Sequel

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

While I am a fan of franchise, I am not a fan of this movie. The Resident Evil films have rapidly decreased in quality with each successive release. The first one was pretty great, the Final Chapter was barely watchable. One action scene strung to the next with only the slightest allusion to a plot line. What I did like is that it tries to wrap up the loose ends created by its predecessors, and Milla Jovovich. Though I simply adore her, and personally I think she makes a great action star that is deserving of more films roles in the genre. Just no more Resident Evil films, please let the Final Chapter be the final chapter.

After surviving the events at the end of previous film, a full on assault of the white house by those infected/mutated by the T-virus, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is contacted by the Red Queen and told she needs to return to the Hive. Inside the Hive, Umbrella has created an air born antivirus that will kill and thing infected with the T-virus, the catch being Alice has only 48 hours to do so if she want’s to save the last remaining human outposts before they’re overrun and wiped out. On her way to return to Raccoon City and The Hive, Alice is captured by Dr. Alexander Isaacs (Iain Glen). Who Alice thought she had killed, turns out that was just a clone. Alice Manages to escape Isaacs and makes her way to Raccoon City, where she encounters a group of survivors including Claire Redfield (Ali Larter). Alice leads the defense of the survivor compound against the army of infected being lead by Isaacs caravan. Alice then leads those among the survivors that can fight into The Hive, for her final confrontation with Umbrella.

This movie was awful. Just a simple tragedy. I love the Resident Evil series, with a particular fondness for the first three games. I also enjoyed the first two films in the series, but after that it just becomes a tangled mess. Trying to wrap up the jumbled mess that’s been these films, while creating a satisfying ending was close to impossible. But I can’t think of a worse approach than this.

The acting is Okay…ish. Milla Jovovich, and Ali Larter feel like they’re just going through the motions. Leaving me with impression that they’re just as happy as to see this film series end as I am. The only actor that feels energetic and like they might be having a good time is Iain Glen. Who plays the gambit of normal to insanity pretty well, he has a strange roll and he runs with it. But the supporting cast, not so good. They don’t get enough time to establish themselves as characters before being feed to the meat grinder.

The action scenes is where this film shines. But as polished and nice as they are, the complete lack of narrative shows heavily. As the story is just there enough to get you from one action scene to the next.

Final thoughts, this film was bland. So bland that it sours and becomes bad quickly. They few good nuggets in this film, and there are a few, aren’t worth the rest of the garbage you have to sit through. The Final Chapter is a classic example of a series that was ran way past its expiration date and I for one am glad the ride is over. 4/10

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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

Fright Night 2: New Blood

fright_night_2_-_new_bloodFright Night 2: New Blood, the sequel to the 2011 Fright Night is every bit the let down that I thought the 2011 remake was going to be. It managed to be a let down from the very first moments as it is in fact not a sequel at all. Fright Night 2: New Blood is another rehashing of the 1985 Fright Night and it’s sequel. Though it has jack all to do with that sequel other than the antagonist being a female vampire. Fright Night 2 completely ignores the previous film with none of the actors returning to reprise the roles. Making me wonder, if the story in no way bares any connection to the film prior, is it still a sequel? Shouldn’t the title of this film be Fright Night: New Blood?

Charlie Brewster (Will Payne) is on a week-long student exchange program in Romania with fellow students, including his friend Ed (Chris Waller) and ex-girlfriend Amy (Sacha Parkinson). Amy and Charlie having recently broken up because Charlie cheated on her, maybe… it’s never explored that deeply. On the first night, Charlie watches two women across the street from his hotel window get frisky, when one notices. Though she doesn’t seem to mind. Charlie notices that the other woman is bleeding, but the time he calls Ed over the curtains have been closed. At class for European Art, he meets his professor Gerri Dandridge (Jaime Murray). Who just happens to be the woman who noticed watching earlier that night. Later while on tour of a local castle, Charlie sneaks away and comes across Gerri get personal with another student. She once again notices him, causing him to look away and when looks back they’re both gone. When he and Ed return to the hotel that night the police are present and after inquiring to what happened, he learns that the student from earlier is missing. When in his room while watching the police leave, he notices Gerri in the window across the way. Then he witnesses her leap from the window with what appears to be  a body wrapped in black trash bags, load it into her car and drive into the night. So he does what any idiot would do and sneaks into her home, where he finds a strange sacrificial chamber. When he hears Gerri return, he quickly hides inside a coffin and watches as she kills and drains a woman of her blood. She then bathes in the woman’s blood returning her youth, she then notices him. Though due to plot armor he manages to get away. He goes to warn Amy, though when he arrives Gerri is already there and manages to make him look crazy. Though the next morning Ed is more willing to believe Charlie and even identifies Gerri as Elizabeth Bathory a powerful vampire. Armed with this knowledge Charlie and Ed seek out the Peter Vincent (Sean Power), a TV personality that host the reality monster hunting show Fright Night. Who agrees to help them for an exorbitant fee. Though he quickly abandons them after they meet up with Amy, when he realizes they looking for a real vampire, something he doesn’t believe in. While riding the subway Gerri appears once again and in full vampire glory attacks them, with Ed sacrificing himself to let Charlie and Amy escape into the tunnels…

Where I cut off is actually where the film gets good, which is about sixty percent of the way through this slog fest. The first chunk of this film is poorly paced and at times criminally boring. As if you’ve seen the film that this film is supposed to follow your basically just relearning all the things you already know. Vampires are real, Peter Vincent is a fake, ect. But once we reach this tipping point and Gerri develops some actual fangs things get marginally better.

Speaking of Gerri, Jaime Murray is by far the best actress in this film and manages to hold it together. She manages to be sexy, scary and intelligent. Though that last attribute wanes as the film goes on. Murray nails the role here and seems to be the only actor to be pulling their weight. She also manages to be the film’s most like-able character behind Amy. Though she lacks any real defining feature beyond being the love interest.

The effects are straight up laughable when they actually try to use them for scares. Gerri’s full vampire form is simply ridiculous. The film manages to more tension and fright with the camera work, like when Gerri chases Charlie and Amy through the Subway tunnels then the catacombs. Also when she enters the blood bath an old woman only to emerge young and beautiful once again.

Final thoughts, of all the Fright Nights this is by far the most skippable as it’s just another rehashing of a story that was already retold once and just a few years prior. While I never expect much from straight to home video horror films, Fright Night 2: New Blood is the bottom of the barrel. With only a couple of strong points, though non strong enough to be a saving grace. 3/10

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever

Cabin_Fever_2Sorry for the late post, have a lot on my plate. New job, among other things so hit publish simply slipped my mind yesterday.

Well, let’s just get this in the open. I liked Cabin Fever 2 way more than its predecessor. Cabin Fever 2 brings a high level of camp and slapstick that the series most certainly needed, a trend that I hope continues with the next in the series. I enjoyed the characters more as well as the crude humor that really carries the film. Though the acting did take a step down, while somehow the writing took a step up. Though there are a few changes that did bug me, mainly the step down in the gore effects and how the flesh-eating virus now manifests at a faster rate.

Cabin Fever 2 picks up right where the first left off, with Paul laying face down in a creek. Though he manages to get himself up and stumble to a road in search for help. Where he gets his by a bus full of kids on their way to school. Deputy Winston (Giuseppe Andrews) responds and tells the bus driver, he hit a moose. Rather than an infected human and sends them on their way. As it turns out the creek that Deputy Winston left Paul to die in, is the same creek used by Down Home bottled water company and a large batch of the infected water has been delivered to the local high school. At the high school John (Noah Segan) is being talked into asking his longtime crush Cassie (Alexi Wasser) to the prom by his close friend Alex (Rusty Kelley). A plan that he quickly puts on the back burner after being beaten by Cassie’s ex Marc (Marc Senter) threatens him.  Alex who’s reluctant to go, changes his mind after a sexual encounter with Liz (Regan Deal) while she sports signs of the infection, unbeknownst to Alex and the pair make a loose agreement to meet up at prom. If Liz can find someone to cover her shift at her job. At a restaurant Deputy Winston watches an employee from the Down Home Bottled Water company die of the infection and realizes what’s going on and rushes out. After walking Cassie home after school John finds the courage to ask her, but she declines. Though now having a date Alex begs John to come to the prom… a prom rife with infection.

Like I said the campy B-Movie nature of this film is what really sells it for me. It’s straight up hilarious at times and never takes itself to seriously. Which normally can spell death for a horror film, but here the filmmakers really managed to balance the camp and horror effectively. With some genuinely gruesome moments, coupled with some of the best one-liners I’ve heard in a while.

The acting, though does leave a lot to be desired. This is mostly around the high school kids, who none of which look young enough to be in high school. Though the groan worthy acting does extend to the few adults with the exception of Giuseppe Andrews, who is the best part of this film.

The gore is also less enjoyable and times are pretty laughable. Though I have the strong suspicion that was the point all the long. Where Cabin Fever had some very grisly scenes, here the decaying and rotting flesh feels more played for laughs than any real horror.

Final thoughts? It’s great, OK maybe not great. But most certainly better than Cabin Fever one, which honestly wasn’t hard to do. The characters are more like-able and hell even more realistic than the characters from the first film. Coupled with the humor, which works far better and setting in a school to increase the body count. I couldn’t be happier. 7/10

Annabelle

annabelle_ver2I figured it was about time I talked about a more current film, so I recently went out with some friends to see Annabelle. As I had never seen The Conjuring, I had no real expectations. Even so I found this film to be a tad underwhelming with, the more I learn about and think back on it, the film feels tired. As this film is very much separate story from the first in the series, as it’s a prequel. But sequels even in a prequel form rarely living up.

Annabelle opens with what I’m told is the opening of The Conjuring with a woman talking about where she acquired the doll. The film then cuts the 1967 California, where young married couple John (Ward Horton) and Mia Form (Annabelle Wallis) await the arrival of their baby Leah. John gives Mia a porcelain doll an apparent collectors item for her collect as a gift. The attack wakes up Mia to what she thinks was a scream from next door. She in turn, wakes up her husband John to investigate. John heads over to check on his neighbors and after being inside for a moment emerges from the house covered in blood and tells Mia to call the police. Mia returns to her home and calls 911 (were going to ignore that 911 wasn’t around in 1967 and wouldn’t be in use in California until over a decade later). After calling she finds a woman, who turns out to be her murdered neighbors run away daughter Annabelle (Tree O’Toole) in the baby’s nursery holding the newly gifted doll. Annabelle and her boyfriend (who was waiting in the shadows) attack Mia and stabbing her in the stomach in the process. John bursts in fighting off the pair until police arrive shooting and killing the boyfriend while Annabelle commits suicide while holding the doll. At the hospital Mia and John learn that the knife missed the baby and both the baby and Mia would be fine. But Mia is ordered to bed rest. After Mia returns home she starts to notice things turning on when no ones around as well as other signs of a haunting. After a fire while John is away, she able to convince him to move and throw out the doll due to her not wanting to return the home with their new baby girl Leah. The film then advance 6 months to their new apartment closer to Johns work. But while unpacking finds the doll that John threw out. Figuring he was simple mistake she makes the decision to keep the doll after all. Mia befriends a woman who works at a local book store, Evelyn (Alfre Woodard). Mia is able to convince John of the haunting after a number of frightening encounters. The couple asks for aid from their priest, Father Perez (Tony Amendola) who informs them that it’s not a ghost but a demon at work. He leaves after promising more help taking the doll with him as he feels that keeping the doll on sacred ground will weaken the evil tied to it. But at church he’s attacked and hospitalized by an unseen force. At the hospital John learns of the attack and speaks with the priest who has deduced the demons true motives. John rushes to return home and save his family…

Part of why Annabelle felt so underwhelming is honestly the demon. I’m kind of sick of demons showing up late in the second act of my ghost films. It feels like every ghost film that’s come out recently has had a demon shoehorned into it. Not that it’s a bad thing, Insidious does a great job of balancing demon and ghost. Here it just feels tossed in and rushed.

Also SPOILER WARNING, Evelyn’s sacrifice at the end of the film feels like a heavy cop-out, like the film was just trying to wrap its self up without making any real choices. As a minor character that has very little screen time, I just don’t understand her motivations. The this is what god wants me to do line makes even less sense. As I doubt it’s ever gods plan for you to give your soul to a demon.

I did enjoy the music score as it sets a very foreboding tone. This becomes ever more apparent as the film progresses hitting all the right notes accentuating a scene, but never really intruding or feeling out-of-place.

Final thoughts, it’s ok. The story is incredibly generic deviating very little from the ghost/demon formula. Fortunately the acting is good boasting a number of very talented actors including Tony Amendola who delights me every time I see him appear in a film. But the cop-out ending and rushed feel of the film left a sour taste in my mouth. So while the production level and acting are about par it falls victim to trying to do too much resulting in a score of 6/10.