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REVIEW: Pyewacket

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‘Pyewacket’ may be the best under-the-radar movie of the year and a flick that I am willing to bet Netflix wishes it got it’s hands on.

‘Pyewacket’ is, hands down, the best horror flick I have seen so far this year.

It resonates. It perfectly weaves a tense, gripping and disturbing story into a beautifully crafted, and well paced, film.

During a time when the “jump scare” is the “go-to” move of every horror movie, ‘Pyewacket’ doesn’t heavily lean on the trend, yet, proves to be scarier than a lot of the flicks that do just that.

In ‘Pyewacket’, a teenage girl who is grieving from the recent death of her father is trying to find herself, as most teens at her age are, while dealing with a myriad of personal issues.

Leah, who is played by Nicole Munoz, is a goth teen that is interested in the Occult and has a rather contentious relationship with her widowed mother, who is visibly battling depression and grief and is prone to emotionally abusive, alcohol fueled outbursts, when arguing with Leah.

Writer-director Adam MacDonald paces the first hour of the move very well, as it is steeped in plenty of story setup, but not too much so that it loses your interest.

It is all relative, it is all important, and it pays off later in the movie in grand fashion.

Leah and her mother (Laurie Holden) continue to ride an emotional roller coaster relationship and, eventually, Leah’s mother abruptly announces that the two are moving out to the country for a “fresh start”.

Leah, being the angst-riddled and depressed teen she is, lashes out in anger, and opts to turn to the occult to cast a spell to kill her mother.

Oh, teens.

MacDonald does a fine job of showing the pure emotion of Leah’s actions, but, also reminds the viewer that, above all else, she is purely acting out as dramatically and irrationally as most teenagers her age may, although maybe not using a death curse as a vehicle of expression.

Leah’s actions, in their entirety, may not be palpable but provide a layer and tone that creates the tense emotion for the rest of the film.

While most films go right to the scares, almost in excess, MacDonald takes a different approach with ‘Pyewacket’, instead denying the viewer the satisfaction of the scare immediately, allowing the movie to draw out, thus demonstrating an astute understanding of pace and timing that craft the real “scare”.

Eventually, the pyewacket comes, and the build is a slow one, but, one that eventually floods out into terror and a gripping and tense sequence that feels rewarding, although brutal, for the viewer.

‘Pyewacket’ may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It demands a dedication to seeing the story through and veers off from the jump scares that films rely on these days, providing a refreshing approach to building a lasting scare.

With that being said, it will hard for movies to top ‘Pyewacket’ for me this year, as it has set the bar, for me, for how films that deal with the occult, demonic hauntings or supernatural should unfold.

Fright Nerd Score
85.5 frights
Summary
it will hard for movies to top 'Pyewacket' for me this year, as it has set the bar, for me, for how films that deal with the occult, demonic hauntings or supernatural should unfold.
Fright Nerd Score85.5

 

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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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