“Cell” was troubled from the moment it was optioned in to a movie. Rather than become a success tale like “It,” it instead was left to tread water as a limited release that was quietly tucked away on the VOD market, and is now a two dollar purchase on streaming services. It’s not surprising since “Cell” is a film that could have used a much better script, a lot more development, and about twenty more minutes in its run time. In its state it feels utterly incomplete, half baked and rushed, along with pairing two stars that, at their best, are magnificent and at their worst, make a good living phoning in (shut up) performances. Tod Williams had the chance to jump on the ball and really provide us with a frantic and scary commentary about our over reliance on technology, and he fails.
I’ve never been a fan of the “Hatchet” series, this I must admit. I think Adam Green is a much better horror fan than horror director, and I think his friend Joe Lynch has mastered the art of genre filmmaking, while Adam Green still tends to direct like a film student still learning the ropes. That said I enjoyed “Victor Crowley” so much more than the previous three films in the series. I would not watch it again unless I was painfully bored, but as a sequel/reboot, I laughed, I groaned, and for once I enjoyed Green bringing his friends aboard to indulge in some good blood shed.
Sheldon Wilson’s “The Hollow” or as I refer to it “Phantoms 2: Samhain Edition,” is one of the more incomplete feeling horror films I’ve seen in a long time. Although the movie isn’t the completely worst Halloween oriented horror entry I’ve ever seen, it definitely feels like it could have stood for twenty minutes of exposition. Even when it stops the movie in its tracks to drop exposition, it still feels like the screenwriters are working on an under cooked film that never finds its footing. So much of “The Hollow” is downright unpleasant and dull, and manages to squander a potentially really cool movie monster.
You could definitely call “Warning Sign” a precursor to “28 Days Later,” but the latter film just handles the premise so much better. Hal Barwood’s movie is a shockingly bland meshing of science fiction and horror that is never quite sure what it wants to be. Sometimes it’s a science fiction movie about government conspiracy and a top secret disease gone out of control, and other times it’s about three bystanders battling disease ridden rage induced zombies, and the undead. It bounces back and forth between grim science fiction to gruesome horror and feels so ill-conceived and poorly constructed.
Truthfully, “Bad Apples” isn’t a terrible movie even when you consider it’s a shameless rip off of “The Strangers.” It just obviously has a paper thin premise and not much else to do but pad the time. The movie is ninety minutes long and for twenty of those minutes it feels like a relationship drama set on Halloween starring Brea Grant and Graham Skipper as married couple Ella and Robert. She’s trying to adjust to her new house, he’s working his new job, and she’s trying to teach at a school run by an overly religious principal, oh the hilarity. Then it decides to dip in to the horror–eventually.
There are two kinds of survival thrillers I place in separate categories. There’s the “They’re completely fucked” films like “Open Water” and “Alive” where their situation is hopeless. Then there’s the “Calm Down and You Might Survive” category with titles like “Frozen” and “47 Meters Down” where if people just relaxed and displayed some kind of common sense, they could make it. “ATM” is in the latter category where if these three moronic characters would just stop and think for a moment, they could have actually made it through the poor man’s Jigsaw without many battle wounds.
Mark H. Young’s horror thriller “Feral” feels like 2010’s “Primal” and 2003’s “Cabin Fever” reworked in to a goofy zombie melodrama about a lot of pretty people arguing over “important” stuff like relationships, and who’s dating whom before they’re interrupted by zombies. “Feral” could have been a very claustrophobic and weird little cabin in the woods gem, but it’s so mucked up with the twenty minutes of exposition and drama that goes absolutely nowhere. Seriously none of the conflicts actually take any real toll once the narrative gets moving, and it’s a shame.
William Castle’s “House on Haunted Hill” was a pretty great horror movie that inevitably became a pretty good remake in 1999. When Sam Raimi founded Dark Castle films, his love for William Castle was worn on his sleeve, right down to theatrics of the remake. “House on Haunted Hill” from 1999 does a good job of delivering something new and unique to the premise of the original film, putting twists in the premise, and offering some contemporary thrills that more than make up for the film’s massive short comings, overall. It’s a great Halloween treat; I can at least say that for it.