Ghost

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

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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

The Remains

I’m not sure what drew me to the The Remains. It could have been I was itching for a ghost story, or that Todd Lowe is the main star? Except that I didn’t know either of those things, because The Remains had a very rare privileged and that’s that I went into it completely blind. Which sadly didn’t do all that much to better the experience. Mostly it was that I didn’t quit get what this movie wanted to convey. Unless that was it wanted to be a mediocre way to kill an evening. Because if that’s the case The Remains nailed it. The issue that The Remains uses a lot of current tropes, but with out anything real thought into them. Which is a shame since there is some good acting and what could be a good story in there.

The Remains starts in the 1800’s with Madame Addison (Maria Olsen), a well-known spiritualist is holding a seance. Among those in attendance is a young couple looking for their missing daughter. While the seance is going the father of the missing girl breaks the protective circle causing Madame Addison to become possessed. She then kills everyone in attendance before dying herself. Modern day, John (Todd Lowe) has moved his family into the home as it’s a steal for the price and fits their needs. The move is prompted by the death of his wife and is using the move as way to help is family move on. His three children Izzy (Brooke Butler), Victoria (Hannah Nordberg) and Aiden (Dash Williams) are all handling the move fairly well and start adjusting to their new home. Aiden finds a chest in the attack containing items used during the seance. He shows them to his father after Victoria see’s it. Victoria and Aiden slowly become possessed by ghosts as the times are haunted. As his children start acting more and more strangely John digs into the history of the home and receives warnings from the dead…

It’s the small things with this film that bother me most. At one point Izzy complains about John moving her away from her friends. But her boyfriend Tommy (Samuel Larsen) has no problem showing up when every Izzy needs to be removed from the plot for a while so it can move along. It’s like the writers didn’t know what to do with her character. Which is a tragedy since she was one of the best characters in the film.

The exact nature of the haunting bothers me too. Since Madame Addison’s evil ghost is the antagonist. Why was her ghost evil? She didn’t strike me as an evil woman. Also the ghost looks like Addison when she was possessed, not when she was normal. So is her ghost supposed to be possessed? Or is it a demon that’s taking the form of a possessed Addision? Why the two other ghosts to possesses each kid?

The acting though really saved this film for me. Both Todd Lowe as a grieving husband and Brooke Butler as the rebellious teenage daughter. Ashley Crow does a great job as Clair the realtor who sells them the house, but I don’t understand the characters angle. Brooke Butler is very little of the film and most of it is eye candy, which is a shame as she puts on the most emotional and memorable performance in the film at the end.

Final thoughts, well acted but generic. The ghost story never sold me, and the frights didn’t really frighten. But the acting as good and under the generic ghost gonna get you story-line is a great look at a family in mourning.  You sympathize with the family, which makes them relatable. But the ghost aspects of this film are a little boring and make little sense. 6/10

The Wraith

I was surprised that I didn’t see or even know of The Wraith. Given that it stars a number of actors that I simply adore such as Randy Quaid and Clint Howard. Also the soundtrack is simply amazing and makes the film drip with the aesthetics of the 80’s. Which holds up really well as The Wraith doesn’t have the feel of forced 80’s but simply set in the time. But it does suffer a bit as I expect more from my horror films.

The Wraith opens with lights dancing over the desert that join and form a Dodge M4S piloted by a helmeted, leather clad driver. Said driver starts coming after a local street gang consisting of Oggie (Griffin O’Neal), Skank (David Sherrill), Gutterboy (Jamie Bozian) and Rughead (Clint Howard), who are all lead by the feared Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavetes).The gang forces people to race for the their cars under threats of violence to either them or their loved ones. Often turning to cheating it win the races. Until the Wraith shows up and starts racing them, killing them off during the races. While the gang deals with the mysterious racers, Jake Kessey (Charlie Sheen) comes to town. Quickly befriending Billy Hankins (Mathew Barry), who’s brother Jamie was murdered and Keri Johnson (Sherilyn Fenn), Packard’s unwilling girlfriend. Keri and Jake strike up a romance, one that is not approved of by Packard. Who set’s his goons upon them, though they prove to be little problem as they keep getting killed. The deaths are all being investigated by the local sheriff, Loomis (Randy Quaid).

I like it and The Wraith is pretty okay. It just doesn’t feel like it accomplishes much with its run time. Wraith has some great ideas and actually does a good job delivering most the time. Though it would have been nice to see the characters and the traumas they’ve suffered more deep explored and expanded upon.

One of the gripes I do have is Randy Quaid’s character. Who is fun, because of Randy Quaid. But that’s the extent of the enjoy-ability of the character. If he can be called one, mostly it feels like he’s brought in to chew the scenery and suck up some screen time as the character provides nothing to the story. I’m positive you could cut all of his scenes and it would have no baring on the plot of the film.

He does do a good job. A lot of the actors do a remarkably good job. Mathew Barry has a number of great moments and his final scene is sad, though not what I would call heart breaking. Also Clint Howard stood out in what could have been a very mediocre role.

Final thoughts, Charlie Sheen is bland in the film. The man is devoid of emotion throughout the film. He comes off as bland and uninteresting, which is awful as everyone is treats him like he’s not either of those things. The revenge angle doesn’t work for me either as so little time is spent on the catalyst, and is only brought up briefly for no other reason than to hold on the vague plot. Lastly, I was bothered by how Keri’s character felt more like a something that is being fought over, rather than a functioning individual. 6/10

Blair Witch

blair-witch-poster-newI remember The Blair Witch Project well from my youth. It was a big film when I was young and developing my taste in horror films. What I remember most vividly was the viral marketing, the fake sci-fi channel documentary about the film, building up the films cult of personality. The next thing I remember the best is how awful the sequel, Book of Shadows was. I know that film has its supporters, I’m not among them. But Blair Witch is everything I wanted Book of Shadows to be.

In 2014 footage is found surrounding the disappearance of a number of college students making a documentary surrounding the disappearance of the filmmakers from the original film. This is incredibly important to James (James Allen McCune), who’s sister Heather went missing. James uncovers a clip on the internet which he feels he shows his sister. This spurns him on to go searching. He’s joined by his friends Lisa (Callie Hernandez), Ashley (Corbin Reid), and Peter (Brandon Scott). They pick up the people, Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valorie Curry) a local couple who found the footage that was posted to the internet. They take James his friends to the location where they found the tape and then deeper into the woods in search for the home seen in the footage. That night the group awakens to weird sounds in the woods, which sets them all on edge. Which grows worse when they wake up with stick figures hung around camp. The group makes the smart decision to bail. On the way out Lisa notices the twine used to tie the figures that were hung around camp. Lane and Talia admit to staging them. But only to get them to understand the danger they were in, but are chased off by James group. They still try and find the way out, though their GPS fails them and they end up walking back to their camp from the night before. Tired they decided to make camp for a second night, though as night falls, Lane and Talia emerge from the woods claiming to have been lost for days in an endless night. A night that soon none of them can escape…

The mood and atmosphere is much more fitting for a sequel. The updated camera gear allows Blair Witch to have a much more polished feel than The Blair Witch. But without compromising the authentic feel that it’s going for. The actual addition of Blair Witch making an appearance also adds a lot for me.

The acting is dicey at times, but manages to hold it together enough to not be distracting. At times James and Lane actually border on being human. Though my favorite character performance is actually Talia. Going through a wide range and her hunger when she comes back to camp comes off as incredibly genuine.

Final thoughts, I enjoyed this movie. Blair Witch is a horror film that builds on itself. With a slow start and strong finish Blair Witch is a great horror film. Though it is predictable in the sense if you’ve seen the original or at least have a strong understanding of it you’ll know how it’s going to end. I liked this film, but I like found footage films. 7/10

OMBC: Heart Shaped Box

510wu8jwz-l-_sx330_bo1204203200_I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. I’ve heard of his work for a while, Horns and Locks and Key mostly. But trying out a new other is a bit rocky. Joe Hill knocked this novel out of the park, perhaps delivering one the best debut novels I’ve ever read. The characters are nuanced and like-able. The setting is dark and moody, while remaining ground in reality and the villain is suitably evil.

That was my opinion of Heart Shaped Box. Next month Ill be reading the The Hellbound Heart, until then keeping reading.

The Bride (2016)

the-bride-2016-movie-marcello-daciano-4I’m not sure what I was expecting for The Bride beyond being low-budget. Which it was, in spades in fact. I expected better acting and slightly better effects. More than one shooting location was another thing I expected and maybe, just maybe, one character that was memorable or likable. Out of those expectations The Bride delivered on…none? It was really the incredibly low-level of production that was the hardest thing to get past as the vast majority felt like something I could put together and I try not to disparage film makers. But a certain lack of care went into the making of The Bride and it was really felt.

So, a hundred and fifty years before the events of the film takes place, Ayiana (Anne Main) and Apache princess is raped and murdered on her wedding night by a battalion of US troops. She rises from the dead and takes her revenge, killing and scalping all but one member of the battalion. Which would have made a better film. In current day, Kira (Henriette Riddervold) and her fiance Marco (Charkes Campos) arrive at the home of Harrison (Lane Townsend), in which they will be staying until their wedding. The day before the wedding Kira is attempted to be abducted and taken hostage by Earl (Burt Culver), Bobby Joe (Justin Nesbitt), Lee (Will David Jorden) and Ricky (Gregory Stone). Kira fights back against them, which leads to the death of Marco and Kira being raped by three of the men. Kira is then killed and joins Marco in a shallow grave. But the spirit Ayiana allows Kira to come back… with a vengeance.

The Bride is a mix between a rape-revenge film like I Spit on Your Grave and The Crow. Making it feel like a knock-off right out of the gate at The Bride never tries to be better. Which is sad because I really did like it as a premise.

The acting is painful to watch at times. No one in this film feels like they’re trying, between stumbling through their lines and constant stuttering, The Bride has acting on par with a High School Play. I expected poor acting, but The Bride transcends bad here creating a level all its own.

At points The Bride tries to be a legitimate horror film, the attack on the house for the abduction, the rape in the woods and even when the bride stalks her killers. Each time the underproduction knocks its legs out from under it. With the poorly delivered performances, the terrible CGI muzzle flashes, and the tomahawk that looks more out of a high fantasy film than out of a horror.

Final thoughts, the only part that I enjoyed was the attempt at an off putting song, which is nothing more than a lazy attempt in the end. Which comes off as a rip of Nightmare on Elm Street and not in a good way. I have no idea who this film is for, because with such sloppy delivery I surprised it ever got finished in the first place. 3/10