Melissa Joan Hart is really good casting as Sabrina, the young witch who discovers that she has magical powers on her sixteenth birthday. Hart was always able to convey the girl next door charm and otherworldly beauty well, and she is able to transform Sabrina in to an admirable silver screen heroine. Much like the comics that spawned her, Joan Hart plays Sabrina a transfer student from Massachusetts who goes to live with her aunts at Riverdale. She’s fairly new to her school and dreams of becoming one of the senior elite. On the day of her sixteenth birthday, she discovers that she comes from a long line of witches and that her aunts are her witch mentors.
I don’t know how they keep recruiting these Disney stars to headline the RL Stine movies. Disney always seems to have such a tight grasp on them. In either case, “Cabinet of Souls” is the very definition of an RL Stine story, except with a much longer format. It surely sports the same mold and aesthetic with a small town, teen protagonists, and evil villains that seek to ruin their innocence somehow. It stumbles on occasion, and there’s a clear lack of wit that you can usually find with Stine’s yarns, but it’s a pleasing movie; especially if you’re a fan of Dove Cameron, Katherine McNamara, or Ryan McCartan.
With Pixar’s “Monsters University,” the company has its heart in the right place once again, except it’s in a different spot this time around. With their prequel, Pixar creates a respectable and fun companion piece to “Monsters, Inc.” Pixar’s dabbling in to the ever heinous prequel works as a part of the mythology of Sullie and Mike Wazowksi and how they became companions. If Mike isn’t a scarer why does he work at Monsters, Inc? And how did Sullivan become such a great scarer? It’s because of the bond that the pair share; and the prequel gives us a wider back story on the core characters of the monsters series.
I hope Blumhouse and James Wan quit while they’re ahead because so far, “Insidious” has been a strong trilogy of horror films. While the first is still the best, “Chapter 3” is a strong follow up that succeeds in creating its own level of terror and suspense, while also giving us the origin of Elise and her team of Tucker and Specs. Most prequels don’t normally work, but “Chapter 3” does, mainly because it doesn’t rely too strongly on foreshadowing to the first film. It includes a wink and a nod every now and then, but they’re thankfully used in moderation and with clever effect.
I was perfectly happy to have “Insidious” end on the dark note that it did. I didn’t need any further emphases on what had occurred because it was very self explanatory. However, I’m glad that “Insidious Chapter 2” explains what occurred while also expanding on it, and building on that dark note to create an even darker note. “Chapter 2” doesn’t top the original, but in a Hollywood currently obsessed with trilogies, I’m thankful that “Chapter 2” feels more like an extension of the mythos rather than a cheap cash grab. Everything is essentially the same as we saw it from the first film with harsh tones of red and blue filling every crevice of the nightmarish world James Wan creates. We’re also able to dig deeper in to the Further to explore what lies within the darkness and how it can rot souls.
If you think there’s nothing else that can be done with ghost films, then you clearly haven’t seen “We Are Still Here.” Director Ted Geoghegan lends a flavor to the haunted house sub-genre that’s not only fresh, but feels nihilistic to boot. “We Are Still Here” is a successfully slow boil horror film that works within its limited scenery and provides a truly haunting ghost tale that works on so many levels. It’s creative, it’s creepy, and it opens up a vast world filled with a mythology that you want to see more of. When the credits rolled, I wanted to know more about the back story of the Dagmar house and what other victims it’d claimed before we met the Sacchettis.
If there’s one complaint I can lobby at “Under the Dark Wing” is that I really would have loved ten more minutes for exposition. Director Christopher DiNunzio unfolds an interesting story with considerable ambiguity that audiences might enjoy, but I think ten minutes more would have lent the film more dread. In either case, “Under the Dark Wing” is still an eerie and fascinating horror drama that focuses on dread placing it front and center.
There’s been rumors of a horror movie expendables in the works, and it’s one we hope will be so much better than the actual expendables movies. Since we loved the idea we thought it’d be a good idea to cast a team of horror heroes and anti-heroes we think would be best suited for a horror expendables team. We teamed up with Brian Pittman from Batman’s Got a Nosebleed to cast our own picks on who should be battling pure evil when no one else wants to step up.
I mean, picking your own squad of kick-ass horror characters to take on all comers? That’s something we can get behind whole-heartedly. But we weren’t ready for how genuinely hard this actually was. We have redone these lists several times because we kept feeling unsure of who should be on it. There are so many amazing horror heroes and heroines! And we’re picking six of them? Oy, this was a task we truly were never prepared for. But we did it, finding six characters a piece from horror who we think could stand up against pretty much anything. Well, maybe now Godzilla, but he’s not really horror. If he was horror, he’d be on the squad.
So, there they are, our squads of horror heroes to face on the throes of evil that may stalk their way. We’d trust them with our lives and we hope you dig our choices. Who would be in your Horror Expendables?
It’s pretty sad when you sit through a horror movie and the only thing you can take away is the delight of seeing another talented “Degrassi” alum taking on the horror genre. Chloe Rose was one of my favorite characters of the series, and its fun to see her tackling more complex material. “Hellions” is ultimately a mixed bag that presents brief glimmers of greatness, but constantly stumbles in to sheer mediocrity and incoherency. To make matters worse, the film ends without any real clarification of what we’d just seen. Bruce McDonald seems to be building up to something, but then just shuts the film down before we can make sense of anything we’d just seen.
For some people Halloween is a state of mind and not just a holiday. For the Counelis family, it’s a yearly ritual that begins in the middle of the year and ends when November finally rears its head. It’s refreshing to see a documentary that’s more grounded and down to Earth, and much like films like “American Scream,” Paul Counelis documents his family’s journey to build and construct a haunted house mainly because they want to give their neighbors some memories. Surely there’s a profit to be had by a haunted attraction, but that’s not what the holiday means to Paul Counelis and his large family.