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Posts Tagged ‘Swamp’

Jessabelle – 7

January 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Director – Kevin Greutert

Cast – Sarah Snook, Mark Webber, Joelle Carter, David Andrews, Ana de la Reguera, Amber Stevens, Chris Ellis, Brian Hallisay, Vaughn Wilson, Larisa Oleynik

Release Year – 2014

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I personally feel that we do not see enough horror films involving voodoo/hoodoo, and seeing that Jessabelle was such a flick I was stoked to give this a watch. While not exactly similar to The Skeleton Key, aside from its location and voodoo, I was hoping for a familiar feel set in the spooky swamps of the deep south. From Saw VI and VII director Kevin and the writer behind the silly Night at the Museum films, Jessabelle is a good film but not one that I personally enjoyed very much. The horror is there, and it is good at times, but in the end this is one of those “good” films that I will not watch again.

Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return – and has no intention of letting her escape. – Lionsgate

Writer Robert Ben Garant kicks things into gear right away, throwing us face-first into a terrible tragedy that claims the life of someone close to Jessabelle. On top of this, she is severely injured and must remain bound to a wheelchair during her recovery. We see the first hint of superantural terror only 10 minutes into the film, and four minutes later she finds what I thought to be the most interesting element of the story: video tapes her mother recorded for her when she was a child. Jessabelle lost her mother at a very young age, and only now did she realize that her mother left her the tapes. Before this she had only seen pictures of her, never video, so she is quite elated to finally experience her mother’s voice and personality. The videos consist of her mother using tarot cards to predict Jessabelle’s future, and her future does not look bright. Elation turns to terror when her mother’s predictions ring disturbingly true about a supernatural presence in the home that wants Jessabelle out at all costs. Nobody believes her, and she is stuck to a wheelchair, so she is not going anywhere. The first really good horror hits at the 31 minute mark, and to me it was the scariest scene the story had to offer. At the time it makes little sense, but nonetheless it was highly effective. For the majority of the film we are left to wonder whether the horror Jessabelle is experiencing is internal/psychological or supernatural/malevolent, and I am glad to say that the scarier of the two is eventually revealed as the answer. There are constant developments and revelations regarding Jessabelle’s past, which is now haunting her present day life, and I credit them with keeping things interesting when the horror subsides. For such a simple film there sure is a lot going on, and I know that seems like a contradiction but it is something that is hard to explain and must be experienced yourself. At times I felt like the story was losing me. It dragged at times and the horror, while good, was too infrequent and its effect did not last long enough until the next scare hit the screen. On top of this, I found none of the characters likable. I don’t need likable characters. I am just fine with every character dying because I hated them all, but when a film drags or the content loses your interest an enjoyable character is a remedy to keep you engaged. Thankfully, while I have said before that I would not watch this again, I do feel like it offered a really unique premise to the “horror in the swamp” scene, so props to Garant for breaking away from lame Night At The Museum movies.

Director Kevin Greutert is a big reason behind why I am giving this film a positive rating despite some writing faults. A swamp setting provides awesome atmosphere for a horror film, and while this was filmed in North Carolina (set in Louisiana) the sets and locations were employed well. I loved the spooky old home Jessabelle was forced to reside in during her recuperation, and Greutert’s dark and gloomy cinematography made the simplest of scares more effective than they should have been. There are some scares, though, that will be remembered as some of the best I have seen in 2014. The first and last attack sequences are amazing. From the shaky-cam, to the extreme audio, to the utmost in live-action gore, these scares are incredible and make the film worth viewing at least once. Trust me, if you watch the film wearing over the ear headphones like I did you will jump in your seat. Guaranteed.

Overall, Jessabelle is a film that gets things right and wrong yet still delivers a solid experience in the end. The horror is there, and while the supreme scares are infrequent they are superbly executed and will leave a memorable impression. Like I said, this is worth at least one watch.

Rating: 7/10

…Additional Stills…

Creature from Black Lake – 6

August 21, 2012 1 comment

Director – Joy N. Houck Jr.

Cast – Dennis Fimple, John David Carson, Jack Elam, Dub Taylor, Bill Thurman, Jim McCullough Jr., Roy Tatum, Cathryn Hartt, Becky Smiser

Release Year – 1976

Reviewed by John of the Dead

My ever-long search for Bigfoot films continues with Creature from Black Lake, and the very moment I came across this film I knew I had to see it. For starters, the storyline and title reminded me very much of one of my favorite films of all time, The Legend of Boggy Creek, and this being a 70s flick set in the swamps of Louisiana I knew it would be heavy on the atmosphere, and I LOVE 70s atmosphere. Sure enough Creature from Black Lake played off very much like Boggy Creek, and despite its PG rating and low-ratings throughout the net I found this to be an engaging creature film that gave much more creature action than expected.

Two graduate students from the University of Chicago travel down to the Louisiana swamps in hopes of finding a Bigfoot-like creature that many of the townsfolk have seen but few will talk about.

Well there you have it, two nosy students looking for answers and adventure in a small Southern town that is quite hospitable to outsiders, but don’t you dare ask them about the creature whose spine-tingling screams haunt them every night. I went into this story expecting a simple effort and hopefully a few decent kills and shots of the creature, and surprisingly enough I was given more than I bargained for. The film starts off quickly, giving us an opening sequence containing the first glimpses of the giant missing link that has been terrorizing the town. When the two students, Pahoo and Rives, arrive in town they are greeted by the local sheriff, and despite this being the deep South the rednecks in town are not the usual stupid rednecks we see in horror. The rednecks in this film were hospitable, good people who know that they lack the money to move elsewhere and leave the town that dreads the woods around them. Pahoo and Rives’ search for answers takes them to several of the townsfolk who have seen the creature, and sure enough they eventually come face to face with the beast. They only wanted to prove its existence, and they were given plenty of evidence when the creature made its presence known to them in a very full frontal fashion. There are a few deaths in the film, but of course this being a PG film means that you should not expect great gore or a multitude of kills. Thankfully we were given plenty of scenes where the creature is visible, each paced very evenly throughout the film and making for an experience that flowed very well. This story won’t win praise, but it did its job with its simplicity.

Director Joy N. Houck Jr. did a pretty fair job executing this low-budget PG film. The acting performances from these no-name actors were pretty good and they all portrayed their characters well, especially Jack Elam as crazy wild man Joe Canton. Houck Jr. really sold the film with his atmosphere, which aside from the spooky swampy visuals came complimented with sounds to help seal the horror. The deep bellowing shrieks of the creature were were fantastic and the sounds of twigs snapping from within the woods added to the creepiness already provided by the sets and locations used. As mentioned earlier there was not much blood to be seen onscreen, but we do get many looks at the creature – a creature that was simply a man in a suit but one that was executed very well and kept just out of clear view in a successful attempt to keep the scares and creep factor high.

Overall, Creature from Black Lake is far from the horrible film it is supposed to be. Despite a low budget, PG rating, and no-name filmmaker / cast this flick settles on a simple story and very atmospheric direction to provide a flawed but enjoyable effort sure to please fans of creature features.

Rating: 6/10

Eaten Alive – 7

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Director – Tobe Hooper

Cast – Neville Brand, Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones, Marilyn Burns, William Finley, Stuart Whitman, Roberta Collins, Kyle Richards, Robert Englund, Crystin Sinclaire, Janus Blythe, Betty Cole

Release Year – 1977

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Despite being a fan of Tobe Hooper I first heard of this film while reading on Umberto Lenzi’s 1980 cannibal film Eaten Alive! and was immediately interested in giving this a watch due to its awesome plot and infamous director. Full of the usual 70s schlock and Tobe Hooper’s insane execution of the horror provided we are given a memorable experience heavy on exploitation and crocodile-chomping kills that made for a film I recommend to fans of Toby Hooper and 70s horror.

Judd, a redneck missing a few marbles, runs a lowly motel out in the East Texas swamps. One night he finally succumbs to his demented capacity and begins killing the patrons at his motel and feeding them to his gigantic pet crocodile.

The story is as simple as it sounds and gives us exactly what it says: lots of crocodile action at the hands of a really messed up redneck. I love storylines that involve unsuspecting patrons staying the night in a hotel or motel in the middle of nowhere due to the mystery it provides, and the uneasy feeling of knowing you are not only staying away from civilization and the emergency services that come with it but the people who own such places are just always so creepy, right? This idea is made even more awesome with the inclusion of Judd’s gigantic Nile Crocodile living in the very swamp the motel is located on, a perfect solution to the disposal of the dead bodies that would soon adorn the Starlight motel. It does not take long before Judd loses his cool and begins killing off everyone that stays at his motel, which he does in sweet fashion thanks to a handy scythe he just so happened to have lying around. Not ever kill occurs via scythe though as some of his patrons find themselves falling into the swamp during the struggle, which results in a very gruesome death at the hands of a giant reptile who somehow found his way to Texas. The horror is awesome and the story includes many kill sequences and other scenes of sexual nature that some may find hard to watch, but those of you looking for some good horror schlock will find joy in this one.

Tobe Hooper(The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Salem’s Lot, The Funhouse, Poltergeist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) did a fantastic job executing this cheesy low-budget flick, giving us full-frontal execution of the numerous scenes of horror. The kills were awesome and the usage of the crocodile increasingly became better and better as the film went on. Sure the crocodile is obviously some cheap crappy looking model but it added to the fun and thanks to good execution I was left with a smile on my face every time the croc graced the screen. We are given a positive musical score and good atmosphere to go along with it, and along with positive performances from everyone involved (including a young Robert Englund) this experience would up a very enjoyable one that I should have checked out sooner.

Overall, Eaten Alive is a fun and zany schlockfest from director Tobe Hooper that provides good carnage and horror thanks to awesome execution and a storyline consisting of the usual elements associated with 70s horror. This is more than just a slasher film as it also involves a giant crocodile munching away at the victims of a demented redneck, making for an experience I suggest you check out Tobe Hooper fans.

Rating: 7/10

Creature – 4

September 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Director – Fred Andrews

Cast – Mehcad Brooks, Serinda Swan, Sid Haig, Daniel Bernhardt, Amanda Fuller, Dillon Casey, Lauren Schneider

Release Year – 2011

Reviewed by John of the Dead

When I first saw an advertisement for Creature while waiting for Apollo 18 to start I thought to myself “I have to see that film.” due to it coming off in the same vein as one of my favorite horror films ever, Hatchet. I was very surprised to see that this film was given a fairly wide theatrical release (1,500 screens), and immediately jumped on the opportunity to watch this on the silver screen, which was the biggest mistake I’d made in…oh, about a week – when I saw the disappointing Apollo 18. While I did not go into Creature with high expectations per say, I did expect to enjoy the film, and that was far from the case with this one.

Six friends on a weekend camping trip take a detour to satisfy their curiosity involving an old Louisiana legend and find much more than they bargained for.

I was really hoping for a chance to see a cheezy and zany horror film on the big screen, and perhaps I should have known better than to expect Creature to deliver such goods to me. From first-time writer/director Fred Andrews, we are given a plot we have seen numerous times, but one that I find joy in so long as it is executed properly. We all know the idea of a group of unsuspecting friends looking to have a good time suddenly stumbling upon a bloodthirsty backwoods killer and suffering terrible trauma as they try to survive the ordeal, and Andrews’ story throws in a fresh idea in giving us a protagonist part human and part alligator. The idea is cheezy as hell, which is why I expected some whacky action to take part in this piece, and despite a fair amount of action thrown in this film the writing and execution were very poor.

There are numerous writing faults in this piece, with a lot having to do with character play but most having to do with the story. While the overall storyline is cool, the screenplay is horrible due to many brainless ideas thrown in that did nothing to improve the story and only ruin it. The reasoning behind the backwoods locals doing what they do for the antagonist, known as Grimley, was stupid and uninteresting, which was also the case for many smaller scenes in the film that are not even worth mentioning (big spoilers). With films like this you expect some pretty awesome kills, but we were given few even remotely worthwhile, although plenty of kills were written into the film to at least keep me somewhat engaged in what was going on. Andrews’ screenplay does not come without at least one great positive, which was the usage of our eventual main protagonist, Niles. His character was fantastic from beginning to end, and was far from the usual African-American character that we see in horror films. He was serious, likeable, and kicked plenty of ass by the time the end credits rolled, however he is the only good thing written into this film.

Andrews’ direction/execution is what really made this film a sour effort, and possibly ruined his name as far as the genre is concerned. The film starts off well and we are given awesome atmosphere and sets that engaged the viewer, and along with positive acting performances from Sig Haig(The Devil’s Rejects, House of 1,000 Corpses), his cajun buddies, and Mehcad Brooks as the awesome Niles it would seem that Andrews’ direction is not that bad overall, but that is where the positives stop. Andrews ruined everything he accomplished by giving us pathetic execution of the kill sequences, little gore, and horrendous camerawork made even worse by slow-motion effects. The look of the creature was OK, and his mannerisms were somewhat creepy at times, but in the end this creature was used to little potential and never delivered the horror that should have erupted from a film in this sub-genre.

Overall, Creature is a failed effort that should have never been given a theatrical release when so many better films of equal budget and filmmaking experience suffer DTV outcomes. The story is a decent one that gives us some different ideas, but these ideas are poorly executed and the horror is never remotely worthwhile, which along with poor direction overall makes for a film you should definitely avoid.

Rating: 4/10

Hatchet II – 8

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Director – Adam Green

Cast – Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Tom Holland, Kane Hodder, Parry Shen, R.A. Mihailoff, AJ Bowen, Alexis Peters, Ed Ackerman, David Foy, Colton Dunn, Rick McCallum, John Carl Buechler

Release Year – 2010

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Writer/director Adam Green first broke onto the horror scene in 2006 with Hatchet, an utterly fantastic gorefest of a slasher film, and has since delivered positive efforts in Spiral and Frozen.  However, all of his post-Hatchet success was overshadowed when word hit that there would be a sequel to the film, and that due to numerous incursions with the pathetic hominids known as the MPAA…would be released in theaters UNCUT and UNRATED.  The first horror film since George A. Romero’s 1978 classic Dawn of the Dead to be released uncut and unrated, Hatchet II delivers heavily on the gore-induced antics that occurred in the first film, and along with numerous quality laughs we are given another modern day American classic horror film from Adam Green.

Marybeth(Danielle Harris; Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5, The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond, Urban Legend, Halloween remake, Halloween II remake ) has survived her deadly ordeal with the grotesquely deformed vengeful swamp slasher known as Victor Crowley, but she will not end the saga until she can return to Crowley’s swamp and retrieve the bodies of her now deceased father and brother.  With the help of Dr. Zombie(Tony Todd; Candyman, Night of the Living Dead remake, Hatchet, Wishmaster, Final Destination, Final Destination 2, Masters of Horror: “Valerie on the Stairs”), the town’s voodoo priest, she learns the truth about her family’s connection to Victor Crowley, and she returns to the swamp with Dr. Zombie, her uncle Bob(Tom Holland; Director: Fright Night, Child’s Play, Thinner), and an army of the area’s best hunters/outdoorsmen to kill off Crowley and not only make their swamp safe again, but satisfy Martybeth’s thirst for revenge.

If you enjoyed Hatchet then you are sure as hell guaranteed to enjoy this awesome sequel.  Right from the get-go we are thrown into Crowley-induced carnage, and from then on out the film never really slows down and keeps delivering the goods.  This is a common benefit that sequels tend to reap given the original film spends much required runtime setting up the storyline, so this is an unfair advantage, but a positive nonetheless.

The story is nothing truly unique, and focuses mainly on Marybeth’s thirst for revenge against Victor Crowley for what he did to her father and brother, although her family’s connection to Crowley, the “twist”, was a nice touch that made the film all-the-more enjoyable.  Just like in the first entry, we get quite a few colorful characters, with Tony Todd getting much more screen time as Reverend Zombie.  Reverend Zombie was not a huge character in the first entry, but in this film he plays a strong supporting role, and delivers numerous laughs as well.  I was surprised at just how funny this film is, and it was not the overly silly Scary Movie type funny, but some simple yet high quality funny that left me laughing out loud on numerous occasions.  We also get some pretty creative kills written into the film, which brought back that warm feeling I got as a result of the awesome kills from the first entry, except in this film there are more of them.  The overall storyline is fairly simple and does not contain much more than what I have already explained, and it is Adam Green’s execution and direction that sell the rest of this watch.

What Green brings to screen not equally as awesome as what he wrote for the screen, but in fact MORE awesome than what he wrote for the screen.  He basically accomplished everything that he wanted to accomplish, and gave us Hatchet fans exactly what we wanted to see…more Hatchet.  The biggest selling point of the film is the same selling point we had in Hatchet…Victor Crowley’s gory kills.  In Hatchet we were given 55 gallons of fake bloody goodness, and according to Bloody-Disgusting.com(whom I also write reviews for) Hatchet II delivers 136 gallons of fake blood!  That is right folks, a whole 81 gallons more than the original, a 247% increase.  To make matters cooler is the level of fun involved in these kills, which were mostly downright ridiculous in nature and had me laughing at times due to how utterly awesome they were.  It is obvious that Adam Green went out and had loads of fun without taking himself too seriously with this film, and I love it.

Kane Hodder(Hatchet, Friday the 13th Part VII/VIII/IX/X) once again delivers a great wordless mumbling performance as Victor Crowley, which he has perfected due to his experience with such characters, a trait he has possessed since his days as the greatest Jason Vorhees ever.  Tony Todd also delivers a great performance, and is definitely the most charismatic of the actors involved.  In all honesty, I cannot see anyone else portraying Reverend Zombie, and that is due to Todd’s immense voice and his uncanny ability to be portray this unique and awesomely sarcastic character.  Now hold on there, Adam Green is known for his shout-outs to the horror genre, and the shout-outs don’t end at him using horror legends Kane Hodder and Tony Todd, as he also thrown in famed horror director Tom Holland as Uncle Bob, and the popular Halloween 4/5 actress Danielle Harris.  I was very surprised at how well Tom Holland portrayed Uncle Bob in this film, and for a man mainly known as a director he did an awesome job selling his role.  Now, despite my love for this film there is one major fault that I truly hated…and that was Danielle Harris’ acting.  She did a good job with her childhood roles in the Halloween series, but ever since she became an adult I have never found her acting mostly non-worthwhile, and it shows in this film.  I found her completely unlikable, and I blame that on her acting performance and now on how Adam Green wrote her character.  Every line she spewed felt forced and overdone, and whatever tears and emotion she showed were most likely coming from her realization of just how bad of an actress she is.  Thankfully, everything else in this film is intense and awesome, which drowns out her bad performance despite her being the lead actor in the film.  Plus, we all know who the real star of the Hatchet series is…and that is Victor Crowley.

Overall, this is an awesome sequel that is sure to please fans of Hatchet with Adam Green’s awesome direction and usage of Victor Crowley and the insanely gory kills he delivers.  Green once again delivers another American horror classic, which comes with a nice humor element and close to 90 minutes of nonstop cheezy goodness.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 8/10

The Legend of Boggy Creek – 7

November 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Director – Charles B. Pierce

Cast – Vern Stierman, Chuck Pierce Jr., William Stumpp, Willie E. Smith, Lloyd Bowen, B.R. Barrington, J.E. ‘Smokey’ Crabtree, Travis Crabtree, John P. Hixon, John W. Oates, Buddy Crabtree, Jeff Crabtree, Judy Baltom, Mary B. Johnson, Louise Searcy

Release Year – 1972

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Faux-documentary films are not new to the genre, but at the time that this film debuted, 1972, they were.  I personally find joy in these types of films because they allow you to (if you allow yourself) become enveloped in the film and in a sense…believe what you are watching is real, not a movie.  This vastly underrated cult film focuses on the legend of Bigfoot, and despite a very low-budget and little filming experience from its filmmakers it manages to deliver a truly horrifying experience worthy of the cult fame it has acquired.

The Legend of Boggy Creek focuses on a sasquatch-like creature terrorizing the residents of Fouke, Arkansas, a small farming community of 300 or so residents.  The town is shaken at the fact that such a creature exists in their swamps, but things worsen for this sleepy town when this once harmless creature begins to venture too close for comfort.

As I mentioned earlier, if you allow yourself to be enveloped into the film then you should find this to be a satisfying watch with some nice creepy scenes as well.  A devout drive-in flick, The Legend of Boggy Creek managed to generate of $20,000,000 domestically, an astounding feat for a very low-budget film starring and filmed by a bunch of nobodies with little experience.

Director Charles B. Pierce, who gave us the equally excellent The Town That Dreaded Sundown, does a fantastic job making this flick flow and delivers some good creepiness without having to show very much.  His execution is what makes this film happen, which comes very surprising given this was his first directing job.  If you enjoy grainy flicks from the early 70s then this should appeal to you as well.  I really liked that the filmmakers went with the faux-documentary approach, and a fantastic voice performance from narrator Vern Stierman helps with this film’s appealing nature.  The film is “dated” in all possible elements, with some not-so-favorable acting and editing, but it goes with the gritty nature of the film and instead of finding a negative in such things I found that they only added to my enjoyment.  Speaking of “characters”, the true star of the film, the creature, was excellently used and despite the fact that it was just a man in a suit (if this “movie” really is only…a movie) the usage of the creature was fantastic and definitely the film’s finest selling point.  As I mentioned earlier, we are given numerous creepy scenes that came to us without showing very much, and included in these scenes was the blood-curdling moan the creature delivers.  I do not know how they created such a unique and freaky sound, and I do not wish to know; some things should be left sacred in the horror genre, and the creature’s moan should be one of them.

In addition to Pierce’s direction, I really loved the storyline as well.  I have always been an avid fan and reader of anything involving crypt- zoology, which naturally includes anything regarding Bigfood/Sasquatch/The Yeti.  Those of you not interested in such things may not find this film as enjoyable as I did, but to those of you who have an interest in the topic then you should be glued to the screen as I was.  Setting the film in the swamps of Arkansas was a great idea as it provides a nice chilly atmosphere regardless of the time of day, although things really kick into high gear right at sunset.  Writer Earl E. Smith paced the film’s screenplay perfectly, with each creepy development coming at just the right time.  He also sells the film’s characters to us with his great and believable dialogue, which goes hand in hand with the fact that the characters were apparently acted by the very people they were based on. Simply put, those who saw the creature played themselves.

I cannot really confirm that this film is a true documentary despite the film saying that the actual witnesses played themselves in the film, but regardless of this film being real or not…the scares are good, and this film is a true hidden gem that deserves much more appreciation from the horror genre.

Overall, this is an awesome and creepy watch that I recommend to those with an interest in anything involving Bigfoot or those like him.  Amazing execution and good usage of the creature both seen an unseen are sure to leave this film an unforgettable watch to those who allow the film to do what it set out to do…scare the hell out of you.

Rating: 7/10

The Skeleton Key – 7


Director – Iain Softley

Cast – Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, Joy Bryant, Maxine Barnett, Fahnlohnee R. Harris

Release Year – 2005

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I have always been very iffy on the horrendous sounding idea of a PG-13 horror flick.  Why?  Well, most of them just downright suck!  There can be a number of reasons for this, such as the lack of kills(aka “fun”), and other content that would help provide great horror to the viewer.  Now I have always kept an open mind to PG-13 horror because I am a devout believer that a great script and proper execution can give you a great and horrific PG-13 watch without all the goodies that come with a Rated-R film.  Thankfully, this film proves my case and winds up being a great PG-13 horror film that did its job so darn well that I did not notice this flick was PG-13 until after its awesome climax. Yes, I am serious.

The Skeleton Key stars a pretty Kate Hudson as Caroline, a hospice worker who decides to quit her typical money-grabbing hospice job and look for something more sincere to the patient.  She comes across an add in the local newspaper for a live-in hospice worker needed to assist an old women named Violet(Geena Rowlands) with her mute(due to a stroke) and dying husband.  Caroline interviews, and despite her convictions over the odd situation she accepts the job.  Soon after moving in she notices strange occurrences around the old southern home, and things get even weirder the more she is around the strange old woman whom she answers to.  Her curiosity gets the best of her and she begins to investigate by finding a way into a sealed off door deep in the attic of the home.  It is then that she learns the horror behind the evil that lies within the home, and things are just getting started.

Be it as it may, this flick had me hooked.  Director Ian Softley(haha, Softley) did a seemingly perfect job setting up this film’s atmosphere with a very spooky looking home on both the inside and outside, as well as even more spooky looking sets surrounding the home.  For a guy not known as a horror director he did a fine job with this location and used it to the fullest of its abilities.  I mean, how else could a PG-13 horror flick be spooky?  It is all about execution, and he executed just fine.  This flick paced very well, and I was very happy to see that its runtime was nearly an hour and 45 minutes, 15 minutes longer than the usual PG-13 horror standard of 90 minutes.  Now, there have been great Rated-R horror flicks that clock in at 90 minutes, but they come with great horror and sweet kills that leave you fulfilled in those 90 minutes.  Most PG-13 horror flicks seem to be aimed at teens and take too much consideration into the attention span of the teen audience and keep the film around the 85-90 minute runtime.  This flick shows that it never had much of a desire to appeal to the young and dumbfounded teens out there and decided to first give us a horror film with REAL development, and because of this film’s lack of Rated-R content it had to take a little while to get it all in there, and I am glad it did.  We do not get many great scares in this film, unless you are a fan of the “person-appears-out-of-nowhere” scares(pfft), but great mood setting and camera angles provide some nice chilly moments which were enough to keep me interested.

Story-wise this film really excels.  We get some great conflict for Caroline thanks to the seedy personality of Violet whom we know not to trust, but must wait for more development was to WHY we should not trust her.  I find these situations fun and tension-inducing, especially if written and executed properly as they were in this film.  Writer Ehren Kruger is no stranger to the horror genre, he wrote the adaptations for both The Ring and The Ring Two prior to this film and it shows that he has a knack for this genre.  The twists and turns thrown into the story were all engaging and never came off as silly or needless.  Of all the positive buzz I have heard about this flick I must say that 90% of it is in regards tot his film’s climax, which I can absolutely understand.  This film’s ending sequence is one of the coolest and most well written twists endings I have ever seen in the horror genre.  At first it may come off as a cheap cop-out ending if you pay little attention to what is going on, but a further look into things will show just how great this ending is.  I speak from personal experience in saying that I at first saw this flick’s ending as a cool twist but nothing special.  I was fooled, but not wowed.  Now after viewing this film a second time since my initial 2005 viewing I can say that there was so much more I did not notice.  It would be a shame if I went into spoilers with this film, but I must say that the final twist comes with much meaning towards the hoodoo mentioned earlier in the film regarding the “children at the party“.  If you don’t get it, send me a message or email me through this site and I will be glad to explain what went on.  Trust me, when fully understood this flick’s climax is haunting, utterly horrific, and geniously written.  This only adds to the fact that this PG-13 flick was not made to appeal merely to the teen audience, because if it were it would not have come with such a complex and awesomely written climax.

Overall, this is a cool and positive watch that I recommend to all fans of the horror genre.  This flick comes with amazing atmosphere, sets, great execution, awesome writing, positive performances, and a clever ending.  I especially recommend this to all those who believe that PG-13 horror film cannot be a great watch, just make sure to turn off any and all ignorance before heading into this one, a tainted mind is cancerous in this genre.

Rating: 7/10

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