Reviews written by registered user

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19 reviews in total 
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Savageland (2015)
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Amateurish snoozefest of a pseudo-doc, 24 February 2017

Diluted pseudo-doc that leans heavily on ominous music and blurry photography to hint at awful activities on the Arizona/Mexico border. It tries to present itself as a hard hitting expose doc, complete with iconoclastic investigative reporter, but it's flat and lame because we know it's all phony and there isn't much success at suspending the sense of disbelief. When we finally get glimpses of what really happened it all looks very high school play, and you will roll your eyes in disappointment.

The pic also tries to be a statement about US discrimination against Mexican immigrants but the analogy is a bit heavy handed and not very thoughtfully presented.

All that aside, and that's a lot to try to put aside, this amateurish production commits the cardinal offense for a horror movie: it's not in the least bit scary and is deeply boring.

My sense from the IMDb rating that suckered me into renting this is that it was logrolled by people involved in the production. I'm sure as more people see it and roll their eyes the rating will come down but in the meantime, don't make my mistake.

Rorschach (2015)
7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Very well done Youtube movie, 30 August 2016

Saw this linked in a discussion on "Bloody Disgusting" so I thought I'd give it a watch and I have to say it's a pretty good movie in its own right, which is something of a surprise considering it's on YouTube! I will say without hesitation that it's better made and more entertaining than many theatrical release horror movies I've seen.

It features two skeptics who interview people who report paranormal occurrences in their home. This time around they travel out to the suburbs to meet a woman who feels there's something strange going on in her home, especially with respect to her young daughter. The skeptics are there to just document what she feels is happening, but as they do so and begin to witness events they also can't explain, they get pulled into the situation.

It's a bit rough around the edges but as a found-footage film that actually enhances its appeal. Remember though -- it's a *found footage paranormal horror film* so in order to be effective, it HAS to be slow burn. Don't watch it if that's not your thing -- it's pretty far from being non-stop action. But yeah, definitely watch it. I saw it on YouTube and that's where you'll find it too I assume.

By the way this is not one of those logrolling reviews by someone who knows the movie makers! I don't know these guys and this is my objective opinion.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Middle-grade amateur effort, 1 December 2015

Typical amateur effort of a found footage film. The production values are not terrible, though little is asked of them. The acting is not great, so there's no suspension of the sense of disbelief and as a result you feel the whole time like you're watching a college film. You don't get lost in the story like you would in a better FF film like Blair Witch or Paranormal Activity. It feels false throughout.

Another problem is it relies on the same old tired tropes that were once interesting in FF, but no longer are: the rumbling sound when something supernatural is about to happen, accompanied by the video blurring and skipping; infighting between the trapped victims; the evil spirit using the voices of already-dead victims and other people to trick the trapped victims; the tearful sign-off right before the last girl is killed. Sound familiar?

The film feels forced, is badly acted and has nothing new to say, so I wouldn't pay for it if I were you. Even if it's free it doesn't have much to say.

12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
High IMDb rating, low number of votes probably equals ..., 6 September 2015

... kick-starter supporters and production members (and their moms) inflating the rating.

This is strictly an amateur production, folks. The cinematography is good but the movie is dull and not very frightening, which is a problem for a horror movie. Delaney Hadley is a pretty and capable lead actress but most of the other acting doesn't measure up and several performances are simply terrible.

The modest effects overreach and just make the film feel even more like a high school project.

Kudos to the people making the film for seeing the kick-starter through, but when judged compared to professional films it really doesn't measure up.

6 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Strictly amateur hour. No scares, actually kind of embarrassing., 4 July 2015

This is one of those movies that thinks it's winking at you and being playful with the genre, sort of the way Scream did. But it's strictly amateur hour, so badly acted and written that the effort just ends up being embarrassing.

Let me put it this way. It's one of those movies that distorts the picture and plays ominous music all the time (and I do mean ALL the time) so as to telegraph to you that something scary is happening, when nothing scary is happening.

It's not a matter of it being low budget, as they actually seem to have had some money. (And some of the scariest movies are super-low budget.) It's not a lack of money, it's a lack of the basic ability to frighten or otherwise entertain.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Bad acting and laughable ghost ruin "NRA Witch Project", 6 July 2014

I like found footage horror so I was ready to cut this some slack but I'm afraid this has too much of an amateurish feel to be very scary. The acting is pretty bad and the movie's "bear" (frightening thing) is way overexposed, and very obviously just a garishly lit, rather frumpy woman in an old-fashioned nightgown.

The movie-maker really should have taken a cue from classic FF movies and kept the shots of the ghost to an absolute minimum. The shots are much more effective when she's just flitting across the screen for half a second than when she's right there staring into the camera, which just made me smile and ruefully shake my head -- "are they kidding?" Is all I could think. The final confrontation on the bridge is a howler, feeling very much like a home movie attempt at horror rather than a theatrical film. It was an epic face palm moment.

I'm not completely disappointed I watched it, because I'm a found footage completist, but I think that's the only reason anyone would want to watch this, to be perfectly honest -- to say they've seen every FF movie, EVEN Crybaby Bridge.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
More of a film fragment than a coherent film., 13 November 2012

Just caught it last night and was pretty disappointed. There are some strong performances, especially by up-and-comer Chloe Moretz, who gives an amazingly understated performance, and during the short time she's on screen Jessica Chastain is also wonderful.

I wasn't very impressed by Sam Worthington, however, particularly his East Texas accent, which sounded like he'd just eaten a live squirrel and was called upon to speak while he was chewing the still-struggling animal.

But the good performances here have nothing to anchor themselves on, so they don't really speak to us. We just watch them float away.

The main flaw here is the story. Movies are stories and it's generally (but not always) important that the tale makes sense and holds together. This seems to have been either badly vetted or revised so often that it became indecipherable, or perhaps the editing job was butchered, but regardless of the cause you will finish this movie without much of a sense of what it was about, what you've just been watching, or why anyone would expect you to sit through it.

The message that the movie makers should take away from this is, it's important to let the audience in on the story, and it's also important that there be a story in the first place.

7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Comparing the remake to the original (spoilers), 8 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(This review has SPOILERS to both the original and the remake) I saw as a kid and was really spooked by the original TV movie from the 70s, with Kim Darby. So I awaited the remake with great anticipation, particularly because the original little monsters were so corny looking and could really do with a face-lift.

Overall I thought Del Toro did a good job of updating the story, and improved it in some ways, but in others I think I prefer the feel of the original better.

First, I'm of two minds about the switcheroo making Sally a child. Yes, the sense of danger is greater, the fear for the child. But the downside of that is there are too many people in the mix -- in the original it was just the husband and wife but now there are two protective adults and so the feeling of isolation isn't as strong, and they have to be pretty contrived in putting the little girl by herself over and over again. In the original the husband is often out and very often it's just the adult Sally at home, all by herself, with her suspicions and fears, which I found to be very spooky.

Second, all the back story. It sets the creatures up better, I suppose, and gives Kim the ability to do the detective thing with the groundsman and at the library, but does this really build tension or make the story scarier? I didn't think so -- having a person (especially a child) menaced by ugly little scampering creatures is plenty, and I actually found all the back story something of a distraction.

Being Del Toro, he just had to add a magical secret garden. What is it with this guy and secret gardens? I saw all that overgrowth and the pond and the Koi and knew that it would play a part in the final act of the story, but it didn't. It was completely superfluous! I think GDT needs to get over his magic garden fetish and stick to the story.

The cheesiness of the original creatures actually was a benefit, as they didn't show them too much. Here we see these obviously CGI creatures constantly. I am amazed that someone who likes the supernatural as much as GDT does not realize that what we don't see scares us far more than what we do. Likewise, having things explained to us takes the fearfulness of them away immediately. Human beings are first and foremost afraid of the unknown. (This is why so many primitive cultures independently invented "God.") To show something, to explain it, is to take the fearfulness away from that thing. As soon as the creatures take over the screen time, the movie stops being a thriller and becomes a monster movie, and my interest immediately wanes. "Insidious," anyone? That recent movie was quite scary until the trainwreck that was the big explanation in the last act, which drove a stake right through the heart of the picture.

One final thing -- that self-conscious playfulness that GDT sometimes uses in his stories is not so cute to people who also have some background in the same story. In the original, Kim Darby played Sally. Here Sally is a girl, but the adult woman watching over her is named ... wait for it ... KIM. As soon as I heard that I thought, "ah, she's going to be taken instead of Sally," as Kim Darby got taken in the original. And sure enough, that's exactly what happened. That lessened the tension of the story for me immediately.

Well, this ended up sounding more negative than I really meant it to be, as I am a fairly critical person. I should say that I actually enjoyed the remake, I thought it kept a good level of suspense, and it was quite an eyeful as all of GDT movies are -- very handsome and evocative. Bailey Madison with that chubby round face and big eyes was absolutely adorable, and she's also quite a talented young actress -- she did a wonderful job maintaining a sense of mournfulness over her family situation, which explains perfectly her mindset in unlocking the terror from the walled-in room. Katie Holmes has a familiar girl-next-door affability undiminished from her time on "Dawson's Creek," and she's just about as good to look at as she was back then as well. I was a little surprised that an actor as accomplished as Guy Pearce gave this two-dimensional performance, but it could be argued that he had little to work with -- this movie belonged to the girls.

I have to say that I'm very glad that GDT is no longer associated with "The Hobbit." I think he's wonderful at painting supernatural tableaux, but truth be told, he's not a particularly good storyteller, and The Hobbit, despite the dragons and were bears and all that, is all about the story. In "Don't Be Afraid" he already had a pretty compelling story from the original teleplay, and it still manages to hang together well, but despite its cheesy teevee movie production values, I think there are more scares to be had in the original. That said, go see this one too, if only for the female leads and the beautiful camera-work.

Pelt (2010)
8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Better than it holds itself out as being, 5 July 2011

Pelt was a throwaway for me, a way to kill a few hours while doing something else, and I almost turned it off after the first five minutes, but I'm glad I stayed with it. Ultimately I put aside what I was doing and gave it my full attention.

Those who tuned out after the first five minutes can hardly be blamed. The movie tries very aggressively to make you dislike the characters in the opening sequences, which is inexplicable as the most effective and memorable horror movies set up the victims as real people so that you actually care about them (think "Audition"). Very bad move making the girls obnoxious cock teases and the boys frat-boy jerks -- I guess this was done to make you want to see them killed? To lighten up the savaging to come? Definitely a misstep, as the movie has lots of work to do to overcome that initial distaste -- it really opens like a revenge of the nerds type scenario, except without the nerds, only with the arrogant popular and beautiful snots.

But I hung with it and it quickly evolved into a tight little stalker flick, the characters shedding their one dimensional arrogance and actually assuming fairly human traits -- surprisingly human in fact. Of course the conceit of the plot is nothing new -- the stalkers are your typical back woods stalkers, and they are even doing what hick serial killers seem to most aspire to, but that doesn't really matter.

What matters most in a movie like this is watching a person or a small group be hunted and trying to deal with that situation, trying to survive. This movie does that remarkably well, and once the action begins will keep you engaged and interested, with more than the normal share of jolts.

I wouldn't be reluctant to suggest that you just skip the first 15 minutes of the movie altogether, as it's aggressively loathsome, and I suspect that's the reason that the movie has such a terrible rating. It might be a 3 for the first 15 minutes but it quickly becomes an 8 once the action starts.

49 out of 70 people found the following review useful:
Good effort at extremely challenging adaptation, 15 December 2010

In navigating the torrent of negativity to which this movie has been subjected, one thing to keep in mind is that it's an adaptation of a very widely read and popular book.

The book itself had a rather sunny disposition, which is ironic as it often was somewhat grislier in detail than the movie. That's because events can be described in words in a grisly way but still be part of an optimistic universe when you are reading -- it works. That doesn't quite happen when you actually see things with your eyes, film is much more literal (strange to say) that literature.

Considering the subject matter, the murder of a young girl, it's a bit unfair to go to the movie and expect to see the book come to life on the screen.

The problem in making the movie, as in any adaptation of magical realism concerning dark subjects, is how to capture the magic without having it jar too much with the realism. That was extremely difficult to do here considering how grim the subject is. So when Jackson uses special effects to invoke heaven, people tend to completely flip out, without really offering their own alternative about how that "should" have been done.

All this adds up to a book that perhaps shouldn't have been adapted for the screen at all. That said, I think the movie is quite a fine one, especially because of the magnificent performances of the two leads, Ronan and Tucci. Thanks to the sweet-faced and deeply affecting Ronan, you'll never forget Susie Salmon. The music is also just fantastic, not surprising as Brian Eno did it -- it's very disappointing that the soundtrack is not available, as it's beautiful and haunting.

I'd suggest seeing it and just let yourself decide if it's a worthwhile experience or not. I found it to be a very good try at adapting a book that by its nature is extremely hard to film. Actually the best way to go at it would be to watch the movie, then read the book, then try to figure out for yourself how you would have done it differently. I suspect that you'll gain a new appreciation for Jackson's movie if you do that.

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