Let’s face it, the demonic possession niche in the horror genre will always be viable, but it’s hard to make these films fun in the same way that Evil Dead or Dead Alive did, making those films cult classics.
Sprinkle in some possible cult like aspects and sacrifices, and you have yourself Dead Night.
In the movie, James (A.J. Bowen) and his wife Casey (Brea Grant) load up their two teenage kids, along with their daughter Jessica’s (Sophie Dalah) friend (Elise Luthman), and head out to a remote cabin in Oregon for a weekend trip, which turns out to be some sort of healing retreat for those with terminal illnesses (James).
The movie doesn’t do a ton of backstory, nor does it go a long way to develop any background for the characters, but this is why these movies work, because they don’t try to be anything but an excuse to see campy horror.
When the family helps an injured woman, Leslie Bison (Barbara Crampton), who happens to be running for political office, found in the woods, things take a turn for the worse as the woman is somehow tied to a cult and is only interested in impregnating a host with a demon seed.
The movie does a lot of “back and forth” between past, present, and post-murder, which makes it a bit fun to keep up with and shows the clear line between the “reality” and the “assumptions”, but toys with the viewer into deciphering the answer for themselves.
Demons, brutal kills, a group of old women that hang out in the woods killing random folks, and a challenge to viewers to decide what is really going on, is what makes Dead Night fun, campy, and entertaining.
Chances are, if you’re not a horror movie buff, you won’t be too fond of this flick.
But, if you are, this is the kind of entertainment you can appreciate.
REVIEW: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Last week, Netflix’s long-awaited film that centered on infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, from the perspective of his long-time girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer, premiered and it was met with mixed reviews.
According to the synopsis: “A courtroom frenzy ensues and sweeps 1970s America when a young single mother reluctantly tips the attention of a widespread manhunt toward her longtime boyfriend, Ted Bundy.”
Zac Efron dazzles in his role of Bundy, creating a magnetic like-ability that made the real-life Bundy so appealing in the media. Efron, from angles, even looked eerily similar to Bundy, making his performance that much more powerful.
However, despite the performances of Efron, and Lily Collins (Kloepfer) this film seems “off”, muddying itself into a controversial arena that almost invokes sympathy for Bundy, one of the most evil and brutal killers in America history.
While it’s fair to argue that portraying Bundy this way accurately tells the story, as that is what made him so fascinating and captivating, the film spends too much time on certain events while brushing past others, creating a very odd and confused dynamic..
Directory Joe Berlinger seems to want to do so much in so little time, and although this was told from a certain perspective, it still deviates from that perspective to tell other details and stories, losing grip and direction of the film’s intent in the process.
While it falls flat in certain areas, and it certainly does, it is still a solid movie. But, I cannot help but feel as though Efron, Collins, and performances from Jim Parsons and John Malkovich were cheated out of something that could have been so much bigger, and so much better.
REVIEW: ‘I Trapped The Devil’
Josh Lobo’s indie thriller ‘I Trapped the Devil‘ officially hit limited theaters and VOD platforms this weekend and his debut film focuses on a man’s psychological unraveling as he comes to terms with whatever is locked in his basement.
Scott Pothress, Susan Burke, and A.J. Bowen star in the film set in the Christmas season, but centers on what appears to be a demon trapped behind a door in a man’s basement.
The movie is painfully slow to get rolling and takes a rather challenging road of trying to convey terror and suspense without relying on visual scares, jump scares or any real terrifying moments.
For the most part, this terror is implied, and forces the viewer to decide for themselves if this is simply one man’s mental breakdown into insanity, or something paranormal.
However, the film lacks any “meat” beyond the bones of it’s premise, and when it’s coupled with a slow-developing plot, a tactical slow delivery of dialogue, and is void of any true scares, it stumbles to establish itself as anything significant.
Lobo’s job behind the camera is solid, despite the underwhelming delivery of the story. Solid acting keeps things afloat, but the film simply has an uninteresting script and the story fractures into confusing, and overly boring, scenarios that seem intended to speed up a film to a panicked, frightful conclusion.
Unfortunately, the film didn’t challenge my thinking, but challenged my attention span and an underwhelming impact of an ending was further softened by the weak substance the film consisted of.
REVIEW: Pet Sematary
Stephen King’s books are being made into films again, this time in the form of re-makes from the 90s originals.
The latest of King’s work to get the re-boot treatment is ‘Pet Sematary’ which arrived back in 1989 and was very well received for bringing the shocking terror to life on the big screen.
Fast forward to 2019, and ‘Pet Sematary’ is the next in line to get the reboot treatment, following the massive success of ‘IT’ back in 2018.
“Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home. When tragedy strikes, Louis turns to his neighbour Jud Crandall, setting off a perilous chain reaction that unleashes an unspeakable evil with horrific consequences.”
Not much changes in terms of the story from the original, which holds this film back as the changes it does make seem like changes for the sake of making changes.
It’s not expected that the film would deviate too much from King’s book, because why fix what isn’t broken, but it departs from a lot of the elements, pacing, and scenes that made the first film that iconic horror film it was.
I was a fan of John Lithgow’s performance as Jud Crandell, but Jason Clarke completely bored me in his role of Louis Creed.
His performance seemed like a dramatic line reading more than a true cinematic performance and he failed to convey any true emotion, leaving the tone of this terrifying story….lost.
Pet Sematary tries to become it’s own film in meaningless ways that do nothing to further or enhance the film.
To get this story wrong is one thing, but this film, which “killed it” in the trailers, managed to take a classic movie, and book, it make it forgettable.
It’s hard to identify the main fault of the film, as there are far too many, but this film is not befitting of one of King’s masterpieces, and that is a true shame.
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