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7/10
Brutal and realistic but completely plotless effort
17 January 2019
Haunted by memories of his father, a lone man returns to his family home and tries to put his traumatic past behind him the only way he knows how in an unsettling display of ritualistic carnage that may or may not be driven by a sadistic demon lurking in the outskirts of the house.

Basically, this is one of the most unflinching and brutal films ever made. There's very little point in that aspect beyond the utterly phenomenal gore effects here, which is where this one truly shines. With this one detailing the systematic and near ritualistic carving of his body while being driven to madness doing so, the effects showcased here are some of the most unnerving and realistic ever depicted on screen as the scars and blood flow featured here become truly nauseating in their effectiveness. From slicing open their hand and forehead to the peeling of various wounds open, taking a power drill to their leg and removing their toenails as well as the outright disturbing sequence of jamming a drill-bit into an orifice that really doesn't seem believable that a person would survive such a dismembering. This becomes such a common feature throughout this as the realistic nature of the piece manages to afford this one completely engrossing and realistic material, managing to make for a graphic yet still believable experience. There are several issues with this, however. The main point of the effort is the fact that this isn't entirely driven much beyond a need to showcase the admittedly effective, realistic and repugnant gore effects, leaving this devoid of any story whatsoever. The connection between his past haunting him and his desire to carve into himself isn't made clear at all, and with the completely ambiguous nature of the goddess lurking within the confines of the story, the film essentially runs as a special effects showcase without any other kind of purpose. The painstaking ritualistic manner in which he goes about undertaking everything before he starts is completely missing, and there's a sense of confusion of what each of the different processes means in the long run, causing that empty overall feeling. As well, the fact of him continually stopping to take a cigarette after every dismemberment makes this feel a little too start-stop with it's pacing, highlighting the fact that the blood flow and continuous cutting and wounds here should've killed him far earlier that it does. Still, these are all that really holds this one back.

Rated Unrated/NC-17: Continuous Extreme Graphic Violence, Full Male and Female Nudity and Graphic Language.
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Brutal (II) (2018)
5/10
Unflinching and brutal serial killer romance
16 January 2019
Conducting a rampage of extreme prejudice, a savage killer targets women as he tries to find a compatible woman to engage his fantasies in, eventually catching the eye of a female serial killer who's just as sadistic as he is forcing them into a deadly and dangerous showdown.

Overall, this was an exceptionally enjoyable piece of exploitation sleaze. This is one of the strongest aspects of the film and is given to us immediately at the outset of the film, which is the exceptionally brutal and challenging murder scene of the killer targeting several victims and graphically tortures them in wholly demented fashion as his rants about his intentions go unheeded. Its unflinching mentality makes for a truly immersive experience the first thing you see in a film, and to see how he carries out his work cleaning up after himself in the bloodstained aftermath immediately afterward tells a lot about his psychotic nature. That brutality is carried over and rightly topped by us following the woman around. Arguably going for a more brutal approach with her frenzied and relentless stabbing that's generally targeted at their private regions, the montage that opens her story offers us an even stronger glance at what to expect within here the focus on both disparate people come together is the focus here. The final confrontation that occurs, a full-on hard-hitting brawl with each other smashing objects, pummeling and cutting each other or stabbing the other, is an exceptionally tough and brutal sequence to get through as they lay into each with a rawness that's incredibly vicious and realistic long before it unveils the savage twist for their physical beings. This is all truly fun if not enough to overcome its minor flaws. The film's biggest issue is the fact that there's just so little info that the film simply feels short. While the idea is surprisingly effective in how it's realized, the lack of depth into each individual manages to somewhat undo the idea that each person is mentally deranged. There's something to be said for how two individuals come together, but the way it's handled here where they just come together as a stroke of luck rather than being drawn together due to one picking up the other to continue their individual rampages and then discovering what the other does for a living just comes off as a sloppy mechanism. As well as some questionable tactics designed to get a misguided attempt at nostalgia that's just distracting, there's not much else really wrong here.

Rated Unrated/R: Extreme Graphic Violence, Graphic Language and Nudity.
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Mom and Dad (2017)
7/10
Solid and somewhat enjoyable effort
16 January 2019
After a seemingly innocuous day, a teen and her friends find that a strange virus of unknown origin has been unleashed turning the parents in the community into a ravenous killing machine targeting only their own children and must find a way to get her brother to safety and avoid her parents.

This one proved to be an enjoyable if problematic effort. One of the better aspects here is the fine setup that manages to hint at something going on from the start. The first half has a rather pronounced air of impending dread that continually builds up, not only from the isolated attacks on the outskirts of the story to the air of dread surrounding the students while they're at school where the looks from the teachers and the other staff directed at them which offers hints at something ominous happening. That, in turn, leads to the wholly enjoyable series of encounters where the parents go crazy on their kids. The attack at the school is plenty of fun detailing the masses swarming over the barricades to get to their kids causes a lot of dark ideas and thrilling action, while the scene in the best friends' house is quite fun. With the final half being a continuous onslaught against their kids which gets plenty of action, back-and-forth battle tactics from both sides and the great curveball with the parents showing up to throw a monkey wrench in the proceedings, this finely thrilling section offers plenty to like and holds it up over its few flaws. The main problem with the film is that, despite having a rather dark theme present, it's not as full-throttle as it really should be. The film is remarkably restrained in the sense of not really going as far with this subject matter as it really should, handling most of the parents' actions towards their kids off-screen and just revolving around the concept to really handle the scenes. The only real scene that showcases this is the attack at the school where this shows the parents literally climbing the walls and pushing over security forces to be able to get to their kids which is a rather curious effort considering the difficulty they have in the final half of the film. The other problem here is the excruciatingly terrible technical problems that just make the film somewhat painful to get through. The constant usage of shaky-camera that occurs during each and every sequence of a parent attacking their child, which comes from the Action-movie background here, really undermines the sequence by making it nearly impossible to tell what's happening by disorienting and jarring the action at it's most important point. There's way too much of that throughout the film and it's rather distracting to constantly be knocked out of the film due to that. Still, these issues are enough to drag it down slightly.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language, Brief Nudity and continuous scenes and themes of children-in-jeopardy.
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Leprechaun Returns (2018 TV Movie)
9/10
Far better sequel than it really should be
15 January 2019
Trying to find a new location, a teen hoping to find a new sorority house for her sisters' stumbles upon the house where her mother trapped an evil Irish leprechaun years earlier and have accidentally freed it to assume it's quest for gold, forcing her to use her heritage to stop its rampage.

For the most part, there was quite a lot to like here. Most of the film's better qualities are due to the fact that this one feels like a genuine sequel to the first one and really sells being a part of the franchise. The fact that the house comes back into play once again is a fine piece of continuity, but the characters returning in some familiar roles makes for some solid manner of easing into this one. Adding onto that some fine callbacks that are part of the original and this one offers up a great continuity to the series. That helps to make the slasher scenes all the more enjoyable. Starting with the fine sequence of the Leprechaun emerging from out of the victims' body, this one manages to employ a fine mix of creepy and cheesy. The film manages some creepy scenes with the appearance of the hat stalking her in the flooded basement or the encounter in her bedroom where she finally meets up with the creature, while the cheesiness shines through in the mailman encounter or the later scene with the boyfriend in the woods that results in the best kill of the film. Fueled by a fantastic finale which has some ingenious tactics at the forefront as well as some nice gore, these here hold this one up rather nicely. There are some minor problems with this one. The main issue here is the rather scattershot matter this treats the leprechaun during his rampage as he seems quite unfocused. Knowing that he has the main girl trapped in the basement, who's the only one that's capable of helping him, the fact that he completely ignores her in order to focus on the escaping group which allows her time to discover the way to stop him. Seeing as how that's completely counterintuitive to what his plans are and being so omnipresent about this really doesn't seem likely. The other issue here is the overlong finale that has two or three solid places to end and keeps on going as if unsure of which finish it wants to utilize, turning into a farce of the situation. These here are what hold it back.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.
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The Dark (I) (2018)
8/10
Enjoyable if somewhat dull ghost effort
13 January 2019
Becoming lost in the forest, a blind boy believing that his abductor is holding him hostage finds that the one who freed him is the deadly ghost said to haunt the woods they're in and must put their newfound friendship to the test in order to navigate the dangers awaiting them on their journey.

For the most part, this was a decent if somewhat underwhelming entry. Among the better aspects featured here is the really intriguing and somewhat original storyline at play here. Treating the ghostly being as a vicious murderer with no remorse or empathy isn't really new, but the fact that she shows kindness to the boy due to his condition offers a really interesting point of view. Able to not only interact with the surroundings by opening doors, manipulating objects as if she were a regular human and even bringing up quality to their interactions which aren't normally associated with ghostly beings that all combine together towards giving this a decidedly fresh and original spin on the subject matter. That also translates nicely into the film's other really great aspect here in the high-quality stalking scenes. The opening attack on the criminal is a fantastic setpiece within the house and out into the booby-trapped woods, while the ambush on the friendly officer attempting to help them showcases some rather fine brutality that really doesn't come up in most genre titles. The slaughter of the workers out in the woods attempting to find him offers some fine carnage as the inadvertent nature of him triggering her to action gives this some really fun moments as the stalking through the woods is quite creepy and chilling. Coupled with the fine gore effects as well as the stellar make-up on the ghost version of the girl, there's enough to like here that holds it up over it's few issues. Among the film's problems is the absolutely dire pacing that transpires throughout here. The fact that it takes us around fifteen minutes before even attempting to move toward it's storyline offers very little of interest just watching the guy go through the woods up to the house, as the lack of energy for the scenes is incredibly dispiriting with no real effort made to generate some excitement in the matter. There's not a whole lot of really explosive energy or such going on through here as even their attempts to get away from the hunters doesn't ratchet up the tension here which it really should've. As well, the other real problem is the lack of explanation for the abduction as the inability to see what's going on with him being out of the way continually puts them in danger and making the final half more frustrating than scary. Otherwise, there isn't much else really wrong here.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence, Language and themes of child abuse.
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The Meg (2018)
9/10
Fantastically enjoyable mainstream creature feature
12 January 2019
After a submarine accident in the middle of the ocean, a former diver is called upon to rescue the trapped crew only to find the cause that trapped them was a giant prehistoric megalodon shark that has now escaped into the world's oceans forcing him to track down the creature and stop it.

For the most part, this was an enjoyable mainstream creature feature. One of the biggest attributes here is the strong mainstream qualities afforded to the film. Not only is the overall look and feel of the film, including the sleek and slick layouts of the underwater research station as well as the high-end special effects work all create a fantastically enjoyable entry. That effects work, featuring stellar shots of the underwater sea-life in the grotto and the titular sharks all being enjoyable enough to really like here. That also helps out considerably with the action scenes here. The rescue attempt requiring the two boats to get the crew out of the creatures' lair offers the kind of explosive action sequence that really works, while the initial attack on the station features some chilling moments. The lead attack on the first shark manages plenty of open water fun in the matter of tactics employed against it as they dive in the cage or tracking it with the restraining equipment which brings about the eventual method of capturing the first specimen in a fun, exciting manner. The last half of the film, though, is where this really wins out. The action in this section is far grander and much more spectacular, including the stellar sequence of the second shark making it's appearance to the crew as well as the ensuing race to stop it before it disappears. The beach attack is absolutely spectacular and wholly enjoyable with the scenes of the shark swimming through the sea of humanity attacking the support buildings or the various beachgoers there before leading into the over-the-top battle to finally put the creature down, resulting in a full-on spectacular battle to do so. These here are what manage to hold this one up over it's few flaws. The only real issue to be had with this one is the simplistic story that brings about a series of intense cliches. It's way too familiar with what's going to happen here which keeps things going along at a steady pace due to hitting all the familiar beats and plot-points, from the rescue attempts being pulled off at the last minute to the characters kept out of danger simply by their billing and rendering the encounters with them as quite bland. The idea of the second shark getting free and coming up only once the first one is defeated also feels rather lackluster due to being such a common trope of the scene. As well, the ending is a little anticlimactic that offers up a solid idea but is somewhat of a letdown in terms of storyline catharsis compared to what came before. These here are the film's few issues.

Rated PG-13: Violence, Language and children-in-jeopardy.
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7/10
Solid and enjoyable if flawed creature feature
12 January 2019
Heading out to the desert, a guy and his brother trying to celebrate a racing championship with the friends stumble upon an abandoned military facility doing research on gigantic killer ants which get loose and terrorize the party forcing them to overcome their bravery and stop the colony from spreading.

Overall, this one was quite an exciting entry. One of the best elements present here is the old-school style tone and feel present throughout here. This one brings about a great sense of fun and charm which comes through not only in the general setup of the secret government getting loose but also from the idea of the experimental video played to inform them of what's happening which comes straight from that time period. with the type of action usually found in such a film also premiering rather frequently and there's a lot of good to be had with this old-school setup. That action holds this one up for the most part. The opening attacks set this going on a nice note, while the series of encounters within the facility where they first find the ants have plenty to like. The ants taking out the party offers some great moments of the swarm looking to overcome the different party members there as well as the chases on those who are attempting to flee the scene that provides plenty of swarming over their bodies in addition to the action-packed carnage. Coupled with the stellar action underground in the finale as thy free the captive partygoers and stop the queen ant using all manner of high-energy action confrontations, these here are the film's best aspects overall. There are a few issues to be had with this one. The biggest problem here is the fact that the tonal changes throughout here become quite distracting as the film constantly tries to switch between goofy old-school monster movie and creepy creature feature. As the ants are constantly mentioned to be a devastating threat due to the intelligence of the breed and their ravenous behavior from nearly every source they come across, the film's constantly manner of having the ants giggle, laugh and talk-trash to each other which is inherently goofy and disjointed tone with this one taking on these wildly varying tons so rapidly in a matter of a few minutes. The other real issue here is the utterly moronic leads that border on the dangerously stupid. The idea of the two releasing the ants from the colony has to take place here, but just simply rushing into an obviously abandoned and dangerous military facility just because of the rush doing so gives them is utterly idiotic. The idea of overlooking so much obvious ploys against their safety they just blindly go into means that there's very little interest or care for the characters here as they continually display such unrealistic rationale and motivations for everything they do or spout off such statements that they end up sounding so stupid as to be questionable functioning adults. Otherwise, there isn't much else really wrong here.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language and Violence.
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Trauma (II) (2017)
10/10
Stellar and uncompromising exploitation effort
9 January 2019
Heading out on a trip together, a group of girlfriends stops off at a remote friends' house for a relaxing vacation trip only to come upon a degenerate soldier and his son who are leaving a trail of destruction across the countryside, and after getting caught up in the events set out to seek bloody revenge.

This was an exceptionally graphic extreme genre outing. What really sells this one is the way it offers such exceptionally brutal and confrontational material from the outset. Opening on the image of a teenager forced to rape his beaten and bloodied mother at gunpoint is extreme enough yet once she's shot the fact that he keeps going on his own gives this a real punch to start this out with. Once they arrive at the house as the home invasion factors heavily into this, they're beaten, threatened, raped in front of each other and sadistically mutilated in long, squirm-inducing sequences that not only break them mentally but also become increasingly uncomfortable which is the whole point behind it and sets the brutality in motion for the final half. That third half is where this one really lets loose by offering all manner of graphic and brutal efforts. Not only featuring the great sequence in the bar that shows him wiping out the rescue party singlehandedly but the flashback to the brutality of the war that provides plenty of emotional and logical motivation for the ensuing rampage. With the confrontation in the factory full of endless corridors, trap-filled rooms and full-on confrontations that pile on the ruthlessness of the two to ensure they keep their legacy intact against their determination to stop them that keeps this moving along through the thrilling action, top-notch gore and a fantastically downbeat ending that helps to sell this one further. Part of what makes the film so unflinching is the message behind it all. The political ramifications of the film, going back to the original time in the flashbacks showing the way all the different soldiers and police forces have been corrupted by the effects of war around them is an intriguing contrast. As the war around them rages on, the effect it has on those caught up within it creates a wholly chilling concept of always begetting violence and perversion. As the old guard in this society has to continually prey on the next generation to survive, they're forced into ever more extreme exploits to overpower the stronger one, creating the violent culture personified here. Some of this ends up making the film run longer than it should but that's the main issue here.

Rated Unrated/R: Extreme Graphic Violence, several rape scenes, Full Nudity and Graphic Language.
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The Lodgers (2017)
5/10
Chilling and creepy if slow-going Gothic effort
9 January 2019
Trapped in their ancestral home, a woman and her brother are trapped by the rules governed to them by the malicious beings holding them there and set out to try to live a normal life, only to cause the creatures inside to take exception to what's happening and try to ensure it stays the same.

This was a rather enjoyable effort. One of the strongest aspects of this one is the actual house where this takes place, which fully conveys the Victorian atmosphere of the setting. The massive, ornate wooden location that provides the areas and layout for a series of fine confrontations that come from the detailed order of their existence laid out before them. As the period setting also clearly lays out, the old-school feel of the entire piece leaves little doubt about the film's overall look and feel, coming into greater focus once the film brings out the concept of the curse they live under which is pure Victorian charm. That does manage to setup the film's horror elements here as being quite creepy. Built on the concept of the figures in the lake having a decided effect on the couple, the early dreams of hers where she sees the nude beings hanging over the lake or coming after the girl while she and her friend are taking a trip through the woods of their house offering the kind of old-school style of ghost scares normally present here. The finale, where it includes the full extent of their curse coming to pass with a number of great encounters within the house of the ghostly beings interacting with them, creates a stand-out and truly chilling scene that all holds it up over its' main flaw. The main factor to hold this one back is the absolutely leaden and plodding pace that drags this down considerably. This unravels at such a lackluster pace that it barely feels like anything is happening, and with all the real action placed at the end this one comes off as quite uninteresting overall. That's not helped at all with the realization that nothing in here is really explained, as the concept of the curse is never brought up, the outcome of so many side-stories are instigated but kept ambiguous and there's no real impact to the stakes presented here. These elements here are what manage to drag this one down in the end.

Rated R: Language, Violence and Nudity.
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Cargo (I) (2017)
3/10
Barely there and mostly boring zombie effort
8 January 2019
Traveling through the Australian outback, a man and his infant daughter try to escape from a zombie virus that has infected him and started a countdown to get her to safety, only to stumble upon a series of obstacles that prevent him from doing so and tries to finish the trip before time runs out.

This was a fine survivalist thriller if utterly abysmal zombie effort. The main element that works for this one is the antics of the group to survive out in the wilderness of the Australian outback. Living on a riverboat with their own set of rules and guidelines as they try to survive, this starts off really well in getting the rules of the situation revealed not only through their arguments but actions as well. As the rest of the film following the accident deals with the race to get to safety as well as trying to keep himself alive long enough to ensure that, the drama this builds during this section is decent enough and holds this one rather nicely. As well as the fine blood and gore presented here, that's all that's really enjoyable with this one. Beyond this, though, as a general horror film, this was absolutely awful. The biggest issue here is that the way of trying to avoid turning into a ravenous isn't that interesting and just causes us to lose interest in the events that play out. There's no sense of avoiding what's coming upon him based on what we know is going to happen so his plight through the remote, desolate landscapes coming upon the weird characters as he goes on towards the inevitable all this time without revealing it to anyone else really just causes this to just wander around to one inevitable confrontation after another. All told, that manages to keep this moving along through a seemingly endless series of scenes and confrontations that just don't get interesting after a while. Likewise, the other problem here is the lack of zombies or even action presented here. The zombies don't even make much of an appearance in their three sequences they pop up in totaling a grand mark of around a minute during that period, this is so bereft of zombie action that there's really no genre hallmark at all. The drama about trying to keep away is the overriding factor here, and the insistence on providing a human drama protagonist instead of a zombie-based one that really ends up stretching this out far longer than it needs to be keeping this at the forefront of the film rather than the zombie threat. In the end, this is just a dull, boring non-zombie effort.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language, continuous themes of children-in-jeopardy and Violence.
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Blood Fest (2018)
10/10
Highly enjoyable if slightly flawed genre effort
8 January 2019
Secretly attending a horror film festival, a teen and his friends find that the supposed attractions and festivities designed to celebrate the genre have been orchestrated to turn into a round of murderous killers and movie monsters out to kill them and must use their genre skills to get out alive.

This was a highly enjoyable if somewhat flawed genre effort. One of the main elements that this one works nicely on is the actual idea of the movie festival that would play out in the beginning. The concept of the woods-based festival being turned into a carnival-like celebration of the genre with a series of games, attractions and various events designed around the idea of horror being a point of having a massive gathering filled with hundreds of people. This comes off incredibly well and has a great sense of humor and creativity to pull this off. That, in turn, leads to the films' best aspects in the series of relentless confrontations in the park where the monstrous creatures run rampant on the group trying to escape. From the opening massacre of the guests at the festivities' opening ceremony is a fantastic sequence that really turns the meta-ness of the live-kill at a party in front of a crowd anticipating everything going on in front of them, this one has a great sense of turning the classic tropes of the genre into a fully enjoyable, action-packed ride through the various exploits that are brought up throughout here. The later scenes of them running through the park encountering people like the zombies out in the shack that has them erupt from underneath the ground to attack in great zombie action, the encounter with the real-life variation of the killer their actor friend played, the ordeal with the vampires and the series of encounters with the possessed members of the park that come after them leading into the finale where it generates a slew of fun, blood-drenched encounters which move this along at such a rapid pace that there's no downtime at all from all the crazed situations. In the midst of all this, there are a few minor issues to hold it back. The fact that it speaks quite heavily on the nature of being corrupted by the violence of films and turning that into a psycho in real-life is entirely mishandled, treating something that really could've been explored more than what's going on here. Spending the time on the behind-the-scenes manipulation of these sources is wasted with the lame, glossed-over reasoning in the finale which is just completely underwhelming as it takes a fun idea and drops it completely. As well as the lack of nudity when it clearly called for it, there's not much else really wrong with this one.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.
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Hell Fest (2018)
8/10
Highly enjoyable and fun slasher
7 January 2019
Attending an amusement park together, a group of friends having fun going through the various rides and attractions until they start to realize that a stranger is stalking them, and once it dawns on them that he's actually killing them one-by-one they have to fight to get out of the park alive.

This emerged as quite a fine slasher effort. A lot of what makes this one work is the fact that the overall setting here comes off with the type of atmosphere that makes for a rather fine attraction. The idea of the carnival funhouse taking place in the darkened environment where it's expected all manner of creepy, disgusting monsters and demons are going to jump out of the shadows startling people just being there offers the kind of setup that's creepy on its own. The demon clowns and other ghouls running through the neon-lit school hallways, the maze full of performers with the oversized costumes and the meat-locker that's filled with all sorts of screaming patrons and guests creates the kind of look that works to build a fantastic overall setting for the slashing to take place. That slashing within here isn't that bad when it really wants to be. The opening encounter in the maze where he stalks the unaware victim who's tired of the guy following her and then strings her up in the exhibit gives this a nice starting point, while the later scenes inside the carnival are made all the more enjoyable due to the ability to take the setup of the carnival into enjoyable areas. From the situation in the traveling cars and the stalking in the bathroom to the stellar sequence in the guillotine exhibit that sets off a mass panic as everything leads into the final showdown in the last terrifying maze creates an incredibly strong and creepy experience here. This is where the suspense is at its best as the encounters are fun, fast-paced and creepy. As these kills do produce some fine gore at times, there's enough to like here over it's often enough to hold out. There are a few problems with the film, mainly stemming from the main killer himself. This is one of the weakest, most pathetic slasher we're supposed to be taken seriously, with his scrawny build, absolute lack of creativity in his kills and a completely non-threatening mask that makes him out to be a complete joke. His motivation to hunt them down makes no sense, and the inability to band together to stop him that it borders on the ridiculous that they don't recognize earlier on what's happening. Combined with a complete lack of backstory here and they really are one of the weakest aspects of this one. The other issue here is the overall abundance of cliches that pop up, making everything really predictable as to what's going to happen before it occurs. Otherwise, there isn't much here as the positives do hold it up.

Rated R: Graphic Language and Graphic Violence.
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Tales from the Hood 2 (2018 Video)
6/10
Somewhat underwhelming if still enjoyable follow-up anthology
7 January 2019
Brought to a remote facility, the storyteller is tasked with telling tales to an artificial intelligence simulation to determine proper police procedurals for his new robot police force.

The Good Stor(ies): Good Golly-Arriving at a special museum, a pair of friends anger the owner of the establishment with their scoffing notion of racist tales and ordered to leave the museum. Sneaking back inside with their friend to steal the doll, they get more than they bargained for when something is still alive inside. This one starts the stories off on a strong note. The racial overtones are covered extremely well, from their questioning of the doll's original historical intentions and the book from the past, and the doll coming to life and imparting a rather nice twisted form of justice is rather well done. The finale goes on a little too long to sell its impact, but the idea here is still really enjoyable giving this a lot to like.

Date Night-Heading over to a friends house, several guys arrive to spend the night with a group of girls and enjoy the party, eventually knocking them out and doing what they please. When they discover too late that the girls aren't what they seem, it puts them into a terrifying fight for their lives. Overall, this was a fun and enjoyable segment. While it takes a while to get going showing the guys in the girls' house enjoying a board game for far too long, there's still fun to be had seeing them engage in these games as well as the bedroom scene that creates a nice and solid twist on itself to illustrate the perils of modern dating. Offering the best gore of the film but dropping the racial intentions of the segment, this is a wholly enjoyable effort.

The Bad Stor(ies): The Medium-Grabbed by his enemies, a man is beaten by rival gang members into revealing the location of stolen money only to die before he can do so. When they realize that a TV psychic may hold the answer, they enlist his help to find it only for something unexpected to stall their plans. This was a disappointing segment overall. The point here is completely missing and has no real connection to anything told before so there's very little impact to the final events as it just seems to insert the psychic out of nowhere and his questioning of his skills knowing that he's a fraud. The events of the seance are what ends up being the most enjoyable part as the payback doesn't have a strong twist but it's the events themselves that are shown playing out which is fun, even though it's a little long overall.

The Sacrifice-Worried about her pregnancy, a man tries to get his pregnant woman over the idea of her dreams having a profound impact on the outcome of her life. Finally realizing what her dreams mean when he finds his life changed, he sets out on a path to fix it that will affect history. This was a decidedly bland effort. This is due to very little of what happens here being scary as the idea of transposing her dreams about the baby's future against the interactions of the black ghosts from the past doesn't have any real connection to the story being told. That causes this to end up being nothing more than a racial diatribe which doesn't create any kind of scares as it just meanders along for so long. The message is finely served, it's just not a scary one leaving this as a let-down to end this on.

Rated R: Extreme Graphic Language including numerous racial slurs, Graphic Violence and drug use.
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Ghost Stories (I) (2017)
9/10
Highly chilling and enjoyable anthology
6 January 2019
Attempting to explain normal psychic frauds, a professor is given a task of investigating several strange paranormal encounters his hero was unable to solve.

The Good Stor(ies): Tony Matthews-Meeting at his workplace, he meets the night watchman who begins relating his experience working at a new building who's troubled history has started to interfere with his job. Convinced something is in the building with him, he soon comes face-to-face with the cause of the hauntings. This was a fantastic segment that really works nicely. The biggest factor here is the main building it's set in, which not only has a strong backstory that has a creepy framework but having a genuinely creepy location that's incredibly chilling. The flickering lights and power going on-and-off have a fine setup here, while the shots wandering in the totally dark hallways using only the flashlight gives off classic old-school thrills. Tying nicely with a fine philosophical message at the heart of the encounter, this is a fantastic entry.

Simon Rifkind-Arriving at his house, the young kid recalls his experience of driving his parents' car back home from a party when he gets into an accident out on the highway. Consumed by guilt, he tries to get out of the area safely only for the spirit he hit to interfere with his plans to do so. Overall, this was a fine if somewhat flawed entry. The opening, with their interactions in the bedroom, is rather lame and takes a while to get this going. However, the story starts in earnest from there on as the accident is truly terrifying with the being coming out of nowhere being illuminated only with the car lights and heading into the chilling mechanical failures that halt him in the middle of the outright chilling woods. His later encounters with the woods are shorter and less interesting but still creepy enough, giving this a lot to really like.

The Bad Stor(ies): Mike Priddle-Heading into the countryside, the guy begins telling his story about the strange experiences inside his house while his wife is in the hospital for a medical condition. Soon, he comes to believe that something or someone is in the house with him. This was a problematic overall entry. Most of the problems stem from the fact that the dragging pace doesn't really make this one all that interesting. There are way too many scenes of him wandering around the flat looking for noises or something calling out from the darkness that doesn't arrive at any kind of creepy action. The one genuine scare here with the ghostly being appearing out of nowhere which looks really creepy and outright terrifying which is the best part of the segment.

Wrap-Around-This makes no sense overall. The flashbacks to his childhood when the kid got into trouble and died offers no real purpose due to not really offering a point for inclusion by being a traumatic experience that doesn't connect to anything, the speechifying grows old when it keeps trying to hammer a point numerous times over and all the identity switches are seen coming a mile away. The length could've really been given to one of the other segments and really outdoes the overall setup of his journey.

Rated Unrated/R: Extreme Graphic Language and Violence.
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6/10
Watchable if somewhat underwhelming anthology
6 January 2019
Having a troubled date, a couple heads out to a movie theater to watch a series of short films dealing with different terrors of the holiday season.

The Good Stor(ies): All the Stockings Were Hung-Stuck in an office Christmas party, a group of workers exchanging gifts with each other finds the whole affair rigged with dangerous and deadly presents. Forced into going along with the demented game, they find themselves slowly dwindling due to the unpredictable game. This was a decidedly decent enough effort that really could've been a lot better. The idea of the rigged office party ritual with the gift exchange turning out to be deadly has the potential for some fun, and being forced to go along with the game the longer it goes on has the right creepy air to have worked nicely here especially with the way its setup brings this about. The problem here is the lack of depth on anything that transpires, from the game he's forcing them to play to what's supposed to prove or even how everything got rigged up without their knowledge considering the extra amount of gifts present at the time. With a bunch of cheap-looking gore and a rather flimsy one-location setting undoing this further, it does have some flaws throughout here.

All Through the House-Home alone for Christmas, a bitter miser tries to find a way around the trappings of the season as the holiday spirit overwhelms him. It's not helped at all by the visitation of several holiday spirits determined to show him the error of his ways. This seasonal take on the classic story is fine if entirely way too cliched. That it plays itself off as such from the outset with the rampant bitterness of his character and the evolution of the ghostly visitation offers no surprises or scares at all. It's all going to play out exactly like the way it's supposed to, leaving the familiarity way too obvious in such a short running time. This really could've been stretched out to a feature-length effort and not made all the touches here to obvious despite the way everything turns out to tell a fine setup.

In A Twinkling-Setting up for a dinner party, a woman tries to get her grumpy boyfriend to start celebrating the occasion which he immediately begins regretting. As the night goes on and they start to realize what's going on with their guests and try to get out of the situation alive. While this really could've been a lot of fun, at its heart, there are more good ideas here than it's overall execution. There's something inherently chilling about the idea of being forced into participating in the bizarre series of games and dinner festivities with the glitching hosts that are impossible to get out of, in the end, none of it's really scary and the end-game doesn't really help that much.

The Bad Stor(ies): Dash Away All-Heading home from the mall, a last-minute shopper encounters a string of bad luck that prohibits him from getting home for the holidays. Meeting up with two strange women nearby with a sinister secret between them, he soon realizes the dire situation he's in and can't get out of. This one was a real struggle to get through. The fact that this one sets him up to be a guy with the worst luck imaginable at the wrong time of the year isn't a scary notion, spending so much time with the girls in the parking lot with him ends up driving this to boredom with the lack of payoff or even a connection to the holiday which makes its inclusion tenuous and rather curious. The rules of dealing with the creature and its conception are decent ideas, but this was a wholly disappointing entry.

Arose Such a Clatter-Driving through the woods, a man accidentally runs over the reindeer Blitzen with his car and then leaves the poor creature on the side of the road to die. As he carries on with his trip, he soon finds that one of his friends might be seeking revenge against the incident. This one really could've been a winner had there been more involved with the budget. The central concept for this one should've provided this was a standout story of a massively enraged reindeer hunting down the driver responsible for killing one of his sleigh-pulling friends, yet the execution here is sorely lacking. The red-tinted lighting for the reindeer vision isn't creepy in the slightest, the fact that the creature is conceived through close-ups of a plush animal face and an antler prop isn't inspiring and it's so short there's barely any time to register what's going on.

Wrap-Around-This is a wholly underwhelming section of the film. The idea of them sitting in a theater watching performance-art pieces in a community theater that turns into the movie-version tales we watch is just lame when it easily could've been them going to a film festival and the shorts on-screen are what's presented in the film which accomplishes the same fact, the intermission segment is just utterly pointless and although it picks up nicely with the twist in the finale towards what their overall goal is this is still a somewhat underwhelming section of the story.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language
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Luciferina (2018)
10/10
Utterly phenomenal and stand-out supernatural horror
5 January 2019
After learning of her parents' accident, a young woman leaves a nunnery to to return home to deal with the incident and falls in with her sister and her friends who are going on a trek into the jungle to undergo a sacred ritual which releases a satanic curse on the group as she uses a dark secret to save them.

Frankly, this was a spectacular and standout genre effort. One of it's strongest qualities is the fervent and utterly phenomenal religious symbolism apparent throughout here. As her religious background at first causes her to be made fun of and ridiculed, this soon gives her a fighting chance to overcome the forces plaguing her the longer she stays in the house. Her initial vision of the nuns in the church after learning of the accident ends up correlating nicely with the concurrent vision of her sisters' friends at the house, which is all tied together through the connections made about who she really is. This is all given greater importance with the scenes at the house detailing all the religious paintings left in the attic all coming after a former nun-in-training experienced her first sexual awakening shortly beforehand. That factors heavily into the traditional jump scenes that are featured throughout here, giving this one a rather enjoyable and somewhat creepy air. The first scenes of her being tormented by the ghostly beings like the figures in the paintings offer up some great jumps and the scenes with the rats charging out of a hole in the wall are rather enjoyable. The scenes on the island, though, offer up an overwhelmingly enjoyable series of scenes that really work nicely, including the ritual being performed in the candle-lit room as they go on their spiritual journey that pulls off the greatest scene in the movie in the pregnant woman being possessed while about to give birth. The work this section builds for the finale is just as spectacular. With the knowledge gleaned from the encounter with the midwife following her having survived the demons' attempts to finish its masterplan, this one brings the religious angle together alongside its tale of salvation where she's granted enough energy and power to fight the demon due to her condition. Taking place as a charged, full-scale fight for the soul of both parties through classic exorcism tropes as well as the unconventional method of sexually expelling the demon which is a wholly unique concept that works incredibly well here against the other demonic and exorcism imagery. The film might be a touch too long and feature some wonky effects-work, but these aren't in the slightest bit harmful to this one.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language, Nudity, a strong sex scene, several sexually suggestive images, Graphic Violence and drug use.
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Patient Zero (I) (2018)
6/10
Enjoyable enough but still somewhat flawed zombie effort
3 January 2019
After a ravenous virus, a group of scientists studying how to prevent the spread of a rabies plague through the rest of the uninfected humanity by heading out into the wild to search for the infected individual that was at the start of the infection and try to find a cure for the situation.

This was a rather enjoyable zombie effort. What really works for this one is the fact that the main storyline featured here is a rather enjoyable and somewhat fun take on the zombie mythos. By looking at the idea of how the military and the resulting scientists under their protection are out to discover the possible resource of the infection, this allows the film to look at their procedures and processes in order to carry out their mission which drops us into this one quite nicely. The other rather enjoyable aspect to this one is the treatment afforded to the infected themselves. Given plenty of impressive attributes to showcase their increased cunning, intelligence and planning with their ability to speak added to the traditional zombie elements, there's a lot to enjoy with this one. The opening showing him with the ability to talk to them in their own language and have the creatures understand him compares nicely to the concept of the Trojan Horse in regards to the one infected that shows up and engages in the mind-games that are engaged in. As well, the final half-hour here shows the creatures overrunning the facility in massive swarms which provides plenty of action with the series of confrontations with the creatures throughout the base resulting in the fine gore gags usually associated with the genre. These here are what really hold this one up overall. There are a few flaws to be had with this one. The main issue to be had here is the human drama at the forefront which really isn't that interesting. While it's great to have this one tackling the idea of keeping the couple together while in the midst of their various interactions, overall that's really not that interesting in the long run. The backstage politics about each side arguing over the different options alongside the different opposing forces each trying to assert their control in the situation ends up doing nothing as nobody ends up doing much of anything. The endless rounds of questioning inside the sealed room that should've provided something interesting to their search for the lead infected amounts to just going around in circles, a facet actually mentioned in the film itself. The other main factor to hold this one back is the rather overuse of cliches and overly familiar tropes within the film. The idea of the military bunker being the center of a dispute being the military looking to overthrow the exploits of a scientist looking for a way to end things is such a common trope that it's at the center of the genre as a whole, and the reliance on keeping them separated from the outset is not a source of high drama. With the insistence on the love story between the different species and the red herring specimen that really has nothing to do with anything going on also being quite prominent here, there's a lot of overly familiar and rather common ideas throughout here. These issues overall are what tend to bring this one down.

Rated R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.
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8/10
Rather fun creature feature with a few minor flaws
31 December 2018
Taking a trip through the Pacific Northwest, a young couple intending to reunite themselves find that an accident which strands them in the wilderness is the least of their worries when they have to contend with a group of locals as well as a vicious killer creature in the woods with them.

For the most part, this was an exceptionally enjoyable creature feature. Among the better qualities on display is the fact that this one really utilizes the creature feature action to absolutely stellar results here. The accident that propels them into the scenario, hitting the mauled victim on the side of the road and being pelted with rocks while trying to report the incident which throws them into the river and deeper into the forest, is incredibly effective while utilizing a rather overlooked true-to-life account of encounters where the creatures would repel unwanted visitors by throwing rocks at people. This adds a nice bit of realism to the situation which helps to enhance the later action. This is all enhanced by the times in the forest where they come upon the series of really creepy and chilling confrontations that are featured here. Their river-excursion offers some rather exciting thrills into this, and with the two encountering the hunting party and are forced into going along with them to get to safety this has a lot to like. The creatures' hunting tactics are put to use in several great scenes of it in the forest springing out of the undergrowth to attack with all manner of tools and special weapons, from long-range bow-and-arrows to hatchets as well as its own intimidating physical presence to rip people to pieces. By letting the creature get plenty of time to showcase this fantastic gore and giving us plenty to like about its appearance, these are what hold this up over its minor flaws. One of the film's biggest problems is the fact that it's way too long. The pacing here is way too off and doesn't really generate a consistent time here by it constantly changing up what's going on or turning some rather obscure elements that really didn't need to be there. There's no reason for this one to spend as much time as it does with the hunters who prove to be nothing more than one-note inbred hicks intently trying on getting to sexually harass the wife simply because she's a woman in their vicinity, a distressingly unneeded plot-point that serves this nothing and eats up time with the group continually trying to put it into use and forcing him to defend her honor. Likewise, the wildly-varying tones in structure make for quite a disjointed feel. The back-and-forth nature of the brutal creature attacks is quite conflicting with the mysticism of the Native American folklore, lending this one some incredibly wonky scenes of people getting their heads hacked off or shot in the neck with arrows and then turning around into scenes of Indian shamen casting spells and other native rituals that introduce a sense of supernatural into the mix. As well, a bizarre centuries-old witch doctor there to help heal their wounds doesn't really match with what's happening here, leaving this a rather chaotic effort as well as being way too overlong. Overall, it's still a lot of fun even with a few minor issues.

Rated R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.
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7/10
Solid if flawed finish to the series
30 December 2018
Returning to her childhood home, the psychic is tasked with trying to rid the house of a strange ghostly entity, only to end up not only stumbling upon a deadly conspiracy within but also managing to find the special demonic entity she accidentally freed years ago forcing them to stop it.

For the most part, this was a decent enough entry into the series. What really works best for this one is the same style of material that had worked rather well in the proclivity towards jump-scares. The opening flashback showing the events that happened to her as a child featuring her getting to unleash the actual demon sets the film off on the proper note. There are some eerie shots of the ghosts running around in the darkness or whispering demonically behind to the characters has a rather nice and creepy vibe, and that thankfully is continued upon their arrival in the present day. There's a lot to like with the group walking through the creaking, darkened house with their high-tech gadgets providing the typical type of scares to be usually found here. That carries on nicely with the various attempts at interacting with the spirits in the house, as these scenes put the film in its greatest overall mindset. These sequences, where she sets about trying to determine the cause of her being summoned to the house all give this one a rather decent start that is greatly enhanced by the second walk-through of the house. Guided along by the ghost whistling through the toy that drives her to make the gruesome discovery in the house and setting the stage for the impressive revelations that spring up in the finale. Not only paying off a series of intriguing questions that are brought up because of the events that come about. With this confrontation bringing about the involvement of the titular demonic being and its uniquely impressive design, backstory and overall set of powers, there's more than enough to like here that holds it up over its flaws. There are a few issues here, mainly stemming from the films' reliance and overabundance of jump-scares. There's more than enough times that it starts to get old and repetitive to have the exact same type of situation occur continuously throughout the film. It's not scary to have the same shots of characters turning their attention away and then going back only to have a brief shot of a grossly-deformed and misshapen figure standing there growling viciously at them. It's expected and really undoes a lot of the film's good by doing this and ruining the mystique it could've had. The other issue to contend with is the really troubling methods used to denote the sense of being in the outer realm that this takes place in. These scenes reek of being extremely contrived and just plain ludicrous in the way they play out here, with the introduction of characters that should not have anything to do with each other. It's just ridiculous that these events carry out with these people in this manner, reeking of just being absolutely cliched and riddled with contrivance, much like the idea of the group finding the other person that can go into this dimension to battle the creatures. The final demon, supposedly the most vicious and intense demon out there that has been haunting her all this time, is a complete non-entity with the complete lack of backstory and a rather underwhelming confrontation that's the whole point of the film. With some questionable comedy and an overlong finale, these here are what hold this down.

Rated PG-13: Violence, Language and children-in-jeopardy.
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Juleblod (2017)
6/10
Somewhat flawed enjoyable holiday slasher
30 December 2018
After capturing a sadistic killer, a detective learns that he has escaped after several years in captivity and sets out to finish a deranged killing spree interrupted by his capture, putting him on the target of a group of friends partying in a remote village and forcing him to stop the killer.

This was a rather enjoyable holiday-themed slasher. One of the finer points here is the strong slasher-film setup at play here, which is the point of these types of films. The main setup, of the deranged killer exploiting a fabricated system of punishing those that might not seem to have a connection but n his warped thinking there is, his idea of hunting down those that he believes has been a sinner in their lives gives him a fine motivation to carry out his spree. This is nicely done in conjunction with the detective out to catch him once again after having caught him the first time around works as a fine secondary motive, and when carried out with the idea of the girls at the house partying that draws the killer there gives this a rather strong slasher-style setup. There's also the strong slashing scenes in the film. The opening scene, with the detectives searching the house for the killer after he had taken out the family in the darkened house, sets up the impressive scenes later on in the village. As the holiday setting is ably utilized in fine form with the festive lights, ornaments and decorations, as well as the overall snowy landscapes as the air is adorned with festive seasonal songs, there's a fine counterbalance to the scenes of the Santa-dressed killer running wild in the streets providing this with plenty of graphic kills, bloodshed and suspense as the scenes in the abandoned town give this a lot to like. These here are what makes this one work over the flaws here. The main issue at fault here is the rather sedate and bland pacing that comes into play. The fact that a deranged serial killer, given as much backstory as we have here about his feelings and history about the holiday, doesn't generate more focus and intensity from the officers in charge to stop him makes the detective investigation scenes rather bland and boring. This should generate more urgency to catch him, yet there's very little energy to these scenes as they seem happier to be meeting up again than stopping him. Likewise, the girls' trip includes the same drama about drug use, partying and cheating boyfriends that isn't new or adds anything to the film, making for a longer setup time than what's warranted to get to the slashing and causing this to stretch out far longer than it really should be. The other problem to be had with the film is the technically-challenging issue of being way too dark to make anything out at times. Since this is taking place in a small, remote village that doesn't have too many residents there to light everything up, but even at that point, the film is just too dark to really tell what's going on. As this occurs during the film's main targets in the slashing scenes in the inn where they stay during the finale as the killer begins running loose on the group, it's quite detrimental to the point of this one really not being able to tell what's happening as the shadows overwhelm this one during this time. Combined with some overly familiar setups and themes from other genre features, these here are the film's only flaws.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence, Extreme Graphic Language, Brief Full Nudity, a mild sex scene and drug use.
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6/10
Underwhelming if still rather appealing genre effort
29 December 2018
Heading out to the countryside, a group of friends arrives a remote house to celebrate the holiday season, but as the night goes on the group suddenly comes to believe that a malevolent entity is preying on them using their darkest fears as fuel to kill them and must escape the house alive.

This was a fine if somewhat flawed effort. One of the better elements featured in this one is the strikingly enjoyable first half where there's some fun to be had with the build-up of the friends arriving at the house. This one treats the group rather nicely with how they're introduced as they seem like a genuine group of friends that would be hanging out together, poking fun and generally having fun while being together. The scenes of them partying together and having drinks while being out in the wilderness offers a fine starting point to where the horror elements that emerge later on have a rather intriguing base to work off of. When the horror does emerge here, there are some rather enjoyable times here as this one turns into a rather different animal than expected. The idea of being trapped in the house which suddenly starts in on the concept of the spirit getting free and turning their fears onto each other in the attempt to terrify them. These provide the kind of stellar supernaturally-tinged sequences that really could've added a lot more to this one than what's provided. Still, the idea of the relentless series of encounters that spring up as a result of their random encounters throughout the darkened house really drives this with some nice energy during the best part of the film. These here are what hold it up over the main flaws present. The main issue to be had with the film is a rather tonally chaotic final half that doesn't know what it wants to really do with itself. This one goes through a rather odd change-of-pace from the realistic setup of the first half by dropping the idea of them being at the house together and instead goes into a series of random occurrences that are due to to the sudden random appearance of this creature intent on killing them. The appearance of the creature is a complete mystery as to what it actually is, there's nothing about what it's trying to do at the house in the first place, making this part of the film incredibly confusing and disorienting. As well, the film has the rather odd sense of pacing within here that does manage to get progressively worse as the movie goes on. As it spends so long with the friends getting to know them that when it finally gets to the horror very little if anything has been said about what's going on because there's way too much of it about other areas. By then rushing through the actions of the ghostly creature with no information about what's happening really tends to undermine this by taking all the time it could've spent on building that to instead work this out. As well as an utterly moronic finale that doesn't do this any favors by preparing for an unwanted sequel, these here hold this one down.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language and Graphic Violence.
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Sabrina (2018)
9/10
Solid and highly enjoyable Indonesian possession effort
29 December 2018
After solving a deadly case, a husband-and-wife looking after their orphaned niece find that her connection to a special doll made by his company causes a sudden outpouring of supernatural activity towards them in retaliation for actions years ago and must find a way to contain the evil spirit.

For such a maligned film, this one turned out to be rather enjoyable. One of the strongest aspects here is the supernatural elements which are quite prominent creating a wholly chilling atmosphere. The opening sequence of them rescuing the possessed woman in the house offers a nice start here by dropping us into this world rather early, while the eerie sequence of the daughter searching for her mother in the darkened house during the driving rainstorm after playing the board game to contact her offers up some nice imagery. Once this moves on to trying to drive the mother crazy, this one provides some outright chilling sequences that work rather well. The common trope of a child's toy being used for a ghost-finder throughout the house brings about some great scenes of her searching the house alone or interacting off-screen with what she claims is her mother are what really bring some great times this one. This early setup for the film allows for more fun to occur in the second half. Already fully aware of something going on, the film ratchets up the tension and scares with the explosion of supernatural activity. The fateful vacation trip to the tropical island is rife with incredible scenes, from the collection of shells along the beach where they mention the mother's presence at the location all along, a traumatic burial in the sand where they get pulled in and then quickly buried and follows that with a highlight reel montage inside the reception hall. From the piano ghost to the chase into the closet providing one of the greatest jump-scares in the film and coming back to include the final encounter with the husband. This extended and charged sequence makes for a truly chilling and creepy sequence that's far better than expected. Once back home, the seance ritual to understand the situation as well as the resolution of the opening confrontation offer up the expected setup for the action-packed finale that really works with the strong rituals and ceremonies presenting their battle with the demonic being around the factory where the doll is produced. Alongside the gory murders and fine demon makeup, these here are what hold this one up over it's few minor flaws. The main issue to contend with is the tolerance for cliches present, since this plays out almost exactly like other films involving this particular setup. It's not a surprise at all as to what's going on in the film because it rips so many scenes and tropes off from those films, ranging from writing off the child's stories of seeing the deceased around them, openly admitting to having disobeyed her instructions because of her mother and the disbelieving spouse who won't listen to reason due to the innocence of the child involved. Along with a favorable attitude towards jump-scares to pay off it's tenser moments, these are brought over from numerous other films all playing up this familiar concept. Likewise, the film's reliance on explaining everything through voiceover flashbacks gets rather tedious with it jumping around in the timeline and does offer up some confusion as to what's going on at the moment. Otherwise, there isn't much to dislike here.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence, Language and continuous themes of children-in-jeopardy.
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10/10
Stellar and vicious Indonesian genre effort
28 December 2018
Fearing for her father, a young woman and her stepfamily return to his house in order to find out what happened to him only to realize he awakened a demonic entity to grant his wishes and has now come to claim it's end of the bargain, forcing them to find a way of stopping its advances.

Right from the beginning, this one works itself over rather nicely. Most of the film's positive elements come from the stellar incorporation of the supernatural into the story. The film starts this immediately, from the opening ceremony which is played out in full detail with the special drawings on the ground to the occult rituals involving the demons' hair and finally to it's demonic incantations that set this one in motion to the terrifying encounters in the hospital, leading the way for some creepy encounters. Later scenes at the house where the group is looking over the house which is filled with occult paraphernalia such as rosary beads, animal remains and used herbs and plants that follow up these sequences with a feverish intensity. The antics of the possessed family member is a wild highlight sequence that notably raises the stakes of the film considerably showing the true nature of what their father was involved with, giving this the craziest sequence in the film as well as making the film all the more terrifying. The second half of the film builds on these early scenes very nicely. By showing everything taking place during the driving rainstorm, this one creates a stellar atmosphere that's only enhanced with the action around the house showing the possessed member chasing them around or the incredibly eerie encounter in the woods where they come across the member feasting on an animal forcing them to get away without being seen or later coming upon them trying to possess them in the process. Later on, the scene of her crying out from the darkness trying to tempt the along members of the family, changing into demonic-tinged yelling in order to sell their plight gives way to a chilling abduction attempt as it tries to steal the young girl as it tries to pull her under the bed pulls double-duty in this one. Not only does this sequence provide a strong scare-factor for the film, but it also gives further insight into her backstory with the revelation of an earlier encounter with the demon that was responsible for childhood trauma. The final half expectedly pulls out all the stops as this one really lets loose. Predictably, this one saves the best scares for the last part of the film, running through the earlier tactics of demonic voices and laughter or popping up unexpectedly to torment the group but bringing about new ideas as well, such as the ability to control the objects in the room around them or using a mystical object to break them apart. Some of these moments, including watching the possessed figure right in front of their face pull the flesh off their face to reveal another person underneath or manipulating a doll to essentially break their bones before decapitating them, are straight up terrifying to see play out. This is especially true once you realize it's done in the presence of a child. In conjunction, the fine return with the mysticism and occult rituals that are in place in order to finally resolve this allows for a truly engrossing and brutal if slightly overlong payoff which is perhaps the only real flaw in the film. This all could've been resolving slightly easier and quicker but is nonetheless still a factor here.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language and children-in-jeopardy.
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7/10
Enjoyable enough if somewhat overlong and dull follow-up
28 December 2018
A hundred years after the mysterious events at the house, a cultural relic restorer arrives at the scene to investigate the strange claims and becomes ensconced in the same supernatural phenomenon that plagued the first residents and tries to uncover the events of the past to save himself.

For the most part, this is quite the fun sequel. Much like the original, the film works it's best when delving deep into the supernatural which is quite prominent throughout here. The advent of curses allows for the vomiting of worms and maggots other such creatures just by being near the building is quite nice, while the flashcut images of skeleton faces or falling limbs grazing characters here provide a solid backdrop to the rest of the material at play. Once inside the sprawling Gothic-styled manner, the opulence and overall design of the house allows for the supernatural setups to feel quite at home. Set amid the endless corridors, elaborate designs of the rooms and the various decorations within, scenes featuring the sudden appearance of blood spilling from book pages, light-bulbs crashing and exploding or insect swarms to suddenly appear and chase them around the house make sense. The manner in which this drives a more psychologically-charged storyline that drives her to madness the more she's around the house adds a rather strong secondary aspect to the creepiness of the film. By tackling the issue of her guilt over the loss of her daughter and then adding on the scenes of the ghost daughter running through the house, this triggers many of the supernatural tie-ins later in the film from the few dreams she has trying to reach the ghost before the house crumbles around her, having the children's toys trigger various other confrontations between the two of them or even cause her to believe in the affair storyline really brings about a pretty creepy storyline. Most of this is also apparent in the finale where it overloads the supernatural elements into a much more prominent aspect and really offers some of the best effects work with the various ghostly beings shown. These here are what hold it up over its main flaws which are pretty prominent. The main issue to contend with is the storyline that's far busier than it needs to be. The film works best dealing with the connection between them being in the house and how the events of the past are influencing their actions which could've made for an intriguing storyline going back-and-forth in time. However, adding in the storyline about the perceived adultery and the potential employee trying to steal her away don't really need to be included in the film. Rather, they cause the film to drag the pace down to such a degree that it feels stagnant and dull for long stretches detailing all these potential segments. As well, they also cause the storyline involving the devious sorcerer to feel underdeveloped and misses out on the potential for some creepy imagery showing how he goes about his craft that is missing in the finished product that could've added more creepiness to the film. It ends up lowering this one enough to keep it down.

Rated Unrated/R: Violence and Language.
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Psycho (1998)
7/10
Wrongfully maligned for a decent film
28 December 2018
Desperate to get away, a secretary goes away with stolen money and flees to the desert where she stops off at a roadside motel, but when she mysteriously disappears from the motel a day later, her sister and boyfriend go looking for her at the motel and struggle to believe what they find.

This is a severely underrated film. One of the best features here is the cinematography which is so gorgeous and so sparse in that we see so little that the suspense is just dripping off the screen. The main examples of this, the shower scene and the death of the detective, are just as great as before, keeping the same style as before but giving it an extra dose of modernity with some much-needed blood and gore in the shot that still packs a punch. This also adds in several more stabs and more blood to the scene, making it just that much more violent than it was remembered and sticks out just fine. Even the motel where they're staying is like that. The dark interiors, the weird stuffed animals along the walls, and the secrecy that surrounds it is remarkable that most of the time we are wondering the secrets behind it. The relationship between the two at the heart of the film is somewhat enjoyable with the same creepiness as before where the way he's saying things and how he's saying them something is off and yet he keeps an air of respectability to his character. The ending revelation is a little more creepy and intense and does work just as well as before, especially as the decrepitness of it comes across a little more clearly as the figure emerging from the shadows offers up some more scares. The most radical changes made are to bring out something much more overtly sexual in the material, from seeing a stash of pornography in their room to showing far more nudity in their confrontations, yet the most radical change is having him clearly heard masturbating as he peeps at her undressing in the shower. This is nicely sleazy and sets up the scene even more than before. All in all, this isn't a useless film as has so often been criticized. There isn't all that much in here that is actually wrong. The addition of color really works against the film. It bleeds out all of the stark, atmospheric effectiveness the original had. The depiction of ordinary Arizona desert landscape here lacks any of the same alienating effectiveness that the black-and-white photography lent to the original. Another big stumbling block is it's constant ability to take the viewer out of the film with obscure phrases and sayings. While it's set in the present, much of the dialog sounds out of place considering its antiquated vocabulary and delivery. As it is mostly left intact from the original, to keep many of that era's euphemisms and habits in the modern time period is distracting, especially when it does manage to update the events a little. The other big problem is that the pacing is off, as there's no need for there to be untold minutes here worrying about cleaning up the dirty room or the distraction in the shack. They take a while to get going, and this really could've taken several scenes out without doing any harm to the film. Otherwise, this one wasn't as bad as it really could've been.

Rated R: Violence, Nudity and off-screen sounds of masturbation.
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