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REVIEW: Demon House

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The premise of Zak Bagans’ ‘Demon House’ seems a bit unnerving, which immediately conjures up interest for the diehard paranormal fan.

Unlike most of the “based on a true story” movies, this one actually has researchable substance. There is plenty of news stories and reports to Google about the origins of the home and all of the lore. This helps provide a solid backdrop to this movie.

Unfortunately, it’s not a movie and I would hardly call it a documentary. ‘Demon House’ is an extended episode of Bagans’ Ghost Adventures, more than a feature film and a bit different from a traditional documentary.

Sure, there are far more interview segments in ‘Demon House’ than in a normal, run of the mill ‘Ghost Adventures’, but it’s still, at it’s core, seemingly the same format.

The film starts off slow and drags a bit as Bagans’ catches the viewers up to speed on all the spooky things going on in the home over the years.

In all honesty I was never a fan of Bagans, nor was I someone who avidly watched his show on a regular basis. I preferred shows such as ‘Ghost Hunters’ and found Bagans’ show a bit “much” in the way of theatrics.

But, this film made me a fan.

Sure, I could so without the corny “re-enactments” and “dramatizations”, but they needed to be there. However, the effort should have been better, at least in using a different way to shoot these scenes. Other paranormal television shows such as ‘A Haunting’ manage to pull this off, this film could have done better.

Not that it particularly pushed me away or drove down my interest, but my wife, who does not normally watch this type of content, was constantly rolling her eyes at these cut scenes.

Which leads me to the overall analysis of this film.

If you’re a fan, you’d be entertained. If you’re new to the genre, Bagans, or Bagans’ show, you’re probably going to find yourself turning it off before things get good.

And Bagans’ film gets very thrilling in the final 45 minutes and ends with Bagans’ experience, that will simply freak you out and stick with you.

Bagans comes across contrite, honest and is dialed back significantly from the over-the-top personality he can exude on his television show.

And Bagan’s demeanor throughout this film helps deliver the theme, helps sell the realness, helps convey the seriousness.

The ending will grip you, but it’s a film for a specific audience, which makes grading it a bit difficult.

Diehard fans will, more than likely, like it. Newcomers or those looking for a true-to-form horror movie will probably be bored.

So, I am trying to balance my grading to reflect both sides.

Bagans did a lot to win me over as an interested viewer, and I have a great interest in chatting with him sometimes about this experience, so, the film resonated with me.

However, I found a lot of the extra-curricular stuff a bit off-putting, and for a film that’s been a few years in the making, I felt more could be put into the dramatization scenes because the non-diehard fan in me found them to be a deterrent.

Fright Nerd Score
65 frights
Summary
I found a lot of the extra-curricular stuff a bit off-putting, and for a film that's been a few years in the making, I felt more could be put into the dramatization scenes because the non-diehard fan in me found them to be a deterrent.
Fright Nerd Score65

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REVIEW: The Clovehitch Killer

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IFC Midnight is back at it again, in a good way, with ‘The Clovehitch Killer’, adding to an impressive year of delivering quality horror flicks, making IFC Midnight one of the premier destinations to find solid horror movie content on a consistent basis.

In Duncan Skiles’ movie, it tells the story of Tyler (Charlie Plummer) who begins to unravel a deadly mystery involving his father (Dylan McDermott). According to the synopsis:

“After Tyler finds a cache of disturbing images in his father’s possession, he begins to suspect that the man he trusts most in the world may be responsible for a series of unsolved murders.”

Tyler’s dad, Donald, is heavily involved in the community, and in the church. The community itself is still reeling over a string of murders attached to the infamous Clovehitch killer, whose calling card is a knot tied to a random part of a victim’s home, or where a victim’s body is discovered, and whose murderous reign ended a decade ago.

However, Tyler’s new friend Kassi (Madisen Beaty) believes that the killer had not stopped, and has continued murdering. After Tyler discovers some disturbing photos hidden in his father’s work shed, he forms a friendship with Kassi and joins her obsession with unraveling the mystery of the identity of the killer.

As they start theorizing that Don is the killer, Don start covering up his tracks and doing his best work in trying to convince Tyler that he is not the killer, instead placing full blame on his brother Rudy (Mark A. Nash) who is in a vegetative state due a car accident that occurred, coincidentally, 10 years ago.

However, the clues continue to point to Don, and both Tyler and Kassi are faced with a life-and-death situation as they inch closer to uncovering the truth behind the Clovehitch killer.

The movie is perfectly placed, with plenty of logical twists and turns to deliver a refreshingly realistic telling of a serial killer-based thriller. McDermott delivers a fine performance as a slowly unraveling psychopath who has played his clean-cut alter-ego perfectly, but has finally succumbed to his inner, devious, urges. A solid film from start to finish, with an ending that will stay with you for it’s tragic nature.

Fright Nerd Score
89 frights
0 Users (0 votes)
Summary
The movie is perfectly placed, with plenty of logical twists and turns to deliver a refreshingly realistic telling of a serial killer-based thriller. McDermott delivers a fine performance as a slowly unraveling psychopath who has played his clean-cut alter-ego perfectly, but has finally succumbed to his inner, devious, urges. A solid film from start to finish, with an ending that will stay with you for it's tragic nature.
Fright Nerd Score89
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REVIEW: The Farm

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Last week, ‘The Farm’ arrived amid a ton of anticipation and hype, and frankly I was excited to see what kind of twisted gore was in store for what seemed to be a detached, deranged, and devilishly entertaining film, one that could be a sleeper pick for horror fans.

Fright Nerd has covered ‘The Farm’ extensively, from it’s run at the festivals to it’s pending arrival on VOD, and last week was an exciting time to see what was finally causing all the buzz that was calling it one of the most violent films of the year.

Unfortunately, ‘The Farm’ served absolutely no purpose, and was mindlessly lost with no clear direction, definition, purpose, or place within it’s own existence.

Hans Stjernswärd’s film had the look and feel of a special, memorable, horror flick but a terrible script coupled with a lackluster approach at giving any explanation or backstory for anyone, anything, or any event going on within the film completely derailed it.

In similar films, they rely on the gore and kills to get by, but this film dragged on endlessly with very little of either, leaving you waiting for something to happen, and something to entertain you.

The film had all the ingredients to be a super cool film, but just like the final image in the final scene of the film, the film had me scratching my head waiting for something….anything.

Fright Nerd Score
34 frights
0 Users (0 votes)
Summary
Hans Stjernswärd's film had the look and feel of a special, memorable, horror flick but a terrible script coupled with a lackluster approach at giving any explanation or backstory for anyone, anything, or any event going on within the film completely derailed it.
Fright Nerd Score34
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REVIEW: Errementari: The Devil and the Blacksmith

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Often times you can find a hidden gem on Netflix, especially in the horror genre, so I often times find myself going on the hunt for an obscure title that may surprise, and actually resonate with me. I stumbled across one film that could have been one of those hidden gems, and here is my review.

‘Errementari: .The Devil and the Blacksmith’ came out in 2017 and Netflix picked it up for release on it’s massive streaming platform in 2018 and tells the story of, “A brutal blacksmith tortures a demon he blames for his misery, unaware a trespassing orphan is about to change everything. Based on Basque folklore.”

The blending of fantasy story-telling and horror is interwoven with beautiful cinematography throughout the film, and although it is a foreign language film, Netflix does a good job with the dubbing, sans a certain scene that involves a slapping sound that sounds like a massive cracking whip more than a subtle quick slap across the face.

Aside from that, the story is told very well, albeit some corny scenes, and the pace of the movie is perfectly set. However, illogical nuances are more embarrassing than beneficial for a film that brings the viewers directly to hell. Apparently, demons can’t resists the power of the almighty chic pea. Yes, chic peas are the downfall, even the depths of hell, and it’s little elements such as that they add a ridiculous tone to a movie that really would have been better without it.

Still, it’s hard to find fantasy/horror films that are shot so well, and with costumes and makeup that look the part.

Despite the obvious flaws, Netflix did a good job taking a foreign language film and delivering it for the English speaking audience. The story flows well, the special effects work, and the overall delivery of the film, and characters work. While the aforementioned flaws cause for more laughs than the movie delivers scares, it’s still a solid flick.

Sure, it’s no Pans Labyrinth, but it’s watchable and worth the 1 hour and 39 minute investment of time, although it won’t blow you away.

Fright Nerd Score
51 frights
0 Users (0 votes)
Summary
Despite the obvious flaws, Netflix did a good job taking a foreign language film and delivering it for the English speaking audience. The story flows well, the special effects work, and the overall delivery of the film, and characters work. While the aforementioned flaws cause for more laughs than the movie delivers scares, it's still a solid flick.
Fright Nerd Score51
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