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’.

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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.

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.

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

Score: 4/10*

Length: 97

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: recent, 2000s, murder, demon, ghost, supernatural,

It’s pretttttyyyyy clear James Wan didn’t direct this (although he produced it), because the skill of being able to drag the tension out just long enough to deliver the scare at the right time was severely lacking. The director is actually a writer and actor who has appeared in Saw, Insidious, and Cooties. He’s the ghost hunter with the beard in all the Insidious movies. It’s less all-over-the-place than the first, and had its central focus around “the man who can’t breath”. I have asthma, so I can relate. There was one scene I jumped at, but there was so much mushy nonsense I didn’t care about and the ending was awful. At times I felt like I was watching an episode of Charmed, especially when the mom ghost appeared. I didn’t care about the characters, and watching the scare scenes felt like when you are having sex, and just as it starts to get good, someone knocks on the door and it’s over. The worst idea in the movie was the girl whose face was hidden under her hair. The third installment of Insidious is about a young girl who is hit by a car, and has a demon attaches itself to her. There’s also our old friend, the ghost whisperer, who has the bride-witch-demon-thing trying to strangle her everytime she tries to help the girl find her ghost-mom.

*friend consensus

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.

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 Witch (2016)

Score: 6.5/10*

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 also 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

Masters of Horror: The Fair Haired Child

Masters of Horror is a 2000s television series with a different director for each of the thirteen episodes in the season, running about an hour long.

Directed by: William Malone (House on Haunted Hill, Feardotcom)

Evil Category: witches, warlocks, the undead, and monster-alien-babies

Score: two out of five bad swimmers

The last episode of the first season is a strange one. Nineties teen romance with a little Are You Afraid of the Dark wrapped up in a Eurythmics music video. A husband and wife who have lost their son sacrifice twelve children to a weird, branchy, bald monster in order to have their family back together. This hollow-eyed alien thing with the mark of the Devil on its forehead is unique and not CGi’ed to death. It moves in a film-cut choppy kind-of way, and its a little scary, but the glowing holes in its face take away some of the fright. There’s a twist at the end but it isn’t very believable and although the characters are likable, they aren’t impactful and you’re just watching to see what happens, really. If you’re wondering where you’ve seen the mother before, she plays Lolly in Orange is the New Black, but she’s the only recognizable actor out of the four main characters in this episode. This is another one of those films where two movies that don’t fit together are made into one and it’s hard to really love an episode like this.

 

photo: http://fanpop.com/

Black Sunday (1960)

Score: 6/10

Length: 87

Language: English-dubbed, Italian

Categories: 60s, black and white, supernatural, murderer, devil, zombie, haunted house

Other Titles: La Maschera del Demonio, The Mask of Satan

A black and white, only slightly slow, shadowy stunner set in an old stone castle, which seems both elegant and ominous. After an uncovered tomb is found and opened, a witch wearing the mask of Satan is released. The witch and her three-musketeers-esque servant try to take over the body of the witch’s twin descendant, but are stopped by a bunch of boring white dudes and the Holy Cross, of course. Not too much to do with Satan or even witches, really, which is unfortunate. It’s a simple idea that works, but it’s just that- simple. It’s not even set on a Sunday. It’s also riddled with lots of fake (facial) hair, fainting, horrible skin rash breakouts, awkward grunting and moaning, and most of all, unnecessary explaining. The actress playing both the witch and the princess, Barbara Steele, is gorgeous except when her witch-form skin breaks out into a bunch of crater-like pimples. The movie also features a lot of unmemorable strong-chinned men. There was a great amount of effort put into the texture of the film to make up for the lack of colour, and overall, it was really an exquisite feature.

photo credit: www.timeoutdubai.com