Supernatural

OMBC – Odd Apocalypse

The fifth book in the Odd Thomas series and it shows, is Odd Apocalypse. This one is hands down my least favorite in the series to date, having drifted father and farther from what made this series so good. I have a few gripes about this book, but I have some praise as well.

 

That was my jumbled thoughts on Odd Apocalypse. See you next month

The Disappointments Room

I was less than impressed with this film. Not that the acting was bad or that it wasn’t a decently made film. I just didn’t care much for it. It feels like ghosts are hit and miss. Most often misses and while I won’t go as far as to call The Disappointments Room as miss, it’s certainly not a hit. My main issue is that the film comes off as bland, where it shouldn’t be. As they could have played on the idea that Dana might be crazy and not actually haunted. But the film never explores that territory instead choosing to stay in the safe zone of formulaic ghost horror.

Dana (Kate Beckinsale) a successful architect moves from the city to an old country manor with her husband David (Mel Raido) and their son Lucus (Duncan Joiner). The move was prompted by the recent death of their daughter and Dana’s accompanying mental breakdown and suicide attempt. But not everything is roses at the new manor, which is bad need of some repairs. While outside Dana notices a light turn on and off on the top floor and goes to investigate and finds a small room that locks only from the outside that’s not on the floor plans. She visits with the town librarian Ms. Judith (Marcia DeRousse) and learns that the room in question is a disappointments room. A room that disfigured children would be forced to live, to hide them away so that their appearance wouldn’t bring shame on their family. As Dana repairs and renovates the house and she delves more and more into the mystery of the disappointments room, she becomes more and more haunted by the ghosts of the manor. A little girl in a yellow dress (Ella Jones) along with her father, Judge Baker (Gerald McRaney) and Judge Baker doesn’t like Dana in his home…

What really dragged down this film was that so little happens. The pacing is great, which masks just how little is happening. It often felt like the film didn’t know where it was going, just meandering again and again. This made the film feel longer than it is, but not by a truly unbearable margin.

The acting, when it’s allowed to happen is pretty great. Kate Beckinsale and Mel Raido do a wonderful job and the two’s chemistry really worked for me. I loved Gerald McRaney as the spirit of the Judge. But I’ve loved him since I first became aware of him from his work on Jericho. Duncan Joiner did a good job for a child actor as did Ella Jones, but nothing noteworthy from either. The supporting cast, what there is, also did great jobs. Overall a very well cast and performed.

I loved the house. I love old houses as dread locations. To the point I wish I could have seen more of it. As most of what happens is only in a handful of rooms. The manor has a bit of a Rose Red vibe to me and I wish that the hauntings would have played off the house more.

Final thoughts, Good, but crippling generic. The pacing, acting, set and technical are all on point here. It’s just the boring story, where so little happens that drags down it down. Now I’m not talking about more scares, just more anything. I would only suggest this if you’re a fan of slow horror. But I don’t see myself revisiting this film. 5/10

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

OMBC – The Oath

The Oath by Frank Peretti came recommended by a coworker. So, upon his advice I picked up a copy with some rather high expectations. Expectations that were for the most part delivered on. I don’t have much negative to say about The Oath. As it’s a layered, engrossing novel that has a large cast of vivid characters. The Oath is considered to be one Frank Peretti’s best works, which makes me wonder about his other works and for being Christian Fiction, The Oath doesn’t feel overly preachy. Something I like.

Those are my thoughts on The Oath. Next Month I’ll be continuing with Odd Thomas series with Odd Apoccolypse by Dean Koontz.  See you next month and until then keep reading.

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

Midnight Movie

While doing some research in preparation of a second season of Slasher Series, I came across this 2008 slasher gem. Though unable to make the time to a proper video review, I decided to review it all the same. Those that read this blog should be well aware of my deep fondness for Slasher films. I can say that Midnight Movie is a decent slasher, with a large victim pool and memorable dread location. Though the killer leaves something to be desired, as do the kills.

Midnight Movie opens with a psychiatrist, trying to help one of his patients Ted Radford (Arthur Roberts), who has suffered a mental breakdown and thinks he’s the killer from his film The Dark Beneath that he made forty years prior. The psychiatrist has Radford watch his film in hopes that it will allow him to come to terms with what ever. This decision is contested by another psychiatrist Dr. Wayne (Michael Swan), but his objections are ignored and he leaves for the night. When he returns later he finds signs of a massacre  with no bodies ever being found. Five years later, A small local theater is showing The Dark Beneath as a midnight special for the first time since the massacre at the psychiatric hospital. The manger Bridget (Rebekah Brandes) along with two employees Kenny (Shaun Ausmus) and Rachael (Brea Grant) prepare the theater and welcome the small group of attendees. Including a biker couple Harley (Stan Ellsworth) and Babe (Melissa Steach), Bridget’s boyfriend Josh (Daniel Bonjour), Josh’s friend Mario (Greg Cirulnick) and Mario’s girlfriend Samantha (Mandell Maughan). Tagging along is their awkward friend and horror buff Sully (Michael Schwartz). Also in attendance is Dr. Wayne and Detective Barrons (Jon Briddell), who both believe that Radford will make an appearance since this is first time in years that his film has been played and lastly Bridget’s little brother Timmy (Justin Baric), who sneaked in. As the film plays those attending notice strange occurrences such as the killer attacking those in the building. When they go to investigate they learn that the killer can leave the film and take his victims back with inside it with him. When the frightened survivors try to flee the theater they realize that what ever power has allowed the killer to escape his film has trapped them inside with him…

I love the set up for this film, and the split dread locations. The idea the killer can leave his film and also take others back with him is interesting to say the least. The fact that the film is Slasher adds a great element of a Slasher within a Slasher that I greatly enjoyed. I might of actually enjoyed The Dread Beneath more than Midnight Movie itself.  The old, colorful theater plays wonderfully against the black and white world of the Dread Beneath. Creating a great visual contrast.

The victim pool was less amazing. I loved a small handful of the characters, Harley and Babe mostly. But Rachael and Timmy were also fun, if short-lived in Rachael’s case. I also love how the film sets up Bridget up as more of victim-hero over the standard final girl trope by giving her a darker back story filled with abuse at the hands of her father.

Though not all of Midnight Movie was great in my opinion. It has a number of weak spots that are glaring if you watch enough Slasher films. The killer Radford’s motives are never clearly defined. He just kills for the sake of killing, which ruins the inciting incident. He has no reason to go all murder happy, he’s just evil. Much in the same vein that Michael Myers is just murder happy. But Michael Myers still had a goal, to murder his sister providing some idea of intent or design. Here he just kills.

The weapon of choice wasn’t the greatest either. A spiral knife… thing, while it looks cool is never seen in use as the most of the violence with it is hidden or happens off-screen. But most of kills are with said weapon causing a lot of kills to feel old hat and uninventive. I would have liked to see more variety and creativity in the killers methods.

Lastly the gore leaves a lot to be desired. Midnight Movie feels incredibly tame in this regard, much like a PG-13 horror film might be. Even though it’s rated R it never really uses the rating. Giving the film a bit of a soft feeling. When you do see gore it looks fake and even comical, which is fine but doesn’t fit with rest of the films tone.

Final thoughts, I liked it. It had been a while since I watched a Slasher and it was great to get back to seeing the kind of films I love to watch. But the weak kills and a slow pace also made Midnight Movie a bit of slog to get through at times and with the uninventive kills gets even a tad monotonous. If your fan of the genre I would recommend it, if you’re looking to get  into the genre there is defiantly better places to start. 7/10

OMBC – Thor

Thor is a good book about a good dog. Also a werewolf is in there, but that’s kind of tertiary. I enjoyed this book for is use of the perspective. As having a dog as the lead protagonist is a great idea that payed of wonderfully. I learned about this novel through a review of Bad Moon, the film adaptation. Even without seeing the film, I know I like the book better. Thor was a fun read that didn’t take so long as to lose the momentum and while a horror novel, Thor has a few funny moments. As well as a few touching ones.

That’s all for this month. Next month Ill be reading The Oath by Frank Peretti, as it was suggested to me by a coworker and I’ve been feeling the need to branch out to different authors. Until next month, keep reading.