Review: ‘A Quiet Place’ (Sounds Interesting)

Be vewwy vewwy quiet; they’re hunting you!

Day 89. A family of five moves barefoot through an empty small town, making as little noise as humanly possible while collecting essentials. Society appears to have ground to a halt with walls covered in fading missing persons alerts; old newspapers have printed huge headlines such as “It’s Sound!” describing the danger. Signing with ASL (American Sign Language), the family moves as a unit with Mom (Emily Blunt) and Dad (John Krasinski) navigating their path through dense woods and ever watchful for… what? When their youngest son switches on a noise-making toy, Dad turns and runs back toward his son, hoping against hope to beat the shadowing thing already galloping out of the woods to silence the offending noise…

Very little is given away throughout A Quiet Place, a story that assumes much as viewers are brought along for an apocalyptic survival story that makes zombies sound pleasant in comparison. What are “they?” Where do they come from? Why are they here? The lack of information and the intimate setting showing on family’s struggle against a mysterious invader might be off-putting to some, but the rules are established quickly as well as the consequences. Billed as a wholly original story, are audiences ready for a thriller where a pin drop can get your heroes killed?
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Posted in 2018, Crypt, Review, reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ (Second Time’s the Charm)

What do you do when your first film makes money in spite of all its flaws? Would you believe a sequel that retroactively fixes everything broken in the first one?

Los Angeles, 1967. Widow Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) is doing the best she can keeping her mortgage and bills paid performing mock séances for cash-holding believers. Her daughters Lina (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson) assist in the convincing, but in spite of willing customers, the money isn’t enough. Slipping out without permission to spend the evening with friends, Lina is introduced to a Ouija board; after getting caught being out, Lina mentions using the talking board to her mother to improve the séance experience. Alice tries to figure out a way to manipulate the board, but it turns out that Doris can use Ouija for real — without even touching it — but is that what’s really going on? Only the family priest (Henry Thomas) knows for sure…

While the original Ouija outing in 2014 fell flat, writer/director Mike Flanagan ran with the financial success of the first film and reimagined the characters’ origins (hence the title) for the sequel setting up a true period piece. The effect is similar to what “American Horror Story” was able to pull off after their first present-day season, long before it was common knowledge that the seasons were linked in the same world. It was a bold choice and an additional financial burden for the production, but would the film and the entire franchise benefit from the revelations of a retroactive origin story?
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Posted in 2017, Crypt, Movie, Review, reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: ‘Ouija’ (Witch Bored)

Sometimes producers have a great idea; sometimes that idea doesn’t really work.

Alone at home, Debbie (Shelley Hennig) finds an old Ouija game, a talking board that lets a group of friends communicate with spirits. There are rules, of course, such as never play alone — Debbie’s body is found soon after. Laine (Olivia Cooke) had been friends with Debbie since childhood… even using the Ouija board when they were kids. When circumstance leave Laine to house-sit in Debbie’s home following the funeral, Laine discovers the old wooden Ouija board and invites over four friends to a séance; she can’t shake the feeling that Debbie’s spirit is still there. When the board spells out “Hi friend,” the group freaks out and leaves… just before mysterious deaths begin to follow after everyone involved.

In 1891, the Kennard Novelty Company capitalized on the Fuld Talking Board, dubbing it a “Ouija” board and taking advantage of the centuries-old European spiritualism that had arrived in America in 1848. Rather than use the séance tradition of calling out letters and listening for knocks, the talking board had a full alphabet, ten basic numbers with yes, no, and goodbye inscribed upon a varnished wooden board. A planchette was touched by all participants to channel spirits from the beyond and guide the pointer quickly to answer questions. While even holding a US patent that never truly explains how the board works, the new question is will audiences flock to see a movie built around their assumptions and pour money into current-owner Hasbro’s demonic pockets?
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Posted in 2014, Crypt, Movie, Review, reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments Review: Adam Green’s ‘Victor Crowley’ (Old School American Horror Ten Years Later)

This is not Hatchet IV, okay? Just… uh, actually — yeah, yeah it is.

Final girl Andrew (Parry Shen with top billing, bitches!) was the only survivor found after the three-night massacre at Honey Island Swamp at the hands of local ghost legend Victor Crowley — an entity that hasn’t been seen for ten years. Cashing in on his fame after being accused and exonerated of being the actual swamp killer, Andrew releases a tell-all memoir to a lukewarm reception. Meanwhile, the site of the murders has been turned into a local attraction of t-shirt sellers and self-guided tours — one of interest to independent filmmaker Chloe (Katie Booth), in town not only to film a proof-of-concept trailer but also land semi-celebrity Andrew to be in her film. When things pretty much don’t work out the way anyone wants, something reawakens the ghost of Honey Island Swamp: Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) rises to kill again!

According to the disc extras, Hatchet III was originally supposed to be the final chapter: the end, all done, finito. It wasn’t going to happen until after writer/director Adam Green was told at a convention by the late George Romero that it was up to filmmakers like him to keep horror alive and fans interested. Following a series of personal setbacks in his own life, putting pen to paper and starting a new chapter for his franchise became his therapy. He knew actor/stuntman Kane Hodder would be happy, but was there really an audience out there who needed ol’ Hatchet Face to make a return appearance?
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Posted in 2017, Crypt, Movie, Review, reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment Review: Adam Green’s ‘Hatchet III’ (The Day After the Day After Old School American Horror)

You think we need a third one? You think we need a third one.

Final girl Marybeth (still played by Danielle Harris) arrives at the New Orleans police station covered in blood, weapons, and carrying a scalp. While processing the only suspect to her unverified crime, Sheriff Fowler (Zach “Gremlins” Galligan) sends a team out to Honey Island Swamp, discovering all the bodies from the last two Hatchet movies strewn everywhere — including one wearing coveralls and missing most of his head! As a forensics team descends upon the quiet yet bloody crime scene, one familiar-looking lab worker (good news, everyone: it’s Parry Shen again!) realizes that something sinister changed when the sun went down: Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) has started his loop again.

As evidenced by his picture on the cover and in the disc menus, they’re not exactly trying to hide Victor Crowley anymore; yes, we’re up to the point in the franchise where we’re cheering for the monster as a constant. After doing the hapless tourist thing in Hatchet followed by the fearless hunters bit in Hatchet II, this time the cops are going to experience the local legend in a first-hand encounter, so it’s getting difficult for the local populace to keep denying there’s a real killer loose in the swamp. Will Victor at last meet his maker and be at peace, or will this just be another body count to add to the running total?
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Posted in 2013, Crypt, Movie, Review, reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments Review: Adam Green’s ‘Hatchet II’ (The Day After Old School American Horror)

It isn’t often a sequel picks up exactly where the last one left off; it’s even rarer when the story actually picks up there, too.

After surviving a night of horror (wait: what?!), Marybeth (now played by Danielle Harris) escapes the swamp but needs help retrieving the remains of her family, tapping Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) for his expertise on local legend Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) using a bit of blackmail. Zombie reveals more of Victor’s back story, including the curse that keeps bringing the monster back. With the help of Captain Shawn’s brother Justin (conveniently also played by Parry Shen), Zombie puts together a team to assist Marybeth, but the “good” reverend has other plans for Hatchet Face: ending the curse once and for all and taking the swamp back for himself.

The first Hatchet film succeeded in what writer/director Adam Green set out to do: make an old-school American horror and creating a cult following over his contribution. Fans being fans, however, they’re never satisfied with a one-off when a franchise is born! With several other films under their belts since their debut film, the Green machine knows how to get a production going and put a film in the can, but can they duplicate the raw feel and fun of the first film while expanding their franchise for Crowley fans?
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Posted in Crypt, Movie, Review, reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments Review: Adam Green’s ‘Hatchet’ (Old School American Horror)

You will believe a first-time director with a $1 million budget can make a run-and-gun horror film on-location in Louisiana while ducking Hollywood unions.

Bored with the drinking and bead-throwing of New Orleans Mardi Gras, Ben (Joel David Moore) seeks out less drunken entertainment, lured by the promise of a scary nighttime boat tour through supposedly haunted swamps. Shawn (Parry Shen) captains the bus tour and scare boat to and around Honey Island Swamp, home of a local legend: the ghost of Victor Crowley. Tortured by local kids who set fire to the boy’s home, the deformed child’s father accidentally killed his son with the axe intended to free him. Since that time, locals say that you can hear the spirit of poor Victor — aka Hatchet Face — calling out for his missing daddy in the dead of night. One tourist on the boat, however, not only hopes to hear those mournful cries but fully intends to look Victor dead in the eyes… even if it takes every other life on the boat to get that chance.

Welcome to Love Rodeo, the name writer/director Adam Green reportedly used to keep his production on the down-low and under budget. Gambling the cost of a plane ticket to New Orleans and a swamp tour, Adam and friends shot footage they cut with a child’s voiceover reading a creepy script and released a trailer for their intention: an old-school American horror film in the slasher tradition. The trailer was effective enough to not only convince viewers the movie had already been made but won actual financing. As amateur filmmakers going pro, it quickly become clear that the funding really wasn’t enough, but would ducking union representatives and sneaking around permissions for location shoots make ends meet enough to create the film they promised?
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Posted in Crypt, Movie, Review, reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments