Marcus McCollum’s horror drama is a film teeming with potential that never fully realizes it. Even with the somewhat tense finale, a lot of “Noise in the Middle” is mixed up, half baked ideas about mysticism, the supernatural, the afterlife and the toll that grief can have on us. It’s “The Shining” meets “The Babadook” without any of the heavy emotional weight or substance. The writers MCollum and Mark Conley throw so much in the air and none of it ever lands with considerable resonance.
While I wouldn’t peg the Mick Garris fueled “Nightmare Cinema” a horror masterpiece, I had a good time with the selection of horror stories, and loved how various storytellers in the film managed to go in completely different directions than I originally thought they would. Despite a shifty story frame, like most horror anthologies, “Nightmare Cinema” is a mixed bag of horror treats that will click with most lovers of the format, if only for its ambition and style.
When I was a kid, “Hello Mary Lou” was one of my all time favorite horror movies. It was a sequel to a film I didn’t see until many years later, and it was always presented in edited, cut for time versions on Channel 11 WPIX in New York, but I sure as hell loved it. It was just a wacky, occasionally creepy movie that was so much crazier than I originally thought it was. The only theme that “Prom Night II” has in common with the original slasher movie is the overtone of revenge from days past. That is about as far as it goes, as “Prom Night II” takes a massive departure from the original premise involving an axe murderer out for revenge stalking high schoolers leading in to a disco centric prom with Jamie Lee Curtis front and center.
Even as a fan of “The Conjuring” movie universe, I’ll admit that the movies within the line up of the Warrens’ saga have been a mixed bag. But the foot work and improvements they’ve made on the “Annabelle” saga has been pretty fantastic as the studio finally seems to have a firm grasp on why the character is so popular and why she poses such a threat to the Warrens within this movie universe. “Annabelle Comes Home” is an ultimate battle of good vs. evil, exploring how the fight against the paranormal begins and ends at the Warrens’ home base.
Proving once and for all that the “Conjuring” cinematic universe works so much better when New Line takes their time to offer something made with care rather than haste, “Annabelle Comes Home” is a third entry in to the spin off that delivers big time. 2014’s “Annabelle” is a distant memory now, as the series has managed to redeem the spin off transforming Annabelle the doll in to a worthwhile villain who brings only death and carnage where ever she is, and we never spend time trying to find out why. She’s merely an instrument for evil and that’s what helps “Annabelle Comes Home” as an entertaining monster movie about evil preying on the weak.
It’s stunning that there has never been much stride made in the realm of possession movies. It seems like “The Exorcist” was the beginning and end of the sub-genre, followed by decades of films that ranged from serviceable to downright abysmal. “Belzebuth” further proves that theory as it’s a middling horror thriller that’s densely packed, kind of confusing, and ironically manages to deliver some good scares from the real life atrocities it depicts rather than the images of demons, evil Jesus Christ, and exorcisms.
I’ve always been and will continue to be a staunch defender of John Carpenter. He’s one of my all time favorite filmmakers and even his weakest outputs have some great creativity to them. “Vampires” is fun in all its schlocky nonsense, and “Ghosts of Mars” is a fun remake of “Assault on Precinct 13” for a contemporary audience. Eighteen years later, “Ghosts of Mars” is fine C grade science fiction redeemed by Carpenter’s sharp direction, and the absolutely gorgeous Natasha Henstridge.