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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: In the Tall Grass

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In the Tall Grass

Stephen King has been killing it (no pun intended) when it comes to the movie adaptations of his classic novels, and the latest story to be turned into a film is ‘In the Tall Grass’ which hit Netflix recently.

Vincenzo Natali is behind the camera for the adaptation of Stephen King and Joe Hill’s novella, and it came with a lot of hype.

Starring Patrick Wilson, Laysla De Oliveira, Harrison Gilbertson, Avery Whitted, and Rachel Wilson, the film tells the story of: “After hearing a boy’s cry for help, a pregnant woman and her brother wade into a vast field of grass, only to discover there may be no way out.”

The film starts off strong, with a brother (Cal) and sister (Becky, who is pregnant) hearing the panicked cries of a young boy who seems lost in a field of very tall grass. After some debate, they both decide to venture in and try to locate the lost boy (Tobin).

Tobin, and something else, turn the two siblings in circles, disorientating them and separating them. Despite their call-outs, communication, and attempts to reconnect, they cannot find one another.

Along the way, Tobin appears, near his dead dog Freddy, but Becky meets a sinister fate….or does she?

This is where the film rolls off the cliff from interesting and engaging, to confusing and messy.

As the journey continues, we find that Becky, Cal, and Tobin aren’t alone in the grass, as Tobin’s parents Ross and Natalie, along with Becky’s boyfriend Travis, also find themselves seemingly trapped.

Not to mention, there is a mystic rock in the center of the field, one with ritualistic markings and some sort of power that is activated when touched. But, don’t touch it…I guess?

While waiting for the scares and tense moments, you slowly come to the disappointing realization that you’re just watching a bunch of people, dead and alive (depending), run around in the grass in what seems like a time warp that they cannot escape? But maybe they can?

It’s hard to tell. But this film does do one thing: proves that not all of Stephen King’s work should be made into films, as this one is simply anti-climactic and rather dull.

But, hey, give it a go. Maybe you’ll find your way to some sort of meaning or understanding of what this was/is, better than I could.

Fright Nerd Score
45 frights
0 Users (0 votes)
Summary
While waiting for the scares and tense moments, you slowly come to the disappointing realization that you're just watching a bunch of people, dead and alive (depending), run around in the grass in what seems like a time warp that they cannot escape? But maybe they can?
Fright Nerd Score45
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REVIEW: Creepshow – Episode 2

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Creepshow

Shudder grabbed the attention of a number of horror fans when they announced their rebooting of the beloved classic ‘Creepshow’, which is offering a brand new episode, composed of two stories, each week.

While the first episode showed promise, the second offering from Creepshow left much to be desired.

The first story ‘Bad Wolf Down’ is about a group of World War II American soldiers who are hunkered down in a prison as Nazi soldiers are closing in, forcing them into a tense, and critical decision making situation of life and death.

While in the prison, they encounter a French woman who is attempting to lock herself away and persuade them to kill her.

As one soldier in their unit betrays them, and the Nazis start to close in further, the woman passes on her curse as a werewolf to the soldiers so they can combat the Nazis and chase down the traitor for revenge.

Although it’s early in the series, this has to be the worst episode yet, as it’s hard to execute a proper werewolf tale these days without looking ridiculous. Even if it’s purposeful, it doesn’t make it any more watchable.

The second story is called ‘The Finger’, and the dark comedy tells the story of a depressed, lonely, divorcee who happens across the odd shriveled, finger of something non-human. After spilling his beer (the same one from ‘Gray Matter’) he notices the finger has strange powers.

He puts the finger in a freezer, where it shockingly grows into a demonic, alien-looking creature that he names “Bob”. Bob is intent on brutally taking his revenge, with blood, on those who have, even slightly, wronged his master in any way.

With every death Bob commits, the body part that his master cleans up, the law closes in. But, the ending has you questioning what’s real, and what’s not and caps off one of the more enjoyable entries in the series so far. While it’s not on the level of ‘Dollhouse’ it certain’y accomplishes the goal of making campy, gory, humor…work.

Fright Nerd Score
52.5 frights
0 Users (0 votes)
Fright Nerd Score52.5
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REVIEW: The Furies

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the furies

Shudder is stepping up their game for the Halloween season, and their new film Tony D’Aquino’s ‘The Furies’ may be one of their most interesting offerings yet.

Kidnapped and afraid, a woman finds herself fighting to stay alive as an unwilling participant in a deadly game where women are hunted by masked men, but the story goes much deeper than that generalized synopsis.

Kayla (Airlie Dodds) suffers from epilepsy and after an argument with her friend Maddie, is abducted, experimented on, and placed in a box left in the middle of the woods.

When Kayla awakens, she realizes she is in the middle of nowhere, but happens to connect with others girls in a similar hell, and the story of ‘The Furies’ starts to unfold.

Essentially, each of the girls are in a highly-orchestrated deadly game of survival, where death seems undeniable.

While The Furies packs on the gore with some impressive, toe curling, death scenes, the story is so fractured that is lost my attention several times as the film progressed. While it does offer a few surprising, creative wrinkles, it isn’t enough to make the film anything to write home about.

Watchable? Yes. But the substance doesn’t make it “must see” and certainly doesn’t make it memorable.

Fright Nerd Score
62 frights
0 Users (0 votes)
Summary
While The Furies packs on the gore with some impressive, toe curling, death scenes, the story is so fractured that is lost my attention several times as the film progressed. While it does offer a few surprising, creative wrinkles, it isn't enough to make the film anything to write home about.
Fright Nerd Score62
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