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Nightmare Man (2006)
So bad, it's funny...but definitely not frightening
It seems that After Dark decided to distribute a film that was in that "so bad it's funny" category, worthy of MST3K-style commentary throughout. In fact, that's really the only way I'd recommend watching this film, because anything else will lead to utter disappointment. This movie starts off featuring Ellen, a woman who receives an African mask of a fertility deity she ordered to help her and her husband with their sex life, only it looks nothing like what she expecteda all-too- classic devil/demon looking face, which she insists leads to an actual demon taking over her body and mind (and haunting her dreams). Her husband, Bill (an Antonio Banderas knock-off), is driving her to have her committed to a mental hospital, when the car runs out of gas in a remote location. He goes off to get more gas, leaving her alone to see that this demon is in the woods where the car stalled and is actually after her. It pursues her to a house where four young adults are having a small party, and people start dying.
There's so much I wasn't expecting from this film (due to the level of professional cinema making I've come to expect from the movies distributed by After Dark) that I was already disappointed three minutes in. The camera quality is no better than a mid-grade porno and the acting and scriptwriting are no better. There's pretty much no exposition whatsoeverno character building to see Ellen's decline from a simple married woman to a possessed psychotic/schizophrenic, so don't expect to feel any sort of connection or sympathy for her...or any other character, for that matter. The editing, the blood-and-gore effects, the musicit's all pretty cheap. Even the demon mask itself looks like a cheap plastic mask you could find in any Halloween or general costume shop with a "Made in Taiwan" sticker on the back.
Even the "twist" an hour in is something I saw coming...but, admittedly, the second twist a short while later was sort of a saving grace for the film (if you can even think of it that way). In fact, the last 15-or-so minutes had me reminiscing a little of "Evil Dead." Perhaps that's the sort of cheesy, hokey mood of horror film making these people were out to accomplish. It's just about as cheap, if you factor in the difference of years between the two films. So, if you're really in the mood to watch something that's so bad that's it becomes all too easy to make fun of it during the entire ride, you could give "Nightmare Man" a try. There might be better films to suit that style of MST3K "horror," but I don't normally go in for such flicks myself, to be honest. Of course, if you're looking for an actually well-made scary movie to truly unsettle and disturb you, avoid this like the plague.
The Reeds (2010)
Relatively Intelligent Film
I'd say this film is more of a puzzling suspense film than a horror flick. It's a rather intelligently-written film, but it still didn't completely wow me. Again, the typical handful of young adults, this time in the setting of taking a boat through some reedy marsh-like area of the UK. For a long time, the entire movie feels like a jigsaw puzzle. We're shown glimpses of the whole, but we still can only guess what they all fit together to finally mean.
Is it a basic madman slasher thing? Are they being haunted by ghosts? Dopplegangers? Ah, it's some weird temporal flux thing...but still, that only explains a piece of the overall mystery. Who's the guy in the hood with the gun? What's his beef exactly? This movie will do a good job for a lot of people to unsettle them because the audience keeps having to ask these questions. And as we're calmly asking questions, our main protagonists are panicking here and there at what they don't understand. So much of the suffering and death comes from this really wonderful plot device: when you experience something you don't understand, the worse part of you wants to panic. When you panic, you're prone to make bad decisions. When you make bad decisions, bad things happen and people get hurt. The fact that so many of our main characters just screwed themselves over because of this speaks to me of relatively smarter storywriting.
However, this film isn't without its flaws. I said a lot of people would be unsettled by the nature of this film's storyline, but not me. Again, it felt more like a mystery movie than a horror flick, and the climax, while it still puts together enough of the pieces to satisfy us, didn't leave me feeling like much was really resolved. There's no real denouement, especially as we are led to believe with the final scene that the couple who "escaped" get caught back at the beginning of the entire temporal loop that messed them all up in the first place. Give a try, though; you might enjoy it.
Small Time Crooks (2000)
Single Worst Movie I've EVER Seen
There's only one good thing about this movie: My father paid only $1 a person for the tickets. The "humor" is nonexistent--the attempts are barely even visible. The plot is lame, the script is boring, the characters are unimaginative, and it's drawn out for far too long. Perhaps the worst point, though, is that there's NO SCORE--just some sampled 40s-sounding excerpt played over and over again in different places in the film. Single worst movie I've ever seen.
Save yourself the time and money--don't even bother with this movie. I've never really liked Woody Allen's stuff to begin with, but this is the lowest of the low.