Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Oculus - Movie Review

Oculus – 104 Min – R

Horror movies seem to work out this way recently. They come up with a hook and make one good movie and they milk the hell out of it with 5 sequels. This film has lot of potential because it’s focusing on something new, the characters. Oculus highlights the people who are affected by the horror elements. The dedication to the classic horror format is a breath of fresh air. The building pressure and tension pays off in an enjoyable film. I give this a green light because it understands the suspenseful build up to horror. Now if you are looking for splatter porn or the jumps scares keep stepping. This horror is far more sinister. it manipulates your thoughts and your perceptions.

The story surrounds a woman’s desire to prove that she and her brother are not crazy. It has two time lines. In one of them, Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and her brother Tim (Brenton Thwaites) meet after Tim is released from a mental institute in today’s time. She works as an auctioneer and has been trying to find a mirror that she believes is alive and manipulating people into killing for its ghoulish pleasure. She finds it and tries to document the supernatural nature of the mirror before they destroy it.

The other story line is young Kaylie (Annalise Basso) and Tim (Garrett Ryan) move into a new house. Their mother, Marie (Katee Sackhoff), and father, Alan (Rory Cochrane) purchase the mirror to give the house some refinement. Alan starts to spend a lot of time with the mirror in his home office and Marie thinks that Alan is having an affair. The evil of the mirror works on the little voice in your head that focuses on your insecurities. It amplifies the bad things that the voice whispers about ourselves. Alan is taken over by the mirror and tries to kill his family. Tim kills his father and is locked up in a mental institute.

This film jumps back and forth, intermixing actions of today and the past. At times it can be a bit confusing and it takes a few seconds to calibrate what timeline you are watching. I think that might reflect the feeling of disorientation you get while being in the presence of the mirror. As a viewer I started to question my own sanity because I had no idea what was real and what was fake.

It’s incredible just how ultra-hideous the mirror is. I kind of think that anyone who makes the conscious choice of buying it almost deserves to die. Too dark? The mirror is very a creepy member of the cast. It embodies true evil. The mirror sneaks into your mind. It’s ever present, and it folds itself into reality and lies to you with the facts. The evil works its way into your mind seeping in around the edges until it permeates your thoughts. Not being able to trust your own perceptions and what you see makes you work harder to sort out what you are watching.

This movie started off as a short you can see it on Vimeo.

OCULUS Chapter 3: "The Man with the Plan" (Short) 2006 from Francis Craig on Vimeo.

It has the look and feel of a reality show documentary. This film is written and directed by Mike Flanagan who has a long list of television work. What I like about this is the concept of someone trying to document the supernatural. It would be something that I would do if I were faced with something of supernatural power. His next movie, Somnia, looks interesting; in an interview with Den of Geek he has this to say about it.

“Somnia is fragile and hopeful and kind of beautiful at the end of the day. We would pitch it as a beautiful horror. It was really hard to compare it to something else so it's a risky movie, because I don't know how it will go over.” 

 With his work on this film I am going to be interested in watching what he has coming up. He has an excellent perspective on the genera. But do me a favor and please don’t make any sequels just to make them. I had better not see Oculus 5: The refleckoning that is a movie that would be scary on a completely different level, and not a good level.

Follow Den of Geek (@denofgeek) Mike Flanagan (@flanaganfilm) on twitter. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Carrie (2013) Movie review

I know that some hard core horror fans have chosen not to see this movie, I will throw my self on this film so other may live. Enjoy my review. 

Carrie - 100min – R

Carrie is a classic movie, so someone was bound to come along and want to do this movie again -- be it homage, or updating the story, or taking things in a new direction altogether. The 2013 remake of this movie falls into the homage category. They did not change any of the major parts of this film but they did enhance a few sections and updated the bullying for the modern age. We have more access to better special effects so the telekinesis scenes were obviously enhanced. This movie gets a Yellow light because this is a good facelift to a beloved film.

Usually a synopsis of the movie goes here but as it was pretty much the same as the 1976 film, I am going to skip it in favor of highlighting the bits that were done well.. Carrie (Chloë Grace Moretz) is an awkward, ignorant young girl with an abusive mother, Margret (Julianne Moore), who is a bag-of-cats crazy. We start off this version witnessing Carrie’s birth, which sets the tone of this film. It was not pretty and we can see Margret was crazy for quite some time.

The use of cell phones to capture the horrific shower bully scene was spot on and a perfect modernization. I enjoyed how Sue (GabriellaWilde) portrayed the regret of her actions. She was the only one who stopped during the bullying scene. I think this was not played well in the original, seeing how a person can have a change of heart in the middle of doing something wrong was great.

Chris (Portia Doubleday) was a complete and total bitch. She did have a spoiled brat mentality and realized she was in over her head but her boyfriend, Billy (Alex Russell), bore a lot of the blame of what happened. We see the blood collection that clearly highlights Billy as an evil person.

I absolutely loved Judy Greer as Ms. Desjardin. She has genuine concern for her students and no nonsense presence all great teachers have. I love how she was not fazed by anything walking around the school with a bloody hand print on her shorts like it’s a part of her outfit. When Chris beings her father in to get her prom privileges reinstated, the way Greer laid down the smack was priceless. We don’t see enough of her. In the final prom scene I am glad she was saved. I think it would have lessened the story for her to die.

Moretz is a great performer with range, but I hope she does not get pigeonholed into these kinds of movies. She will be one of the best young actresses in modern time if she keeps expanding.

Kimberly Peirce is a wonderful director and really relays a great story in this movie. You can learn a lot from her characters, and they provide lessons without feeling like a lecture. For instance, the lessons here could be that even if you are doing something wrong you don’t have to continue to do it. You always have a chance to change things for the better. Evil deeds bring evil rewards. Sometimes there is collateral damage, good people in the wrong place. Broken people should not have kids.

Peirce directed the outstanding movie Boys Don’t Cry, so I have a hard time not measuring her by her own work. This was a fine film and it maintained the cautionary tale theme of what the fruit of bullying can bring. Peirce’s direction style can be felt coming from this story. She does well with brining out the humanity in her characters.

Sue trying to save Carrie at the end was a bit over the top and it was not needed. We already feel for Sue because she had her boyfriend Tommy (Ansel Elgort), take Carrie to the prom. This seemed like a genuine gesture of restitution. Having Sue show up at her house and try and save Carrie was a bit much, even the interaction where Carrie feels the baby growing inside Sue seems way out of place unless you are planning a sequel. Please say you are not planning a sequel.

What was your favorite Stephen King book to movie? And do you think they should redo it if it’s already been done?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hudson Horror Show 8

Official press release:

Hudson Horror Show is proud to announce our full lineup for the Hudson Valley’s horror and exploitation film festival, Hudson Horror Show. HHS #8 will be on Saturday, November 16th 2013, at Silver Cinemas South Hills 8 in Poughkeepsie, NY. Doors open at noon, show starts at 1PM.

Headliner #1 is the 1981 sci-fi/action classic ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. John Carpenter directed one of the most amazing genre casts ever featuring Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasance, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Lee Van Cleef and of course Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, who we all heard was dead.

Headliner #2 is the 1982 horror/sci-fi thrill ride JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING. Carpenter and Russell teamed up again for one of the scariest films ever made, which boasts the amazing creature and special effects from Rob Bottin. 30 years after both Carpenter classics were originally released, we are thrilled to present these movies the way they were meant to be seen, off real 35mm film!

If the alien from The Thing doesn't scare the pants off you, well, you just might want to take your pants off anyway for INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS. Starring cult film icon William Smith (Red Dawn, Grave of the Vampire) and the beautiful Anitra Ford (Big Bird Cage) this sci-fi/horror/exploitation hybrid has the sexiest murdering space aliens ever seen. With a fun script written by Nicholas Meyer (who later wrote and directed Star Trek II and Star Trek VI), INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS is one of the best “B” movies ever made.

Next stop is Poughkeepsie for the runaway train that is the HORROR EXPRESS! Starring Christopher Lee, Telly Savalas and Peter Cushing, this British/Spanish co-production mixes the Goth trappings of Hammer Studios with the blood and sexiness of Euro cult films. If you only see one movie with a frozen ape monster that shoots laser beams from his eyes and turns people into zombies while on a train, HORROR EXPRESS is it!

The fifth movie for the show will be a MYSTERY HORROR MOVIE! No kidding around this time, it won’t be blaxploitation or a giant monster movie, it’s a full on horror movie. But you’ll have to come to the show to find out what it is!

Our last show was a complete sell out and tickets for this show are already selling faster than ever before. Don’t miss it, get your tickets now! Advance tickets are just $26.00. Click here to order: If any tickets remain the day of show, they will be available for $30.00, cash only.

As always we’ll have vendors selling toys, DVD’s, t-shirts and all other merchandise. If you are interested in being a vendor, or if you have a question about the show, shoot us an email at Keep watching our website and Facebook page for more info, and we’ll see you on Saturday, November 16th 2013 for Hudson Horror Show 8!

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