The little seen sequel to the terrifying horror film THE MIST.
So I was finally able to track down director Ti West’s first film. I had been curious to see it since seeing House of the Devil, which blew my socks off. Well, I finally got a chance to see this up and coming director’s debut and what do I think - not bad? It reminds me a lot of Evil Dead, oddly enough. Which is a good thing indeed.
The story is pretty basic - Friends on their way to a wedding run into car trouble so they head to a neighboring farm for help but find no one there so they begin to look around. When a local police officer is flagged and comes to help them. The trouble though is that the friends had split up to investigate the old barn and when they split up the group began looking in places they shouldn’t and awoke things that were best left sleeping. Once awake, the things in the barn descend on the friends and the officer with an unquenchable hunger and something worse.
I don’t want to give everything away because when things took a turn I was pretty surprised. There isn’t a lot of plot here but there’s so much energy and fun. With a wrap-around story that treats The Roost as if it is a televised B-horror film this is a really fun film. Some may not like the tongue in cheek nature of the thing but taken as a whole work it really does remind me of the black humor and scares of Evil Dead.
Not at all a great film but a very fun film and worth a late night watch, especially when paired with House of the Devil. I am disappointed that The Innkeepers fell apart like it did at the end but am pretty excited to see where Mr. West’s career goes next.
7 out of 10
- the ghost host
There are times when watching a movie where you feel like you met the film in a bar late at night, had a few drinks, had a few laughs, and now that it’s morning it’s better if you just leave and not talk about what happened. Welcome to Hypothermia, a film that looks pretty enough with horror fave Michael Rooker but is so tone deaf and awkward that you never get a feel whether you’re to be laughing or crying.
I applaud anyone that’s going to try to make a monster movie on a budget and if you have a man in a SUIT monster movie that’s even gutsier but the thing is that you have to know your limits in order to work within them. This film doesn’t know its limits.
A family is out on a remote lake to do some ice fishing and spend time together before the son graduates college and makes a huge life move afterwards. This is a time for the family to relax and get to know the son’s girlfriend and to just have fun. The fun is nearly ruined when a very loud and rude man and his son decide to come out to fish as well, The family tries very hard to get along with the strangers but the two men don’t make it easy. When things turn strange though the six of them find they must work together if they are to survive the strange creature that has been disturbed beneath the ice. A creature that appears to be part man and part amphibian and that has a taste for anything it can lay hands on. The people are far from land and trapped inside a modern ice trailer and must first survive each other if they are going to survive the beast.
The thing about this movie is that it doesn’t know if it wants to be funny or serious. The monster looks RIDICULOUS and they show it a lot. If it wasn’t shown so much it may have been scary but the way they shot it, the close ups, the full shots, they did everything you are not supposed to do with a full suit creature and it hurts the film. As do the broad characters, which make it hard for Rooker to really serve as your tent pole when you keep blowing awkward moments past him.
I totally applaud the filmmakers here because they really did try to do something interesting with very little money. There’s a lot of gusto here, and guts to make a film like this but there’s just a wrongheadedness that can’t be overlooked and as the film winds down and ends with a speech that becomes almost parody it’s time to just leave quietly and pretend it didn’t happen.
4 out of 10
the ghost host
Come on, show of hands of everyone who REALLY wants the subtitle to be - Electric Boogaloo. Maybe they can use that with Sinister 2 - Electric Bhagull-aloo. Just a thought.
Two things I adore about this move -
1. It’s gutsy to change main characters in a sequel. Well done.
2. I dig that they changed the style of the film. Also well played.
But how was the rest of the the film?
Pretty darned good, actually.
The story focuses on Nell, the young woman who found herself the target of a cult in the first film and who became the unwitting host to a demon with an unhealthy (or maybe healthy for a demon, I guess) desire for young hosts.
The second film picks up right where the first ended and sets the tone pretty well that - this isn’t the first film and it isn’t the same girl. Nell seems to be the only survivor of the nightmarish ritual and quickly escapes to a neighboring subdivision where she is discovered and taken to get the help she needs. Nell cannot remember much of what happened but is well enough to be placed in a half-way house and slowly she starts to create a life for herself, though she is still haunted by the memory of Abalam. Though she is trying to forget the demon, the demon refuses to forget her and begins to assert itself into her life, forcing her to deal with it again and the fact that she may not be clear of its control. With the help of some mysterious allies Nell may finally be able to be rid of the demon Abalam once and for all but calling the thing forth, even to dispel it, may put Nell into even greater danger.
This is a really solid movie. Far better than the trailers would have you think and sans the cheesy face that appears on the wall in some ads. There are definite logic issues - where are Nell’s brother and the cultists that were there conjuring Abalam? Why are they just gone suddenly? - but this is a solid movie with a really good ending.
Will everyone love it?
Of course not.
This a solid spooker though with a very good job by the lead, who really has taken to this role and adds a lot of depth to it. The effects in the film are pretty well reigned in and until the end are very solid (the end isn’t bad but I think they stretched the budget a little thin).
Judging by the box office we may not get a third and that is sort of a shame because I am very curious what we’d get if they did one. I have an idea but who can say?
All in all a fun movie and another good PG-13 horror. Imagine that. Definitely a rent or a cheapie view.
7.5 out of 10 (I was leaning towards 8 but some logic things can’t be overcome)
- The Ghost Host
I have to say that it seems that aliens are the new ghosts for horror. They’re becoming the trendy new cats on the old block. And that’s fine. The alien encounter and abduction subgenre needs a makeover. Bad. We need a new approach and some new blood.
Sadly, I don’t think this is quite it.
Dark Skies focuses on a family that start to have strange things happening around the house and then with their children. Suddenly it seems as if intruders are gaining entry to the home, the youngest boy begins acting strange, and slowly all of the family members begin exhibiting signs that something isn’t right in the home. When they realize they cannot find the answer themselves, and that the police and the home security system are not helping they reach out to someone who may know what is happening to their family but its a truth that they may regret knowing.
This is a solid little film with some OK scares and generally decent acting but some lazy writing in spots and a horrible ad campaign. There are logical leaps that are just headache inducing and make you want to pinch someone but, honestly, I can forgive that and get over it. It’s that this film was undermined by a trailer campaign that 1. over saturated the market and 2. gave away pretty much all of the scares that really bothers me.
Whatever ever happened to subtlety in movie ads? In teasing you to get you to NEED to know what happens in the film? What happened to not showing all the bloody scares? UGH! I feel awful for those involved because they took the film seriously and had it not been for the ads I may have gotten a lot more fun out of the film but, sadly, I knew what was going to happen at every turn.
As an alien movie, pretty OK. Better than most but not amazing. As a horror film, eh, it’s OK. I would recommend waiting until home release and watching it so you can forget the ads and focus on the film and let it do its thing. That way you can have a chance to be genuinely scared and not just frustrated like I was.
6 out of 10
- the ghost host
HOLLOW is a British chiller using the ‘found footage’ subgenre for all it’s worth. It’s the tale of four young adults on holiday who are heading to stay at the former home of the grandfather of one of the women. It just so happens that near the home there is a large, misshapen tree with a hollow place in it and a deadly history. This tree it seems has a long history of being the place where couples would end their lives together by hanging themselves. When the granddaughter begins to investigate papers and information her grandfather had had about the tree and the area and its haunted past she begins to fear that the four of them are in danger. All the while the foursome film themselves on their vacation and all the strange things that begin to happen to them.
As things within the group start to spin out of control and arguments and fights begin to change the tone of this vacation it is decided that it’s time to leave as slowly they are all starting to feel the horrifying effects of this tree and its history. Before they can leave though one of the group disappears and events keep happening to keep them there and suddenly they much face the horrifying notion that the tales of the tree and its dangerous influence are true.
I will say this up front - if you hated Blair Witch Project you will hate this. This film is heavily inspired by that film and has beats and moments that are right from that movie. Having said that though there are definitely some chills here and some decent creepy moments. There are also moments where you shake your head at how badly some of the character moments are written and how silly some of the reasons are to film everything. If you are in the mood for some found footage though that is all about tension, mood, and atmosphere this is pretty fun and worth a look.
6.5 out of 10
- the ghost host
Some things are just too awesome not to share.
So I am a pretty unabashed PARANORMAL ACTIVITY fan. The series has its flaws, and it is definitely getting a little long in the tooth - as witnessed with the fourth film, I think it’s time to end this storyline but what do I know - but I still love the heart of this series and was pretty excited to see this Japanese spin-off. This film was an official spur from the series, made after the second film, and connected in a loose way to the main storyline. While the resulting film isn’t really that fascinating, I have to say that it’s definitely worth a look for fans of the series that are filled with curiosity.
A young woman from Tokyo returns home from a trip to San Diego after a car accident there leaves her with two broken legs. She returns to her home, where she lives with her father and brother, preparing for six long months in a wheelchair. Upon returning she finds that her brother has become obsessed with filming everything around the house, from the mundane to the very mundane he just wants to capture everything. Not long after she is home the girl starts getting a strange feeling in the house and that feeling intensifies when she finds one morning that her wheelchair has moved mysteriously in the middle of the night. Her brother immediately decides that he has to catch what happened on film. Hoping to find out what happened in her room the brother puts out a pile of salt on her floor - said to ward off evil spirits - and secretly films it. The next day the salt is scattered across the floor and the film, which is shown to an very angry sister, shows that during the night it just scatters mysteriously, as if blown by something. Things slowly begin to intensify in the house, so much so that when friends come to visit one of them gets violently ill at the feeling of evil in the house. Something needs to be done. The brother and sister call in a Shinto priest to cleanse the home and believe they are safe again but in a matter of days things are beginning to escalate again, this time to the point of the sister being touched and pulled out of bed by her hair. As things intensify the brother and sister become frightened and unsure how to rid themselves of the demon but as things worsen, they must start to ask themselves - is it too late to escape the thing’s wrath?
I am cutting my description short since I found the whole film on You Tube with some subtitles (which are spotty at best but which are better than nothing) so if you are curious you can watch it for yourself. FOR FREE! The film is ok, definitely a riff on the first film, but there are a few changes that are interesting. It’s also interesting because this film shows that there really wasn’t a long plan in place for the films, as witnessed by the facts of why the girl is haunted in TOKYO NIGHT when you find out, so consider this a What If film.
Not great in any regard but fun if you’re a fan, it’s definitely worth a watch if you just want to be a completest.
5 out of 10
- Chris Arrrr
Since it’s the season of darkness it’s a swell time for a couple reviews of solid chillers.
First up is SINISTER, which is a rare film that is vastly better than its trailers would have you think. Which is not to say that the trailers are bad but it puts the wrong emphasis on the film. This is a movie about a person’s inability to accept that their life has changed and to embrace it and the terrible decisions they make because of that.
A washed up writer is searching for one last hit, one last book that will set he and his family up for the rest of their lives and which will bring him back the fame he’s lost. He is researching his newest True Crime book and decides to move into the house of the victims he is focusing on. Not long after the family moves in strange things begin to happen with his children, and with the house and it only seems to escalate when he finds a simple box in the attic titled Home Movies. How worse it will get though, this writer could never imagine.
This is a very well made, very tight horror story with the audacity not to explain everything as if the audience is stupid. How novel! There are definite logical lapses here but it’s pushed forward because of the writer and his need to prove himself once more. The acting is very good and the addition of humor really works because the character that they use for that isn’t one dimensional but adds to the story.
I love the twists of the film and though I could see where some of the things were leading the getting there was fantastic. And I have to say this, you may not see scary scenes than what is on those Home Movie reels, and I would hope that those are viewable as stand-alones on the home release.
Probably your best Halloween movie of the year if you are heading to the theater.
8 out of 10
LAKE MUNGO falls into the ‘new cinema’ trend of first person narratives but I think that’s a huge shame because what the film reminded me of was THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES in that it’s given to you as a documentary about a family dealing with the loss of a daughter/sister.
The story revolves around the drowning death of a young woman who was in the prime of her life. Her death shatters what had been a strong family and the survivors are left to try to piece their own lives together. What we are given is the story of this family and the strange occurrences that begin to happen after her death, occurrences that range from strange sounds, to captured images of the dead girl on film and in video. Suddenly this grieving family begins to believe that their cherished loved one may still be near them, haunting them, but the reality that they will learn, about what is happening and why it is happening, is far more heartbreaking and tragic than a simple haunting.
A very quiet story that is so beautifully done that the scares are almost secondary to the story of this grieving family. Oh, the scares are there though, and the many twists in the story really create a wonderfully grim web that spins out into the credits for the final pieces of the film’s puzzle. Great acting, a novel approach to the story, and a steady hand guiding things that never lets the film become too far fetched, this is a very solid film and perfect for a late night shiver.
If you prefer your scares more subtle, this is for you.
8 out of 10
AH! New guest added. Our friends at SCARES THAT CARE are bringing Mike Christopher with them to the con this Saturday.