Truth or Dare

Director: Robert Heath

Notable Cast:  Liam Boyle, Jack Gordon, Florence Hall, Jennie Jacques, Tom Kane, Jason Maza, David Oakes, Alexander Vlahos

Rating: R

Review:  Turning innocent childhood games into horror tales comes too easy, twisting our youth into something gruesome.  So harmless right?  Truth or Dare:  The bottle lands on you, and the player either incurs embarrassment created by another player or surrenders a long held secret.  So, to mess with your memories, Robert Heath introduced the aspect of death into your favorite sleepover game, penned by Matthew McGuchan.  Truth 0r Dare draws upon torture horror clichés to further an avoidable plot, while young British lives hang in the balance.  To start, house music kicked in during a party scene and all I could think about was “here comes another Demons Never Die….”  Well, Natobomb wasn’t far off.  Just like Demons Never Die, Truth or Dare offers moments of horror excitement while blending in migrane causing plot flaws enough to drive a viewer insane.  My favorite part of Heath’s horror?  Jennie Jacques.  Watch out for this budding British scream queen, dubbed 100% my new celebrity crush as she continues climbing the ranks of female horror actresses in the now such as Danielle Harris and Sheri Moon Zombie.  But sadly, there exists a film outside of watching Jacques, which is begging for some scrutiny.   Sorry Robert, but you’ll probably want a dare option over hearing this hard truth.

At a wild University party, four friends plan to end their semester on a high note.  Paul (Boyle), Chris (Gordon), Eleanor (Jacques), and Gemma (Hall) mix with dealer Luke (Vlahos) to “enhance” their experience (well, the guys at least), and a good time is had by all.  Except socially awkward loner Felix (Kane) that is.  In true love triangle fashion Felix lusts for Gemma, but Gemma dates typical dick Chris.  Finally building up the confidence with a little help from Luke, Felix spills his feels to the blonde sweetheart but to no avail.  Gemma lightly lets him down, keeping him in good spirits and treating him with respect.  Then Eleanor pulls out an empty bottle and starts a rousing game of truth or dare with the entire party.  On Felix’s turn, the timid boy obviously selects truth.  Eleanor’s truth involves Felix picking one girl at the party he would choose to be with for a night, and of course he ends up picking Gemma.  Chris doesn’t take too kindly to the advance, and sucker punches Felix in front of all.  Well, fast forward to after break and the friends are invited to Felix’s wealthy estate for a birthday party.  Greeted by his brother Justin (Oakes), he reveals Felix missed his flight home from Chile and simply forgot to cancel with them.  Offering free food and booze, Justin insists a party still be had.  And then he takes out that fateful bottle, starting a game of truth or dare no player will likely forget…

Nice couples costume pairing?  Dorothy and Hawaiian?

Truth or Dare strives to challenge the confines of tortue horror with fresh presentation,  but leaves cavernous gaps throughout scripting.  I don’t do this often, but spoilers are going to follow as these details have to be shed from my chest.  The mad genius orchestrating chaos (Justin) is an expertly trained British soldier who survived three tours in Afghanistan (I believe), yet can be wrestled down by a lowly drug dealer?  He also trusts one of the characters (Luke) who arrives with the slew of victims as his little patsy, even presenting him with a firing arm which Luke is capable of using to free his “friends” at any time?  Some pretty serious flaws from the mind of a military tactical genius.  Luke is what we like to call a liability, something a true revenge bent psychopath would not tolerate.  Oh and while we’re on Luke, and given the information discovered by those who have indulged cinematically already, why the hell wasn’t Luke knocking Justin off and bolting?  He cradled a gun with three rounds placed at random, so I understand the mentality he has a 50/50 shot of catching the right chamber.  But how many times did Justin leave him alone?  Why was Luke not opening the weapon to reveal where the bullets lay?  Justin may have been a war machine, but impervious to a headshot he is not.  The whole dynamic between Justin and Luke bugged me itself, enough so I could even let Gemma’s antics slide after she bolts.  Truth or Dare was written without much attention being paid to either word, relying too heavily on situation mentalities and providing no focus for the character’s big survival picture.

Performances entertained more than expected cast wise though, which was a pleasant surprise.  Already established is my praise for Jenny Jacques, and Eleanor played to a broader spectrum than just the ditzy damsel in distress.  No, Eleanor goes from suspected side character to devious survivor girl on the flick of a switch.  Jacques dives into some creepy territory towards Truth or Dare’s climax, turning Eleanor into McGuchan’s most interestingly crafted character.  Not to mention there’s an unsettling evil glint in Jacques’s eye, which works perfectly towards Eleanor’s always changing demeanor.  David Oakes played the part of remorseless older brother well at least, even if his character writing was flawed.  Same goes for Alexander Vlahos in his portrayal of Luke.  The rest were just pawns in Justin’s sick game, but acting prevented Truth or Dare from falling into the “sh$tty story, sh*tty acting, sh%tty movie” category.  Somewhat.

Truth:  Yet another horror movie that underperforms due to shoddy plot-lines.  Dare: Argue Heath’s latest effort is the “next big thing.”  I don’t know, maybe because of all the horror films I cram in my skull my expectations are only rising.  Sure, Truth or Dare holds some fun horror moments, but nothing gasp worthy.  Some pools of blood, a dead body here or there…another walk in the park.  Not to mention audience members will be five steps ahead of the script, offering no big reveal as the film twists and turns.  Maybe not to the degree Heath takes it, but blatant foreshadowing generally prevents any suspenseful present to be unwrapped.  Childish fun with regrettable consequences, just like playing Truth or Dare in real life.

Final Rating: 5 truths for every one dare anyway out of 10

Going to assume that one was a dare…..


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Mother’s Day

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Notable Cast: Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King, Shawn Ashmore, Frank Grillo, Patrick Flueger, Warren Kole, Deborah Ann Woll, Briana Evigan, Matt O’Leary, Lyriq Bent

Rating: R

Review:  What better way to end my actual Mother’s Day than renting another straight to DVD Darren Lynn Bousman project.  His last, 11-11-11,  presented an ill-fated attempt at religious/cultist horror which drove viewers away in flocks instead of garnering worshipers, so suffice it to say there was some lingering doubt Mother’s Day would be any more watchable.  But as I sank deeper into Bousman’s re-imagining, blood-red waves of relief washed over me as Mother’s Day made me forget about Darren’s previous apocalyptic debacle.  Bousamn was able to accomplish something special with his recreation of Troma film’s 1980 cult classic of the same name.  Not only was he able to capture the gore and “fun” Troma files were so famous for, but Bousman brought Hollywood flair and respectability where Troma was considered nothing but low quality.  Hence why I avoided using the term re-make when discussing what Bousman did.  Writer Scott Milam took the concept of Mother’s Day and penned a similar story with his own creative touches, then Bousman took the reigns with similar intentions.  I would call Mother’s Day a fresh take on the Troma exploitation of old, easily considered some of Bousman’s best work to date (haven’t had a chance to check out The Devil’s Carnival yet though).

Daniel (Grillo) and Beth (King) Sohapi have recently moved into a new home which was snagged for cheap after a sad foreclosure.  Throwing a party for their closest friends, the couple play host to their guest’s needs.  All except keeping them safe that is.  As fun and games are had, three bank robbing brothers speed towards the last known residence of their beloved mother only to stumble upon the Sohapi party.  Izaak (Flueger) and Addley (Kole) carry their wounded brother Jonathan (O’Leary) and prop him on the couch as Daniel hears commotion upstairs.  He discovers the felons who take control of the house, and within no time turn the party into a hostage situation.  But the worst is yet to come.   After finally reaching his mother, Natalie Koffin (De Mornay) arrives at her old house with daughter Lydia (Woll).  From here, it becomes obvious “Mother” holds the brains in the Koffin family, as she displays every motherly instinct only a Manson could possess.  Natalie brings the phrase “respect your elders” to an unsettling level, just trying to protect her poor young boys.  Sarcasm intended.

“GO TO YOUR ROOM!”  No questions asked…

Well, if Rebecca De Mornay’s daughters see Mother’s Day, I doubt there will be a single disobedience issue dealt with as their mom.  What a phenomenal performance from an actress who could balance Mother’s homely love and violent brutality.  Think Marsha Brady mixed with Jigsaw: just follow the rules and everything will be just fine.  Plus you might get some ice cream out of it!  Mother isn’t fueled by hatred or malice, instead driven by devoted love for her small family of vagrants.  Mother’s emotional dial is set so her reactions are vile, but none come without reason.  Natalie tries to reason with the partygoers and spreads some of her signature tender love and care in an attempt to quell rebellion, but people held at gunpoint are sometimes a bit irrational.  At this moment Mornay unleashes the villainous beast hidden behind her down home generosity, bringing fun out of a dark character.  Prim, proper, but full of fire and brimstone: Mother entrances characters using soft-spoken rationality almost impossible to combat.  Mother’s genuinely unnerving psychotic sweetheart delivery deserves plenty of fear, commanding screen presence with stern tones like only a scornful female figure can.  Rebecca De Mornay gives a bloody good performance as Mama Koffin, a worthy competitor for female mother type killers abroad.  Eat your heart out Mrs. Voorhees, this murderous Mother does her own dirty work.

For every ounce of twisted terror Mornay brings to Mother, Bousman contorts tenfold via gory torture.  The three-time Saw director utilizes his torment knowledge from the past mixed with Saw‘s consistent over the top violence to strive for a full Troma experience, and then some.  Where Troma headmaster Charlie Kauffman focused more on campy tendencies, Bousman keeps a certain respectability about his horror.  The Koffin’s were relatable to true thugs instead of Hollywood bad boys, inventive carnage ruled over simple slashing, and Bousman delivered a much more focused production where 11-11-11 darted a billion places at once.  Hell, the man kept things so realistic police actually broke up a scene mid shot because a real bank was robbed a few miles away during filming and officers were convinced Bousman’s cast were the actually criminals.  Vividly seared into my mind are a few brutal killings still, making Mother’s Day one of the better home invasion films release over the last few years.  Mother’s Day is exactly what Darren needed to boost a falling credibility.

The scary part is, Mother’s Day‘s first cut was wrapped December 11th, 2009.  Yes, it’s 2012 now.  Bousman has been gestating his pride and joy for some three plus years,  and maybe that’s what leant to cleaner success.  Or, maybe we can relate the long shelf life to Hollywood’s dying belief in exploitation and grindhouse horror.  But what scares me is while I love Repo! The Genetic Opera more than most, the latter of Bousman’s Saw films and 11-11-11 prove as blemishes on his directorial record.  I want to consider Mother’s Day a beacon of hope, but 11-11-11 in fact came after production had wrapped.  Barring my verdict on The Devil’s Carnival, Bousman may have a hole to dig out of considering Mother’s Day stands as my favorite in his catalogue to date.  None of that could have been possible without the lovely Rebecca De Mornay though, who embodies the merciless Mother in question.  But don’t count out emerging scream queen Jaime King (The Tripper/My Bloody Valentine/Silent Night), who challenges Mornay as one tough cookie.  Sure, questioning why the group didn’t just bumrush Addley from the beginning who was holding a slow loading shotgun may lead to a slippery slope of mounting plot digust…so just don’t.  Easy, see?  This is one horror movie mommy definitely won’t approve of, unless your mom is into gratuitous violence, hot women, foul language, and a hearty heaping of Bousman imagined gore.  In that case, your mom f#cking rules.

Final Rating: 7.5 new gifts for mom out of 10

Not even a broken tailbone on day 3 of shooting could stop King…


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The Avengers

Director: Joss Whedon

Notable Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stellan Skarsgård, Paul Bettany

Rating: PG-13

Review:  Hello Marvel, welcome to uber-blockbuster status.  $200.3 million in one weekend?  Yeah, crown a new king after Harry Potter’s record debut weekend of last year.  Harry has a wand?  Yeah, Avengers have a Hulk.  Who didn’t see this coming though?  Marvel has been ramping up to this iconic superhero team master film for years, starting back with Iron Man.  Witnessing every new back story to follow, fanboys and girls alike dreamt of one day seeing each hero fight side by side on a singular screen, but also see each actor participate as well.  First Robert Downey Jr., Edward Norton, and Sammy J all teaming up (Iron Man/Hulk)?  Next, men subsequently salivated over Scarlett Johansson’s addition as Black Widow (Iron Man 2), waiting patiently to get another glimpse of her…erm…skills.  Then add studly Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and equally gorgeous Captain America aka Chris Evans (might have helped the female demographic).  Finally, Marvel rounded out casting with Jeremy Renner signing on as Hawkeye (Thor) and Mark Ruffalo stepping in as the third Bruce Banner in a matter of years (Sorry Edward!).  But most importantly, in my eyes at least, was electing super sci-fi “nerd” type Joss Whedon (Firefly/Buffy/Dr. Horrible/Cabin In The Woods) as visionary master on The Avengers.  Not only does he deserve recognition for his brilliant script work on easily the most intelligent horror film all year (The Cabin In The Woods), but now boasts a successfully epic superhero movie skyrocketing his popularity to household status.  For years fans worshipped Whedon with cult like dedication, and now the mainstream public has 101 reasons to hop on Joss’ bandwagon.  The Avengers was virtually a no fail project, but soared even higher than most expected.  Nothing is faultless, but The Avengers is pretty damn good.

The Avengers marks the first cooperation between the famous team of superheros all found in the Marvel Universe.  While many more heroes are part of this super team, our film focuses on Captain America (Evans), The Hulk (Ruffalo), Iron Man (Downey Jr.), Thor (Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Renner), and Black Widow (Johansson); all brought together by S.H.E.I.L.D director Nick Fury (Jackson).  Loki (Hiddleston) has declared war against Earth, infiltrating a remote S.H.E.I.L.D base and stealing an energy source artifact known as The Tesseract which Professor Erik Selvig (Skarsgård) has been testing in coordination with S.H.E.I.L.D.  With The Tesseract, Loki possesses the power to open a portal to his world and let in a massive Chitauri army bent on ruling Earth.  With options dwindling and time running out, Nick Fury makes the call to green light his Avengers Initiative blueprints and unleash a volatile team powerful enough to protect our world.  After gathering the heroes mentioned above, there is a period of doubts as tensions rise and curiosity gets the better of some minds.  Together the Avengers are capable of fighting armies worthy of total civilization eradication, but their quarrels threaten not only the success of Fury’s plan…as the fate of all mankind hangs in the balance.

I totally dug how Hulk actually looked like Ruffalo when he morphed, mostly seen in facial close-ups…

It’s impossible not to let your inner child take over in seeing all your favorite childhood superheroes brought to life on-screen simultaneously.  Star power was bright enough to blind viewers no matter how the product turned out, but thankfully Whedon and Penn’s script held up to such spectacular players.  When the action throttle is thrown full speed ahead, The Avengers turns into some mile a minute thrill ride that showcases every hero using their unique abilities to the full extent.  Hawkeye executes crazy no look bow and arrow shots, Hulk throws baddies around like rag dolls, Thor harnesses the almighty incendiary power of lightning, Iron Man gadgets henchmen to death, Cap prances around with his usual heroics, and Black Widow sexily dispatches of Chitaurians with top assassination qualities.  Watching the Avengers fight together was a comic book dream come true, all too much child-like fun to ignore.  Not in-depth, but 100% truth.

But, nothing is free in today’s world, and for the glorious second half of Whedon’s endeavor we pay with a rather slow build-up.  The Avengers follows every background story film format before it, using beginning movie segments to introduce story lines and details important to later plot points.  The first half is nothing but a set up, instituted to further later events and create solid ground for the Avengers to push-off of.  Every Marvel film has done so, and The Avengers is no exception.  But as Iron Man 2 showed us, once the background is established free rein can be given for non-stop story and action.  Whedon even delivers this in the final New York battle scene, but only because The Avengers runs two and a half hours long.  Those complaining of slow beginnings and lack of intensity should have expected such in the first place, because no team gels from square one…especially in Hollywood.  Trust had to be earned, personalities had to clash, and drama has to be established before the Avengers could hold hands while gloriously running into battle.  And yes, I understand complaints vocalizing all this inconsequential mumbo jumbo just delayed the inevitable.  I too sympathize and agree Whedon threw a ton of content at us in order to get to the good stuff, but wasn’t it worth it?  Were you not entertained?  Did you not understand the group dynamic tenfold more because of it?  Whedon and Penn turned colorful comic book panes into real characters with human emotions and earthly personas.  Time and patience is required to nurture creativity, and this script birthed full-fledged characterizations.  It was foolish to believe as soon as film started we would witness the Avengers assemble immediately.  Only those with unrealistic expectations will be let down by Marvel’s supergroup adaptation.

Like every good first Marvel film in a franchise, words cannot describe how overly stoked I am for The Avengers 2.  My mind races feverishly going through the catalogue of unmentioned heroes and villains who can possibly star or cameo in the sequel, one of which we already know (STAY DURING THE CREDITS).  Whedon himself throws little hints to missing Avenger members, which makes a great drinking game if you can sneak in a flask of [insert favorite alcoholic beverage] into your local theater.  One I’ll give away for those of you hidden under a rock oblivious to Marvel movie news: Ant Man.  But not just Ant Man.  An Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz/Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) Ant Man I can only pray is played by Simon Pegg or Nathan Fillion.  The Avengers endurance test first half sets itself up for glory, and our heroes drive home a phenomenal second half performance sealing some awe-inspiring moments.  Joss Whedon has taken the Marvel formula and injected it with Super Soldier Serum, exposed it to massive doses of gamma rays, and harnessed the almighty God of Thunder’s power to bring us a comic book film not fit for this puny world.  But one question: who cleans up a rubble filled New York City with dead alien creatures laying across skyscrapers?  Not it!

Final Rating: 8.5 destroyed landmarks out of 10

And Nick Fury is still my favorite character….the man with the plan…


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Dark Shadows

Director: Tim Burton

Notable Cast: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Bella Heathcote, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee

Rating: PG-13

Review:  Remember when Tim Burton’s name used to mean something come opening day for a film?  Sure, his box office numbers still reach inflated levels of accomplishment, but the quality of his films continue justifying those numbers less and less.  Dark Shadows only furthers that trend, as Burton dusts off Dan Curtis’ gothic vampire tale which was televised from 1967 – 1971, and spins his iconic pseudo-creepy/quirky charm around another misguided tale.  Pick comedy or drama Tim; what’s the point of incorporating both when you can’t pull either off?  Dark Shadows was a bi-polar failure on all accounts, momentarily delivering bouts of sympathetic laughter accompanied by unenchanted storytelling worthy of no excitement.  I know Burton has enough talent to build darkness into a fun story, displayed by my recent re-viewing of Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, but Dark Shadows was a fluffy vampire story too comfortable basking in deadly sunlight.  And yes, maybe it was supposed to be mainly comedic after all?  But if that was the case, the non-existence of any uproarious laughter, belly laughs, chuckles, or even a snide smirk should be a proper example of just how funny Seth Grahame-Smith’s story turned out.  Sure, there were a few flamboyant successes considering production on Burton’s lackluster reboot, but those could be forgotten by glaring downfalls.  Downfalls so bright, Dark Shadows should be burned to a crisp instantaneously once that first problematic beam scorches its pasty white skin.  Back to the shadows where you belong!

For those old enough to be familiar with Curtis’ after school TV show, you know the characters already.  But for those who don’t, Dark Shadows centers around a vampire named Barnabas Collins (Depp) who is freed from his prison grave to restore the Collins family name.  Why is he a vampire you may ask?  In 1752, the Collins family sailed to Maine in hopes of developing a brand new fishing industry.  Two decades later, the family was renown around the town of Collinsport (a town named after themselves) and resided atop a mountain overlooking the city which sported their lavish mansion.  Barnabas wins over the affection of a servant named Angelique (Green), but breaks her heart when he denies his reciprocal love.  Angelique turns out to be a witch, kills his parents, kills his true love Josette (Heathcote), curses Barnabas into an undead vampire life, and has him locked in a coffin buried deep in the woods.  Skip ahead to 1972, and Barnabas is released.  Returning home, he’s greeted by show runner Elizabeth Collins (Pfeiffer) who exclaims the family status is in ruins after new fishing company Angel Bay stole all profits.  Barnabas promises to return the Collins family to glory once again, but complications arise when Angelique shows herself as the owner of Angel Bay, putting Barnabas in a sticky situation.  Armed with his Victorian sensibilities and knowledge gap of about 200 years, Barnabas teaches the new Collins’ some old tricks while learning how to adapt in a brand new society.  A vampire, running a fishing company?  Isn’t that crazy?!

Oh look, Johnny Depp is playing an eccentric gentleman with a British accent.  Really expanding his horizons…at least he’s a vampire this time?

Dark Shadows was a dreadful waste of time in the story department, filled with characters and events that didn’t add up to shite.  Jonny Lee Miller plays quite the fantastic scumbag when given the chance, but Smith’s script never gives Roger Collins the proper time to transform into an opposing force for Barnabas while story lines so desperately hinted at the notion.  In the blink of an eye Miller’s character is whisked away, puzzling audience members why the blonde womanizer even had to exist at all.  Roger’s subtraction from Collinsport would have meant zero major changes concerning Dark Shadows, portraying one of the many faults script wise.  Another example points to Helena Bonham Carter’s characterization of Dr. Julia Hoffman, the psychiatrist obsessed with Barnabas.  Her alcoholism comedy was stale, her story arc was obvious, and all other interactions were useless.  Her actions had no major implications story wise, making the doctor forgettable…plain and simple.  Depp does nothing to surprise at this point either, bringing all too familiar antics to his vampire Barnabas.  Johnny Depp as a vampire, need I say more?  Yet delivery and century gap jokes run old rather quick as Barnabas reacts to modern technology using primitive explanation.  Why doth thou runnest said joke directly penetrating soft soil betwixt thou’s toes?  Depp charms and dazzles as always, but this time with a little more blood sucking introduced.

But, alas there are positives to be found.  Set design blew me away as always with Burton, capturing old-time architecture erected via Collinwood Manor.  Every little lavish detail and elegant intricacy brought life to the gloomy manor, at least giving viewers something fancy to gander upon.  Costume and makeup also get their own kudos for transporting us effortlessly to both the 1700s and the 1970s, fitting characters like Barnabas down to the smallest detail in prime period wear.  Colors popped vibrantly off the big screen, from Dr. Hoffman’s hair to squirting red blood.  On a scale rating presentation quality of terrible films, lets just say King Midas himself couldn’t have pushed out a prettier turd.  And oh yeah, costumes on Eva Green fit just perfectly…just another pat on the back to our Hollywood tailors.

I barely laughed, I didn’t cry…I didn’t feel much at all honestly after Dark Shadows ended.  Frankly, Burton gave us a reboot no one was particularly asking for.  In doing so, he proved exactly WHY no one clamored for a new Dark Shadows except for the 50-60 year old vampire enthusiasts petitioning on this blasted contraption called the interwebs.  Alice Cooper is how old?  And his appearance still managed to outshine any other scenes tremendously.  There’s something to be said when a film contains the likes of Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, and Chloe Grace Moretz; yet none are mentioned character wise my entire review.  Dark Shadows should be damned to another 200 year imprisonment without trial, protecting generations to come from convoluted genre mashing and ineffective horror.  Oh, and with the ending in mind, so help me if a Dark Shadows 2 emerges from blackness.  I’m more terrified more at that prospect than I was during all hour and a half worth of movie.  The horrors, the horrors….

Final Rating: 4.5 cheeky vampires out of 10

I would go Vamp for that…


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Asylum Blackout

Director: Alexandre Courtés

Notable Cast: Rupert Evans, Richard Brake, Dave Legeno, Kenny Doughty, Anna Skellern, Joseph Kennedy, Marcus Garvey

Rating: R

Review:  Generating proper scares is a funny concept.  Horror movies often try to build the gnarliest creature from scratch in hopes of rattling us to our core, including as many sharp teeth, horns, weapons, and scars as creatively possible.  Leatherface, Freddy, Michael, Jason, Chucky, and etcetera were all created to play off of our fears in some way or another.  Asylum Blackout does none of that, yet finds terror right in our own world.  Realistic terror fathomable in everyday life, not conjured by imagination.  Now that, that right there is what chills me to the core.  Being locked in an asylum for the criminally insane without any electricity or technology?  Yeah, I’d be horrified to find myself in that position.  To me Courtés’ film suffers from a crisis of identity though, as Asylum Blackout bounces around from psychological thriller to campy horror to brutal French gorefest.  All that misidentification, and Courtés then tries to baffle us with a curveball ending.  That aspect I will deal with later, as I wish my own freak power outage (minus the enraged patients) stopped the film about 5 minutes before Asylum Blackout‘s big finale.  Seems like writer S. Craig Zahler bit off more than he could chew with his “cooks caught in controversy” script, getting too involved with the potatoes instead of the meat.  Accentuate the main course Alexandre Courtés and S. Craig Zahler, because the quality of complimentary material will be forgotten instantly.

Stuck working in the kitchen of an outdated mental institution, George (Evans) supports his dream of rock stardom by making a minuscule wage serving meals to the mentally deranged.  After convincing his bandmates to make a few bucks with him, the situation goes horribly awry.  During a brutal storm the power goes out across the whole institution, letting free hundreds of unstable inhabitants to roam the asylum with full freedom.  The patients outnumber the guards to a massive degree and take control, leaving George and his fellow cooks to fend for themselves.  Unpredictable danger lurks around every dimly lit corner, as our group navigates through the dark in hopes help will offer some relief.  Unfortunately, the patients seem to have other plans for the survivors, carrying out a feeble plan unbeknownst to anyone else.  A fight for their lives, but will this blackout prevent our character’s own lights from ever flicking back on?

Everyone has to wear uniforms except the Nirvana wanna-bes?

Asylum Blackout‘s concept drew me in like a moth to light, intrigued how Zahler would characterize the patients.  Films tend to paint such characters as either hidden geniuses much smarter than they’re treated, or complete mental cases worthy of their lockup.  For me, I love seeing the patients for how blatantly out of touch with reality they are because of how terrifying that makes the situation.  In terms of horror, even the most menacing killer can be talked to and reasoned with via conversation.  There is still that cognitive ability present in the character who can rationalize and reason, given most times a slasher killer ignores these basic instincts.  For this reason, having a slew of people in the form of obstacles who aren’t capable of controlling their actions seems especially horrific.  At least you know when you see Jason Vorhees walking towards you, chances are you’re machete f*cked.  In Asylum Blackout, George sees patients that are both threats and harmless roaming about.  But how are you supposed to differentiate danger from the guy running around naked to the guy sitting quietly in the corner ready to slit your throat?  That to me is exactly where the terror lies, in the realm of “not knowing.”  How do you defend against a foe who can’t even predict their own next move?  At any single point even a “friendly” patient could suffer a moment of clouded judgement, lashing out with violent brutality.  Such a scenario not only creates complications for George’s crew, but moral quandaries as well while you try to rationalize hurting another living being who doesn’t have the power to process what they are doing is wrong.  That brain tickling view brought Asylum Blackout to another level in terms of conceptual horror, yet story wise we never quite emerge from the dark.

Asylum Blackout derails in the final minutes, after building a somewhat gripping climax with tons of noteworthy gore.  Sure, there are bumps along the road, but nothing as horrendous as Zahler’s head scratching conclusion.  While understandable, rapid delivery and choppy pacing of the final reveal completely miss the thrilling psychological aspect trying to be achieved.  Courtés gets lost in the complexity and too enamored with trying to blind his viewers using brilliance.  Instead, what should have been a fairly straight forward ending with a nod deserving twist becomes a mess of trying too hard and doing too much, none of which translates into conscious cinema.  If you haven’t seen the film yet, I won’t let any details slip, but be warned frustration will triumph in the last minutes.  Simple horror isn’t something to avoid and not every film needs to poke around our cranium, Asylum Blackout being one of those films that would have held out on its own being just a movie about some trapped chefs.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Keeping with the cooking metaphors, think of Asylum Blackout as a steak dinner.  Something so simple to make and always pleases.  Now, you can toy around with different rubs and herbs to enhance the steak’s flavor, but sometimes the extra ingredients kill the indented end result.  Apricot flavored barbecue sauce?  Ew.  Sure, you power through as the steak is still delicious, but the addition of unwanted flavors leaves a bitter aftertaste and hampers the steak’s true substance.  Asylum Blackout is the steak, and Zahler’s ending is the Apricot barbecue sauce.  Some kick-ass gore and funnier out-of-place moments make the film a fun watch along with a raw, paranoid atmosphere, so not all is lost in the final debacle.  But if you’re looking for a hidden gem, Asylum Blackout ambitiously falls into the mundane classification of “passable.”

Final Rating: 6.5 psychotic patients out of 10

And the award for Most Outdated Headphones goes to….


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Director: Colm McCarthy

Notable Cast: James Nesbitt, Kate Dickie, Ciarán McMenamin, Hannah Stanbridge, Niall Bruton, James Cosmo

Rating: R

Review:  Bloody Disgusting Selects takes us ‘cross the pond this time for a gritty supernatural thriller located amongst the slums of Scotland.  Ingenuity and creativity yet again reign supreme in Colm McCarthy’s tale of witchcraft and monsters, keeping with BD Select’s so far notoriously ambitious film selection.  Filled with highs and lows, Outcast both underwhelms and excites with rampant brutality splattered in between droll mystical plot points.  In terms of horror, McCarthy does bring a veracious beast to haunt viewers, mixing werewolf and deformed human into one ghastly creature worth mentioning to your genre loving fans.  But, ambition rarely comes without flaws, and Outcast by no means passes as unbeatable.  Even with all the hoodoo-voodoo boogeyman shadow haunting, Outcast remains rather predictable for a movie full of crazy rituals and conjured spells.  Scotland looks like a scary enough place filled with pushy real estate agents, dilapidated housing, and thuggish locals; but the addition of werebeasts delights on a lower level than expected.  Hunt or be hunted in this mystical thriller, but avoid setting off the wrong person; they might just be hiding a dark deadly secret.

In Outcast, mother and son Mary (Dickie) and Fergal (Bruton) belong to an ancient Celtic race fueled by magic.  Fergal is a unique boy, possessing an inner beast only set off by heightened fear or excitement.  For this reason Fergal spends most of his time around their new flat, avoiding contact with others and potential outbreaks of werewolf-itis.  So, of course new neighbor Petronella (Stanbridge) takes a liking to the young boy, and unknowingly instigates betraying his mother’s rules and risking unleashing Fergal’s secret.  The family’s special past comes with a consequence though, as others hunt their kind using counter spells in order to compete.  In this particular instance, Mary and Fergal are currently running from a man named Cathal (Nesbitt) who has been given powers comparable to Fergal’s.  If he can kill be boy by a certain time, Cathal receives great strength.  If not, he is stuck with only his weak mortal form.  Oh yeah, to thicken the plot, Cathal is Mary’s former lover.  And you thought your family had issues?  Thus sets off a violent struggle in this now poor Edinburgh arena, as innocent townsfolk start ending up dead.  But is it Fergal or Cathal doing the killing?  And can Cathal complete his wicked deed?

So many facial close-ups in this film…

As per the usual foreign horror flick, Colm doesn’t skip a beat with inclusion of all genre normalities.  Random rituals that obviously involve meaningless nudity?  Check.  Rough, almost indistinguishable dialects for us Americans to spin our heads around?  Check.  Bloody entrails stringing from unsuspecting youths?  Check.  And I mean none of that in a sarcastic way, but in a genuinely checklist fulfilling type of way.  I don’t mind the accents or seemingly forced craziness because that’s why I watch the genre and I know what to expect.  The quick talking Scotties make the film feel precise in attention to detail, keeping the atmosphere and locale factual…not to mention holding on to local charm.  As in Attack the Block, I’ll take geographic slang over American accents or subtitles any day.  Also relating to my comment on the French film The Pack, Colm and Tom McCarthy’s script strays from just being another werewolf slasher film with little explanation.  And I use the term werewolf loosely here as the creature generated is much less hairy and looks like a slimy rat almost, but for all intents and purposes the closest related horror movie monster is the werewolf.  But by introducing this whole back story of gypsies granting Cathal the power for a short period by painfully tattooing markings on his back in preparation for the hunt, it gives both creatures a rhyme and reason for inhabiting that tiny town and gives meaning to the inevitable slayings.  Coming from a lover of horror, it’s much more fun when an actual story with deadly implications is penned instead of unleashing a creature at random.

But with that said, I’m not sure all the Celtic back culture and spell casting was majorly interesting for the full duration of Outcast.  Just as Colm followed horror’s golden rules, he also falls prey to clichéd filmmaking just like almost every other director.  Cathal is supposed to possess the power of transformation and is shown doing so every night while he tears about locals for pleasure, yet when he reaches the point of killing off Fergal…he stays human?  Fully knowing the monster he can possibly face, he stays in his fragile fleshy form?  Fail on the prospect of some werebeast on werebeast cage match action.  And while heartfelt, the ending can also be predicted a mile away, but honestly had less of a negative effect based on the relationship built between both characters involved.  I wasn’t lost on fantastical intricacies or bored to tears by any means, but I couldn’t get past some of the more situation permitting instances only occurring so Fergal could escape or someone could die.  In this respect, Outcast is just more typical horror, all be it with a fairy tale twist.

So, in conclusion, it has to suck to be Fergal.  Imagine if every time you tried to get some, an inner beast was unleashed hell-bent on killing everyone around it?  Awkward for you, might scare off your partner, but talk about a mood killer?  As far as horror fans looking for some extra spice in their typically bland broth, Outcast may just be that secret ingredient you’re looking for.  At the least, it’s something different.  Just know Outcast is a regional horror submission, so be ready for a Scottish overload.  For me, I wasn’t overwhelmed by beauty or originality, but a decent one-off genre watch none the less.  I’ll certainly keep going with Bloody Disgusting Selects as I love the direction a film like Outcast takes, and hope for only more insanity from here.

Final Rating: 6.5 lonely nights out of 10

We get it, people have faces…


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The Moth Diaries

Director: Mary Harron

Notable Cast: Lily Cole, Sarah Bolger, Scott Speedman, Sarah Gadon, Valerie Tian

Rating: R

Review: Me thinks I wasn’t the target demographic Mary Harron (American Psycho) had in mind when she adapted Rachel Klein’s spooky novel for the big screen. Sure, a vampire tale taking place at a hopefully sexy all girl’s boarding school sounded promising, but The Moth Diaries was deceiving childish. Using some cheeky meta (self-aware) film tactics, an English teacher at the school reveals all vampire stories involve blood, sex, and death. Right, a good vampire film possesses all of these and I agree. So how does Harron stack up against her own head nod? Blood: yes, there is briefly blood. But it’s a tale wanting to be considered horror, and only one scene actually uses a proper amount. Sex: eh, it’s pretty awkward and weird. No sultry blood sucking seductresses lurking amongst these shadows. Death: people die, but we never see it. We get the character that happens to stumble upon a corpse already slain, skipping the interesting part. So, by horror standards, The Moth Diaries fails miserably on all accounts. Five minutes worth of horrific elements doesn’t even satiate the most tame genre hunger, as we’re forced to sit through some Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants type best friend chick flick extravaganza roller coaster the other 75 minutes. Again, 23-year-old male horror enthusiast…probably not the demo The Moth Diaries was made for. People praise Rachel Klein’s original literature, so I hope the all too common case of “writing trumps adaptation” yet again became reality, but I’m rating the film alone. Sorry. Innocent tweens looking for a safe movie which can also let them brag about making it through an entire horror film will love The Moth Diaries piggy backing off Twilight’s success, but for the rest of us movie goers out there: Just Say No. Like a moth drawn to light for no rational reason, don’t fall prey to The Moth Diaries’ immaturity zapper. Let a younger audience suffer through this one, maybe finding relatable intrigue in juvenile tendencies and teenage induced female moments. Um, what was I thinking?

Rebecca (Bolger) attends a prestigious single sex boarding school where she has close friends and an escape from her troubled past. Only a few years ago Rebecca’s famous writer father committed suicide, but she uses friendship to combat the depressing memories. Roommate and best friend Lucy (Gadon) makes her happiest, as the two are an inseparable pair. That is until new student Ernessa (Cole) shows up to school, taking a fancy to Lucy. As time wears on Lucy becomes more distant with Rebecca and increasingly attached to Ernessa, but also becomes increasingly sicker. Rebecca starts to notice strange smells and bizarre behavior shortly after Ernessa arrives, and her suspicions start kicking. Convinced Ernessa is some sort of vampire draining the life out of Lucy, Rebecca starts snooping around campus for clues. But will her curiosity come with a price as she uncovers hidden secrets from Ernessa’s past? Or is Rebecca simply concocting this crazy scenario to deal with her own lingering emotional problems?

*Cue random chick pop rock anthem that doesn’t fit any of the actions on the video game…*

Watching The Moth Diaries becomes reminiscent of sitting through some Disney channel best friends forever forced emotional bliss with overly peppy teens having way too much fun doing mundane activities. The aura of perfection before Ernessa arrives is disgustingly magical and disturbingly Hollywood, deploying an overload of forced smiles and batting eyelashes. But when Ernessa arrives, horror still fails to kick in. Another girl is introduced into the fold and group dynamics change, but at no point was I overwhelmed with ghoulish notion thought to come along with a prospective vampire floor mate. And our actresses don’t do much to help generate tension either. All relationships and interactions feel tremendously forced and lacking realism, almost like some of the girls were reading right off of a script. A bad after school special script for that matter. In no way am I saying the actresses are unwatchable generally, but Harron’s movement of story never really evolves in real-time, forcing our actresses to feel like puppets acting frame by frame. Angry one scene, relaxed the next…The Moth Diaries plays more as inconsistent parts instead of a whole.

Mystery shrouds The Moth Diaries as Harron doesn’t want you to understand whether Rebecca envisions Ernessa’s other worldly tendencies or if in fact Ernessa has returned for some dark reason. Everything points to Ernessa being evil, and Harron offers no other explanation or logic to suggest otherwise as a film like Fight Club delivers. The Moth Diaries wraps up exactly as it starts in that same cloud of confusion created by Ernessa’s arrival, while Rebecca stares blankly out of a car window. Funny, I was making that same blank face right back as a mirror image when I realized Harron was going to leave me in the dark, all alone, with just my frustrated and fed up thoughts. Ernessa’s chilling back story wasn’t engaging enough to keep audiences interested to begin with, so offering no relief enraged wasted brain power put into possibly expecting a much grander twist. Is Ernessa something special? Is Rebecca insane? Is almost every girl at that school a lesbian or was that just me? SOMEONE NEEDS TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS BEGGING CLOSURE. Looks like nothing but wishful thinking.

But Natobomb, Harron didn’t want focus to be put on vampires! Rebecca’s journey was supposed to hold weight and expose the mind of a child dealing with much deeper inner issues! What did you expect?! We’ll, obviously tons more cinematically. What could have saved The Moth Diaries? Cutting out the nudity and dialing down the minimal cursing, becoming openly accessible to audiences more fitting the material. Harron’s vessel is built not for more mature audiences, better suiting Twi-hards and diary-writing-Beiber-loving-Team-Jacob-worshipping school girls. Like a little Nancy Drew story with a tad bit more violence, all horror fans should heed my warning. The Moth Diaries barely can be considered horror if at all, existing more as a dramatic ghost story, and will fool numerous genre fans. Hell, I was fooled into watching. And who’s laughing now? Certainly not me…

Final Rating: 3.5 pesky moths out of 10

And OK, seriously, those nightgowns in today’s world? I can take vampires…but those hideous things?? You lost me.


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NNWIJ: High Road (2012)

Director: Matt Walsh

Notable Cast: James Pumphrey, Abby Elliot, Dylan O’Brien, Rob Riggle, Joe Lo Truglio, Ed Helms, Rich Fulcher, Lizzy Caplan

Rating: R

Review: A stoner comedy short on the stoner?  Yes, Matt Walsh’s pot comedy isn’t a bunch of giggly teens high on reefer as the poster would lead you to believe, but instead a journey of self discovery for two young men who happen to be connected by a common stanky bond.  Director Matt Walsh is most known for his work with the improv group Upright Citizen’s Brigade, their numerous collaborative efforts, and bit parts in films like Old School and Semi-Pro; but High Road marks Matt’s big screen directorial debut.  Main character Fitz (Pumphrey) loves three things in life: his band T.O.R.E.A.G.L.E, his girlfriend Monica (Elliot), and weed.  So when the Eagle’s days are up, Fitz turns to pot dealing for a career.  Through his work, Fitz befriends a high school student named Jimmy (O’Brien) who would rather hang out with the dead head than deal with a father struggling to connect and a mother no longer in the picture.  But when a client is busted with a large amount of Fitz’s drugs, paranoia kicks in and he decides to flee the area.  Heading to Oakland where his estranged father is located, Fitz plans to lay low and disappear from the grid.  All that goes to hell when Jimmy tags along though, and his father James (Riggle) hunts the two for fear Jimmy has been kidnapped.  Admittance, shenanigans, realizations, and lessons are all encountered along the road, which might be exactly what Fitz needs.  And viewers as well.  High Road starts out fairly slow, missing laughs and introducing repeatedly used “slacker with no motivation” character arcs.  All seems pretty cut and dry in Walsh’s freshman effort at first glance.  But then the likes of Riggle, Helms, and Lo Truglio appear which elevates comedy levels and introduces more familiar faces into the mix.  Each actor has hilarious stand out moments, but more importantly never overshadow Fitz’s quest.  These three superheroes not only help their own credibility either, also cranking up High Road entirely.  Fitz’s relationship with Jimmy suddenly becomes more engaging, other side characters become even funnier, and the story flows with a more sincere approach upon their introduction.  Thumbs up for casting.  Another major plus for this indie sleeper highlighted a script not falling into the trap of moronic pot humor ala Harold and Kumar 2, keeping High Road‘s heart in the right place.  Fitz’s soul-searching agenda gave actor James Pumphrey the freedom to toy with both gags and moments of true emotion, which were both achieved adequately.  But not all impressed based on the improv background of those involved.  Some banter and ramblings came off too hard as filler, merely to waste time on-screen and act as bumbling segways, or missed the mark completely.  Moments like this distract and annoy, but are counterbalanced by actual laughs and well executed one liners which save some face.  High Road was made with the best intentions, and squeaks out with enough enjoyment for a recommendation.  Did I love it?  No.  Did I like it?  Most definitely.  Is it worth the Netflix watch?  You could do a LOT worse.

Netflix Rating: 3/5

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NNWIJ: Undocumented

Director: Chris Peckover

Notable Cast: Scott Mechlowicz, Alona Tal, Yancey Arias, Greg Serano, Kevin Weisman, Peter Stormare

Rating: R

Review:  “This definitely isn’t where I parked my car…”  Scotty from EuroTrip sure has himself in quite the pickle this time.  Established like a political Saw, Undocumented takes Machete‘s anti illegal immigrant satire into much darker territory.  Circling around a group of grad students shooting their senior thesis film, the plan was to cross into America covertly while accompanying producer Davie’s (Serano) Mexican family and documenting the journey.  In mid travel, a group of right-wing “uber-patriots” take the true Americans hostage along with the now illegal U.S. citizens.  Locked away in a heavily guarded compound by the radical militants, head show runner Z (Stormare) agrees to let the students go as long as they film his band of psychopaths explaining their purpose while demonstrating their work.  Propganda for recruiting if you will.  Director Travis (Mechlowicz) has to keep his crew on point if they are to walk out alive, watching helplessly as innocent Mexicans are slain merely for wanting a better life.  The debate rages on whether illegals should be punished and how severely (see Arizona), but Undocumented takes lingering conservative feelings to Hollywood extremes.  Peckover mixes some first person documentary style footage with normal fly on the wall third person views, creating an intense third act as the handheld cameras are dropped by our characters and drama mounts.  Honestly I was expecting the film to fade out and finishing up with a written explanation scrolling the screen, but instead the film kicks back with normal cinematography and wraps the remaining student’s journey up without loose ends.  Villain Z had a familiar tone all film and given his masked face I was forced to guess his true identity, but of course Peter Stormare was my first and correct assumption.  The crazy Swede knows his way around mentally unstable foreign maniacs, and now he can add deranged American to his resume of evil, delivering as usual.  Undocumented won’t be solving any debate on controlling the border though, as emphasis here lays more with torture than reason.  Hard to accept people like Z could exist in reality, but then again it’s hard to believe Charlie Manson or John Wayne Gacy existed as well.  Can we really write off the fact in some extremist circumstances irrational modern-day Minute Men can’t lose their cool and take their job to a new level?  Believe that and Undocumented becomes more of a warning.  But accept the film for horror exploitation under drastic circumstances, and Undocumented is pretty run of the mill.  My biggest gripe was with character thought processes, writing arcs for characters completely ignoring already built personalities.  Not sure about you but if a man with a gun who I’ve watched kill someone already gives me orders with the prospect of life as a result, my ears are wide open.  Sure, argue he’ll lie and you’re dead already, but is there any escape from what is essentially a heavily guarded prison run by lunatics?  A rare case where playing it safe seems most logical, our characters did everything but.  Flawed script mentality doesn’t exactly kill this controversial thriller, but one by one these kids certainly don’t help their situation.  Undocumented ends up being interesting and different, yet nothing calling for elated praise.  Build a wall to keep out or let it walk freely in, won’t make a difference for most.  With peaked interest though, Undocumented could provide a solid change of pace.  Your choice!

Netflix Rating: 3/5

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The Cabin In The Woods

Director: Drew Goddard

Notable Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White

Rating: R

Review:  The Cabin In The Woods: a true survivor.   Whedon and Goddard’s behemoth horror masterpiece waited out a 2 year shelving (bankruptcy and studio issues), avoided greedy suggestions of post 3D conversions, garnered massive audience acceptance…and even slayed a large majority critics?!  Hold the phone.  Do we finally have a true horror film both hard-nosed journalists and elitist fanboys can agree on?  Can’t imagine all this hand holding and Kum Ba Yah singing will last, but for now: Oh yes, we do.  Every once in a while a special piece of heart pounding terror comes along that jolts the genre with invigorated creativity and terrifying elements, surpassing any and all expectations.  Last year Insidious surprised us all with a chilling haunted house type tale and was welcomed into mainstream horror success as a result.  The Cabin In The Woods makes Insidious bow down in worship, not worthy of how terrifically efficient Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s script rejuvenates a struggling genre after years of mindless cut and paste cash in flicks sandwiched between mounds of remakes.  In the pitch black forest of unwatchable and laughable horror films, this tiny cabin shines bright as a glimmering beacon of hope for those who need it most: us.  Belief that there are still bright and original ideas floating around the genre can still be grasped with a shred of positivity, as we’re shown yet again what passion can mean for a film.  The Cabin In The Woods could only be achieved by people actually wanting due justice for their epic brainchild, not budging otherwise.  Good old’ fashion slasher horror splatters victims on the walls and evokes nostalgic moments from horror’s glory years, getting back to the scary story format instead of newfangled torture horror situations that have ruled since Saw‘s emergence.   But to call The Cabin In The Woods a traditional slasher…no, I must not divulge any secrets.  Don’t ruin your viewing with spoilers or research; just trust my enthusiastic adoration for all things Cabin.

Excited by the prospect of a weekend lakeside getaway, five friends escape to a secluded cabin in some very ominous woods.  In true horror form, each character marks a cliché: Dana (Connolly) the innocent nerdy girl, Curt (Hemsworth) the jock, Jules (Hutchison) the slut, Marty (Kranz) the stoner, and Holden (Williams) the intellectual.  How typical. But this humble little abode holds a dark secret, as evil beings are unleashed on the relaxing vacation for mysterious reasons.  Some sort of corporation has the entire house rigged with cameras, overseeing the festivities as our characters fight for their lives.  Vague I know, but if I reveal any more you’ll kill me, so let’s leave it there…

“Are we all sharing the same bad feeling? ….Screw it let’s get drunk!”

I’ve never been able to rationalize any movie being viewed in theaters more than once due to crazy prices or annoying audience members, yet I would jump at the chance to pay top dollar for another go at The Cabin In The Woods.  Not one weakness comes to mind when scouring this cerebral delight for blemishes.  First off, Whedon and Goddard created a commentary on modern-day horror by poking fun at silly clichés like the gratuitous nudity and stereotypical horror movie character stereotypes, resulting in major bonus points from fanboys.  Cabin In The Woods doesn’t have an ego though and avoids being pretentious, because every observation is sadly correct.  The script also utilizes fantastic horror comedy paired with appropriately timed musical tunes to keep moods light and enjoyable, balancing out moments of fear with some serious belly laughs.  Well written situational comedy can make or break a horror film, and a character like Marty worked perfectly as comic relief instead of being a dumb druggie distraction.  But, with a confident attitude and stellar hilarity, surely the scares would suffer…No?  Wrong again.  Tension was palpable and jump scares were inserted cleverly, even when a scene seemed safe.  Nothing was cheap, every instance is thoroughly planned.  Oh, and don’t forget about the gore!  An almost record-breaking 200,000 gallons of fake blood drenched this tiny cabin, giving horror fans something to gush over without even mentioning the multiple Hollywood worthy killtacular deaths!  The Cabin In The Woods exists as the total package, the real deal, the bee’s knees, the top dog…you get my drift.  Not often, especially in the horror genre, does a film display such masterful building from the ground up, but nothing could be possible without such clever implementation behind it all.  A horror script so flawless is the equivalent of seeing a leprechaun riding a unicorn,  which is just as enjoyably awesome (I’d assume?).  You think you’re getting some cheesy teen slasher knock off, but such an assumption doesn’t even scratch the surface of this screaming good time…

I’ll admit, Cabin is granted unfair playing grounds being given a proper budget.  Quality suffers not from poor acting, minimal set designs, and unfathomable CGI work which plagues other horror entries.  Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford were huge contributors to the overall comedy, as their characters had to find joy participating in morbidly revolting careers yet approach every second with chipper attitudes.  You might also recognize Chris Hemsworth appearing before the popularity of The Almighty Thor, proving star power speaks greater volumes in horror than any other genre.  If we aren’t laughing through important points as a result of proper rubbish acting, we can actually soak in the worth while segments.  Fran Kranz won me over as his portrayal of burn out Marty, whom I loved to death as a character every step of the way.  Paranoid and baked out of his mind, his opinion always drew a laugh and watching him react to spookier events under his clouded influence was genius.  Rivaling Jenkins and Whitford, Kranz pulls a heavy load for The Cabin In The Woods.

Just like last year, it’s rather sad knowing you’ve hit the peak of a genre so early. I can’t possibly imagine the luck of a rival film crafted equally complete, challenging now alpha male Cabin for dominance in 2012.  But, at least Cabin was finally released at all, so I thank the horror gods gathered deeply in the bowels of hell for their fiendish blessing.  The Cabin In The Woods is my Holy Grail of contemporary horror, a savior so enlightened all must respect the honest beauty those lucky enough to view are graced with.  We are not worthy to bask in such visionary ideas!  Faith is once again restored in a genre so unforgiving, mustering enough energy to make it through another year inevitably ending in low-budget exhaustion and shattered dreams.  Well, until the DVD release that is, in which case I can pop in one of the best horror films I’ve seen in years to replenish my will.  Screw it, I’m buying another ticket right now.  I’m not waiting that long for another watch.  And it kills me to end a review so vague still, but for the sake of general curiosity this write up has been kept spoiler free for the greater good.  Look for a revisitation in the near future when an acceptable amount of time passes.  Why?  Because Cabin deserves every single little delicious morsel of dissected praise, and by God I’ll give it.

Final Rating: 9.5 nightmare creatures out of 10

Take the opportunity for a Huff, Puff, and Blow something down joke Nato…give in to the dark side…


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