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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: 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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