Tag Archives: Horror

Review of Cube (1997)

1 Apr


Cube (1997) is a Canadian sci-fi/horror/mystery film.

Directed by Vincenzo Natali (Cypher (2002), Getting Gilliam (2005)).

Written by Vincenzo Natali (Nothing (2003), Splice (2009)), Andre Bijelic and Graeme Manson (Lucky Girl (2001), Orphan Black (2013 TV)).

Starring: Maurice Dean Wint, David Hewlett, Nicole de Boer, Nicky Guadagni, Andrew Miller, Julian Richings, Wayne Robson.

We open to a guy going through the cube rooms like he owns the place, until he’s suddenly slashed into pieces by a trap.

Then we switch to a whole group of people, who seem to have been there for a short while, but they already know that they’re in deep shit. They’re stuck in this structure, consisting of a lot of large cubes. Some of these cubes contain traps, so they have to figure out how to get out, without getting killed.

"Looks like my friday night. Only it would be my basement floor. And those would be dead prostitutes."

“Looks like my friday night. Only it would be my basement floor. And those would be dead prostitutes.”

At the start of the movie you know nothing about these cubes, so you learn with the characters, who are also clueless about what is happening. The cinematography also adds to this feeling. At first there’s a lot of handheld, kinetic shots, that make you feel just as disoriented as the characters, but later on the shots become more steady.

The special effects are pretty good for a low-budget movie, sliced up guy, face melted by acid, that type of stuff. But the most impressive special effect is selling the structure they’re in. It is almost mind-boggling that they only had one actual fully constructed cube. But with minimalistic, but smart adjustments it achieves the needed effect with flying colors. However, there is some bad 90’s CGI, but it is used sparsely enough to be forgiven.

The mystery begins as slightly confusing or frustrating, but very soon settles as very intriguing. And the movie doesn’t ruin it, by providing answers that were not needed.

The dialogue at times is pretty bad, there’s no denying that. It’s horribly overwritten and since it’s low-budget, the inexperienced actors just can’t handle such wordy lines. But at least the characters themselves are multi-dimensional enough as they’re written, relieving the actors from struggling to add what isn’t there.

Definitely, one of the best sci-fi films of the 90’s, proving Vincenzo Natali as one of the most adept genre directors out there. Splice, his latest, slightly inferior sci-fi horror movie being a proof of that.

Overall, it seems like a long Twilight Zone episode, which is a compliment, verging from light horror to mystery to high concept sci-fi. Recommended.

"The movie is about as close of an adaptation of this as Battleship was of the game."

“The movie is about as close of an adaptation of this as Battleship was of the game.”

Review of The Dead Zone (1983)

7 Feb

dead_zone_xlgThe Dead Zone (1983) is a thriller/fantasy/horror film, which is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King.

Directed by David Cronenberg (Shivers (1975), Cosmopolis (2012)).

Written by Jeffrey Boam (Straight Time (1978), The Phantom (1996)).

Starring: Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerrit, Martin Sheen, Herbert Lom, Sean Sullivan, Anthony Zerbe and others.

So here’s another one of the four thousand movies based on a Stephen King novel. When I watched the film I had just finished reading the book and my interest level for it couldn’t be higher. So it was hard avoiding comparisons, which is both good and bad as it always is when you’re watching adaptations of literary works you’ve read.

A young Christopher Walken plays the protagonist John Smith, who in the novel is a very normal guy, which is something you can’t say about any character played by Walken ever. He doesn’t look as sinister as when he got older, but his speech pattern alone makes him a more odd and arguably interesting character to follow. Yes, he might be miscast, but I never complain about seeing Christopher Walken in a movie, because he as always gives an excellent performance.

I can’t tell you how much I love this clip.

The story concerns an English teacher who gets into an accident, goes into a coma and then wakes up with a psychic ability. Of course this is half the book, because King likes to set up every character and its mother before something starts happening, here it is all the first act. A lot of character lack the depth, but you can’t do that in a movie and have a sensible running time.

They change around the way the accident happens and other details to shortcut between the main plot points and I have to admit that mostly they do a good job, since it would really slow the movie down, had they left all the extraneous shit in. Where I wished they had spent a little more time is the exposition, because it feels rushed and establishes neither the relationship John had before the accident or the lengthy period he spent in coma very well.

One aspect, which I wish they had included as it was, is the implications on the moral level, with Johnny’s mother’s obsession with god and insistence on Johnny being on a mission from god. They do allude to this, but the connection with his mother is left out. But at least the theme of Johnny being a messianic character still clearly shines through.

The movie builds suspense pretty well and it is basically a supernatural thriller and not really a horror movie. One of the best aspects is how the movie moves past the supernatural element, because it is important only as a set-up and for the plot points, which themselves illustrate. Also the plot is polished and structured better and with more sense. For example a section of the book which was just a serial killer murder mystery out of the blue, here doesn’t get so much attention and just advances Johnny’s character, is cool and moves on.

Another performance worthy of notice is Martin Sheen as a two-faced politician, who has a big ominous role in the future of the world. He is great and unlike Walken is perfectly cast as this despicable character.

From the direction stand point, it is a bit cold and detached, doesn’t seem David Cronenberg really was all that into making this movie, since there’s very little of his signature style.

Overall, definitely one of the better Stephen King adaptations, both in quality and faithfulness. I really liked it. Recommended.

"Who wants. To LEARN some English? Today..."

“Who wants. To LEARN some English? Today…”

Review of Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012)

9 Dec

tumblr_mcqe04RoYK1rrllfeo1_500Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012) is a historical horror/action film, that is produced by The Asylum, a film studio specializing in mockbusters.

Directed by Richard Schenkman (The Man from Earth (2007), The Pompatus of Love (1995)).

Written by Karl T. Hirsch (Green (1998), Clown (2005)), J. Lauren Proctor and Richard Schenkman (Flower Girl (2009), Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God… Be Back by Five (1998)).

Starring: Bill Oberst Jr., Kent Ingleheart, Jason Vail, Debra Crittended, Bernie Ask, Canon Kuipers, Chris Hlozek, Richard Schenkman and others.

Is there really any better way to learn about American history than from a movie that depicts a dead president killing zombies.

Bill Oberst Jr., who is playing Lincoln is really good. The performance would fit just as well in a serious movie. Spielberg’s Lincoln could have him playing the lead role. It wouldn’t be as acclaimed as Daniel Day-Lewis, who is loved by everyone, but he could do it.

It is almost sad that a great performance like this is wasted on a silly B-movie. But I suppose in some oscar-bait piece we wouldn’t get Abe driving his scythe into the skull of a zombie, while yelling „Emancipate this!”.

For the budget the production value is pretty good. You can tell it’s cheap, but it tries to have a style. Which is more than most The Asylum movies have going for them.

The dialogue is also some of the best I’ve heard in an Asylum movie. Sadly, some/most of the actors aren’t really able to deliver it convincingly.

Lincoln gathers a group of people to go and… well, fight zombies, I guess. In this group of people there is a black guy named Mr. Brown. Obviously. The plot is kind of confusing, I don’t know if I must have some previous knowledge of American history, but I seriously doubt that the problem lays there.

As usually Asylum uses CGI in their movies and here we get some CG blood and it is kind of sad that even in a B-movie today, we have to watch the shitty looking CG blood spurting about, since it used one of the main attractions of  B-grade cinema that we got to see some realistic practical effects. I guess it’s easier to put in some cartoon violence afterwards. But judging by the really unconvincing fake facial hair on everybody, I doubt there was a great potential for any special effects artistry.

This is probably the best Asylum movie I’ve seen and not even in the so-bad-it’s-good category, more in the low-budget-we-did-what-we-could pretty competent B-flick. It would be unfair to compare it to Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, the blockbuster this is mockbusting.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. Of course it’s not a good movie, but as far as The Asylum goes, this was one of the best ones they can offer.

"I feel like going to theater, you're coming with me John 'not Wilkes Booth' Wilkinson!"

“I feel like going to theater! You’re coming with me John ‘not Wilkes Booth’ Wilkinson!”

Review of The Final Conflict (1981)

25 Nov

The Final Conflict (1981) is a horror/thriller film, the third film in the The Omen film franchise.

Directed by Graham Baker (Alien Nation (1988), Beowulf (1999)).

Written by Andrew Birkin (Joan of Arc (1999), Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)).

Starring: Sam Neill, Rossano Brazzi, Don Gordon, Lisa Harrow, Barnaby Holm, Mason Adams, Dick Anthony Williams and others.

Once again we follow Damien Thorn, who now is 32 and the CEO of Thorn Industries, one of the most powerful corporations in the world. Don’t be fooled by thinking that the movie is set in the future. It is set in 1982, so since 1976 when Damien was about 5 he has grown up really fast.

After getting hypnotised by a dog, the US ambassador to Great Britain commits the most elaborate suicide ever and guess who gets appointed in his place? Our friendly neighbourhood Damien. So the movie is basically about his rise to power, while a bunch of people try to get in his way, only to suffer horrible deaths.

It is revealed through concrete scientific evidence that some sort of star alignment crap suggests the second coming of Christ. Not on Damien’s watch, he’s going to kill every child born on a specific date. Oh, but guess what, his right hand man has one of them Christ-children, so we get a subplot that matters very little.

The scenes where the astronomers are figuring out how stars mean that they should bring back crucifixions, introduces one of my big disappointments. The score suddenly contains some distinctly 80’s sci-fi themes. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it is not mixed in with the classic, huge Jerry Goldsmith chanting parts, that are common in The Omen series. It’s just two clashing styles.

The themes and implications the movie brings up are quite interesting, sadly they’re not really explored as much as one would like. You have to think of how you would act if you knew you are destined to be a great, powerful man and something threatens this. You can identify with Damien’s paranoia, his ability to not view himself as entirely evil, since his path of life was chosen for him. I don’t want to say that his actions are reprehensible or character not despicable, but there’s a fine line to walk when your protagonist is the villain.

The movie is in a way a precursor to slasher movies, where they make sequels that progressively glorify the villain, who is the returning character on another adventure, and makes the innocents less innocent, less interesting and less likable. We don’t want the evil to be victorious, but we have started to care about Damien and he has almost become a tragic figure. To be fair, he has a lot more personality than the average slasher villain, but the connection could be made.

And yes, the good guys here come off as silly and worthless. And when we see Damien walking around, creepily charming the pants off of everyone, it is hard not to take the wrong side. If good is so boring and uninspiring, why not root for evil? That’s a fine question, that, sadly, I don’t think the movie asks intentionally.

Damien also isn’t built up as all that evil. His rise to power is quite slow. He is just a CEO of a big company, but he doesn’t seem like the most evil one even amongst real-life ones. He has a romantic interest, sure, he’s a bit rough with her in the bed and makes her son his right hand ‘young’ man. But that just doesn’t seem that bad. He’s like some mafia godfather, who doesn’t even do his own dirty work most of the time.

The worst part is probably the ending. It is well built up and it seems there will be this epic Good vs. Evil stand-off, but it’s the most anticlimactic thing imaginable. It’s just nothing, there’s no spectacle, nothing. The Omen ‘trilogy’ ends with a faint stabbing sound.

The best part about it is Sam Neill’s performance as Damien. He is really good, exuding dark charisma. Managing to look like a youthful millionaire playboy, but at the time pulling off the sinister undercurrents of the son of satan, now fully aware of his power and purpose.

Overall, I would say that the previous movie was more reliant on the novelty deaths, so if nothing else, this is better than that and Sam Neill is awesome. Still, not a worthy sequel to the original. Not recommended.

“Last night I semi-raped your mother. We are going to have so much fun today.”

Review of Damien: Omen II (1978)

11 Nov

Damien: Omen II (1978) is a horror/thriller film, it is a sequel to The Omen, set seven years after it.

Directed by Don Taylor (The Final Countdown (1980), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)).

Written by Stanley Mann (Conan the Destroyer (1984), The Mouse That Roared (1959)) and Mike Hodges (Get Carter (1971), Pulp (1972)).

Starring: William Holden, Lee Grant, Jonathan Scott-Taylor, Lance Henriksen, Robert Foxworth, Nicholas Pryor, Lucas Donat and others.

They know how to make us remember the first movie. We start with the over-the-top score blasting, we’re on a beautiful location and you think that this might be more of the same arguably good movie.

Seven years have passed between the first movie and this, so Damien isn’t just a grumpy tyke. Now he’s a frustrated teenager, living with his adoptive family and trying to act as a real boy. You’re not fooling anyone, Pinocchio. Ok, actually Damien is fooling everyone, except his aunt, who’s making a fuss about it, so she’s put down by the dark forces. With dark forces I mean a crow looking at her ominously.

Damien goes to some kind of military academy with his cousin/brother. There they meet a new platoon officer played by Lance Henriksen. He doesn’t get to do much with the role, but it’s at least nice to see him. Later on he informs Damien of his destiny.

Jonathan Scott-Taylor plays Damien quite well, both managing to make him intimidating and tragically frustrated. He really doesn’t seem to have a solid understanding of his abilities for most of the movie and acts evil more instinctly than consciously. When Damien realises his purpose in life, he is quite distraught and it makes you feel sympathetic. I wouldn’t really want to find out I am the antichrist, seems like a lot of responsibility.

If someone is closing in on Damien’s dirty little secret, they can expect a visit from the friendly neighbourhood hell-crow pretty soon. But don’t let the death of suspicious aunt fool you. He doesn’t just stare at everyone. As we learn from his next attack, he’s going to actively try to harm you, leaving his staring contests exclusively for old ladies.

The crow-attack effects are quite well done, it’s no Birdemic: Shock and Terror, though. The problem is that after a nicely done crow pecking a woman’s eyes out, we see her walk in front of a truck only for us to behold something that suspiciously looks like a „love-doll” dressed in her coat, get run over. It seriously looks like a student film special effect.

Soon another problem becomes apparent with the crow attacks, but actually concerns the movie as a whole. It takes a step back from developing characters and moving the plot along and 40 minutes in, it’s still not clear if the movie is building up to something or are we just going to watch various novelty deaths of people who don’t like Damien, most of the time involving the goddamn crow.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the set-pieces are really cool, like one, that takes place on a frozen lake, but there comes a point, when new characters keep being introduced, just to be killed a couple of minutes later. The movie seems to be just a bunch of death scenes, somehow stringed together by the actual plot.

Yes, the first one had death scenes, but they were inventive, but sparse and mostly happened to characters I cared about. Not to mention that The Omen was a far more intelligent movie, that actually played on the psychological terror, while this is a B-grade exploitation version of the first film, relying on cheap set-ups and impactless pay-offs, pretending to have more substance than it actually does. Also it seems to abandon some of the more interesting ideas of the first one.

Overall, it’s not awful, but it tries to replicate the first one without really understanding what made it good. Using a shitload of death scenes as a safety net. Not recommended.

Pictured: The curiously snake-headed antichrist, looking just like Damien Thorn. Or any other doughy faced innocent looking kid.

Review of Splice (2009)

5 Nov

Splice (2009) is a horror/sci-fi/thriller film about gene splicing experiment not going as expected.

Directed by Vincenzo Natali (Cube (1997), Cypher (2002)).

Written by Vincenzo Natali (Nothing (2003), Elevated (1997 Short)), Doug Taylor (The Carpenter (1988), They Wait (2007)) and Antoinette Terry Bryant.

Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac, Brandon McGibbon, Simona Maicanescu, David Hewlet, Abigail Chu and others.

We see two scientists, who seem to have created these two CG creatures, which are revealed to be the combination of multiple species into one being. So yes, that’s what you get, you mix various species and get this blob of flesh that doesn’t seem to be very useful other than a scientific curiosity.

But of course it is. The scientists want to apply this gene splicing technology to humans, because it would provide incredible medical breakthroughs, but the corporate heads don’t approve this. It is reverse case of what we usually see in movies that try to push the idea of corporate greed, making the businessmen become reckless with the slightest possibility of profit. Here we have the scientists who are obsessed with their project. Similar to the mad scientist movies we don’t get so often anymore, like Frankenstein or The Fly.

The movie has a very slick visual style, some shots done with the use of such a wide-angle lens that it is almost fish-eye.

Our main characters are a scientist couple, played by Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody. From the first few minutes they have a great dynamic, are likable and believable. The chemistry is there, both literally and figuratively.  Nowadays there’s an odd lack of scientists in science fiction, which this movie provides in spades.

The couple decide to fuck their sponsors and go ahead with the creation of a humanoid creature. From it’s „birth”, it becomes clear, that things have gone at least slightly wrong. The creature goes through various stages switching from practical effects to CGI, the practical effects are done great, it’s Greg Nicotero after all. Then we settle on a combination of the two, which looks pretty decent.

What is the most interesting part about it, is that as the experiment progresses and the creature evolves and grows, it starts getting kind of disturbing and you can’t help, but question the ethics of things like this. Maybe this message is a bit on the nose, but it doesn’t hammer it all that much, except you start feeling uneasy watching the relationships that are forming between the characters.

And it does get really creepy, the horror element works so well, because by the time a real threat starts forming, you care a lot about the characters and it terrifies you psychologically. It’s not a slasher flick so there’s not a body count running through the movie, it’s more about the build-up, because you just know that something horrible is going to happen eventually. The suspense keeps you interested, while all the exposition and character development is happening.

Both Polley and Brody do really great jobs, but special nod should go to Delphine Chaneac, who portrays the creature in its full-grown form, it’s a very physically demanding role and she delivers. Selling the horrors of parenting, growing up and changing and science gone wrong.

It has been somewhat poorly received by general audience, some people complaining that it was disturbing and offensive. For me it’s one of the better horror films of the recent years, mostly due to it being delightfully disturbing without trying to shock people. Those were shocked? Well, in my opinion they’re pansies, who should do some research on what they’re watching.

Overall, I enjoyed it a lot, I thought it was gripping, thrilling and twisted. Vincenzo Natali is a sci-fi filmmaker worth looking out for. Recommended.

Starring: Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody as young Professor Snape.

Review of Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)

21 Oct

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004) is a Canadian horror/thriller film, that is a prequel to Ginger Snaps and was shot back-to-back with its sequel Ginger Snaps: Unleashed.

Directed by Grant Harvey (Freezer Burn: The Invasion of Laxdale (2008), Held Hostage (2008)).

Written by Christina Ray (The Collector (2004 TV), XIII: The Series (2011 TV)) and Stephen Masicotte (The Dark (2005)).

Starring: Katherine Isabelle, Emily Perkins, JR Bourne, Brendan Fletcher, Hugh Dillon, Adrien Dorval and others.

We’re back with the Fitzgerald sisters. Yes, both of them. And it’s really nice to see Katherine Isabelle back in a leading part, no matter how contrived the reason.

And the way this movie is set-up is really silly, we have the same actresses, basically play the same characters with the same names, just thrown into the 1800s. They even act like they’re from modern times. It is considered a prequel, but it’s less ‘let’s provide a backstory for the whole werewolf thing’ and more ‘let’s put the sisters in this wacky situation’.

So they’re wandering through a forest, Brigitte steps into a beartrap and they run into some native American dude, who takes them to some civil war-camp. The men there seem to be weary of some kind of evil outside the camp, so they’re kind of distraught when these two teenage chicks just waltz in.

Ginger seems more innocent at the beginning here than in the first one, but it doesn’t mean the film takes a very different route with her character, except that she’s a lot more passive this time.

Some other familiar faces from previous films pop-up, but in very small and different roles. I’d rather have liked the allegories about becoming a woman and all to make an appearance. Ginger’s transformation both visually and psychologically is so much less impactful.

I liked the whole ‘holding down the fort’ aspect, which I was expecting from Unleashed. The outpost is being attacked by werewolves and no one is too happy about this, the tension rises even more with the possibility that there could be some danger on the inside of the walls. This leads to an homage to The Thing, where leeches are used as a test if you’ve got the „wolf’s”.

Although it doesn’t even come close to the original, this one, as was the case with Unleashed, does provide more of a tonal consistency and doesn’t feel so broken up into acts. Here we get a spooky atmosphere throughout, but its effectiveness is debatable in the light of how silly the whole thing actually is when you think about it.

What it boils down to, is that this is just the same story as the original, minus the modern-day setting and what made it stand-out. It’s watchable, but not memorable. It probably has almost nothing to offer to those who didn’t see Ginger Snaps, while having almost equally almost nothing to offer to those, who have.

Overall, admittedly this is a bigger waste of time than Unleashed, but I did like this better. However, it’s really not worth watching, not recommended.

“Hey man, you got any weed? I have some serious glaucoma going on.”

Review of Ginger Snaps: Unleashed (2004)

9 Oct

Ginger Snaps: Unleashed (2004) is a Canadian horror/thriller/drama film, which is the sequel to Ginger Snaps.

Directed by Brett Sullivan (The Chair (2007), The Border (2008 TV)).

Written by Megan Martin (Ninth Street Chronicles (2006 Short), Tangled (2010)).

Starring: Emily Perkins, Eric Johnsons, Brendan Fletcher, Tatiana Maslany, Katherine Isabelle, Janet Kidder, Pascale Hutton and others.

We return to follow Brigitte, the younger of the two Fitzgerald sister from the first movie. She is using the „cure” she developed in the previous film, but there’s a problem – it works only temporarily so she has to take regular injections.

She soon ODs on the stuff and is taken to a hospital/rehabilitation facility. She doesn’t feel like she fits in with the rest. I have to add that there’s only female patients there, which allows there to be the biggest douchebag of a male-nurse ever, even exchanging various drugs for some sexual services. Though it seems that even if he didn’t have anything to offer in return, most of those chicks would jump at him.

This is tonally a very different movie, but themes are somewhat similar. Locked up in the institution, Brigitte starts slowly changing, both physically and psychologically. The humor of the first movie is pretty much gone. What we get instead is some bizarre scenes, like when during a group meditation session, Brigitte starts seeing all the girls in the room start to masturbate, following instructions provided by the doctor. I guess, that’s amusing. More similar to the tone of the original is a group therapy session scene, where Brigitte describes what will happen to her if she doesn’t take her medication and the therapist writes in her notepad „lesbian?”, the ending also is quite humorous, yet very dark.

Soon we learn that the „locked up in hospital, growing fangs” isn’t the only problem and something ominous is going on outside the building and I got a bit excited, I thought it was going to be „holding down the fort” kind of movie, something like Dog Soldiers only set in a hospital instead of a house. But they disappointed me and halfway into the movie Brigitte teams up with this girl who looks like barely 13-14, but apparently drives a car. So they both escape.

The werewolf puppet heads look a lot better than in the first one, but these are actually different werewolves than what we saw in the first one. Also Brigitte’s transformation was a lot more gruesome than Ginger’s, Ginger was a sexy werebitch, Brigitte looks like the Elephant Man.

Emily Perkins as Brigitte convincingly grows up from the previous movie and is able to hold her own here and gives a better performance than before, however, besides her, there’s not really any other stand-out performances. Tatiana Maslany was quite annoying, but she does deserve credit for looking 13, while actually being 18. Katherine Isabelle appears, which was nice, but it felt more like fan service than actually having a reason to be there.

Overall, some people consider this superior to Ginger Snaps, I certainly do not, even though it’s more consistent, it lacks in many departments, but by horror sequel standards it’s pretty decent. If you watched the first one and would like to see what happens to Brigitte, give it a try. Not recommended.

“”You shouldn’t brush so hard! It’s not good for the teeth! Oh, look at me, I’m a dentist!” Let’s see what you have to say about this, you asshole with no medical degree!”

Review of Ginger Snaps (2000)

3 Oct

Ginger Snaps (2000) is a Canadian horror/comedy/drama film, following the Fitzgerald sisters and their collision with the world of lycanthropy.

Directed by John Fawcett (The Boys Club (1997), The Dark (2005)).

Written by Karen Walton (The Listener (2009 TV), Flashpoint (2008 TV))  and John Fawcett (Half Nelson (1992)).

Starring: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers, Jesse Moss, Peter Keleghan, Danielle Hampton and others.

When I started watching this, I wasn’t actually aware that I had seen it before. But I had seen it like some five years ago late at night on TV, just turning it on during the opening titles and missing the title itself. I remembered thinking it was quite decent back then, but it seems I had missed more than just what it’s called.

We follow two teenage sisters, who are social outcasts and mostly just hang out together and have a very close relationship. Ginger (yes, the one who snaps) is somewhat more extrovert than her sister Brigitte. And I have to be honest, I have a thing for redheads, so I find Katherine Isabelle incredibly attractive.

Contributing to their social outcast is the fact that for a school project they take photos of each other portraying them dead in various ways very realistically. I’m not sure what was the project supposed to show from an educational standpoint, but it sure made for an excellent opening title montage.

The hook is that finally (because they’re like 15-16 years old) one of them starts menstruating and one evening a mysterious wolf-like beast attacks the sisters. Soon after that menstruating isn’t the only thing happening to the girl’s body.

The movie has a great deal of dark humor, while not parodying the werewolf genre. The humor is reminiscent of Heathers, even the male „lead” (or closest to it) Kris Lemche resembling young Christian Slater. Sadly, though, when the horror aspects of the movie kick in, the humor takes a step back. There’s still funny moments, but they are only for those with a messed up sense of humor. Thankfully, that’s the one I got.

It’s most interesting aspect and asset is the movie serving as an allegory for young women going through changes,  maturing, discovering their sexuality and the frustration that comes with it. However, one might argue that the film explores these themes not quite to the extent that one might hope or expect. So it might come off more like a sarcastic remark, than actually having something really genuine to say.

Both lead actresses deliver pretty great and convincing performances, embodying their characters. The other stand-out performance is the mother of the sisters, who is just hilariously peppy, oblivious and upbeat in comparison to her morbid daughters.

The movie is of this cycle of post-scream somewhat self-aware horror movies featuring teenagers, similar in both its themes and style to The Faculty, only the horror hook is werewolves instead of aliens.

Of course, the movie has its shortcomings, but I pretty much loved the movie and would definitely place it somewhere in my top 10 werewolf movies of all time. Somehow the transformations have become the main criteria by which to judge a werewolf movie, but here it is excellent in entirely different way, because it’s done gradually, we don’t see a special effects bonanza like in the not less excellent An American Werewolf in London, but it’s horrifying nonetheless, much like in The Fly, although in that case I have to admit The Fly is no less a showing off of special effects than An American Werewolf in London.

What I ultimately want to give the movie credit for is not forcing anything, they don’t force the comedy (tongue-in-cheek or otherwise), the transformation, a happily ever after ending and even the whole puberty/feminist message doesn’t come across as forced.

Overall, I enjoyed it a lot, I cared for the characters, it had more substance than is common for horror movies and it was suspenseful and entertaining. Definitely recommended, even for people not that into horror. And girls should be especially interesting in checking it out.

“Had they not gone into the whole wolfman business, they could’ve had great portfolio work when looking for a job as special effects artists.”

Review of Dreams in the Witch-House (2005)

23 Sep

Masters of Horror – Dreams in the Witch-House is a horror/thriller/fantasy episode of a TV horror anthology series, each one-hour episode done by a different director.

Directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator (1985), Stuck (2007)).

Written by Dennis Paoli (From Beyond (1986), Dagon (2001)) and Stuart Gordon (Body Snatchers (1993), The Dentist (1996)), based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft.

Starring: Ezra Godden, Campbell Lane, Jay Brazeau, Chelah Horsdal, Yevgen Voronin, Susanna Uchatius and others.

I want to note, that this series of horror stories is pretty cool and unless it’s something really interesting, one hour is actually a decent length for an average horror movie, because usually when it’s more, you can see that the concept hasn’t been broad enough for it to sustain 90 minutes and they throw in pointless padding.

A physics student starts renting a shoddy room in some apartment building and as he works on his project, he gets to know his neighbours: the building’s asshole manager, a young woman with a baby and a creepy old guy. You know, your typical set of oddball sitcom neighbours.

Soon the guy starts having various weird dreams. In one of them the single mother is doing full-on nudity and turning into an old, ugly woman, who is equally naked. Then he keeps seing a rat with a man’s face, which looks really silly. Then he’s in a library and Necronomicon appears briefly. All this is due to some witch, which the title hints at.

Beside the close-ups of a talking rat, the movie has some decent suspense building, some over-the-top gore and almost depressing last 10 minutes.

Overall, it’s ok, nothing really special though, it’s an odd mix of brutality and a stupid rat. Not bad if you decide to watch it, but nothing really worth looking up. Not recommended.

Pictured: If you try really hard you can make the rat-human in your movie look less scary than anything from The Witches (1990).