A shameless Annabelle and Paranormal Activity rip-off. Heidi – movie review

Released straight for DVD, Heidi has lately made a name for itself among a niche of horror fans.

The found-footage film (as if we needed more of this type of movies) features a creepy doll, not unlike Annabelle, that haunts two high school pranksters who found it, obviously, in a neighbour’s attic.

Consequently, hell breaks loose and our main characters get surrounded by mysterious deaths and inexplicable events. Which, of course, are documented by high quality cameras by our protagonists, although they come from needy families and are not supposed to afford such an expensive equipment.

heide-horror-movie-news-5Furthermore, as if the plot wasn’t dumb enough, there is no character development whatsoever: our main guys are only voices behind a camera, therefore impossible to side with. Similarly, every other character is insipid and dull, a device utilised purely to carry the plot along.

Due to its lack of interesting character and reasonable plot, some may expect Heidi to have good jump-scares and tense moments, at least.

Unfortunately, this is a boring ass flick in which nothing of any interest happens. The jump-scares are all false: a bird hits a window, a car horn honks, a sudden noise from upstairs just happens.

And the atmosphere is everything but unsettling. Most of the time, it’s so dark that the viewer can’t see anything and the only hint to tension comes from the main guy’s heavy breath. Which, by the way, is never followed by an action but only by a dull moment where not a single thing occurs.

This movie is joke. Or, I’d better say, a hoax. Not because of the film itself, which is still painful to watch, but since it was made purely to milk money out of people’s pockets off a ridiculous budget.

Indeed, my main issue with Heidi consists of the lack of passion and love for making a movie behind it. The marketing campaign clearly aimed to an audience particularly down for flicks like Annabelle and Paranormal Activity – which, despite being quite awful films, have made a humongous profit.

But even the target audience must have been disappointed by the result. Heidi is, in fact, a soulless movie that has no purpose whatsoever other than making money with the minimum effort. Don’t watch it, please. Cheers!

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Top underrated horror ‘gems’ – #8 The Bay

*The general premise to the list is available in my previous posts, go check it out*

The Bay (2012) is a mockumentary horror movie in found footage style, directed by Barry Levinson who previously brought on screen great films such as Good morning Vietnam (1987), Rain Man (1988) – winning the Award both for best direction and best pictures – and Wag the Dog (1997). The Bay was indeed a shot in the dark for Levinson, who, however, nailed it once again.

Before diving right into the movie, I need to say that the next three films on this ‘top ten of most underrated horror flicks’ – The Bay itself and the next two – have been welcomed enthusiastically by critics and reviewers, whereas being disapproved by the public. I feel relieved not being the only one who sees potential and goodness in them.

Let’s now talk about The Bay, which plot consists of a little town on the Maryland shore where an infection of some kind starts infecting people, causing them to have their body covered by warts and boils. As the disease progresses, the symptoms get worse and worse, up to the death of the infected.

This film is not your average contagion flick, though. To be clear, none turns into a famished zombie. Without spoiling anything, The Bay looks more like a documented viral contagion that spreads the virus unstoppably.

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Levinson’s most ‘out of place’ work has numerous qualities. First of all, the found footage is always believable. It does make sense even in the minute details, where the exposition is left to the scientists who are documenting their studies in order to figure out what is going on in the town.

Secondly, the atmosphere is unsettling and dreadful throughout the entire runtime – 85 mins of edge-of-your-seat type of deal – even in the first scene, when the location seems paradisiac and the people look cheerful. As the movie progresses, the whole look and feel drag the viewers into a very credible nightmare with the sensation of no possible escape.

Yet, the acting is surprisingly good and the cast – composed by not even decent actors, in my opinion – did a great job in this movie. The camera work, the lightening and the performances make the story look more like a real documentary rather than a cheap mockumentary. I think the one who should be praised the most is Barry Levinson, who did a great job out of an average script and a mediocre cast.

Plus, The Bay is way more disgusting and disturbing than your usual found footage. It’s not scary, though, in the traditional way – jump scares and all that tiring stuff – but it’s unsettling. Therefore, there are few jaws dropping scenes, when the viewers literally jump on their seats, which you don’t see them coming. Something quite rare in the horror cinema nowadays.

All in all, The Bay is an intense, dreadful and disturbing movie with an actual social commentary that should make people think and reflect on the way we treat our environment. It’s a shame this movie is so overlooked. If you guys read this review, please check out the movie and tell your friends to do the same. You won’t regret it. Cheers.

Top underrated horror ‘gems’ – #4 Behind the mask: the rise of Leslie Vernon

*Skip the premise if you already read my previous posts on the list*

Premise – Horror movies have always been divisive towards the audience. From the 80s, the cult franchises have created a trend particularly appreciated by the viewers. The Nightmare movies, the Halloween franchise as well as the Hellraiser flicks have marked the path that walked us, the audience, to an overwhelming cinema market filled with non-original movies, remake, reboots, sequels and prequels.

The formula is basically this: a director makes a successful movie with a little budget and a big return at the box office. So that the Hollywood major labels exploit said success to make tons of sequels and prequels that hit the box office without telling anything new or original to the viewer (ehm ehm… Saw, Hostel… ehm ehm). Sometimes, even the first installment is disappointing by every means but the economical profit (ehm ehm… Paranormal Activity, Wrong Turn… ehm ehm).

All these franchises have something in common, i.e. poor writing, bland characters, jump scares, unoriginal villains, flawed cinematography. Why are they successful? Because the horror audience is now used to go to the movie expecting to have ‘a good time’ instead of being shocked and disturbed by an original, unsettling and brave script filled with good performances, relatable characters and true fear.

What are the consequences? Not just new masterpieces such as It Follows and The Babadook, among the others, are considered as boring movies. Not just the milestones of horror cinema are now considered worthless. But also quite good movies that came out in the last 20-25 years have been underestimated by both audience and reviewers. Here a list for you, hoping you guys can have some fun and meditation on something a bit more original and ‘out there’. Enjoy.

NOTE: some movie franchises are actually worth watching, please do not dismiss the first Saw movie as well as the well-directed Insidious movies. Both from the talent of James Wan. The guy brings it right home.


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Behind the mask: the rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) is a slasher mockumentary-style horror film written, directed and produced by Scott Glosserman. The movie consists of a television troupe that is filming and interviewing Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel), a guy from Glen Echo (USA) who wants to follow the footprints of Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger.

Yes, because in the movie fictional world these three horror icons are real and they are world-wildly renowned for their murders. Leslie Vernon so decided to became ‘the next big serial killer’ and to be shot on camera so that I can be famous – or infamous, if you prefer – like his idols.

This is an amazingly original idea at its core but the movie progression is even more unconventional and the development is surprisingly excellent. Behind the mask is also filled with comedic sketches and Easter eggs which wink to tons of horror cults – from The Shining to Hellraiser, from Nightmare to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Plus, the film contains plenty of cameos, with Zelda Rubinstein and Robert freaking Englund to shine among the others.

Beyond the cameos, Nathan Baesel is suitable for the role, being able to combine a quirky sense of humor with a foolish look and a bit of meticulous craziness. What is even more satisfying, is the relationship between Leslie and Taylor – the crew leader played excellently by Angela Goethals. The two characters confront one another throughout the entire movie and complete each other by any means.

Speaking of the direction of the film, Behind the mask is able to avoid all the found-footage flaws and cliché – except from one small moment in the library scene, towards the half of the movie. Being a non-Hollywood production (so CGI-free), Glosserman’s work succeeds in dragging the audience into a fictional world in which everything look just absolutely real.

The only complaint I perhaps have towards The rise of Leslie Vernon is that the shooting style switches abruptly from mockumentary to third person, when we are 63 minutes into the movie already, backing up the huge plot twists occurring at this point. These first 63 minutes to me represent a movie on its own, which doesn’t need a completion to be fully appreciated. To be honest though, the other 28 minutes or so procure the horror-slasher element which is largely absent in the first part that can be considered as a unique product, unconventional if there is one.

Without spoiling anything, I just suggest you guys to watch the film until the very last word of the end credits comes on screen. It’s worth waiting. Also because the very last song of the movie – Psycho Killer by The Talking Heads – is something you can’t miss out.

Let me get a bit ‘ranty’ before I sum up the reasons why you must sit through Behind the mask: the rise of Leslie Vernon.

Ready? Ready. This movie made a $69,136 cash-in at the box office. Seriously? Are you fucking kidding me? Yet, the Leslie Vernon story is largely unknown among the horror fans. Everyone knows Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. None knows Leslie Vernon, even though he probably is the best slasher villain ever since the 80s! I’m not gonna play it safe: this movie is pure genius. It should have been advertised by word of mouth all over the freaking planet Earth!

Okay, I held my horses now. Sorry guys, I really needed to rant against the mainstream audience, production companies and horror world in general that panned this great movie. Now I feel way better.

In conclusion, comparing the quality of the movie to its box office return, Behind the mask: the rise of Leslie Vernon is quite the gem on this ‘underrated horror movies’ list. Recapping: the characters are compelling and the chemistry between the two protagonists is excellent, the plot is original and refreshing for the genre, the storytelling is unconventional, there’s plenty of amusing and chuckling moments, the cinematography is good, the photography splendid and the direction is brilliant.

You must watch this movie, sponsor it to your friends and spread the fact that Leslie Vernon is out there and it’s waiting for you horror fans to fall in love with him. Cheers.