Ghost Stories (2017) [Blu-Ray]

I have to admit that “Ghost Stories” was something of a surprise this year, because I’m shocked so many people liked it, while I just didn’t. Surely, “Ghost Stories” is a beautifully directed film but it builds on a momentum that it can’t deliver. It seems to be leading up to one big bang, and in the end when that big bang finally arrives, it’s more like a trick gun with the flag that reads “Bam!” The message is also pretty heavy handed and feels tacked on. Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s “Ghost Stories” is a beautifully directed film with excellent cinematography, and brilliant sound design, it’s just all glimmer and no substance.

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Malevolent (2018)

Netflix’s penchant for premiering “original” movies on their platform is typically hit or miss, and I’m glad that “Malevolent” for the most part is a hit. It’s kind of taken a well worn premise but adds a bit of heart to it, thanks to the very good performances, and atmosphere. “Malevolent” has a very subtle sense of terror behind it, and while it does rely on jump scares every now and then, what keeps the film consistently creepy are the quieter moments, the instances when we’re never quite sure what’s going to pop up behind a door. Director Olaf de Fleur has every chance to fall in to the trap of delivering shock after shock, but “Malevolent” ends up as so much more.

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Our House (2018)

I’m always a sucker for a very good ghost movie, and “Our House” is not one of them. The problem with it is both narrative and tonal, where it’s much too melodramatic to invest in the horror elements, and too horror to appreciate it as a tale of a grieving family struggling to keep it together. What we’re left with is a pretty crummy, rather monotonous supernatural drama that we’ve seen a dozen times in the past. Anthony Scott Burns seems to be aiming for a genre entry in the vein of “We Are Still Here,” but it ends up feeling more like a tame sequel to “White Noise.”

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Ghost Stories (2018)

“And it was going so good too.” That’s my initial reaction to the third act of “Ghost Stories” which feels like one gigantic cop out of a finale. You can reason that the creators wanted to introduce these esoteric ideas that come colliding, but I felt like “Ghost Stories” just ran out of ideas and just stopped trying. I’m also not a fan of the underlying message about how lack of belief is linked to being some kind of bitter individual with a horrible life. Either way I imagine the finale to “Ghost Stories” will be a very polarizing element in the horror movie world in 2018. I think some horror fans will defend its radical approach while others will lambast it for trying way too hard. I’m in the latter category. I didn’t buy its self important morality play.

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Blood Child (2017) [Blood In The Snow 2017]

Following a miscarriage, a woman plays with forces she does not quite understand in her quest to have a child to love and care for.

Written and directed by Jennifer Phillips with story editor Emily Schooley, Blood Child is based on a true story, but how much of it is left here is not easily found with a quick Google search. Here the story is taken in a very supernatural way so the belief in whether or not it’s fully based on a true story will depend on the viewer’s level of belief in the supernatural. Nonetheless, the story is well written and takes the beliefs it plays with seriously while also adapting them to the screen. The characters feel like they are perhaps not developed at their best or the performances for them is what causes this lack of care for them from the viewer. The lead is interesting, but her husband comes off as unlikable, her best friend comes off bitchy, while the housekeeper comes off as a cliché complete with an accent that can only be fake (and if it is not, apologies to the actress).

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The Perfect Film to Watch on Halloween

Since we’re all slowly and inexorably heading into the last day of the month of October, I’ve gotten to thinking about the perfect film to watch on Halloween. The sort of film where, to properly experience it, you have to turn off all the lights in your living room and surround yourself with friends or family, put a huge bowl of freshly made popcorn on the table to get that smell of hot butter in the air, and then cower together to scream and laugh while lit only by the glow of the television. We’ve all done it at least once, and it’s always fun, but it can be unforgettable if you pick just the exact right thing to watch.

This, in turn, got me to thinking about John Carpenter. Because, as you all remember, he just happened to make a little obscure flick called “Halloween”. Which, coincidentally, is why my own personal recommendation for the perfect film to watch on Halloween is “The Fog.”

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Ghostbusters 2 (1989)

“Ghostbusters” was a superb one and done premise that worked because it had such regular men who were called in to confront some spectacular circumstances, and in the end have to figure out how to live in a reality where they’ve essentially proven the existence of the supernatural. It’s surprising that the follow up is so sub-par and often monotonous as it almost has nothing to do with the original concept. It kind of goes through the motions and doesn’t exactly know how to continue building on these originally complex and flawed individuals. They don’t evolve much at all from when we last saw them, and writer Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd seem to be painted in to a corner by devolving them and building them back up all over again.

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Hellboy Animated: Blood & Iron (2007)

“Blood & Iron” is a stellar sequel to the entertaining and raucous “Sword of Storms,” and it’s a yet another faithful adaptation that emphasizes the lore and world of the BPRD. The animated follow ups to the movie, set somewhere between the movies, have been worthy of the time spent with excellent animation, and a compelling narrative, overall. The idea bout the audience watching outcasts defend our Earth and realm is continuously fascinating, and the cast bring their A game.

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