Krampus – Trailer

Finally, a Christmas movie I can get behind!  Instead of being maudlin and glamorizing what has essentially become the time of year when we gauge how much someone loves us by the amount of stuff they buy us, we instead get what appears to be a life and death battle against the Krampus (who’s like an anti-Klaus in that while Santa rewards children who are good, the Krampus punishes those that are bad.  He seeming does so by either drowning, eating or carrying them off to Hell).

Though no matter how he goes about it, he makes that whole lump of coal thing not too bad a compromise.

And sure, the likelihood is that the Krampus from Krampus won’t be as interesting that the Krampus from The League, though that’s to be expected when the latter happens to be powered by Taco.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension – Trailer

I honestly wanted to like the Paranormal Activity movies.  After all, there are slim pickings for horror movies at the best of times, yet the PA films are less fully-resized movies than an accumulation of jump scares that last for an hour or so.

And maybe that’s not fair, but the filmmakers have had every chance to craft something memorable and they seemed to take the opposite tact pretty consistently, as opposed to the more difficult path of interesting characterization and genuine thrills.

From the trailer Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension looks to be covering territory already mined by the Poltergeist movies.

And i will admit that I thought the idea of making found-footage ghost stories could at least be interesting, and the lack of budget–all of the movies are relatively cheap–would spur the producers toward new innovations as far as storytelling goes.

Which didn’t happen.

As I understand it, The Ghost Dimension will be the last in the series, and i’m okay with that.

Crimson Peak – Review

Crimson Peak

When Guillermo del Toro says that his latest movie, Crimson Peak, isn’t a horror movie, but a gothic romance, he means it.

A gothic romance is a type of movie that, while horror-adjacent, visually, beckons back to movies like The Innocents, where elaborate costumes and sets help to set the mood and atmosphere.

And like Jack Clayton’s 1961 movie, there are ghosts.

And insects (this is Guillermo del Toro, after all), plenty of insects.

Despite–more often than not–great dialog I tend not to be particularly fond of long stretches of it (everything in its place).  That being said, del Toro and Matthew Robbins (who co-wrote the movie) understand that extended scenes of dialog aren’t a problem when they involve interesting characters and they bridge the more horrific elements.  And while the movie is not at all concerned about violence for violence’s sake, when it happens it’s pretty intense (primarily because you don’t see it often enough to take it for granted).

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Hemlock Grove: The Final Chapter – Official Trailer

On the whole, I enjoyed the first two seasons of Netflix’s Hemlock Grove, but with caveats: the biggest being that it was at times hard to identity the creatures that were involved–and when your series is about monsters, human and otherwise, this is not a minor thing.

For instance, what the hell was Olivia Godfrey (Famke Janssen)?  Her son was apparently a vampire, though she was something other.  And now that I am speculating, what was it with Dr. Johann Price (Joel de la Fuente)?  I recall he had some sort of disorder that increased his strength (or he couldn’t feel pain, something like that) but he seemed creepy-strong and way too in-tune with all the weirdness that was going on around him.

And that lizard-thing at the end of the second season?  It was cool in the sense that it was totally unexpected, though I couldn’t make heads or tales why it was.

That's gotta hurt!

That’s gotta hurt!

Though the werewolves?  And The Company Of Wolves-style transformation?  That I liked.

The Stranger – Review

The Stranger

Guillermo Almoedo’s The Stranger plays like a sequel of sorts to Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark, except that it’s really irritating at times, which I will go into later.

The problem is that virtually everyone in the movie is a victim, and the only person who isn’t, Lieutenant De Luca (Luis Gnecco), is a massive asshole.  What’s even stranger is that he’s not the chief of the small-town police department where he works–who happened to be out of town– but he acts like he is.

And what’s even worse, everyone else does as well, so he moves around either intimidating or terrorizing everyone around him.

His son, Caleb (Ariel Levy), is a chip off the old block (which means that he and his friends can seemingly murder vagrants with impunity) so we’re pretty much left with characters that are barely players in their own story.

Vampirism, in this context The Stranger, has nothing to do with religion in that a person who’s infected will seek out others to drink blood from, spreading the infection.  The infected don’t have virtually any attributes of a traditional vampire–other than a thirst for blood and aversion to sunlight–though the infected are able to take significantly more abuse that a regular person.

In other words, virtually none of the traditional perks of vampirism–and virtually all the weaknesses.

Thanks, but no thanks.

The Stranger has arrived on Netflix, though whatever you do, whatever you see, keep away.

The Beast Of XMoor – Review


Luke Hyams’ (no relation to Peter HyamsThe Beast of XMoor (X Moor) at first glance reminded me of Daniel Nettheim’s far superior The Hunter, which also revolves around the hunt for a cryptid (according to Wikipedia, an animal or plant who’s existence had been suggested but not discovered by the scientific community).

In the case of Nettheim’s movie the animal in question was a Tasmanian Wolf–which actually may still exist–while The Beast of XMoor‘s seek some sort of panther they suspect is hiding out on the moors.

The most immediate problem with the movie is that it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be.  It begins as a search for an a cryptid, then makes a Wrong Turn, with two very rapey Scottish folk, then turns to a confusing serial killer story.

What’s worse–if that were possible–is that the killer is less a threat to the aspiring cryptozoologists than they are to each other.

The Beast of XMoor isn’t a terrible movie, it’s just very unfocused.  If it were just about a cryptid–an interesting subject in and of itself–then it would have probably been a much better movie.

If the director had jettisoned the whole cryptid storyline, and instead made a movie about a serial killer, then it might have been a much better movie.

Or if the cryptid and serial killer storyline were abandoned, and instead the story revolved about a bunch of mad Scots, then it would have probably been much better movie.

But all three?  It’s a bit too much.

Brave the moors of X Moor via Netflix, because otherwise there are too many ways to die.

The Forest – Trailer

Jason Zada’s The Forest revolves around Aokigahara, a 14-mile forest that sits in the shadow of Mount Fuji.  It’s also known as the Suicide Forest because hundreds of people have killed themselves there over a twenty-five year period.

As if that weren’t horrifying enough, according to Japanese mythology the forest is demon-plagued.

Heck, the movie almost writes itself, which is why I was dismayed to read a review from FilmBook, which pretty much says that  the movie shat the bed, replacing any sort of tension and horror with jump scares.

It amazes me–if the review is accurate–how filmmakers can take events, places and things that are actually horrific, and somehow make them less so.  The review reminds me of Ouija, a not-very-good movie that somehow managed to make a terrifying object–just looking at ouija boards gives me the willies–boring (luckily the sequel is being directed by Mike Flanagan, who knows a thing or two about horror, having directed Oculus).

And that’s not that an easy thing to do.