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Tag: movie reviews

Movie Review: THE VIGIL

I can’t write this review without quasi-spoiling something about this movie–a moment that I really enjoyed, a moment that I’m a sucker for–so consider this fair warning.

When done well, few things in horror get to me quite like the moment when someone does or says something to menacingly reveal that they’re some kind of impostor. One of my favorite horror stories in any medium in recent years, the French series Marianne, deployed this effectively more than once.

The Vigil pulls this off a few times as well, but one particular instance stands out from the rest. In fact, one of the few flaws I’d say this film has is that it goes back to the well with this trick one too many times, in a moment where it’s a little too obvious what will happen. That being said, it’s more about execution than predictability when it comes to these things. My favorite instance of the impostor revealing themselves in The Vigil was also something I saw coming well ahead of time, but in that case it just made me feel even more excited and scared about what was to come. To the extent that it made me turn the lamp on in my bedroom. I can’t remember the last time before this that a movie or book or anything made me flip a light switch. READ MORE

Movie Review: THE VAMPIRE DOLL

In Joe Hill’s excellent Heart-Shaped Box, there is a small side story about a little girl that once went missing. A ghostly reenactment of what happened to her is witnessed by the main character, Judas Coyne. It isn’t terribly consequential to the story overall, but is nonetheless chilling and impactful. I’m a bit of a sucker for moments like this.

The Japanese film The Vampire Doll has such a moment, in which a doctor tells a ghost story that lasts a little over a minute. It’s about as brief of a detour as an already short movie ought to allow, but it’s surprisingly memorable and effective despite–or maybe because of–how short and matter of fact it is. The doctor uses the story–his experience, really–to explain why he, “a man of science,” is open to the existence of the supernatural. It also influences another character, Hiroshi, to reconsider his skepticism regarding fiancée’s claim that she (Keiko) actually saw someone who was supposed to be dead. Honestly, even if it served no purpose at all, I wouldn’t mind. In fact, I wish more stories could take a quick moment to tell us about other horrors and eerie mysteries within their universe beyond the one that is the focus of the plot. READ MORE

Movie Review: THE TOLL

There is a book by John Hornor Jacobs called Southern Gods that doesn’t really have anything to do with the movie I’m reviewing here, but it’s a book I think of often, because I was drawn to it by a review that graded it a “B.” A decent grade. Solid. Right at the edge of good. The thing is, this “grade” wasn’t nearly as interesting as the review itself, which in turn made the book seem a lot more interesting, which is why I picked it up despite what some might consider a “lukewarm” score. It’s a book that I actually quite like, despite feeling a little bit let down in the later stages when it departed from a path I wanted to continue on. READ MORE

Movie Review: SPELL

Mark Tonderai’s Spell is missing something, and I don’t mean something intangible, I mean actual parts of the film must be missing. I’m convinced of this, and not just based on certain moments from the trailer not making it to the finished product. Plenty of movies have “missing trailer scenes.” Not many movies feel like they’re missing significant chunks of their own story, however. It’s unfortunate, too, because up until the movie’s missing pieces become too apparent to ignore, Spell was working some fine dark magic. READ MORE

Movie Review: HIS HOUSE

His House is the best horror film I’ve seen this year. It might be the best horror film–or film period–I’ve seen in two or three years, or five. It is what happens when “prestige horror” meets relentless, capital-H Horror. It contains stellar dramatic acting and characters you want the best for and feel afraid for. It has slick, clever scares as well as more aggressive, terrifying imagery. It has shadows you might miss if you blink and full-on assaults from the decaying dead. It has manmade terrors and supernatural ones. It contains secrets and mysteries both ordinary and extraordinary. It tells a story that could be told without supernatural elements; it contains supernatural elements the enhance an already compelling story. READ MORE

Movie Review: TALES FROM THE HOOD 3

Tales From the Hood 3 is a solid return-to-form for the horror franchise. Not great, but strong enough to make me hopeful for a Tales From the Hood 4, one that can hopefully clean-up this film’s lone, glaring weakness and build on its strengths.

The previous entry was a major misfire, much too silly and corny to be effective as either horror or comedy, while the first film has gradually become valued for being a very good horror anthology in the mold of Golden Age horror comics and horror radio stories. The same types of stories that directly influenced Creepshow and the many Amicus “portmanteau” movies that preceded the first Tales from the Hood. READ MORE

Movie Review: ZERO WEEKS

How the hell does something that is supported by 83% of the left and 71% of the right not only not exist in America, but almost exclusively does not exist in America? According to the documentary Zero Weeks, the U.S. and Papa New Guinea are the only countries that do not have a paid family leave law at the federal level. Meaning that while certain companies might offer it, they have no obligation to. As one person in the documentary states, it comes down to a “boss lottery.”

When I was considerably younger I once worked the phones for the Disability and Leave department of a large company. As such I was part of just one of multiple groups of people employees might have to call to inquire about what they qualified for, depending on whether their leave was related to an on-the-job injury, maternity leave, illness of a child or spouse, bereavement, long-term illness, short-term disability, and anything else I might not be thinking of. We had multiple departments handling the different specifics and sometimes people would get lobbed back and forth because one group’s system was different from another’s, and what we could do on our end was limited compared to what another department could handle, and they in turn could only do so much as well before passing you off, so on and so forth. READ MORE

Movie Review: TRILOGY OF TERROR

As someone who’s fascinated by how popular horror was in the 70’s, I’ve long wanted to take a deep dive into the television horror movies of the era. It’s one thing for horror to have been a hit at the cinemas and bookstores, but TV is the ostensibly “safer” and more “family friendly” entertainment guest you invite into your home1 It brought you the programming you watched in your living room with the spouse and kiddos. Shows often intended to make you laugh, sometimes intended to make you think, and other times, especially in the extended wake of the success of Rosemary’s Baby, meant to frighten you. READ MORE

Movie Review: IMPETIGORE

I’ve only seen two Indonesian horror flicks, so I can’t fairly comment on the overall health and quality of the region’s horror industry. Especially considering how much I truly enjoyed both films. It would be like watching Halloween and Alien as your first two American horror movies and immediately declaring, “This country never makes a bad horror movie! They can’t miss.”

So I have to rein in my praise for Impetigore slightly. Only slightly. This movie is a bit of a banger. It has some of everything. To open, it features a tense slasher / thriller sequence involving a violent man and a woman–our protagonist, Maya–and a toll booth. Later the movie will feature ghosts, a decidedly decrepit and spooky house with its very own and entirely too-populated graveyard, secret-keeping murderous villagers, curses and sacrifices and rituals and more. It’s packed with so much, yet doesn’t feel crammed with all of this content. Somehow there’s sufficient room for it all. It’s quite an achievement. READ MORE

Movie Review: RED CATS IN A GLASS MAZE (aka EYEBALL)

Nobody can title a horror movie like a 70’s Italian, except maybe a 70’s Spaniard. Twitch of the Death NerveSeven Notes in BlackThe Bird With Crystal PlummageA Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, The House of the Laughing Windows, on and on. While much lower on the notability list, Red Cats in a Glass Maze is pretty high on the rankings of “best ‘unusual’ horror movie titles,” particularly when compared to its alternate, American title, Eyeball.

That simpler, decidedly less metaphorical and less interesting title does reference the goings-on in the film, at least. A killer in a red rain coat is stabbing out an eyeball here and there while killing young American women during a bus tour of Spain. I imagine you’re already thinking, “Wait, during a bus tour? Do all of these killings take place over a short period of time on the bus somehow? Because as absurd as that would be, it would still be less ridiculous than if they were to continue the city-to-city tour after the first murder, much less after the second, third, and fourth.” Well, if you’re up for watching this movie, I hope you’re prepared to turn your brain and its reserve power off, because they do indeed continue the tour. READ MORE