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Not bad, but not the best
I was one of the people who were eagerly anticipating this film, to the point where my expectations were relatively high and I pre- ordered tickets for myself and my boyfriend. As our viewing date approached and the critical reception grew poorer and poorer, I started to grow worried that the film would be an unwatchable mess.
Luckily for me, the film wasn't that bad and I'd say that the movie's key flaws can be summed up as follows:
It had somewhat terrible pacing. The story was good, but it really needed to be tightened up here and there. The film clocks in at two and a half hours and my boyfriend was painfully aware of this length, as he kept shifting in his seat during the last hour. If a film is well done, you'll ignore the cardboard theater seats and the numbness growing in the lower half of your body.
The film tried too hard to appeal to both people who knew the source material and the ones who didn't. The film is peppered with various things that gave off the impression of prior films and story lines. For example, we're shown a destroyed Wayne Manor in the film... but no explanation as to why/how it was destroyed. I can only assume that it was related to the batsuit with "HAHA, joke's on you Batman" written on it, but we're never really given a good explanation about this. A person coming into the film with only knowledge of prior films would likely be confused, whereas fans of the comics would probably be able to tell me exactly what happened. It's not that this kept the plot from making sense, but it was kind of frustrating since there was this whole backstory that may never be fully revealed. On the flip side, the story also tried to target the newbies and as such people looking for in-jokes and references to the comics will likely get frustrated by the times where things are spelled out a little too much.
Still, there's a lot to like here. Gal Gadot is amazing as Wonder Woman and my theater actually applauded when she showed up in full WW regalia. There was some back story for her that was never fully revealed, but then I already know that there's going to be a WW movie and that it's going to explore her past, so this is OK.
The action scenes are OK and viewers can watch this without having seen Man of Steel, although they'll enjoy it more for having seen the prior film. Plus the prior film will prepare you for this one's slowness, since it's set up in a similar fashion.
Overall I recommend this. I probably wouldn't really say that you should see it in 3D and all, since so much of it is just talking, but I do think that it's worth seeing it in the theaters at least once, even if only as a matinée.
Dark Dungeons (2014)
If you go into this expecting a great film, you're going to be disappointed. This is based off of a Jack Chick pamphlet, so you know that it's not going to be serious business.
What makes this film is that everyone tries to play their roles as straight as possible. There's no Leslie Nielsen-esque romping or Jim Carey mugging for the camera. Calling this a parody isn't entirely accurate, however it's not entirely *inaccurate* either. The source material here is so absurdly ridiculous that there's no need to lampoon the fact that some religious groups are over the top ridiculous when it comes to "demonic" material because they do it for you. It's like petting a cat: you just put your hand down and it does all the work for you.
The end result is a film that can arguably be called "bad", but bad in all of the right ways. The acting is decent and the script, while ridiculous, is pretty hilarious. So far there are only two avenues for getting this film, either a DVD via Amazon or a direct purchase from the official website. It's absolutely worth purchasing at least via the website and it's a shame that it's not more well known than it it currently is.
Fear Clinic (2015)
I was pretty disappointed by this film. It wasn't as bad as it could have been since there are some big stinkers out there, but it also could have been a lot better. If you're expecting closure from the web series, look elsewhere. This movie ignores anything that happened before and reinvents the story for a new audience. That isn't entirely bad since it gives the story a chance to reinvent itself, but the problem here is that what we're given doesn't really live up to expectations.
Englund does a pretty good job here and part of me really enjoyed seeing a more sympathetic Anders, but the lack of a cold, calculating Anders willing to achieve results by putting lives in jeopardy was what made the web series so much fun. He wasn't necessarily a sadist, but this posed a good question as to what would happen when things went south and the man in charge is already willing to put people in danger to forge new ground. In a way he was one of the web series's monsters.
The ending wasn't awful, but by the time the film ended I was already ready for the closing credits. There are some great special effects here and everyone tries really, really hard, but this just didn't work out and I can't help but think that this would have fared better as a web series rather than a film.
Not bad for a starter film
If this had been a bigger budgeted film written by people that weren't new to the whole directing gig, I may have been harsher in my review. There are elements to this film that really could have been done better. The humor isn't bad and the plot is overall decent, but it really could have been tightened here and there to make a more slick performance. Many of the big name stars in this film are kind of underused- Englund is the best example of this and I really wanted him to factor into the movie more than he did. The somewhat romance between Marion and the bartender could probably have been tossed out- that didn't really do much for me as a whole and it's one of the bits that just felt a bit forced. There's also the problem that you can see much of the film coming, particularly the film's end revelation that there was more than one mole man.
That said, this film is a pretty fun schlock fest and very impressive for the directors' first feature length film. They dealt well with the budget issues as far as the mole man goes. The dark shooting was annoying, but it did explain why we never got a clear shot of the monster until the end. The directors do try to explain things for the most part, which I appreciated. It also doesn't hurt that the two main characters are at least somewhat likable, so they have that going for them.
I watched the film via Netflix and while I probably wouldn't buy this, I am planning to watch this again with my friends later on while drinking a few beers. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone wanting a good goofy movie- if you want anything serious or scary, then this isn't the film for you. The horror aspect of this isn't the main gist of the film and this is better appreciated by people who like schlocky 80s/90s horror films.
Lord of Tears (2013)
I don't think that any aspiring director could hope for a stronger debut film than this. There are some issues with this film as a whole that could have been solved with a little editing, but this was fairly entertaining as a whole.
The strongest issue I had with this film were two overly long scenes where Evie danced. These two scenes, which were deliberately done to parallel her two states in the movie, started off fine enough and if they were only about 20-30 seconds in length, would have been more effective. The problem is that drawing them out to a few minutes just sort of made them grate on my friends and I. Any enchantment, suspense, or fear they would have evoked dissipated fairly quickly and they became more of an annoyance than anything else. This is especially true for the second dance, as what was initially a pretty scary scene became sort of a joke that made everyone roll their eyes. We were all in agreement that these two scenes really detracted from the film as a whole and shortening or just outright removing them might have helped push the film along. They kind of took Evie from being this horrific creature that would be capable of killing James and further shattering his heart and mind to being a creature who was just sort of annoying and harmless for the most part. Granted, she was never really supposed to be anything other than the impetus for the final twist, but it just took away from the film as a whole.
These didn't destroy my liking for the film overall, and if you're into slow atmospheric films then you'll definitely need to watch this one. It's still incredibly strong and much better than a lot of the other stuff currently out on the market.
Devil's Due (2014)
Normally, I'm not one of those people. You know the type: the people who make comments throughout the film and are generally loud at times where they shouldn't be loud. It's just that this film is so incredibly awful that it brings the worst out of its viewers.
My best friend and I were really looking forward to being scared. She's a fan of the Paranormal Activity series and I love slow, atmospheric horror movies where the focus is more on the characters than on throwing a bucket of blood on the screen. In other words, we were both the target audience for a film like this.
This film was just awful. The scares weren't very scary, not even when they were really supposed to be. There were multiple scenes where we were all supposed to be watching the screen pensive and quiet, yet the ENTIRE audience was laughing. I think that the turning point came where, at a baby shower, Sam received a small knife that initially looked like a decorative silver rattle of some sort. That's when I crossed the line and went to the dark side. Laughing, I turned to my bestie and said "Baby's first shiv!" I immediately got a thumbs up from the row in front of me. After that point all of the audience started cracking jokes and laughing even louder at the incredibly un-funny scenes. There were only 10 of us in the audience, so I probably wouldn't have acted like that if it were more full, but this was a very bad movie and we all knew it.
I think that part of the problem was that the found footage angle was so incredibly forced. If they'd dropped that entirely and focused on the story and scares, this would have been a lot better. I think that they focused on the FF angle mostly because of the directors' previous success with V/H/S. Because the film was so keen on trying to force the FF angle, everything was pretty dull and the FF aspect really felt superfluous.
The worst part is that at its core, this had the potential to be very, very good. It's just that the movie tried too hard to cash in on the directors' previous success in the FF genre and bank on people holding fond memories of other similar films that are out there. There's nothing wrong with doing either of those things, but when you try to force it and it doesn't work, that's when you end up with something as awful as Devil's Due. That's the biggest crying shame: this could have been so much better if the directors and film company had tried to do something more original rather than imitate previously successes.