Kairo/Pulse (2001)

Kyoshi Kurosawa’s “Kairo” is a film dripping in terror that deliberately paces itself as a slow burning end of the world tale. Rather than an all out orgy of gore and carnage, “Pulse” eventually explodes in to something of a last gasp of humanity, and a civilization that ends in a whisper and somber whimper. “Kairo” is written as something of a two act structure where Kurosawa opts for a film that’s episode in the vein of “Pulp Fiction,” and then smashes together in the stunning climax. Much of what we see seems and feels random in many places, and events collide allowing for a cogent unfolding of events that doesn’t just make sense but feels so meticulously planned from square one. What makes “Kairo” so haunting even when the credits have drawn to a close is the way the director opts less for splatter and gore, and more for a requiem that depicts mankind as a stain and nothing more.

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The Devil’s Candy (2015)

After buying their dream house in Texas, The Hellmans, a painter, his wife, and their daughter, must face human and supernatural threats.  As the father finds an incredible muse and must paint, his daughter and wife deal with lurking dangers.

Written and directed by Sean Byrne, The Devil’s Candy is a strong follow up to his debut feature The Loved Ones, showing that his talent was not fluke and showing that the man can craft a good horror story with truly creepy and even scary elements.  Here he creates an interesting family who is traditional in one way and not in others; they are a cool, artsy family with a love to heavy metal.  Their differences set them apart from the usual cinematic families who encounter evil in their new homes.  Also, the way the evil comes into their lives is original and works well in the film’s context.  His characters work well together, giving them more to care about, more to worry about, more to lose.  His writing and directing create a film with a family the viewer can identify with and care for.  Also, his human antagonist is one that has presence, who oozes creepiness while playing in the potential supernatural angles.

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Firestarter (1984): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

If there’s anything that Stephen King loves to write about, it’s powerful children with god-like abilities, and I imagine considering most of his stories connect in to a universe, someone with Danny Torrance’s abilities is married to someone with the abilities from “Firestarter.” Mike Lester’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel is not a masterpiece, but I still insist it’s a fun movie with a good amount of effort behind it. The only thing it really suffers from is being ahead of its time. I imagine were we given a new adaptation “Firestarter” might be a mix of dazzling and disturbing a la “Carrie.” As it is, “Firestarter” is mostly a compelling horror drama about another very powerful young girl who is being hunted by the government.

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Don’t Kill It (2016)

A demon has taken over the town of Chickory Creek, Mississippi.  As things escalate quickly an FBI agent and a demon hunter arrive in town and are forced to cooperate to save the locals.  As the demon jumps from body to body, they must find a way to stop this demon and not become one with it at the same time.

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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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