Friday, December 16, 2016

THE VATICAN TAPES

The Vatican Tapes Movie Review

Imagine you have watched every possession movie ever made and decide to take the most over used scenes and ridiculous clichés from said movies and cram them into a Bugs Bunny people cooking pot. You then gather up some of the worst actors you can find and throw them in as well. You top it off with a dash of really bad CGI and a pinch (or punch) of found footage scenes, stir it all up, dump it into a machine that transforms it all to film, and run it through a projector (or turns it digital...whatever)--the result would be The Vatican Tapes. There's a woman, played by Olivia Taylor Dudley--

No relation to these guys...I don't think

--she gets possessed. She makes strange sounds, weird faces, and kills people around her. She has a dad, played by Dougray Scott, the worst actor in a sea of many in this film--he will annoy you every time he appears. She has a boyfriend, played by John Patrick Amedori--he's just sort of there. We have our Ahab, the Cardinal Bruun, and we have soldier turned Priest, Father Oscar Lozano, played by this guy...

Questionable...

Oh yeah, and this guy...


Mbonga!

...is also here, but for a tragically brief time. Notwithstanding a fairly decent opening scene, little to nothing happens for the first hour--we then get the obligatory exorcism, which is either interesting, or the hour leading up to it is so dull it seems interesting by comparison. We then fall back into sleep-inducing mediocrity before arriving at the ending, which is mildly entertaining but, unfortunately, promises a sequel. While borrowing from many films, the most obvious ripoff here is from Stigmata...this, dear readers, is no Stigmata. The world offers an endless supply of fun things to do on a Friday evening--alas, I spent mine watching this movie.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 3

The Vatican Tapes Movie Trailer

Sunday, December 11, 2016

THE THING (1982)

The Thing Movie Review

A Norwegian helicopter lands at an American research base in Antarctica--the pilot accidentally blows himself up, and his passenger is determined to kill a dog they have been chasing. Unfortunately, the gunman speaks no English and is killed by one of the Americans before having the opportunity to explain why he is trying to kill the dog. The Americans soon discover the dog isn't quite what it appears to be. I revisited this classic for the first time in years after watching the 2011 prequel and it is actually pretty cool watching them in this order--the bonus scene during the credits of the 2011 film leads nicely into the opening scene of the 1982 film. John Carpenter directed this film and, much like the prequel, this one under-performed at the box office, but that is by no means a measuring stick to the awesomeness of the movie.  What this film is known for first and foremost, and rightfully so, is the special effects.

Like This

And This

The effects seen in this film are light years ahead of their time, and would be an inspiration for many movies to follow in the 80s. To me, stuff like this is far scarier than the CGI infested movies we are subjected to in most films of the past twenty-plus years, and it really doesn't get any better than what we see here. With the exception of Kurt Russell, the acting leaves a bit to be desired, but it is by no means bad enough to distract away from the focus of the film. At 109 minutes the film does run a bit longer than it needed to. Still, the story is a good one (based on the 1938 Who Goes There by John W. Campbell Jr.), the action is edge of your seat stuff, there's plenty of suspense, the scares are often, and the ending is one that has been the subject of debate since the film was released. The Thing is often touted as one of the all time horror greats, a title the movie certainly deserves.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

The Thing Movie Trailer

Friday, December 9, 2016

THE SHALLOWS

The Shallows Movie Review

Surfer girl Nancy (Blake Lively) heads for a remote beach in Mexico to catch a wave in memory of her late Mom, who herself once visited the beach. This paper-thin story is really just a way of getting us to the inevitable--despite warnings, Nancy surfs the waters too long, gets attacked by a shark, stranded on a rock, and stalked by said shark. There's also a dead whale, some Mexicans who neither rape nor murder Nancy (though one does rob her, so there's that), and the most likable character in the film, our true hero...

Wilson?

The trailer and television spots advertised this as the next Jaws, but the CGI and absolute ridiculousness of it makes it less Jaws, more Jaws: The Revenge. One could also compare this to Sharknado, but that would bee too obvious--and insulting to Sharknado. Nothing about this film really makes you feel for the lead character, and her suffering, save for the initial bite, seems underwhelming. To make matters worse, the music is some of the most irritating you can imagine, and there are many, many...many insert shots. There is practically no suspense in the film, and it gets to the point when the only thing stopping you from turning the movie off is awaiting the next absurd scene (and there are plenty)--the jellyfish scene is must-see.

Jumpin' Jellyfish!

The Shallows is not the movie you think it is--it's not scary, heart-pounding, or even particularly gory, but it does border on being so bad it's good.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

The Shallows Movie Trailer

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

LIGHTS OUT

Lights Out Movie Review

After killing a man named Paul, a mysterious spirit, visible only when the lights are turned off, haunts Paul's mentally unstable wife and her kids. This much-heralded horror film truly starts off with a bang--the opening sequence is memorable, effective in setting up the rest of the film, and genuinely creepy. Unfortunately, the film doesn't deliver on the promise of the first ten minutes--but let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

We don't want to make her mad

The story is a very intriguing one, albeit one filled with several holes. The connection between the spirit and the family is creative, and the resolution, while one you may see coming, is still somewhat jolting. Where the movie falls apart is overwhelming the viewer with one horror movie cliché after the next. For a film that separates itself from the pack initially, it seems to do everything it can from that point on to fall back in line with a thousand other similar films. The acting is split down the middle--Maria Bello turns in an impressive performance as Sophie, the mom, and Alexander DiPersia is surprisingly likable as Bret the boyfriend; on the flip side, Teresa Palmer is disappointing as lead character Rebecca, and Gabriel Bateman is borderline unbearable as Rebecca's little brother Martin. The film's opening and some impressive visuals allow this film to stand just above a run of the mill ghost flick--but just barely.

On A Scale On One To Ten: 6

Lights Out Movie Trailer

THE THING (2011)

The Thing (2011) Movie Review

A team of Norweigian researchers discover an alien spacecraft buried deep in the ice of Antarctica. After bringing in a team of specialists, including American paleontologist Kate Lloyd (horror vet Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Final Destination 3), they discover the creature inside is still alive--and very deadly. This prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 film of the same name was released in 2011 and was a major disappointment in the box office--I saw it on a three story screen when it was released, and after picking it up on DVD for a couple dollars a few days ago, I watched it for the first time since--I liked the movie when I saw it in the theater, and I liked it just as much the second time around. While not a terribly scary film, it is filled with unsettling visuals.

She looks unsettled

Winstead makes a likable and believable hero, and Ulrich Thomsen turns in a very good supporting performance. This movie is somewhat rare in that it has "big budget popcorn flick" written all over it, yet maintains enough blood and carnage to keep the gorehound satisfied. Many of the death scenes are violent and quite unexpected, which only adds to this appeal. As someone who hates being cold, I would have liked to have seen them play more on how deadly simply being outside in that environment could be--this seemed like an obvious addition, yet it is not explored nearly enough--fortunately, there is more than enough going on in the film to make up for that. The filmmakers did an outstanding job in making this a fitting prequel to the 1982 film--fans of that movie will delight in seeing the groundwork laid out for many scenes we see in the John Carpenter classic. No, The Thing is not a great horror movie, but it is one I enjoy watching and recommend.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

The Thing Red Band Movie Trailer