Murphy and Peters survived the messy amalgamation of cults. AHS: Cult – TV series review

Undergone intense rewrites, the seventh season of American Horror Story has, finally, embraced the US presidential election as main plotline.

Cult, the very much explanatory title given to the season, is really an amalgamation of themes and storylines. Continue reading “Murphy and Peters survived the messy amalgamation of cults. AHS: Cult – TV series review”

Advertisements

I JUST SAW… Baskin (Turkey, 2015)

Here we are, starting a new series in which I’ll be taking a look at some random movies that went overlooked or are just plain unknown.

Most of the movies I’ll be watching and talking about are foreign (as in non-American), therefore I hope you don’t mind reading subtitles! Obviously, these are all going to be films that I highly recommend, so check them out if you’re intrigued by what you are going to read. Starting off with… Continue reading “I JUST SAW… Baskin (Turkey, 2015)”

Once upon a time, there were a Demon, a Vampire and a Skinwalker… The Monster Project – movie review

It seems like the beginning of a twisted fairy tale, instead that’s the premise The Monster Project is based on.

Combine this simple (although a bit childish) premise with some found-footage style, isolated location, a solar eclipse and you basically know what film you will get. Sounds lame, right?

Monster Project 1If you ask me, this doesn’t look promising even in the slightest. Fortunately, in this case, what you have on paper doesn’t turn into reality in the execution, because The Project Monster is a very entertaining flick.

We follow aspiring filmmaker Bryan (Toby Hemingway, the only familiar face in the movie) who assembles a crew of misfits to film a documentary with real-life monsters: specifically, a demon, a vampire and a Skinwalker.

This movie runs for almost 100 minutes and, as soon as the action kicks off (around 40 minutes into the film), it becomes fast-paced and non-stop entertainment, with one impactful jump-scare after the other. Besides the ending, which has a silly plot twist I don’t really care for, The Monster Project is a constant adrenaline rush, a sort of The Blair Witch Project (1999) on steroids.

If you are into this kind of movies, I suggest to check this one out as soon as possible; just don’t expect anything more than that, okay?

Obviously, though, I wouldn’t call this a good movie. This time around, I am going to explain the main issues with the movie by figuring out a fictional, alternative version of what we got. An alternative cut, if you will.

Monster Project 2.jpgFirst of all, the ‘HorrorWorld&Reviews cut’ would be 70 minutes long: no characters’ introduction or formulaic backstory, the viewer would be dragged into the action straight away. In fact, the first 30 minutes or so of The Monster Project seem to be there just to make the flick get to the feature length. Also, every time this movie comes back to the characters it loses impact. In my fictional cut, all those elements would disappear.

Monster Project 3.pngSecondly, I would elongate the interviews with the monsters, which are the most original and enthralling part of this flick. Mostly Demon and Vampire (the Skinwalker not so much) are scary and intriguing and I would have liked to see a deeper exploration of their persona, which is what I would include in the ‘HorrorWorld&Reviews cut’.

Finally, I would film The Monster Project through a more traditional third-person narrative. The found-footage style is tiresome and has used up its impact in horror cinema, in my opinion. The main reason being it’s supposed to show the audience real and truthful events through the eye of a camera; however, in The Monster Project the viewer is bombarded with professional soundtrack (where does it come from?), awkward angles (why filming yourself kissing a girl?) and perfect audio recording (even when a freaking demon eats you alive).

The point is that a movie makes much more sense within its story and its ‘universe’ when it’s not filmed in found-footage fashion, because it doesn’t need to explain how this or that has been recorded. Therefore, my cut would rely on traditional filmmaking techniques and shy away from every form of found-footage.

A quick recap: I’d keep all the good stuff included in The Monster Project and make the segments about the monsters’ interview longer; I’d get rid of any attempt to character development; I’d film the movie in third-person and probably make the ending a bit less over-the-top and silly. What do you think? Would you watch it?

While we wait for Hollywood to hire my, as I said before you can still enjoy The Monster Project for what it is and you’ll probably end up having some mindless entertainment, filled with scary bits and extremely effective jump-scares, as long as you don’t overthink about it for more than two seconds. Otherwise, you’d realise that nothing makes sense. Cheers!

 

Thanks to DreadCentral for the images!

A slow-burn that will make you rethink outbreak films. It comes at night – movie review

A few films have been as controversial as It Comes at Night recently

In the case of Trey Edward Shults’s latest film, though, all the controversy lies in the polarised reactions the movie got upon its release. Something reminiscent of what happened with The Witch (2016), loved by critics and niche audiences; panned and literally hated by the majority of moviegoers.

Contrarily to my usual reviewing pattern, I will give my opinion on the film before even talking about it, with a little premise nonetheless.

If you are in for 90 minutes of challenging, demanding, unconventional plot and execution, check It Comes at Night out. It’s a very good movie which you can’t help but respect for its attempt to an original concept and an execution filled with intriguing imagery and symbolism.

It comes at night 3.jpgHowever, if you like more conventional horror flicks, with tons of scares along the way, maybe some gore and ounces of frightening creatures, stay away from It Comes at Night. You guys would hate it and rant about it to your friends, discouraging them from checking out a movie that might actually be their cup of tea and, therefore, forcing a viewpoint on a film that has to be seen with the right state of mind.

If you belong to the first group, you can proceed with this blog post that might tickle your curiosity; otherwise, read it if you want and I’ll try to explain why I think It Comes at Night is a good (and important) film.

I believe the best way to experience Shults’s flick is going in it completely blind. The lesser you now, the better.

Which is why I won’t describe the plot and I’d suggest you to avoid trailers and any web page telling you what this movie is about.

It-Comes-at-Night 1.pngIt’s just important for you to know that we follow 6 main characters (two families, each one composed by husband, wife and son) who are apparently locked up in a cabin in the woods where they believe they can’t go out at night but only in daytime with a good dose of precautions.

Without a single standout protagonist, the characters in this movie are very much able to carry the plot along and create intriguing relationships between them.

The casting choices are on spot, with Joel Edgerton leading the way in one of the best performances of his career (which is saying something…).

The cinematography is stunning and seems a character by itself, since through it the director is able to convey emotions and tension.

In fact, It Comes at Night is a very suspenseful flick, which plays with your expectations and cleverly reverts the horror clichés we are used to.

Yet, as I previously mentioned, this film has an ongoing symbolism which appears, for example, when a red door is shown on screen representing the passage between life and death.

However, to me the movie never looks too artsy or pretentious. The characters, for example, are extremely realistic as well as their interaction: crude and gritty at its core.

The true horror this mystery movie shows, is the one that lies within every human being when the situation gets desperate: sexual desire, uncertainty, lack of trust in others, family, love… all these feelings are implicitly explored in It Comes at Night.

The ending, which obviously I’m not going to give away, is not fully fledged but matches the rest of the movie. Most viewers will hate it, I personally think it’s okay but could have been better.

it-comes-at-night-trailer 4Yet, in the movie clearly emerges a lack of balance between dream sequences and real events. The horror scenes belong only to the dream sequences, which makes them less impactful and slightly frustrating.

I get their purpose within the dreams, but I still think the movie would have benefited from some more unsettling imagery with the characters awake.

Besides, the other issue I have with the film revolves around the director’s intentions. Specifically, I believe Shults pushed it too hard when he claimed: “a lot of questions are left unanswered intentionally, for a reason and I hope it sticks with you. I hope it doesn’t frustrate”. Although this lack of explanation makes for an anxiety-inducing, on the other hand, it gives the annoying impression of faulty creative flair.

it-comes-at-night 2In conclusion, It Comes at Night is not a film for everyone. Very susceptible to generate frustration and confusion in certain viewers, it is mandatory to go into this movie with the correct approach and a deep interest in cinema. In other words, if you prefer disposable horror flicks, please avoid It Comes at Night and go watch Annabelle: Creation. To be clear, I don’t mean this in a demeaning way, I’m serious when I warn you about this film. You’ve been warned. Cheers!

Annabelle (2014) – movie review

Whit Annabelle coming out soon (the release date in the UK is the 11th of August), I decided to make a step back to the first spinoff of this horror franchise linked to The Conjuring universe.

If you previously read some of my older posts, you might have noticed that Annabelle is mentioned quite a few times in them.

Mostly, I used it as a titular example of soulless flick made on a small budget with the only purpose of milking money out of moviegoers’ pockets – which I talked about in-depth in regards to The Conjuring cinematic universe.

Therefore, I hope you’ll sympathise with me for having made the excruciating effort of sitting through this atrocity against humanity… for the second time.

Annabelle tells the absolutely unneeded and uninteresting story of a possessed doll that, after being cursed by a cultist, haunts the house and lives of John and Mia Form, a newly married couple living in California in the 60s/70s (presumably…).

Annabelle 1Mia is pregnant and, due to her insane passion for creepy-ass dolls, fills the room of her upcoming daughter with these hideous puppets. John, despite being short in money, decides to buy her Annabelle which costs him two months’ worth of rent, ignoring its horrendous appearance and the fact that it would scare every kid in the world to death.

When two cultists (a man and his daughter) break into their house to kill the lovely couple for some unexplained reason, they curse the doll which seems to embody either a demon or the vindictive spirit of the woman. Or both. Who cares?

After witnessing weird paranormal phenomena that jeopardise Mia and her new-born daughter (Leah), the wife decides to throw the doll in the bin and move away, which her husband reluctantly agrees on – despite being stereotypically sceptical and for no reasons unaware of what’s happening.

Anyway, they move to a humongous flat, although not having enough money to pay both bills and buy a hideous doll. However, Annabelle comes back due to her superdoll powers and keeps haunting them until a pointless sacrifice saves the family in one of the most disappointing ending I have ever seen.

Directed by John R. Leonetti, who previously made Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and The Butterfly Effect 2 (two of the worst movies ever made), Annabelle is deemed to be awful.

The concept it’s based on is laughable to begin with: another killer-doll movie is as about necessary as one revolving around a board game (knock Ouija door for confirmation).  

Annabelle 2Nevertheless, the execution is even worse: this film feels like an endless stream of exposition scenes, filled with boring dialogue between characters as compelling as a potato.

From time to time, jump-scares are thrown in the mix and they look cheap, unfrightening and, overall, silly. Other than a fairly good one, which makes for 10 seconds of watchable stuff out of 96 minutes.

The rest is just generic: the soundtrack, the cinematography, the editing… all of that is made up in the attempt to create some scary moments that will never come.

Sub-plots are thrown in a sequence and never explored again; characters make a statement and retract it in the very next scene; the husband always has to go to (or stay at) work because the director doesn’t know what to do with him.

Furthermore, in this flick universe, there is no space for other human beings than the characters directly involved in the story: streets are empty in broad daylight, buildings look always uninhabited, shops are deserted.

This is Annabelle guys, a shameless attempt to rip off better films and a soulless money-grabbing train wreck that is about as scary as a Smurfs episode. Don’t watch it, ever!

To conclude, I just want to clarify that I decided to review this movie because, despite all the premises, I’m really curious to see Annabelle: Creation for two main reasons.

Firstly, the director openly despised the first Annabelle as a terrible film. Secondly, he proved himself capable of decent filmmaking with Lights Out (2016) and, mostly, a few seriously creepy short movies. Let’s hope Creation will make us forget about its predecessor. Cheers!

The latest 80’s creature-feature exploitation is… a bloody mess! The Void – movie review

The Void is a Canadian low-budget horror movie directed by Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie. Kostantski has lately made a name for himself due to Astron-6, a small company known for producing 80’s-centric, independent movies that often combine horror with comedy and feature monsters and supernatural creatures.

The Void instead, is a departure from the usual comedic tone, being a straight-up horror film where gore and blood are utilised to scare more than for pure entertainment’s sake.

void_4guide__large-e1474646262477.jpgThe plot revolves around a police officer who, backed up by a group of random people, has been trapped in a hospital by a gathering of hooded cultists after rescuing a severely wounded dude who survived a bloody massacre. The group soon discovers that the hospital has been inhabited by grotesque creatures, which the mysterious cult has something to do with.

I had to re-watch it twice in order to write this review, the reason being the fact that The Void has received a quite good critics consensus, despite making me rather disappointed and indifferent. After a second view, I stick to my opinion, here’s why.

Although the movie presents itself as nothing more than an 80’s practical monster movie exploitation, it reminds me of a rip off from Event Horizon (1997) and John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). Unfortunately, The Void hasn’t got the same claustrophobic atmosphere of the Paul W. S. Anderson’s movie nor the impact or the amazements of Carpenter’s masterpiece.

Even though I can’t help but respect the effort put into the practical effects of this flick, the use of colours, lighting and camera work make them displeasing, not to say frustrating. Indeed, the stroboscopic lights and the shaky-cam make for a nauseous experience, where the viewers can’t enjoy the scenes as they should. After all, gore and violent killings are what this movie is all about.

images.jpgYet, the characters don’t help the script – which, by the way, is quite dull and nonsense as well – by providing over-the-top, unreliable performances, also affected by poor cast choices. Therefore, an already bad writing is worsened by characters that are everything but compelling, especially in regards to the lead actor played by Aaron Poole.

Despite being slightly off-putting and even scary at times, The Void overly relies on gore for the sake of being gory and gruesomeness for the sake of being gruesome. All in all, it’s a bloody mess where even the good sequences get ruined by the poor direction and cinematography.

In addition, everything looks generic and bland, from the photography to the acting, from the look and feel to the score. In general, this is a big missed opportunity; much more could be done with a claustrophobic location, a creepy cult and a terrorising creature that develops from human bodies.

Although I’m not going to spoil the ending, I must say it looks dumb and unnecessarily open to interpretations. Such a cheap movie, with no room for deeper meanings and further evaluations, should have ended with a blast, in an over-the-top, amazingly exaggerated way – à la Braindead (1992), for example.

I sincerely suggest not to see this flick, it’s not worth your time and money. Nevertheless, if you want to give it a chance because nearly everybody seems to enjoy it, go ahead, it can’t harm. Cheers!