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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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)

 

Inferno (1980)

Score: 5/10

Length: 207

Rating: R

Language: Italian, English

Categories: 80s, supernatural, witch, murderer, gore, haunted house

I haven’t been to Italy yet, but it must be really windy, because this movie’s wind game is STRONG. Seriously, I felt like gasping due to so much air. Lots of horrible screechy noises as per usual Dario, and some cruel cat abuse, with a side of a man getting eaten by rats.  My biggest issue with Dario films tends to be that the scenes are a little too far drawn out, and this one has multiple instances. The acting also isn’t great, but the film is artsy, and a good transition from Suspiria to Mother of Tears. I really liked the underwater scenes in the beginning of the film, they’re quite memorable. The house has the same wall colours and unsettling interior decor as Suspiria that I love.  And I mean, this is a gory movie about witches, so I can’t dislike it too much. It’s simply about a girl who finds a book about the mothers and believes her house is inhabited by a witch. The more you know, the more you die. These films seem to decay more with each addition, with Suspiria as the best and Mother of Tears the worst. This middle movie is definitely 50/50 on the good and the bad, but worth a watch, especially if you’re into Dario.

Mother of Tears (2007)

Score: 4/10

Length: 102

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, supernatural, murderer

Let’s start off with some fun facts about this film:

  • It’s a Dario.
  • It stars his daughter, Asia.
  • The third of The Three Mothers trilogy, it focuses on Mater Lachrymarum.
  • Mater Lachrymarum is the witch of tears.
  • Mater Suspiriorum, the Mother of Sighs, appears in Suspiria and Mater Tenebrarum, the Mother of Darkness is the witch in Inferno.

It’s about an evil witch who brings with her terror and violence when she is released by a student inspecting her urn. The acting is watchable I guess, but I really could have done without the sketch cartoons accompanying the story flashbacks. There is lots of gore and boobs, and mystery in the typical Dario-fashion. A mix of cheesy and decent effects, and the dream-demon scared the shit out of me, good lord. As per often there were definitely some unnecessary bits such as the screeching monkey and the metal rod up the vagina bit. And speaking of screeching, with all the hyena-laughing and obnoxious sound-effects, I wouldn’t recommend this for headaches. Maybe it’s an Italian thing, because all of Dario’s films seem to have these qualities, maybe with the exception of Suspiria, which is probably why it’s my favorite. The Mother of Tears is definitely not the best of the three, but I should probably watch Inferno again since I haven’t reviewed it yet. I know it’s not as bad as this one, though. Scenes such as the ghost mom wrestling the man on fire really don’t help. Who would have thought that things could easily be resolved by burning a shirt?

Suspiria Review 

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

Friend Request (2016)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 92

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, supernatural, demon, murderer

Well friends, I haven’t reviewed anything in weeks, and here I go picking a lacklustre movie. This came out after Unfriended, and sounded just as bad, to be honest. But really, it’s a decent story idea, unfortunately sprinkled with Facebook bullcrap that is totally unnecessary. It’s about an outcast girl who ‘friends’ a mildly popular, mildly pretty, girl-next-door type. The loner is a greasy-haired, awkward, gothy-looking girl who, in no time at all, gets obsessive, and then angry when her BFF needs go unfulfilled. The Beast wants to make Beauty lonely like she is, so she kills off her friends and posts videos of them dying from Beauty’s Facebook account. Then it turns into a whole witchy-demon-mirror worship situation with lots of artistic fantasy elements which I quite enjoyed. This movie was never destined for greatness, but the problem is that they used social media to add some spice instead of… anything else. The effects are really 50/50 as some are actually well done, but there are lots of scenes that look like they were thrown in last minute to get an audience jump-scare, and I think we’re all over that by now. The videos and photos could have easily been linked to a website or blog instead of Facebook. Of course, they never call it Facebook, everything is just slightly altered, but it’s obviously Facebook. The acting from most of the characters is decent, are there are some really fun tension scenes. I found this film a little more watchable than Unfriended, but there is too much unnecessary nonsense going on for me to recommend this as anything other than a flick to watch when you’ve seen everything else. Just be advised, you will definitely have moments where you want to yell “JUST TURN OFF THE COMPUTER”, because obviously, no one ever does.

Film Face Off: The Conjuring 1 vs 2

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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 Witch (2016)

Score: 6/10*

Length: 92

Rating: R (but the ticket booth said 14A)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, spoilers, witch, woods, religious, murderer, psychological, devil, based on true events

This review is going to be filled with spoilers in a plea that someone who understands this movie might explain things to me. Or maybe there are no answers, I’m just trying to make this into a good movie because I wanted it so badly to be good. So as you know, it’s about a family in the forest who begins to suffer evils and are driven mad, ultimately forcing them to play the blame game. All because of a witch. It is tense. It does build well. The acting is memorable and impactful. It’s creepy, it’s uncomfortable, it’s beautiful, and you won’t forget its unique story based on “true” events. But either I’m missing something, or there’s a ton of plot holes that make no sense. Here we go with my list:

  • Why were the twins in this movie? They do nothing, and where do they go in the end?
  • Was the girl a witch all along, or is she just excited about chilling with all these floating naked ladies?
  • Why is the rabbit representative of the witch, and why is nothing done with this presumption?
  • Why did the witch use the baby, but return a child after cursing him to die?
  • What was the point of the goat being a demon or whatever? Why did it only turn into a man for a few seconds? Why did the twins talk to him before anyone else?
  • Is there only one witch the entire time? Why are there several suddenly in the forest?
  • Why is the title spelled with two V’s?

Phew, okay, I think I’m done. I also respected that the language was true-to-time, but I had to concentrate on understanding what they’re saying half the time. I barely understand Coronation Street and my blood is partly British. As I think back, there were so many things to like about this movie. But the ending just seemed ridiculous, and I left feeling like I ordered a poutine and they forgot the gravy.

*The friend I saw this with gave it a 6.5/10.

 

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

Tale of Tales (2015)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 125

Rating: Unrated

Language: English

Categories: recent, murderer, monster, almost horror, witch

Tale of Tales, originally known as Il Racconto dei Racconti holds three different stories all driven by love and obsession. It pains me to give it such a low rating, for although it is beautiful- stunning even- the characters are unlikable and the movie moves slowly forcing me to cringe both at the awkward fairy tales as well as the dullness of the film. All three stories are just so strange, it’s a shame such costumes and scenery were wasted in this dark, dreamy, disappointment.

The first fable is about an infertile queen who calls upon a man of magic to guide her to the birth of her child. Her husband dies trying to kill a dragon and the queen takes the dragon’s heart home to eat as instructed by the sorcerer. She gives birth to an albino son, but so does the virgin who boiled the heart. The queen is jealous of the son’s bond (they look exactly the same) and she tries to kill the other child. This is the best one of the three simply because it stars Selma Hayek and it feels the least uncomfortable to watch.

A horny king falls in love with a maiden’s voice, but unfortunately, she hides with her sister in a house and refuses to let him see her. Most likely because they are both wrinkly and ancient. One of the sisters tricks the king, sleeps with him, and then gets kicked out of the castle. Then, a witch in the forest makes her young and she reunites with the king, soon becoming queen. The other sister find out and wants to be part of her sister’s royal life and everything gets even more awkward from there.

The third story is about yet another king who becomes obsessed with a flea and nurturing it over his own daughter. The flea grows into giant fleshy bug and then dies. The king has its skin stretched out and mounted, and then he challenges the men of the village to guess the animal it came from. An ugly ogre guesses correctly and the king follows through with his reward- the princess. The ogre takes the princess into the mountains where she cries all the time and tries to escape.

The tales aren’t connected by anything but royalty, and there isn’t really much of an ending. To be honest, I remember the ending of the last story, but not the other two. The best way to describe this movie is to think of a beautiful cake that is dry and bland on the inside.

 

photo credit: www.comingsoon.net