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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: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

This past weekend, and with much anticipation, Andre Ovredal’s ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ hit theaters.

According to the synopsis: “The shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large in the small town of Mill Valley for generations. It’s in a mansion that young Sarah Bellows turns her tortured life and horrible secrets into a series of scary stories. These terrifying tales soon have a way of becoming all too real for a group of unsuspecting teens who stumble upon Sarah’s spooky home.”

Despite the promising premise, I couldn’t find anything to differentiate this film from the run-of-the-mill Goosebumps installment, which left it lacking in many areas, and buried it so deep in stupidity that not even their strong displays of special effects made this a worthwhile time investment.

I couldn’t find a reason to care about any of the main characters such as Stella (Zoe Margaret Colleti) or Ramon (Michael Garza) because this film simply failed to hold my attention.

Rooted in compelling horror stories that may have done well if done completely different, this fill clunked and bored it’s way from start to finish.

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REVIEW: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ tore up the box office during it’s first weekend, and for good reason.

Tarantino’s latest film pays homage to the rapidly changing landscape of Hollywood in 1969, where TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his long-time stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) are dealing with being fazed out of a Hollywood that, at one time, adored them.

The cinematography alone is brilliant, but the chemistry between both Pitt and DiCaprio is something truly memorable, as their characters fluidly weave from humor, to drama, and back again almost effortlessly.

While some have panned the movie for the glutton of nostalgia, which I had no issue with because it’s set in a specific time, and maybe their portrayal of Bruce Lee (Lee’s daughter has taken issue with the film), I found little to no warts associated with the movie.

Keeping within the context of the time, and understanding that everything was different, in every way, back then, it’s easy to connect with the characters, regardless if they make you love or hate them.

‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ is simply a beautiful period piece, with impressive dialogue that keeps you engaged when the conversations are otherwise meaningless in the totality of the film.

Margot Robbie shines as Sharon Tate, so much so that Tate’s sister Debra, who has panned performances from others in the past (such as Hillary Duff), cried watching Robbie play her sister.

What makes Tarantino’s film so good, aside from all the meat and potatoes that make it up, is how, despite history, he gives the audience a bit of the karma that we wish saw play out in real life (sorry, won’t spoil that).

Plus, it’s good to see a pitbull play a hero role, despite the unfair reputation that has been create for them.

All in all, this will easily go down as one of Tarantino’s very best, and should garner award consideration for Pitt and DiCaprio, and rightfully so.

Fright Nerd Score
97 frights
0 Users (0 votes)
Summary
'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' is simply a beautiful period piece, with impressive dialogue that keeps you engaged when the conversations are otherwise meaningless in the totality of the film.
Fright Nerd Score97
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REVIEW: Crawl

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Crawl

What is summer without it’s fair share of monster movies? Crawl decided to go the alligator route in their horror-thriller that hit theaters in July.

According to the film’s synopsis: “When a massive hurricane hits her Florida town, young Haley ignores the evacuation orders to search for her missing father, Dave. After finding him gravely injured in their family home, the two of them become trapped by the rapidly encroaching floodwaters. With the storm strengthening, Haley and Dave discover an even greater threat than the rising water level — a relentless attack from a pack of gigantic alligators.”

Coming to terms with what the movie is, prior to seeing it, didn’t help soften the blow of a moronic, predictable, and otherwise boring flick that seems to have won over a ton of critics, shockingly.

While it may seem moronic on my part to question the realism in a movie such as Crawl, I cannot help but express my irritation seeing the main character Haley (Kaya Scodelario) walking around during the initial touchdown of a Category 5 hurricane, with nothing but a raincoat, as if the high winds are merely a breeze, while others are evacuating.

From there Haley continues to stumble upon her incredible super powers, which apparently include finding passed out relatives under the foundation of a house….during a hurricane.

Yeah, the kills were cool, at times. But the balancing of killer alligators and a redemption story (of sorts) couldn’t save a movie that was completely unwatchable, and frustratingly boring.

While you’ll likely find more positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, IMD, and Google, I am just not in that boat.

This was terrible from start to finish.

Fright Nerd Score
35 frights
0 Users (0 votes)
Summary
Coming to terms with what the movie is, prior to seeing it, didn't help soften the blow of a moronic, predictable, and otherwise boring flick that seems to have won over a ton of critics, shockingly.
Fright Nerd Score35
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