Tag Archives: horror

The Snowtown Murders

snowtown

This grisly thriller is based on the true story of Australia’s worst serial killer, John Bunting, and the people he convinced to help him. One of them is teenager Jamie, whose entire family eventually falls under Bunting’s dark spell.

Brian
Rating: 7 out of 10

This film falls squarely in with others I’ve reviewed like Antichrist in that it’s a well made film that shows a picture of hell on Earth in a realistic way and yet I can’t recommend it.  Why? The images in it are filled with real world and all too real horror.  The main character played by Lucas Pittaway is pure frustration to watch.  His whole existence revolves around being a victim.  He is raped by his own brother, pushed around by every single person in his life, and coerced into assisting with murders that horrify and repulse him.  And yet, because he is so weak, he never says no.  As a viewer, it’s never a comfortable experience.  Obviously, considering the subject matter is about some of the worst crimes in Australian history, this comes as no surprise.  But, because this film plays everything off as deadpan real, it gives an uneasy and claustrophobic feel to all of the plot progressions.  We witness graphic tortures, murders, a main character who is pure evil, and a daily routine in a white trash neighborhood that has no glimmer of hope anywhere within its confines.

So, after all of this, why am I rating it a 7?  The performances are excellent all the way around, particularly by Daniel Henshall who plays the deviously charismatic leader of the serial killers.  He tries to make things make sense from his twisted point of view and is methodical in how he gets all these men to kill and torture for him.  Also, the world that is created by Justin Kurzel feels cold, bleak, and all too real.  This is true life horror that couldn’t be further away from the cliche slasher films that most horror enthusiasts are accustomed to.  However, proceed at your own risk.  This is a harrowing film and not one for the squeamish.

Mama

mama
Two girls left to fend for themselves in the forest for five lonely years after the death of their mother find refuge in the home of their uncle. But it soon becomes clear that the girls have not arrived alone in this woodsy supernatural chiller.

Matt
Rating: 6 out of 10

I really liked the premise of Mama. It sets up extremely well. The opening scenes are the tragic end of a family and how two little girls survive with the help of a paranormal mother figure.

The film is shot very well by director Andres Muschietti. There are a number of chilling scenes. In one, a character is in a dark room, pitch black, with nothing but a camera. He uses it for light, flashing shots to illuminate his surroundings. You’re forced to sit there, waiting for worst of things to happen. I also like that Mama never pulls back. The film takes some dark routes, which left some people I watched the movie with upset. There’s no happy ending.

Mama does, however, drag. But the moments of intense frights, combined with excellent performances by the two children and Academy Award-winning Jessica Chastain, hold the movie together well. Not the best thriller I’ve ever seen, but certainly entertaining and worth a watch.

Top Ten Horror Movie Villains

Talk about a killer list! This was a tough Top 10 to create. So many great horror movie icons didn’t make the list — Norman Bates, zombies, Frankenstein, the wolfman, Ghostface, and so many more! Enjoy this haunting list of baddies, just in time for Halloween.

10. Chucky
Great character made even greater by the excellent voice acting of the Academy Award-nominated Brad Dourif.

9. Alien
Based on the artwork of H.R. Geiger, this moving falace with acid blood and razor teeth has haunted many a sci-fi fan’s nightmares. The sequel is even better than the original.

8. Jigsaw
Legendary baddie by default based on the sheer amount of sequels. The first in the series is the real gem and they get progressively worse as they go — as is the case with most horror movies. But he’s always creepy.


7.
 Leatherface
The first film is considered by many to be the greatest grindhouse movie ever made. I can’t disagree. The fear is all the more palpable because of this terrifying character based off a real serial killer named Ed Gein.

6. Jason Voorhees
A derivative character that shares more than a few characteristics with Michael Myers: slow, brooding, speechless, and psychotic. The only problem is he’s not the original killer in the series and he didn’t obtain his distinctive look until the third film. Also, these movies are of inferior quality to the other slasher films.

5. Hannibal Lecter
Hannibal The Canibal is certainly one of the most iconic and chilling characters. He’s dastardly, wicked, smart, disgusting, perverse and vile in every way. And Anthony Hopkins played him to perfection in his Academy Award-winning performance. A sinister, evil character to the core.

4. Dracula
Dracula has been portrayed in countless ways and featured in films made throughout the world, from an axe-wieding Abraham Lincoln to the chilling silent German film “Nosferatu.” He’s an icon of horror that has chilled audiences the world round, and his tale will live on eternally.

3. Freddy Krueger
Freddy is an incredible concept — a demon-like man who haunts your dreams, a child molester who transformed into something greater after being burned alive by angered parents. He’s a bad, bad man who has taken many forms in countless sequels, and Robert Englund brought great energy and charisma to this unique villain that will forever stand as one of the greatest.

2. Satan
He’s the source of all evil, and Satan has been portrayed in countless films. He’s not the first baddie that pops in your mind when it comes to horror, but think about it — The Exorcist, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, Angel Heart, The Devils, and the list goes on. The definition of evil and a source of material that will forever inspire filmmakers.

1. Michael Myers
Worse than Satan? Well, maybe not. But he is the king of all slasher movie killers. Michael Myers was born evil and killed from his youth and was one of the first characters to explore the concept that some killers are just born that way. The first two Halloween movies stand as the best slasher movies of all time and Michael Myers is the reason. He’s a ruthless killer and the face of horror movies.

House at the End of the Street

Moving to a new town proves even more stressful for a teenage girl when she learns that the house next door was the site of a double murder. But after making friends with the victims’ son, she realizes there may be more to the story.

Matt
Rating: 5 out of 10

This is a decent little suspense movie. I thought it was going to be a total teen flick, like Jennifer Lawrence did with “The Hunger Games.” But it was slightly better. Not great, but OK.

New girl moves to town, there’s a creepy kid at the end of the street and they become friends. She’s intrigued by him, he’s mysterious, sensitive and they develop a friendship and romance. But things start going awry. He has a sad past, his sister killed their family and he still lives in that house. But dark clues start to bloom up around him.

The movie’s really not all that bad, but it suffers from a majorly slow period mid-way through the film and the ending is a little predictable. Lawrence is very solid as the lead, and she’s a talented actress who has great range. But in the end, this is a forgettable flick.

Don’t Go Into The Woods

A young band heads to the woods in order to focus on writing new songs. Hoping to emerge with new music that will score them their big break, they instead find themselves in the middle of a nightmare beyond comprehension.

Matt
Rating: 2 out of 10

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A bunch of hipsters go into the woods to make a musical horror movie…

No, it’s not a joke, it’s real. It’s a genuine effort by Vincent D’Onofrio to make a slasher flick that doubles as a genuine musical, chock full o’ tunes… like a jillion songs. This has more songs than “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Singin’ In the Rain” combined. The victims are literally breaking into song as they’re being sliced and diced.

Vincent D’Onofrio, who is a talented actor, wrote and directed this flick, which I have to guess was a labor of love that he made for a dime with no-name actors. There are a couple tunes that weren’t bad, but they couldn’t make up for bad acting, poor special effects, a lackluster villain, a laughable presentation, and even worse premise. It would be one thing if this was all done with tongue in cheeck as a campy movie, but it’s not. It’s dead serious about being a horror flick and a musical.

This movie is really just a joke.

Sinister

After moving to a new town, a true-crime writer discovers a cache of videotapes depicting brutal murders that took place in the very house he just bought. As he tries to solve the mystery behind the crimes, a sinister force threatens his own family.

Matt
Rating: 8 out of 10

When my wife and I went to opening night, we each were worried our movie experience was ruined before it began. The theater was full of chatty teenagers. But two minutes into this movie, the audience was dead silent — no pun intended. To me, keeping teenagers quiet is the mark of a great horror movie.

To say this is simply a horror movie is selling it short, though. It’s loaded with mystery and breathtaking suspense that is well paced and intelligent. This movie could make some noise at the Golden Globes — but probably not the Oscars. Ethan Hawke propels the movie with a very strong performance of a man whose ego and drive for success puts his family in danger. There are plenty of jump-out-of-your skin moments, but they’re set up with excellent patience by director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose). Derrickson shows maturity in directing a truly chilling story that never takes the cheap way out. It’s gruesome at times, but it’s smart. It never shows every bloody detail, which makes it far more frightening.

This is a horror movie, I believe, that crosses genres and appeals to a much wider audience than the teenage crowd who filled the theater where I saw “Sinister.” Think of this movie more like “The Others” or “Seven” than a traditional slasher flick. It’s a fresh new horror tale that’s anything but typical.

 

 

The Cabin in the Woods

Image

Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Matt
Rating: 8 out of 10

I love it when a film comes along in a tired genre and kicks it in the ass.

The first “Scream” movie was a revolation for horror fans tired of countless sequels. Believe it or not, this movie actually doesn’t leave much need for one, either. To me, that’s the hallmark of a great movie. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The beauty of this film is that it starts like every other teenager-targeted slasher flick. It moves well, injects quite a bit of humor along the way, and keeps us engaged while we have fun. It works. But by the ending, which I will not spoil, it takes some very interesting twists and turns that will leave both fanboys and the general public happy.

Mind you, if you’re not a horror or fantasy fan, I think you’ll still enjoy this, though on a different level as horror fans. As a horror fan, I delighted in the playful nature the director took with horror and folk lore and turned it on its head a bit and looked at these conventions with a fresh take. It was a nice change of pace. Don’t go to the “Cabin in the Woods” hoping for your typical movie. You won’t find it, but that’s the beauty of it. If you don’t like change, and you like your teenagers predictably walking into dark rooms where the killer was just seen, or you think Freddy needs a 20th sequel, this may not be the flick for you.

Seven Days

Surgeon Bruno Hamel (Claude Legault) is living a seemingly idyllic life until his young daughter is raped and murdered. Obsessed with vengeance, Bruno concocts a plot to kidnap, torture and execute the man responsible for the crime. Once his plan comes to fruition, he’ll turn himself in. Director Daniel Grou makes his feature-film debut with this thriller based on a novel by Patrick Senécal. Rémy Girard and Fanny Mallette co-star.

Brian
Rating: 6 out of 10
Warning: some minor spoilers!

If you think, based on the description above, that this is another Hostel it most definitely isn’t. The grief of loss is presented in a very real and palpable way that drew me in. The husband and wife (played brilliantly by Claude Legault and Fanny Mallette) are real people dealing with the most horrific thing that can happen to a human being, the loss of a child. It’s that sense of reality that drew me into the story. Who wouldn’t want revenge for the rape and murder of their child? Who wouldn’t want to make their attacker suffer unimaginably? Who hasn’t questioned whether imprisonment is “enough” for a crime of this magnitude?

So, for a film raising all of these interesting questions, why is it a lowly 6? I feel the story takes a lot of turns that made it too ridiculous that it started to lose me. For one, there’s a point where the father kidnaps the mother of a previous victim of the same killer who murdered his daughter. Why? He saw her in a TV interview talking about how she has forgotten about the killer. He finds it so offensive that he chloroforms her and takes her to the hidden cottage where the killer is being tortured so she can face him. All of this is done while there’s a massive manhunt for him going on. It really never needed to get that ridiculous. The more basic the story became, the better it was. Why take the doctor away from the confrontations with the murderer as well as his own demons? That also reminds me of another weakness of the story. The writer decided to have zero dialogue interaction between the father and the killer. I can understand the idea that he wouldn’t even want to speak with him but why deprive the audience of what could have been several interesting exchanges to further flesh out the characters?

On a positive note, newcomer director Daniel Grou has a terrific sense of pacing and his use of silence in the film is excellent. I love when filmmakers take the time to show us a story visually without music or dialogue to paint a story.

I must also note that the film is horribly violent and contains scenes of extended torture. It’s certainly not for the squeamish. In fact, I would bet most of you will not like or enjoy it. I don’t think that was the ever the intention. I took from it that if you were given a chance to make the punishment fit the crime, would you lose your soul in the process?

The Last Man on Earth

A plague has wiped out most of mankind, and those who survived have become bloodthirsty vampires. The only “normal” human left on earth, Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) — who was spared by a twist of fate — spends his days methodically hunting down the undead mutants and his nights barricaded against their attacks. But when he meets the beautiful but contaminated Ruth, he discovers a secret that will unravel what’s left of his existence.

Victor
Rating: 8 out of 10

The 1954 novel “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson has always been one of my favorite sci-fi/horror novels. This 1964 film directed by Sidney Salkow and shot on a meager budget in Italy is the first adaptation of Matheson’s zombie tale. Many consider it to still be the finest of the 3 that have been done thus far. The film carries on, faithfully, the idea of an apocalypse started by disease. Vincent Price portrays Robert Morgan, the only survivor who seems immune to the plague which has obliterated mankind. During the day he goes about routine and mundane things. He fixes his home, looks for vehicles and hunts and kills vampiric zombies created by the contagion. He then takes them to burn in a crater like hole where he dumps them in. He endures attacks at night by the same horde of monsters, one being a close friend of his.

It is the versatile Vincent Price that really carries this film far and beyond the already great material. He is a lonely man and Price deftly emotes such realism in his performance. He is grieving, sorrowful, angry and at times desperate. His survival instincts, though, are always finely tuned to the dangers that lie beyond the threshold of his sanctuary. His story is told in flashbacks and it is here where we learn the origin of the contagion and we begin to feel for him and his plight. At night he endures the ghouls who want him to succumb. That is his plight.

The film is dense, dark and scary. It is eerily lit with emotion and fright highlighting the menace of the cinematography. Price is joined by a capable cast and the Italian actresses are beauties. But it is the desolation, dread and futility that stirs us. The score is disquieting and effective for this type of film. It is a hidden gem of the genre.

Insidious

After moving into a new home, Josh (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) confront terrifying tribulations when their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into a coma and his body starts to attract malevolent forces from a mysterious netherworld. But when the family decides to move again, hoping to leave the evil spirits behind, they realize that their problems are just beginning. James Wan (Saw) directs.

Matt
Rating: 5 out of 10

The first hour of this movie was outstanding. One of the best horror films to come out in years. It had me jumping and nervous, and was a great date night movie that was intriguing, smart, well-paced with great performances and sharp direction.

The last act of the movie, however, took a huge nosedive. We are given the impression that a demon is after a little boy’s soul. We get narrow glimpses of him throughout the movie but never see him. It’s the Alfred Hitchcock theory that what the audience doesn’t see is what scares them the most. And it’s true.

In the last act, however, we get so much over-the-top demon, it just gets downright silly. It really stopped my viewing pleasure and made the whole thing seem silly. The ending is strong, and has a nice twist, but I was disinterested by the time it got there. It’s a shame, because this movie was so close to being amazing. Hard to say it’s anything better than average, though.