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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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.)

 

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.

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.