Supernatural

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

The Windmill

The Windmill or The Windmill Massacre is 2016 Dutch supernatural horror film with a body count. I went into this film due to its apparent slasher qualities, qualities that were vast and valuable. Though honestly beyond group of people being stalked and killed by a supernatural force is all I knew. But for me that was enough. The Windmill didn’t surprise me as much as I was hoping it would and has a couple of issues that did get under my skin.

The Windmill opens with Jennifer Harris (Charlotte Beaumont) being confronted by her boss about the fact she lied about who she is. He tries to keep her detained until the police arrive, but she escapes by smashing a vase into his head and running away. She wanders the streets of Amsterdam until the next morning when she comes across a Happy Holland tour bus, owned and operated by Abe (Bart Klever). Also on the bus is father and son, Douglas (Patrick Baladi) and Curt (Adam Thomas Wright), photographer Ruby (Fiona Hampton), royal marine Jackson (Ben Batt), Dr. Nicholas Cooper (Noah Taylor) and Japanese tourist Takashi (Tanroh Ishida). The bus breaks down after Jennifer freaks thinking she say her father walk into the road, which would be hard she she touched him alive back in Australia. Broke down with no cell service to call for help, Jennifer and Jackson head to a near by windmill that isn’t on the map to ask for help. On the way through the woods to get there Jackson has a hallucination about the prostitute he killed in Amsterdam the night before, before he’s killed by a strange figure with a scythe. Jennifer runs back to the bus, but no one believes her, a steady theme since the doctor outs shes on anti-psychotics. Soon the bus tips over into the pond it was parked by forcing the group as a whole to walk to the windmill. Along the way they loose Takashi who follows his own vision his wrong doings deeper into the woods. One by one the tourists are forced to confront their sins before being killed by the ghost of Miller Hendrik (Kenan Raven), for devil worshiper now gate man for hell…

My issues are two fold, first is it takes forever for anyone to believe Jennifer. Like three deaths and a witness in. Which wouldn’t of been bad if the filmmakers focused on the is she isn’t she motif. But that’s never addressed, we as the audience know from the get go that she isn’t and it feels like it takes forever for the victim pool to catch up.

My next issue is also a spoiler so feel free to jump past this part. But Abe the bus driver being in league with Miller Hendrik bothers me immensely. As Abe kills the repentant, who are not killed by Hendrik to be sent to hell along with any innocents that might have been on the bus of sinners. Which feels like it defeats the whole judging people for their sins and releasing the truly repentant. Why judge people at all if you have a cohort that kills the people that make it free? Also how did Abe start serving Hendrik and the devil? The Windmill never covers that, it just gives a throw away line about how he has been working for him for many years. With all the time spent arguing if Jennifer is insane could have been used to better flesh out Abe.

The rest of the victim pool is actually okay. Nothing special, but I can be a fan of standard fare. Which here I am. The best performances come from Tanroh Ishida, Adam Thomas Wright, and Patrick Baladi. I really love Tanroh the most as it feels like he did the most with his character even though he had little time. Patrick Baladi and Adam Thomas Wright have great father son chemistry and are very believable in these roles.

Final thoughts, it was okay. But had the fixings to be really great. The Windmill need to focus more on its characters and the Miller more than anything. Most are left woefully underdeveloped and their sins never really become the focal point they should. The kills are fun, inventive and gorey. Though the CGI does look a little silly at times. 6/10

Warlock

MPW-69049This is one of my favorite films from my childhood and was surprised just how well it had stuck in my memory. I hadn’t seen this film since before I was a teenager and I remembered every detail incredibly accurately. I was even more surprised to see how well it aged, staying just as engaging now as it was then. This is due to the very memorable performances from Julian Sands and Richard E. Grant.

Warlock opens in with the titular Warlock (Julian Sands) being captured by with-hunter Giles Redferne (Richard E. Grant) in Boston, Massachusetts back in olden times. While waiting to be executed the Warlock is thrown through time to late 80’s Los Angeles by his father Satan. Redferne will have none of this escaping bullshit, as he has a vengeance boner for the Warlock over the bewitching of his bride-to-be and follows him through the time portal. The Warlock is taken in by Kassandra (Lori Singer) and her roommate.  After Kassandra leaves the Warlock kills the roommate and takes a ring. She is later questioned and the police make it clear that they made the decision to what happened and that was he was killed by a gay lover, because… reasons. So when Redferne appears at her home hunting the Warlock, she calls the police and has him arrested. That night the Warlock returns and steals her youth, well actually he accelerated her ageing, but lets get bogged down in semantics. When she wakes up and realizes what has happened, she bails out Redferne and the pair set to hunt down the Warlock before he can reassemble The Grand Grimoire . Learning the name of god and undoing creations…

It’s honestly the story that I found memorable. But all the moments that comprise the story. Most notably the scenes featuring the Mennonite farmer or the boy that gets killed for his fat. Turns out unbaptized male child fat is an amazing ingredient for potions in this universe.  Never seeing the boys remains actually works in Warlocks interest here, as I have a feeling it would look laughable by today’s standards.

Like I said though it’s really Julian Sands and Richard E. Grant that makes this movie. This is undoubtedly my favorite film starring Julian Sands, with his work in Rose Red coming in a very distant second and I can praise his performance enough. Richard E. Grant works great off of him and the two feel at odds in all the right ways.

My only complaint is Lori Singers performance and happens to be the least memorable part of this film. Which is real down considering she’s one of the three major characters and is supposed to be the one we’re rooting for. She comes of vapid and vain. Two things that turn me against a character faster than just about any other traits. Her refusal to wear most of her aging makeup makes her character feel phony and ruined my suspension of disbelief every time she was in the frame.

Final thoughts, if you can get past Lori Singer this is a really great movie. Because once you get past her this film is great. Easily worth Cult status, but I’m unsure if this film has achieved that and if not I find that saddening. 8.5/10

Exeter

Exeter-DVD-fI’m not sure what drew me to Exeter. But whatever it was, I’m pleased at the outcome. Exeter does a fantastic job of establishing a tone and sticking with it. As Exeter is a straight up horror film, well technically its a Supernatural Horror film. Though the exact nature of what’s going down was a little confusing and a couple of the actors were a tad inconstant with their deliveries, overall I liked this film. Probably more than I should have if I’m to be completely honest. Than again, I never claimed to have refined tastes.

Exeter opens with a woman, shooting up right before blowing her brains out. We’re then treated to the history of Exeter School of the Feeble Minded. Which treated children with mental and behavioral problems… in an era when those things weren’t understood in such a way for there to be proper treatments. So they were subjected to the horrors that comes naturally at those places. Though after the treatment of the children was made public, the school was shut down and the building abandoned. We then jump ahead, Exeter is looking at being reopened as a youth center by Father Conway (Stephen Lang). He’s been assisted by Patrick (Kelly Blatz), who Father Conway is unhappy with due his decision to not go to college. As the pair leaves the let local picker I’m guessing, Greer (Kevin Chapman) look the place over for anything he wants. A little later, Patrick gets convinced by his friends Brad (Brett Dier) and Brian(Nick Nicotera) to let them throw a party in Exeter. Since you know he has a key and the place is abandoned. Patrick reluctantly agrees to a small party, what he receives is a massive blowout. After the party has all but finally ended with only a handful of people remaining, Patrick along with his little brother Rory (Michael Ormsby), Brian, Brad and his girlfriend Amber (Gage Golightly), Drew (Nick Norella) some guy that was at the party, and Reign (Brittany Curran) also a party attendee. After a little game of Light as a feather Stiff as a board spooks Rory enough that he pees himself and takes off is where this picks up. While Patrick and Reign are wandering around discussing the building, Reign comments on Rory’s behavior and admonish’s Patrick for his handling of his brother. This results in the pair going off to find him, which they do, in a heavy state of being straight up possessed. Possessed Rory attacks the pair, but gets subdued and tied to a bed. The go to get help from the others, which none believe him. Then Greer shows up and basically makes everything a hundred times worse. Its no big though, since he dies because he frees Rory. Who he did think was being abused or some shit. Now with his state of possession no longer in dispute, Patrick and the others to free Rory of the possession. But not everyone is who they seem…

The twist, which I’m not going to spoil since it want you to go see this, does feel a little out of left field. There’s a revenge twist to it that makes little sense and it’s inclusion does cause the film to suffer a bit. But it’s delivered well enough that it feels forced. Ham-handed is the best way for me to describe the end of the film. That said the post credit scene does salvage a lot of it.

What I liked were the teens, who honestly look way too old for their roles. But that sort of comes with the territory. Brittany Curran is by far and away my favorite actor in this film. But the other two notable actors are Michael Ormsby, who came off a bit like a Jason Mews knock off at times and Stephen Lang, who is always a delight.

What really sells this film is the atmosphere created by the location. As it was shot on location, all be it not in an actual haunted build. But was filmed in the state that it was found in. Which really works wonders for this film, creating a very tense and spooky backdrop. One that the actors and story could have capitalized on a bit more.

Final thoughts, I like it and I do recommend it. But you also need to be willing to kind of turn off your mind a bit to really get into it. I was aided by a couple of cold beers and it was a wonderful experience. One that I might try to recreate. 7.5/10

Insidious: Chapter 3

Insidious-Chapter-3-poster-1The Insidious franchise knows how to make sequels. I found the series original film to be less than stellar, and still have a few issues with it. The Second Chapter was an improvement and Insidious: Chapter Three continues to raise the bar. With Leigh Whannell doing an amazing job stepping into the director’s chair.

Insidious: Chapter 3 focuses on Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott), who’s grappling with the loss of her mother. In an effort to contact her, Quinn visits Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye). Elise is currently retired from being a medium as she’s also dealing with loss of a loved one. Elise warms up to Quinn and agrees to help as a kindness. But, Elise feels the presence of another spirit and warns Quinn to never call out to or try to contact her mother again, as when you call out to one of the dead all of them can hear you. That night Quinn does just that, calls out to her mother after hearing some strange noises.  Quinn skips school the next day to audition for a NY preforming arts school and while auditioning, she notices a strange figure watching her. That evening while fearing she had blown her audition, Quinn gets distracted by the same figure waving to her. This results in Quinn being hit by a car as she stopped in the middle of the road. At the hospital suffering sever injuries Quinn dies and passes into the Further. Inside she see’s the figure again, The Man Who Can’t Breath (Micheal Reid MacKay), before she’s pulled back into our world thanks to a shot of adrenaline. Once Quinn returns home, she is bed bound having suffered multiple breaks in both legs. The paranormal occurrences pick back up and start happening more frequently and after being attacked by the spirit repeatedly, Quinns father, Sean Brenner (Dermot Mulroney) seeks the aid of Elise, who turns him away. So, he turns to a pair of ghost chasers Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), who quickly realize they’re out of their league. Luckily, Elise has changed her mind after visiting with Carl (Steve Coulter). She quickly enlists both Specs and Tucker to save Quinn from the Man Who Can’t Breath.

I like that this movie is a prequel of sorts and its placement within the franchises mythos. I liked seeing how Spec and Tucker came to work with Elise, as well as Elise’s character arc over the course of the film. Beginning with her being scared and afraid, and transitioning into the calm and confident Elise of the films.

Lin Shaye’s performances just keep improving and I really enjoy what she does with her character. But as great as she is, the actress that knocked her role out of the park is without a doubt Stefanie Scott. I was completely unfamiliar with her before this film and I really hope she does more horror films in the future as I feel she would make an outstanding scream queen. Sadly that’s where the good acting ends, as the rest of the cast being lack-luster with Dermot Mulroney’s performance being the worst. He came off more as an asshole, than a father who’s stretched thin and trying to deal with the loss of his wife.

Final thoughts, even with the weak performances this film is worth seeing. Lin Shaye and Stefanie Scott do a splendid job carrying this movie to the point where the poor performances fall to wayside as you’re watching them. The pacing and tone delivered by Leigh Whannell are both consistent and sublime and I find Micheal Reid MacKay’s performance to be genuinely unnerving . Easily my favorite entry into the series, Insidious: Chapter 3 deserves a score to reflect his. 8.5/10

Oculus

oculus_xlgTwo things about Oculus intrigued me enough to set aside the time to watch it. The first reason was it came heavily recommended to me, secondly, Mike Flanagan is the director. I enjoyed Absentia for its lofty aspirations, Oculus feels the opposite. It feels like a lazy story that doesn’t serve any sort of point. The film meanders back and forth between the two stories that would have been better as stand alone films.

Oclus follows Kaylie Russell (Annalise Basso, Karen Gillan) and her brother Tim (Garrett Ryan, Brenton Thwaites) in two different time periods. One in which they are children and first encounter the mirror, ending with the death of their parents Alan (Rory Cochrane) and Marie (Katee Sackhoff). In the other time period, both are now adults with Kaylie working in an auction house, and her brother being released from a mental hospital. The two reconnect briefly before Kaylie sets her plan in motion to get revenge on the evil presence within the mirror. Tim no longer believes the mirror to be evil after his time in the mental institution and that Kaylie is unstable. Saying “It runs in our family”. But that is quickly pushed aside as we learn that the mirror is indeed possessed and that the being inside warps peoples perceptions.

I want to like Oculus, I really do. It’s just too thin for me. I was entertained enough, I suppose, as I don’t regret watching it. I just feel I didn’t gain anything from doing so. I can’t pull any single moment from the film that I could declare as memorable and this is in large part due the film’s trailer.

It’s more than just that  though, the acting never felt on point. Annalise Basso and Karen Gillan’s performances were a good example, Annalise delivers my favorite performance. While Karen Gillan’s performance is…. well, worse. But, not the worst in the film, that goes to Rory Cochrane. Karen Gillan comes off monotone and disingenuous to me. Rory Cochrane was handed a difficult task, to play a man slow becoming possessed and losing his mind. A job that has been handled in other films, but in those films this degradation is central to the film. Here, he has to do the same thing with only a third of the screen time and simply doesn’t deliver. He tries and it works, it just feels sloppy.

The film is well shot though and I love the use of the mirror. But as atmospheric as Oculus is, the story feels slovenly. By showing what should essentially be two movies, together and overlapping them, causes some issues for me. It spoils things from the beginning as we learn very quickly what happened to their parents, spoiling half the film’s climax. The other half relies on us having a connection to the characters involved. Which is hard to do when as part of the film’s premise is everything could be fake. This forces a disconnect for me. Once the it changes things and we can’t trust anything card was played my emotional commitment to the characters was over.

Final thoughts, if you’re interested in seeing Oculus I have once piece of advice. Don’t watch the trailer as it does a real good job at abbreviating the film down to a much more palatable two and half minutes. I also wan’t to saw while sloppy, disjointed and poorly delivered Oculus does try to tell a story. But it’s execution left me wanting and as such my score must reflect as much. 3/10

It Follows

It-Follows-posterIt Follows is a great example of how good writing and direction (David Robert Mitchell) can really make a simple idea, really work. I watched It Follows, well just for something to talk about today and It Follows impressed me. Well not just me, as I had the pleasure of viewing this film with a friend, who all so liked this film.

It Follows opens with a girl, running from something we can’t see, call her father to say goodbye. Her mangled corpse if found the following morning. The rest of the film follows College student Jay Height (Maika Monroe). After she sleeps with her new boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary), he knocks her out with chloroform. When she awakens, she finds herself tied to a chair. When Hugh notices she’s woken he explains that she’s now cursed. He explains that she will now be followed by a creature that can take many shapes, but can only be seen by those that have been cursed, that it will follow her at a walking speed. Should it ever catch her it will kill her and go after who cursed her. A bloody woman emerges from the nearby woods heading slowly, but directly at her. Hugh then quickly takes Jay home, leaving her naked and tied up in the street. The next day at school Jay notices an elderly woman in a hospital gown slowly walking right at her across the quad, unnoticed by those around her. She flees to her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe), and her very understanding friends Yara (Olivia Luccardi), Paul (Keir Gilchrist) who has a blatant crush on Jay. That night Jay hears the kitchen window break and when she investigates, she finds a bloody woman, but no one else can see her. Jay flees upstairs, but the creature follows, this time in the form of a tall man with gouged out eyes. Jay climbs out a window to escape and rides to a playground, where her friends find her. After finding a picture of Hugh in his abandoned house, Jay and her friends manage to track him down and he tells them again. Jay needs to pass the curse on to someone else, because the creature never stops coming right for you…

Like I said, simple. Monster follows people who have sex and murders them, brutally. What I like is that the film touches on that even if you pass on the curse, you’re still not safe. As if those cursed after you get killed by this creature, it will come after you again.

Maika Monroe does an outstanding job with her role. I’m honestly not sure if it would have been as good without her. She comes off as both vulnerable, but also as brave. As she repeatedly faces the creature and even with the help of her friends try to kill it.

Final thoughts, the music and pacing really set a great tone. It pairs wonderfully with the slow, but persistent monster that stalks Jay. While some of the acting is a bit muddled and Jay’s friends are to understanding from the beginning. Like, before they knew she wasn’t crazy. They just trusted her implicitly with no need for proof. “Oh, you’re being stalked by a supernatural creature because you had sex. Sound legit.” While not the actual wording, it’s in essence what I got from it. I do really enjoy how the film could be an allegory for STD’s, which allows the film to work on multiple levels. So, I’m going to give It Follows a….. 8/10.