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REVIEW: Dead Night

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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.

But, in 2018 writer/director Brad Baruh took a shot at putting some old school fun, and nonsense, into his filmDead Night‘.

What makes this film enjoyable is that it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a campy, fun, and sometimes nonsensical excuse to tell a brutal horror story of murder and demonic possession.

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.

Fright Nerd Score
70 frights
Summary
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
Fright Nerd Score70

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REVIEW: IT Chapter 2

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IT Chapter 2

The wait, the anticipation, it all came to a head this week when IT: Chapter 2 finally hit theaters.

Pennywise the Dancing Clown is back after 27 years, and he is more brutal than ever as he feasts on the citizens of Derry, kids and adult alike. The restart of the horrendous killing spree prompts the reunion of “The Losers” who must fight back their oppressed memories, and overpowering fear, to defeat Pennywise once and for all.

While the film is a continuation of Chapter 1 in a fluidly sewn in story, it has a much darker, more sadistic feel to it. Pennywise is far more aggressive, and the scenes in which children die, quite brutally, leave a lasting impression while reminding us just how evil the killer clown is.

If you had read Stephen King’s book, and/or watched the miniseries back in 1990, then the story that was told in IT Chapter 2 won’t come as a shock, in fact, it told more of the book than the miniseries did.

I found it interesting that the movie delved into Adrian Mellon, and the anti-gay culture of Derry, which was a meaty part of the book, something the miniseries stayed away from.

While it touched on that element of the story, it quickly veered away from it, which is unfortunate given how important it was in the overall tone of the book.

However, with a run time of 2 hours and 50 minutes, it’s easy to understand why we couldn’t fully hashout the entire book. Had this been a 3 part story, than it would have been more feasible.

The runtime itself is a marathon, but it doesn’t drag too often, keeping the audience from losing interest.

The movie takes some predictable turns and roads, but it does a good job at avoiding becoming mundane or losing volume. Grant it, it is not the same work of art that the first part was, which is disappointing, but it’s a different movie that probably wouldn’t fit that tone.

All in all, It Chapter 2 is a horror movie, much more so than Chapter 1. It brings you to a darker side of Pennywise. It makes you uncomfortable as you watch the children he preys on meet a brutal, terrifying end. It hashes out a wonderful story that makes sense, aside from the Native American tie in and the tripping, and given that this is a horror movie, it delivers in a way that exceed traditional expectations.

Any of the critics poking holes in the flow or format are likely confusing the genre.

It Chapter 2 is what you want and expect it to be. It has plenty of jump scares, it tells a solid story, it makes you cringe watching the deaths, and despite a lapse in consistent chemistry between the cast, it does a good job at rounding out, and ending, the story.

Fright Nerd Score
85 frights
0 Users (0 votes)
Summary
All in all, It Chapter 2 is a horror movie, much more so than Chapter 1. It brings you to a darker side of Pennywise. It makes you uncomfortable as you watch the children he preys on meet a brutal, terrifying end. It hashes out a wonderful story that makes sense, aside from the Native American tie in and the tripping, and given that this is a horror movie, it delivers in a way that exceed traditional expectations.
Fright Nerd Score85
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REVIEW: Ready Or Not

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Ready or Not

A game of hide and seek always seemed like a good premise for a horror movie, and many horror films have taken the spirit of the game while approaching the telling of their story.

‘Ready or Not’ is one such film, and it puts a gloriously gory spin on the age-old game.

Starring Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Andie MacDowell, Mark O’Brien, and Henry Czerny, the film tells the story of: “Grace couldn’t be happier after she marries the man of her dreams at his family’s luxurious estate. There’s just one catch — she must now hide from midnight until dawn while her new in-laws hunt her down with guns, crossbows and other weapons. As Grace desperately tries to survive the night, she soon finds a way to turn the tables on her not-so-lovable relatives.”

Sprinkle in a little cult worship, a sacrifice ritual, and some satanic worship and this film’s meat is bloodier than most.

Grace is thrust into an awful family ritual that, thanks to the bad draw of a horrible card during a game, and now has to survive once she realizes the innocent game she has known as a child is something far more sinister, and deadly.

While it seems ridiculous and campy at first glance, Ready or Not has a general understanding of how to properly flow, adding in touches of comedy, suspense, and some gory kills that keep the film moving along and void of any boring lapses.

The film was fun to watch, and kept me engaged from start to finish, making this an easy recommendation to anyone looking to for a cool horror flick to check out.

Fright Nerd Score
75 frights
0 Users (0 votes)
Summary
While it seems ridiculous and campy at first glance, Ready or Not has a general understanding of how to properly flow, adding in touches of comedy, suspense, and some gory kills that keep the film moving along and void of any boring lapses.
Fright Nerd Score75
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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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