Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse (2015)
Directed by: Christopher Landon
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont
Broken Road Productions, Paramount Pictures
Three friends, and fellow Scouts, get set to go on their last camping trip. Plans are also in effect to ditch the camp out after dark and go to the biggest secret location party of the year. Much to the surprise of the friends, they walk right into the middle of a full-blown zombie outbreak upon their return to town. After enlisting the help of a stripper, the group races to find the secret location of the party to save their high school friends. Scouts are always prepared, but are they prepared for this?
Horror-comedy can be really good if done right. I went into this film with no expectations. I had not heard much about it besides seeing a couple teaser trailers. I must admit. I enjoyed Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. The film knows it is a comedy and never tries to be serious. They follow the formula very well, and throw in some blood and guts for good measure. I found this movie very reminiscent of another good horror-comedy; Idle Hands (1999). Week after week, T.V.’s The Walking Dead slams us with an intense, end of the world zombie drama. Once in a while it’s nice to relax and laugh at hordes of undead. You won’t need your brain for this one, and that’s not a bad thing now and then.
3.5 /5 Bloody Moons
Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman
Legendary Pictures, Universal Pictures.
Max, a young boy who is tired of his family not taking Christmas seriously, swears of the holiday, and in the process, he accidentally summons an evil spirit. Krampus and his army of demonic elves are coming to town, and they are not in a festive mood. Max and his family must try and survive the Christmas Eve from hell, and hopefully their X-Mas spirit can overcome Santa’s shadow; Krampus.
Being a fan of Michael Dougherty’s brilliant Halloween film Trick r Treat, I was really looking forward Krampus. Both films share a common theme; people disrespecting holidays, in this case Halloween and Christmas, and they are paid a visit by not-so-nice entities representing their respective night. They also share bad ass villains. Just like pumpkin goblin Sam (Trick r Treat), Krampus is a half beast half man Christmas creep. The effects design for the creature, as well as his army of elves, toys, and gingerbread men are great. The acting is decent, and the majority of the story is adequate. Those are things I liked. What I did not like was the lack of blood and violence. I image that Christmas demons would not be as relenting as these ones are. They could have been much more brutal. In spots, the film seemed lost to the fact that it is a horror movie. Unfortunately the ending of the film seemed pretty wishy-washy until the very last scene, which made the attempt to straighten out which was an unsatisfying payoff. If you go in expecting the brilliance of Trick r Treat, you will be disappointed. If you go in with low expectations, you might have a good time. Merry Krampus!
3 / 5 Bloody Moons
In 50 (or so) Words…
Sinister 2 (2015)
Directed by: Ciarán Foy
Starring: James Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon
Automatik Entertainment, Blumhouse Productions
A mother and her two sons move into secluded rural house to escape a domestic situation. There is only one problem; the house has been marked by the demon Bhughul. Using a series of “snuff” films and a gang of ghostly children, Bhughul continues his evil work, and wants this family to join him in hell. Ex-deputy So & So, who is investigating the events from the first film (Sinister, 2012) must uncover the truth and race to save the Collins family from certain death.
The first Sinister film was a good surprise for me, as I thought it was pretty creepy and had some original ideas. I enjoyed how the old home movies were incorporated into the film, and the method in which the families were chosen for death. It was obvious that a sequel would be made, as the first film was good, and turned a decent profit. For the most part, this is just a rehash of the first film with a different target family. James Ransone does return to reprise his character, Deputy So & So. Unfortunately, the character lacks the hero quality and just blends in. Where the first film had great eerie atmosphere, Sinister 2 goes for the jump scares more so than suspense. I felt as if the story showed its hand too early and too often for this sequel to be as effective as the predecessor. The “snuff” movies within the film were good, but the film itself was just not sinister enough for this guy. Hopefully the third installment can reinvent Bhughul. He seems to have lost his demon game.
2/5 Bloody Moons
In 50 (or so) Words
Why Horror? (2014)
Directed by: Nicolas Kleiman, Rob Lindsay
Starring: Tal Zimerman, a host of interview subjects including John Carpenter, Don Coscarelli, Eli Roth, Soska Sisters, and George A. Romero
Don Ferguson Productions
Life long horror fan, Tal Zimerman, goes on a mission to document and discover the answer to the age old question; why do we love to be scared? Zimerman travels from Mexico to Japan to investigate different cultures, interviews many authorities on the subject, and has physical tests performed on him to try and understand his own personal obsession with horror, and also mankind’s interest in the macabre.
I was flipping through movies on the television and came across Why Horror?, and since I am also a fan of the genre, decided it would be in my best interest to watch this feature documentary. If you go in expecting a film about horror films, this is not going to satisfy you. What is satisfying about this film is that there was a great amount of work put into it. Art, literature, other culture’s beliefs in death, science, and of course film are all explored. The question being asked is a valid and interesting question; why does horror appeal to see many people, while other people do not care for it? The film flows really well. The quality of interviewees and “experts” is impressive and insightful. The addition of the brain scan during a viewing of a horror movie was a nice and interesting touch. Overall, Why Horror? is a really cool watch. It’s nice to know that there are freaks like me out there. It was stated in the film that while people watch the horrors and atrocities of real life on CNN, I’ll stick to watching my horror in the cinema and reading it in comic books, where it won’t drive me mad.
3.5/5 Bloody Moons
In 50 (or so) Words
Redemption of the Devil (2015)
Directed by: Alex Hoffman
Starring: Jesse Hughes
This documentary follows a year in the life of charismatic front man for the band Eagles of Death Metal, Jesse Hughes. He is many things; wild-man, political activist, worshiper of women, ordained minister, and father. Leading up to Hughes’, aka Boots Electric, fortieth birthday, he is preparing to record a new album, play solo shows, record his radio shows, and most importantly, trying to reconnect with his son.
As a big fan of EODM, I was looking forward to watching Redemption of the Devil. To me, Jesse Hughes has always come off as a cock-sure and confident rock n’ roller, with a desire to live up to the legend that comes along with that lifestyle. He is that, and so much more. The film is very candid, and of course there are moments that it seems the man called “Boots Electric” is playing it up for the camera. After watching, I don’t believe that is the case. Hughes has a bombastic personality, and his views and opinions mirror that. There is also another side to Jesse Hughes; devoted son who honors his mother’s beliefs by becoming an ordained minister, as he tries to tone down his hedonistic ways. He is also a tortured father, who desperately wants to see his son after being estranged for a year. At some points during the film, I thought to myself how amazing it would be to live this lifestyle, which were counter-balanced by the realization that things can sometimes slip through your fingers and the fun is not all it is cracked up to be. I really enjoyed Redemption of the Devil, and because of this, I see “Boots Electric” as a human being, and not just the charismatic wild-man you see on stage.
4/5 Bloody Moons
In 50 (or so) Words…
The Hallow (2015)
Directed By: Corin Hardy
Starring: Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic
Occupant Entertainment, IFC Midnight
After a month of living in an old house in the remote Irish countryside, a couple and their young son come under attack from supernatural forces that haunt the woods surrounding their home. The experience becomes dire as the evil entities target the couples infant boy.
I went into my viewing of The Hallow with zero expectations as I had not read too much about the film. In my opinion, it is a pretty well made homage to the old “don’t go into the woods at night” theme. The beautiful Irish landscape makes for a nice atmospheric setting. I was impressed with the creature design, as the forest demons are well crafted and effective. The heavy lifting as far as the acting goes is carried by Joseph Mawle (TV’s Ripper Street) and Bojana Novakovic (TV’s Shameless), and they do an admirable job. There are a few plot holes, and perhaps the writers gave away too much too soon, but nothing that should deter you from viewing the movie. My main complaint is that the film sputtered in some spots, and lost some momentum. All-in-all, this a very decent spin on an old Irish folklore that should have no problem finding an audience. Not perfect, but solid.
3 /5 Bloody Moons
In 50 (or so) Words…
Directed by: Bruce McDonald
Starring: Chloe Rose, Robert Patrick, Rachel Wilson
Whizbang Films, StoryBook Corporation, DHX Media
It is Halloween, and seventeen year old Dora is stunned and distraught after discovering she is four weeks pregnant. Her night gets worse as she is terrorized by a group ghostly trick-or-treaters who are after more than just candy. Halloween becomes surreal and terrifying for the young mother to be.
I was really excited to watch Hellions simply because it is directed by veteran Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald (Hardcore Logo, Pontypool). The first half of the film is very promising, but then things fall apart. The film becomes wishy-washy with too many scenes that left me guessing if what I watching was reality or a fantasy sequence. By the last ten minutes I had lost interest because I wasn’t sure which direction the story went. Not all was lost. There are some very creepy scenes as well as a little bit of tension. Canadian actress Chloe Rose (Degrassi: The Next Generation) is convincing as the tormented protagonist, and Robert Patrick (T2: Judgement Day) is, well, Robert Patrick. It is unfortunate that Hellions did not finish as strong as it started. I really wanted to like it more than I do.
In 50 Words…
What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
Directed By: Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Starring: Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonny Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer
Unison Films, Defender Films, Funny Or Die
Four mates share a flat in New Zealand. They try to get along, share chores and have fun together. Except they are Vampires that are hundreds of years old. Viago, Deacon, Vladislav, and Petyr struggle to fit into modern times but struggle with everyday things; fashion, housework, nightlife, and love. Run-ins with werewolves, police, and other vampires all make for a charming, intelligent, and absolutely hilarious mockumentary. To be honest, this has been the most enjoyable film for me so far in 2015. The writing, physical comedy, and performances are all top notch, with horror elements splattered throughout to compliment the laughs perfectly. Writer/directors Clement (Flight of the Concords) and Waititi (Eagle Vs. Shark) make the characters very engaging and lovable while scoring big laughs. Original and hysterical. If you love cheeky comedy, you will love What We Do In The Shadows.
4.5 / 5 Bloody Moons
In 50 (or so) Words… a tiny review.
Last Shift (2014)
Directed by: Anthony DiBlasi
Starring: Juliana Harkavy, Joshua Mikel
Rookie police officer Jessica Loren is assigned to guard, on her first shift, an old precinct during the building’s last night open. Informed that all she has to do is wait for a clean-up crew to arrive sometime during the night, her maiden shift should be a breeze. During the night, supernatural occurrences happen, which lead Loren to discover the real reason the precinct is being abandoned. Last Shift starts of fairly well, but quickly lost my attention. There are no real scares, some gross out effects, but a few creepy images. A pretty weak and predictable finish left me feeling that the film lost it’s identity. Decent acting from Juliana Harkavy (TV’s The Walking Dead) with the material she is given to work with. For me, Last Shift quickly became Lost Shift.
2/5 Bloody Moons
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Directed by: S. Craig Zahler
Starring: Kurt Russel, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins
Caliber Media Company, RLJ Entertainment
Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Russell) and three other men set out on a rescue after people from their frontier town are abducted by cave-dwelling savages. As if pioneer life wasn’t hard enough! Bone Tomahawk is more western than horror, but does not lack brutal bloody violence. The cast is wonderful, and the story is simple and original. The cannibalistic kidnappers are almost Predator-like, and a formidable foe for all-round bad ass Kurt Russell. The western/horror genre is sorely under utilized, but this film is a great start. Bone Tomahawk is bound to become a cult favorite, and rightfully so. The film runs at one hundred and thirty two minutes, but does not lag, and kept my attention from start to finish. Awesome movie.
4.5 Bloody Moons / 5