Some of the worst writing, acting, directing, editing, cinematography, and even music selection in modern horror filmmaking, nay, filmmaking of any kind or era. Terrible, unmotivated, and stupid characters spew some of the most trite, illogical and obviously-written dialogue possible. It feels as though writer/producer/director Chris Stokes didn’t get a second opinion from anyone on the plausibility, believability, logic or entertainment value of anything in his dreadful script. The death sequences are poorly thought out (SPOILERS: A cheap twine rope will break before a torso will). Save yourself the torture of watching this film and just imagine “Vacancy” or “The Strangers” as if it were made by a cavalcade of the worst actors and filmmakers you can think of.
Distinct and engaging style, and intelligent writing make for a film that is evocative and visceral. It’s hard to go into the further detail other than to say the film doesn’t fail from any aspect of the artform. The visual style is incredible, the performances are superb, and the direction is excellent. Not to mention it’s incredible that the make-up artists could make Joseph Gordon-Levitt look like a young Bruce Willis. Given how powerful Rian Johnson’s previous effort “Brick” was, the quality of “Looper” is no surprise.
While the setup to “Aftershock” is promising, it fails to lead anywhere surprising or interesting. It’s a shame that the film wastes some genuinely interesting characters on such an expected and milquetoast plot. On the plus side, the film examines some interesting examples of how relationships succeed or fail under extreme duress. All of the petty problems our heroes are worried about go out the window when the Earth opens up and a little bit of Hell bubbles to the surface. It would have been nice for a little more Hell to have made its way onto the screen.
The concept is simple enough to have potential but it never really manages to surprise or enthrall. The performances are good and the events are clever, yet the film never really dives head first into the more interesting aspects of the world. It unfortunately skews too simple, to the point that the film is mostly plot and very little story. It’s occasionally tense but it’s never thrilling or scary. There are better films of this ilk, namely “The Road” or even “Stake Land”.
At first glance, “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” is a run of the mill slasher. However, a closer look shows the film is a very distinct allegory for misogyny, rape culture, and inter-gender relations. SPOILERS: When you look closely, you’ll notice every guy that attempts to force himself on Mandy, either overtly or through thinly veiled deception, dies. Meanwhile, the one guy who doesn’t try to take advantage of Mandy or treat her like a piece of meat, survives. Aside from Mandy, the girls that don’t treat themselves as something more than objects also become victims. The best friend character who turns out to be the killer forces himself on Mandy because he feels entitled to her affections for killing for her but he too dies. It’s an interesting update of the common horror trope that teens who engage in sex/drug use/general moral delinquency die. In today’s society, the moral construct and status of gender hierarchy is a popular topic. While the film isn’t particularly good or entertaining, it does have intelligent subtext that makes it culturally relevant, particularly to this generation.
A founder of the genre of exploitation/torture/splatter-horror, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is an absolute treat for a horror fan. Campy characters, goofy dialogue, and immensely terrifying situations make the film a claustrophobic, drowning horror. It eases you in with some silly stuff, then overwhelms you with inescapable terror. It relies on such simplicity to gross-out, shock, and terrify that it’s easy to see where some modern films get their schtick, namely much of the New French Extremism movement. Even if the style isn’t your taste, you’ll be hard-pressed not to be enraptured by it if you’re a horror fan.
Congo is awful. It’s all plot and no story. Go here, do this, kill that, find this, hike here. The film is non-stop plot and not a very good one at that. While it does paint an interesting picture of “white” apes being murderous and aggressive and “black” apes being gentle and humble, if that was the intention then it failed. As did the rest of the film. ”Congo” is simply a terrible film and an unfortunate representation of Michael Crichton’s writing.
The scariest thing about “American Psycho” is that it paints a portrait of mental illness that is very real. Someone who uses compulsive behavior in order to keep his obsessions at bay is no joke. The filmmakers do an incredible job of portraying a world where conformity is a necessity for survival and the failure to adhere in even the slightest way leads to exclusion. Patrick Bateman’s need to have identical suits and business cards are the only thing keeping his murderous desires at bay. However, the most poignant example of this is Patrick’s compulsion to analyze popular music and laud over how unique and successful it is. His urge to both comply with societal norms and stand out from the crowd are at odds and drive him insane. While the film is an exaggerated version, these are real things that people experience. That’s why “American Psycho” is so terrifying. Superb performances and incredible filmmaking have made this a cult classic. And then some.
Not to be confused with the recently made film of the same name, starring Angelina Jolie, this film is a wonderful horror-drama that really stands out as an inspiration to many films and styles. While the film houses some incredibly chilling moments (the child’s ball and the stairs, *shivers*), the film isn’t all about shock and awe. ”The Changeling” calls to mind contemporary Spanish films like “Julia’s Eyes” or “The Orphanage”. They’re intelligent ghost stories with scary events, but substantial in context and backstory. George C. Scott is excellent as the widowed renter of the haunted house that holds a deep dark secret. While it doesn’t have the gore or terror of many of its 1980’s horror compatriots, “The Changeling” is a fantastic film in its own right and deserves some esteem for the contributions it has made to a different type of horror storytelling.
There is a lot wrong with “Savages”. First of all, it forsakes everything for style. Character, plot, dialogue, everything falls to the wayside in favor of style. While it is the overt intention of the filmmakers to show the two male protagonists as archetypes and extremes (the hothead former soldier who is cold and calculating versus the calm dread-head granola hippy who is all about emotion and experiences), they come off as shallow and impossible to sympathize with. However, neither is more annoying and unlikable than our narrator. The film tries so hard to sell her as the muse of these peaceful new-world drug dealers, but the character doesn’t come off as an inspiration. She comes off as a shared trophy wife. The worst part of the film is the SPOILERS: fake-out, double ending. It feels as though the filmmakers made a dark and realistic film, then the studio wanted a happy fairytale ending. Then they used both. It’s the “Clue” ending except not funny.
This film isn’t, um, good. The dialogue is painfully on the nose. It feels more like a two-act off broadway play. While it’s an interesting and pertinent twist on a sort of overused trope, it’s far from enough to make this film worthwhile. In the end it leaves the viewer with an awkward and unsettled feeling. Not because the film is thought provoking but because it feels unpolished.
While the performances are solid, they’re wasted on a film that suffers from mediocre writing and poor direction. At times, the tone will read tension, while the dialogue is almost comedic. The film only gets worse as the logic becomes questionable and the twists play out as predictable. In the end, “House at the End of the Street” is highly forgettable.
Why? Seriously, why? Why make this film? If there is anything positive about this film it’s that it illustrates that the original film, “The Descent”, was successful because it was a smart script, not because it was a lot of running around in caves. This film is a lot of running around in caves with absolutely no story, no interesting characters, no intelligent dialogue, and a ridiculous and unnecessary ending. Don’t let this travesty taint your image of the original.
There are so many things wrong with “The Stepfather” it’s hard to identify the most egregious misstep. The writing lacks an understanding of where the tension of the situation should come from, i.e. the impending marriage of the evil stepfather to the protagonist’s mother. There are characters that are nothing more than two-dimensional plot devices. Yet, the biggest failure of the film is in the area of logic. It has none. SPOILERS: When someone attacks and strangles an old woman, there are signs of a struggle, latex residue. Although it’s not hard to believe that a charming sociopath could woo a lonely widow, it is hard to believe that someone could insert himself into society so easily without revealing his true identity. Driver’s License? Car registration? Why does the stepfather hide the father’s body so poorly? Why doesn’t the mother question the padlocks on everything? Where does this guy get money from if he doesn’t work? How did the sister employ the stepfather as a Realtor without a Realtor’s license? The film only works in a world that is so oblivious to everything, that criminals can prance in and out of the lives a strangers without so much as a second thought. Even in that world, it’s a bad story.
Classic. ”Carrie” creates such an unsettling tone by blending horror with an almost “after school special” style. The filmmakers intelligently convey a story of how a young girl is traumatized by the real world when the teachings of her religious upbringing crumbles around her. The last act of the film is an escalating horror that reaches a fever pitch and goes down as one of the greatest climaxes in horror film history.