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Posts tagged ‘suspense’

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 – LIVID

Livid Blu-ray

4.0 Out of 5

A young nurse in training is being showed the ropes dealing with the patients she will be looking after.  The last patient is an old lady who is in a coma hoped up to a respirator.  Legend has it that somewhere in this house is a treasure but no one knows where or what this treasure is.  Later back at the local pub her boyfriend and her brother decide they will break in and take some of the treasure.  Her boyfriend is a fisherman and doesn’t want to die at sea like his father did.  He wants a better life for them and he sees this treasure as a means to an end.  Once  at the manor, they break in and start to snoop around the creepy old house.  What they find should have stayed hidden.

LIVID is a French horror film and is brought to you by the company that made the film INSIDE.  This film covers a few genres during the course of the movie, straight horror, ghost story, and also has some fantasy elements in there as well.  Everything about this movie is well crafted and put together for a very chilling and scary romp through one of the creepiest houses I have seen in a long while.  This film is very atmospheric and relies a lot on sound and creepy visuals to send chills down your spine and make your skin crawl.  The ending to the film is one I didn’t see coming and getting there is like slowly going through madness.  Definitely a movie to watch with the lights out and the sound turned up.

The movie is subtitled but the subtitles were horrible.  They were too literally translated and there were at times the dialogue didn’t make sense, though it wasn’t hard to follow.  What did make sense helped with the understanding of the story, and also through the visuals it wasn’t hard to determine what was going on.

The movie is both written and directed by the team of Alexandre  Bustillo and Julien Maury.  They have brought to life a very beautiful looking horror film.  It is well shot and very well directed.  The pair take their time telling the story to help building the tension and the horror in the scenes that follow.  It is a wonder to behold on screen.  I wish I could say the same for their screenplay.  As much as I did love the movie, there were holes in the story, and I found that to be the weakest part of the movie.  The characters were well defined and the story well setup but part of the execution lacked a little.  I found there were some things that were brought into light but left without any explanation whatsoever.  They know how to shoot a beautiful piece of work, they just need to work on tightening up their writing.

The acting in the film by the cast was good.  It wasn’t cheesy or over the top which made me happy when watching the film because it isn’t an over the top style of movie.  Nothing stellar to point out in the acting department just that overall the acting was solid.

The effects in the movie, what little there were, were good.  They fit the scenes well and didn’t look fake. A good job should be noted to the make up department for the wonderful facial makeup work.  Very low key and very creepy.

I was generally thrilled with the movie overall.  There were plenty of genuine scares and the creepy tension building up really added to the horror of the film.  With a better written story I think this could have been a 5 star out of 5 movie.  Definitely one to get to watch around Halloween time.

I give this movie 4 stars out of 5.  This movie will chill you and I think the ending will surprise you.  If you have a chance to see this movie do it, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.  Till next time my friends.

REVIEW – GRAVE ENCOUNTERS 2

Grave Encounters 2 Poster

2.5 Out of 5

The first “Grave Encounters” movie was okay.  It wasn’t great but was a decent watch.  We now have a sequel to the original expertly entitled “Grave Encounters 2”.  The story behind this movie is that a budding film student becomes engrossed with the first movie that he thinks everything was real and starts to make a documentary about  how the makers of “Grave Encounters” are covering up what really happened to the actors and the people associated with the first movie.

It is a unique way to approach the sequel to the movie and in some ways works to it’s advantage.  The acting for the main character Alex Wright(Richard Harmon) is strong and works well as we see this fun loving college film student start to spiral down a dark path while making this documentary.  He has become totally obsessed with the first movie and nothing will stop him to get the story of what he thinks really happened out there.

The movie starts out with video clips of fans of the movie telling the audience what they thought of the first one, of course they are staged quips from these people and was a little strange to open the movie with but it kind of sets the tone of the movie.  We are then bombarded with quick cuts and short clips of the film students partying it up and their off and on again working on a student horror film.  This worked to a point until it became a little tiring waiting for to back to the asylum.  During this time Alex gets messages from a strange message board poster to meet them at the asylum in Canada and the reality of the situation will be given to the film student and he will have the proof he needs to give to the public the real story of what happened that fateful night.

This is where I think the movie kind of works and fails at the same time.  It was cool and fun for the first bit to see this footage but also I felt it dragged the movie down in pacing.  They could have cut out a lot of the partying scenes and get a quicker to the meat of the story, the haunted asylum, that’s why the audience is watching, to see scary things happen.  They do happen, just not quick enough for the style of movie..found footage.  I think this is the failing point of most found footage movie is the pacing and all the fluff footage that gets thrown in.  If the writers and directors could keep the movie quick, concise and to the point it would make for a better experience.

The acting overall is a mixed bag.  Richard Harmon was the strongest of the group while Dylan Playfair was the weakest, mostly because of his over acting.  I found Dylan’s character Trevor, best friend to Alex, was a tad on the annoying side and brought the movie down a bit as well. Stephanie Bennett did a good job as Tess, Alex’s girlfriend and star of Alex’s movie.  The rest of the cast overall were okay, just nothing too memorable.  This time around acting was not the stronger suit.

The Vicious Brothers were back again as writers and did a decent job with the script though the dialogue at times was corny.  What they need to work on is pacing of the story.  It was a unique try on the found footage genre with the sequel that worked in some places and flopped in others.  They added in some nice scares through out the asylum scenes but like the first one there was too much fluff between waiting.

The ending worked to a degree though the acting at times with the ending character who shows up was laughable at times, and for the frame of mind of this character you shouldn’t be laughing at things they were saying.  I won’t go into details of who this character is but fans of the first movie should be able to recognize them.

Overall it wasn’t bad movie but I felt it didn’t live up to the first one.  A unique take on the genre with subpar story telling and a mixed bag of acting thrown together with a few good scares will only work I think for people who have seen and liked the first movie.  If this was the only scary movie you had the choice to watch come this Halloween then your night won’t be totally wasted.

I give this movie 2.5 stars out of 5.  It’s not great but what keeps it a float are the couple good scares and the good performance from Richard Harmon keep this from totally bombing.  I recommend this one only if there isn’t anything scary out there you haven’t seen or if you want to see where they go with this sequel.  Till next time my friends.

REVIEW – SINISTER

Sinister Poster

5.0 Out of 5

I admit, I like my horror movies to be somewhat disturbing more than scary.  I want to come away from a good horror film and question what the heck did I just witness and also to give me moments where I’m left wondering ‘did I just see what I thought I saw’ and let me tell you “Sinister” has many of those moments.  This is, I think,, without a doubt the best horror film of the year.  It had it’s share of scary moments but most of all this movie was very horrifying and disturbing.

The movie starts off right away with a family of four being hung.  This is shown as an 8mm film and it almost gives you a feeling that you are watching some sort of snuff film.  It was a pretty disturbing opening and one of the more disturbing openings to any movie I have seen lately.  The story of the movie goes something like this.  Ethan Hawke plays Ellison Oswalt, a floundering true crime writer fixing to write his next be book about the killings of this local family and their missing daughter.  He hasn’t told his wife that he is moving them into the actual house where the murders happened.  He wants to be in as deep as he can to ensure that he writes the best novel of his career.  He later finds an old 8mm player and some family movies shot on 8mm.  These appear to be just family fun happenings until he witnesses what really happened to these families.  This is where the movie becomes very disturbing.  The deaths of the families, which get showed over and over again give the viewers the feeling of being extremely uncomfortable and the movie starts to become very unnerving.

Oswalt’s life starts to quickly spiral into his own world of madness as he tries to figure out what is going on not only with his life but the house as well.  He starts to hear bumps in the night.  The project comes on by itself.  He knows he hears footsteps throughout the house but can never find anything that causes them.  Later he enlists the help of a local deputy, who not only knows his stuff but is star truck to have this well known author in his town.  The story is a slow build up to a very terrifying ending that brilliantly brought everything together.

Director Scott Derrickson from “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” fame directs this movie perfectly.  His slow moving camera, the great framing of the scenes, the building up of pure terror and dismay.  He really knows how to make an audience member not only feel uncomfortable with what is being presented but knows how to give them chills and make things unnerving.  He doesn’t make the movie as scary as it could have been but what he brings is a brilliance in atmosphere as well as beautiful performances from all of the actors, especially Hawke and Juliet Rylance who places Tracy, the doubting wife and mother.  I loved Emily Rose and I absolutely loved his movie.

All though out the movie I kept saying to myself, this is how you make a great horror movie.  You don’t need a big budget.  You don’t need high end special effects, not tons of gore or sex or gratuitous violence.  You get a director that understands the genre and great actors and a good engaging story.  This movie had everything needed to make a great scary, disturbing picture.  The story is kind of straight forward but the pay off makes everything worth while.

I easily give this movie 5 stars out of 5.  It really chilled me to the bone and creeped the hell out of me.  I highly recommend this to anyone who not only wants to see a fabulous movie but a well crafted horror film, which usually doesn’t happen too often in North America.  If you want to be scared and disturbed and are looking for a great Halloween movie to take in this season make it “Sinister”, you won’t regret it.  Just be warned, it is a slow building movie but that is one of it;s many charms.  Till next time my friends.

REVIEW – MAMA

Mama Poster

3.0 Out of 5

We all like to be scared when going to a scary, or suspenseful horror movie.  “Mama” and movies like this, rely on suspense, building up of tension to bring on the scares through out the movie.  This movie doesn’t rely on gore or grisly deaths to shock the viewer, but tension and the illusion as to what one sees and hears.

The question is does this movie effectively do that for the viewer.  The answer is a double edge blade.  On one hand it does frighten, but more on a character level.  On the other hand which is the movie level I felt it falls flat.

The story for “Mama” is a simple one.  Two girls father comes home after killing two people at work and kills his estranged wife and takes the kids away.  They have an accident and their speeding car goes off the road and they take refuge  in an old dilapidated cabin.  The father decides he is going to kill the daughters there and take his own life, but an entity in the cabin stops them.

Five years later the girls’ uncle is still looking for them and his brother.  They are finally found and are brought home to life with their uncle and his girlfriend.  That is when trouble sets in.

Don’t be fooled by the advertisements.  This isn’t directed by Guillermo del Tor, he is an executive producer.  The movie is directed and partly written by Andrés Muschietti.  While Andrés handles the camera well through out the film, building the tension and trying to creep us, the movie-goes out, I feel that he takes too long to get where he needs to be going.  There are times when the tension is building and things start to turn creepy but end up falling flat because, if you have seen the many trailers for this film, you pretty much seen most of the big scare scenes.

What he does well though is give us a very intense and very frightening creature in the character Mama.  From the looks of the character, to her movements, to the character’s sounds, Mama is one frightening creature.  That works well throughout the movie which at least gives you some decent frightening moments, especially one very frightening scene near the end back at the cabin.

The movie though falls into the trap of building too slowly.  This in turn makes the movie start to feel very repetitive throughout the production and more than a few times I was checking to see how long we had left.  The crowd at the cinema that night was in the same boat.  I don’t think one person there, aside from my wife, reacted to any of the scare scenes that were added for jump effect.  This is where I feel that it fails as a horror film.  Some scenes and a character or two could have been trimmed or even left out of the movie, such as the children’s aunt.  I felt that her character was completely unnecessary and could have been written out altogether.  She has a scene later on in the film that made me groan and roll my eyes as to why it was even added.

Now the movie isn’t a total write off.  The acting was great.  Jessica Chastain from “Zero Dark Thirty” gives a great performance as Annabel the girlfriend to the uncle.  She’s almost unrecognizable with her jet black hair, tattoos, and eyeliner.  She’s a rocker at heart but stands by her man in his trials of bringing up these feral children they pulled from the woods.  You really feel for her throughout the movie because she’s pretty much left alone to raise these children that she really doesn’t want around.

The two children, Megan Charpentier as Victoria and Isabelle Nelisse as Lilly were terrific in the movie, especially Isabelle as Lilly.  She had a very cute but very creepy side to her as she was the one most attached to Mama.  Just by her facial expressions and eyes you could tell that something was terribly wrong with this child.  Her sister Victoria was the most developed of the two children and has the more serious part of the two.  Megan does a great job in portraying a child that is torn between family and the attachment that is waning with Mama.

The pace at the start of the film I felt was a little rushed but once it slowed down, it almost slowed to a crawl.

Over all I give his movie 3 stars out of 5.  It’s not a terrible movie but it just isn’t that great as a horror movie.  It needed more frights for the dollar, and ones that you couldn’t see coming.  When you go for scares and the audience isn’t reacting to them you have a problem on your hands.  It did take the weekend box office last weekend taking in 30 million so something seems to have worked in it’s favor.

If you plan on seeing this in the cinema, wait until a matinee, don’t rush in and pay full price.  If you elect to pass on it, at least rent it when it’s out on VOD or on DVD/Blu ray.  It’s definitely worth rental price, just not full theatre ticket price.  Till next time my friends