The Witch [REVIEW]

thewitch_online_teaser_01_web_large

There’s evil in the wood – William

Sometimes a movie gets so hyped that when you watch it, you find yourself going hmmm is this really that good? In the case of The Witch, the moment I found myself confronted with such a delightfully shocking moment I found myself smiling afterwards.

The film plays for large stretches like a drama about isolation, religion and character study, when suddenly it throws something at you that changes the context of the film. The Witch is not a movie that you see coming. Some movies you can see the twists coming a mile away. The Witch plays in a way that some how feels wholly original while also being strongly connected to films of the past.

The incredibly detailed sets, costumes and period accents are the kind one normally sees in the kind of movie that would sweep awards season but mixed with the kind of horror one might expect from the love child of Argento and Lynch.

It is difficult to say more without getting into specifics that would ruin the surprises in the film. Suffice to say, The Witch will chill you, thrill you and if you have a heart condition possibly kill you.

Baskin [REVIEW]

Baskin-Poster

Are you ready to be one with the cosmos? – Baba

Going in to Baskin I was expecting Clive Barker level craziness and boy did it deliver! The story concerns a group of cops responding to a call to an abandoned police station who discover hell waiting for them. Thing is, the narrative is more complicated than that. It has a very Lynchian vibe with visions within dreams within nightmares. The film is very gory. Like the goriest I have seen in 2016. But the film does it in such a way that will delight genre fans. The whole film is cast in these beautiful shades of red, purple, blue and yellow. The kind of horror candy that reminds us of Argento before he was making 3D movies with giant praying mantis and visually molesting his grown daughter with his camera. I won’t go deep into the plot because the finer points will spoil it. But I will say, I googled it and I am pretty sure that dude’s lips are real. And by real I mean that they are not prosthetics. Pretty sure someone injected his mug full of silicone in a back alley in Istanbul.

Point of story? If you like movies like Hellraiser, you need to get your eye balls on Baskin.

Starry Eyes [REVIEW]

starry-eyes-poster

I will do whatever it takes for this role – Sarah

[Programming note: It’s Shocktober¬†at Final Girl and the first movie she picked to review happened to be one I had recently seen and had been meaning to review cause I loved it so much. So here is my review and make sure to check out the incredible Stacy Ponder’s review over at Final Girl.]

If I were to make a list of various tropes and such that I love from horror movies, somewhere very near the top of that list would be ‘The cult members arrive for the ceremony’. I live for the cult members arriving. A montage of cars arriving, rich old white people in full robes, taper candles, walking single file. It never fails to get me. The neighbours cooing over their new born Anti-Christ in Rosemary’s Baby. The cult members arriving to pay respects to their martyr in Martyrs.

Let’s be honest, I’m a slut for anything resembling Satanic horror/religious thriller. Seventh Sign, Prophecy, End of Days, Bless the Child, Stigmata, Lost Souls. I just can’t help myself! So what I am trying to say is that even if Starry Eyes was a complete turd, I probably still would have gone batshit for it. But thank Satan, it’s actually a gory, well made and refreshingly original and simple take on some really age old ideas and horror tropes.

The set up is super simple. Pretty aspiring actress who hates her shitty day job, has a group of friends she doesn’t seem to care for and who are kind of shitty to her. All she wants to be is a STAR! The kind of girl Hollywood is (one would assume) full of. When she is offered her dreams on a silver platter, she learns that there isn’t much of a difference between selling her soul figuratively versus literally.

I won’t go into the plot beyond that. It’s good to not quite know what will happen. That said, there are some truly gross moments and some great gore. The film has a pervading sense of dread, you feel just as uneasy watching a group of friends drinking in by the pool as you do when someone enters a room not realized they’ve walked in on someone being murdered.

A great horror movie that pays homage to some classics while still managing to be very original. Come for the Satanists and stay for the body horror.

The Taking of Deborah Logan [REVIEW]

spooky-trailer-and-clip-for-the-taking-of-deborah-logan

Alzheimer disease is never about just one person -Mia

Found footage has become the dead horse which studios choose to beat when making horror movies these days. While I prefer it to the remaking of cult classics and foreign properties, it is often done poorly. With The Taking of Deborah Logan however, we see all the reasons why this tactic can be so chilling.

The premise of the film is that Mia a med student is doing a documentary as part of her thesis on Alzheimer disease. Sarah Logan agrees to let Mia and her two man crew film her mother Deborah as she slowly succumbs to senility in exchange for a much needed stipend which will allow them to keep their family home. So far a pretty basic horror set up.

What makes this movie so great however, is a truly chilling performance by Jill Larson as the titular Deborah. I remember Larson from my mother’s favorite soap growing up, All My Children. One doesn’t normally associate actors from soap operas as being the most talented at their craft. But the sheer dedication and fearless choices made by Larson make this one of the most chilling possession films ever.

The found footage angle is utilized so well to create a slow sense of building tension. By the time some truly insane stuff starts happening, you are so drawn in, it makes sense. Rather then going from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye, we slowly build towards some truly disturbing visuals.

While it trades in some fairly standard tropes, a combination of great performances mixed with interesting narrative choices make for a truly enjoyable horror experience.

 

Big Bad Wolves [REVIEW]

big_bad_wolves_ver5_xlg It might look like I’m enjoying this, and maybe I am in a way… but believe me, I’d be happy to stop breaking your fingers. Now would you please start talking! – Micki

Going into Big Bad Wolves, I had some pretty steep expectations. I mean it was lauded by Quentin Tarantino as the best movie of the year. I read nothing but rave reviews. As a result I was a little let down. That is to say, Big Bad Wolves is a pretty great movie. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It just didn’t scare me. And it didn’t shock me. It almost felt like a less bleak version of the film Prisoners.

The premise is pretty simple; a series of grisly murders wherein young girls are tortured, raped and decapitated has shaken a town in Israel. As the police investigate the murder, one of the victim’s fathers takes matters into his own hands. Motivated by blind grief and animal rage he will stop at nothing to get answers. The film delivers some flashes of gore and some very tense scenes but it’s the few well placed twists which really make the movie. I won’t spoil it for you but I will say that they feel organic to the plot. With just a light sprinkling of humor to balance things out, Bad Wolves is definitely one of the better thrillers of late. Definitely worth checking out, it is currently on Netflix.

All Cheerleaders Die [REVIEW]

all_cheerleaders_die_xlg

Somebody got fucked. Somebody got killed. And I’m going to PE! – Leena

I was just the other day reading Final Girl and agreeing with Stacy on how awesome horror flicks about witches are. There just aren’t enough. And then I came across a positive review for All Cheerleaders Die. I figured I’d give it a go. And god damn am I glad I did! While it suffers from some less than mind blowing CGI moments and standard contrivances of low budget horror comedy, it’s a pretty fun ride. After her childhood friend Alexis dies suddenly, Maddy decides to try out for the now vacant spot on the cheer leading squad. What the girls don’t know is that Maddy is out for revenge. When things take a dark turn and the squads car careens off a cliff, Maddy’s ex girlfriend and teenage witch brings the girls back.

The girls navigate life as zombie succubi, body swapping drama, sex, drugs and the violent urges of the Captain of the football team. The audience is treated to a subversive horror comedy that manages to play into all the tropes one expects like sexy cheerleaders and lots of gore, while still having some fresh ideas. There are some great laugh out loud moments, and some pretty dark moments don’t sour the otherwise comedic tones. While it might not have the same cult quality of films it pays homage to (Jawbreaker, The Craft, Shaun of the Dead), it is a hilarious treat for fans of movies about mean girls and murder.

At The Devil’s Door [REVIEW]

AtDevilsDoorPOster

I want you to go to where the roads meet, and say your name. – The Thin Man

As a horror nut, I end up watching a lot of movies. I’ve seen a good chunk of the films that show up on top 10 lists for scariest horror flicks. I don’t get spooked easily. That is to say, it takes more than your run of the mill Saw or Final Destination movie to freak me out. Last night I was faced with a choice of watching another terrible episode of True Blood, or check out a well reviewed horror flick called At The Devil’s Door. After my download of True Blood wouldn’t work, I took it as a sign and settled down with my cats to check out the movie. I am trying not to over hype this movie, but it’s pretty fucking great.

The movie tells the story of Hanna, who falls in love with a boy while vacationing in California. It’s 1987 and when the boy convinces her to play a mysterious game with a creepy old man in exchange for 500 smackeroos, she says why not? What follows is an incredibly creepy and well crafted story of possession and the Devil.

The film plays out in a style that reminded me of The Grudge, in that it tells three loosely related stories. In the 80s we have Hanna, who enjoys standing at the cross roads and shoes. In the modern day we have Leigh, a real estate agent tasked with selling Hanna’s old house in the present day. I won’t spoil the third act/storyline, but suffice to say they manage to fit a ton into a very short running time. The film never feels rushed or over stuffed. Instead we are treated to innovative and stylish takes on standard possession horror tropes. The terror is complemented by some of the best light touches of CGI and some great practical effects.

It’s hard to get into the plot too much without spoiling things, but any fan of quality horror films and possession tales need to check this gem out. It’s currently on Video on Demand, and well worth it.