After “Batman and Harley Quinn,” the cinematic adaptation of “Gotham By Gaslight” feels like a breath of fresh air. It brought me back to the time when Batman animation was mature and accessible, and we got entertainment like “Mask of the Phantasm” and “Return of the Joker.” Warner follows up with the aforementioned horrendous DC team up movie with what is a charming, creepy, and wholly creative twist on the Jack the Ripper legend that ponders on what would have happened if he and Batman were foes during the time he wrought havoc in the 1880’s.
2017’s been the year of Stephen King, and it’s been a great bit of fortune that fans have been given mostly great cinematic adaptations of his work. “1922” is a deliberately paced and ingeniously calculated drama that hearkens back to the classic Victorian era murder thrillers. King invokes the style of Edgar Allan Poe for “1922,” a Southern Gothic drama that’s heavily steeped in horror. While it’s been lumped in to the Stephen King horror category, “1922” is more an examination on the concept of greed, and how it can rot us from inside out. It’s more tragedy with a tinge of horror more than horror, despite how menacing director Zak Hilditch paints the twisted albeit beautiful aesthetic.
One of the highly anticipated releases of 2017, Synapse Films unleashed the new print of the rare horror comedy “Popcorn” for fans with a limited edition release. Months later, they allow fans another chance with a regular Blu-Ray and DVD editions of “Popcorn” with the same deluxe special features and treatment but none of the collector flavor. “Popcorn” is one of those horror comedies that deserve to be consumed by horror movie fans of all kinds, as it’s one of the cleverer meta-horror movies that satirized indie horror, while also delivering its own interesting slasher tale.
If the premise for “Happy Death Day” sounds eerily similar a certain Bill Murray comedy where a man has to re-live the same day over and over, it’s not you. “Happy Death Day” is unofficially a remake of said movie but with a murder mystery injected for good measure. The thing about “Happy Death Day” is that it knows it’s literally a redoing of “Groundhog Day.” Seriously, it literally stops to acknowledge the fact that we’re watching a modern re-imagining of a sort. Not that that hinders the experience of “Happy Death Day” thankfully. Through and through it’s mediocre, but it charms as an engaging coming of age romance painted in the shade of a horror comedy.
It’s a shame that people still think there’s some horror fodder to be mined from worry dolls, because so far I’m not seeing it. “The Devil’s Dolls” plays out like a gory TV movie, or an extended episode of some supernatural series. There are a lot of bland characters trying to stop what is a pretty convoluted and goofy plot device involving a murderer and evil dolls. Director Padraig Reynolds’ film isn’t a complete misfire as it achieves some level of eeriness in some instances. I really do like how our characters look when they’re possessed by evil worry dolls that turn them in to psychopathic maniacs, but that’s lost in a haze of pretty mediocre melodrama and a hazy sub-plot about voodoo.
Tilly (USA) (2016)
A child is scared of the monster in her bedroom and her father is trying to convince her there is nothing to be afraid of. He is very, very wrong. In director Robert Kotecki’s short film, things are not as they seem. He takes a simple premise and twists it a couple of times. The main twist, what makes it what it is and makes the story effective is actually unexpected and it creates an interesting story. The second twist woks as well, however the ending kind of breaks the film for this reviewer.
Post-graduation, a group of high school friends meet up at one of the guys’ father’s cabin in the woods. There they hang out, drink, argue, and play a game called Dead Body. As they start dying off one by one, they must figure out who is the real killer and try to survive. Directed by Bobbin Ramsey and written by Ian Bell and Ramon Isao, the film boasts nine teenage characters that are all fairly generic stereotypes of teenagers and how they should act. What makes the film interesting is not as much who they are or how they act but the whodunit angle to the story. Of course red herrings and false red herrings are thrown left and right from the beginning.
In a small town in the Deep South, a young local is killed along with a couple of young tourists. One of these tourists being a congressman’s daughter from out of state, the case is assigned to the F.B.I. who sends agents Vaughn Killinger and Sarah Desoto to investigate. As Killinger battles his demons and Desoto tries to keep things together, a tangled web of connections and secrets is unraveled. Writer/director Miles Doleac builds an effective suspense thriller murder mystery. The characters he creates are complex with no one being good or truly bad. His characters are very human with different flaws of varying gravity, none fully hate-able.