Possession

Bye Bye Man

Saying that I didn’t enjoy this film would be to lenient and purposefully dishonest. I hated this film. Bye Bye Man was next to unwatchable due to how boring it is. The premise is ok, but that’s all this film is, a premise. Who or what The Bye Bye Man is or how he came to be is never even brought up. Which might not matter for some, but it really matters for me.

In 1969 journalist Larry Redmond (Leigh Whannell) goes on a shooting spree. He asks his victims if they’ve mentioned “The Name” and to who if they did, as he kills everyone that has heard the name he continuously repeats “Don’t say it. Don’t think it”. His spree ends with him taking his own life.

Modern day, Elliot (Douglas Smith) along with his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and his best friend John (Lucien Laviscount) move into an off campus house. Once they move in strange events start to occur. Sasha develops a persistent cough, while Elliot finds coins on the nightstand table. Eventually while looking around the house, which came fully furnished, Elliot comes across a nightstand. Inside the drawer is the phrase “Don’t think it, Don’t say it” written over and over and carved into back corner is the name The Bye Bye Man. After this the creepiness of the house increases until Sasha convinces Elliot to host a seance led by their friend Kim (Jenna Kanell). During the seance Elliot mentions the name, infecting everyone in the room. As it turns out knowing the name allows the Bye Bye Man to influence your mind. Things begin to deteriorate quickly as Elliot looks into the history of the drawer and into the Bye Bye Man. Elliot goes to Kim for help, which she agrees to do. Though by help I mean intended to pull a Larry and kill everyone that’s heard the name. But she runs in front a train trying to help a hallucination. Elliot gets questioned by the police about this, and find him more than a little shady. After being released Elliot goes the library to hunt down the former own of the drawers, where learns about Larry and Larry’s living wife. Wondering how she has managed to survive the influence of the Bye Bye Man for so long, he goes to see her. But the answer she has aren’t the answers he hopes for…

I can’t think of a single aspect of this film that wasn’t ineptly done. From the acting, to the writing the whole film is weak. Underwhelming isn’t even close to my feelings here. The Bye Bye Man barley functions as a horror film due to the tedium it forces on its viewers.

The acting is simply terrible and not in a cute, enjoyable way that makes the film watchable. The kind that makes the films run time drag out for what feels like an eternity. The only actor to do a good job was Michael Trucco, who plays Elliot’s older brother Virgil. He along with Erica Tremblay, who plays his daughter Alice are probably the best part of this film. The one time the horror worked for me was during the film’s climax and it worked in large part to these two’s performances.

The films pacing is brutally slow. It’s 93 minute run time stretches out for what feel like forever as your wait for anything to happen. The threat is often talked about, but never comes off as threatening. The drama always comes off to cold and the frights never hit the mark. The mood will try to shift and move but comes across as sloppy and ill-conceived.

Final thoughts, this film took the wind out of me folks. I love horror films, I can’t really describe  my level of disappointment. This is what passes as a major release horror film? So often I’m upset when I see a horror film and regret not seeing it in theatres while I had the chance. Here I’m upset that I didn’t let this one pass. 2/10

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The Invasion

I love Nicole Kidman, though I think that most people do. Which was the main pull to watch this film. I enjoyed the other film adaptations The Body Snatchers that I’ve seen. Which is limited to the 1978, and 1993 versions. Though even with the addition of this version, my favorite is still the 1978 version. Because Donald Sutherland. The Invasion is close though, through the power of Nicole Kidman’s performance and the films many great moments.

The Invasion opens with a shuttle crashing and falling to earth during reentry. The debris from the crash is infested with an alien virus that can survive the freezing environment of space and the burning reentry. The virus infects people and taking them over when they enter REM sleep. One of the first people infected is the CDC director Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam). Tucker’s ex-wife Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) is a practicing psychiatrist, who has patient that thinks her husband is no longer her husband. Having a complete change of temperament. Slowly Carol starts noticing strange behavior in those around her. Including Tucker’s sudden interest in being a father to his son Oliver (Jackson Bond) and asking for visitation. As her fears mount and after the discovery of a strange skin is discovered at a party. Carol turns to her boyfriend Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig). He in turn goes to his friend Dr. Stephen Galeano (Jeffrey Wright), and they learn of the spread of virus. Which is being spread by Tucker through a flu vaccine. After realizing that Tucker is infected she goes to rescue her son, who she has also learned is immune due to being sick as a baby with a specific strain of the chicken pox. But as Carol searches for her son, things get more complicated after she becomes infected by Tucker. Forced to stay awake and find her son, before the infected learn of his immunity.

I liked the build up. The slow start of the familiar that builds upon itself as the film progresses. Layering upon itself. As it like its predecessors address the concept of a world with out violence is a world with out humanity and anyone is capable of anything in the right situation plays out beautifully.

My favorite parts were the quieter moments after the Carol has realized of the invasion. When other non infected warn her on the subway and later when she escapes. To avoid emotion as they dont have any. Something that’s used against us by them. The work great and add a great deal to the tension of the film.

It was the cast that really stood out to me. With exception of Daniel Craig, who felt dry and unemotional. Nicole Kidman of course did an outstanding job. But like he’s done before my favorite performance was from Jeffery Wright. Who, while only a smaller supporting role uses his screen time the most effectively.

Final thoughts, Overall I really enjoyed this version and while not my favorite I can still admit that it’s well done.  The acting is solid though not as well done in the 1978 version and the story is solid. I like the undercurrents of the film, though the get very heavy handed with them. But if your a fan of invasion films or the other versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers I would recommend giving this film a watch. 7/10

Beyond the Gates

It was the 80’s retro throwback feel that initially drew me to Beyond the Gates. Well that and Brea Grant, who I have been having a bit of video love affair with and is once again delightful. Beyond Brea Grant, Beyond the Gates also features famous scream queen Barbara Crampton in a different kind of role for her. Which is a refreshing change, it’s nice to see director Jackson Stewart placing her in the strange role of the video host. Though Beyond the Gates isn’t all roses, as it takes a while for the retro feel to start going and the film’s bare bones, low-budget quality of the film at times feels like it’s holding the film back.

Estranged brothers, John (Chase Williamson) and Gordon Hardesty (Graham Skipper) reunite to clean out their alcoholic fathers video store after his latest disappearance. Which has lasted so long that he’s thought dead. While cleaning out the shop, Gordon’s girlfriend Margot (Brea Grant) comes to visit and help. They break for the day and have an awkward run in with John’s friend Hank (Justin Welborn) while at the restaurant, eventually leaving rather than get into a confrontation. While in bed that night Gordon refuses Margot’s advances as he feels awkward about having sex in his fathers bed. While turning the lights out to go to sleep Gordon finds the missing key to the office. Which he explores the next day with John, inside they find a VHS board game, Beyond the Gates. They take the game home and along with Margot start playing. The video host (Barbara Crampton) spurs on the players and the players realize that by completing the game they may find John and Gordon;s father. But fist they have to survive the game and move beyond the gates…

While the film was overall okay, I found a few aspects lacking. Mainly it was how bland and apathetic feel. From the bar confrontation, to the brothers discussions on the father, to killing people for keys for the board game. None of them feel conflicted or even bothered by events that are happening. They just all roll along with what’s happening. Which makes them feel a bit like sociopaths.

The other issue the game, which overall I really like as I’m a fan of the VHS games being introduced to them via Atmosfear by a close friend back in high school. So as far as a game goes Beyond the Gates looks fun, you know, other than it being supernatural and would likely get me killed. My issue is the lack of why with the game. It’s origins are never explored nor is the purpose that it’s suppose to serve. Other than a cryptic warning at the end of the film.

I love the visuals in the film, the neon pinks and blues give a great atmosphere. One that’s as memorable as it is engaging. It was these moments that I found to be the most interesting, both for looks as well as tone. These visual elements are perfectly paired with the synthesizer music. Which is without a doubt is my favorite element of the film. I just with that it had been used more.

Final thoughts, it’s okay. Bland at times, but visually rich at others. The characters are hard to relate to due the emotional vacancy they possess. A lot of the films themes, family, alcoholism, among others is often touched on but never truly explored. Sadly to the films determent. If you’re looking for a terrifying horror film, I wouldn’t recommend Beyond the Gates. But if you’re looking for a low budget horror film with elements of an 80’s throwback then you might just enjoy this film. 6/10

The Devil’s Dolls

The reason I watched The Devil’s Dolls was simply because I enjoyed Brea Grant so much in Midnight Movie, even though she had such a small role, that I wanted to look into more of her films. Which lead me to the Devil’s Dolls. Though I was less impressed with The Devil’s Dolls than I was with Midnight Movie, I still enjoyed it. But it’s still flawed. Fortunately most of my issues with this film are minor, unfortunately one of them isn’t.

The Devil’s Dolls opens with a young woman barley escaping captivity from serial killer Henry (Matty Ferraro). Initially she seeks the aid of the most useless officer ever, to be finally rescued by Detective Matt (Christopher Wiehl). Who shoots and kills Henry. Matt and his partner Darcy (Kym Jackson) search Henry’s hideout and find his worry dolls. Collected with the rest of the evidence the dolls are left in the back of Matt’s car. The dolls are taken by Matt’s daughter Chloe (Kennedy Brice), which she fashions into jewelry that she sells at her mother Amy’s (Samantha Smith) shop. That night she becomes effected by the dolls, resulting in her attacking and killing the dog. Chloe then lapses into a coma. Similar things happen to those who purchased or wear the dolls. Attack and killing others, though each are killed shortly after. Including Amy’s friend Becca (Brea Grant), who is attacked and killed by her boyfriend after she gives him the doll as a gift to wear. Matt and Darcy link each of the events together eventually realizing the dolls and their connection to Henry go to see Della (Tina Lifford), the woman who raised Henry. She explains that the dolls were a gift to Henry as a child in an effort to heal is lost innocence. But the dolls became cursed by the sorrow and pain he felt, cursing those to know the levels of his pain. Though the pain they feel is entirely their own and that to save his daughter, Matt must collect all the dolls and bring them to her by sunrise…

My main issue with this film is Christopher Wiehl. He performance feels plastic. Rigged, inorganic and fake. It’s jarring against some of the other performances, mostly Kennedy Brice. Who does an admirable job, one a few in the film. Christopher Wiehl isn’t one of them.

My other issue is with the pacing. The film has a slow and arduous at times, saved only by the short moments of violence. That and the occasion moment that drives the dread forward. The Devil’s Dolls starts strong and gets progressively weaker, ending in an ending that is both flat and predictable.

Final thoughts, the mood and story are good. If not easily anticipated. The horror aspect plays on the fear of possession and of on our own fears getting the best us. The worry doll’s are only lightly explained and their ability to cleanse the soul is left mostly unexplained beyond magic tree. Which I suppose is all the film really needs, but lacks any sense of origin that made them feel real. An okay film in the end, with some memorable moments and visuals. But lacks enough strength of character to be a truly be good. 6/10

Don’t Kill It

I had no idea what this film was about going in. All I knew was that it was a horror film and Dolf Lundgren is in it. Which is actually all you kind of need to know. For low-budget horror Don’t Kill It is actually decent. Well ok maybe no decent, but definitely decent adjacent. I like the concept of the film, the reality is a lot less forgiving. The acting is hammy as all get out and some of the supporting cast can’t stop chewing the scenery. But Don’t Kill It does show off some pretty impressive effects at times, though it can get sloppy at times over all the violence is well done. An there’s a whole lot of violence.

Don’t Kill It opens with a hunter and his dog in the woods. The dog comes across a strange open flask, when his owner comes over to see what he’s interested the dog attacks. The hunter manages to kill the dog with his rifle and is quickly possessed. The hunter attacks a family in their home and kills most of them before the father shoots and kills the hunter. Quickly becoming possessed and starts killing his family. Then continuing on the cycle of kill, die, possess. FBI Agent Evelyn Pierce (Kristina Klebe) arrives in town to assist the local police, as the FBI fears this might be a case of domestic terrorism. Her meeting with Chief Dunham (Tony Bentley) is interrupted by Jebediah Woodley (Dolph Lundgren), a demon hunter. While skeptical the two hear him out and after question an eye-witness, Evelyn comes to trust him. But it’s too late as the town is besieged by evil..

Don’t Kill It is a bit of a chore to get into. Before the demon starts really getting its demon on, there’s very little happens. Though being the main focus its amazingly underdeveloped. Which is sad, but I guess the only thing you need to know about a murder demon is that it be murdering.

Don’t Kill It also starts a lot of plot threads or has fun ideas. But then does nothing with them. A major one being that Evelyn is a descended from angels. Or might be? It feels like it should be more integral, but honestly it’s not. Also there’s a scene where Dolph Lundgren hires a prostitute, but doesn’t realize it until it’s time to pay. Which has no purpose other than to add a random sex scene.

Final thoughts, I see Don’t Kill It as a so bad it’s good movie. The acting is over the top, with some crazy silly moments. The script is pretty bland and generic, with the film’s climax being pretty obvious. But for a low-budget Dolph Lundgren film, it holds up ok. But for hardcore horror fans, it might be a bit of a bore. 5/10

Dreamcatcher

dreamcatcherI remember the first time I watched this film, I didn’t really enjoy it all that much. I was hung up on some pretty shallow problems with the film. After watching it again, in a different point in my life I found Dreamcatcher far more enjoyable. But still, it’s not even close to King’s best adaptations. That would of course be The Green Mile. Though what I found delightful were the performances of the film’s main protagonists played by Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis, and Timothy Olyphant. All actors that I’ve come to love in the years since I last saw this film.

Dreamcatchers opens with a group of childhood friends Henry (Thomas Jane), Beaver (Jason Lee), Jonesy (Damian Lewis), and Pete (Timothy Olyphant) planning a trip to go see Duddits (Donnie Wahlberg), another childhood friend. This time also establishes that all four of the friends share special abilities ranging from finding things that are lost, telepathy and precognition. Though other than telepathy not all the abilities are shared among all of them. While leaving work after finalizing plans to visit Duddits, Jonesy walks into the road seemingly in a daze. Which results in him being hit and badly injured. Though he manages to make a near full recovery to attend the group’s annual trip to a cabin in the woods six months later. Though due to the damage to his hip and legs, he walks with a limp and gets fatigued quickly. We learn the that four boys meet Duddits, who is seemingly mentally handicapped while investigating an old building in search of a dirty picture. Duddits was being tormented by three older boys, who are trying to force Duddits to eat a dog turd after they stripped him down. The four boys stand up for him, causing the bullies to back down and forging a lasting friendship with Duddits. It’s also revealed that it was Duddits who had given the boys their mental powers, while searching for a lost girl. In present day Jonesy comes across a lost hunter in the woods Rick McCarthy (Eris Keenleyside), while hunting in the woods with Beaver. He takes Rick back to the cabin and tries to help him. Shortly after settling Rick down and noticing his swollen chest, Beaver returns. Beaver notes the red rash on the mans face, who casually dismisses claiming that it’s an allergic reaction to something. After a few moments Beaver and Jonesy help the man to bed, and while doing so Jonesy notices the swelling has moved from his chest to his stomach. The two then witnesses the animals of the forest fleeing something, many covered with a strange red rash. Much like the one on Rick’s face. A military helicopter flies over head telling them that the area is under quarantine. Meanwhile, Henry and Pete are making a supply run back in town. While making the return trips the two crests a snow-covered hill and nearly strike a woman sitting in the road half-frozen. The two manage to avoid hitting her, but wreck their car and Pete’s leg gets injured. After starting a fire to warm the woman and Pete, Henry leaves on foot back to the cabin to get help. At the cabin, when Beaver and Jonesy reenter they find a bloody trail leading from the bed where Rick was sleeping to the bathroom. After refusing to open the door for them to check on him, Beaver and Jonesy break it down. Inside they find a horror show, as the bathroom is covered in the red rash, growing along the walls floor and completely covering Rick’s face. They hear a “Clinker” drop into the toilet from an unresponsive Rick and when Beaver tries to rouse him, he falls over into the tub dead. Inside the toilet is a large slug like creature, Beaver quickly traps the creature by closing and siting the lid. After arguing about it, Jonesy goes to the shed to find duct tape to keep the lid closed. While gone Beaver is unable to keep the lid closed and is killed after fighting the creature. Jonesy returns to the bathroom and finds Beaver dead, but manages to close the door before the creature and kill him too. Though that does nothing to protect him from the large alien that possesses him. These events haven’t gone unnoticed by the government as Col. Abraham Curtis (Morgan Freeman) is the man who established the quarantine to keep the infection along with aliens that cause it contained. He’s aided by his protege Owen (Tom Sizemore), who’s set to take over his command. Though he’s deeply conflicted over Curtis heavy-handed measures, such as killing all infected, including children. Having gone slightly mad after spending a lifetime fighting the aliens. The alien, Mr. Grey possessing Jonesy uses his body to escape the quarantine. Pitting him against the remaining friends with the fate of the world in balance.

There’s a lot I didn’t cover in the synopsis, as this isn’t a short film clocking in at over two hours. The later part is much faster paced than the first sections as there’s quite a lot that needs to be established. Though you don’t really feel Dreamcatchers length as it never dawdles. Moving quickly to cover as much ground as efficiently possible.

The true strength of the film lies with the core group of friends as the actors who portray them do a great job. Their interaction is believable that these men are life long friends. Bound together not just by shared history, but also by the abilities gifted to them.

My issues with this film are small. My first one with actually with Morgan Freeman’s character as he feels out-of-place. Taking up time for crazy sake. The character does little but try to add extra tension, but in the long run adds little to the actual plot of the film. Much like Owen. In fact, most of the military scenes feel superfluous.

The second is Duddits, who all the men talk about in high regard constantly. With never a bad word shared about him. But all men admit to falling out of contact with him. Even becoming surprised when they learn that he now has late stage leukemia when he’s searched out to help with Mr. Grey. So my issue is how come these men, who owe so much Duddits have fallen so far out of touch that he doesn’t even come to the annual trip? One that partly held in his honor?

Final thoughts, other than a few glaring plot holes this is an OK movie. Though nothing special, well beyond the on-screen friendship. The effects are kind of bad as the CGI hasn’t aged the best. But, Dreamcatcher isn’t a film you should be watching for the effects. It’s the one you watch for the story and overall Dreamcatcher has a pretty good one. 7/10

OMBC – The Lords of Salem

lordsofsalem_book-coverSo, better musical artist than an author in my opinion and honestly better than anything I could of done honestly. But this isn’t about me, its about this novel. Which really doesn’t do much better than the film. Which I was really hoping for since I didn’t enjoy the film that much. The only points that film did anything better than the film is with the characters of Herman and Whitey. The rest was about more of the same.

Next month I’ll be reading Odd Hours, mostly just because I want to see what Dean Koontz does with Frank Sinatra’s ghost.