Reviews written by registered user
stsinger

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51 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Unexpected surprise, excellent Argentinian thriller!, 14 August 2017
8/10

"Hypersomnia" took me totally by surprise. It is an Argentinian thriller that's way better than you'd expect it to be. We begin by following the story of Milena, a young actress. She is trying to get a part in a play and is going through a rather odd audition process for a rather odd director. The play is about a woman who has been abducted by sex traffickers and, at odd times, she seems to have dreams and blackouts where she imagines that she herself is a victim.

In these flashes, she is called Laly… but we're not sure if that's her name since we see that the other women are forced to have different names than their real names. We flip between Milena's life as an actress, where she deals with other actors, boyfriends, and the director and the vision of Laly, trapped along with other women, captors (friendly and unfriendly), and one horrible client ominously called "The Gardener." As the film unfolds, we slowly start to become unsure which life is real and which is the fantasy…

As mentioned, "Hypersomnia" is way better than it has any right to be. It draws you into the dual-realities and makes you feel Milena's confusion to what she's feeling and experiencing, and comes up with a satisfying explanation. There are parts that are suitably gruesome and horrific, and I found myself rooting for the characters. Not perfect; as typical some characters make weird decisions, one of the "twists" is pretty obvious early on, and at the very end it gets a little preachy. But overall, this was a pleasant and unexpected surprise -- "Hypersomnia" is a top-notch thriller that I really enjoyed.

You can see this on Netflix with easy to read subtitles, definitely recommended.

Bokeh (2017)
4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Intriguing addition to the "End of the World" movie canon, but know what you're going to see!, 27 March 2017
7/10

"Bokeh" is an intriguing and unique entry in the "End of the World" film series. As the film starts, Jenai (Maika Monroe) and Riley (Matt O'Leary) are on a vacation in Iceland. The do touristy stuff, and he has a classic large format camera that he uses to take lots of pictures. One night, Jenai wakes up in the middle of the night and sees a green glow start to spread around. When she wakes up later that morning, they discover that everyone is gone and they are all alone. All the power still works (apparently, Iceland's power grid is automated, so it would run without intervention for a while), but nobody is there, nobody is answering phones, television is all static, etc.

After the initial shock, they start to gather food and necessities (they can just walk into any store or restaurant) to survive. They two of them have differing reactions -- Jenai is devastated, wants to go home, desperate to see her family and friends. Riley, on the other hand, reacts that way many men would. Basically, it's "Hot damn! I'm alone in the world with Maika Monroe!" and he sets about continuing to woo her.

She grows more and more distraught about their situation, desperately trying to make sense of what is happening, while he tries to set up romantic scenarios, tries to convince her that them being along will be just fine so long as they're together, etc, etc. And it all winds up in a real mind-f*** of an ending.

Honestly, not much actually happens. So that's a word of warning -- almost all of these type of movies end up with some sort of action sequence, but not this one. It is pretty much just these two talking, going places, and reacting. So if you watch this expecting them to meet a gang of bikers or scientists or monsters or something and have to fight them off for survival, you are out of luck. The acting is solid, and that's important since there are just two people in the cast. Maika Monroe has the tougher role, and pulls it of flawlessly. Matt O'Leary does a decent job as well. The Iceland location is more than just beautiful scenery -- since there are working cars, being in Iceland makes it impossible to take a road trip back home, adding to the isolation and hopelessness.

I do have to say I was intrigued through the whole thing, so I can definitely recommend it, so long as you don't expect it to be what it isn't.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Hilarious... Eric Roberts is a national treasure!, 22 October 2016

OK, first of all, a little housekeeping. As of 10/22/16, the synopsis reads, "A group of sorority girls with bad pasts, including one who just committed murder wake up one morning to learn that they are locked inside their sorority house. What's worse is they find out that an escape murderer, is in that same house." That is a complete lie. The film is entirely different.

Movie begins with Eric Roberts as Dean of a college, who has been having an affair with one of the students. He is on the phone with her as she breaks up with him, having sent him a 12" clown doll named "Bobo" as a "Breakup Gift." He doesn't take it too well, and starts ranting about "Making her and her sorority sisters pay, teasing men with their firm bodies... (etc)." He shoots himself, but his spirit ends up going into the clown doll. He decides to pay the sorority house a visit and kill everyone, and most of the movie is Bobo the clown doll stalking and killing the sorority sisters and the couple of boyfriends that are there.

The film is a cousin to the Puppet Master series, but with tongue firmly in cheek. As with films of this type, it either hits you in the right spot or not. But it definitely hit me in the right spot. I laughed consistently while watching the "effects" (basically, Bobo stands there still or a hand just off camera makes him bounce up and down) while Eric Roberts voices the clown ("Hi! I'm Bobo and you're pissing me off!"). The actresses are all smoking hot and while, unfortunately, there is no nudity, the two hottest actresses spend just about their entire screen time in bikinis. Director David DeCoteau has been making low-budget flicks for over 30 years now, and so it's competently directed, well lit, with clear sound. And Eric Roberts' voice-overs of Bobo are a hoot.

Definitely a guilty pleasure for me. But I guess I'm just a sucker for tongue-in-cheek horror comedies with a twelve-inch clown puppet as the villain.

Abattoir (2016)
5 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Original, restrained, and effective horror flick, 2 October 2016
8/10

A welcome change from the usual "Group of twenty-somethings go somewhere and get killed" trope, "Abattoir" is an original and subtlety effective film. The film begins when Julia, a real-estate reports, and her sister Amanda are discussing finding their mother by tracking down adoption papers. However, Amanda -- along with her husband and six- year old son -- are brutally killed by a seemingly normal man. Shortly afterwards, Julia finds that her sister's house has been purchased, and part of the house has literally been removed. She discovers that this is not the first time -- an old man has been going around for years buying houses where horrible tragedies and crime have occurred and removing the part of the house where the tragedy occurred. Julia is now faced with three mysteries -- the mystery of her mother, why her sister and her family was killed, and what is going on with the purchase of the houses? All roads lead to a small town called "New English" where she, along with an old fling who is a policeman, hopes that answers for all three await her...

Known for his gender-shredding "Repo! The Genetic Opera" and the two "Devil's Carnival" films, Darren Lynn Bousman is aiming high with "Abattoir." There is serious substance here. They are literally creating an entire mythology around this film. I supposed, though, that can be a challenge to some of the ADD crowd. It takes some time to build up, and the elements of the mythology need to be explained. In addition Bousman has, once again, created a sort of "timeless" setting. Julia dresses like an old film noir star and drives an older car, but yet there are cell phones and videos.

The acting is solid. Jessica Lowndes is great and believable as Julie. Joe Anderson is effective as her cop friend who she had an affair with and who still lusts after her. And Dayton Callie and Lin Shaye steal the show though as creepy and mysterious Jebediah Crone and eccentric Allie.

"Abattoir" starts slow and then continues to build up steam until a truly kick-butt final third. Blends elements of horror, mystery, and old-time film noir, is much more restrained than you expect from horror films, and most definitely worth checking out.

Evil Spirits (2008) (V)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Must be seen to be believed..., 2 July 2016
1/10

I'm ranking this "film" a 1, and yet I will probably be recommending you to see it. I know that sounds weird, but bear with me on this one...

"Evil Spirits" is... well, it's indescribable, but I will try. First of all, the credits play like the credits in "Bambi Meets Godzilla" (a MUCH better film than this one), with every credit beyond the two actors being "Justin French." Then the "movie" starts. Couple of things to note:

1. There is no dialog or sound of any kind. Just some weird music (by "Justin French", of course) 2. Everything is tinted blue. REALLY tinted blue. 3. There's no plot at all.

So the "movie" starts with close-ups of some woman's hands typing on a laptop. Get used to extreme close-ups, 'cuz that's one of the things you'll be seeing a lot of. Then, this guy shows up and starts looking through a drawer. He picks out a ski-mask and puts it on backwards (with the eyes in back) and starts dancing around. He then goes into a bedroom where there is a woman on the bed. He starts jumping up and down on the bed, flopping around the room... looks like he's having some sort of a seizure. The woman just lies there, not reacting, so I assumed she was dead. But no! Soon enough, she starts having some sort of seizure, too, and, starts flailing around. Now they're both flailing around!

We are then transported to a bathroom, where a woman is taking a shower (in a bikini, no nudity here!) and is dancing around. I assume it's the same woman as on the bed because there is only one actress credited, but I can't be sure because we never see her face (which, I assume, was the actress's absolute requirement for agreeing to appear in this "movie"). After what seems like about a thousand years of watching her back while she is dancing, she starts to pull down her bottoms a little and the camera ZOOMS in on her butt-crack. And let me tell you, you have not lived until you have spent 3 1/2 minutes looking at an extreme close-up of a butt-crack in blue tint.

And then we go to close-ups of random things and more close-ups of body parts (another butt in shorts, a woman's bra, hands, feet -- lots of feet, with shoes and without) for the rest of the movie. After a while, it starts to become hilarious. All of a sudden -- THERE'S A PHONE! And someone picks it up, pushes some numbers and then hangs up. Then there's a bunch of time looking at a foot. And then, THERE'S AN AIR VENT! And look, now we're in a car, let's look out the window for a while! About five minutes before the end of the movie, they just replay the beginning credits again, and then back to where we were (we're looking at a foot in a car, in case you're curious) and then after a while it just ends.

I probably made it sound more entertaining that it is, but man oh man, it needs to be seen to be believed. The director has on different occasions claimed it was a prank, although supposedly he has backtracked on that claim. No matter. Prank or honest attempt, it is one of a kind. You will be tempted to turn it off after 5 minutes and I must be honest, it doesn't get any better, but just wow, I mean, wow.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
About 50 times better than it has any right to be!, 28 May 2016
8/10

If you're a fan of the horror genre, you have to slog through a lot of crap and once in a while, you come across a truly pleasant surprise. "Don't Look in the Basement 2" is one of those happy surprises.

For those who are unaware, "Don't Look in the Basement" was a 1973 horror film by S.F. Brownrigg that involved a young nurse going to an asylum where murder and mayhem ensues. It garnered some serious notoriety because it was acquired by Hallmark Pictures and was given the same marketing campaign as the original "Last House on the Left" ("It's only a movie... only a movie...").

And now, over 40 years later, comes a direct sequel directed by Anthony Brownrigg, son of the original director. In this one, a doctor goes to work at a small, country asylum after a tragedy involving his wife. The director of the asylum informs the staff that a very special patient is coming. And it is a man named Sam, who was one of the lone survivors of the events in the original film.

Once Sam gets there, strange things start to happen. Patients and staff start acting strange, and seem to be taking on the persona of the characters of the original movie. And as you might expect, murder and mayhem seem to be on the menu again...

The movie is way, way better than you'd expect. The acting is professional, there is creepiness, scares, intentional comic relief, and some truly disturbing scenes. It's well photographed and solidly directed. And it's got an actual, honest-to-goodness ENDING.

It helps to have seen the original (otherwise the characters seem to be just acting weird instead of channeling other characters) but it's not a necessity.

I was really surprised by how good this was. Definitely recommend it.

Ratter (2015)
1 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly strong and challenging thriller..., 6 March 2016
7/10

First off, a bit of a warning -- a lot of you won't like this film. It's "found footage" style, contains very little standard scares, no violence or gore. For many "horror film fans" that will be enough to cause a quick "This movie stinks" reaction.

For the rest of you, though, "Ratter" is a challenging and effective film. The film follows Emma (Ashley Benson), a Midwestern girl who has just moved to NYC to go to grad school. Much of the film is following her mundane life, but there is an overall creepiness due to the fact that what we're seeing is through the eyes of a "ratter", a hacker who takes control of someone else's electronic devices. As the film unfolds, she slowly starts to get suspicious of events going on around her and the ratter appears to be getting bolder and bolder...

There are some things about "Ratter" that will confound people. First of all, the term is never actually defined in the film and there is no explanation of how this person could have done what he or she is doing. Emma's apartment is way too big for a student in NYC (although there is an attempt to explain this). And while I liked the ending (it's creepy and disturbing), it doesn't give the clear explanation and finality some people will want.

But these are overwhelmed by the good. Ashley Benson is fantastic in this flick -- totally believable in all aspects when posting on social media, interacting with her friend or parents, getting scared... And her likability is important, because we see embarrassing things and they are only powerful because we LIKE Emma and know that the only reason we're seeing them is because this creep is, too. The story line moves quickly and for a movie that has a lot of mundane events, it never gets boring.

"Ratter" is definitely worth checking out.

The stuff legends are made of!, 20 February 2016
4/10

This one is special, guys. Wow, not even sure how to try to describe this thing! Truly, you won't believe your eyes. This goes beyond bad literally into surrealistically bad, which must at least partially have been the plan.

The film begins as Mr D -- a 3D animated character who is very hard to hear and understand -- introduces a series of 10 shorts. None of them are very long (the film runs less than 90 minutes) and they either make a at least a little sense (a woman captures and tortures her husband's mistress), not much sense at all (woman gets killed and wakes up over and over again), to just plain WTF? territory (a cartoon woman is attacked by a cartoon skeleton). The special effects are, for the most part, jaw-droppingly horrible. They are all cheap CGI, and you look at it and say things like, "Is that supposed to be blood pouring out of a hole in that chest?" All this in interspersed with Mr D's introductions which often times also include some weird 3D cartoon violence as well.

Part of the issue is that the lousy CGI effects hurt just when it starts to get good -- there will be some scenes that start to be disturbing and effective and then BAM! -- a cartoon robot shows up driving a cartoon car and the mood is broken.

On the plus side, the actresses (a couple of whom play multiple parts) are shockingly attractive. The hallmark of low budget horror it typically heavily tattooed and pierced "actresses" but not here - - while there is varying degree of acting ability on display, the actresses are all very attractive. And there is a healthy dollop of nudity as well.

Truly, this is the stuff legends are made of. Nobody will believe a movie like this exists and further, no one will believe you actually saw it. It's lousy, and it is not easy to watch through to the end - - it gets tedious fast -- but man oh man, if you're willing to take the leap, I'd go for it.

Morituris (2011)
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Throwback to the days of insane Italian horror flicks..., 19 September 2015
6/10

"Morituris" is an extreme Italian horror film that has gained a bit of a reputation, so it's nice to see it finally get a serious DVD/Blu- Ray release.

The film is actually three films in one. After a bizarre "found footage" beginning that really doesn't make any sense, the film breaks into three parts --

The first 30 minutes or so involve these two Romanian girls who accepted a ride with three Italians. They spend the whole time riding in a car, chatting away about small talk, music, other inconsequential things. Seems like it might be a romantic flick. They decide to go to a rave, but when they get there, there is no rave. So they make a fire and start chatting and having a great time, dividing into romantic groupings.

Then, just as one of the guys is about to get laid by one of the hot girls, he decides he'd rather rape her. And then the film switches to its second part, where the two girls are raped and beaten by the three guys for a while. Strong, nasty stuff.

And then, after a while, it switches to the third part -- a bunch of "gladiators" appear out of nowhere and start to attack them. No idea who they are, why they show up, they just do. They're not avenging angels, so the girls appear to be in just as much peril as the guys (man, these gals are having a BAD day!).

No subtlety here. This is a throwback to the old 80's Italian horror films. Completely politically incorrect, loaded with violence, gore, and sex. If you're reading this review, you know right now whether or not you're going to like it based on my description. So if it's your cup of tea, then run out and check it out.

Listening (2014)
16 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Character study with SciFi Trappings..., 12 September 2015
6/10

"Listening" is a character study that is driven by a sci-fi plot line and is dragged down by unpleasant characters and some confusion. The story involves David and Ryan, two graduate students who are working on creating a device that allows mental telepathy. Instead of explaining this to their professor and working on this potentially historical invention as their thesis with the full backing of the university, they decide - for reasons never explained - to steal a bunch of equipment and hole up in the garage of David's house that he rents with his wife and daughter.

One day, Ryan brings over Jordan, a smoking hot girl he picked up who just also happens to be a brilliant scientific grad student as well. With her assistance, they make a huge breakthrough. However, the amount of time they spend working on the device causes problems with their personal lives and the invention itself has caught the eye of the CIA...

Make no mistake -- "Listening" is not a horror film, it's not really a sci-fi film, it's not really a "warning" film about "Would you want telepathy?" It is about David and Ryan, and everything else is just the conflict these two have to face. But this one fails because of that. The two characters are eminently unlikable, and they make incomprehensible choices and decisions at every single step. Huge questions are put forth and never answered. For example, Jordan has an ability that seems to violate every rule, and when she is asked about this incredibly valuable skill, she dismisses the question and it's never brought up again. It's never explained why the CIA would be so interested, since the covert government program seems to be something very different from what David and Ryan are doing.

The acting is solid, the directing and photography is clean and professional, but I just can't say I enjoyed it enough to recommend. Perhaps that's because I was drawn in by the marketing campaign promising a sci-fi extravaganza.


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