“Happy Death Day 2U” REVIEW

Plot Synopsis:

Tree Gelbman discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead (IMDb).

Review:

I was a huge fan of the 2017 film “Happy Death Day”, it was an innovative way to do a slasher film by implementing the “Groundhog Day” formula- thus making it comedic at the same time. Going into this movie, I was really worried because I was afraid that this movie would tarnish the first one- but surprisingly, this one is a bit better than the first one.

Part of the reason why this one is a bit better is because this movie implements another genre in this film: Sci-fi. I can’t tell you how it uses that genre, but if you watch the trailer, you can come up with a guess- and it actually freshens up the film by expanding the story. I also liked that there were some innovative ways characters were killed in this film.

Another thing I liked about this movie, is that it starts with Carter’s roommate, Ryan, as the loop happens with him. Meaning that anyone can be affected by the loop that affected Tree in the first one.

Part of the charm of these films is the subtle messages that’s in the film. In the first one, it was about the stuck-up Tree learning to be a better person. And in this one, Tree is thrusted into a situation where she’s stuck choosing between two hard choices, each with their own consequences.

The only negatives I have with this movie is 1) we gotta stop referencing “Back To The Future” with these time travel movies… there’s more time travel movies out there. Plus, I already saw a movie that referenced “Back To The Future” last week, so this is becoming an epidemic. And 2) just like in the first one, the killer has a pretty petty reason for wanting to kill his victim. I rolled with it in the first one, but for this film- I just wasn’t feeling it.

There’s a pretty entertaining stinger in the middle of the credits, so I recommend staying for that.

Grade:

I’m gonna give “Happy Death Day 2U” a 8.5/10 or a B+

I liked this film a lot, but those negatives bothered me too much from giving it anything higher.

Overlord (2018 Film) Review

Plot:

With only hours until D-Day, a team of American paratroopers drop into Nazi-occupied France to carry out a mission that’s crucial to the invasion’s success. Tasked with destroying a radio transmitter atop a fortified church, the desperate soldiers join forces with a young French villager to penetrate the walls and take down the tower. But, in a mysterious Nazi lab beneath the church, the outnumbered G.I.s come face-to-face with enemies unlike any the world has ever seen. From producer J.J. Abrams, Overlord is a thrilling, pulse-pounding action adventure with a twist. (Rotten Tomatoes)

Critique:

I’m going to be honest, when I saw the trailer to “Overlord” I thought they were making a live action version of the anime series… after that clearly didn’t become the case, I was skeptical about it because the zombie genre is one of my least favorite horror genres because of its over-saturation. I was also worried when I saw J.J. Abram’s name attached to it, because I thought they were gonna connect it to the convoluted Cloverfield series. And I’m here to tell you, this movie is actually pretty bad ass!

The movie hooks you right from the jump with this amazing plane sequence that’s chaotic, grisly, and violent… and it sets up the tone of the movie perfectly! The beginning of the film is all about getting you attached to these characters, that way when some of them meet their demise, it hits you hard. The thing I really like about this movie is that it presents real people- no one seems like a character to me. They all have their own personality that helps develop them as the movie continues. And the two characters I was attached to the most were Pvt. Boyce (Jovan Adepo) and Cpl. Ford (Wyatt Russell).

This film to me is 80% a World War II Film, and 20% is actually the zombie film. These zombies aren’t the slow walkers from “Night of the Living Dead” or “The Walking Dead” these are super soldiers that are fast, strong, and extremely dangerous. The zombies amplified the story without getting in the way, and I really appreciated that. The actor that played the villain, Pilou Asbæk, played a smarmy, vicious Nazi Captain, and he perfectly caused tension in the film.

Grade:

Thankfully there was no Cloverfield connection, and this film balanced action and horror in a way that didn’t seem over-bearing. I’m going to give Overlord a 9/10 or an A.

It’s a fun popcorn film that embraces its B Movie status, and doesn’t try to be anything more than what it wants to be. So many movies try to be Shakespeare when they’re not, and I respect this movie for just going in, doing its job, and getting out.

Halloween (2018) Review

Plot Synopsis:

It’s been 40 years since Laurie Strode survived a vicious attack from crazed killer Michael Myers on Halloween night. Locked up in an institution, Myers manages to escape when his bus transfer goes horribly wrong. Laurie now faces a terrifying showdown when the masked madman returns to Haddonfield, Ill. — but this time, she’s ready for him. (Google)

Critique:

Out of all the iconic slasher characters, Michael Myers has always scared me the most because of several factors of the character: the blank expressionless mask followed by the heavy breathing, how much of a giant he is, and the fact that you have no idea if he’s entirely human. Michael seems to have no real motive, and he’ll sit right up from a gunshot like The Undertaker and Kane- and the mysterious, unknown nature of the character has always frightened me. In this film, Michael Myers retains some of those same traits, but the film humanizes him a bit- he can still be wounded, but he’s like an uncaged animal- and if you wound him and corner him enough, he becomes even more dangerous than he already was. I also have to mention that the design of his mask in this film is incredible, it’s been aged and worn out to give it a gritty, grizzled look that works for this iteration of the character. Another cool thing is you never get a clear look at Myers’ face, you’ll get a profile, a close up of the side of his face, and shots of his glassy, dead looking eyes, and it leaves it to your imagination to fill in the blanks.

Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, and the way her character is portrayed is a breath of fresh air. Obviously she would be traumatized because of the near-fatal encounter she had with Michael in 1978, but that event has traumatized her so much that she’s become a walking embodiment of PTSD, and this trauma doesn’t just affect her- it affects her relationship with her family. Michael has gotten to Laurie in such a psychological way, that Laurie is alienated by her family due to her paranoia.

Another thing I like about this movie is John Carpenter’s score. It still retains the classic vibe of the 1978 film, but it’s been revamped in a modern way using electronic synths and violins, and an interesting thing to note is Carpenter’s son helped write the soundtrack with him.

Something I have to mention is the fact that there are some false jump scares, which is a modern horror trope that gets on my nerves, but there’s enough real genuine horror moments that outweigh those few moments I was annoyed at. Another thing that normally bugs me is when characters conveniently lose IQ points whenever they’re chased by the antagonist, but I won’t really hold that against the film because it honestly feels like it’s embracing that trope of the slasher franchise.

One thing I will hold against this film, however, is that flat ending this film delivers. Look, I know that the original film didn’t necessarily have the most concrete ending either, and this is obviously a tribute to that film, but the reason why this one is inexcusable to me is the fact that they zoom in on a character holding a knife… and that’s where they cut to credits. That frustrated me, because what am I supposed to take away from an ending like that?

I appreciate that this film wipes away the other movies in the franchise, and it makes Michael scary again, but that flat ending bugged the hell out of me, and you lose points for that.

Grade:

Halloween (2018) is definitely going to make fans of the Halloween franchise happy, and there’s no doubt it’ll do well in the box office, but the biggest critique of mine is that ending.

So, I have no choice but to give this film a 8.5/10 or a B+

To get the full experience: watch the original film and listen to the song “Stabbing in the Dark” by Ice Nine Kills, and you’ll be all set to see this movie!

“The Haunting of Hill House” REVIEW| A Netflix Original Horror Series

Plot Synopsis:

Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it. (Netflix)

Critique:

Normally on my blog I’ll do reviews for theatrical releases, however in rare cases I’ll review Straight To DVD Titles (case in point, see my review of “Batman Ninja”) and with something like Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House” I feel so profoundly to talk about this series, because this HAS to be talked about!

As many of you may know, I’m a huge fan of horror- I practically grew up on horror because my grandmother would let me watch old black and white horror films whenever I visited her. And for a while now, I haven’t really seen anything that had caused me the same terror as those movies did where I had to leave the lights on before I’d go to bed…. that is, until this series.

So, what makes this series so scary? For me, what makes this show incredibly terrifying, and downright horrifying is the blend of the supernatural along with the very real issues this family is plagued with both while living in the house, and even after leaving it. The house, we later find out, is very much a character itself and the impact it has on the family inhabiting it is very sinister. Some members of the Crane family do very dangerous stuff to themselves as a way to cope with what happened in the house, other members exploit it as a way to make a career. So yes, the ghosts, ghouls, and malevolent spirits are terrifying- but the scariest thing is the fact that this haunted house has tore apart this family in a truly tragic way.

The one thing this show definitely nails is the atmosphere, it makes you feel like you’re actually a resident in this haunted house. Another neat touch is if you pay close enough attention, you’ll see some specters lurking in the darkest corners of the house. Another thing that really helps build the atmosphere is the score in the series, it definitely sets the mood. Something else that this series does is produce horrifying images that will forever be burned into your brain, so if the atmosphere and mood doesn’t affect you, the disturbing visuals definitely will!

Another thing I like is, just like in the movie “Oculus”, this show jumps from the past to the present, back and forth in time almost seamlessly. Some people may have a problem with this, but for me it’s a great way to connect certain events together… one significant event being the reveal of The Bent Neck Lady’s identity, which got the biggest reaction from me.

Now while there are a few false jump scares (sorry, I gotta mention it) there’s still plenty of very real moments of terror to keep you gripped to your seat.

Grade:

This is honestly one of the most terrifying shows I’ve seen in a while, and it’s definitely more effective than something like “The Nun” that I’ve seen this year- so I have no choice but to give “The Haunting in Hill House” a 10/10 or an A+. If you’re a fan of horror, you NEED to watch this series!

“Hell Fest” Movie Review

Synopsis:

“On Halloween night, three young women and their respective boyfriends head to Hell Fest — a ghoulish traveling carnival that features a labyrinth of rides, games and mazes. They soon face a bloody night of terror when a masked serial killer turns the horror theme park into his own personal playground” (Google).

Review:

When I saw the trailer to this movie on FaceBook, I was intrigued because I thought the concept of a serial killer hunting down teenagers, or in this case-college students, was a cool idea. But this film isn’t just a cool concept- it honestly feels like an homage, or even a love letter to the 1990’s era of slasher films like “Scream”. I like the fact that the beginning of the film felt like a party when the group is having fun at this horror themed festival, but as soon as they realize the very real danger they’re in… the movie becomes suspenseful, and somewhat uncomfortable.

I also like the fact that the serial killer, who isn’t given a name, feels like Micheal Myers in the way that he’s treated like a force of nature instead of a human being. The mask the killer uses is cool and it also serves a purpose of letting him blend in. Another cool fact I like about the killer is that they give you subtle hints at what his motivation could possibly be, and even at the end- the movie makes you come up with you’re own interpretation.

I thought the group of college kids played their roles well, there weren’t any nonsensical cliques amongst the group like the slutty chick or the dumb jock… they felt like real college kids. I felt each person amongst the group had a chance to shine.

Grade:

“Hell Fest” doesn’t really do anything new with the slasher genre, but it uses the DNA of the genre extremely well, and if you’re a fan of horror- I’d suggest giving it a watch. It feels like a good companion piece to films like “Halloween” “Scream” and “Friday the 13” so with all that being said, I’m going to give “Hell Fest” a 9/10 or an A.

Like I said, it doesn’t do anything new with the genre, but it’s a lot of fun and it feels like going into a horror amusement without having to physically be there.

“The Nun” Movie Review

Synopsis:

When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together, they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun. (Google)

Analysis:

When I first heard that they were making a movie about the Marilyn Manson Nun from “The Conjuring 2” I will admit, I scoffed at the idea, and for about 30 minutes of this film- I was about to eat my words.

This film started off dark, grisly, and a bit frightening. The tone started off great early in the film and it seemed like this movie was going into a RPG direction which was something I thought was cool. The director, Corin Hardy (known for directing the Irish/ Scottish creature feature film “The Hallow”) did a good job with setting up the dark mood of the film, especially with the gothic looking Church abbey that most of the film is set in. But right as I was about to apologize, the film started to explore the abbey and said “Well, looks like our job here is done.” To which I replied with “Wait, what? Oh no. Oh no! OH GOD THIS FILM IS FALLING APART!”

My real problems with this film is: for starters, this film seems like a step down for the director, the scares are too telegraphed to be truly frightening, and the only character I can connect with is the character Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) because he seemed to be the smartest character in comparison. Another thing that disappointed me was the fact that I felt like Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, best known for the television series “American Horror Story”) felt wasted to me. And the last thing that bothered me was the fact that The Nun, the thing that’s selling the movie, doesn’t show up until the third act of the film- so for the rest of the movie, we deal with ghosts, and henchmen of The Nun… So, I honestly feel bad if that’s your only reason to watch the film because that Nun is the most Prima Donna demon I’ve ever seen in a film.

So, this further proves my point that this movie was unnecessary to me, because we already got The Nun’s story in “The Conjuring 2”. The movie I honestly wanted was a movie for The Crooked Man, because in “The Conjuring 2” we only got a nursery rhyme and a cameo from him… so if we get one more movie in The Conjuring Universe, it better be for my boy, The Crooked Man!

Grade:

“The Nun” is a step above the first “Annabel” movie, but that’s a low bar to leap over… so this is one of the weaker films in The Conjuring Universe and since I don’t have to hold back, I’m giving this film a 4/10 or an F.

If you really want The Nun, be my guest- but I’d personally suggest just watching “The Conjuring 2”.

“Slenderman” Movie Review

Plot:

Small-town best friends Hallie, Chloe, Wren and Katie go online to try and conjure up the Slender Man — a tall, thin, horrifying figure whose face has no discernible features. Two weeks later, Katie mysteriously disappears during a class trip to a historic graveyard. Determined to find her, the girls soon suspect that the legend of the Slender Man may be all too real.

Review:

I’m going to be honest, I had very low hopes for this film- but I can’t lie, the beginning of this film was set up pretty well- after that, that’s when we start getting into the problems of this movie.

Oh, and I will be doing a bit of a spoiler talk after I give my grade, because the ending is so incredibly stupid, I HAVE to spoil it. So there’s your warning before you start yelling at me.

So, let’s start with the good stuff: the atmosphere is pretty good. They did a good job of making the woods creepy, and the sound design was good. There’s certain shots where if you pay attention, you can see things move in the background…. and that’s about it.

None of the characters are really likable, on top of that, some of them make dumb choices. For example, when summoning Slenderman, you’re supposed to keep your eyes closed and not look at him, but what does one of the girls do? She looks at him, because why wouldn’t she?! When one of the friends of the main character tries to explain to her that Slenderman is real, and can prove it- the main chick blows her off because she has a date with some dude…. Your friend is clearly under duress, but you’re more concerned about some boy you like? You’re an awful friend.

Speaking of Slenderman, the design of the character is awful… first they tried scenes with CGI, then they tried practical, and just went back to CGI, and none of it worked.

But the main issue of this film is it becomes a generic horror film that abandons the atmosphere it created to instead rely on visuals that we’ve seen a thousand times from much better horror movies- like “The Ring” for example.

Another thing I could tell is this film was cut a bunch of times because this movie felt very incomplete to me. There’s definitely scenes missing, especially from the first trailer- which showed a girl stabbing her eye out, and a girl ripping her tongue out. And there’s apparently a subplot involving the main character being in Track that’s never really fleshed out other than mentioning trophies, or the girl being interested in Track than helping her friend.

Grade:

The real shame is that this film could’ve very well had potential, but classic SONY- that potential gets thrown into the trash can, because risky films apparently don’t equal money.

I had just recently read an article about how this film was gonna be darker, but SONY stopped that after the film’s release got backlash from the father of a child who stabbed her classmate 19 times in 2014 after trying to summon Slenderman (https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2018/01/03/slender-man-movie-reactions/1002527001/) so this was pretty much DOA.

So with that being said, I’m giving Slenderman a 6/10 or a D. It was generic and boring- and I was alone in the theater, it’s a miracle I didn’t end up falling asleep.

**SPOILER ALERT**

So, here’s the way the movie ended, for those of you who want to know:

After the main character realizes that sacrificing what they love isn’t enough to stop Slenderman, she goes into the woods and tells Slenderman to take her. Slendy turns into a spider-like creature and she starts running away, only to be sucked into a horrible looking CGI Slenderman tree (I’m not even kidding) this is followed up by a voice over of the main character’s sister telling the audience that there’s always a pattern, and that “he drives people to do crazy things, ya know?”

There, that’s an hour and a half of time I saved you- you’re welcome!

“The First Purge” MOVIE REVIEW

Plot:

To push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) test a sociological theory that vents aggression for one night in one isolated community. But when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the others, the contagion will explode from the trial-city borders and spread across the nation.

Review:

As a fan of how The Purge trilogy progressed from a standard Break-in thriller to a horrific, anarchy filled action series- I was intrigued by the thought of a prequel exploring how exactly The Purge got created.

After seeing the original Purge movie with Ethan Hawke, I joked about how I could see something like The Purge happening in the next 10 years, but after seeing this movie- and seeing how the economic, political, and social unrest that’s portrayed in this film is mirrored by our own- I could see The Purge happening in the next 3 years…. and that’s the most horrifying thing about this film.

I thought my dude, Skeletor (Rotimi Paul) set-up the tone perfectly in the beginning of the film when he was being interviewed on whether or not he would participate in the experiment, and seeing how psychotic he was let me know I was in for a wild ride. He honestly stole the show for me the more I saw him in action.

Much like the first film, this movie starts as a thriller with political elements sprinkled in… Actually, sprinkled in might be a bit of an understatement because this might be the most politically driven film of the franchise- some of it is done subtly, others are blatant. Most of those blatant political themes have to do with President Trump- honestly I’m surprised I haven’t seen him tweet something about this movie yet… but even if he did, I guarantee this movie would use his tweet as promotion, which is somewhat ironic, but at this point, nothing really surprises me anymore.

I will say, there are two negatives to this film- The Architect (Marisa Tomei) created The Purge experiment as a social experiment for citizens to release their anger and frustrations- but when the Government sends out trained mercenaries to dispatch lower class citizens, she’s horrified… that bugged me because honestly, how else did you think your research was gonna be used? Another thing that bugged me was the ending was so flat, and I know it’s because they’re releasing a TV Show, but I just want some finality in my movie.

Once the action ramps up, that’s when I found myself really enjoying the film. I thought that Demetri (Y’lan Noel) was a total badass, and I really liked the costume designs in this film… one of them that really caught my attention was a dude dressed as Black Skull with the full leather jacket, Nazi garb leading a bunch of dudes wearing blackface masks. I chuckled a bit to myself when I saw this because of the sick, twisted, demented logic of it.

Grade:

I found myself enjoying this film more than I thought I would, but The Architect complaining about how her study was being used, and that flat ending really bothered me.

I’m giving The First Purge a 7.5/10 or a C+

“Hereditary” Movie Review | Genuinely Scary or Overhyped?

Plot: When Ellen passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited.

Review:

As a huge fan of horror movies, this was one of the films I was looking forward to this year- but based off all the horror films that have let me down this year (Winchester, Insidious 4, Truth or Dare) I was a bit skeptical of all the praise the film had gotten at the film festival it premiered at… Because to be honest, all the drunk hipsters tend to overhype movies they see at the festivals. One example of a film I actually liked from one of the festivals was the last film I reviewed, which was “Upgrade.”

Now let me just get this out of the way before I continue… “Hereditary” is NOT the scariest film ever made, it’s creepy and there’s some effective moments, but this film suffers in my opinion because of all the hype that those drunk hipsters provided for it. I honestly thought the trailers were much scarier than the film itself.

I could be wrong in my opinion, after all- fear is subjective… different things scare different people, and this film explores a pretty dark topic, which is family drama- the fear of inheriting traits from your family that you despise, and insanity in general. This film explores how the simplest mistakes can have dire consequences, and I thought that Toni Collette did an amazing job portraying all these moods as the mother who has recently lost her own mother and has to try to keep her family together.

Some of the creepiest shots and scenes in this film involves the miniature houses that Toni Collette’s character works on in the film, and there’s scenes with a wide shot where you may or may not see something peering from the shadows… those are the scenes that truly got the hairs on my neck standing up. But my problem with the film is that it starts to lead you in one direction, but towards the third act- goes into a completely different direction. To put it better, I felt that the ending to this movie was very contradictory to the story the film was telling.

Grade:

“Hereditary” may not be the scariest film ever made, but it’s a lot better than most of the horror films I’ve seen this year… it’s creepy and effective with what it tries to achieve- but like I said in my review, it suffers from the festival hype.

I’m going to give Hereditary a 7.5/10 or a C+

“Truth or Dare” Movie Review

Plot: Olivia, Lucas and a group of their college friends travel to Mexico for one last getaway before graduation. While there, a stranger convinces one of the students to play a seemingly harmless game of truth or dare with the others. Once the game starts, it awakens something evil — a demon which forces the friends to share dark secrets and confront their deepest fears. The rules are simple but wicked — tell the truth or die, do the dare or die, and if you stop playing, you die.

Review: Normally I like to lead in by keeping y’all guessing on whether or not I liked the movie I saw…. But I can’t in this case. Y’all have seen the trailers for this, so y’all know this is a bad movie. The surprising thing about this, is it’s unintentionally hilarious!!

Here’s all the things bad about the movie: none of the characters are likable, the stupid Snapchat face isn’t scary- it’s goofy looking to the point I laughed out loud in the theater every time it popped up, the rules to the game make no sense, how the game kills people is laughable, the origins of the game coming to life is completely absurd, and how to stop the game is so convoluted. And on top of all that, there’s every single horror movie cliche: stupid jump-scares, doing research on the ‘antagonist’, the old person who has all the answers, and a open-ended conclusion that makes no sense- and it’s only there for a possible sequel.

Look, I normally don’t do this- but guys…. PLEASE don’t see this movie. At least not in theaters, if you have to- just rent it for a beer and pizza night.

Grade:

I’m giving “Truth or Dare” a 6/10 or a D.

The only reason why this movie isn’t an F like “Winchester” is because I actually get some unintentional laughs in this movie- and I couldn’t in “Winchester” because that movie was SO BORING!

Trust me, I’m trying to help y’all here!

If it helps, I was literally the only person in the theater!