Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Short Film: Chatter (2010)

After an argument with her boyfriend, Liz (Karoline Stemme) uses a little alcohol to make herself feel better and a Chat Roulette-type website to take her mind off her problems.  She discovers a brand new set of problems, though, when she watches the girl that she is chatting with being attacked by some unseen force.  Almost as if on cue, Liz's power goes out...and when it comes back on, she is not alone.

I stumbled across this short film completely by accident, but I sure am glad that I did.  This was a fantastic 8-minute ride, chock full of creeps.  Were it expanded a bit, and the format altered, this would be right at home in the next entry of the V/H/S franchise--and it would probably be one of the better segments, too.

Take ten minutes out of your busy life, turn down the lights, and give this puppy your full attention.

Chatter from Espen Gjelsten on Vimeo.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Movie Review: Devil's Due (2014)

Devil's Due
DEVIL'S DUE - Poster Image

Written by Lindsay Devlin
Directed by Matt Bettinello-Olpin & Tyler Gillett

Samantha McCall...Allison Miller
Zach McCall...Zach Gilford
Father Thomas...Sam Anderson

After a lost night on their Mexican honeymoon, newlyweds Samantha and Zach McCall discover that they're going to have a baby. This isn't Knocked Up, though, and that ain't no normal baby. She's carrying the antichrist in her once-taut tummy.

I traditionally avoid spoilers in my reviews, but I feel that I can get away with this one because although they don't tell you it in the trailers, they basically tell you within the first 10 seconds of the movie.

DEVIL'S DUE -"I didn't kill her"

Samantha dies.

We know this because the movie opens up with a blood-covered Zach in an interrogation room. "I didn't kill her," he says. And even if he didn't, someone or something did.

This pointless opening which gives away the fate of our main character is my primary qualm with this movie. We know she dies, and because it's a movie about giving birth to the antichrist, we're pretty sure we know when, too. All we don't know about her final fate is the how, and you'll probably figure that out well before the movie ends, too.

Found footage films have a lot of detractors. They have ever since The Blair Witch Project burst on the scene. I, for one, am a proud supporter. I would say that I am a found footage apologist, but I feel no need to apologize. When done correctly, they draw me into the story and keep me there, offering up a semblance of "reality" that a more cinematic approach would have difficulty achieving on what is typically a lower budget. The wife and I both thoroughly enjoyed this film, and it will probably join the Paranormal Activity films on our shelf once the DVD drops.

DEVIL'S DUE - Redecorating for the baby

All that being said, Devil's Due does not bring much of anything new to the table. It hits all of the notes that I expected it to hit, but it did so well enough that I didn't mind too much. There were enough scares and creepy imagery scattered about to keep me interested, and I was never pulled too far out of the movie (though in hindsight, I do have to wonder just how all of this footage from multiple cameras was supposedly assembled).

All in all, any horror flick that I can enjoy with the wife is all right by me. It didn't rewrite the rules or redefine the genre, but not everything has to. Sometimes one can find comfort in the familiar.

Rated R
89 Minutes
United States


Monday, January 13, 2014

Movie Review: Big Bad Wolves (2012)

Big Bad Wolves
BIG BAD WOLVES - Poster Image

Written & Directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado

BIG BAD WOLVES - Police Brutality

When a police detective's brutal methods allow a murderous pedophile to go free, said detective is suspended from the force. Without the badge holding him back, he's able to travel right over the edge to get his man...but he's not the only one. The father of the latest victim is on the case, too, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to find out where the pervert hid his daughter's head.

BIG BAD WOLVES - Hammer Time

It seems everybody wants a pound of flesh, but the question is: is there enough to go around? This dark, violent, and gory revenge flick shows just how far family will go for blood--to protect their own, and to spill somebody else's. There are enough atrocities onscreen to make you look away, and enough flip-flopping of allegiances to keep you guessing right up to the end.


And who is the Big Bad Wolf here? It's not just the suspected pedophile, and it's not just those who are seeking bloody vengeance. It's all of them together, three very different men on a roadway straight to hell.

This stylish and very-darkly comic thriller is the Israeli equivalent of Eli Roth directing Reservoir Dogs.  It is more of a crime piece than it is a horror flick, but there are bucket loads of Hostel-type horror scenes here, which more than qualifies it for inclusion in any genre fan's watchlist.  This was one of my favorite discoveries this past year, and I'm hoping that it will find its audience when it hits V.O.D. and select theaters on January 17th.

Special thanks to Magnolia Pictures for the screener!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Movie Review: Besties (2012)

BESTIES - Poster Image

Written & Directed  by Rebecca Cutter

Sandy...Olivia Crocicchia
Ashley...Madison Riley
Justin...Christopher Backus
Danny...Corin Nemic

When 14-year-old Sandy's father goes out of town for the weekend, high school senior Ashley is asked to babysit. Sandy has always idolized Ashley, so when the older girl decides to throw a party, she goes along with it.

Justin, a dangerous one-time fling of Ashley's, shows up and begins making inappropriate advances on Sandy. Things spiral out of control, and soon the girls are left with a corpse to dispose of.

Secrets like this pull people together and push them apart. The secret--and Ashley--become the center of Sandy's world, digging herself deeper and deeper into a world of darkness and obsession.

BESTIES - Friends 4-Ever

Sandy's fascination with Ashley is the real backbone of this story, as it is what allowed everything to unfold in the first place. This could very well be the pre-history of a Single White Female situation.

It's a decent little thriller, sort of horror-lite, almost ready for broadcast TV. It's likely not to please the hardened genre fan, but drama lovers who enjoy a side of darkness should be pleased.

As far as the characters go, the usual teen tropes apply. They don't talk like real teenagers, they talk the way that movies believe teenagers talk. That being said, they're not quite as obnoxious as teenagers are usually depicted, and Olivia Crocicchia turns in a great performance as the bumbling, awkward Ashley. She carried the film admirably.

BESTIES - Olivia Crocicchia

The finale is a little open-ended, but it works with this film. I can't say that I'm necessarily a fan of the movie, but I'm sure there are a large number of tween girls who would be pleased to munch popcorn on the couch while this is playing on the television.

Besties will be available for VOD on January 21.
Special thanks to Phase 4 Films for the screener!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: The Year of Fear

Well, horror hipsters, 2013 has come and gone, and 2014 is just beginning. I'm not the type to make New Year's resolutions, primarily just because I'm too damned lazy to try to improve myself. However there are a few things that I'm hoping (not resolving) to accomplish this year.

I'm going to keep on plugging away with the fine folks over at The Crypt as an official contributor, plus behind the scenes as a somewhat less official beta tester. There's already some great stuff there, and even better things will be coming our way in 2014, so if you don't have the Crypt app on your iPhone yet, get on it. (Android and web platforms coming soon).

I'm going to try to post more often around here, even if not a full-fledged review, at least a few inane ramblings and updates.

I am also currently attempting to nail down some concrete concepts for a NEW project that I'm tossing around, which will (I hope) give my reviews and writings a more viable voice, focus, and direction, and will reignite my passion for the horror genre.

So stay tuned, everyone. And let's make 2014 the Year of Fear!



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