ghost

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 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

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

i_am_the_pretty_thing_that_lives_in_the_house_posterI wasn’t really sure what to expect when I went into this film. I Am the Pretty Thing That Live in the House hits the main points for a normally good ghost story, but takes its time getting to them. Pretty Thing has a meandering pace that makes the film feel longer than it actually is. Though I don’t feel that earns it the one star it has (at the time of writing this review) as it is better than that. I enjoy horror films with a faster pace, though it is nice from time to time to sit down to one film that isn’t in a rush and lets you enjoy your beer.

Lily Saylor (Ruth Wilson) is a live-in hospice nurse hired by Mr. Waxcap (Bob Balaban), the manger of the estate Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss) to care for her. Iris is an elderly writer suffering from dementia, who has lived in the same home for years and made it her wish to be cared for until her death in her home. After moving into the house Lily begins to experience unearthly events, such as having the phone torn from her hands on the first night by an unseen force and catching images of a woman in the reflection of the television. Over the next year Lily grows increasingly uneasy in the house as a dark mold starts growing along the wall near the kitchen. Also unnerving her is that Iris never calls her by her name, instead referring to her as Polly. The character in her best known novel, The Lady in the Walls. After finding Iris’s handwritten notes on the novel, leading her to believe that Polly (Lucy Boynton) is a real ghost that haunts the home…

As I said the pacing is a problem as the film meanders for the first half of the film and when it does go for the scares it mostly just hits the expected notes. Fostering a generic feeling that is hard to ignore. Though this feeling dissipates towards the end of the second act.

The visuals are actually pretty great, easily my favorite part of the film. Julie Kirkwood does a great job as cinematographer and her talent really shows through. Each shot is well executed and beautiful to look at. Her attention to detail and lighting is, simply wonderful and creates a lasting air of dread.

The acting is unbalanced. With each actor having noticeable highs and lows with inconstant performances. This is most problematic with Ruth Wilson. Who at times comes off as tender and real, only for a few moments later to read as cold and uninteresting. Even Bob Balaban, who I normally love is low energy and feels uninterested.

Final thoughts, the visuals combined with the atmosphere is what sells this movie for me. The pacing and inconstant acting is problematic but not a deal breaker. I wish that Pretty Thing had focused more on the haunting, which is strange given is a ghost story. But it feels like it’s trying to dance around the subject at times and be more than the basic ghost story it is. 6/10

The Diary of Ellen

movieposterThe diary of Ellen Rimbauer isn’t even a mixed bag, it’s just bad. It has the distinction of being the prequel of one of my all time favorite King Miniseries, Rose Red. Though that does little to help it, as the lack of King’s involvement is instantly felt. The diary of Ellen Rimbauer pales in comparison, lacking any of the scares or charm that was possessed by Rose Red. The diary of Ellen Rimbauer adds nothing new, it just plays through the history we learn about in Rose Red. With only adding small token changes that make no real sense.

Ellen Gilcrest (Lisa Brenner) gets proposed to by a wealthy business man, John Rimbauer (Steven Brand). Much to the delight of her close friend Connie Posey (Kate Burton), who happens to be married to John’s business partner, Doug (Bran Greenquist). For her honeymoon, John and Ellen take a trip around the world, while the construction on their home is finished.  While in Africa, Ellen becomes ill and is taken care of by Sukeena (Tsidii Leloka). When they return home to the newly finished Rose Red, Ellen brings with her Sukeena. Ellen keeps a diary of her time at Rose Red, chronicling her husbands sexual appetite, the birth of her two children, and the frequent disappearances. Eventually Ellen calls on the aid of a mystic, Madame Lu (Tsai Chin) to help. While performing a seance at Rose Red, Madame Lu tells Ellen that she will live as long as she continues construction on the house. Something which she does, even as the disappearances continue…

Mainly I just found The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer boring. I’ve seen Rose Red probably a dozen times. I could barely get through this once. This is mainly on it being so damn slow. Having been familiarized with the story from Rose Red, all the high points were spoiled. At points they try to change stuff up, but it comes across more as those involved didn’t really care about the original story.

The acting isn’t even what I would call OK. Most of it is just down right bad. In fact I’m struggling to think of a single performance that I would qualify as good and I’m coming up blank. I feel this isn’t due to lack of talent, it’s that there isn’t a single engaging conversation.

Even the house, Rose Red manages to lose all of its menace. In Rose Red, Rose Red had a presence that was nearly palpable. An effect that is completely lost here. Rose Red feels like a backdrop more than being integral to the story. Which is sad.

Final Thoughts, I have no plans of ever re-watching this film, well mini-series. It lacks the story, charm and atmosphere that made its predecessor work. The diary of Ellen Rimbauer feels like a cheap knock-off. Probably because that’s exactly what it is. 2/10

Sometimes They Come Back

sometimestheycomebackI’m not what you could call a fan of made for TV horror films. They tend to be both tame and predictable, neither of which I find preferable in a horror film. Stephen King gave a solid premise on which to base this film, I just find the execution incredibly lacking. This isn’t in any way the fault of the actors, merely the weakness forced on the story due to being both made for TV and in the early 90’s when it feels like all horror films were being butchered. I just couldn’t force myself into this film, no matter how many beers I drank or how patient I tried to be.

The film opens with Jim Norman (Tim Matheson) returns to the small town in which he grew up for a teaching job. The only one open to him after getting in trouble for being rough with students. The town is home to a violent indecent twenty-seven years earlier in which a gang of greasers led by Richard Lawson (Robert Rusler) killed his older brother Wayne Norman (Chris Demetral). Though all but a single member of the gang died shortly after by being hit by train due to being trapped on the tracks without the keys to start the car.  Things get off to a rough start at the new job as Jim lacks the respect of both the students and faculty. But things get worse when student’s start to die under mysterious circumstances with only Jim being the only suspect. With each students death one of the greasers spirits return, posing as a student and tormenting Jim. Wishing to recreate the night of their deaths in order to change the order of events and let them escape from hell…

First of all this film is way too slow-paced. For a film about the vengeful dead returning from hell, a trope that couldn’t be moreover done, this one gets off to an especially slow start. A slow start that doesn’t even start to pick up until two-thirds through the films run time.  I could forgive this if the slow time was well spent developing… well pretty much anything. But it doesn’t, Sometimes They Come Back seems to just dawdle and takes its sweet time.

The acting on the other hand is well done. Carried mostly by Tim Matheson, who I recognize from multiple roles. Though can only place him in The Hart of Dixie. The rest of the actors mostly support him, never really shinning. Due mostly to never having a real chance to do so. But the sleeper in this film has to be William Sanderson, who I loved in True Blood and Dead Wood. Both times he delivers memorable and last performances and I’m happy to see that just the quality he brings to the screen.

The special effects are actually a lot better than I expected from a horror film made for TV in the early 90’s. This is mostly with the dead greasers in the few shots where they’re shown dead and rotting. As it’s these images that provide the only linger effects of dread.

Final thoughts, as fan of King adaptations even if I do rag on them, this film was particularly hard to get through. The main thing I love about King is I don’t find him all that predictable. While in honesty he never chills my blood, he always provides a solid story. Here that story feels cheated, if not robbed. What’s an amazing premise, becomes a watered down mess. Ok, mess might be extreme. But it’s certainly not what it could have been. 4/10

Adaline (2015)

ADALINEI signed up for a ghost story and got more a psychological thriller. Not that I’m complaining too much, as there was more than enough horror elements to still qualify as horror. Adaline has a good sense of dread that permeates the film, though it does get uneven and unfocused at times. Adaline’s main issue is it tries to many things at once, is a ghost story, a murder mystery and has a large dose of thriller. But never manages to nail down any one aspect enough to stay interesting and unfortunately spends a sizable portion of its time just meandering, never really advancing the story.

Adaline opens with a woman tied to an inverted pentagram being sacrificed by a cloaked figure. The film then switches gears to  follow floundering artist Daniela (Jill Evyn), who has recently gotten out of a longer term relationship that ended poorly and lives with her close friend Megan (Emily Claeys). Things are going rough for her with her saving have run out and unable to find a studio to showcase her art, when she opens a letter informing her that she has just inherited a house in the small town of San Andreas along with a small sum of money from an aunt she never knew she had. Hoping that the change of scenery will be just the thing she needs, she packs up and moves there. After arriving she makes friends with a local man, Marvin (Jeremy Walker) who’s slightly mentally disabled. They become friends forming a big sister, little brother relationship. Besides Marvin, Daniela also meets her hunky neighbor John (Lane Townsend), who she also forms a relationship. Though this one far more romantic and intimate. While this is happening, Daniela starts receiving visions from a long dead retaliative Adaline. Which lead her to Adaline’s diary, which further exacerbate the visions along with her lifelong nightmares. Which worsens after someone breaks into her house, to draw an inverted pentagram in blood. Scared by the events unfolding in her home, she turns to Megan. Who directs her to Winter (Anne Hallinan) a psychic. Though Winter isn’t much help, but neither is Daniela’s therapist Dr. Gibson (C.S. Boris). But with conditions around her home, worsening and her relationship with John heating up, can she uncover Adaline’s secrets in time to save her own life?

My main issue with Adaline is how off-balance it is. It will go from having a really good moment of tension or shots of Daniela being followed or watched by Adaline, to fifteen minutes of her just putting around. Which wouldn’t be so bad if there was a pay off in some way. Which there really isn’t. The film builds to a conclusion that any seasoned horror fan will see coming, with only a few red herrings that will leave you scratching your head.

One of these red herrings is another big issue for me. Though not as bad as the off-balance tone, so spoiler. Dr. Gibson’s character feels completely out-of-place in this film. The perverted creepy therapist role is a common character, but here it’s completely miss used. He’s made the red herring and it wouldn’t be so bad if he had a purpose other than sucking up screen time. He’s shown to be drawing pictures of Daniela tied up with the final one of her tied to the inverted pentagram we see the woman killed on in the beginning of the film and the words happy death written along the bottom. Then, nothing. He’s just gone from the film and in no way affects the outcome. It would make sense if he was one of the killers or was in some way involved. But no, nothing. He’s just a big waste of screen time.

The best parts is the horror aspects. When the film decides to try and go for the dread. Adaline can really hit the mark. But it’s done so infrequently that it gets incredibly frustrating as you find yourself waiting and waiting for the film to just move along. Though the spacing of these parts are just close enough to keep the film watchable.

The last thing I want to talk about is the character of Marvin. Who felt out-of-place as well and honestly, I didn’t think was acted the best. That said, he was by far the most likable character and for a number of good reasons. Making the character mental slow was a nice touch and gives the character a sweetness the film benefits from. I just wish he had been better written and included more heavily. This could have been easily done cutting out Winter and Dr. Gibson, who are throw away characters at best.

Final thoughts, meh. Adaline isn’t the worst film I’ve seen. But could have benefited from some minor alterations. The acting while cheesy at times and straight poor at others still manages to hold together enough to deliver an entertaining enough ghost story. Most of Adaline’s issues have to deal with the poor pacing and off-balance tone. Well that and the predictable ending. 5/10

Apartment 143

apartment-143-movie-poster-ghostsI’m going to have a hard time talking about this film without spoiling it. Which I will endeavor not to do so. Though it won’t leave much to talk about, as the Apartment 143 was basically a giant groan fest for me. Though I did like a handful of aspects of this film, but mostly it feels like a film that’s cobbled together with elements that the filmmakers saw work in other films and said “lets just do that, that and lets throw this in for good measure”. Honestly. maybe something was just lost on me as this is a Spanish horror film. Though my gut tells me it’s just a bad movie.

Apartment 143 opens with the arrival of a team of paranormal researchers lead by Dr. Helzer (Michael O’Keefe), his assistant Ellen Keegan (Fiona Glascott) and their lead technician Paul Ortega (Rick Gonzalez) arriving at the residence of the White family. The White’s, headed by Alan (Kai Lennox) a recent widower who as moved to small, dingy apartment with teenage daughter Caitlin (Gia Mantegna) and young son Benny (Damian Roman). The White’s have recently relocated to the apartment after the death of Alan’s wife and the strange occurrences that started taking place in their home. After the disturbances started getting violent, Alan moved his family. But after about a week they started back up and not knowing what to do turned to Dr. Helzer. Dr. Helzer and his crew rig the apartment with cameras, motion sensors and other devices to try to find the cause of the families supernatural disturbance. But as the experiments go on, it becomes clear that they’re not dealing with a haunting at all…

First off, Apartment 143 is short. Incredibly so in fact, with a meager 80 minute run time. Which would be fine if the script was tight and well written but it’s not. So the little time we get in the film, is often wasted. Being used on jump scares and weak explanations.

Now, on the subject of the script. It’s not that good. It’s not awful, as I’ve seen some films with far worse scripts. It’s sad that more care wasn’t taken as there was promise here. But for every good moment of dialogue that makes you feel for character’s you get fifteen of he-hawing and weak exposition and remember the run time is only 80 minutes.

But Apartment 143 isn’t all downside. I really liked the pseudo found footage feel. Apartment 143 defiantly took it notes here and uses the techniques of the sub-genre to their best. The grainy footage, black and white shots and awkward angles all do great jobs heightening the atmosphere.

I also like that the film’s premise and the setting in the old near empty apartment complex. As once again, these elements really add to the film’s over all appeal. But the lack of neighbors, friends or outside characters does feel a bit off.

Final thoughts, it’s ok at best. Which is sad because it does really try to be a decent to good film and at times it does manage to do so. But those times are sparse and spread too far out. The characters lack dimension and like ability, which is always an issue for me. That coupled with the final shot of the film, that I assume was supposed to leave me questioning the validity of what came before. Just left me feeling more underwhelmed and uninterested. 4/10