Reviews written by registered user
TobyS

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33 reviews in total 
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Great, mindless fun with excellent visual candy, 18 September 2006
8/10

No, this movie is not high art, nor was it intended to be. Anybody who thought otherwise is either delusional, or looking to feel superior by ripping into it. Many will bemoan The Covenant as yet another example of Hollywood's decent into the abyss. Think whatever you want, but if you're looking to something that is mindless entertainment (and cast with some of the most beautiful guys around); you can do a lot worse than The Covenant.

Much like the remake of When a Stranger Calls, The Covenant is total trash, but it's some of the most satisfying trash I've seen in a long time.

My Grade: B+

A victim of his own success..., 7 August 2004
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan took what was essentially a run-of-the-mill ghost story (albeit a well thought out run-of-the-mill ghost story), gave it one wallop of a twist ending, and thus became an overnight wonder boy that cursed all of his follow-up films. I found Unbreakable to be dull and unimaginative, while Signs was taut, exciting and frightening. The ending, put me off with its simplicity on how the aliens are defeated, but not enough to not feel fully entertained, or that I hadn't gotten my money's worth. However, neither of those films lived up to the expectations that were placed upon them.

Now, Shyamalan takes us into The Village, and judging by the horrendous write-ups, coupled with the film's nosedive at the box office, not many people enjoyed the trip.

William Hurt, Joaquin Phoenix, Sigourney Weaver and Adrien Brody are residents in a sleepy 19th century village surrounded by deeps woods. The woods are inhabited by creatures that the town's people have a shaky truce with. For reasons that aren't fully, clearly explained (one of the films few faults), that truce seems to have ended, and the creatures begin to assault the village. A series of events climax with the daughter of the town father venturing into the woods to seek help from the outside.

To say anything more would risk giving away the big twist that Shyamalan is expected to deliver in each of his movies. The Village has a couple of them this time. One that I had an idea about, but was incorrect enough to still be surprised, and one that I had caught on to early on, but didn't fully figure out until right before it's reveal.

Say what you will, but Shyamalan knows how to set up a film. The picture is gorgeous. It's crammed with sweeping vistas, leaf blown woods and skeleton-like trees. The cast, for the most part, is also quite good. I wasn't as in love with Joaquin Phoenix's performance as I was in Signs though. He just kind of sleep walked though this film, and with the exception of one particular conversation on a porch, wasn't given that much to do or say. I know his character is a man of few words, but this tested that boundary. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Adrien Brody walked the line of being credible as a slow-witted adult, and being a cartoon. While his performance wasn't bad, it didn't do much for me either. Bryce Dallas Howard (daughter of Ron) portrays Ivy with such compassion and strength that she shows she's got the chops to be a rising star. I look forward to her next role. Both Weaver and Hurt give strong performance, and the rest of the case fill in nicely. Last, but certainly not least, I need to mention the score. The music is haunting and adds loads of dread and suspense.

*******SPOILER….DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU IF YOU READ THE NEXT PARAGRAPH********

I just need to mention one part of the film that I picked up on, kept going over in my head, and now wonder if it was simply an error on the part of Shyamalan, or meant to be a clue to the ending. The film opens with a funeral. When the camera shows the tombstone in the background, notice the dates, especially the date of death. Even for that date, the village, people, customs and language seem awfully old. If I hadn't noticed the date, I would have guessed the people to be living at least a hundred or more years prior to the date the tombstone shows.

*******END OF SPOILERS **********

The Sixth Sense came from nowhere, and was such a sensation because nobody saw it coming. Shyamalan is now expected to top himself with each film, and none of them can or will reach that height again. The Village is a well thought-out, entertaining film. It may not be perfect, but if any other name was in the writer/director's credit, I think it would be hailed to as close to perfection as one can get.

My grade: A

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Not perfect, but very creepy..., 13 September 2003
8/10

I love how horror used to be done. Not a WB cast member or inside joke to be found. Burnt Offerings isn't a film that will answer every question for you, but it is a film that will give you a serious case of the creeps.

Oliver Reed and Karen Black, along with their son and aunt (Bette Davis) move into a big, old mansion for the summer. Soon after, strange things start to happen as both the house and the family take of different personalities. All the while, Ms. Allardyce sits quietly in her locked room in the attic. And just who is that seriously creepy chauffeur who keeps popping up?

I liked Burnt Offerings because it took its time to tell the story. When the mother first steps foot inside the house, you can see that she's already captivated by it, and has made up her mind to stay before a word is even uttered between her and her husband. The slow progression and build up to its climax offers enough suspense and mystery that you'll be shocked with it finally happens. While some may see the climax coming a mile away, when Ms. Allardyce finally shows her face, it's one of the most chilling shots I can recall.

The cast play their characters well, with only a little of the over-acting that a lot of 70s films suffer from. Only the house's owners and Bette Davis overreach from time to time.

While I was a little disappointed that the reasoning behind everything isn't really told, I can overlook that. Many films lose their punch when they explain everything, and I like to try and come up with my own reasons certain things happen. Take the chauffeur; even though his role isn't explained, I took him to be the house's "sole", or even its "collector"

All in all, I recommend Burnt Offerings to fans for the genre, or even to those just looking for a good scare on a stormy night.

My grade: B+

2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Calling it awful still gives this movie to much credit..., 28 August 2003
1/10

I can't begin to try and get across how absolutely awful Star Crystal is. I knew it was going to be bad, but nothing could prepare me for this pile of steaming doo. The acting makes most grade school plays look like Oscar material. I mean, did these people really yell "cut", and then pat each other on the backs for a job well done?

More often than not, the sets are just a black stage with a spotlight on the "actors", and the ships are nothing more than dime store models dug up from a garage sale.

Lets not forget the alien. Where's the alien from the box cover??? THAT is the movie I wanted to see. The alien here looks like a slimy reject from Fraggle Rock! Worse yet, this mess was supposed to have had some resemblance to a sci-fi horror movie, but instead turns into the Muppet Family Hour at the end!

Thank God for my DVD player's fast forward function. I would have never gotten though the last 30 minutes without speeding this trash heap up to warp 6.

My grade: F (and that's still to kind)

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Very visual, not a bad first..., 23 August 2003
8/10

House of 1000 Corpses is a throw back to the old 1970s films like The Hills Have Eyes, Last House on the Left, and yes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Rob Zombie has stated that he wanted to do this film because he was tired of the sh*t being put out by Hollywood like Scream and its to numerous to count knock-offs. While I did enjoy Scream and a few of its followers, I also was waiting for a film that shadows the '70s horror films to be brought to the screen.

After being dropped by Universal, adopted and then abandoned by MGM, Lions Gate finally picked this puppy up and released it. I was glad to see that (for low-budget horror movie standards), it did quite well in the theatre.

Having finally seen it on DVD, I was quite impressed with the film. Visually, it rocks. Rob Zombie has a great eye for style and casting. And while it does pay homage to many of the films I mentioned above, I don't think that's a negative because from everything I've read about this film, those homages were all intentional.

If you're reading this, you probably already know the story, so I'm not going to get into it again. The only thing I will say is that Zombie achieved his goal at shocking. While the film's rep may lead some to feel the final product is a let down, I for one enjoyed it very much. My only negative comments are that A: after the "burial" scene, it seemed like I was now watching a totally different film. Perhaps I missed a key point, and I plan to watch the film again to see if I can pick up on the link. And, B: after watching the extras on the DVD, there seem to be a lot of scenes that were cut from the final film. I understand that Zombie took some scenes out to garner an "R" rating. Why not either release the film on DVD as an "unrated" disk, or at least put those scenes in the extras? Oh, well.

All in all, you have to enjoy a special type of Horror (yes, a capital "H") film to enjoy House of 1000 Corpses. If all you've seen are Scream, Urban Legend and any of the other "cast from WB" horror films, then no, you probably will hate this movie. But, if you enjoy the old-time films by Craven, Hooper and others, then come on in to Capt. Spaulding's and have a grand ole time!

My grade: B

Running. Lots and lots of running..., 26 October 2002
4/10

The Brotherhood III: Young Demons pretty much blows. Nothing happens except for a LOT of running. The acting is the worst yet in the Brotherhood series, as is the "plot".

Lex (Kristopher Turner) is his own Jeff Probst in a game he has created and plays in the school at night. The players all dress up like they're on their way to a renaissance festival and search the school for something that I really don't care to try and remember. During the game, Lex is able to see, hear and talk to anybody, anywhere in the school from his position in the library. As an added touch, a really stupid looking mystery man is loose in the school and appears to be making all of his victims pleasure him orally. This all builds up to a lame climax (no pun intended) that makes the end of The Brotherhood II look like Shakespeare.

This film is annoying. From the constant running though the halls to the never stopping heartbeat, this movie rots. There are two redeeming things about The Brotherhood III: 1: Lex is hot! 2: The shower boy has a killer butt! It's good to see DeCoteau did something right. Other than that, there is nothing in this film to recommend. When will he realize that constant lightening in every scene is not scary? And what was up with those camera angles? I was starting to get motion sickness watching! If I was to list every plot hole in this thing, we'd be here all day.

Anyway, I've rambled on enough about a movie that didn't deserve this much review space to begin with. I won't tell you not to watch it, for you have to decide that for yourself. But I will tell you that I stopped shy of hating this film, and hope that the inevitable Brotherhood IV is more on par with the first in the series than this effort.

My grade: D-

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Decent flick, 28 May 2002
8/10

DeCoteau, as usual, has cast a cute guy as the lead for his latest horror movie, The Frightening, and as usual, he has him in his boxer briefs within the first 10 minutes. Oh, it's good to know what you're getting into.

However, the last thing I expected from DeCoteau was a higher caliber film that ended up being pretty entertaining. Yes, the movie rips from everything from The Sixth Sense to Donnie Darko, but if you're going to rip off other films, you might as well pick good ones to take ideas from.

Corey (Matt Twining) has just moved to a new town with his mother to start a new life after a tragic accident left a teammate of Corey's dead. Enrolled into "Halloween High", he begins to notice that things aren't quite right. Be it that all the "social outcasts" start disappearing, or that the school itself has a dark past. He starts to question reality and the motives of all the students and faculty.

The Frightening isn't a bad movie. It moves along pretty good, was entertaining enough to keep my attention, and as with any DeCoteau film, is loaded with cute, buff boys to watch. However, unlike The Brotherhood (good film) or The Brotherhood 2: Young Warlocks (we won't go there), the homoerotic overtones are very much downplayed in The Frightening. Only once did it venture into traditional territory with a scene involving a group of young guys standing around in their boxers. DeCoteau also seems to have spent more time on this film. The majority of the actors are pretty good (especially Matt Twining), and the dialogue flows more smoothly than any of his past films.

The ending is a total rip-off, but in the defense of the filmmakers, I didn't see it coming, and thought it was pretty cool. On the downside, the murders were pretty cheesy. I'm glad that I'm not the only IMDBer to notice that no matter where you're stabbed or slashed, you will always bleed out of your mouth (with some pretty fake looking blood to boot). Although, I did like the one guy who had his face eaten off with acid.

I liked The Frightening. It wasn't a masterpiece, but compared to some of his other films, it's as close to being one as DeCoteau has gotten to so far.

My grade: B

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Scary (well, the first 20-30 minutes), 12 November 2001
7/10

Much like every other comment posted, the opening of When A Stranger Calls is utterly terrifying. It's been a long time since I've seen a movie that has had that effect on me. I started out watching the film with the lights off. By the end of the opening, I had the lights on and was looking around corners before entering another room to make sure nobody was waiting for me.

Unfortunately, all the posted comments are correct. After a spectacular opening, When A Stranger Calls falls flat on it's face. The middle is boring, and except for a scene inside an apartment, not scary at all. The film picks up again for the very end, but doesn't quite reach the intensity of the opening. The first 30 or so minutes are flawless whereas the final act, while suspenseful, has loose ends that didn't tie.

I would tell anybody to watch When A Stranger Calls just for the opening itself. If the filmmakers could've even made the middle of the film half as good as the beginning, we'd be looking at a true classic masterpiece.

My grade: B

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Two movies in one..., 7 November 2001
7/10

The first half of Wonder Boyz plays like a Disney Channel movie and is as bubble gum sweet and hokey as you can get. Whereas the second half turns dramatically more serious. I much preferred the second half. Kenny's breakdown gave a glimmer of what a legit film on the whole boy-band phenomena could've been. Unfortunately such instances are few and far between. The music, except for the cover of "Lean On Me" is pretty bad (although, I am led to believe that this was intentional). In fact, "Lean On Me" is a damn good remake that I wish was available on CD. I mean, if O-Town can seriously put out a song called "Liquid Dreams", then I have to believe this remake could be a hit, no matter who actually sang it.

Wonder Boyz- Good idea, childish execution. Full of plot holes, but then I didn't expect anything Oscar caliber. Oh, and the boys...yea they're cute (Especially Kenny).

My grade: C+

Blood Surf (2000) (V)
Sad..., 7 November 2001
3/10

Oh, CGI. A blessing when used properly. A sin with it's used by people who have no idea what their doing. Sadly, that's not the only thing that's used poorly in this umpteen Jaws rip-off.

Ok, anybody who has read any number of my posted reviews has probably noticed 2 things. 1: I like low-budget horror movies. And 2: If there is a cute guy in said low-budget movie, I'll usually point them out. So, let's just get this out of the way right now. This is one low-budget horror movie I didn't like. The acting, for the most part, is horrible, effects laughable, and the script rivals Battlefield Earth as the worst I've witnessed this year. As far as the resident cute boy...Dax Miller (Bog) wins that prize hands down. This boy is hot! And surprisingly, he's not just a toned body with nice eyes and a cute butt...he can actually act (well, as much as he can in this odious film). Now that we have the housekeeping chores out of the way, let's get on with it.

In Cliff Notes version, here's the story (don't worry, I'll try not to give anything away)...

A film crew travels to a remote island to film a documentary about two surfers (established cute boy and his buddy) who surf with sharks. Unknown to them is a rather large salt water crocodile lurking around the island. Croc shows up, mayhem ensues, and people are eaten. Roll end credits.

As I said earlier, this film pretty much blows. It started pretty well, but soon devolved into being silly and stupid. A main character becomes lunch (in a rather humorous way), and our remaining heros utter one-liners at the victims expense. Also, if this croc is at the top of the food chain on both the land and in the water, what's with all the sharks around? If this thing can eat a 40 foot boat, I don't think a few skimpy sharks would stick around. The FX is some of the worst I have ever had the displeasure to see. The CGI is horrendous, and they've even managed to screw up the animatronic crocs. Attention, filmmakers. National Geographic. Discovery Store. The Croc Hunter. They know what crocodiles look like. You obviously didn't reference any of these judging by the monstrosity seen towards the end of the film. And what's with the pirate/drug pusher gang? Did you just need another reason to rip off a woman's top?

It's funny how we get little sub-genres in the movie world. With Alligator and it's sequels, Lake Placid, Crocodile, and now Blood Surf, it now looks like "over-sized crocodile/alligator" movies should now get their own category at Blockbuster. Alligator was good. Lake Placid was good. I even thought Tobe Hooper's Crocodile was good. Blood Surf, sucked.

My grade: D-


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