Poltergeist (2015) review

Poltergeist 2015 posterDirector: Gil Kenan

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kennedi Clements, Kyle Catlett, Jared Harris, Saxon Sharbino, Jane Adams

“They’re here.” (Madison, Poltergeist)

As you’ll know if you already read my review, the original 1982 Poltergeist is one of my favourite films of all time.

I should also point out that I’m not the sort of person who instantly hates remakes because they’re remakes. I got all that out of my system during my film buff university days and these days I’ll happily judge remakes – such as the brilliant 2004 Dawn Of The Dead and 2005 King Kong (hey, I liked it) – on their own merits.

That said, this new Poltergeist is shite. Continue reading “Poltergeist (2015) review”

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Jurassic World (2015) review

Jurassic World posterDirector: Colin Trevorrow

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan

CLAIRE – “Think it’ll scare the kids?”

MASRANI – “The kids? This’ll give the parents nightmares.”

CLAIRE – “Is that… good?”

MASRANI – “It’s fantastic.”

“I can’t wait any more!”

This is what young Gray (Ty Simpkins, the young lad from Insidious) says near the start of Jurassic World as he whips open the curtains of his hotel room window and gets a glorious view of the park.

In a way, he’s speaking for every Jurassic Park fan crossing their fingers for 14 years for a new movie (and, some would argue, 22 years for a truly brilliant one). We couldn’t wait any more either. And now the wait is over. Continue reading “Jurassic World (2015) review”

Unfriended (2014) review

unfriended_posterDirector: Levan Gabriadze

Starring: Shelly Hennig, Matthew Bohrer, Courtney Halverson, Heather Sossaman, Moses Storm, Will Peltz, Renee Olstead

KEN: “It’s probably just a glitch.”

VAL: “Well the glitch just typed.”

Here’s a tip about being in horror films that Scream forgot to address. If you were either directly or indirectly involved in someone’s death, it’s probably a good idea to lie low on every major anniversary of said offing.

For some reason, those affected usually decide to take revenge one, five or ten years to the day after the incident. Personally, I’d go for the element of surprise: “It’s been seven and a half months since you killed me, so time for you to get all dead and that.”

Unfriended takes place exactly a year after high school student Laura Barns committed suicide. Guess what happens next. Continue reading “Unfriended (2014) review”

Chernobyl Diaries (2012) review

Chernobyl Diaries posterDirector: Bradley Parker

Starring: Ingrid Berdal, Dimitri Diatchenko, Olivia Dudley, Devin Kelley, Jesse McCartney, Nathan Phillips, Jonathan Sadowski

“So, there’s this place called Pripyat. It’s the town right next to Chernobyl. Uri, who is really excited to take us there, is an extreme tour guide. He’s going to show us this city that was abandoned overnight. Literally. They had no time to take anything. Factories, schools, stores, homes apartments, everything’s still there. Imagine the photo shoot you could have there, Amanda.” (Paul, Chernobyl Diaries)

I’ve got a fascination with abandoned towns. I love the idea of exploring a location trapped in time: a once thriving place that, for whatever reason, was suddenly abandoned and left to nature to take over.

The premise of Chernobyl Diaries speaks directly to that part of me. And then ruins it all by throwing in baldy zombie mutant things. Continue reading “Chernobyl Diaries (2012) review”

Silent House (2011) review

Silent House posterDirectors: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau

Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, Adam Barnett, Haley Murphy

“Daddy?” (Sarah, about a hundred times, Silent House)

Here’s a fun fact: there are actually more movies about haunted houses than there are houses in North America.

Okay, that isn’t true. But it’s getting to the stage that I wouldn’t be surprised.

Silent House at least tries to do something different by introducing a rarely used gimmick: the entire film is presented as one single shot.

Granted, it does cheat a little bit – more on that later – but the concept is at least enough to keep your interest for a while. Continue reading “Silent House (2011) review”

A Haunting At Silver Falls (2013) review

haunting_at_silver_falls_posterDirector: Brett Donowho

Starring: Alix Elizabeth Gitter, James Cavlo, Tara Westwood, Steve Bacic, Erick Avari

LARRY – “There’s a lot of dead people in Silver Falls. Didn’t anyone tell you? It’s, um, Ghost City USA.”

JORDAN – “Right. So, who died?”

LARRY – “Who didn’t die? I’ve been to six funerals. There were several suicides, a car accident, a bulimic whose stomach exploded…”

Often, when I watch a film about ghosts, I like to apply my patented Louise Test™.

My wife (and co-presenter of the That Was A Bit Mental podcast) isn’t a massive fan of ghost movies, so usually when I want to watch one she’ll sit at the PC instead and browse the internet.

Occasionally she’ll look over at the telly and, should she see a ghost, audibly express her dismay at having done so. That’s when I can tell the film’s ghosts are effective.

A Haunting At Silver Falls offers more screen time to its ghosts than any other film in recent memory, except for maybe Casper. And yet, as Louise looked over to the screen numerous times throughout, she didn’t bat an eyelid. Continue reading “A Haunting At Silver Falls (2013) review”

Bad Kids Go To Hell (2012) review

Bad Kids Go To Hell posterDirector: Matthew Spradlin

Starring: Cameron Deane Stewart, Marc Donato, Roger Edwards, Augie Duke, Amanda Alch, Ali Faulkner, Judd Nelson, Jeffery Schmidt

Also known as: The Haunting Of Crestview High (UK DVD)

“This is not the fucking feel good ’80s movie of the year where for seven hours we put aside our diffs and through commiserating about our mutually dysfunctional family lives or how lonely or alienated we each feel, we find some sort of common ground and end up as BFFs. Okay? So let us understand there is no ‘us’, there is no ‘we’ because I don’t do ‘we’, I just do me.” (Tricia, Bad Kids Go To Hell)

What do you get when you cross The Breakfast Club with a paranormal thriller? No doubt the film-makers behind Bad Kids Go To Hell would hope their film’s the answer.

But nah.

Instead, what tries to be a cool, edgy horror-themed take on John Hughes’ 80s teen classic is instead an overproduced, annoying film that irritates more than it entertains. Continue reading “Bad Kids Go To Hell (2012) review”

The Last Exorcism Part II (2013) review

The Last Exorcism Part II posterDirector: Ed Gass-Donnelly

Starring: Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Spencer Treat Clark, David Jensen

CHRIS – “Is it true that you’ve never had a boyfriend?”
NELL – “What? Who’s been saying that? It’s none of anyone’s business.
CHRIS – “No, I just… I think you’re really pretty. And…”
NELL – “No. No boys. I was pregnant though. But I think they took it away. Well, at least I thought I was. See, I told you I was nuts.”

In 1999, The Blair Witch Project was released. Masquerading as an unfinished documentary and winning audiences over with its found-footage style camerawork, it was massively succesful.

A year later, the inevitable sequel Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was released. Gone was the fake documentary gimmick and the first-person viewpoint, replaced with the typical glossy, commercial, high-budget presentation the first film was praised for subverting.

Most people despised the new direction the series had taken, and Blair Witch 2 was roundly panned. I actually quite liked it, but that’s for another time.

Why am I giving you this seemingly pointless history lesson? Because The Last Exorcism Part II is this decade’s Blair Witch 2. This time, however, I agree with the general consensus: it’s shite. Continue reading “The Last Exorcism Part II (2013) review”

The Last Exorcism (2010) review

The Last Exorcism posterDirector: Daniel Stamm

Starring: Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr, Louis Herthum, Caleb Jones, Tony Bentley

“I’m not comfortable that we’re in a house with someone who’s doing pictures of my head being chopped off.” (Daniel, The Last Exorcism)

In most exorcism movies, a priest has to convince a skeptical parent that their child doesn’t have mental issues and an exorcism ritual is needed to save them.

The Last Exorcism is interesting because it does the complete opposite. Instead, it’s the priest who doesn’t have faith in the ritual and it’s the parent who’s adamant it should take place. Continue reading “The Last Exorcism (2010) review”

Snowpiercer (2013) review

Snowpiercer posterDirector: Bong Joon-ho

Starring: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swanton, John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner

“Order is the barrier that holds back the flood of death. We must all of us on this train of life remain in our allotted station. We must each of us occupy our preordained particular position.

“Would you wear a shoe on your head? Of course you wouldn’t wear a shoe on your head. A shoe doesn’t belong on your head. A shoe belongs on your foot. A hat belongs on your head. I am a hat. You are a shoe. I belong on the head. You belong on the foot. Yes? So it is.” (Mason, Snowpiercer)

If I had a penny for every ‘the end of the world has come and only a small number of survivors remain’ film I’d seen, I’d have about 16p to my name.

Snowpiercer takes that tired plot device, makes things interesting by sticking everyone on a train, then asks “how much would you fucking have now, Chris?”

The answer, of course, is 17p. Regardless, my point is that Snowpiercer puts a new twist on an overused idea and succeeds for the most part. Continue reading “Snowpiercer (2013) review”