VooDoo (2017)

Dani arrives in California to visit her cousin for a month and have some fun away from her worries and her past.  The two girls do fun tourist things and prank each other, until something goes wrong, very, very wrong.   As things go from bad to worse, the film explores voodoo, the supernatural, and hell, all through a found footage lens.  The story created by writer/director Tom Costabile has a lot of good ideas and some truly unnerving imagery and moments.  The opening with the voodoo curse being put into place goes from interesting to freaky fairly fast.  The film itself then takes a little bit to establish the two cousins and the other players around them (including an unnecessary but not annoying cameo by Ron Jeremy) until one pranks leads to all hell breaking loose.

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The Bornless Ones (2017)

No matter what you think of “The Evil Dead,” every indie filmmaker wants to have their own version of the Sam Raimi classic. At this point you could compile a sub-genre out of movies involving cabin in the woods demon movies. There was even an actual remake, foreign wannabes like the charming “Wither,” and yes, even a movie called “Cabin in the Woods.” Director Alexander Babaev really wants us to know that he was inspired by “The Evil Dead” and even works hard to convince us we’re watching a successor–sans the tree rape, of course. “The Evil Dead” still maintains its glossy appeal and inherent terror, while “The Bornless Ones” is merely a fine attempt with some admirable ambition behind it. The cabin in the woods this time preys on the weakness of the characters, exploiting their fears and insecurities, allowing them to possess them.

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Arbor Demon (2017)

Director Patrick Rea’s horror thriller “Arbor Demon” (Originally titled “Enclosure”) is a quite compelling and eerie tale of supernatural interference during what can usually be a tumultuous time. As per the usual with Patrick Rea, “Arbor Demon” is a much more human approach to the typical survival horror movie. His movie is set primarily within the closed in quarters of a tent in the deep woods. But he’s able to derive a lot of terror from the surroundings, and derives some great performances from his cast. In particular there’s Fiona Dourif who impresses once again in a role she dives in to and commands with a lot of pathos and charisma.

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Split (2017)

Guess who’s back? Back again? M. Night’s Back. Tell a Friend. After the absolutely raucous horror film that was “The Visit,” M. Night has returned once again to deliver another fine chiller. Rather than opting for simplicity again, “Split” is a much more abstract tale about childhood trauma, mental illness, and the power of belief that can power us in to manifesting elements within us we never knew existed. M. Night seems to have a great faith in the ability of the mind, and how it can overcome certain obstacles and evolve in to various forms greater than itself. Almost every movie from M. Night has been a study of the human mind in some form, and “Split” is no different.

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Don’t Knock Twice (2017)

A young mother who gave up her daughter up during a troubled period is trying to reconnect with her years later.  As they try to repair their estranged and strained relationship, they become plagued by the legendary Baba Yaga witch. Written by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler and directed by Caradog W. James, the film takes a folk tale that originated in Old Russia and brings it to the UK and modernizes it.  Together they create a horror film that will scare the uninitiated but may not do much for hardcore horror fans.  There are a few well directed and developed scares that should work for all however.  These happen in an environment built around the strained, but attempting to be rekindled, mother-daughter relationship.

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Poltergeist III (1988): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

Gary Sherman’s “Poltergeist III” is such a disappointing movie, and goes even further to stretch the mythology of the first film, so much so that I almost welcomed the loose spin off TV series from 1996. It’s very disheartening to see Carol Anne now under the care of her aunt and uncle in the big city, especially when the first and second “Poltergeist” films pushed the whole “Love” and “Family unity” themes on us so aggressively. Heather O’Rourke as Carol Anne has gone from side character to the principal heroine of the entire series, now living with her aunt and uncle in a very high class skyscraper and apartment building filled with mirrors. This, of course, allows Gary Sherman to concoct a lot of very surreal moments of horror here.

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Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

The original “Poltergeist” was like a fine tuned car that ran well and delivered all kinds of surprises. “Poltergeist II” is like an addition to said car, but it’s not a necessary addition and comes off kind of gaudy when you take a second look. It’s like someone added fins, stripes to what was an already great model in and of itself. The follow up to Tobe Hooper’s original is a childhood favorite of mine. It’s one I watched over and over on local television. While it may not make much sense as an extension of the first film, with a redundant premise, “The Other Side” is an okay sequel. That is, if you want to accept it as a sequel to the original film. It’s more an exploration of the spiritual world involved with the initial haunting from the first film, when all is said and done.

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The Neon Demon (2016)

Whether or not you like Nicholas Winding Refn, there’s no doubt that he makes art that gets people talking. Surely, his movies are hit or miss, but they are art that spawn emotions that not many directors can incite. Much like Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive,” Winding Refn’s newest masterpiece is a statement about the ills of fame and how Los Angeles can consume innocence and naiveté. Winding Refn makes a statement about how the modeling industry is literally cut throat, while seemingly drawing inspirations from films like “Suspiria.” The women here are assuredly predators intent on committing a devious scheme that revolves around the idea of vanity and self preservation.

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