In 50 Words – THE WITCH (2016)

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THE WITCH (2016)

Directed by: Robert Eggers

Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

Atlas Entertainment, Relativity Media

A farmer and his family are forced to find their way in the New England wilderness after they are exiled from a colonial plantation. The family settles on a plot of land near a forest believed to be inhabited by an evil force. Almost instantly, bizarre and unexplained events begin to happen, including the youngest child being kidnapped. The family must rely on each other and their faith in God and Christianity to get them through as they are preyed upon by the entities that reside in the woods.

Viewers who go into The Witch expecting a typical horror movie could possibly be disappointed. The jump scares are kept to a minimum, and the blood and guts are all intended to be deliberate as opposed to glorified and gratuitous. Instead, director Robert Eggers relies on atmosphere and tension build-up to keep the audience engaged and off balance. The folklore of the time is heavily relied upon, and hits the mark. This day and age, it seems silly to fear black magic and Satanism, but in the sixteenth century, these fears were very real. I was very impressed with the costume and set design. The film had a very authentic and distressed feel. The characters were well constructed, and the actors playing those characters were also genuine and intense. I am sure this film will achieve critical and moderate financial success, but on the same token, it will be a polarizing film with mixed feelings from viewers. The Witch brings true horror to the table, as opposed to cheap gimmicks and loads of blood. As I watched this family collapse under their own suspicion and religious beliefs, I just hoped that the Evil in the forest surrounding them would show some restraint. Not the case. I left the theater thinking what did I just watch? I also left the theater feeling like I had just seen something original and special.

4 Bloody Moons 4 out of 5 Bloody Moons

T.

In 50 Words…The Forest (2016)

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The Forest (2016)

Directed BY: Jason Zeda

Starring: Natalie Dormer, Eoin Macken, Stephanie Vogt

AI-Film, Lava Bear Films, Gramercy Pictures

An American woman, Sara (Dormer), travels to Japan to track down her oft troubled identical twin sister. The trail leads to the Aokiagahara, the “suicide forest” at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The “sea of trees” is a place where people commit suicide, and is widely believed to be haunted. As she finds evidence that her sister may be alive and lost in the forest, Sara will have to confront her past, as well as the supernatural forces of Aokiagahara to uncover the truth.

As a fan of the folklore that comes along with the infamous “suicide forest” in Japan, I was actually intrigued by the possibilities that The Forest could bring to the supernatural genre. Imagine being alone in the forest at night in the dark. No imagine having to worry about ghosts messing with you as you try to keep your sanity. Sounds pretty freaky right? The Forest falls so flat on its face, and almost immediately. For starters, the majority of the forest scenes take place during the day. This is not very effective. The scare count for me was zero. The story was very rushed, and with no real build-up. The history and the creepiness of the Mt. Fuji area is wasted on this film. The Japanese are renowned for their innovative horror films. Hollywood is renowned for taking a scary-as-hell legend and making it suck. I feel bad for Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) and first time director Jason Zada, but on the bright side; it can only get better from here. Might as well get the terrible horror project out of the way first. It upsets me to be this harsh, but I have to be honest. The Forest was one of the least interesting films I have seen in quite some time.

1-bloody-moons 1 out of 5 Bloody Moons

If you would like to read some information on Aokiagahara, the”Suicide Forest”, here is what Wikipedia has to say…

Wikipedia – Aokiagahara (Japan)

T.

In 50 Words…The Hallow (2015)

In 50 (or so) Words…

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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 bloody moons 3 /5 Bloody Moons

T.

 

 

In 50 Words… Hellions (2015)

In 50 (or so) Words…

hellions_ver2Hellions (2015)

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.

2.5 Bloody Moons

T.

In 50 Words…Last Shift (2014)

In 50 (or so) Words… a tiny review.

last-shift-posterLast Shift (2014)

Directed by: Anthony DiBlasi

Starring: Juliana Harkavy, Joshua Mikel

Sykra Entertainment

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

2/5 Bloody Moons

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 29 – The Changeling (1980)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 29

The Changeling (directed by Peter Medak, 1980) When I think of a haunted house, I do not think of skeletons crawling out of the basement, blood pouring out of the faucets, or ancient burial grounds. A Haunting is more effective when the occurrences are more subtle. Unexplained sounds, objects moving by themselves, and shadows are the things that fear are based on. The Changeling hits all the right classic ghostly spots. This is how a haunted house movie should be done. There are no over the top CGI, ridiculous looking specters, or bleeding walls. The film relies on good old fashion tension, a creepy mansion, and the theory that less is more. Grief stricken composer John Russell has recently lost his wife and daughter in a freak auto accident. Trying to piece his life back together, he takes a teaching job in Washington State, and subsequently takes residence in old mansion. Strange things begin to take place; taps turning on themselves, timed banging noises, and doors opening unaided. The discovery of a locked room in the attic has troubled the new tenant as well. After things begin to get worse, John has a medium come in the house. The results lead him to dig into the history of the house, and he discovers the eighty year old unsolved murder of a young boy. The ghost of the boy needs John to bring the secrets to light so his soul may rest, and the truth can be known. There are some really unsettling scenes in The Changeling. The murder of the boy, the medium making contact with the spirit, and the reappearing rubber ball are all haunting. If you have watched the film, you know exactly what I mean. George C. Scott provides a special performance, devastated by his loss, yet dedicated to solving the mystery of the mansion. He is a commanding screen presence. The mansion is vast and also gives a worthy performance as the vessel for the vengeful child spirit. I am not sure what age I was when I first watched The Changeling; maybe ten or twelve. But it took me a long time to watch it again. My greatest fear as a kid was ghosts, and this film scared the holy hell out of me. The effect has diminished, but it is still the measuring stick I use when comparing movies of the supernatural genre. Not a lot of films measure up to this classic haunted house story. Let this movie provide you with a worthy Halloween haunting.

Cool Fact: The Changeling won a handful of Genie Awards (the Canadian Oscars) including Best Picture, and Best Performance by a Foreign Actor (George C. Scott).

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project
  • Day 26 – The Shining
  • Day 27 – Trick r Treat
  • Day 28 – An American Werewolf in London
  • Day 29 – The Changeling

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 26 – The Shining (1980)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 26

The Shining (directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1980) Jack Torrance, an out of work writer, along with his wife Wendy and son Danny, takes residence as the winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel. Jack has had his struggles with alcoholism, and looks at this as an opportunity to write the book in peace and quiet. Son Danny sees things differently. A gift he has developed allows Danny to for see the danger that awaits them at the Overlook. The hotel has a horrific secret, and Danny can feel it. Over the course of their stay, Jack slowly descends into madness. The spirits that inhabit the hotel have plans for Jack; they require him to kill his family, and eventually himself. Snowed in and without radio communication, Wendy and Danny must survive to escape the doom that awaits them at the hands of Jack. There are many theories of what Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is truly about, and frankly, too many to discuss here. Let us take it for what it is on the surface. It is a ghost story, on a few levels. First, Jack is harboring ghosts from his past, in the form of alcohol and abuse. Danny is trying to live with the ghosts that speak to him (figuratively), and Wendy is just trying to keep it all together. The spirits of the Overlook Hotel prey on the family’s fragile psyche. I will leave the discrepancies between the Stephen King novel and Kubrick’s movie aside, because there are many, and the film is much different. This is a brilliant film, plain and simple. Right from the opening scene, Kubrick creates and ominous tone, and fills us viewers with an impending sense of doom. The opening theme was a perfect piece of music to open the film. The Shining gives us a sense of disorientation, using the vast hotel and hedge maze to make us feel lost. The winter setting is isolating and makes the situation claustrophobic and desperate. Kubrick meticulously crafted this film to be ambiguous; this is why there are so many ideas floating around as to what his true message is. Regardless, it is perfect. The horror is not in the gore or the violence. The horror comes through the psychology the director places throughout the film; the long hallway shots, the oppressive nature of the hotel, the mystery of Room 237, and the malicious nature of Jacks temperament . Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance with such an arrogance and madness that makes him terrifying. Shelly Duvall is great as Wendy. She plays a needy, helpless, and simple character, until the life of her son is threatened. She then becomes fierce, and would do anything to protect Danny. Young Danny Lloyd played his role of tormented, spooky child very well. His “Tony” voice is quite good. Scatman Crothers has a small, but important role as the hotel’s cook, but more importantly, he shares the “shine” with Danny. He also paints the hotel as a place that can be very dangerous. There are many memorable scenes in The Shining; Jack and Wendy’s encounters in the main hall and the kitchen of the hotel, Danny wheeling around the hotel and discovering the “Twins”, and Jack busting through the door with “Here’s Johnny”. My favorite scene, perhaps of any film, is the bathroom encounter between Jack and Charles Grady, where Grady explains to Jack that he must “correct” his family. Chilling is one word to describe the exchange. As I am sure a lot of people share the same sentiment, The Shining is number one for horror in my books. Thirty-five years later, it still provides more questions than answers. If you are brave enough to see what is behind the door of Room 237, make The Shining part of your Halloween regiment. You know what they say; “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. We wouldn’t want Jack to get dull.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project
  • Day 26 – The Shining