The Abandoned – Review


The Abandoned is a pretty decent horror movie, though you have to be patient with it because the ending isn’t exactly the culmination of everything that came before.

I don’t mean to imply that it’s badly made–it’s not–but it rewards you for paying attention.

And I have to mention the movie’s cinematographer, Zach Galler, There are some
instances that take place in dark spaces, yet you can tell what’s going on the entire time.

And you may think that that’s a easy thing to do, yet if it were every movie would be able to say the same.

The Purge: Election Day – Official Trailer 2

2013’s The Purge was always a guilty pleasure of mine, despite that if you take away the fascinating concept of a 12-hour period once a year in which you’re free kill whomever you want, you’re left with what is a simple home invasion thriller.

With the 2014 sequel, The Purge: Anarchy the concept began to move away from its humble origins, becoming more overtly political.

And that’s okay, because otherwise the sequels would have been essentially remakes of the original movie.

Though change, like anything else, brings risk.

In this particular instance, for me it’s that the series has been building to a story about–potentially–the fall of the government in the United States that supports and promotes the Purge (after they attempt to use it to cover an assassination attempt on a Senator).

As I said, change is necessary, though I am not crazy about the direction; though I expect it to do quite well because they’re releasing it July 4th–Independence Day in the United States–which is more than a little bit brilliant.

Don’t Breathe – Trailer

Don’t Breathe is an interesting trailer that comes off as the anti-Hush, if you will.

Hush, currently on Netflix, revolves a woman who–if I recall–loses her voice to a bout of meningitis at some point in her past.

She ends up terrorized by a killer and she’s unable to call for help because the aforementioned infection robbed her of her voice.

The point being, Don’t Breathe takes a similar approach, though makes the bad guy–if the trailer is any indicator–blind.

What’s pretty clever is that in one instance the blind man has his prey in a dark room, putting everyone on even ground, which I am not sure that I buy because being unable to see doesn’t mean that your remaining senses are any sharper; so a blind person in a unfamiliar dark room would be no better off than a sighted person in a room too dark to see in.

Though if the blind person were in a familiar location…the equation changes demonstrably.

Lights Out – Trailer

I kind of like the idea behind David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out, but I am not sure how it stands up to scrutiny.  After all, in the trailer the phantasm doesn’t appear in pitch darkness-which the title implies–but when there’s a nearby light source.

This is an important distinction because my scariest moments tend to happen not in total darkness, but when it is broken by light, and my mind tries to make sense of the shadows of various objects (it doesn’t help that I’m nearsighted, and without my glasses everything is a blur anyway).

The darkness–and a hyperactive imagination–sometimes twists the shadows into some very creepy forms, which is one reason I don’t tend to put my clothing on a chair before I go to bed.

Depending upon my mood I will either be terribly creeped out, and get up and move them; ignore it and go back to sleep, or stare at it till it resolves itself into something a little more like a pair of pants or whatever.

Final Girl – Review

Screenshot 2016-03-16 18.34.27

“”Vengeance Shall Be Hers” But Frustration Will Be Yours.”

Have you even drank a Guinness Nitro IPA?  The reason I ask is because when you read the label there’s boilerplate about the the varieties of hops that go into the beer (There are five.  Admiral, Celeia, Topaz, Challenger, and Cascade) as well as it being infused with nitrogen.

Nitrogen!  Like something out of Buck Rogers!

Though when all is said and done, it comes down to taste, and Guinness Nitro IPA is so bland, you’d think it was flat.

And if that weren’t bad enough, it lacks body, making it also forgettable.

The point being, Tyler Shields’ Final Girl is the Guinness Nitro IPA of horror movies, where choice actors like Abigail Breslin and Wes Bentley are mixed in a brew that on the face of it sounds really tasty (a young girl is trained to be a weapon to take on a gang of psychopaths) but ends up not only barely palatable, but bland.

Which has a lot to do with the movie being over-stylized.  I went into it expecting I Spit On Your Grave-level grittiness, and instead get Streets Of Fire with serial killers.

And that’s not a knock against Walter Hill’s rock and roll fantasy because that movie worked with its very distinctive production design, not against it.

It’s exactly the opposite with Final Girl, which has an odd timeless quality to it that’s a bit distracting.  The vehicles seem to be from an earlier period, as does one of the killers, though the rest of the movie doesn’t.

In fact at times the movie reminded me of a really odd stage play, which is weird.

Final Girl isn’t a terrible movie, though to be honest I think that I might have enjoyed it more if it were.  Instead it’s  a well-shot, competent movie that is too stylized for its own good.

Zoombies – Trailer

You might thing that I was intending to wright ‘Zombies,’ but if you did you probably weren’t aware that this is from The Asylum.

Zoombies is not about the typical–zombies have become so mainstream that I can write that without a bit of irony–undead but instead zombified animals at a safari park that begin to go after the humans in attendance.

And while it’s a terrible, unpunny title, that’s not the worse of it.

That would have to be  The Asylum’s overarching ambition.  To look at the trailer you’d think that the movie is being patterned on movies like Jurassic World and Jurassic Park–they even mention it on the splash page of the trailer, though I could tell from the helicopter shots in the opening.

Which is the problem, namely why don’t they aim lower, but make better movies?

Just looking at the trailer you know that it’s going to involve tons of CGI, most of which is going to end up looking pretty hinky, so why do it when you could, just maybe, spend the time to invest in a good story and try to tell it as best you can.

But we’re talking about The Asylum, so why do that when you can make a janky Pacific Rim knock-off?

Postmortem – Kristy (2014)

Screenshot 2016-02-24 22.01.43Olly Blackburn’s Kristy is one of the better home invasion thrillers, except in this instance the ‘home’ in question is an entire college campus, empty but for a skeleton staff and Justine (Haley Bennett), who’s planning on staying on campus over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Unfortunately for Justine and everyone else, a cult of religious zealots have targeted Justine in the belief that by killing as many Kristy’s as they can–the name apparently means ‘follower of Christ,’–that somehow they’re killing God (as far as motivations go it’s a bit nutty, but then again taking up serial killing pretty much implies that you’re a few cans short of a six-pack anyway).

You also probably noticed that ‘Justine’ isn’t the same name as ‘Kristy,’ though that’s actually a brilliant detail on writer Anthony Jaswinski’s part in that they’re targeting women not because of their name more than them fitting a certain archetype that works with the cultist’s delusion.

That her name isn’t Kristy is irrelevant (to the victim), which is a pretty smart touch.

Though not everything about the movie is so clever, especially when it shows the tendency of the filmmakers to create unrealistic situations that exist only to bring about a certain outcome, as opposed to feeling organic.

In the scene in question, Justine/Kristy is on the run from the killers–they have already dispatched the two security guards on campus–and she manages to reach the house of the groundskeeper.

Now here’s when things go (mildly) awry.  The groundskeeper not only has a huge rotweiler, but also a shotgun, while the killers just have an assortment of bladed weapons (axes, knives, etc).

It’s worth mentioning that there are at least four of them, but by my math a huge dog and a shotgun more than even up the odds.

And speaking of the dog, this thing probably weighs somewhere in the ballpark of 50-60 pounds; the point being, that’s a lot of pissed-off animal to dispatch with just a knife.

And I’m calling bs on that.  I am not saying that they weren’t capable of killing it, what I am saying is that there’s little chance that at least one of the four wouldn’t have been mauled before it happened.

Then there’s the matter of dispatching the groundskeeper.  When his dog runs outside, he sees something, and fires.  Someone then grabs the barrel of the shotgun from the side, and pulls him with it.

The next time we see the groundskeeper, he’s being hung from a children’s swing.  Now, why there was even a children’s swing there in the first place–they’re not too common on college campuses–but that he was disarmed seemingly with such ease in the first place is also a tad unbelievable.

Though those are relatively minor quibble, ones which most people will probably not let get in the way of their enjoyment of a clever home invasion thriller.