Category Archives: Horror
So. I thought I was getting a ghost story with this one, but, uh, no…not quite. What I DID get was a super hot mess that was boring AF. When did Netflix become the home of terrible horror? On the one hand, I’m “yay!” because I’m pretty much always down for terrible horror. On the other, I’ve yet to find the GOOD kind of terrible horror so I am very sad about Netflix’s life choices. 😦 Anyway, back to the terrible terribleness of this.
This one involves an old slaughterhouse turned into lofts, a creepy kid, lots of former murders, and secrets (that aren’t exactly secrets, but the people in the movie seem to think so, so whatever). Welcome to the slaughterhouse, where the owner killed a bunch of employees or something? They weren’t super clear on this, but I think he just kidnapped and killed employees for 80 billion years before someone finally caught on. Then he threw himself out a window at the top of the building, trying to take his son with him. Fun stuff!
Years later, a couple with a kindergarten-age daughter turns the slaughterhouse into fancy-schmancy, state-of-the-art, high-tech lofts. It’s all very happy-making. Approximately 4 people move into these lofts – people who appear to have no jobs and spend most of their time either working out in the gym, making eyes at each other or researching old murders. Lucky bastards. The couple’s daughter is kind of a brat and gets kicked out of kindergarten (who knew that was a thing?), so ends up being at the lofts 24/7. She starts running around with an “imaginary” friend who likes to hang out in the TVs and destroy her artwork. What a jerk. Her father – one of the designers – has crazy migraines all the time and starts acting weird. Her mom is just, “WTF’ing?” all over the place. And then there’s a tenant whose father worked at the slaughterhouse back in the day; his father died when he was a kid, but the tenant doesn’t know if he was murdered there (I guess b/c the police really sucked at their jobs??).
It’s all very, very boring and very, very slow. Then comes the “twist”, which isn’t really a twist because they kinda told you in the first 5 minutes what happened – they just “explain” it – and it makes NO sense whatsoever, and frankly, I wanted to jump out the damn window myself by the end. Seriously. Murder & mayhem & imaginary asshole kids should be FUN. WTF, CHARNEL HOUSE? I am giving you my disappointed face.
If you like torture, you’ll love THE CHARNEL HOUSE. If you like fun & happiness, you’ll hate it (as you should). 0/10, do not recommend.
In this, the year of our lord 2019, I would really, really, really like for horror movies to be better. And from what I hear, some recent ones actually are better, but MALEVOLENT is not one of those horror movies. Nope, it is instead a literal paint-by-numbers, “ah, yes, I know what’s going to happen after 10 minutes”, “oh, right, I remember this from movie X” kind of flick. Which, admittedly, is sometimes what one is looking for, but dammit, I so was not and I am grrr-bunnies. *sad-face* MALEVOLENT is a Netflix film, so I knew the risks inherent going in, but gah. I know Netflix can do better than this ghost story/slasher/serial killer hybrid monster.
So, the movie throws us into the action immediately, which is fun – no boring buildups or get to know the one-dimensional characters bullshit. This is something of which I def approve. We’ve got a brother & sister going to Uni in Glasgow in 1986 (I’m really not sure why the year was an important factor; this literally could have been any point in time. The only explanation I have for them making sure to tell us the year is so the characters won’t have cell phones to call for help.) Anyway, brother and sister – Jackson & Angela – and their friends/significant others, Beth & Elliot, run a fake paranormal investigation/ghostbusting service to make extra money (or in Jackson’s case to pay off scary mobster guys for reasons unknown). They go to people’s houses and Angela pretends to have the psychic touch while the others videotape the encounter, smooth-talk the people they’re conning, and fake voices, etc. with tape recorders. People praise them as heroic wonders, and they’re apparently making big bucks (but not enough to pay off the pimps or whoever Jackson owes). No harm, no foul, right? (Except for Jackson when the drug dealer dudes try to smash his face in.)
BUT apparently, Jackson & Angela’s mum actually was psychic. No one believed her, though, and it drove her crazy eventually, and she killed herself. Jackson is still super pissed about all that (understandable) but it’s turned him into an abusive dick to his sister (not understandable & totally not cool, and honestly, the entire movie I was waiting for her to punch him in the face. She never did though and I was very sad. Again.) After the first case we see them do at the beginning of the film, Angela suddenly finds herself…seeing things and hearing voices! *gasps* The fake psychic has become a real psychic (ghost-seer?). Clearly, Angela can’t tell anyone about this though because it would, like, totally ruin the fakeness of their con which would be tragic.
The next case they get is one Angela desperately does NOT want to do because it’s at some freaky murder house where a bunch of little girls were serial killed. If I could suddenly see dead people, I’d probably ixnay that one too. But Jackson is an asshole, and he & Beth are going to be dead people themselves if he doesn’t pay back the Scottish mafia or whatever, so he tells Angela to suck it up because they are so totes doing this. I really hate him. Soooo, it’s off to the murder house they go! Huzzah! And, surprise, surprise, there are a bunch of dead little girls trying to tell them something, everything goes horribly, and people die. The End.
Questions I have about this film:
- Why was the part with the loan shark/mafia/pimps necessary? It was pretty pointless as a way to get Jackson to take the job Angela didn’t want because Jackson is a little bitch and would’ve taken the job anyway, duh. Adding in that 2-minute scene where he gets bashed in the face with a pipe, while satisfying, was absolutely unneeded.
- Why exactly is Jackson an abusive bastard to his sister? Being devastated by the loss of his mom would be one thing but treating his sister like dirt, peppered with the “you know I love you, right? You’re so awesome” – like, literal textbook definition of abuse – is totally another. How are these things even correlated? Did mom like Angela better? Is it because he owes Gramps money so Gramps likes Angela better? So mystified…
- If ghosts are real and not in people’s minds, then how did these guys fake ghostbusting actually work? People were praising them as having saved them & stuff, which would make sense if the ghost activity was all in the people’s heads, but since it’s been ascertained that ghosts do indeed exist in this universe – how did they manage to achieve this?? They seemed to have not a single complaint.
- Do you think you could’ve made it less obvious who the killer was? Is there a reason you made it so obvious so early on?
- Why? Just why? *sighs*
If you need a movie on in the background while you work, this one will work in a pinch but otherwise, you might want to skip it. Formulaic + annoying AF characters + no mystery + no scares = not a very fun time. Def better ghost stories out there. Go watch them instead. Totes.
Holy fuck! Who’s that creepy motherfucker and what is he doing here?? Something tells me he wants to strangle me with my own intestines…which is VERY unhygienic, so EW. Or he could just be that guy from VOLUMES OF BLOOD: HORROR STORIES, the sequel to the kickawesome VOLUMES OF BLOOD. Remember that one? An anthology, but a super fun one with lots of gory good times? (Just click the link if you need a refresher!) But we all know that the killer always comes back, no matter what, and we also know how it tends to go with the art of the sequel. So does VOLUMES OF BLOOD II hold up to the first? Hmmm…let’s take a look….
Our story starts with a heist. One that’s set in the middle of nowhere (maybe a farm?), which is the perfect place to die. It starts out well enough with three amigos heisting, shooting the shit, and telling spooky stories about the old place they’re stealing from (because one ALWAYS does that during a heist, duh). At least half of our opening story was filmed in apparent complete dark, however, so you’re going to have to rely on your ears big time here. BUT the kill scenes are nicely lit and so long as you get to see people die, I guess it’s all cool, right? (Huh. That last sentence doesn’t make me sound unbalanced at all. ;))
But WAIT, no, omg, guess what?? That whole time we were watching a movie!! I mean, obviously I was watching a movie but then I was watching people watching a movie! Ah, the old movie within a movie trick. (Thank you, CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI) Boy, did you get me. Then we’re off to…watch another movie? But first we need to time jump to the past? And then 20 minutes past the past? Then come back to here to watch the movie? (I think I got that order correct.) There were lots of random images being flashed about, so I wasn’t sure if we were going back to the library and following the immediate aftermath of the first film or if we were jumping into a, um, jumping into movies anthology. It turned out to be neither.
What happened next was an anthology wrapped around a house and the holidays – different holidays and a single house as the centerpiece. We get to experience Father’s Day, Christmas, birthdays, Halloween, and so on and so forth. (We also get to experience the joys of house browsing!) As with most anthologies, certain pieces were better than others. My favorite story featured the girl above, a salesman, and Thanksgiving. It was incredibly atmospheric which helped lift it from the “oh yeah, I have a pretty good idea of how this ends” doldrums. The Christmas piece ended up being fairly good as well with its fun ending and an actress who was able to carry ~10 minutes of screentime alone (and mostly in silence). The downside was that this piece was much too long. I understand the time needed to build tension, to make the audience realize that something isn’t quite right, but it can be done in less time than this. (Also, my god, the freaking carols and Christmas music!!! BLEHCK. I hate this holiday so much.)
Overall though? First and foremost, VOLUMES OF BLOOD: HORROR STORIES reminded me WAY too much of THE PERFECT HOUSE, which is also an anthology tied around a house in which a real estate agent is showing a young couple around. Secondly, it was much less cohesive than the first. This story didn’t flow as smoothly as the first did; didn’t tie together as well; didn’t make as much sense. Especially the ending. I still don’t know who the killer is or where he’s from or why he suddenly popped up and decided to kill every citizen of Owensboro. I also am unsure why there are now unseen forces (or people) seemingly commanding him to kill (not like voices in his head but legit “hey that’s an order!” commanding way). Maybe it’s all just meant to entice in case there’s a third film? I dunno, but I was not impressed. Thirdly, this sequel just wasn’t as much FUN as the first was. This film was really lacking the joy of the first (I know that sounds weird – joy in a horror flick? – but hear me out). The first film was clearly such a product of love and devotion and people were so obviously having a blast that it made the energy of the film into that too (despite the blood and gore ;)).
VOLUMES OF BLOOD II was definitely better LOOKING than the first – it looks like they had a larger budget this time around – but it was lacking. It was missing that joie de vivre and indie spirit, for whatever reason. It also didn’t stick together as well as the original – this one very much showed us that it had been stirred with several hands in the mixing bowl and it made for some lumpy spots.
Is it ultimately worth a watch? Yes. There are the couple of stories that are really enjoyable; there’s a nod to TRICK’R’TREAT (my favoritest anthology series EVER); and there are lots of gooey messes and intestinal effects that are all practical and not CGI. (Big props for the makeup team and fx guys! You guys are wicked awesome!) And, of course, if you’re a fan of the slasher genre, you may totally dig on this. Check out the trailer on the Facebook page and let me know what you think!
Shady’s back – tell a friend! *dance break* Oops, sorry, got a little excited there for a minute…Anyway, I’m back (for today at least. and later this week. then hopefully forever and ever and ever like that creepy clowndoll you can’t get rid of but being ill makes life rarely go as planned, so we’ll see. right? 😉 ) WHY am I here? To let y’all know that the Portland Film Fest is back!!
Remember AIMY IN A CAGE from last year? The mind-blowingly, amazingly, freakishly, insanely beautiful love child of John Waters and Marc Caro/Jean-Pierre Jeunet (that is currently on Amazon Prime – hint, hint, nudge, nudge)? It was one of the AMAZING pieces from last year’s festival and this year’s line-up promises to be just as interesting! I’ll be covering the festival and reviewing films from it for the next couple of weeks, and there’s just so much diversity going on here – there are films on pinball wizards; accountants dying to be stand-up comedians; Ovarian Psycos; pot growers; guys with allergies to the sun; haunted Mediterranean islands; politically-conscious indie musicals (YES!!!); family dramas; goat farming; gang life vs. street fashion; superstar role models; and MORE…*deep breath* Whew, that’s a lot of film! Obviously, I can’t get to them all, but I’ll be getting to as many films as I can. If you’re IN Portland, however, I HIGHLY suggest you go watch these beauts for yourself!
The fourth annual Portland Film Festival will take place August 29 – September 5, 2016, at Portland’s iconic Laurelhurst Theater, and will include over 20 educational panels & forums, 12 archival presentations, and many parties, events, and industry networking opportunities throughout the week. Established in 2013, the Portland Film Festival is one of Oregon’s largest film festivals, and was named “one of the coolest film festivals in the world,” by MovieMaker Magazine. This year, the festival has programmed a near equal balance of films from men and women, furthering the festival’s commitment to supporting diverse voices and visions.
“This year’s screenings, panels, and programs are an exciting cross-section of icons of classic cinema, engaging new filmmakers, and the best of modern indie film. We’re truly proud to bring this year’s eclectic program to local audiences. We’re also thrilled that, for the first time, all of our films will screen at Portland’s historic Laurelhurst Theatre. This year’s festival will be a not-to- be-missed event,” said Josh Leake, Portland Film Festival Founder and Executive Director.
The festival will present two opening and closing night films (a documentary and a narrative film on each night) and feature films in the following sections: Narrative Competition Feature, Documentary Competition Feature, Narrative Spotlight, Stranger Than Fiction, Tribute: Visionaries, and Milestones. New this year, the festival has created a section to screen classic films from the 70’s and 80’s, and will also be honoring two iconic writers, Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke) and William F. Nolan (Logan’s Run).
Visit their site for full deets and list of films!
Remember Volumes of Blood? Remember how much I loved it? Well, P.j. and the gang are back for Round 2 and if you’re so willing, they’d love your help. They have an Indiegogo campaign up right now full of fun perks so if you have a couple of extra dollars and love indie horror, head on over and give ’em a hand!
Tag Line: It finds the bug in you…
Guys. *pssst* Hey, guys! I have a secret. Know what it is? That this movie is f*cking awesome! (What? If you didn’t know, then it counts as a secret…) This is, hands down, one of my new favorite movies. Not gonna lie – I wasn’t a fan of the ending but it doesn’t detract THAT much from the “WHAAA-?” factor going on here.
So ya know how we live in the age of “Big Brother” (hello, 1984!)? Drones, people listening in on phone calls, Facebook messenger needing access to our birth certificate to work kinda stuff? That’s what this is about. Except what if “Big Brother” isn’t a person (or group of people) but rather…dun, dun, dun…a NIGHTMARE CODE???
“Nightmare Code” is a psychological sci-fi thriller about computerized behavior recognition, behavior modification and 24/7 surveillance.Our main guy, Brett, is this wicked hacker who’s also a whistleblower, who’s in a heck of a lot of trouble, who gets recruited to work on this super secret project that needs to be finished STAT. It’s called ROPER and it’s an all-seeing behavior recognition program (think Minority Report – the TV show at least, I haven’t seen that movie) intended to predict future behavior. Brett got recruited super fast for this project. Why? Oh, just because the last lead programmer went on a murder/suicide spree. Yeah, no big. Cotton was his name and he was apparently a genius – a MAD genius, mwhahaha. Now Brett’s holed up in this office building (seriously, he can’t leave for some reason, not even to get lunch apparently? Weird…TOTES) with a super small team of 4 other people trying to race against time to get this baby done. His only contact with the outside world is via video chats with his wife & daughter and his programming counterpart in India. Fun job, eh? One small, itsy bitsy problem though…the code he’s working on? It’s kind of alive. Yeah.
That’s right, the big bad of our thriller is computer code! You’re sitting there going, that doesn’t sound scary or thrilling at ALL. NO. You just watch the movie because ROPER is freaking terrifying. It’s like “Robopacolypse” terrifying. The entire movie is told from the viewpoint of the CODE. Yep, it’s the first movie told from the view of artificial intelligence. This ended up being a small problem for me at times, actually, because this involved a lot of security camera footage being shown on 4 split screens at a time. There was way too much going on for me to concentrate when different things were happening on those screens so I don’t know if I missed anything important. Otherwise, it’s wicked cool watching our protagonist, Brett (Andrew J. West), slowly lose his mind while unwittingly (at first) battling this entity.
As I said before, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. It was entirely too expected; it was exactly what you knew was going to happen. I spent the last half of the film praying it WOULDN’T happen but to no avail. It doesn’t take away from the overall kickaewsomeness of “Nightmare Code” but a less archetypal ending would’ve set this film so much further apart from other sci-fi thrillers than it already is.
Guys, this is some good, clean fun right here (and by “good, clean” I obviously mean blood + sexy naked time), and y’all need to get your asses in gear and go watch “Nightmare Code” NOW. Remember, I’ll know if you don’t, because someone’s always watching… 😉
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! Hope it was super fabulous and delicious! As always, THANKSKILLING is an absolute *MUST* to follow up all that food, family, fun & dysfunction so ENJOY!
Groundhog Day takes a wild, meth-induced bloody ride in Blood Punch (my new favorite movie), a horror comedy written by Ethan Pines. This film starts out hard and never lets up – bringing us hilarity and death, murder and mayhem, sex and blood, meth and peyote, carnage and deserts, snarkiness and more snark – this is indie horror filmmaking at its finest. Seriously. Why wasn’t I in this movie?? (Oh yeah. Current status: somewhere in the woods of Alabama, far from civilization…*sighs*) You guys are gonna LOVE this one though (specially you, E.!).
So what we have is this:
A young man is lured into a dangerous love triangle that begins to take a series of shocking and grisly supernatural turns.
(Although for those more on the squeamish side, it’s really not as grisly as they make it sound. There’s tons of death but the majority of it isn’t graphic. That said, for those who enjoy blood soaked…um, bloodiness(?)…there’s a great scene featuring that which I particularly enjoyed. 😉 )
Milton is this super smart dude who got busted cooking meth and is in drug court ordered rehab. There he meets Skyler (whom I now aspire to be like) – an incredibly snarky, kinda bitchy, but ultimately sexy gal – who desperately needs him to help her and her boyfriend out with a meth cooking job. A BIG one. If he agrees, he gets to break out of rehab that night and gets a sweet payday on top of it – all for a one day job. Tiny little catch…Skyler’s boyfriend is a psychopath. No really. Dude is the devil himself (as Skyler says). An entirely terrifying yet strangely charming (at times) psychopathic devil. Lemme tell you, Ari Boyland walks a very fine line here playing Russell, and he tiptoes across that edge like a BOSS. Since this IS a horror movie, Milton takes the gig only to find out just how truly sadistic Russell is and how caught up in Russell’s web Skyler is. And then from there, things just get…well, hilariously bad.
One of the great things about this film is HOW we’re seeing things play out – via flashback. Not just any ordinary flashback though. Nope, Milton wakes up one morning to find a video message from himself in the bathtub explaining the whole situation. It’s truly fabulous. As are the various ways that people get killed off in this film. I mean, if you live to die another day, again and again and again and again…like, really how many ways are there to kill someone? These guys are determined to find out and some ways are truly inventive. So to sum up – 3 kids (okay, college kids but still) trying to work out why they’re repeatedly dying, repeatedly killing each other, trying to escape, and all while sitting on one freaking HUGE pile of meth. Oh, and there might be a romantic squabble or two in there. Super easy sitch to control. It’ll be fine. They got this.
Milo Cawthorne as Milton is great. He’s the perfect blend of confused, edgy, pissed off, longing, scared that’s required here, and is funny as hell. He and Olivia Tennet as Skyler have excellent chemistry, playing off each other extremely well, with their quip delivery on fleek. SO MUCH SNARK. It was like I died and went to heaven. *sighs* Olivia also had the job of making a not so likable character, a sympathetic one, which she did with great aplomb. There were times I wanted to hate her but I could only just say, “You’re a jerk and I’m not talking to you right now. So there.” and then made up with her, like, two minutes later. That was REALLY annoying in that one part when she did that one thing that was just all UGH, you know? 😉
Random aside: Apparently, the majority of these actors were all on some Power Rangers show (RPM??). I’m too old to have gone through a Power Rangers phase but ya know, if you’re not old and decrepit like myself and were totes into PR, then you get the added bonus of nostalgia. Just FYI. 🙂
Guys, this movie is kickawesome. We need more well made, SMART movies like this one, especially in this genre. If you wanna check it out (and you know you wanna – right, E.?), the link’s up there at the top. You can also check ’em out on Facebook if you wanna get in touch. Ugh. So fucking good. I’d hate for you to miss out…
*Sorry guys, I’m trying, I promise!! I’ll be ’round to visit soon!*
You guys remember how much I love well made short films that truly hit their mark, right? (I’m only mentioning it every single time I watch a short so how could you forget? Ha!) Here we have MESSIAH, which tells the story of Courtney, who comes home on a seemingly normal day. Upon returning, she has a mysterious visitor peddling a religious organization. Courtney’s day turns on end when she involuntarily finds herself in the middle of a dark and sinister secret. Sounds kinda cool, huh? Yeah…no…
MESSIAH, unfortunately, is not one of those shorts I adore so much. Coming in at just under 10 minutes, nothing happens till halfway through (an attempt to set the atmosphere, I’m sure, but one shouldn’t need 3-5 minutes to do so). The last half moves quickly but makes no damn sense. Okay, girl being stalked by weird, random religious people makes sense because horror (no actual reason needed there). But the girl’s boyfriend is introduced and THAT’S what doesn’t make sense. He’s apparently off in Spain or something gallivanting about and just after Courtney has let mystery religious visitor into her home, he FaceTimes her or whatever. Flash to him tied up in a chair with someone holding his phone in front of him, forcing him to stick to a script – someone with a religious tattoo. Oh no! They got him too! But wait! He’s being brave and telling Courtney to run and get out of the house in the hopes of saving her. Yay! And then comes the end, when BF here – who’s still on the phone and still tied to a chair – apologizes to Courtney for what’s happening. WAIT? WHAT? HE’S part of this? Did he set this up? But if he set this up, then why the hell is he freaking tied to a chair and being forced to talk to her while some scary person stands over him? Why did he tell her to run and then go “oops, sorry, Courts”. WTF? What is he apologizing for and why does this short play it like he’s part of this whole religious kidnapping scheme when nothing else in the entire thing goes along with that? Ugh. Bored now. This seems more like a trailer than anything else and if this was the aforementioned secret then, well, I’m just disappointed.
Another thing is the “messiah” of the title. Titles don’t necessarily have to fit in with the theme of the movie but with the religious overtures here, it seems at first glance as though MESSIAH would be a good name – except who/what/when/where is this messiah? Is Courtney the messiah? Is her BF the messiah? Do they need Courtney to bring forth a messiah? Or maybe an Antichrist figure? Just why the hell do they need Courtney?? Is mysterious visitor the messiah since she’s going around kidnapping people and somehow this is going to save this religious organization? SO MANY QUESTIONS!! This is the type of film where I don’t actually consider it to be leaving an open ending so much as leaving it up to the watcher to tell themselves the ENTIRE story after having been given what amounts to a one sentence summation. Plots can leave questions and be open-ended and all of that and I’ll love them. But just do…THIS…and it comes across as lazy.
Things I DID enjoy: 1) the music was fun. Totes melodramatic in that over the top, cheesy kind of way but it fit and THAT set the atmosphere. 2) Rachel Langdon as the “Mysterious Visitor” – she creeped me the hell out so props to her! 3) the dog – yay puppies!…Yes, I do realize this is a short list.
MESSIAH very much comes off as a beginner’s first film (and according to the website it is kind of that as it’s director/producer Mark Grabianowski’s first step into the horror genre, and writer Justin McCoy’s writing debut). Go back and add to the story and make it, well, a STORY and I think this could be something worth watching, I do. Until then though, this girl at least doesn’t understand what the goal of this was meant to be. However, if YOU’D like to check out MESSIAH for yourself or learn more about it, visit them on Facebook or the MESSIAH website!