When A Stranger calls – 2006

Another reboot of a 1979 classic by the same name When A Stranger calls takes a new generation of film goings into the urban legend of The Babysitter and the man upstairs. We start a random scene of a fair while listening to repeated calls placed by a yet unknown male to a young girl inside a house. The scene ends hearing the same girl scream as she is murdered off-screen supposably to set up what we are about to see, but the scene doesn’t add much to the film.

Meet Jill (Camilla Belle) the jilted teen who finds out who boyfriend kissed one of her best friends but still ends up using all her cell phone minutes (Remember when plans had a specific block of minutes?) Listening to him explain how I guess kissing another girl isn’t really cheating in any severe way plus, she kissed him first. Jill will be our main character while she sits for a Doctor and his wife. Somehow while sitting, she only has to interact with the kids for the final 20 minutes of the film

In terms of the movie itself, it’s ok-ish at best. The drama that is the teenage years when your boyfriend cheats on you feels cheap and tacked on as a way to draw people in, but I can live with that. What bothers me most is there is absolutely no back story for the killer. The movie is a series of murders that for the most part, take place off-camera (Which is refreshing in today’s film making). So many of today’s directors want that blood and guts feel, but that’s not the way Simon West went, which I found somewhat refreshing. Sometimes what you can imagine happening can be scarier then what you can see.

Although the film has little to keep it going and few moving parts to keep you interested, our heroine carries the story cause lets face it. Over an hour of her and a phone, not easy to do, I’m sure. Lets put this film solidly in the 3.5/5 category.

Also as an interesting side note the film I’m sure you know is based on the urban legend The Babysitter and the man upstairs. What I bet you didn’t realize is the urban legend is based on a true story Based On A True Crime Podcast click for the story!

Enjoy!

Black Christmas – 1974

Ah, Christmas, the season of love and reconciliation and bloody murder. One of the first films to put us in the killers POV. Its a dark movie in both content and delivery it’s also the subject of an upcoming reboot directed by Sophia Takal (All the Light in the Sky, and Supporting Characters) Due to be released Dec 13 (Friday the 13th) of this year. I’m not a massive fan of these reboots. The characters are often one dimensional and who are hard to care about. With no plot or character development, and the atmosphere is just hard to match to the original.

The premise of the film is a good one, a group of sorority girls alone on campus over the Christmas holidays. Who don’t know that they are sharing the festive season with one sick psychopath that terrorizes the girls with obscene and threatening phone calls. One by one, the girls and the house mother fall victim to the killer.

Oliva Hussey (Jess) the unassuming lead must deal with convincing the local police that something isn’t right. When housemate Clare (Lynn Griffen) Suddenly goes missing, and the obscene calls begin to pick up. Clocking in at 1 hr 38 min it’s not an overly long film and moves pretty quickly from start to finish. No second act stalls or blocks that prevent the movie from moving forward thanks to a solid script and casting. This film was a trailblazer setting the path for Halloween and the many others that would follow, set loosely on the old urban legend ‘The Babysitter and the man upstairs.’

We never do find out what the killer “Billy” motive was. But we can make some assumptions from his chilling calls; used in multiple voices as if we are dealing with various personalities. It would also appear that our antagonist has some pretty deep-seated feelings that lead him to his murderous ways. Though it’s not until the 2006 remake that his childhood becomes explained in detail. We only really see him in shadow, so we have no idea of his height or weight or body appearance. The way his character is written adds to his sinister feel, a tactic that would be repeated four years later in Carpenters Halloween to terrific effect.

Well written script, well-acted story and a deep cast make this easily 5/5

The Exorcist – 1973

The film that legend has it resulted in pregnant women going into labour and terrified moviegoers worldwide when it was moved over from Willaim Peter Blatty’s’ novel.

Fun fact about me on this one being raised Catholic and having seen this when I was younger, I thought this would be one hell (Pardon the pun) of a job. I even took it so seriously that I was briefly entertaining the thought of going into the seminary as a teen.

Ok so back to the film, when it released in Dec of 1973 many critics thought they had seen a classic. Others thought that had been witness to “Religous claptrap.” Who would have thought 46 years later it would still be on so many peoples’ top ten list

What do you do when your daughter has started acting strange after playing with a Ouija board? What about after she pees on the floor in front of a house full of guests? And what about when the Doctors can’t explain what’s going on? Ellen Burstyn (Chris MacNeil) is outstanding in her role as the famous mother dealing with the pressures of a daughter with seeming abnormal strength. Not to mention the desire to masturbate with a crucifix while chanting “Let Jesus fuck you!” Well, you turn to the Catholic Church and Frs Karras and Lankester Merrin of course.

The film centers on the battle for young Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) And her soul. From outstanding (Even for today) Makeup Regan is transformed from being this sweet young girl into this monster seeming hellbent on the destruction of her soul.

The film is long clocking in around the two-hour mark, and the plot and character development are spot on. No second act sluggishness here. The skeptic Fr Karras and the believer Fr Lankester, with their duelling personalities one coming from the mind of a Phycological professional. The other from a place of belief in a way a metaphor for the viewer, if you saw it, then would you believe? Does it become any less real if you can’t see? But that’s taking this in a whole other more in-depth conversation.

For me, I’d rank this one 5/5 a true classic and one I watch every spooky season

Honeymoon – 2014

I couldn’t watch this one all in one go. I watched it over a few days stopping and starting hoping that it would grab my attention but it never really did. First, the basics, a young married couple set off on their honeymoon and all is right with the world. Bea (Rose Leslie), And her new husband Paul (Harry Treadaway) seem like a happy couple just starting on their adventures together. It doesn’t take long for things to look not quite right; however, in this sleepy cabin community, they go to

After the obligatory sex of the honeymoon Bea one night slips into the dark forest while Paul is getting ready to go on a fishing trip. A panicked Paul discovers her standing alone in the woods with no indication of how she got there — assuming her to be sleepwalking the coupe attempt to get past it and during a visit to the small lakeside town come upon one of Bea’s highschool friends, Bill. This meeting is tense, and it helps to move along the feeling that no everything is as it appears. We also meet Bill’s wife Annie who appears well out there. Paul comes to the conclusion that there is something off about the pair and in an attempt to add some tension to the storyline puts it out there that Will obviously has feelings for Bea (Um, that doesn’t come across in the movie at all)

Moving along it’s not long before Paul and Bea notice that she has some marks on her inner thighs that she blames on bug bites; however, Paul is noticing that she’s different since that night in the woods. She’s forgotten little things like how to make Fench Toast and some not so little things like her name and the fact that she is married. Now call me a little crazy here but if my wife went for a walk in the woods and suddenly had such off changes I’d be leaving to seek medical help, but Paul goes for the “I’m Fine” Argument and worst of all, she doesn’t want sex anymore! Now I guess that Paul can put up with the forgetting the French Toast etc. but he draws the line when the sex stops!

The last act is fairly decent as Paul tries his best to help his young wife before things go totally sideways, but it’s not enough to save the film. The characters are well written and have good chemistry. You;ll know pretty early what’s going on here with the bright lights in the forest that draws Bea out at night and the changes in her personality, not to mention Will and Annie and their own odd dynamic they bring to the film. No little Asian ghost kids wounding around these woods. This wasn’t what I thought it would be and I didn’t care for it all that much however for some they will love it, I’d give it a 3.5 average fair and thinking back ‘Fire In The Sky’ Kinda feel

The Ranger – 2018

This one is pretty good to start with some twists and turns that you didn’t see coming till we are already there. Our main characters are Chelsea, Grant, Jerk, Abe and Amber, a group of teens who flea to the woods after stabbing an NYPD officer and getting involved in the drug culture. Before starting the dash for the mountains, Chole considers shooting the cop with his gun. These events trigger a flashback to her time as a young girl with her uncle up at the hills. It consists of her talking to a young park ranger whos trying to tell her to go along with some unknown falsehood. We’ll meet this same Ranger later in the movie as her the troubled teens try to escape.

The teens come upon the Ranger who decides that they need to know that there are some rules about being in the woods that he oversees; You don’t litter, you don’t use drugs, forget having parties and don’t be a dick. Now, I’m sure you’ve seen enough scary movies by now to know where this is headed right? Like every prick teen (let’s face it, teenagers are assholes). Mind bend drugs are consumed and spray painting of nearby trees seems like a good idea as does blasting their music at a painful volume. You know that these kids are going to pay and they do in bloody and painful ways.

One thing that I do like about this movie is it doesn’t go right from our characters breaking “The Rules” To their cold-blooded murder the wrongdoing stays on camera long enough to build tension (You just know the Ranger is taking names) One of the frustrating points to this movie is the flashbacks to little Chole in the woods with her uncle shooting bottles, Chole will “accidentally” kill her uncle sending him off a cliff after shooting him. Why frustrating? We don’t get enough of a back story by that I mean the way the film as directed implies that there could be some wrong relationship between the two, is this why she kills him? We don’t get to know, and it’s annoying.

If you were thinking this sounds like a refreshing take on the “In the woods” category you’d be wrong. It’s slow. It feels like dog years, one minute watching this film is like seven anywhere else. The film does have some good twists and turns, but those aren’t used to their potential, and the film is just flat. The ending feels rushed and slapped together because the film spent on its time at the start of the movie trying to make the kids look more badass then they are instead leaving them flat and one dimensional.
Too bad this movie could have been a good one, but in the end it’s a disappointment. 2/5

Friday The 13th 2009

So Camp Crystal Lake and it’s most famous resident came back to the theatres ten years ago. In the hopes of making you forget about the real horror that was ‘Freddy Vs Jason’ Six years earlier. I guess besides Michael Myers and Freddy, Jason is one of the most recognizable faces that started the teen slasher craze in the 70’s/80’s

I went into this movie not expecting much and the first 15 minutes or so really held up that expectation. It appeared that Markus Nispel was going for pure torture porn as opposed to genuine scares. We start in June of 80 Jasons’ mom has killed off all but one of the camp counsellors. Seeking revenge for how they ignored her murderous bundle of joy, mom is quicky dispatch with a machete leaving a not so dead Jason picking up mommies head. Now as these current horror films do we skip forward to Crystal Lake in the present day, a new group of friends: Wade, Ritchie. Mike, Whitney and Amanda are out in the woods for a good old fashioned weekend of sex and drugs what can go wrong right?

Well, it turns out quite a lot actually in no time Jason has dispatched all but the pure Whitney opting instead to keep her locked up in a dungeon (Why)??? This sequence bugged me. It amounted to me as little more than trying to kill characters off in the worst way that we can imagine. There was Burning alive in a tent, a machete to the head, which did little to advance the story but lets more ahead

Six weeks later, Whitney is still in Jason’s dungeon (Again, why)??? But now a new group has joined in the bloody mayhem to come we have: Trent (The typical dick frat boy). Jenna, the caring girlfriend he treats like crap and ultimately cheats on. Chelsea who has such a little part it’s hard to remember her other then she dies topless (Of course) Bree the seductive girl who manages with not a lot of effort to seduce Trent. Chewie, the hilarious Asian sidekick who sadly ends up on the cutting room floor as well along with Nolan and Lawrence.

We also meet Clay, the brother of Whitney is as you would expect the good brother to do in Crystal Lake looking for his sister. While looking for her and going door to door, he comes to Trent’s cabin after earlier meeting them at the local store. Jenna takes an interest in Clay and offers to help him to look for his sister. Meanwhile, Nolan and a topless Chelsea die while wakeboarding on the lake.

Clay and Jenna come upon Jason’s lair and run off to warn the others, of course, they meet doubt and mistrust because why wouldn’t they ? Trent accuses them of “Fucking all over the woods.” Deaths are not particularly unusual with virtually no tension in the final rampage. Clay and Jenna make it out of the cabin and again head back to the lake as Jason stalks them this time Clay finds his sister still alive chained to the way in Jasons lair

Clay and Jenna manage to get Whitney; however, Jenna is finally finished off by Jason, leaving only the siblings to fight for their lives. Will they make it? Of course they will how else would we have a sequel? Whitney, it appears was alive because she reminded him of his mother (Well they do say we fall in love with our mothers) And she uses this to trick Jason, and she then stabs him with his machete. But if your expecting this one to be over yet, you’d be wrong, dead wrong after dumping Jason into the lake Clay and Whitney go to leave their hellish vacation but not before Jason makes one more appearance and grabs Whitney ..

The film itself did well at the box office and became the second-highest-grossing in the series though surprisingly there was no continuation. And Jason still to this day rests under the waves of Crystal Lake, or does he?

2.5/5

The Blair Witch: The Orginal

So I thought with the release of the Blair Witch video game why not have a wander down to Burkittsville and revisit a film that started the whole “Found Footage” Craze. Set in October of 94 Heather, Josh and Mike head out to make a documentary on the so-called Blair Witch. The first quarter of the movie is pretty decent as it lays the groundwork for what the teens are heading out to investigate including supposed sightings by Molly Brown, the town crazy. When watching the movie, I had to keep reminding myself that it was scary for the time back in the mid-90s; this kind of film wasn’t as common as it is today. The dialogue between the three main characters seems natural and relaxed, and the characters are likable.

As the group progress into the woods, they quickly discover that they are lost and no matter how hard they try, they are unable to find a way out. Every outdoorsman worst nightmare, right? One thing that makes this film feel possible is how Heather, Josh, and Mike start to fall apart over days. The infighting, despair, anger all come through very well and adds to the feeling of hey this could happen.

Of course, over time, the three become separated. And for me, this is where the film loses some of its appeal. What follows is the final thirty minutes of Heather running around and screaming. I found myself hoping that she would meet a nasty end to move on. Mike and Heather find themselves at what we are to believe is Rustin Parrs cabin in a desperate search for Josh. Predictably this doesn’t go well, and Mike and Heather also become separated with Mike ending up in the basement. At some point, Heather finds Mike in the basement facing the corner wall just as Rustin Parr had made his child victims do before he killed them. Heathers hand held camera then drops to the ground and we assume that she has was killed

Overall a decent film and it is one I like to watch as we head into the Halloween season. I’d give the film over all 3.5/5

61 Days to Halloween !

Ok so as I write this it’s actually August the 31, and no it’s not really a dark and stormy night at all it’s actually 28 C outside but hey I can dream right ? So I’ve finally decided to take my love of everything horror online and make my own blog I know I know who needs another one right ? But hey you might just enjoy the read

So what will you be seeing here ? Well I love horror movies as the title kind of implies and so what I’ll be doing is watching movies new and old and then writing my reviews here .. I’ll also be letting you know about good podcasts that I’m listening to that have anything to do with the horror industry . My hope he is that we will , over time get a thriving discussion going on what we like, love, hate on this particular genre and maybe make some new friends through the process

Again welcome and I hope you enjoy