Reviews written by registered user
|231 reviews in total|
In a genre sadly known for releasing an increasing number of films of
below average quality, the action which best serves me is lowering my
expectations. That way I can at least almost enjoy even the not so well
made films, by recognizing their positive features. American
Poltergesit is not a good film, but the rates and reviews on this site
are (as always) extremely exaggerated. Giving 1 star to any film that
isn't a masterpiece doesn't make you cool, it makes you a juvenile
The story starts off as nothing remotely original. A bunch of teenagers arriving at a haunted house. There have been, what, a thousand similar plot in the past decade? However, as events unfold and new information is given, the story takes a rather interesting turn, actually offering something rather new. Additionally, the antagonist ghost (played by screenwriter Nicole Holland in a nice Peter Jackson/Stan Lee kind of touch) is very well designed, and comes out as pretty frightening (so, compliments due to the make-up artists, I guess).
Sadly, that's pretty much all I can say in favor of this film. While the acting by most of the cast was okay (and not more), Donna Spangler (Diana) wasn't really acting. I don't know if I should blame her or the instructions she'd received from director and screen-writer Mike Rutkowski, but she honestly appeared unconvincing and in no way professional. Her attempt at being troubled and eccentric came out as "this is my first time in front of a camera". Seeing as how this is in no way Spangler's first performance - I must assume bad direction.
In addition, a lot of the build up receives no conclusion at all, some of the scenarios are illogical enough to make you face-palm yourself, and the ending lacks any twists or climax. I can't say I suffered during watching this, the purpose of "let's enjoy a Horror flick I haven't seen yet" was indeed served, but nothing about this film was impressive or worthy of remembrance. One can only hope that the sequel will be better, despite the tendency of sequels to be far worse.
I must admit, I had zero expectations from this one. Another exorcism
film, sadly (or better yet ridiculously) trying to live up to The
Exorcism of Emily Rose (I mean come one, even her name). Many such
attempts have failed in the past few years, and all I wanted was to
enjoy an exorcism film I haven't yet seen, in hopes that it wouldn't
bring the level down too much. I'm happy to say I've been very
The film starts as one might have expected. Nothing remotely innovative, original, or impressive. A cookie cutter story of a kindhearted nurse becoming possessed. I was a little annoyed that they cast an eye-candy-and-nothing-more, and half-expected her to do very poorly. My sincere apologies to Hellen Hollman for that terrible misconception, as nothing could have been further from the truth. After all the possessed women we've seen on screen, she still managed to be impressive, both as Emily and her "demon-self".
On that matter, while the story felt slightly forced and in no way compelling, the cast made everything right. First of all, seeing Colm Meaney as a priest about to perform his first exorcism in a Horror film? Nothing less than a treat! Not his best performance ever, but not at all below standards (and high ones for that matter). Will Kemp and Adrian Paul were excellent as well as concerned fiancée William and former priest Henry Roizman respectively.
In addition, while I didn't so much like the way they designed the demon itself, displaying the way Emily attempts to fight it is one of the two sole original features in this film (and a great idea). The second being, of course, the ending (which lacks any impressive or special characteristics, as Horror endings often do, but is original to some extent in its own way - you'll realize when you get to it).
All in all, surprisingly good and well-made, and another Horror film poorly judged by IMDb ratings. Honestly, take my word for it and never trust this site's ratings or reviews (present company in no way excluded). If the trailer and plot synopsis (or cover photo, or cast, or crew, or any manner by which you choose what to watch) appeal to you - watch it. If they don't - don't. However, I would certainly give The Secrets of Emily Blair a chance. I'm sure glad I did.
After watching, I looked up XX (as I do each and every Horror film I
watch), and the first review to greet me was a 1/10 trashing, with
something like 67 out of 109 finding it helpful. While I've long
realized that taking consideration of reviews and rates is an act of
pure folly (feel free to do just that, just bear in mind that you'll be
missing out on some pretty impressive gems), I still find it difficult
to understand anyone claiming XX is bad enough for a 1 out of 10.
So okay, yes, two of the stories fail to produce an ending per se (which stands out all the more due to excellent buildups), which means half (and not "all" like the biased review stated). Horror, in my opinion, has to borrow from Psycho Thrillers and work hard on endings, preferably with a clever twist (see Saw for "done right"). In addition, I believe the gore scene in the first segment is cheap, unnecessary and nothing more than revolting, an attempt to flaunt some budget or art skills. Then again, I despise gore with a fashion, so if you don't (which is completely legitimate, to each their own, a matter of taste etc.) you might actually appreciate the sensation of "OH DEAR GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!?".
That's it. Honestly, that's all the trashing I can come up with in good conscience. Some of the segments exhibit original and innovative writing (others stick to more familiar themes), the acting is absolutely profound in each and every segment, and the cut-scenes appear like an actual bizarre nightmare. All in all, uneasy and discomforting, enticing some very unpleasant emotions, just as modern horror is supposed to, by definition (for better or worse).
If you're looking for another theme that's been over-made for a decade, you'll probably won't enjoy XX as much as I did. You'll still enjoy it to some extent as Horror fans. In no way does it deserve less than a 6, and I'm going with 7 in an attempt to salvage some honesty and overall fairness. Stop trashing everything you don't understand.
As most of us sadly know, despite its growing popularity Horror is not
a genre known for neither masterpieces nor blockbusters. Most films of
the genre are cookie-cutter patterns following the same unwritten yet
repeatedly utilized set of rules concerning the plot, the characters
and even the specific scenes, while offering very little innovation or
originality. Don't Knock Twice is another example of this phenomenon,
but one well made.
First, we have the exposition, involving a tragedy or post-trauma, in this case a teenager growing up in a foster home after her drug addict mother gave her up in order to spare her. Now reformed, the mother wishes to try and win back her daughter's love, with the support of her loving second husband. Not surprisingly, the teenager is bitter and cold, bearing a very legitimate grudge, but turns to her mother's protection when all else fails. In time, the mother learns that the supernatural demonic entity haunting her daughter is far from being imaginary, and the two begin their battle for survival, using advice given by the mother's friend who's an expert in superstition and witchcraft. Sounds familiar? Indeed, I'm certain most of you can think of two or three similar plots with little effort.
The original bit is actually very nice in my opinion, although the film failed to capitalize on it (and in a way didn't even try). The demon, awoken as a result of kids' disregard of an urban legend, needs to enter through a door in order to seize its prey. Contrary to basic instincts - those hoping to fend off the demon must avoid closed doors of any kind. This feature of the story receives very little screen time, which is unfortunate, as it is the one display of originality and creative innovative thought. Huge potential unfulfilled.
The acting is right on the spot, especially by the main mother and daughter duo (Katee Sackhoff as mother Jess and Lucy Boynton as daughter Chloe). Sackhoff's acting is particularly impressive, especially her nonverbal acting. Her body language and facial expressions, her way of displaying emotions, everything is as authentic as can be. I had to actively remind myself that she was an actress playing a role. Boynton wasn't as impressive, but the gap was really small. Imaging a teenage daughter's behavior towards her estranged mother after years of growing up with child services - and you've imagined Boynton's acting. Excellent job by director Caradog W. James in shaping these characters!
In addition, I for one think the soundtrack is excellent, perceived by me as a delicate combination of Slasher soundtracks like Friday the 13th, and supernatural Ghost Stories like Insidious. Many such soundtrack are great and serve their purpose accurately, but this one felt new.
All in all, Don't Knock Twice is a mediocre horror story well presented on screen. Despote its obvious (and oftentimes frustrating) shortcomings (especially screenplay-wise) - the jump- scares (though a cheap trick) are well used, the eerie haunting scenes are terrifying, and the film offers a fun and worthy Horror experience.
In my opinion, Satanic is one of these cases of "I know it's terrible,
but I still enjoyed it to some extent", and to me - as long as I enjoy
something, I don't really mind how low level and quality it is. Some of
the aspects are actually quite tolerable, like the soundtrack and the
acting (nothing profound, but professional and does the trick).
The story is very Slasher. 4 friends, two females (one good-girl, one b*tch) and their two boyfriends (one goth douche-bag, one jock snob) head towards spring break, with a stop in LA in order to view some Satanic landmarks... I've seen worse. Things get a little insane of the occult persuasion when a girl they pick up along the way slits her own throat in their hotel room as part of some evil demonic ritual. From here on - a combination of "kinda creepy" and "dear god this is so stupid please make it stop".
Another thing: Scrrenwriter and Director whose names I'm not even going to check - pay your viewers minimal respect and do your research. LaVayan Satanism is not Crowley devil worshiping, it's a hedonistic philosophical doctrine combining certain religious features, but it couldn't be further than the way it was portrayed and depicted in this film. And no, I'm not a Satanist, I simply have this bizarre ability to read.
All in all? If the concept of Satan scares you - you'll probably enjoy this. If not - you'll probably feel you could have lived without it. I didn't suffer through it, but this is far from being one of the best Horror films, or part of the top 1,000. Then again, and I'm serious - NEVER judge ANYTHING according to raters and reviewers here, always check for yourselves.
Usually, I find it more difficult to fully connect to realistic Horror
scenarios. Not to say I don't appreciate a good Slasher, Cat & Mouse or
a well made Torture Porn with an actual story, plot and preferably a
smart twist - but I always enjoy supernatural Horror and Ghost Stories
more. Still, I believe one really needs to make a conscious effort in
order to fail to recognize the relative greatness of The Invitation.
The first thing that hits you is the conflicted music of the soundtrack, ominous yet relaxing, beautiful yet creepy and uneasy, and absolutely suitable to the overall ambiance of the film's occurrences. The music is only the first out of many things that cause and unnerving and uneasy sensation that "nothing is wrong... yet". I'm not sure which song this is in the detailed soundtrack, but whoever the composer - way to hit the nail right on the head!
The story another feature to add to the uneasy feeling, as Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) are on their way to a gathering of old friends, with the common ground being the untimely tragic loss of a child. The hosts are Will's ex-wife and her new husband, whom she met in a support group for bereaved parents. Eden (Tammy Blanchard), the ex-wife, is surprisingly happy and calm, in a way that bluntly contradicts Will's depression, paranoia and overall neurotics. Having mentioned some of the cast, allow me to say I was very impressed with the acting, especially the facial features and body language. While Marshall-Green is a very convincing paranoid grieving man and Blanchard an equally convincing griever turned slightly crazy, I was impressed the most with Lindsay Burdge as Sadie (sexy and promiscuous) and John Carroll Lynch as Pruitt (silent, violent and deadly), both able to portray their feature characteristics with nothing but a look. Honestly, I've added one point to my rating because of how awe-inspiring these two's acting was.
The emphasized features of the film are the tense suspense, building up slowly and almost agonizingly from the start all the way to the final part, and the obscurity regarding Will's fears which keep you guessing all the way to the end. Every time a surprising occurrence or development supports Will's paranoia, another follows up to contradict it. There is simply no way to know, which serves to amplify the suspense and uneasiness. Director Karyn Kusama and screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi have definitely done their job.
In the end, what truly gets under your skin is how realistic the depicted scenarios are. Nothing supernatural, nothing remotely unreal, just situations anyone could find themselves in, hence the compelling reason to feel afraid. In addition, I always love seeing more modern characters, like an interracial couple and a gay couple (which I very rarely see in Horror). It's okay to show it on screen, you know, welcome to 2017.
All in all, I didn't expect the film to run and end the way it did. The pace is slower than my usual preference, and the feelings evoked are less in the line of "fear", and more "discomfort", "uneasiness" and "danger". Still, I very much appreciate the experience I went through while watching, and while I'll probably not watch it again - I'll be sure to recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different in the field of Horror.
When it comes to Horror, I enjoy sub-genres dealing with ghosts,
haunting and such supernatural beings the most. It makes my inner child
tremble in fear, and that's just the feeling I look for in a scary
film. So obviously, I simply had to try Lights Out, both because of
James Wan (only a producer here, but still his touch can add magic to
any and every Horror story) and because of the theme (monsters in the
dark? Good night, inner child, enjoy wetting the bed!)
The best feature of the film is presented right at the start (it also appeared in trailers, so if you haven't watched any because you'd rather approach the film without any prior knowledge - stop reading now). Something evil lurks in the dark. The lights go on - it disappears; the lights go out - it reappears with a vengeance. A very original take on "monsters in the dark", presented beautifully. Not to mention the creature itself has been designed with all the makings of a horrific nightmare.
Unfortunately - this concludes the part discussing the film's strengths. Don't get me wrong, the story is nice and the characters are relateable and authentic, but the overall film is mediocre at best, lacking a a proper plot twist, and ending anticlimactically. Also, the acting is quite impressive, especially from Maria Bello as Sophie (that's the way to play a manic neurotic single parent!) and young Gabriel Bateman as Martin (too many children in Horror films are far too courageous, intelligent and perceptive to be convincing. Bateman shows us how a terrified, confused and distressed child behaves in the real world, and does so as professionally as they come!)
In summary, the lovely antagonist and the fine acting compensate for the lack of anything special, and the viewing experience is fun and terrifying at times (though mostly on account of jump scares). I can't in good conscience rate it over 6, but it's important to understand that it doesn't mean you should refrain from watching it. I always advise people to be judge things themselves and never rely on others' opinions, and that's especially true for Lights Out. Most chances are you'll enjoy a lot more than I did, and as mentioned before - I'd enjoyed quite a bit.
I'm sure you've read the short plot summary or seen a trailer. Seven
mentally ill criminals, telling their stories to a psychiatrist writing
a book, and all that in a Horror story... what could go wrong? Well, if
you've sat down to watch this with high expectations - everything. If
you haven't - well, just enough to make you feel alright about taking
the time to give it a chance, but a bit guilty for enjoying parts of
it, as altogether - Patient Seven is far from good.
Let me start with the good parts, firstly the acting. I was pretty impressed, but I couldn't tell you precisely with whom (and if you try to look at the cast list here, you'll understand why, perhaps they used the time an effort they should have used to make a better film to make the cast list cryptic and incomprehensible, good for them!). Secondly, the stories are well presented and fun to follow.
Now the bad parts - anything and everything else. The "plot twist" bluntly stolen from another film, the sorry conclusion, the realization that yes, it was actually made this badly and I've just spent 2 hours watching it... Yes, the stories are enjoyable, but having a build up crash so pathetically really destroys the experience for me. I honestly felt like punching the screenwriter. Besides, the plots are too "all-star", meaning trying to combine as many horror aspects as possible (vampires, haunting, zombies, psycho killers etc.) and doing a mediocre and below job.
Watching it was kinda fun, until it ended and became the most disappointing Horror film I've ever watched (and that's saying something). Do NOT watch this. I guess rating it a 1 isn't all that fair, but neither was making this film to begin with or stealing an ending. Yeah, I'll go with 1.
In this day and age, where Horror very seldom receives the attention
and praises of which it is so worthy, creators of Horror films have to
constantly challenge themselves with aspirations of newer heights. If
you didn't successfully reinvent the wheel and improved on it - you
project probably won't be as successful as others from different
genres. "If you want a good Horror film", say the critics and
reviewers, "make a great one. If you want a great one - make a
masterpiece". "Is that so?" says genius director-screenwriter James
Wan, "challenge accepted!"
At first, I must say I was slightly disappointed having realized that The Conjuring 2 isn't a straight sequel, and doesn't pick up after the events of the first film (as I was looking forward to getting some long overdue answers and closure). The sequel, in short, as another crazy Ed & Lorraine Warren adventure, beginning with a fine and well deserving tribute to the famous Amityville incident. Her premonitions still haunting her, Lorraine hopes to convince Ed to stop their work as Possession/Haunting 911, but the two find themselves unable to send away a family in need, who is haunted and terrorized by yet another malevolent entity of the underworld. Nothing new so far - but only because I'm refraining from spoilers. Towards the final third of the film, Wan presents one of the best, most off-guard catching twists since Insidious.
As in the first film and the less impressive spin-off "Annabelle", the story is divided into the main plot (Ed & Lorraine to the rescue vs. haunting spirit), and a side-plot portraying an entity haunting the couple itself. Both come to a closure in a suspenseful, creative and innovative manner as only Wan has been able to produce in the past decade. The story is compelling, interesting and well presented, and the conclusion is absolutely marvelous!
As in the previous film, Patrick Wilson is extraordinary and Vera Farmiga is only slightly less impressive. Patrick McAuley deserves as many complements for such fine acting skill at such a young age. However, the show is breathtakingly stolen by Madison Wolfe as little Janet, the spirit's main point of interest. In the first film I thought I'd seen the pinnacle of "possessed"-acting, but just as Wan was able to higher the stakes of writing and direction - Wolfe presented a whole new level of exquisite acting.
In addition, The Conjuring presented one of the scariest Horror icons ever seen on screen (being Annabelle, the nightmare-inducing doll). I really hadn't expected Wan to be able to top that. Surprise surprise, he did. The painting and appearance of the "nun-demon" in this film is one of the most terrifying images I've ever seen, very much resembling the haunting spirit in Insidious, yet not enough to qualify as recycling.
As for the other info some might find interesting - the music and soundtrack are as "Wan" as can be, combining haunting thrilling tunes with nursery rhymes, with the addition of a religious song. Hey, if it worked so greatly in Insidious, why change it? The cinematography is nothing special, but this goes unnoticed during the films. In addition, just like in the first film, cliché jump- scares are almost non-existent, and the very few that do appear are in very good taste.
In summary, the creator of Saw and Insidious has done it again, placing The Conjuring franchise right at the top with the best of them. I never have high expectations of sequels, but I tell you, Wan is going to make a believer out of me yet. I had to think a lot about the rating I was going to give this film, but the final plot twist (which is of a whole new level and never seen before) made it an easier decision. If you are in any way a fan of Horror - go watch the first film, and then this one. You'll be happy (and terrified) that you did.
It's been a few months since my last Horror film, and I must start off
by saying I'm very glad I've chosen The Other Side of the Door to ease
myself back into it! Despite what other raters and reviewers might say
(as usual, NEVER trust IMDb ratings when it comes to Horror), the film
is good, enjoyable and scary enough without being nightmare inducing
(at least for experienced Horror fans).
True, the story is a bit cliché, after all this is a Fox production, not an indie creative project. A family suffers a tragedy, and while trying to cope begins to experience a supernatural haunting. However, the story succeeds in being original and innovative enough in regards to the plot-line, especially during the transfer from past to present just after the exposition, and the frame concept of a door through which one could converse with a deceased loved one.
The acting is right on the spot, and is definitely one of the stronger features! Sarah Wayne Callies is excellent as Maria, the distraught mother trying to cope with the loss of her son, and later with the supernatural phenomenon tormenting her family. Her counterpart, Jeremy Sisto as Maria's husband Michael, is absolutely excellent! His portraying of the strong husband, trying to be an island of strength and normalcy in his wife's depression while quietly trying to cope with his loss himself, is impressive and simply profound. Only slightly less impressive is Suchitra Pillai as Piki, the nanny (and I do mean slightly, as she is excellent as well). As for Sofia Rosinsky as the daughter Lucy, I can see the obvious talent, but am not too happy with the instructions she obviously followed with her character. Often times characters are over dramatic, but Lucy felt under-dramatic, even if it meant portraying a more accurate seven year old's coping with the loss of her brother and the deterioration of her mother.
As for jump-scares, yes, there are a few, but anyone who's watched 5 Horror films in their lifetime could tell you that these were subtle, well planned and definitely not exaggerated. A few "boo!" moments don't spoil a Horror film for anyone who isn't looking for reasons to not enjoy (in my opinion of course). The soundtrack and cinematography were also right on the spot, adding a fine dimension of eeriness and uneasiness.
Now, if jump-scares always lower a Horror film's level (even if just slightly) when I'm concerned, smart plot twists and endings definitely make it higher! The film ends with a very nice twist towards the ending, and with a very smart conclusion leaving many questions and "what-ifs". A direct sequel is probably ill advised, as these tend to butcher the franchise and have so far only been done right in Insidious: Part 2 (and even that film wasn't as good as the first). Still, I love finishing watching a Horror film with this feeling of "oh no... oh no!!".
All in all, as I've started by saying, a good film, fun to watch, scary and eerie in the right places, a great experience for both experience and new Horror fans. It's not a masterpiece, and might even be just "good" and not "great" (especially, in my opinion, because of too little screen time given to the first twist, not letting it settle before jumping to the 2nd one, although this may have been deliberate...) But it definitely deserves more than the terrible average rating it currently has. I don't understand you, IMDb, I truly don't. I would definitely recommend this film, had a great time watching it!
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