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.
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.
Earlier this year, directory Jaco Bouwer dropped his horror/drama ‘Gaia’, which just made it’s arrival on the Hulu streaming platform courtesy of XYZ Films, kykNET Films, and Film Initiative Africa, as part of their Huluween celebration.
According to the official rundown: “A park ranger takes shelter with two survivalists after an attack by mysterious creatures in a primordial forest.”
This film bursts with colorful and detailed imagery that cast ominous tones, diverse moods, and illustrates a hallucinogenic environment that is filled with unique creatures, and plantlife that takes on a life of their own.
Gabi (Monique Rockman) ventures into this forest and is immediately interwoven into the troubling dynamic of a father and son survivalist lifestyle. Barend (Carel Nel) is more of a deranged preacher high off the mushroom dust that is part of his “faith”, and demands that his son Stefan (Alex van Dyk) live a life that he determines to be pure – a secluded one away from society, reliant on the forest and the worshiping of the forest God.
Gabi attempts to convince Stefan of a world outside of the forest, one where he can grow, learn, and thrive, despite his father’s constant obsession on their forest life. As Gabi grows closer to Stefan, with oddly sexual undertones, Barend becomes more detached and intensely obsessed with the big tree in the forest which is where he makes his offerings, and is the altar for which he prays.
As the forest creatures continue to threaten, and as the forest slowly infects and kills those it selects, Gabi rushes to help Stefan escape to the outside world.
REVIEW: No One Gets Out Alive
Netflix’s new horror, Santiago Menghini’s ‘No One Gets Out Alive’ hit the ground running in late September as a number of positive reviews rolled in for the film, which is the adaptation of Adam Nevill’s novel.
According to the official synopsis: “An immigrant (Cristina Rodlo) in search of the American dream is forced to take a room in a boarding house, where she finds herself in a nightmare she can’t escape.”
Ambar is a struggling immigrant, one who is also undocumented and fighting to hide her identity, who is forced to rent a room in a multi-room home that is undergoing extensive renovations and only houses women.
Ambar struggles at her new job, where she is constantly behind and on the chopping block with her manager, but befriends a co-worker by the name of Kinsi (Moronke Akinola) who promises her an American ID card to help her get situated in the country.
As the home’s dark past continues to bubble up, so does Ambar’s desperation. Aside from the dreams of her mother’s hospitalization leading up to her death, Ambar is also haunted by the ghosts of the home, which seems like a video playback of the murders that took place in the home over the years.
As the movie progresses and the hauntings more intense, Ambar starts suffering loss after loss, and falling deeper into the home’s grasp.
The owners hide a mysterious ancient box in the basement, one that demands to feast on the heads of the living, and provides an ominous power to those who feed it. While the monster that comes out from the box is comical, it doesn’t take too much away from the entire movie.
A dark journey filled with struggle, loss, and fear molds Ambar into considering a darker path than the one she was on.
REVIEW: Tragedy Girls
During this Halloween season there will be a lot of movies available for horror fans, and while a bunch of new releases will be popping up throughout the month of October, I started to dig into some horror movies that have surfaced over the past few years that I had not gotten a chance to check out.
One such movie was Tyler Macintyre’s 2017 horror/comedy ‘Tragedy Girls’, which is now available on Hulu, and stars Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandria Shipp, Craig Robinson, Kevin Durand, Jack Quaid, and Josh Hutcherson.
According to the official synopsis: “Teenage crime reporters Sadie and McKayla are hot on the trail of a crazed serial killer. After capturing the maniac and holding him hostage, they soon realize that the best way to boost their social media stardom is to commit the murders themselves.”
The movie is a fun journey through a number of horror movie tropes, and despite being somewhat hollow at points and drifting away from the finer details in certain scenes, the cast performances and the personality of the movie more than make up for it, providing an entertaining experience.
Sadie and McKayle are obsessed with building a social media presence, while also authoring a memorable killing spree that will go down in history, and the movie hilariously shows their first few murders that, by circumstance, end up looking like accidents, which upsets the girls.
The girls are intensely focused on popularity via social media platforms, and driving viewers to their website, and also socially they go through the motions to fit in, such as cheerleading and prom planning.
But it fails to land in their intended way, which forces the girls to step up their game, and get more brutal with their killings.
As their popularity grows, their mindsets appear to change, especially as a relationship evolves between Sadie and Jordan (Quaid) which drives a wedge between the girls and shifts Sadie from a psychotic killer to a caring, socially engaged student that deviates completely from her destructive path.
The kills are hilariously brutal and the story, aside from some logical bumps in the road, provides plenty to bite into that doesn’t drag the movie down.
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