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REVIEW: The Devil’s Doorway

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Found footage films have carved out a very specific niche in the horror genre ever since the original Blair Witch Project from the late 1990s, offering a hint of realism to a film.

The Devil’s Doorway‘ is a found footage film that is based in 1960 and centers on two Vatican priests, Father Thomas Riley and Father John Thornton, armed with 16mm film cameras, who are dispatched by the Vatican to investigate reports of a miracle, a statue of the Virgin Mary weeping blood at a Catholic asylum for immoral women.

The initial horrors don’t originate from any statue, but instead at how the nuns are treating the women, who sadistically beat and imprison dozens of the women living in the asylum.

As Father Thomas takes an investigative approach that seems to dismiss any notion of a presence of God, Father John is terrorized by experiences he has at night, when alone in his room.

Sounds of children running, laughing, and visions of a little girl playing with a doll keep Father John up most nights, and the experiences get more vivid, and more intrusive.

Father John tries informing Father Thomas of the phenomena, but, again, Father Thomas is dismissive, steadfast in his belief that nothing peculiar is going on at the asylum, instead stubbornly resigned to his belief that all the activity is the result of a trickster.

Father Thomas and Father John are introduced to Kathleen, a pregnant virgin teen who is shackled in a cell by the nuns and who is apparently possessed by a demon.

The nuns oddly go to great lengths to seclude her and have neglected her so much that they asylum doctor believes that she is going to die from giving birth, stressing the importance of focusing on only saving the baby.

The film falls into the pitfall that most found footage films do, the cliche jump scares are plentiful, but executed well, and the films approach provides a different sense, and a unique feelings.

IFC Midnight has churned out some incredible horror films this year, and it should be noted that they are quietly becoming a powerhouse in the horror genre, when so much attention goes to Netflix.

While ‘The Devil’s Doorway’ isn’t incredible, it is a strong film with plenty of scares, that will creep you out with angles, tone, and execution instead of relying on the tired formula of heavy jump scares that have polluted a majority of the horror films that have come out over the past decade.

The vintage film aspect is also a nice wrinkle.

While the ending doesn’t offer answers of explanations as to what exactly was going on, or is going on, at the asylum, and leaves a lot of questions, it doesn’t deviate from the purpose of what this film is based on. Found footage that is simply played for interpretation, not for specific purpose.

Fright Nerd Score
78 frights
Summary
'The Devil's Doorway' is finely paced and entertaining enough to keep yu engaged, and most importantly, scared.
Fright Nerd Score78

 

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REVIEW: Along Came The Devil

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Jason DeVan’s ‘Along Came The Devil’ had the makings of a solid horror film, with a solid cast and strong performances across the board.

The premise was intriguing, but was problematic because the story was told in an unorganized manner, accompanied by a cookie-cutter script, and possessed too many plot holes to keep interest afloat as you continue to watch an 88 minute filmed that seemed to drag on.

According to the film’s synopsis:

‘After a troubled childhood, Ashley searches for a connection, and unknowingly invites in a demonic force, which leaves her loved ones fighting for her soul.’

Ashley, who is played by Sydney Sweeney, comes from a rough childhood, dealing with the death of her mother Sarah, and her abusive father, she navigates a brutal upbringing with the support of her sister Jordan, who seems to act more as her mother and protector in the film’s opening sequence.

The film picks up 10 years later and Ashley is now a teenager, and has just started living with her Aunt Tanya (Jessica Barth). The film already stumbles getting to this point with no explanation of what the past 10 years were like, or where Ashley was, or even where her sister Jordan was, which shows the plotline and scripts complete ineptitude.

Ashley is back in the town where she grew up and apparently everyone remembers her, including Heather (Madison Lintz) who just pops up out of nowhere and tells Ashley they’re friends. Despite Ashley not remembering her specifically, she goes along with it. Yay script!

Heather is intrigued by the paranormal, and during a party with friends (because, script) she decides to bust out an EVP app. During this ridiculous “seance” Ashley believes she sees her mother, freaks out, and runs off.

When Heather learns about her experience, she is determined to go to Ashley’s house and hold their own EVP session, in an effort to make contact with Ashley’s mother.

When they do this, they apparently invoke a spirit, who is not Ashley’s mother, but is a demon intent of taking the soul of Ashley.

Ashley slowly becomes possessed and at the end of the movie is completely engulfed by the powerful demon. The church pastor (Matt Dallas) and reverend (Bruce Davison) become involved, and things get chaotic.

The movie is do disconnected from itself, is is just a mess to follow, and when you do make the connections, it’s annoying because it still has holes and confusing points.

Despite the cast’s efforts, they cannot save a train wreck of a film that was written horribly, executed terribly, and seemed like a waste of a good premise on such a lazy approach.

Fright Nerd Score
25 frights
0 Users (0 votes)
Summary
An interesting premise with solid performances from a strong cast are ruined by an unorganized, lazily executed presentation.
Fright Nerd Score25
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REVIEW: Extinction

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Extinction is Netflix’s brand new sci-fi thriller about a mass event that sees the world under attack from an alien force.

According to the synopsis:

A man’s home life starts to suffer when he has recurring nightmares about a destructive and unknown force. He must soon find the strength to save his wife and two daughters when extraterrestrials launch a devastating attack on the planet.

The movie is quick moving, for the majority of the run time, and centers on Peter (Michael Pena) and the visions that he continues to have that are wreaking havoc on his life, his work, and his relationship with his wife, Alice (Lizzy Caplan), and their two daughters Hannah (Amelia Crouch) and Lucy (Erica Trembley).

The visions center on the end of the world, and at first Peter is concerned about the re-occurring dreams that awake him at night, but once they start randomly happening during the day, Peter starts thinking that they are premonitions.

As his wife pushes him to seek medical attention, Peter denies her request, believing more and more that what he is seeing in his visions are glimpses into a terrible future.

Before they can debate further an attack reigns down on the luxurious apartment building, proving Peter right, but also thrusting him, his family, friends, and neighbors into a fight for their life as aliens on ground, and in the air, continue their relentless assault.

The movie attempts to work a clever twist, but with terrible acting, a horrible, mundane story, it has zero impact. Special effects and proven sci-fi cliches aren’t enough to make this film the least bit entertaining, and you’ll soon be in a battle of your own, one to stay committed to seeing the film through until the end.

Fright Nerd Score
8.5 frights
Summary
The movie attempts to work a clever twist, but with terrible acting, a horrible, mundane story, it has zero impact. Special effects and proven sci-fi cliches aren't enough to make this film the least bit entertaining, and you'll soon be in a battle of your own, one to stay committed to seeing the film through until the end.
Fright Nerd Score8.5

 

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REVIEW: Dead Night

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Let’s face it, the demonic possession niche in the horror genre will always be viable, but it’s hard to make these films fun in the same way that Evil Dead or Dead Alive did, making those films cult classics.

But, in 2018 writer/director Brad Baruh took a shot at putting some old school fun, and nonsense, into his filmDead Night‘.

What makes this film enjoyable is that it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a campy, fun, and sometimes nonsensical excuse to tell a brutal horror story of murder and demonic possession.

Sprinkle in some possible cult like aspects and sacrifices, and you have yourself Dead Night.

In the movie, James (A.J. Bowen) and his wife Casey (Brea Grant) load up their two teenage kids, along with their daughter Jessica’s (Sophie Dalah) friend (Elise Luthman), and head out to a remote cabin in Oregon for a weekend trip, which turns out to be some sort of healing retreat for those with terminal illnesses (James).

The movie doesn’t do a ton of backstory, nor does it go a long way to develop any background for the characters, but this is why these movies work, because they don’t try to be anything but an excuse to see campy horror.

When the family helps an injured woman, Leslie Bison (Barbara Crampton), who happens to be running for political office, found in the woods, things take a turn for the worse as the woman is somehow tied to a cult and is only interested in impregnating a host with a demon seed.

The movie does a lot of “back and forth” between past, present, and post-murder, which makes it a bit fun to keep up with and shows the clear line between the “reality” and the “assumptions”, but toys with the viewer into deciphering the answer for themselves.

Demons, brutal kills, a group of old women that hang out in the woods killing random folks, and a challenge to viewers to decide what is really going on, is what makes Dead Night fun, campy, and entertaining.

Chances are, if you’re not a horror movie buff, you won’t be too fond of this flick.

But, if you are, this is the kind of entertainment you can appreciate.

Fright Nerd Score
70 frights
Summary
Demons, brutal kills, a group of old women that hang out in the woods killing random folks, and a challenge to viewers to decide what is really going on, is what makes Dead Night fun, campy, and entertaining
Fright Nerd Score70

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