Splinter

splinter

A romantic camping trip goes awry when a couple is car jacked and held hostage by a dangerous criminal and his strung out girlfriend as they attempt to evade the law.  The situation gets worse for them once they find themselves trapped in a gas station with a gruesome monster standing between them and safety.

Spoilers

What I liked:

The acting in this was solid all around.  Dennis, the carjacker, was the best acted character in my opinion, while Polly and her boyfriend Seth were solid as well.  I usually gripe about characters being dumbed down to make things interesting but what I liked about this movie was that they established early on that Seth was a coward, he was more interested in science than anything else and it played into his choices he made in the movie.

splinter cast

For instance, there was a scene where Dennis is outside of the gas station trying to retrieve his girlfriends corpse because he thinks she’s still alive.  Polly justly wanted to lock him out and just leave him for dead.  This guy kidnapped them at gunpoint, hit Polly, and threatened to kill them at several points and they had no idea whether he would go through with it or not, especially after his girlfriend was killed.  Meanwhile, Seth is yelling at Polly to let the guy back into the gas station because he’s afraid the guy will shoot them through the glass even though they could just hide behind something.  Theres also another scene where the creatures severed arm is smashed but Seth uncovers it so that he can study it, when it’s still a threat to them all, as getting stuck by a single spike is enough to turn an entire person.

splinter

I was a big fan of the creature effects in this.  Practical effects made the creatures look gory, horrific, and real.  This was pure body horror and it was great.  The creature is some kind of slime mold that infects animals and kills them while using their corpse as a zombie to attack and infect others.  The coolest part came when the creature would absorb other creatures into its current host.  You’d have this massive creature covered in blood with black spikes jutting out of it everywhere and it’d look like a person with another person randomly mixed in.  Also, despite being in a human host, the creature didn’t move like a human at all.  It sort of moved around on all fours like an agitated animal and it looked great.  At points in the movie it’s even capable of ripping off some of its limbs which still function as normal and try to attack people.  It was like looking at Thing from the Addams Family, only its covered in blood and has black spikes protruding from it.

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What I didn’t like:

For all the trouble the production crew went through for their amazing creature effects, it was ruined by the horrible camera work.  I can tell that the creature looked amazing from the clear glimpses of it that are visible.  The sad part is, whenever the creature was attacking someone the camera would be all over the place to the point where it was too difficult to tell what was even happening on-screen.  There would also be way too many cuts during this time, I counted over thirty in a short scene lasting less than fifteen seconds.  For the movie to have such good creature design, only to ruin it with bad camera work is really disappointing.  My guess is that it had to be budgetary reasons that they couldn’t show the creature as clearly as possible.

Aside from Seth’s stupid decisions that fit in with his character, the movie did fall back on some common horror tropes such as cops being useless, and it was kind of hilarious as a result.  At one point when everyone is stuck in the gas station they hear the creature that used to be Dennis’s girlfriend on the roof of the building trying to find a way in.  While tracking it through the building they come to the front door and find that there’s a cop there with her gun drawn yelling at Dennis that she’s going to take him in and that Polly and Seth are finally safe.  So for a minute or so, this cop stays outside the locked door with her gun pointed at Dennis, telling him that he’s going to jail.  Meanwhile Polly and Seth are yelling at her that she isn’t safe and she should get back into her car.  No one offered to unlock the doors and let her into the building for some reason, I mean if she was planning on arresting Dennis she’d have to enter at some point or have him come out to her.  She attempts to radio for help at the insistence of Polly and Seth and is unable to get a response.  Still continuing to stand in the same spot and do nothing she’s attacked by the creature and killed.  The thing splits her in two and absorbs her top half, making her a part of it.  It was hilarious because within a second of her showing up on-screen I could already tell she was gonna die.  Why is it that cops never listen to what people are warning them of in horror movies?  Even if she didn’t believe them that there was something outside with her, would it have hurt her to try to enter the building?

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Final Thoughts:

Overall I was surprised that I liked Splinter.  It was a made for TV movie and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those that I liked.  Splinter had a good plot, the acting was good, and the effects were great.  Unfortunately I felt cheated by the camera work.  This is a monster movie and they were stingy with the monster.  This was sadly a movie with great potential that had it ruined by something easily fixable.

6/10

-Andre

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Bird Box

birdbox

A mysterious occurrence creeps over the world’s population.  No one knows what it is or what causes it, the only thing that’s certain is that those that see it are compelled to suicide.  The few remaining survivors must then struggle to exist in a world they must navigate through while blinded in order to survive.

Spoilers

What I liked:

The acting in this ranged from good to great.  Sandra Bullock as Malorie the protagonist put forth a great effort as a single mother trying to keep herself and two children alive during the apocalypse.  I liked her character arc as she went from a reluctant, unattached pregnant mother to five years later being the guardian of two children she tries to distance herself from but ultimately comes to love as her children.  For instance, she literally names the children Girl and Boy as well as makes them call her by her first name.  At one point she had a decision to make where while traveling in a boat down the river they would hit rapids and someone would HAVE to look in order to help her navigate.  She decides that it has to be one of the kids, Boy initially volunteers to look and she tells him no and that she will decide.  She then stares at Girl for a bit.  In a flashback we learn that Boy is in fact her biological son, whereas Girl is the child of a fellow survivor whose mother died immediately after birth.  Her immediate refusal to allow Boy to be the one to look and prolonged look at Girl made me feel like she would be more comfortable with Girl being the one to sacrifice herself since she didn’t feel like she was her mother.  There was also a scene where everyone ends up separated from one another and once Malorie and Boy are reunited and calling for Girl, Boy tells her that Girl is afraid of her.  Despite all of the hardships, once they make it to a sanctuary Malorie finally gives the two children names.  Girl is named Olympia, after her birth mother while Boy is given the name Tom, after the man who served as their surrogate father until he died before they reached sanctuary.  Other than Bullock the rest of the cast gave a good performance, but nothing really stood out to me.

I was also a fan of the monsters, demons, spirits, or whatever they were.  Even though the movie never specifies what it is or even if there is an actual creature, I liked the concept.  I like to think that it has to be some kind of sentient life form since it can not only make people see their worst fears, it can speak to them and try to manipulate them into removing their blindfolds and looking at it.  It has an element of Lovecraftian horror to it, in that there are cosmic beings that are so beyond human comprehension that merely laying eyes on them will drive a human mind to insanity or worse.  The closest thing we get to seeing what the monsters might look like is through the drawings of Gary and a creeping shadow over one of the video monitors from an earlier characters death.  It’s the unknown aspect that I like best about it.  It allows you to come up with your own interpretation of what you think the characters might be seeing.  I prefer this approach rather than if the movie had spent all this time hyping up the monster only for it to be disappointing.  It may not be something that works for everyone but it worked for me in this case.

What I didn’t like:

The inconsistencies in this are glaring.  For instance, the monsters and their effect on people.  With the vast majority of the population looks at one, their eyes morph before they kill themselves.  For some reason that’s never explained, crazy people are able to look at them without being driven to suicide or practically any ill effects, yet they’re driven to force other people to look at the creatures.  The movie shows us several of the crazies, all of which have seen the creatures, yet some of them have the morphed eyes and some don’t.  Take Gary for example, he shows up outside of the home the survivors have holed up in and when they let him in, he appears normal and even has normal eyes.  By the next day or so we see his eyes morph as he starts drawing his pictures of the monsters.  I thought it could have been due to seeing the pictures as we saw a character have the suicide response from looking at a creature through a security monitor, yet another character looks at the same pictures that Gary does to no effect.  So how was Gary able to hide his morphed eyes, or was there a delayed response to seeing the creatures somehow?  There’s a group of crazies that drive around in cars and they don’t have the morphed eyes, yet Malorie encounters a crazy on the river that does have the morphed eyes, as well as a guy they encountered in an earlier scene in the supermarket.  There is also the fact that the monsters seem to be everywhere, yet we have to see them approach people to effect them.  When Gary forces a survivor to look outside she immediately kills herself, same with another survivor that was locked in the garage.  Was there a monster sitting outside the entire time waiting for someone to look out, or are they just there always?  It’s not like they’re being forced to wait with their eyes open for a creature to appear.  During the climax we see that Malorie is being chased by the monsters, as we can see them physically effecting the plants and trees around them as they move through them.  So would Malorie have been fine if she’d taken off her blindfold as long as she didn’t look behind her?

The monsters are also shown to physically exist as bushes rustle, trees shake, and leaves are moved when they move through them.  There is also a scene where the survivors are navigating in a car using its proximity sensors and everything goes off at once in an area where it shouldn’t indicating one of the monsters is near, as it shakes and rocks the car.  So….why can’t they open doors or forcefully remove people’s blindfolds themselves?  How is it that survivors can navigate the world completely safe with only a blindfold if these creatures are physically present?  How is it that they’re only present outside?  Whenever a survivor enters a building they can remove their blindfold and look around without issue, they only need them outside for some reason.  Are the creatures vampires?  Do they need permission to enter buildings?  How can they be physical entities, yet unable to break a window, open a door, or touch someone?  But if they’re not physical entities, what is stopping them from just going into a house and appearing in front of people?  No one wears blindfolds indoors it would be easy for them to get everyone.  It doesn’t make sense.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, Bird Box is a fairly average movie, with a below average plot propped up by great acting from Sandra Bullock.  The rest of the cast puts forth solid acting performances but the plot is lacking.  There are major inconsistencies that pop up and drag down for the movie for me.  Its entertaining, but at certain points it boring and drags.

6/10

-Andre

Upgrade

upgrade

Following a brutal mugging that resulted in the loss of his wife and paralyzed him, Grey must overcome his aversion to technology when he receives an advanced AI system.  Together Grey and STEM, the experimental AI implanted into his body, seek out the ones responsible for that night to execute brutal and gory revenge.

SPOILERS

Upgrade is a fun movie.  It takes elements of sci-fi body horror and action and mixes them up into something nice.  The best part of the movie for me had to be STEM.  STEM was a great and kind of unexpected villain.  I say unexpected because I figured it would be the villain but I didn’t expect it to be the mastermind behind everything from the beginning.  STEM forced its creator to orchestrate the mugging as STEM caused the car crash that stranded Grey and his wife in the area.  Once it was in Greys body it spent the next few days ensuring that he was constantly exerting himself to the point where his mind would be too exhausted to resist it, enabling STEM to permanently take over his body.  Once that happens Grey is stuck in a dream like state where everything was a dream and he’s woken up in the hospital with his wife next to him, meanwhile STEM has a human body which he can navigate society easily with.  STEMs character integrating into human society with his hyper intelligence and superhuman combat abilities is something I wish we got to see, unfortunately that may be only be shown with a possible sequel.

This movie had some really great action scenes as a result of Grey turning over control to STEM.  Being an AI he’d move in this fast and jerky robotic style, dispatching enemies with cold, calculated precision.  It was kind of like something out of the Matrix except STEM was way more brutal and devastating. These scenes looked pretty good and made for some pretty sick kills with STEMs lack of emotional attachment to human life and all.  The use of practical effects for the kills made them look gory and visceral and was a great throwback to old school action flicks that did the same.  Practical effects will always reign supreme over CGI in my opinion and it’s great to still see it being used in film today.

The main actor did a really good job as well.  Its interesting to see him torn between wanting revenge for his wife being murdered yet also disliking how STEM wanted to go about it.  Because of the way they’re connected to each other, Grey is fully conscious of what STEM does when it takes over.  Grey was visibly disturbed by the things that STEM did and it took its tole on him mentally, to the point where he wanted to give up his pursuit of revenge, only to be forced to coninue against his will, reduced to a passanger in his own body.

Overall, Upgrade is a great movie.  Its got great acting, a good story with a great villain, and great effects.  The mix of sci-fi body horror with action is interesting and was executed pretty well in this.  Coupled with the great use of practical effects, this movie is a must watch.

9/10

-Andre

The Devil’s Rock

devil's rock

On the eve of D-Day, two New Zealand commandos undertake a covert operation to infiltrate a Nazi base on the Channel Islands to disable a weapon.  Upon landing and infiltrating the base, they discover the mangled corpses of its Nazi staff and strange Occult symbols along with a woman who shouldn’t be there.

Spoilers

The Devil’s Rock is a low budget film that exceeds expectations.  What I liked best about this movie were the use of practical effects and the way the demon psychologically manipulated people to achieve its goals.  The small cast of actors did a solid job in their roles, especially the actress playing the demon. There isn’t a lot of action onscreen so the majority of the movie is character driven and there is a lot of dialogue.  The demon was originally summoned by a secret branch of the Nazi regime that specializes in the occult.  Once she was summoned through, she decides to manipulate and feed on the ones who bought her into this world.  The demon spends the film manipulating the two men as we find out later that she’s able to take the form of the woman they love most to influence their behavior.  With this ability she can get close to and kill anyone, something the Nazis hoped would help them triumph over the Allied nations.

I was a big fan of the practical effects in this movie.  Old school gore like the good old days of horror.  There’s buckets of blood and plenty of mangled and dismembered corpses leftover by the demon.  The set design with the occult symbology in the room with the dismembered human limbs looked great.  The makeup on the demon also looked great to me.  I like the attention to detail with how it looked where she had stumps where her wings had been ripped off.

Overall The Devil’s Rock is a pretty good film that went unnoticed.  Its got solid acting, great special effects and a pretty good story to go along with it.  It’s definitely worth watching, especially if you happen to be a fan of horror movies featuring Nazi occultism or just happen to be a fan of great practical effects.

7/10

-Andre

Red Christmas Review

Red christmasA matriarch gathers her highly dysfunctional family together for one last Christmas celebration before she plans on selling the home they grew up in.  The past comes back to haunt them when a mysterious cloaked stranger shows up on their doorstep.  Once they invite him in things spiral out of their control as their holiday turns bloody.

SPOILERS

Red Christmas is a weird movie.  It starts out fairly average with a decent villain and an average to below average cast of protagonist.  Once the villain is revealed and he gets his first kill the movie deteriorates into being hilariously bad.  The villain is a slow and extremely deformed individual who happens to be strong enough to cleave a person in two with an ax.  Yet, he manages to kill off six or seven people armed individuals because they do the absolutely dumbest things possible.  There was one scene that I couldn’t understand what I was witnessing because it made zero sense.  The old lady leaves the safety of the house and goes outside to try and break something on the side of the house for some reason.  On the way she has taken everyone’s cell phone and she puts them in various flower pots around the property….and smashes them.  So to recap that, she goes outside to do something that serves no purpose, all while making sure that their means of communication is gone.  Early on one of the characters managed to call the police, and predictably only one cop shows up thirty minutes of movie time later, and he’s killed literally five seconds after he steps out of his car.  The same old lady from earlier manages to retrieve the cops gun while being chased by the killer, and I’m not sure if it was on purpose or if she just sucked but she managed to miss every single shot she fired despite the killer being five feet from her when she picked up the gun.  In the climax of the movie this old lady manages to defeat the killer when she stabs him with an anchor attached to a chain.  By this point I wasn’t even questioning what I was seeing on the screen anymore.  But the anchor was attached to a chain which she had wrapped around her neck for some reason.  She then proceeds to run and jump from the window, hanging herself and killing the villain.  I audibly laughed at this scene because it looked so dumb.

Overall I don’t think this movie set out to do with it accomplished.  This was a horror-thriller movie that worked much better as an unintentional comedy.  The practical special effects were good and gory, but ranged to downright cheesy at times.  The writing was comically bad, I’m not sure if they actually took a minute to visualize how the scenes they were writing would translate once acted out.  This is a bad movie, but its hilarious because of how bad it is.

4/10

-Andre

Murder Party

murder party

Murder party is a 2007 horror/comedy movie.  It’s the story of a guy who picks up an invitation to a murder party he finds in the street.  When he arrives he finds that his curiosity has led him into something that jeopardizes his safety when he just wanted to enjoy himself.

Murder Party is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.  It’s rare in the fact that I found it so boring that I couldn’t even finish it.  I managed forty minutes before I had to bow out.  If I had to guess the budget, I’d say less than five grand.  With the majority of that going towards the “actors.”  The plot was horrible and dumb.  The protagonist finds a card on the street that just says murder party with an address and tells him to come alone.  For some wild reason he decides to go despite walking through shady areas and the “party” being at a warehouse.  He isn’t even suspicious when he walks in and only sees a handful of people around.  They even comment about how they didn’t think anyone would  be dumb enough to come there, but the protagonist is.  The antagonist group catches and ties the protagonist up within the first ten minutes of the movie, they then spend the next thirty just talking and doing nothing.  All they do is talk about stupid, mundane nothing while the protagonist sits there.  This movie is billed as a comedy, but I wasn’t able to find anything funny.  I couldn’t even laugh at how bad it was, it was just, draining.

The acting ranged from sub-par to downright bad.  None of the characters are like-able, they’re generally annoying.  Everyone tries to be funny and do funny things but it just comes off as an annoyance.  No one stands out or even puts forth an average performance.  Were they even trying?

Overall this movie sucked.  I found no redeeming qualities about it.  There is nothing positive I can say about it.  I regret wasting my time watching it.  I applaud anyone with a strong enough will to sit through this movie to the end credits.

1/10

-Andre

Horror Podcasts Pt. 2

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The NoSleep Podcast

https://www.thenosleeppodcast.com/

“In the spring of 2010, a new forum appeared on Reddit.com. It was called “Nosleep” and the concept of this forum (or “subreddit”) was to be a place for people to post original scary stories about frightening experiences. It was an online version of telling spooky stories around the campfire.

A year later, as Nosleep was growing at a rapid pace, one member named Matt Hansen proposed the idea of doing a podcast where some of the top stories from Nosleep would be narrated in audiobook style. The response was quite positive and over the next few months a small group of members endeavored to put together what would come to be known as The Nosleep Podcast. On June 13th, 2011 Episode #1 was released.

David Cummings assumed the role of host and producer and it was decided to release a new episode every two weeks. Producing the podcast has been a learning experience from the start with many Redditors volunteering to narrate and help produce the shows.

The podcast has been well-received from the very beginning. Through word-of-mouth advertising the number of regular listeners has grown steadily. Reviewers on iTunes consistently rate 5 stars and the podcast ranks quite high in its “Arts” category.

The Nosleep Podcast has proudly featured stories from authors who have gone on to publish their stories. Notably, the “Penpal” series from Dathan Auerbach and “99 Brief Scenes from the End of the World” by T.W. Grim.”

The Nosleep Podcast is my favorite horror podcast by far.  The production is top-notch and the voice actors are amazing.  NoSleep has a free and a premium version.  The free version typically features the first three stories with an ad at the beginning of the episode.  The ad is acted out in horror fashion by the shows regular voice talent.  The premium version features an additional two stories, typically rounding out episodes to an hour and a half of content.  In addition, every season for premium subscribers features additional special episodes.  NoSleep also does tours where they do live shows across the US and Canada.  It’s definitely worth checking out!

 

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Pseudopod

http://pseudopod.org/

“You’ve found the world’s premier horror fiction podcast. For over a decade, Pseudopod has been bringing you the best short horror in audio form, to take with you anywhere. We pay our authors professional rates for original fiction and we reach more people every week than any other short fiction horror market.

In 2016 we celebrated our 10th Anniversary. For details, check out our YEAR10 page.

Are you new to Pseudopod? Don’t let our decade of content daunt you. We’ve assembled a list of stories that show the strength and diversity of our offerings. Check it out here (or at the “For New Listeners” link under “Episodes” on the bar above”

Pseudopod is an award-winning podcast that focuses on Sci-Fi and Horror.  Stories are user submitted and acted out by the podcasts voice actors.  Host Alasdair Stuart opens each story talking about the themes and meanings behind certain elements of the story.  The voice sometimes include recognized actors from TV shows and such.

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The Hidden Frequencies

https://thehiddenfrequenciespodcast.podbean.com/

“There are places in the dimension of sound where the walls between universes are thin. In these fragile pockets of static, lies the ability to hear the alternate realities of millions of maybe-people in countless could-be worlds; where the status quo is different from our own. With a keen ear and an open mind we may tune in to these sound waves of the strange, the bizarre and the otherworldly.

They are: The Hidden Frequencies.”

 

 

“The Hidden Frequencies Podcast was created to the great science-fiction/horror anthology shows that influenced a generation of American audiences: shows like The Twilight ZoneThe Outer LimitsX Minus 1Tales From the Dark SideTales from the Crypt and more.

Each episode of the show is a self-contained story: a journey to an alternate earth in an alternate time, where ordinary people must reckon with the extraordinary. Every week, The Frequencies reveal another strange, complex or horrifying world as created by skilled writers at the top of their game and brought to life by a star-studded cast of talented professional voice actors.”

 

Hidden Frequencies is AMAZING.  It’s a brand new podcasts, having debuted its first episode at the beginning of October.  It features some of the production team and voice actors of The NoSleep Podcast.  Having grown up on shows like the Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt, this podcast dredges up nostalgic feelings like no other.  Production is amazing.  It’s like a more horror themed version of Twilight Zone with all the weirdness and themes from the original.

-Andre