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REVIEW – THE PURGE

The Purge

3.75 out of 5.0

Unemployment is at a 1% low, crime is non-existent.  Life is good, well at least that is what we think.  The United States of America has given the people the right to commit crimes no matter how heinous for 12 hours one day a year.  This is known as The Purge.

This is allowed so people who have hatred, or anger towards people can lash out  and take out their frustrations any way they see fit.  Though weapons above a Class 4 ratings are not allowed and high ranking officials have immunity and can not be touched.  Everyone else is fair game.

This story is about one family’s ordeal through this torrid 12 hours and pushes them to their limits of morality and puts them in the situation we have seen before, the situation of how far would one go for their family.

Director James DeMonaco puts us into a night filled will extreme tension and brutal violence.  This is an idea that may seem good to some but definitely shouldn’t see the light of day.  His movie is lean, clocking in under an hour and 30 minutes and James DeMonaco uses every minute of it to weave a tale of brutality and makes you question yourself, ‘what would I do in this type of situation’.

The situation the family gets in starts when the son lets in a man searching for help during The Purge.  No one knows who he is or what he is doing in their neighborhood.  This brings on the group that are out to purge this man and go about their lives and pits the family in the struggle of do they keep the guy safe or let him loose to the purgers.  DeMonaco takes time getting here and really slowly lets the tension build.  This works very nicely because throughout the movie you can feel it building, like a pop that is slowly coming to boil.  When it hits it’s breaking point bad things happen.

DeMonaco doesn’t shy away from the violence either, especially in the opening title sequence that is littered with security cam footage from the years before purging.  The opening is brutal and very unsettling which sets the tone for the movie quickly.

The only really light hearted feel you get is after the credit sequence as the day is getting setup.  When it’s time for The Purge to start, the tone shifts into darkness.  The movie has many dark points and for the most part DeMonaco does a great job with pulling no punches, until the very end.

This is where the movie fell flat for me.  Everything was hitting the right notes and the viciousness of the evening is felt throughout the film until the ending scene.  I felt that DeMonaco pushed you to the mouth of madness and right at the last minute before falling in he pulls you back.  It wouldn’t have been the ending I would have chosen, though getting there, there were a few twists that I didn’t see coming.  I was pleasantly surprised when those twists came and thought the ending was going to go full tilt.

The acting throughout the movie was great.  Ethan Hawke as the father James Sandin, plays the part well and you feel that what he is doing is the right thing for his family.  Hawke usually always does a good job and this movie is no exception.

The mother Mary Sandin, played by the wonderful Lena Headey, is portrayed nicely on screen and Headey gives a good performance as mother who is conflicted about the whole purge night, and this comes across wonderfully in later scenes.  A very strong performance from a strong actress.

Max Burkholder and Adelaide Kane play the children Charlie and Zoey.  Beautiful performances from both, especially from Adelaide who has the most emotional part between them.  The director did a good job getting strong performances from  the younger performers.

Rhys Wakefield takes on the role of the Polite Stranger who comes knocking on the door to claim the injured man the family has hiding in their home.  He is down right creepy in this role and really rises to the occasion as the main villain in the movie.  Though at moments he felt a little over the top, overall he played the part well.  The rest of the crew that made up his gang were equally as scary and creepy and added to the overall rising tension as the movie went on.

Edwin Hodge who has a wonderful TV career was cast in the role of the strange, the man who was injured and looking for a place to hide out the night.  He’s not in a lot of the scenes but the ones he was in were well done.

Is this a movie for you to see?  If you like dark, heavy, brutally violent movies then you should enjoy this movie.  If you are very squeamish then it might not be your cup of tea.  Overall it is a good movie and I can recommend it, with the caveat being the ending though you may even end up liking the ending.

Overall I give this movie 3.75 out of 5.  It would have scored higher from me but the ending kind of ruined it a little for me.  It is a good movie and gives good scares and it is a pretty intense night out to the movies.  ‘Till next time my friends.

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REVIEW — EVIL DEAD

Evil Dead Poster

4.5 Out of 5

This is perhaps one of the most talked about horror movies to come along in sometime.  Even if you are not a fan of the original Evil Dead series chances are you definitely heard about this one.  Me being a huge fan was very nervous when they announced that a re-visioning of the original was in the works was it given to a first time director and film maker.

Now I know we all must start somewhere but I can’t imagine being given something that has this much of a following and are told to run with it.  If it fails it can sink your career, but if it rises, expect more work quickly.

Most of all know the story of Evil Dead by now.  Group of adults go to a cabin in the woods and there they find a strange book.  The book is opened and passages are read and thus releasing evil upon the group.  This time around we are actually given a reason as to why these said adults are arriving at the cabin.  They are there for an Mia’s(Jane Levy) intervention.  The cabin belonged to Mia and her brother David(Shiloh Fernandez) parents and it was a place they always used to come to up until their mother’ death.

Once there they find the cabin needs some cleaning up and it looks like someone broke into the place.  While searching they find dead cats hanging in the basement and that’s where the book is found.

Their friend Eric(Lou Taylor Pucci), who is a teacher, takes it upon himself to study the book which ultimately leads to the releasing of evil.

The first that is noticeable about the film is the tone.  The original series always had a campy, comedic fill to it but this re-visioning is pretty serious.  It takes itself seriously and definitely no punches are pulled.  That’s thanks to the wonderful direction of Fede Alvarez.

He is a first time film maker that had the daunting task of bringing this film to life and he pulls out all the stops.  He takes his time with scenes and lets things play out building the tension surrounding the group, which is rounded out by David’s girlfriend Natalie(Elizabeth Blackmore) and their doctor friend Olivia(Jessica Lucas).  The movie picks up the pace once the terror arrives and the blood starts to flow.

Alvarez also tips his hat to the original Evil Dead in how a couple of the scenes are shot and edited.  It was a real homage to the series and the audience clapped when these scenes arrived.  The only small place where Alvarez falters is with the pacing.  It gets a little uneven at times, most of which I think is because of the tight running time the movie has being just above 1 hour and 30 minutes.  If the movie was a bit longer Alvarez would have had a bit more time scenes to play out better.  Does this make this movie a bad movie?  Not in the least.

One thing that you have to give Alvarez props for is the use of practical gore effects.  Buckets of prop blood, prosthetic limbs, old school make up effects. The director did not want to use CG for these effects if it could be helped and that really pays off.

This film has a lot of very extreme, brutally gory scenes and is definitely not for the squeamish.  If you hate the site of blood and severed limbs you may want to bring a pillow or bury yourself if your partners shoulder.

Is the movie scary?  It had a very jump scares in it but it feels more terrifying that scary.  It’s not stuff that will haunt your dreams but there are scenes that will stay with you long after the curtains fall.

The acting in the movie passes the grade with all the actors hitting their marks, giving honest performances.  The character David could have used a bit more life, he seemed a little bored through out the movie, other than that they were fine.   Fans of Suburgatory will notice Jane Levy(Mia) as the daughter from the hit show.  She becomes a total freak show later in the movie.

Fans of the original and newcomers to the show should enjoy it thoroughly.  It definitely was one hell of a ride and I’m hoping Alvarez comes back to do a second one.  This version is a gore lover’s dream and makes for some pretty unsettling scenes.  It was originally given the NC-17 rating and was cut to get the hard R.  You will probably find once it gets out on Bluray/DVD that there will be the Uncut version along with the theatrical version.  We shall see.

Overall I give this movie 4.5 stars out of 5.  It’s definitely worth full price to see in the movie house and then to buy to add to ones movie collection.  If you are a fan of the original or just a fan of horror in general, go, run, rush to see this movie.  It’s American horror done right.  Till next time my friends.

REVIEW – EXIT HUMANITY

Exit Humanity

4.5 Out of 5

I’ve always been a fan of the zombie movies, especially since I first saw the original B&W “Night of the Living Dead” when I was a youngster.  There was something frighteningly interesting about the walking dead even if they were starting to wage war on mankind.  Zombies have come a long way since those days and today we normally get stories about a virus that infected the human race that makes the fast running zombies.  To me zombies will always be the slow, lumbering in the darkness beings out for one thing, human flesh.

“Exit Humanity” takes a different approach to the zombie horror film and gives us a story about how zombies walking during The Civil War.  We follow the journal of Civil War vet Edward Young, and his telling of how the rise of the zombie almost became the downfall of humanity.  One thing that really struck me about this film is the pacing and how powerful of a story it actually is.  This isn’t your full of action high intense zombie gore fest, this is more of a character study of a man and how far he goes until he feels like he has reached the end of his rope.  A story of a man will to risk it all in the face of this horror to try and make some sense as to what is actually happening.

The pacing of this film is unlike other type of zombie movies.  It is set up in chapters, each chapter representing a portion of Edward Young’s journal.  For the first part of the movie there is little to no dialogue, except for the wonderful narration of the diary by the great Brian Cox.  Cox is a favorite of mine and his voice is masterful to listen to as he tells the tale that Edward Young committed to paper.  With the direction taken for this film, you really feel the pain this character has gone through.  He has returned from a hunting trip after the war only to find his son gone and he wife has been turned into a walking corpse which he has to put down.  He takes his horse and goes out looking for his son, only to come across more of these walking dead creatures.  He spends a lot of  the time writing in his journal and studying these creatures trying to make sense of them.

Edward eventually comes across his son, but his worst fear has come true,  He too is an undead and must be brought down.  He burns the body and is going to spread his sons ashes at a waterfall he always promised he would take his son to someday.  During this time his horse gets bitten and soon has to be put down, not so much because of the fear of the horse turning into a zombie, but more of the fact that the injury is too severe for the horse to travel on.  The ending scene with the horse is powerfully acted and directed and makes it a very emotional scene, something you really don’t get with zombie movies.

Edward, on the verge of suicide, ends up becoming friends with a man called Issac and agrees to help him look for his sister who has been taken by General Williams and his band of rebels.  These guys fought along side Issac and Edward in the war but have their own agenda on how to deal with these zombies.  Williams has the notion that there is someone out there that is immune to the infection caused by a zombie bite and is looking to make a cure.

Directed by John Geddes who’s last film was the movie “Scarce” has done a masterful job with “Exit Humanity”.  His slow approach to film style and pacing really has made a powerful movie in a genre that is usually set aside for gore fest action.  There are scenes of zombie killing and some gore but the real story here is that of Edward Young.  I loved how Geddes incorporated animated sequences into the movie that showed passage scenes where Edward was traveling fro one place to another.  They were well thought out and placed perfectly into the movie.  Geddes definitely has a great eye when setting up scenes and executing them.  His slow style of directing in this film really pulls out the emotion in scenes and draws you, the audience into the picture deeper.  Your eyes will be glued to the screen wondering where this story is taking this Edward Young character.

Geddes also wrote the screenplay for the film as well.  He has a knack for writing journal dialogue that actually sounds like writing from a journal.  The writing is solid throughout the movie and never really stumbles.  It makes for a well rounder production and I love how Geddes ties in the birth of the zombie, of how this epidemic started.

The cast across the board was strong.  From Mark Gibson who played Edward to Dee Wallace who played Eve, the lady in the woods.  Bill Moseley plays General Williams, and anyone who is familiar with Bill Moseley’s work will be glad to be seeing Bill doing classic Bill. Brian Cox is wonderful as the narrator of the journal.  All actors did great in their parts and made up a very strong cast.

The make up effects for the zombies were very well done.  Even though this movie had a budget of only 300,000 dollars the effects looked great.  Nothing cheesy looking, just horrific monsters slowly coming out of the woods seeking out their next victim.

If you are a zombie lover this movie is for you, even if you are not a lover of zombie pictures check it out anyway.  It is a really well made movie, a really well done character drama about a mans struggle not only with himself but with how the world is spiraling downhill.  If there is only one fault I would say it would have to be near the end with the confrontation between Young and Williams.  I thought that was a little poorly done and could have been executed better.

I give this movie 4.5 stars our of 5.  One of the best zombie movies I have seen and is definitely going to be on my re-watch list.  The style and substance of the movie come together perfectly to give us a take on zombies that I don’t think we have seen before.  A definitely watch for all horror fans and movie fans in general.  It’s not so much scary as it is emotional.  In essence is it one man’s emotional journey down a dark path searching for the light at the end of the tunnel.  Till next time my friends.