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Shattered_Wake

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303 reviews in total 
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16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly good (and creepy!) show, 13 May 2012
8/10

I'll be clear here. . . I'm 24 years old, so I'm not exactly this show's target audience. However, I grew up with 'Are You Afraid of the Dark?,' 'Goosebumps,' 'Tales from the Crypt,' etc. Therefore, when I heard about this show, I thought I'd give it a shot. Even though R.L. Stine usually writes pretty standard fare, I've always enjoyed his work and still to this day have his entire original Goosebumps collection from my childhood.

My advice, if you're a fan of stuff like the shows I mentioned: Just check out the first story entitled "Really You." Technically it's two episodes, but it's really worth the time. As I'm already creeped out by dolls in general, this was really effective.

I'm not all the way through the series to date, but I'm still satisfied with what I have seen. Young or old, definitely check this out. There isn't enough good TV for kids these days, but this is something worthwhile.

Creature (2011)
Can't even compare to the worst Roger Corman flick, 13 April 2012
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Over the past decade or so, so-called "creature features" have been a bit of a rarity. They were all the rage for decades, with some of the earliest dating back into the early 1900s with films like 'The Golem' and 'King Kong.' However, as times changed, so did tastes within the horror genre. Sure, every now & again, horror fans get treated to a more popular monster movie, but they very rarely ever make it to "the next level." Recently, there have been some more popular creature features like 'Cloverfield,' 'The Host,' and 'Feast,' but none of them really rebooted the trend. Now, a new creature feature, creatively titled 'Creature,' has been released by rookie writer/director Fred Andrews. Could it be the film that reignites the love for creature features? Eh, no.

'Creature' is yet another "backwoods" (or "back-swamp," I suppose) horror, which is a subgenre that has been getting a bit more focus over the past few years, probably due to the success of Adam Green's gorefest 'Hatchet,' from which Fred Andrews clearly "borrowed" plenty of inspiration. It stars a group of young actors that you may or may not recognize from random TV roles like Serinda Swan from 'Breakout Kings' or Aaron Hill from 'Greek' (in which he played a character called The Beaver. . . seriously). Anyway, the story focuses on this group of generic young people (that you'll forget as soon as the credits roll) as they make their way into the swamps of Louisiana. As they always do, the young people come across an impossible legend of a vicious monster that, of course, turns out to be the possible. Oh no. As the monster feasts on the pretty young people, horror veteran Sid Haig randomly appears to do what Sid Haig usually does: Look gross, add humour, and send a group of dumb kids to their deaths (yeah, he was basically an unpainted Captain Spaulding in this). Little tip for realism to Fred Andrews: If you're going to have Sid Haig playing a backwoods hick, don't have him wearing freshly pressed khakis.

There are a certain few things that you should expect from the 70s/80s-style creature features. What are they? Stupidity, violence, gore, and nudity, right? Well, they're all here. So, if that's all you need, then check the film out, because from the first frame, you get to see a pasty, homely chick skinny dipping in a swamp you know is filled with leeches, gators, and hepatitis. What do you think happens next? Certainly not what happens any time someone goes skinny dipping in a horror film! In fact, any time you see any of those "horror movie moments" (going to get more beer, going to the bathroom alone, etc.) in this film, don't expect there to be much of a stray from PRECISELY what you'll expect.

Now, how about that writing? Have you ever watched a movie or TV show and sat in awe thinking, "Wow! They talk exactly like me & my friends! It's like they copied my life!" This isn't like that. In fact, if you ever find yourself saying that the people in this movie sound like your group of friends, immediately go out and find new friends. The only line of dialogue in this film that actually holds any truth came from the previously mentioned Aaron Hill when he noted, "It doesn't get any cheesier than that." Just about sums this one up.

But, hey, what importance do writing, originality, and acting have in a schlockfest? Absolutely nothing! There are really only two things that matter all that much: Creature FX and fun! And how can you ruin that? I don't really know, but somehow they did. The creature FX were lame, like a subpar ripoff of a bad Roger Corman flick. The main villain, Grimley, looked like Takka from 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.' They probably would've been more at home in a SyFy original than in a film that received a theatrical release (regardless of how short the release was). It's not as if this was a microbudget movie. They had $3 million here and couldn't produce better than the quality you see in the average film school project.

Overall, 'Creature' can't even rise to the expected quality of the classic cheesy B-flicks we've come to love like 'Lake Placid' or 'Swamp Thing.' It's a poorly written, stalely directed, and lukewarm rendition of a story we've seen done much better dozens of times before. The only redeeming factor of the film is the scenery, but that isn't to compliment the filmmakers here. It's hard to film a Deep South swamp and not have it look cool.

Final Verdict: 3.5/10. Avoid. I knew it'd be bad, but I didn't think it'd be boring.

-AP3-

The Odds (2011)
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Like a really intense 'Degrassi' episode, 12 April 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm always a fan of any movies about gambling, so I was quick to check out 'The Odds.' I was hoping for something along the lines of 'Rounders' or 'Boiler Room,' or at least that kind of tone. I knew it wouldn't be of equal quality judging by the trailer, budget, and cast. However, low-budget elements don't always mean low quality.

The story focuses on teenage gamblers & friends Desson (Tyler Johnston) and Barry (Calum Worthy). After losing a bet on a shady wrestling match, Barry decides to take out his frustration on the hulking wrestler who threw the match. Desson steps in to stop the fight, but they end up getting in trouble anyway. Soon after, Desson discovers the dead body of Barry hanging in his garage. Refusing to believe it was a suicide, Desson begins to investigate the death, thinking it was a murder connected to the world of illegal gambling they lived in.

The first thing viewers should know before they check out this movie is simple: It's Canadian. That's not to make you consider its quality or anything, but just know that it's written by Canadians and starring Canadians. I didn't know that for the first twenty or so minutes of the flick; so, when I saw people writing their money as "20$" and talking about senior year as "grade twelve," I found it a little weird. Also, there's that level of "purity" that most Canadian movies have versus American ones, even when they're about illegal gambling rings and teenage murder. Everyone's just about one level nicer than they should be (like calling a guy a "putz" when he insults your breast size, for example).

Regarding the technical aspects, the most important for a film like this is the script. Specifically, the realism of the gambling. Why? Because the most devoted target audience for a film like this will be those who are involved in the world of gambling. As someone who used to sneak into seedy underground poker games as a teen, I know what the world is really like. I know how the games go, I know how the people are, etc. For that, the film isn't too bad. It's definitely better than some, but it really shows the inexperience and poor decision- making that a lot of young gamblers have. The one characteristic that really was accurate: Young gamblers often screw up when cute girls are involved. The true gambler still keeps his head even when there's a woman involved. Unfortunately, one element of the script that really failed was the dialogue. There were multiple times that dialogue was repeated awkwardly in the same scene. Maybe that's how Canadian kids talk, but I've ever heard it like that on Degrassi (my only real experience with Canadian youth).

Other than the writing, the film isn't actually that bad on a technical level. The acting had some good elements, namely Tyler Johnston as Desson who looked like a nerdy version of a young Tom Cruise, and some bad elements. Luckily, writer/director Simon Davidson seemed to notice his weaknesses in the cast and the less talented actors had very little screen time.

As an overall film, even with the few benefits it has, it really never rises above mediocre. Frankly, the main issue is that it doesn't get involved enough with the gambling aspect. It doesn't really show the stressful situations that that kind of life shows. While it could have been 'Brick' meets 'Rounders,' it ended up being more just an intense episode of 'Degrassi.'

Final Verdict: 6/10.

-AP3-

"Grimm" (2011)
11 out of 60 people found the following review useful:
Rip-off alert: 2011, 30 October 2011

Seriously, this couldn't be much more of a ripoff of Dylan Dog (which has been in publication for, what, 25 years?). Really, the only distinct difference is that the main character is a current cop instead of a former cop turned into private investigator. It's nothing more than basically a prequel, in that case, especially seeing as the main character in 'Grimm' isn't going to last long on the force with the amount of police protocol he pisses on illegally.

Couldn't they have at least cast a different lead to maybe separate the two works a bit? The guy in this just basically looks like a less attractive version of Dylan Dog.

I really hope the show doesn't last long if they don't start making strides to separate it from what they're stealing from.

Also, if your visual effects are beaten by that of 'Buffy,' you have some serious work to do. Stray from the CGI & use makeup if your CGI is going to look this pathetic.

-AP3-

8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
A heartfelt "dying" comedy that fails with its conventions, 8 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'A Little Bit of Heaven,' which will be the final film released by the the now-bankrupt studio The Film Department, is really a blown opportunity. Not so much the film itself, but the title. After hearing that title and seeing the great Peter Dinklage as the #2 listed cast member, I was excited. Could a movie actually take a risk and have the main character date a little person/dwarf? Now, it wouldn't be the first time that this would have happened, though the only one that comes to memory is 'Freaks' and I don't think that casts a good light on the subject. Unfortunately, the only relation the title has to Dinklage is the nickname he was given within his profession (I won't give away what that profession is, however, for sake of not ruining the best part of the film).

The film stars Kate Hudson as Marley, a slutty marketing exec who either doesn't believe in love or just enjoys gallivanting around with random men too much. After feeling rundown after a particularly intense night of said gallivanting, Marley heads to the doctor to get herself checked out. After a few tests come back with bad results, she finds out that she's suffering from colorectal cancer and has only a short while to live. This news is first broken to her by none other than God. . . played by Whoopi Goldberg. . . in an anaesthesia-induced hallucination. Her future is then confirmed by awkward, but apparently handsome, oncologist Julian (Gael García Bernal), who convinces her to sign up for a dangerous experimental treatment for no other reason than to have the film make her look more tired and give her a few more days to fall in love. Also joining Marley's side in her time of need is her best friend Sarah (Lucy Punch) and her combative parents (Kathy Bates & Treat Williams).

Instead of straying from the conformity of modern romance stories, 'A Little Bit of Heaven' grabs right onto them and holds on for dear life. It takes almost all of the elements of past "dying comedies" (like Queen Latifah's 'Last Holiday' and Angelina Jolie's 'Life or Something Like It') and stuffs them into the film, including a funny "risk-taking" scene (hang gliding here), laughing off the condition as "not so bad," and falling in love with the doctor. It doesn't bother to add much of anything new, except the use of Whoopi Goldberg as God, though there have been funnier choices to play a deity (Alannis Morisette in 'Dogma' comes to mind). After Judd Apatow released 'Funny People,' even if it wasn't universally loved, I had hoped that this small subgenre of comedy would get a push in the right direction. Unfortunately, it looks as if it's going to continue to cling onto the same conventions for a bit longer. The film does contain some heartfelt moments that may jerk some tears from the ducts of our more emotional audience members, but after the emotional manipulation ends, there isn't much else. That being said, it's not really a poorly written film. It's just not a bravely written one and that will leave it to be nothing more than a forgettable entry in the filmographies for the otherwise talented cast.

Final Verdict: 6/10.

-AP3-

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Often funny, often creepy, but blows a great opportunity, 6 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Of all the (many) paranormal investigation shows on TV these days, 'Ghost Adventures' is easily the most infuriating & annoying of the bunch. With its ridiculous equipment, overly "impressive" evidence, and block-headed frat boy host, who is the amateurish professional I've seen on reality TV, 'Ghost Adventures' is a show that needed a spoof. Here, 'Grave Encounters' did just that, but not in the overtly comedic way most send ups offer. It did have a decent amount of humour, especially for those who detest 'Ghost Adventures' host Zak Bagans as much as me. The film's version of Bagans, Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson), mocks him in a way that is insulting, but still leaves room for Zak to sit at home and watch the movie thinking, "Man, that is one cool dude, bro."

To get in the horror side of the film, the story takes us to an abandoned Collingwood Asylum in Maryland, which is one of the creepiest locations I've seen in horror cinema since 'Session 9,' (which this film does borrow from on occasion, especially with the stranded wheelchair in the lonely hallway. As Preston's film crew navigates their way through the hospital, faking evidence and mocking the expedition, they begin to notice something that was not accounted for: actual paranormal activity. As the night progresses, the asylum begins to transform into a nightmarish labyrinth of endless corridors and different horrors trapping them with some of their worst fears imaginable.

Had I written this review about forty-five minutes into this film, my thoughts would be in glowing praise of a job well done by a group of amateur filmmakers on their first feature. However, as the last half of the film played out, nothing but disappointment grew realizing what could have been and how sadly wickedly named Vicious Brothers (who co-wrote, co- directed, and co-edited the film) squandered the enormous potential this little film had. The main problem 'Grave Encounters' has is that it overcomplicates an idea that, on its own, is very, very creepy and has more than enough chances to be genuinely scary. It seemed that the film, which borrowed heavily from a lot of other horror movies like 'Paranormal Activity,' 'The Blair Witch Project,' and the 'House on Haunted Hill' remake (only for one scene, thankfully), decided that it didn't want the "simplistic approach," which worked so well for, say, 'Paranormal Activity.' The writers wanted something more complex, something that could work on a different level, like 'Session 9' or 'Blair Witch.' This was obviously the wrong choice because the first half of the film, which is merely a simple haunted-house story, is easily the better of the two segments. It's only when the film decides to add in extra twists and mysteries that it becomes head-shakingly unfortunate.

Another issue the film had came from its silliness. Now, the story's not silly at all. In fact, the idea of it is actually very disturbing and is very reminiscent of Mark Z. Danielewski's novel 'House of Leaves,' which is one of the scariest books in recent memory. However, the execution of some of the film's effects was just plain lame. Take, for example, one of the first times we're shown a spirit (in a very 'Blair Witch'-ish way), it's ruined by a cheesy looking demon face that looks like it was stolen from one of those "scary" online mazes. This was the case for almost every spirit, ghost, and demon in the film. They all had some kind of strange half-makeup, half-CGI look to them that just looked funny instead of scary.

Overall, 'Grave Encounters' isn't a terrible first attempt at low-budget horror. However, the botched second half from the overly complex story paths really brings the film down. And, while it may not be as bad as a lot of indie horror these days, this one will live on as just a precautionary tale of what could have been.

Final Verdict: 5/10.

-AP3-

17 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Yet another awful Asylum "mockbuster", 5 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Asylum. Just saying the words is enough to send chills up the spine & bile up the esophagus. For years, the so-called filmmakers at this trash factory have been doing little more than churning out some of the worst movies in anyone's memories. From their so-bad- they're-completely awful SyFy originals like 'Mega Piranha vs. Who Gives a Damn' to their appalling 'mockbusters' like 'Transmorphers,' The Asylum has been able to set a new bar for just how low one can go in the film industry. And, yet, no matter how deep they dig into the septic systems of their imaginations, somehow these scam artists manage to just keep on going. This time, their target is the exorcist subgenre, especially the recent success 'The Last Exorcism.'

With 'Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes,' director Jude Gerard Prest (which is more likely than not a pseudonym since no one would want to put their real name to a film like this) and his team of misfits flat out lie, telling the world (well, the small damned percentage of the world that is unfortunate to witness this disaster) that what this film is actually real. Yeah, real garbage. From almost the first frame, 'Anneliese' tries to be simply a compilation of what made other exorcist movies work, but they just assemble their own moronic versions of those elements. Even the opening cloned, almost completely, a scene from William Friedkin's 'The Exorcist.' I suppose the writers thought this could pass because of their claim that the 'Anneliese' videos inspired Friedkin's movie. . . even though 'The Exorcist' was inspired by the book by William Peter Blatty. . . which was inspired by an entirely different exorcism of a boy. 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose' is the film that was actually based (however loosely) on the events of the Anneliese Michel incident.

Friedkin's groundbreaking horror masterpiecce isn't the only film "borrowed from" for this production. We also revisit some exciting (eh. . .) scenes from 'The Last Exorcism,' 'Paranormal Activity' (which was already mockbusted by The Asylum with 'Paranormal Entity'), and a few others. Strangely enough, the film even stretches to copy itself by randomly flashing back to its own scenes only moments after those scenes happen, almost as if the crew was so proud of their work that they just had show it twice. . . but, that can't be true, so they were probably bloating the film to hit a reasonable runtime since they didn't have the brains to actually flesh out a full script.

Visually, the film is just a mess. To bring realism (maybe?) to the otherwise ridiculous creation, three different cameras are used throughout. . . or just the same camera with three different filters: black & white, sepia, & super 8 grainy. Add this to the eye-raping cinematography and 'Anneliese' is about as enjoyable to look at Alex DeLarge's forced theatre trip in 'A Clockwork Orange.' Luckily, most viewers will probably spend more time watching the clock waiting for the movie to end thanks to the excruciatingly grueling pace of the writer's amateurish script, which was probably the only thing worse about this movie than the directing, editing, and cinematography.

Final Verdict: 1/10.

-AP3-

27 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
A Simply Unbearable Group of People, 7 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'Something Borrowed' is based on the novel of the same name by Emily Griffin which I've never heard of. It concerns a group of thirtysomethings as they struggle through a love rectangle or trapezoid or whatever shape is made up by Kate Hudson ('How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days'), Ginnifer Goodwin ('Big Love'), John Krasinski ('The Office'), and the unfortunately named Colin Egglesfield ('Melrose Place'). It's also occasionally a love pentagon or hexagon if you count Ashley Williams & Steve Howey. As are typical in stories about differently shaped loves, there's lots of betrayal amongst friends, panicking of unfaithfuls, heartfelt conversations covered in rain, and unnecessary stupidity of everyone involved. . . but, that last bit is expected in any romance, cinematic or real.

One major problem with a film about infidelity is that it's impossible to really like anyone involved with the scandal. Here, we only have the Rachel, the woman who betrays her friend (Goodwin); Dex, the fiancé who betrays his love (Egglesfield); and, Darcy, the woman betrayed by both (Hudson). Typically, you can associate with those cheated on solely through sympathy, but that was made difficult for two reasons: 1) Darcy's a secondary character who seems to always act like that girl who always gets too drunk at college parties; and, 2) The movie constantly acts as if it's going to reveal something negative about her past (spoiler: it does). Granted, no one deserves to be hurt this way for being annoying, but she's still not an enjoyable character to watch. Maybe things would be different if Darcy and Rachel's roles were swapped, but we all know of hindsight's perfection. Left alone behind all this despicable behaviour is the typical nice guy Ethan (Krasinski) who, along only with Dex's dad, acts as a voice of reason in the film. Unfortunately, he's like an umbrella in a hurricane, unable to rescue this mess of humanity from themselves.

Now, I suppose this is a film that's not meant to be enjoyed on the level of a typical romantic comedy; but, with this cast and a sugary, generic title like 'Something Borrowed,' a viewer should not be forced to withstand the cringe-inducing behaviour like that of Dex & Rachel. Never have I so wanted the leads of a romance to be hit by a New York cabbie. Then again, I also wished that fate upon myself for a while to alleviate the misery of watching these monsters. Clearly, writer Jennie Snyder & director Luke Greenfield, who have both successfully worked in romance before this film, have talent that should carry them through their futures, but a film this unlikable was not their best step forward to that future. A romance hasn't been this depressing since last year's 'Blue Valentine,' but at least that film succeeded because of its sad nature and didn't have to battle against it.

Final Verdict: 4/10.

-AP3-

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A loud & annoying spectacle with some great visual FX, 27 July 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'Saving Private Ryan,' 'Apocalypse Now,' 'Platoon'. . . when the great war movies are mentioned, one of the most important elements discussed is simple: the characters. Among the explosions, gunfire, and blown-off limbs, good war movies never lose track of their connection with the characters that were so intricately crafted throughout the film. Even a cheeseball blockbuster like 'Pearl Harbour,' regardless of how lame it may be, managed to flesh out its characters fairly well, even if they were insufferably whiny. Granted, when writer Christopher Bertolini and director Jonathon Liebesman started on 'Battle Los Angeles,' they probably weren't expecting to make the 'Platoon' of alien movies; but, when a phenomenal film like 'District 9' can be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, there should be no excuses about being "just a sci-fi flick." Still, that's how 'Battle Los Angeles' was treated: empty, meaningless characters running around, screaming for two hours.

Since the film threw out any chance for depth, that would mean the shallow elements should be excellent, right? Eh, not so much. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of over-the-top alien vs. Marines action with lots of big booms and loud guns that will be awesome on your Blu-ray home theatre. Unfortunately, thanks to the eye-blurring cinematography and ADHD- induced pacing, the film becomes little more than an anti-aspirin: watched only if you WANT a headache.

Now, don't go thinking the film's a complete disaster. If you load up on Advil before you press play and prepare yourself to watch the death of a bunch of people that are little more than walking mannequins in military gear, you may enjoy it. If you ignore the fact that the terrifying alien invaders are basically just a roided-up version of Alpha 5 from 'Power Rangers,' you also might enjoy it. But, if you'd rather watch a film like 'District 9' instead of a live-action video game, I'd suggest avoiding this one. Even with a reasonably talented cast, even with a $70,000,000 budget to work with, even with some of the best visual FX seen this year, 'Battle Los Angeles' can't succeed as anything more than a loud, frustrating, detached, and unoriginal popcorn flick that squanders the opportunity with its potentially 'true' source material.

Final Verdict: 4/10.

-AP3-

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not quite Christopher Guest, but still a funny movie, 29 June 2011
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For many years, faux documentaries (or 'mockumentaries') have been a popular form of filmmaking, especially among young or low-budget filmmakers because it offers a simple way of giving an excuse for lower-level productions while still being effective (think 'Blair Witch'). When this style of filmmaking is used in the comedic genre, there is no match for the films of Christopher Guest, whose genius has led to such great films as 'This Is Spinal Tap!' and 'Best In Show.' Because Guest is just so damn good, it seems many other directors try to imitate his style as much as possible. This is true of director, writer, actor, and producer Joe Boyd, who has transported the Guestian (yes, he deserves his own word) style of mockumentaries to the poker world with 'Hitting the Nuts.' As an avid poker player and fan, even before the ESPN-boosted 'poker boom,' I was intrigued by the idea of this film. 'The Grand,' direceted by Zak Penn' had already done a comedic mockumentary with a stellar cast, but it wasn't an overwhelming success in any real way. Here, though, as the film focused on an illegal small-town tourney, a famous cast would not be necessary. Therefore, the director could easily manage a solid film without big names. One problem Boyd did face here, though, is just how difficult it is to make a great poker movie. Out of the many, many attempts to bring the game to the cinema, only a few can really be considered great. 'The Cincinnati Kid,' 'Rounders,' and 'Maverick' made their mark, but not a whole lot more.

From the first frame of 'Hitting the Nuts,' viewers will realize not to take the film seriously. At all. That's because Joe Boyd's film is just purely silly comedy; and, even though it's not the most well written comedy one will find, the over-the-top script & acting do yield some hearty laughs. The humour is not for everyone, though, especially due to the ridiculous characters & unbelievable situations. However, many will still enjoy the film's sarcastic wit and hilarious one-liners.

Perhaps one of the most important factors that many filmmakers in the poker subgenre neglect is the actual cardplay. Make it too realistic and it can get boring fast. Take it over the-the-top and real players will be rolling their eyes before the river hits the felt. For the most part, the gameplay here struck a reasonable balance . . . except the few errors like the lack of burn cards and having a board end on the turn instead of the river. Pretty annoying.

Overall, the film does have some irritating factors that affecti t as a whole; but, for its budget and style, it is quite a funny & enjoyable poker movie.

Final Verdict: 6/10.

-AP3-


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