#315 -- The Final (2010)

Director: Joey Stewart
Rating: 4 / 5

I was interested in this movie the moment that I happened upon it. The idea of nerds getting revenge on the cool kids has always been something that piques my interest, probably because it's something I've dreamed about for pretty much my whole life. I was on the receiving end of quite a lot of shit-talk and teasing back in middle and high school, so I know how it is. It wasn't as bad as what these kids got, but it wasn't always pleasant either. The worst I got was a bunch of guys driving by and pelting water balloons at my house. And getting shoved into a wall by some guy I'd never even seen. Other than that, it was mainly just insults shouted across the hallway or classroom that really didn't even bother me. Oh, I'm a freak? Cool. I'm weird? Thanks! I'm a dyke? You're just jealous 'cause I get more girls than you do. That kind of stuff never really bothered me. The physical torment, though limited, is what got me, not because it made me feel bad, or because it made me sad; but because it just pissed me the fuck off. I don't know you, so don't fucking touch me, asshole. But anyways...The point is, I understand being angry with people for treating you like an outsider and tormenting you just because you're different. Though I only daydreamed about sweet revenge once, and I never seriously considered getting even with any of those people, I definitely understand where these kids are coming from. Those cool kids made their lives a living hell. They made them wish that they'd never been born, and all for what? Shits and giggles. It didn't benefit them at all, and it made these kids feel worthless just because they weren't what was considered "normal." They didn't deserve it. They'd done nothing to warrant the way these people treated them. Was torture a reasonable response to this? Well, they certainly thought so.

The group consists of Dane, Andy, Jack, Ravi, and Emily. They each have their own little quirks; in other words, they each have a unique reason to be constantly tormented. They get their revenge by way of a Halloween costume party. They send out anonymous invitations to the kids that tortured them, knowing that they'll jump on any chance to get fucked up and/or laid. The popular kids don't know anything about the party or who is throwing it, but they don't care. They only have one thing in mind here: having fun. But their fun is short-lived when the alcohol supply is spiked with some sort of drug. They all wake up, chained to the floor, and are each subjected to a different form of torture. Most of the torture is purely physical -- a kind of lotion that eats away at the flesh, having needles shoved into various parts of the body, etc. -- but some of it is mental torture as well. At one point, a boy is forced to cut off a girl's fingers, with the promise that if he does so, he will be spared. It is obvious that the outcasts have spent quite a lot of time planning this little party.

The movie does have a kind of spooky feel to it, mostly due to the costumes that the outcasts choose to wear. Dane wears a big gas mask, Emily wears a plain white one; Jack dresses as a scarecrow, Ravi is an evil clown, and Andy is what looks like a Nazi soldier. They're creepy, I'll give them that. But there's no fear factor with this movie, at least not for me. I was rooting for these kids. I saw what they went through, I've been through it myself, so I wanted them to have their peace of mind. In the real world, I don't think anything justifies torture. But this is a movie, and I wanted those assholes dead just as much as the outcasts did. Don't get me wrong though. Don't think that I'm complaining at the lack of scariness. I'm not. It was actually a really great movie and, even though I understood what they were doing, it was a bit unnerving to see such young kids doing such horrible things -- and with such skill! You'd think they'd been doing it for years. But no, they had been through a meticulous planning stage that was unseen to viewers. That much can be assumed.

This isn't a visual horror movie. Though seeing these kids in their costumes doing these horrible things will leave you with a weird feeling in your heart, that's not what it's about. It's a mental horror movie. It will make you feel uncomfortable in spots, and you might feel weird for being on the side of the so-called "bad guys." But I think that's the point. The kids, though they're doing unspeakable things, aren't meant to be the bad guys, which is interesting. The bad guys are the ones who pushed them to that extreme limit. I believe it's also a morality tale. Be careful who you tease and torment. If you bully the wrong person, you just might end up in the middle of nowhere, chained to a floor and missing half your fingers.


#314 -- Dino Wolf (2009)

Director: Fred Olen Ray
Rating: 2 / 5

Yes, what you're seeing actually does exist. When I stumbled upon this, I was hoping that it would be a delightfully cheesy creature feature with plenty of gore and laughs, whether intentional or not. What I got was a mediocre, cheesy creature feature with plenty of gore and definitely unintentional laughs. It wasn't what I'd hoped for -- something that would be so horrible that it was funny and entertaining. But I wasn't laughing because I thought it was funny; I was laughing because I couldn't believe how stupid it was.

You might think it has something to do with a dinosaur/wolf hybrid type of creature. You wouldn't be completely wrong. It's actually a prehistoric wolf creature whose fossils have been combined with human DNA. So, pretty much, an extremely lame werewolf. I don't even remember exactly why these scientists decided to fuse human and wolf DNA together, but I really don't care. All of that was just their way of putting a spin on the werewolf story, and it doesn't really matter. Basically what we have here is a dude in a wolf suit -- a suit that, by the way, doesn't even have a working mouth that moves -- pretending to eat some stupid people out in the woods. But the bad effects are something that can definitely be overlooked; that's not the problem. There were some almost interesting sub-plots going on, but since they were only somewhat interesting at best, even they couldn't save it.

So, here we go. There's some kind of research facility out in bumfuck nowhere that's conducting experiments on said prehistoric wolf fossils. The wolf/human DNA fusion was successful, and they had the creature contained for a while. But then it got out, of course. There was no reason for it getting out, either. It just happened. I don't recall an explanation of failed security or malfunctioning locks or whatever. It just escaped.   The movie follows a local sheriff, his goofy son, some CIA agents, and some scientists as they trek through the woods searching for the Dino Wolf so that they can capture it. The woman whose DNA was inside the wolf was the only who was safe, because she was kind of like its "mom." It had a soft spot for her, and she was emotionally attached to it as well. So, the movie did attempt to add some romanticism, something to tug at the heartstrings, but...let's face it. That's just dumb. Maybe if the movie had been made better, that sort of thing would have worked. But here, with these actors so horrible that you wanted them to get eaten, and the wolf that looked so stupid you just wanted to laugh..nothing works. The wolf was actually hidden for a while, because of all the blurs it caused by its super speed (or maybe just a bad camera?). But once you do get a good look at it, you'll wish you hadn't. The mystery of it almost made it okay, because it allowed me to at least convince myself it might be cool. But once it was showed up close, it took away all of that. It wasn't cool. Not at all.

If you think about it, the story actually isn't that bad. But like I said, everything else about the movie was so bad that it just made it look stupid. It was lame. Here, a couple weeks after watching it, I'm finding it hard to remember the little details. Lame wolf eating people in the woods. So what?


#313 -- Near Dark (1987)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Rating: 2 / 5

I'm going to start by completely negating the purpose of this review. Regardless of anything I say here, you should experience this movie on your own. Apparently, it's got a healthy following, and a lot of people really love it. I appreciate what it was trying to do, but I definitely didn't love it. The only reason I even wanted to watch it was for Adrian Pasdar, who was in my favorite television show. I wanted to see what he looked like back in the '80s.

So, here's the deal. Country boy Caleb (Pasdar) meets a beautiful girl late one night. He's immediately drawn to her, takes her on a little date, and then offers to drive her home. But he refuses to take her all the way home until she gives him a kiss. One thing leads to another, and that kiss turns into a bite, changing Caleb's life forever. He almost makes it home when the girl, Mae, and her family swoop him up in their RV and get him wrapped up in their vampire life. Most of the family didn't want Caleb around, and they wanted him to prove himself by killing; but he couldn't do it. He just wasn't cut out to be a vampire. He found his place among them, though, by not being afraid to fight to keep them safe.

What most people like about this movie is that, even though it's somewhat modern, it takes things back to the way vampires used to be. I don't see it like that. These guys are nothing like Dracula. I do like it when horror movies are set out in the desert. It gives them a romantic yet gritty feel, which is always nice. These guys didn't kill only for feeding purposes, and their fangs weren't their only weapons. They fed on humans, of course, but sometimes they killed just for the sake of killing, it seemed. It focused more on the human side of the vampires, rather than the undead side. These people were crooks before they were turned, and that lifestyle stayed with them even after death. They lived like outlaws, even more so than they would if they were regular vampires. All of this is well and good, and I'm glad it stuck to the proper vampire mythos. But it doesn't change the fact that the movie was boring. There were a few good action scenes, but they weren't enough. Even the romance wasn't enough to make it extremely interesting to me. The best thing was Bill Paxton as one of the vampires. He was definitely malicious, and he made the movie. Other than that, I felt that the movie as a whole was pretty boring.

Like I said, though, you should experience it for yourself. A lot of people really enjoy it, and you might too. Just because I didn't doesn't mean that you won't.


#312 -- The Clinic (2010)

Director: James Rabbitts
Rating: 3.5 / 5

These days, I'm a little hesitant when it comes to surgery/hospital based horror movies. I haven't seen that many of them, so I'm not entirely sure why I'm so against them to begin with. I think it's because I'm afraid that something Human Centipede-esque is going to happen. Thankfully, this one wasn't anything like that. To me, it felt like Hostel meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

It took place in 1979, several years before the invention of DNA testing, which proves to be a crucial plot point. We meet Beth and Cameron, an engaged and pregnant couple on their way visit Beth's parents for Christmas. When they're run off the road by an old, rusty ambulance, they decide to stop and rest for the night at a shady motel. In the middle of the night, Cameron leaves to search for a snack, and when he returns, Beth is gone. The police are no help, nor is the equally shady manager of the motel, so Cameron takes matters into his own hands. He ends up pulling a gun on the police officer, stealing his car, and crashing it right before he can get to Beth.

So, where is Beth? She's at the clinic, of course. Her baby has been prematurely removed from her and hidden away in the clinic. She wakes up in a tub of ice, discovers that her child is missing, and goes on a search to find it. Along the way, she meets up with three other women in the same predicament. They are, for the most part, certain that their babies are alive and somewhere in the building, and their main priority is to find them. Everything turns out to be a sort of twisted game. Inside their bellies is a tag which matches the tags on their babies. Since there is no DNA testing at this time, the only way to figure out which baby is theirs, they have to remove the tags from their stomachs. There is another woman somewhere in the building who is on a mission to kill all the others, in order to provide a process of elimination to discover which baby belongs to her.

There are several different elements at work here. I mentioned two other movies earlier; allow me to explain my statement before you get too angry at my comparisons. It feels like Hostel for more than one reason, one of them being quite obvious: that the women wake up in strange places and in very strange and dangerous predicaments. The other reason you will discover once you watch the movie for yourself (I don't want to spoil the ending). Now, it feels a bit (only a little bit) like TCM because of the "everyone's in on it" aspect of it. The police, as well as the motel manager, knew everything all along, and they played a role in things in the end. That is where the comparison stops. The Clinic doesn't feel like a copy-cat at all. It has its own ideas, it works on its own merits, and it's definitely an enjoyable ride. I'm simply trying to give you an idea of what you're getting into.

This is not a scary movie, do not be mistaken. It is disturbing in some ways, but mostly...it's just sad. I'm not even a mother yet, but I could feel the women's horror and fear for their children. Most of them died with no way of knowing whether or not their babies would survive. Each and every one of them had one single dying wish: take care of my baby. It's a deeply terrifying thought: to create this beautiful little person, and then to be shoved into a terrible situation with no way of protecting it. It also proves just how strong a woman can be when the thing she loves the most is in danger; the lengths that a mother will go to in order to ensure the safety of her child.

The ending, while somewhat awkward and nonsensical, works in its own way. It raises some questions about the rest of the movie, but it makes enough sense as to not ruin it entirely. It ends on a neutral note that is both happy and depressing. It is not a perfect movie by any means. It has its plot holes, and it raises several questions when everything is said and done. It might leave you questioning the intelligence of some characters and the morals of some others. But in the end, all of those things can be forgiven. What this is, is a deeply disturbing movie that will give you a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach -- especially if you're a woman, and even more so if you're a mother.


#311 -- Abraham Linclon: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Rating: 4 / 5

I knew going into this that it was based on a book. I haven't read the book, but that told me one thing: that it was at least going to be a unique and interesting story. But I honestly didn't know what I was getting myself into. It turns out, it's actually a really great movie, and it was more than I imagined it would be. I took more from it than I would have expected.

I'm not an expert on Abe Lincoln. I know as much as every other regular person out there, and that is just what I remember from high school. Not much. He freed the slaves, and he wore a funky hat: that's just about it. But still, I feel like the people making the movie knew a lot about him. Even though I know practically nothing, I feel like most aspects of his life were adequately portrayed. I could be wrong. They could have been wrong. There could be Lincoln experts out there seething at how wrong they were. But none of that matters. Here, Lincoln is simply a fictional character based on a real man. Sill, I feel like Lincoln's story was told properly; just with a few extra little details thrown in.

As a young boy, Abe saw his mother murdered. He grew up with anger and hatred in his heart, and once he reached adulthood, he vowed vengeance on the man who committed the crime. He met with a man named Henry who informed him that the murderer was a vampire, and Henry taught Abe the ways of slaying. As with any job, the job of vampire hunter came with a few rules. Abe could only kill the vampires that Henry told him to kill, and none other. Henry obliged only so that he could wait until the day that his mother's murderer's name appeared on his list. Abe lived as a hunter for a while, and eventually learned that there was another evil he wished to destroy: slavery. He thought that, the best way to destroy this particular evil was with words rather than his axe. So he became president. The war began. The confederate army was full of vampires, and soldiers were dying left and right. It wasn't until Abe's son was killed the same way as his mother that he decided to take matters into his own hands. He picked up his axe once more and joined in the war himself.

Now, that's the basic premise of the movie; but naturally, there's much more to it than that. I don't want to spoil it, because it's something that you should experience on your own. It's full of love, betrayal, murder and heartache -- as are most vampire movies. The historical aspect of it only makes it more interesting, because you understand that most of these things actually did happen. So, here's what the movie did for me. It made me appreciate Honest Abe even more. I know it's sad, because I should have greatly appreciated him to begin with, but it is what it is. Secondly, it turned Abraham Lincoln into a sex symbol. Yes, I said it. I'm probably the only one who thinks this way, but bear with me. Physically, Benjamin Walker, who played Abe, is kind of cute. But that's not what attracted me to him. He was fucking bad-ass. The way he could swing that axe around was absolutely amazing. He was a great fighter. Plus, inside of the axe was a hidden gun. That just makes him even more bad-ass. Here, I was under the impression that Abraham Lincoln was a peaceful man (which, in reality, he probably was), but this fictional version of him could kick some serious vampire ass. Doing that in a suit and a funky top-hat just made it even better. Remember that commercial about the game "Apples to Apples", where it showed their version of "sexy Abe Lincoln"? Imagine that, just less goofy and with a big 'ol axe in his hand. I'm sure I'm not the only freaky horror girl out there who would find that sexy.

I'm rambling, I apologize. Anyways, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was, indeed, a very good movie. It was equal parts action, horror, romance and historical fiction. It had an interesting story which married reality with fantasy, and the vampire aspects of it actually made sense when linked with real events. Again, I haven't read the book, but I can only imagine that it's ten times better. So I definitely have to read it. I had high hopes for this one going into it, but I never imagined that I would like it as much as I did.


#310 -- Sinister (2012)

Director: Scott Derrickson
Rating: 3 / 5

Horror movie are really good at creating trailers to reel people in with false hopes that they'll be scared shitless. I know that's the point of a trailer, and I'm glad that they're able to do this, for their own sake's. But sometimes it can be downright annoying. When I saw the trailer for Sinister, I knew that I had to see it. I was sure that it was going to be different from all the other shitty horror movies that come out these days. I just knew that it was going to be genuinely scary. Sadly, the scariest part of the trailer turned out to mean nothing at all in the actual movie. That's not to say that Sinister is a bad movie; it's just not at all what I'd hoped it would be.

Ellison Oswalt was a true-crime novelist who moved into a house where murders took place in order to do research for his newest book. He apparently had done this several times before; sometimes, he found clues the police had missed and helped solve the crimes, and in other cases his antics let killers go free. His last success was around ten years ago, and he was convinced that this one could be his comeback. This explains why he continued with his research even after everything went extremely wrong: he was obsessed. He had access to a bunch of home movies which showed exactly how a set of families were murdered in their homes. I'm not sure how he gained access to these films, since the police department (the sheriff, at least) absolutely refused to help him. I think he might have found them in the home's attic and checked into them just because. In each case, every member of the family was killed, except for one child, and that child was never seen again. Slowly, Oswalt began to link each murder together, proving that they were all committed by the same person. Or at least, that's what he thought. The main thing he noticed in the films was a ghostly figure that appeared in the shadows, as well as a strange symbol that was always painted somewhere in the families' homes. He did some research, got some professional help, and discovered that this "ghostly figure" was actually a demon called Bughuul who stole children's souls by way of digital images. Once a person saw him in the images, he was able to jump from his dimension to theirs.

All of this is very interesting. It sounds like an old folk tale or something, but as far as I can tell, Bughuul  was created specifically for the movie. I was hoping this was a real myth, so I could do some digging and come out with something cool. But I applaud them for coming up with an original villain. Sinister works on certain points (several, actually), but it fails in the most crucial way. It does't rely only on jump-scares, as most ghost/haunting/demons movies do, which is always nice to see. There are a few of them thrown in, don't get me wrong, but it mostly relies on things that disturb you rather than scare you shitless. The old films of the families getting murdered were, indeed, quite sinister. They were disturbing to Oswalt as well as viewers. They were also creepy, artistic, and very well done. The characters were engaging as well. Ethan Hawke was great as the obsessed writer losing touch with reality and slowly losing his mind over his work. I could understand him. He was also very jumpy and easily spooked, which offered some comic relief (not that it needed any..) I could also understand his wife, Tracy, who was exhausted with him. I was actually worried about their marriage, which is a shocker. Most horror characters --aside from the villain--are extremely bland.

Even though the old films were great, they were used for too long. It was slow going, and it took a good while for anything to happen in Oswalt's reality. And once the line between the dimensions was erased, things got cheesy. The ghostly children showed up in Oswalt's house, but it looked like there was a slumber party going on and his kids' friends were trying to scare him. The kids weren't spooky at all. And that is where the movie fails. It's just not scary. Though it has a good idea and does a lot of things right, it just fails to offer up any real scares. It wasn't quite disturbing enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth. It didn't keep me up at night. It didn't make me hide behind my pillows with my heart racing. In the end, even though they did some things right, what they created was a forgettable horror movie that really tried.


#309 -- Silent Hill (2006)

Director: Christophe Gans
Rating: 4 / 5

I've heard about Silent Hill for years. I've always known that a lot of people love it, but I just never got in on it. It was based on a series of Japanese video games by the same name. I've never played any of the games, but after watching the movie and researching a little bit about them, I can't wait to play them...Once I get a better game system, that is. There just aren't that many good games for the Wii unless you're eight years old. Anyways...

The movie is about a woman named Rose whose adopted daughter, Sharon, has nightmares about a place called Silent Hill. In order to figure out what these nightmares mean, Rose decides that she needs to take Sharon to Silent Hill, in hopes that the girl might remember something and figure out why she is so scared. Rose's husband advises against it, since the town was known for a disastrous fire and is still unsafe. Rose, of course, goes on without her husband's blessing. Once they arrive in Silent Hill, Sharon disappears, and Rose realizes that the town is not normal -- and there is no escape. She meets with a police officer (played by Laurie Holden!), and together they weave their way through this spooky ghost town searching for Sharon and a way out.

There are definitely some interesting things going on in Silent Hill. There are amazing and horrifying characters, a cult that murders children, and indescribable creatures lurking in the darkness. There's also a man/creature that carries the biggest knife I have ever seen in my life. This is a fantasy world that is very easy to get caught up in, and that's just from watching the movie. Imagine what it's like playing the games! I can't wait. The movie itself kind of plays out like a game. The entire time, the viewer is left extremely confused and unsure of what is going on. We know what we see, and what Rose sees, but there's no way for us to know exactly what it all means until the very end. I found myself feeling stupid throughout the majority of it because I didn't fully understand, but the ending made everything perfectly clear, and what an ending it was! Rose learned a few shocking secrets about her daughter's past, as well as the awful things that went on in Silent Hill before it was turned into a ghost town. There was a magnificent final villain that was unique and definitely frightening.

I don't want to say too much about this movie, actually. I went into it not knowing anything about it, and I was so surprised and awed by it that I couldn't believe it took me so long to see it. I think that's how everyone should experience it. You don't need to know anything, really, because the shock of what you will see is part of the fun. Just know that it is a wonderfully creepy movie with some of the greatest horror characters I've ever seen.


#308 -- Yellowbrickroad (2010)

Directors: Jesse Holland & Andy Mitton
Rating: 3 / 5

Contains spoilers

I had this in my Netflix queue for a long time before I actually watched it. I thought it sounded interesting, but I wasn't sure about it. Then I started reading some reviews, and it seemed like people really liked it, so I checked it out. I'm on the fence about it, and it turns out, so it the horror population as a whole. Some people love it, and some people hate it, while most others just don't get it. I get what it was trying to do; I just don't understand the point.

So, here's the story. Back in the 40's, an entire town wandered into the woods, never to be seen alive again. Some bodies were found, but most of the people seemed to have disappeared. In the present day, a team of professionals ventures deep into the same woods to try and uncover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance. The start on a trail known as the "Yellow Brick Road," and things go downhill from there, for both the characters and the viewer.

It's definitely an interesting concept, and the obvious nod toward The Wizard of Oz makes it even more so. As these people are in the woods and start to talk about things, they start to come up with some theories. They believe that those people thought that, at the end of this trail, there was some sort of Wizard that would grant their wishes. Mass delusion, or something. There's one other nod toward Oz, where a recently murdered girl is strung up on a post wearing a straw hat. Also, once they reach a certain point into the wilderness, they start hearing old-time music that cannot be explained. They're terrified of it at first, but they grow accustomed to it, and eventually learn to love it. When it disappears at random times (only to return later), they miss it. They also hear other sounds that destroy their ears and their ability to hear anything else. There's also something in those woods that makes them lose their minds and want to murder each other.

Again, it's a very interesting concept, but it fails on one main aspect: it doesn't bring anything together or provide an adequate ending or explanation. It builds up some great tension, as we're sure we're going to discover something great about the people who wandered into the woods all those years ago. We're sure we're going to discover something amazing and creepy about what lurks in those woods, and what drew those people to leave everything behind in search of something unknown. We're drawn to the characters in front of us, as we watch their mental states deteriorate. We're sure that something great is going to happen, but it never does. The way it starts off, it feels like a ghost story. The music the explorers hear in the woods hints that, maybe, the souls of those people are still present in the woods. Or perhaps it was the music that drew those people into the woods, and it is what is leading our team to their destination. The thing is, I'm not sure. The fact that these people started losing their minds and doing terrible things to each other also makes no real sense in the scheme of things. Lunacy can't be what drew those people into the woods back in the 40's, but it could be why they were never seen again.

At the end of things, it feels like there was no real supernatural or mysterious thing going on at all. These people were in the wilderness, worlds away from civilization, and this caused their minds to unravel. That is all. No wizard at the end of the yellow brick road; no supernatural entity bringing these people to an untimely demise. Just a bunch of people, lost in the woods, who go crazy. And that is why it was disappointing for me. It has a great lead-up, with potential for some great things, but it falls short. The music is never explained, nor is the town's mysterious disappearance. In the end, one man reaches a final destination, which is a ghostly movie theater where he is forced to see his dead wife on the big screen. Whoop-de-doo. I feel like Yellowbrickroad could have been a great movie if it had a proper ending with something that made all of the weird occurrences mean something. But in the end, it feels like a documentary about what happens when a group of people are kept away from civilization for a long period of time. Despite its amazing build up, great production values and talented actors, it falls short and fails due to its lackluster ending.