Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Abattoir (2016) 1h 38m

Abattoir (noun) - Slaughterhouse

I never learned this word while I was studying French in college so I'm let down it didn't mean something cooler.  I don't know what I wanted but I feel like "slaughterhouse" doesn't really fit.  I get what they were going for, and Abattoir is much better, but suck my ass with this being "slaughterhouse."

Abattoir starts with a Henry David Thoreau quote and a narrator.  Don't let this over pretentiousness turn you off though because the plot is kind of rad.  Julia, a reality reporter (which is a thing I guess) gets a call from a man that says he just murdered her sister and the sister's family.  After the funerals Julia, with her cop "friend" Declan, go back to her sister's house to find answers.  They find the room where the murder happened completely missing from the house.  Using her reality knowledge and reporter skills Julia finds that similar occurrences have been happening for around 50 years and trace back to Jebediah Crone as well as the town the sisters were born.

For the first two acts of Abattoir everything happens at high speed.  It's paced well, but when the time comes for the third act everything screeches to a halt in order for you to get a guided tour of the payoff you've been waiting for.  If they trimmed it by 5 or 10 minutes then it would've been just right.  They didn't, it made my interest wain.  Luckily, by the very end, this film got its shit together and I was all in.  It helps that this movie has one of my favorite things: the bad guy wins.

I want a sequel to Abattoir.  Don't do the same town or Jebediah again, but the plot of everything can go much further now that we have a foundation.  Make it!  Make it happen!  Appease me!

I give Abattoir 4 copies of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five out of 5:

Monday, January 22, 2018

Phantom of the Theatre (2016) 1h 43m

As soon as I started watching this film I began to spiral down a Wikipedia hole where I kept reading more and more about the types of Chinese ghosts.  I don't know where I got it stuck in my head that jiangshi were the primary ghost type in China.  They're not even ghosts, they're more along the lines of a vampire.  That said, there are some really awesome types of ghosts in their culture based off of their behavior in life.  Actually, both Japan and China have some really cool spirits.  We just get shit like Casper over here, and he's a dildo.

Phantom of the Theatre takes us to an undetermined time period in China.  An abandoned theatre is full of the spirits of a murdered acrobat troop which can kill by causing a person to burn from the inside out.  When a man approaches an up and coming actress to star in the film he wrote, she accepts once he decides to film it in the old theatre.  The pasts of both characters hold many secrets which rise to the surface during the filming and premier of their movie.

I don't know why I feel stunned by this, but it has been a while where I watched a film where the plot was so coherently addressed and wrapped up.  There were no loose ends, everything made sense, and the ending left me wanting.  Why is this something that is so hard to achieve in horror?   The sets and costumes were beautiful.  The visual and CG effects were acceptable although there tends to be some borderline Mortal Kombat skulls flying around (also a brief character named Liu Kang didn't help).

I think my favorite part of this film was the actual Phantom.  He looked like some sort of Chinese King Diamond.  Look at him over there.  He looks like he's going to break out some sweet Merciful Fate covers or talk to you about his interest in black magick.  If Phantom of the Theatre was just this guy killing everyone then I would've given this film the highest rating ever!  Instead...

I give Phantom of the Theatre 4 Kennywood Phantom Fright Night logos out of 5:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Aliens: Zone of Silence (2017) 1h 19m


Oh found footage films, we meet again.  Only this time you're on Netflix due to an inside job.  This is the directorial debut of Andy Fowler, also known as the Director of VFX for Netflix itself.  Yes, this film is on more streaming platforms than just Netflix, the fact that this was a direct to streaming production and had no theatrical release gives you an idea of what I had to deal with here.  So why am I'm being such a cranky bastard with this film?  Journey with me, into the zone of silence...

Based off of a real location in Mexico, Aliens: Zone of Silence follows a woman as she tries to find her brother after he disappears while searching for aliens for his YouTube channel.  Similar to the Bermuda Triangle, the Zone of Silence has issues with magnetic fields and the breaking down of mechanical instruments.  Lucky for our leading woman, she has the help of Goose, an ex-communications officer in the military that seems to have his own command station at his house.  They're able to keep in constant visual and audio contact except for times when the aliens are around.

This movie should be called the White Woman: Slog of Boring.  It's just a bunch of camcorder, GoPro, and computer screen shots that were so uninteresting to watch that I listened to this movie more than I watched it.  It reminds me of the night shots of Blair Witch only they're mostly in a tent or in the daytime so it takes away the suspense factor.  Also, Goose is the worst physical actor I have seen in a while.  There's a section where he's supposed to be having this inner panic of what to do since he lost contact with the woman and it was painful to watch.  Side note:  Don't name someone Goose in your film, it makes me think of Top Gun.

We never see the aliens.  Instead we get the fake hand of a grey pushing on the side of a tent.  The final shot we get looks like someone took a picture of Jesus and/or Mary statues and then put a bunch of vapor wave video filters on them.  That's cool with the kids, right?  We can make this ending relevant to youth culture, right?  Fuck off!

I give Aliens: Zone of Silence 0 photos of Goose from Top Gun out of 5:

Thursday, January 18, 2018

XX (2017) 1h 20m

Anthology horror films have started to pop up more and more.  We have the V/H/S films, Southbound, The ABCs of Death series, and now we have XX.  An anthology where the focus is on the women in horror that aren't scream queens, but are the ones that make the scream queens scream.

XX consists of four short films: The Box (based off of a Jack Ketchum short story) where a boy catches a glimpse of what's inside of stranger's present and he is never the same.  The Birthday Party which has a mother about to host her daughter's seventh birthday party only to find her husband dead of pills and booze and she tries to hide his corpse.  Don't Fall, where four 20-something campers stumble across an area which caries a violent curse.  Then the final short is Her Only Living Son, in which a single mother is dealing with the fact that her son is coming into his own around his 18th birthday and the past catches up to them.  All four of these are framed by strange stop motion sequences which I could only describe as if a living house were into gothic-lolita.

I was glad this film came up because I spent a lot of time this week trying to remember where I saw The Box before.  It's my call for the strongest of these shorts but each of them are really well done.  If I had to pin one down as the weakest short then it would be The Birthday Party. I'm only saying this because when you get to the very end you realize it was a 15 minute set-up for a joke, and it's one of those jokes though where you kind of laugh but then do an exhaled sigh at the end because a part of you just died for laughing.  It is worth watching though because the styling and usage of color are fantastic.  Also, I would like a large purple toilet costume.

I give XX 3.5 Rosie the Riveters out of 5:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Red Christmas (2016) 1h 22m

Uggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh.  I think that this might be the first movie that caused me to say "this movie sucks" out loud to an empty room.  It wasn't even a quiet comment.  It was an exclamation of dismay at the fact that I had resigned to sit and watch this movie.  It was my acquiescence to being the vehicle of my own of my own torment.  I know now what lead a samurai to commit seppuku in order to pay for his own sins so that he may hopefully redeem himself upon death.

Red Christmas is an Australian slasher flick where my suspension of disbelief went out the window from the start.  Opening on an abortion clinic where a someone set a bomb, we have a bucket slapped with a biohazard sticker contains a living baby... somehow.  I don't know what Australian abortion laws were 20 years ago, but I'm pretty sure third trimester abortions were not a voluntary option.  The bomber finds the bucket baby and leaves.  Twenty years later we get a family celebrating Christmas when a man wrapped in bandages and wearing a cloak shows up on their front step.  I wish it was Darkman because I would much rather watch Darkman.  It ends up being the aborted child of the family's matriarch.  Her choice for the abortion was because they already had a child with Down Syndrom and this baby was going to born with it as well.  On top of that, her husband was diagnosed with cancer (I think) and she couldn't handle the situation.  Not Darkman starts killing everyone because he isn't loved by his real mom.

This film was the hottest trash.  I felt like the entire thing was set up to be this big "Look at her!  She's the real bad guy because of her want of an abortion!"  We do get a view of the killer without his hood and bandages and I almost flipped a fucking table because they made him this horribly deformed creature.  I'm surprised the actor that legitimately had Down Syndrome didn't turn to the director and just go "are you fucking kidding me?" when it was revealed.  I couldn't handle this entire mess.  I actually have the note "fuck this entire film!"

The only shining light of Red Christmas comes from the kills.  We get a one-and-done axe blow that splits a woman in half, an amazing bear trap on the head kill, and a priest's rubber head shooting blood out of the eyes.  Look up a kill montage on YouTube or something and avoid the shit out of this film.

I give Red Christmas 1 copy of Darkman out of 5, only because of those kills:

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Reaping (2007) 1h 39m


I love films that involve Satanic cults.  I dig this plot device because it's always more in line with some sort of hold-over "Satanic panic" idea of Satanism as opposed to LaVey Satanism or  Luciferianism.  It's as if everything has to be the extreme opposite of anything that people view as holy.  I also love biblical references, especially when it comes to something like the 10 plagues of Egypt.  This film served up both of these, so how well does it deliver?

The Reaping follows Katherine, an ex-priest that spends her time going to sites of assumed miracles and debunking them through scientific means.  As an aside, I would 100% be down for this as a career.  Katherine gets a call from a friend/priest warning her that photos he has of her burned themselves into a backwards Blue Oyster Cult logo and this is a sign of something to come.  She is then called to the town of Haven, Louisiana (it doesn't exist, I checked) because their river has turned to blood.  During her investigation the other plaugues continue to manifest all while she uncovers a secret Satanic cult attempting to bring about the Anti-Christ.

I liked this movie more than I should have.  The random made up prophecy of bringing about the Anti-Christ was cheesy in a good way.  Katherine's back story could've been flushed out a bit better because her reason for leaving the cloth comes from such an extreme situation it's hard to believe.  It mainly exists so we have a reason for the friend-priest to be in this film and be in contact with her.  The Reaping pulls a twist and an ending reveal, both of which caught me off guard.  So kudos to you 11-year-old movie.

I give The Reaping 4 BOC albums out of 5:

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Similars (a.k.a. Los Parecidos) (2015) 1h 29m

My family didn't get cable until I was in high school.  Prior to that a majority of my sci-fi/fantasy watching were Brisco County Jr. and the random things you got on Saturday afternoon.  Mostly Xena and Hercules unless you got stuck with Cleopatra 2525 (which my husband just sang the theme song to me when I asked him if he remembered the name of it).  Once I had cable I had access to the Sci-Fi Channel (now just Syfy, I think) and their airings of Twilight Zone, especially the New Years marathons which became background staples at celebrations from high school on with friends.  My love of The Twilight Zone runs deep, so when I started watching The Similars I felt that I had found a long lost episode.

Over the course of a single night in 1968, eight individuals find themselves trapped inside of a bus station just outside of Mexico City.  Their small world descends into chaos as the two employees appear to be suffering from strange injuries and are claiming that one of the men there is the devil.  While this is going on we receive updates via radio that the rain outside isn't earthly and is part of some strange world wide weather phenomenon.  The people inside want out, they want answers, and when they get them it's not what they expect.

I loved this film.  It's colored with a grey tonality over it but as everything progresses the color fades from the film totally until the end.  The turns this movie takes are on par with anything I'd see Rod Serling pull.  We even get a narrator voice over at the beginning and end.  I really couldn't find anything bad about this film if I tried.

It does remind me of two specific episodes of The Twilight Zone though.  The first being The Eye of the Beholder (where a woman is getting surgery to become "normal" but it fails and although she looks beautiful to the viewer, her race doesn't look like that and she is the ugly one).  The other is It's a Good Life which I won't go into as it gives some of this film away.  If you're familiar with it then you already know.  And knowing is half the battle.  GO JOE!

I give The Similars 5 TV Guides with Rod Serling on the cover out of 5:

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Honeymoon (2014) 1h 27m

Don't confuse this with Honeymoon (a.k.a Luna de miel) that I talked about on Rank & Vile last month.  This is the other movie named Honeymoon, or one of the maybe dozen films named Honeymoon.  I just have access to these two.  Truthfully, I got the better end of the deal with this film as opposed to what I subjected Quincy and Ryan to.

Honeymoon takes us to a lakeside cabin in the woods.  Just married, and looking to get away from the city, Bea and Paul plan to spend their honeymoon swimming in a lake and having tons of sex.  It's too cold to swim but Paul is apparently ready to go all the damn time.  Our couple has a strange encounter with a childhood friend of Bea's and the friend's wife warning our duet to get away from the area.  That evening Paul wakes to find a naked and sleepwalking Bea somewhere in the woods.  Bea's behavior becomes strange, Paul becomes paranoid, and this honeymoon has become a horror moon!!! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  That's a terrible joke, I'm sorry.

 This film tries hard to pull an ace out of its sleeve, but in the process of doing so it fucks up and shows its hand too early.  I was taken in by the plot and the development of Bea's changes but as we get information everything starts to point toward one explanation.  I'm not gonna say it's aliens, but it's aliens.  I was hoping for some sort of lycanthrope or cryptozoological creature, but I got gross things I can only describe as cervical huggers.  Pretty much the whole third act of this film is a let down, or a beam down... am I right?  I'm not, I'm sorry again.

I give Honeymoon 2 Ancient Alien memes out of 5:

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Hisss (2010) 1h 30m

No snakes were harmed in the making of this review.  I feel like I need to have that since this film felt the need to open with that notice as well as telling us that all the snakes were rubber or CGI.  I honestly didn't need that notice because they all looked fake a shit.  Definitely a higher quality rubber snake than you can get around Halloween but damn your shit is fake.  The snake woman however, rad as hell!

We have three main characters with Hisss:  The Nagin (a female snake goddess), a police officer, and a rich white American that has stage three brain cancer.  The American hears a story that if you take the Nagin's lover then you could hold it hostage for something, in this case some form of philosopher's stone.  The Police officer just wants to find out who or what is causing a rash of strange killings with puncture wounds and poison.  The Nagin wants her lover back and also stands up for women by killing rapists and men who beat their wives.  She is the heroine this world needs.

Rubber snakes and CGI aside, this film looked great. I felt like I was getting a real view of rural India as opposed to just the opulent upper-class areas we get in a lot of Bollywood films.  The story was a little iffy at times but I never got bored with it.  Once the Nagin became this sort of avenging/defending snake woman I was 100% behind her.  I did get a bit worried that the ending was going to pull some sort of magical fix but it was the most realistic ending I could ask for with a film involving a snake-woman-goddess.

I give Hisss 3 cobras in a top hat out of 5:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Duplex (2015) 2h 38m

I'm going to be completely honest here.  If someone offered me a house for a super cheap price and I then found out it was haunted then I'd be okay with that.  I feel like after the 10th time of the ghost showing up to try and scare me and it would be one of those "OOOOOOO! Oh goddamnit! You're masturbating again!" moments then he'd just fuck right off.  Bustin' makes me feel good...

The Duplex is our first Nigerian horror film here on 30 Days of Plight.  A couple buys a home for an insanely cheap price only to have the pregnant wife repeatedly seeing some sort of specter move about their house.  Eventually the spirit causes the woman to miscarriage and it leaves with the baby.  This becomes the turning point for the man to see the ghost instead and then finally attempt to deal with the issue.  It's kind of dickish.

This film is rough around the edges.  The elements are all there but the script is just too long, the effects are behind (in comparison to U.S. films), and the plot needed some tightening up.  I did enjoy that the film brought in the idea of the entity being some form of "spiritual warfare" being waged by someone in the village.  We tend to assume that how people practice their faith is similar to what we know but there are variations everywhere because of exceptions that had to be made to integrate a new religion... other than swords, guns, and colonization.

If I had to sum up The Duplex then I'd say it was a roller coaster, but a shitty roller coaster.  I was all on board for it at the beginning but after two hours of the slow incline I began to wonder where the hell this was going and then suddenly it was over and I was told to exit the ride.  Then I get off the ride to find out someone stole my Motley Crue "mirror" I won in at the dart throwing game because people are scum!  That never happened but I'd cut a fucker for stealing my Motley Crue mirror if I had one.

 I give The Duplex 1.5 Bible Adventure cartridges out of 5:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Charnel House (2016) 1h 30m

I try not to write reviews directly after watching a movie.  I want to be able to breathe and decide if a film was as good or as bad as my initial impression.  Unfortunately, for The Charnel House, I think I took too much time before writing this one because I had to force myself to recall it.  That's never a good sign, at least when I have to write a review... afterwards though, sure, I can use that space to remember more useless info like the frame data for Ryu in Street Fighter V.

When a mass of human remains are found in the basement of a meat packing factory, the owner jumps through the clock on the top floor while cradling his son.  The only thing is we see this twice, and the second time the son isn't with him, but hiding in a closet.  As the son is lead out by police he looks up at the broken clock to see himself staring down at him.  Skip to "present day" and a couple buys the abandoned factory to make the most bullshit bourgeois lofts ever.  I'm talking voice and iPhone activated everything bullshit.  The couple's daughter befriends a ghost boy that is present in the building and as I'm writing this I realized just how much I don't care about this film.

When it's all said and done, The Charnel House feels loose.  There's an A-to-B plot going on but there are so many subsections to A that when it all comes together the substance of this movie has slipped through the cracks.  I liked the concept they were attempting to go for but when the time came for the big reveal we already knew what was behind the curtain.

I give The Charnel House 1 Charnel (from Image Comics) out of 5:

Monday, January 8, 2018

House on Willow Street (2016) 1h 30m

There have been a few times that I've brought up my exhaustion for possessed teenage girls on here.  Partially because it's been done to death, partially because I'm one of those assholes that will bring up the fact that The Exorcist was based off of a boy that was possessed but they changed it for the film.  I address the latter because I point my finger solely at at Regan for why we have so many demonic ladies.  Now, the question is, does this film do anything new?

House on Willow Street has four individuals that are planning a kidnapping and ransom of the daughter of a diamond store owner.  This group has to be the most textbook looking criminal group ever.  If you asked a child to draw a group of bad people then it would probably look like this cast.  They spend six-weeks plotting and despite one of their characters being the harbinger of "you can't plan for everything," they finally make their move.  The house is unlocked, no power, and strange magick symbols are carved in the back of an armoire.  Kidnapping ensues and each of our group begins to have hallucinations of people that they are grieving.  After returning to the house to find the parents as well as two priests dead a few of the kidnappers find a tape explaining what happened and what they're up against.  They then spend the next hour ignoring the primary instruction of what they should do to get rid of the demon.

I'm on the fence with House on Willow Street.  It's not bad, but it didn't wow me.  There are some great jump scares in here with the use of the dead individuals and the demon takes control of other people via an intense french kiss, but it didn't help the lackluster plot.  The criminals each get a backstory which never really gets expanded on enough.  Especially when it comes to the surviving girl because we get a whole thing where her dead loved one actually helps her out but I don't know why.  I assume it's because they died accidentally and had a good relationship with them but that's me writing some sort of expanded fanfic universe for this film and I really don't need that in my life... just like I don't need any more possessed teenage girls.  Fucking enough already!

I give House on Willow Street 2.5 bad 3D rendered demons out of 5:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Scary Movie (2000) 1h 28m


They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Unfortunately the Scary Movie franchise has passed the point of flattery by milking the horror genre for at least five films.  By some divine fate, I rolled the original movie from way back in 2000.  I remember being home from college for a holiday break and renting this film.  It's weird to return to it nearly 18 years later and view it through a more mature lens, but not mature enough to pass up giggling at a dick or fart joke.

Scary Movie takes the plot of Scream and mixes it with a bit of I Know What You Did Last Summer. After blending these together they threw in a ton of awkward adolescent boy humor and that's the film.  There really isn't much to the plot if you've seen the original Scream and know that there's a masked killer murdering teenagers and focusing on a central girl (in this case, Cindy instead of Sidney).

Scary Movie falls under those awkward guilty pleasure films for me.  I'm a fan of the Scream franchise and I like how they spoofed it.  The things that kill this film for me now are the rampant running gay jokes and just how much this film relies on locker room humor to exist.  It dates this movie and makes it feel out of place in today's world.  Then they ran this idea into the ground by making multiple movies full of adolescent humor and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I give Scary Movie 2 weed leaves out of 5: