"Sound of My Voice" (2011)
What truly makes this film superb is that it’s revealing to the audience about themselves. The film presents you with a story and what you take from it genuinely says something about you as an individual. The film is an incredibly detailed, well-thought out tale that doesn’t just leave room for interpretation, it invites it. Despite being intentionally ambiguous, “Sound of My Voice” does make plenty of statements. It shows how people that are so adamant about the truth, or their truth, are that way because they themselves are uncertain. It calls to questions who you trust and why. It examines how easily people can be swayed by emotion and their own personal vulnerabilities. Are faith and trust the same? What proof is proof enough? What “proof” is there that you can’t explain away? It’s a thrilling, tense and often interactive-feeling experience. There are so many clues along the way that lead you in one direction or the other and when it’s over you’ll be vexed for weeks. I have my own ideas about the truth of this film, what are yours?
"Vanishing on 7th Street" (2010)
This movie is pretty awful. It takes an interesting concept and then hides in the basement while all of the interesting aspects of the story play out. It drastically under-explains the plot, which is problematic when the story nor the characters are interesting or fleshed out. The film drags its feet through logistical garbage that offers nothing to the film and eventually sucks up the majority of the running time. It’s no wonder that the film barely made back a tenth of what it cost, despite being fairly low-budget. Don’t bother with this one.
"Forgetting the Girl" (2012)
This film is a shockingly realistic assault on male sexual entitlement and extreme misogyny. The writing is powerful because these are things people hear and say every day about relationships and who is to blame. The filmmakers create an ingenious contrast between two seemingly unlikable male characters and which is actually the more dangerous of the two. In today’s world where rape-culture is often talked about, often denied and a very real danger to many, this film is massively relevant. It exposes the types of fallacies many people fall into such as confirmation bias when it comes to generalizations about the opposite sex. The excellent writing comes full circle when the “protagonist” is forced into a situation that mirrors an event from early on in the film, evoking a response that reveals his true nature. While the framing device is a bit convenient, it’s a small annoyance in an otherwise superb modern indie thriller. Christopher Denham’s performance carries this film.
"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" (1986)
Goofy, not scary and actually boring, the sequel to the original horror classic “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” squanders a wonderful start and devolves into weirdness. Perhaps it’s a matter of expectations since the original was such a guttural, disturbing experience, but the follow-up seems more like a bad comedy spoof. Endless sneaking, Dennis Hopper cackling to himself, and a strange Leatherface love story litter this rudderless mess. It’s strange how something so iconic and terrifying could devolve into such a campy schlock-fest when it’s helmed by the same director. Although the performance by Bill Moseley as the terrifying character “Chop-Top” is thoroughly stomach churning, it’s not enough to compensate for the lack of horror or even entertainment value of any kind through this tedious film. What a shame.
"Hellbound: Hellraiser II" (1988)
The great thing about this first sequel to the horror classic “Hellraiser” is that it is a continuation of the story, not just a repeat of the events. They could have gone the easy route and had a new set of victims of the Cenobites and Lemarchand’s Box (like some of the later sequels). Instead, the story picks up where it left off and continues with Kirsty’s conflict against Julia. It takes the story into a new world of terror, an Escheresque maze Hellscape that invites the audience into the realm the Cenobites describe; morbid personal Hells. The film truly elevates the series to another level and expands upon the greatness of the original. It is an excellent sequel and an excellent horror film in its own right. Not to mention one of the best lines in horror history, “Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell”