The Veil – Review

“Some Shrouds Obscure The End Of The World. “

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Phil Joanou’s The Veil isn’t a particularly good movie, though it’s least interesting (and before I begin in earnest I have to mention the cinematography of Steeven Petitteville–according to IMDB and the movie’s credits that’s how his–I assume he’s a he–name is spelled–does great lighting.  His work is naturalistic, with lots of contrast between light and shadow, which complements the movie’s bleached-out color palate) and in its own way, quite ambitious–particularly when things go pseudo-Lovecraft.

Both Ti West’s The Sacrament (2013) and The Veil are at heart retellings of the  Jonestown massacre, where 909 Americans killed themselves, led by the Rev. Jim Jones (Thomas Jane, in The Veil plays Jim Jacobs–clearly a play on ‘Jim Jones’–like a fanatical Jim Morrison).

The difference being, while West essentially retells the story of the original massacre in the–at the time–present day, Phil Joanou introduces a supernatural element that at least serves to differentiate it from the horrific event that inspired it.  And while Robert Ben Garant’s screenplay is a bit dopey, it’s at least novel (and you can’t fault it for a lack of ambition).

As I wrote earlier, the movie itself is interesting, until it falls too deeply into the gyre of horror movie cliches (when things start going to shite people who should know better decide to stick around, as opposed to hightailing it out of there) and people start doing things because the screenplay says that they should, as opposed to any sort of human process of reasoning.

The Veil comes courtesy Blumhouse Tilt, though be careful, because some shrouds obscure the end of the world.

The Boy – Trailer

William Brent Bell’s The Boy is one of the first movies released by STX Entertainment, a new studio launched in 2014.

It reminds me vaguely of two movies. The first is 1973’s Arnold, which revolved around a woman marrying a corpse–not Rupert Murdoch, though I can understand the confusion.

The second is Gremlins, especially when the sitter is left with a list of things she needs to do in reference to her charge.

Which is a bit problematic when you consider that the boy, who goes by Brahms, is dead and the caretaker was hired to keep watch over a doll that was made in his image.

It sounds bat-shite crazy, and the trailer really sells the creepiness of the situation (it also stars Rupert Evans, who you’ve probably not seen since Hellboy) which I am not at all sure the movie can live up to.

It can go either way, though the trailer?  I like.

Goodnight Mommy – Review

Screenshot 2016-01-09 23.55.39.pngGoodnight Mommy won the award for European Cinematographer in 2015 at the 28th annual European Film Awards and is also Austria’s entry for Best Foreign Film at the 2016 Academy Awards.

The only problem with that whole Academy Award thing is Serverin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s film is a horror movie, and when do horror movies win Academy Awards?

(The answer is actually ten, which I found pleasantly surprising)

It’s also entirely possible that  Goodnight Mommy could win another cinematography award, because it’s gorgeous and evocative of movies like The Shining, with lots of angles, empty spaces and spooky ambiance.

And twins.  Let’s not forget twins (who are always sort of creepy).

As a horror movie, it chugs along promisingly as twins Lukas and Elias (played by actual twins, Lukas and Elias Schwarz)’s mother returns from plastic surgery, and they’re almost immediately suspicious of who she is, and where their real mother is.

And there are some very valid reasons for the twins to be suspicious, and if the movie had continued along that track, it would have been really awesome.

Instead, about midway I began to wonder if Severin Fiala and Veronica Franz was a pseudonym for M. Night Shyamalan because there’s an entirely unnecessary twist thrown in that–while it doesn’t ruin the movie–does undermine a lot that came before (also because it’s something you’re going to at least suspect early on, and seen done much better).


The Abandoned – Trailer

“It’s an unfinished section.  They told us not to go down there.”  Says Cooper (Jason Patric) in the trailer for Eytan Rockaway’s The Abandoned.

You can be reasonably sure–mainly because it’s in the trailer–that someone will eventually do exactly what they shouldn’t, and terrible events will result for everyone involved.

Then again, without stupid people doing stupid things there would probably be few–if any–horror films (though to be fair, I would be the first person in because I tend to approach creepy stuff with a bravado accessible only to the foolish and/or ignorant).

Damien – Trailer

Horror has been pretty good to AMC.  In 2010 they premiered The Walking Dead, one of he biggest shows on television, cable or otherwise (despite how atrociously they apparently treated Frank Darabont).  Later came the spin-off, Fear The Walking Dead, which hasn’t been a laggard in the ratings department, either.

That they’re sticking with the genre that has been so successful for them makes sense.

Though this time around it’s not the undead that go bump in the night, but the Devil.

Damien is a continuation of the story of Damien Thorne, from The Omen and Damien: The Omen II, who had the misfortune of being the son of Satan (though other than the ‘scion of Old Nick’ thing and the typically violent and–often–gory deaths of everyone cursed enough to get close to him he had a pretty awesome life).

The Omen 

Damien: The Omen II

Though what I find really interesting is that there was a third movie in The Omen saga, The Final Conflict, which while not quite up to the standards of the first two movies–it’s a bit campier than it needs to be at times–it’s still quite enjoyable (with an awesome ending).

The Final Conflict

The fun part is that the series–if it’s at all faithful to the movies–should take place between the second and third movies.  The not-so-fun part is that in the trailer Thorne  is dealing with issues that he had already solved in the second movie, so we’re apparently going to get some more angst of a repetitive nature (the worst type).

(There were also at least two made-for-television sequels, which I am ignoring because they’re not terribly memorable.)

Hellraiser Sequels As Good As Or Better Than The Original

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser is–when viewed in retrospect–hasn’t aged particularly well.

The acting is often campy and overwrought–probably due to a relatively small budget–and some of the special effects weren’t even that good in 1987.

Though Barker did the best with the resources that he had, though I get the feeling that what made the movie most successful was that it took advantage of the ignorance of the average American moviegoer (a ‘cenobite’ is member of a religious order living in a convent or community.  That’s it, though Barker’s genius was that he was able to imbue the word with powers and intimations beyond its humble origins).

Ironically enough, some of the sequels–most of which, rightly so, are maligned in the minds of movie goers–managed to capture that mixture of weirdness and perversity crucial to Barker’s work with even less in the way of budget.

So here’s a list of the best Hellraiser sequels, in order of release.

• Hellhound: Hellraiser II

Arguably the best of the series; it was directed by Tony Randel–who also directed the underrated Amityville: It’s About Time–and took the foundation and characters Barker created and turned them into something greater than the sum of its parts.

It also improved upon Barker’s original in virtually every way, and had some really trippy and disturbing imagery.

• Hellraiser: Inferno

The first Hellraiser film from Miramax, as well as the directoral debut of Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Doctor Strange), Hellraiser: Inferno is interesting because it manages to take the Hellraiser formula and successfully take it into a more psychological direction.  The horror’s there, but the movie is more of a journey into the mind of its protagonist (in this instance, Det. Joseph Thorne (Craig Sheffer).

• Hellraiser: Hellseeker

By this time the Hellraiser movies budgetary restrictions are painfully apparent, but director Rick Bota does well with a story that brings back Kirsty Cotten (Ashley Lawrence) and connects directly to the original movies.

• Hellraiser: Bloodline

For some reason Hellraiser: Bloodline is much maligned–which probably has more than a little to do with the fact that the original director, Kevin Yeager, left the production due to studio interference and had to be replaced by Joe Chappelle, who had to cobble a movie together from Yeager’s completed footage–though I have always found it more interesting that most of the sequels.

Not everything worked, but when it did it was pretty effective.

But don’t take my word for it.  Most of the Hellraiser films are on Netflix, so you can choose for yourself which is the best.

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.