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.

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.

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.

The Neighbor (2016)

Score: 5.5/10

Length: 87

Rating: NR (But clearly R)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, underground

As a Canadian, it pains me to put no ‘u’ in the title, but I suppose it’s an American movie and the paper mache mask on the cover makes up for it. It felt very familiar early on, like I had seen at least some of it before. Probably before passing out and then forgetting about it. This action-thriller film is about  an errand-man whose wife is kidnapped by their neighbour before they plan to split with a bag of cash. Josh Stewart does a great job of looking like Sean Penn’s druggy brother, but the acting from everyone is pretty decent.  I appreciate that the women weren’t just victims, they fought hard. It feels like The Collector series, but lacks some of the originality. Most of the gore seemed to be dead animals which definitely could’ve been skipped, but there were a splatter of blood and guts scenes throughout.  It had artistic spots, but it just wasn’t anything special or creative. Not a bad movie at all, but also not a memorable title or story. I could definitely see myself accidentally watching some of it again.

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

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.

The Boy (2016)

Score: 4.5/10*

Length: 97

Rating: PG 13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, toys, murderer, haunted house, SPOILER

This can’t be as bad as it sounds… I’m going into this with very low expectations hoping to be pleasantly surprised…

So now that I’m all moved in to my new house and no longer sleeping on the couch watching countless hours of TV, I’m back on the horror movie train. Starting it off with some lighter horrors, nothing to do with stalking or being alone in your apartment or anything. I figured a movie about a woman treating a doll like it’s a child has got to be pretty dumb. She is hired as a nanny by an old couple who think their porcelain doll is a reincarnation, perhaps, of their dead child. They pay a young, plain woman a handsome fee to care for the doll, and give her a list of rules to follow. The sitter of course breaks some of the rules and bad things happen, but the film doesn’t go in the direction you’re thinking. It’s not thrilling , there aren’t any real jump scares, and there’s not a lot of tension, so it relies heavily on the twist ending. If you are not a horror buff, the twist may surprise you, but I’ve seen a lot of movies with this theme (not the doll part) and it was easily guessable for me, but I was just so relieved (SPOILS!) that there wasn’t any supernatural ghost mumbo jumbo. (END SPOILS) I was hoping for a more of a back story explanation, and some tension build-up and more intense emotion could have really made this movie a strong one. But hey, the doll moves around the room, and the characters are, I’d say, mildly surprised and excited instead of freaking the fuck out like I would. Reminds me a lot of Black Christmas, and I’m just glad that it wasn’t as stupid as I expected.

*Friend score: 6/10 (the movie lover), 8/10 (the weak-willed watcher)

 

photo credit: http://ziffdavisinternational.com/

The Forest (2016)

Score: 5.5/10

Length: 93

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, woods, ghost

We jump right into the story here, with not much to relate to except how haggard Natalie Dormer looks. It’s clear the story and directing is going to be lazy from the beginning. ‘Sara’ is planning a trip to Japan to find her twin sister, who seems to be lost in the infamous Suicide (Aokigahara) Forest. Seems like a fantastic idea for a movie, since the stories and photos of the real-life forest are enough material alone, however, the first red flag is that neither of the main actors are Japanese. The sister hikes through the forest with two male accompaniments, but soon the ghosts of the forest play their games, and confusion, suspicion, and doubt creep into the vulnerable mind of the searching twin. The ghosts are dull and done, and their intended scares don’t make you jump. But being lost and afraid in a foreign country in the middle of nowhere is pretty terrifying on its own. There of course are a lot more issues: the atmosphere isn’t used as much as it could have been, Dormer, as I find in most of her appearances, isn’t very likable, and in the end, the twin really seems to have a lack of emotion. It’s a lot better than I thought it was going to be, put I’m glad I didn’t pay to see it in theatres. Thankful there was some man candy to help me get through the film.

 

 

photo credit: http://www.comingsoon.net/