly, the end really falls flat and is a huge disappointment in its unoriginality.

Father’s Day*

Director: Anthony Scott Burns

Score: four out of five deep daddy directions

Another woman (yup, the leads are all females so far) receives a mysterious package with a tape player inside. The recording is of her father who asks her to come find him. It’s very simple and vague, and relies heavily on the acting and your imagination. The story reminds me a little of Stranger Things, and I’d love to see how this short would do as a full-length film.

Halloween

Director: Kevin Smith (Tusk, the worst horror movie I’ve seen since Human Centipede)

Score: one out of five cringe-worthy car batteries

A douche who runs a scuzzy webcam business gets what’s coming to him when his cam girls rebel and use the power of three to cause some… er… discomfort. I’m all for a revenge story, but I’m not too into torture porn, and I really could have done without this episode ruining my favorite holiday.

Christmas

Director: Scott Stewart (Dark Skies)

Score: two out of five presented realities

Seth Green is out of luck when he is too late to get a last-minute Christmas present until he has the opportunity to steal the game from a man- or save his life. It sounds exciting, but all the episode is only comprised of a few virtual reality revelations and then it’s over.

New Year’s Eve

Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate)

Score: two and a half axe-girlfriends out of five

A tired single girl goes on a date with a yellow-toothed psycho, but he’s in for the quite the first date. I empathize, because I’d really like to do the same thing to some of the guys I’ve dated. Not a lot happens, and this episode seems like the shortest one, but it’s still mildly entertaining. Really great to watch before bed, because it makes you want to jump up and brush your teeth.

friend favorite

Nosferatu (1922)

Score: 7.5/10

Length: 80

Rating: NR

Language: French, English

Categories: 20s, black & white, vampire, murderer, silent, horror-comedy

Original Title: Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens

I had the absolute pleasure of seeing this recently at the Seattle Paramount Cinema, which is a stunning 3000 person theatre, for their Silent Movie Mondays. And it just so happened to be on Halloween, when the classic vampire flick was playing. There was an organ player, a costume contest, photo booth, and lots of adult candy. The winner of the contest was a Nosferatu-dressed little girl who had no idea what was going on as her dad gushed nearby. She had the teeth and fingers and headwrap, and it was pretty cute. Nosferatu is completely silent, accompanied only by the organ (which was quite popular back then) or other instruments. It is completely filmed in black and white, however, it’s shown with different film filter colours such as sepia, blue, and pink to convey different moods. It is quite beautiful in its simplicity, but even horror fans might find it easy to nod off when all the lights are out. It’s about a real estate agent, Hutter, who travels to sell The Count an empty house across the street. Unfortunately, the vampire leaves a trail of blood as he lusts over Hutter’s wife.  My favorite thing about this film is that you assume the constantly fainting female is the damsel in distress, when in fact, she saves the day, and it is her husband, and in fact, the vampire, who are the idiots.