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Thursday, October 10, 2019

MARY (Film Review)


                                       Starring: Gary Oldman, Emily Mortimer, Jennifer Esposito

                                          Directed by: Michael Goi

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     You know, living so close to the water my whole life I've always regretted never buying a boat - sure they're expensive to own and maintain, and there's a different set of rules when your cruising the H2O...and of course there's the whole "haunted vessel" thing going on - yeah, you know what? I think I'll just keep my land-lubbin' butt on dry ground - unfortunately for director Michael Goi's maritime-chiller Mary, that's exactly where it should have stayed as well - in dry dock.

  Starring quite possibly one of the strongest and most talented actors of my generation, Mr. Gary Oldman - he plays fishing tour organizer David, and to say that he's languishing at his job is an understatement. He's doing his damnedest to provide for his small family, and he's ready to purchase a boat of his own, where his travels lead him to The Mary, a beat-down old barge but one that's definitely caught his eye. After some much needed coercing, his wife (Mortimer) gives him the okay, and when the restoration's complete, The Mary is ready for the big blue. However, something is keeping this ocean-cruiser from fully stretching its legs - almost as if it's got a little "dead weight" attached (bad pun intended), and suddenly all the interior problems that the family had seem like a small puddle compared to the seven-seas-sized dilemma they've got to contend with now.

  While the movie itself uses the boat's small confines to create a nice framing of claustrophobia and despair at times, the usual horror tropes are retread and spit back out like a fresh chum bucket for the big feeder fish - been there, done that and it's just tiring to watch. There's a two-pronged attack on the storyline itself, with not only the actual events that occurred, but an after-investigation with the police - it can be a bit tedious, but not difficult to keep in perspective. Oldman, who absolutely knocks every role he's served up out of the park seems to be wasting his time in this film, and outside of a couple of mid-line portrayals there really isn't much to speak of if you're looking for outstanding character representation. The overall product had a look and feel as if it was rushed to beat a deadline, and the presentation suffers as a result. At the end of it all it would be best to let Mary sail off in to the sunset, and ultimately submerge with no hope of reclamation.

RATING: 2 out of 5

 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

ALONG CAME THE DEVIL 2 (Film Review)


                            Starring: Bruce Davison, Laura Slade Wiggins, Mark Ashworth

                                               Directed by: Jason DeVan

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  Sometimes you just can't go wrong with a sequel - in some facets, it can be used as a straight-up cash grab depending upon its previous film's monetary success, or it can be utilized as a continuation if the powers-that-be felt as if the storyline was not fully extended. However, in the case of Along Came The Devil 2 my initial feelers told me that this go-around wouldn't have been NEARLY as painful as the first movie's offering...so what was the outcome? Step on past the morgue slabs and let's chat about this one.

  The three words that come to mind when describing the first movie back in 2018 were regrettable, forgettable and lamentable - at least that's what the majority of viewers and critics thought. For me, it was just a mid-level Exorcist wanna-be that couldn't quite cut the pea soup - one watch and it was forgotten. I am all about second chances, and that's why when I was offered the opportunity to fire this one up for review I put it at the top of my watch-list - hell, sometimes second chances yield rewards, so why not? The movie, directed again by Jason DeVan picks up immediately after the events of the first film, and after a whopping 5 minutes I was already peering over my shoulder due to the opening chills - at this rate how can this possibly go wrong? We follow Jordan (Wiggins) - the sister of the unfortunate soul who got possessed in the first film and her return home. She's summoned back by her Aunt Tanya who's got a bit of bad news about her sis and believes that she should be around her family in these troubling times.

  Once Jordan arrives, she's met by her estranged, former boozy dad (Ashworth) and family priest (Davison), who knows a lot more about this possession-thing than he's letting on. Also, in-tow is her young stepbrother Xander (Cassius DeVan), who is developing quite the odd personality and temperament, and it becomes obvious that something is off with this equation, and my hopes for some serious devil-business were higher than high...then the LULL hit like a brick. Sadly, the amount of time between the film's first scare and when things begin to ramp up is greater than the Continental Divide itself. We're treated to a rather interesting series of violent events nearing the movie's final 15 minutes or so, but to be frank, the duration of insanely arid dialogue and action would be enough to piss off the Pope himself, and that was the killing quotient for this cat. Performances were steady and when there were frights they were effective - even the gore was freakin' fun but DAMMIT if there is talk about another bite to be taken off of this franchise's plate, can we please have the paced be picked up?

  Overall, Along Came The Devil 2 initially struck like a bolt of lightning, then took a cross-country trek on the shell of a three-legged turtle before hitching a ride on a methed-out jackrabbit with Red Bull in its veins. I'm not going to poo-poo this movie based on one COLOSSAL negative aspect, but if I did happen to watch this again, I'd be sure to fast-forward through the majority to get to the good stuff. It's at MOST a one-timer to watchers of the first film to see how the story has progressed, but this devil has surely been stuck in the muddy depths of Hell for too long. The film releases on October 11th in select theaters, and On-Demand and digital services.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5

Monday, October 7, 2019

BLIND (Film Review)


                                  Starring: Sarah French, Jed Rowen, Caroline Williams

                                                 Directed by: Marcel Walz

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  "What you lose in blindness is the space around you, the place where you are, and without that you might not exist. You could be nowhere at all." - Barbara Kingsolver - the quote itself I find particularly terrifying, and in the case of director Marcel Walz's latest film, titled Blind, the idea that what you're not seeing is what could be trying to harm you is one that would put lead in anyone's shorts. The loss of one of our greatest senses is showcased in such a fashion that it will have you covering your eyes at the sight of what someone else cannot see...now that I've truly confused the hell out of all of you, let's traverse our way through this review, shall we?

  Currently making its way around the festival circuit and reeling in some particularly rave reviews, this stoic, yet insanely white knuckled stalker/slasher stars the stunning Sarah French as Faye, a promising actress whose career has hit a concrete roadblock after the loss of her vision, thanks to a botched eye-surgery. Her days and nights are spent in darkness, and her emotions have already bordered upon despondent - her only saving grace has been the help of a support group and that of one of her friends (also vision impaired since birth), played by industry staple Caroline Williams. Faye's got a budding romance with a fellow support group attendee (Tyler Gallant), and a masked admirer of sorts - known as "Pretty Boy" in the credits (Jed Rowen), he watches, he waits...and he brutalizes without remorse. His attention is purely fixed upon the bombshell he sees, and this is the stuff that breeds nightmares in such a way that even people with 20/20 vision will find themselves constantly looking over their shoulders. As for the soundtrack, if the song "Nights in White Satin" wasn't creepy enough for you...you haven't seen ANYTHING yet.

  With direction by Walz and written by horror author Joe Knetter (if you haven't heard of this man's work, SEARCH IT OUT), the film takes on a pulse of its own, and with French's outstanding portrayal of a woman who has lost her livelihood, it's a movie that utilizes hyper-stylization and dream states at times to fuel the story. With tones muted in darkness highlighted by the occasional explosion of neon color, the images pop off the screen with such a vibrant display - let's just say this: it'll be a true crime if this film isn't released on Blu-ray format to showcase its visual grace. Performance-wise, French's presence on-screen is pure gold, and her ability to depict a person with a debilitating impairment such as the loss of vision is a testament to just how far she's come in the business - she's racking up the awards for the role and they're all well-deserved. Bolstered by solid support from Williams and Gallant, there isn't a weak-link in the casting from top to bottom, and story conveyance was paced slowly but not without the lack of tension.

 At the end of it all Blind should check all the boxes for those wanting a plodding, moody slasher that is constructed to be watched with the lights off. If you're one of the lucky ones to have this movie play near you, get your butts out to the theater to immerse yourself in sensory affliction. It's not a crime to feel for a film's characters and this is the first film I've seen in MOONS that's been able to pull off the task - kudos to all involved. It's usually out of my character to give a high rating to a movie, but after checking this one out I'm completely content in the fact that I'm a horror fanatic with an outlet to share my opinions - one of the best indies I've seen this year, bottom line.

RATING: 4 out of 5

Friday, October 4, 2019

THE DWELLING (Film Review)


                                 Starring: Colin Price, Alysa King, Gwen Cumyn

                                     Directed by: Jeff Maher

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  "You made your bed, now you lie in it!" - Or is it DIE in it? Any way you tuck your covers in, director Jeff Maher's gory shocker The Dwelling (formerly titled Bed Of The Dead) might not garner all the attention it's looking for with a title such as this but it is a fairly fun movie to watch aside from its complete inanity.

  The film, which actually debuted at the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, this non-family friendly pic tags along with a foursome of overly horny pals (King, Cumyn, Dennis Andres and Gerorge Kressa) who are celebrating a birthday of one of their own. Are they throwing a party? Well, not entirely? Are they giving the birthday boy a gift he'll never forget? You'd better believe your sweet bippy! Yes sir, instead of the conventional beer-bash, this small pairing of couples decides that in order to ring in their friends yearly observance, it would be best commemorated by visiting a sex dungeon, renting a room, and shaking the bed off of its casters...JEEZ, all I used to get was a stupid pointy hat and some cake. Without divulging too much information, let's just say that the bed in room #18 (which was acquired for the night via hefty bribe) isn't the most friendly memory-foam bunk you've ever laid your private parts down upon. Turns out that this thing has been cursed for centuries, and whomever presses ass to the sheets gets met with a dispatching that borders on the fringes of both psychologically damning as well as flesh-rending, all in one glorious and gory display.

  Aside from the quartet in peril, a side story of an alcoholic detective has its way with the audience, telling a tale of dual tragedies that's left him a fraction of the man that he used to be. Now he's investigating a heinous crime with a very close connection, and it won't be long before he's dancing with the flask and bottle once again. It acted as an interesting touch to the story but at times felt disjointed with the flow of what was going on with the two couples in danger on the Sealy Posturepedic from Hell. The idea that none of our oversexed youngins were allowed to set foot off of the bed was a bit ludicrous, but was an interesting way to keep the floor clean...that is until some fresh viscera manages to wash over it in mass quantities. What makes this such an intriguing watch is that upon first inspection, you wouldn't think that this could possibly grab your attention; yet, aside from some cheesy performances and slightly insipid plot it actually works, and it's pretty damned fun to take in. Definitely worth a watch, and hopefully you'll use this as a reference point when you head out to make your next bed purchase.

RATING: 3 out of 5

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

ART OF THE DEAD (Film Review)


                                    Starring: Jessica Morris, Tara Reid, Richard Grieco

                                                 Directed by: Rolfe Kanefsky

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   Leaping off of their Party Bus To Hell back in 2017, director Rolfe Kanefsky and executive producer Sonny Mahal dabble in the palette of necrosis with their latest endeavor titled Art Of The Dead, and it's a fair estimate to offer that these aren't the types of composition that you'd want hanging up in your own home - be safe and stick to your kid's dried macaroni self-portrait that you've got scotch-taped to your fridge door if you feel the need to show off to house guests.

  The film itself starts off with the extremely pricey purchase of 7 paintings, bought by a man who unbeknownst to him has just invested in the septet of the deadly sins, each contained within each respective piece of art. When these evil masterpieces are hung up, they'll wreak havoc upon who may dare to stare into their diabolical canvas - the results are horrific to witness, but hey...ART IS LIFE, am I right? Bad jokes aside, the paintings themselves were acted upon as a prison of sorts, brought on by the mysteriously cautious Father Mendale (Robert Donavan in an excellent role)  - only he and the artist responsible for this devilish work truly know their destructive power. Dorian Wilde is the virtuoso to blame, and a possible deal with the devil himself just might be the cause for all this, and  it really doesn't take much time before the depictions have a chance to "breathe" before the body count begins to climb, which all adds up to quite the mess to be cleaned up.

  Kanefsky and Mahal take a bit of a more serious route with this film as opposed to the balls-off-the-wall Party Bus a couple of years back, and it works rather nicely considering how f'n crazy that movie was. It's the swinging of the pendulum of progression and the ebb and flows from unharnessed to slightly restrained measures of filmmaking between movies - that's the kind of stuff that a creative directorial/producer combination can accomplish with ease - well done, gentlemen. Strong performances abound here with Tara Reid as an art dealer with sales to be made, the always interesting Richard Grieco as a purveyor of one of the works, and the beautiful Sarah French as a lady of the night, looking to make some green (always stunning on-screen, no matter the role). All in all from the leads to the support, all facets of acting in this one were solid and cogent to the story - there's a bevy of emotions ranging from all involved, and I enjoyed every sinful (and humorous) moment.

 With Kanefsky and Mahal's strong style and bolstered by glorious violence and a smidge of assistance from the dark masters themselves, Art Of The Dead is one of those films that you won't have to sell your soul to check out. It's available on DVD and On-Demand services right now, so make sure to give it a look...but not too fixed of a stare - bad things can happen when you focus on these objects for an extended period of time.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

REPLACE (Film Review)


                                Starring: Rebecca Forsythe, Lucie Aron, Barbara Crampton

                                                Directed by: Norbert Keil

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  To watch a woman hem and haw over the vastly endless array of beauty products laid out in any department store is something to behold, and simply the notion of how far one will go in order to delay any sign of aging is a perplexing task. Allure and elegance is truly in the eye of the beholder and in director Norbert Keil's Replace, the idea of refinement reaches a horrific stratum - take that, Maybelline!

  Our leading lady Kira (Forsythe) has a bit of a problem - you see, her memory is a bit off in duration of retaining any semblance of what she's done past a week's time...and oh yeah - her skin is beginning to age to the point of disintegrating right off her face. It's fairly obvious that she's WAY beyond a little concealer and rouge - she's going to have to resort to alternate means of "epidermis rehabilitation" if she wants to keep that youthful glow. Her struggles lead her to the enigmatic Dr. Crober (Crampton in a fantastic performance), who shows Kira the way to a more buoyant presentation of herself...now how that's attained must be seen to be believed, but trust me when I tell ya - it ain't pretty (bad pun included at no extra cost).

  With the film's looks and feels, we're transported back in time to the Giallo-style of filmmaking, and it's something to behold - when a movie that's trying to provide a commentary about the social acceptance of the "pretty people" employs the tactic of stunning imagery and gorgeous backdrops - well, that's just a prize all in itself for the viewer's eyes to reel in. Forsythe's portrayal of a young woman clawing desperately against the even stronger hands of time is quite the wonder to watch, and she pulls it off effortlessly making this descent into body-horror traumatically authentic and wince-worthy.

 Replace is one of those time-consuming films that will more than likely act as a cautionary tale of sorts, and should be watched by those who possess not only a strong moral compass but a durable stomach of steel to handle all the messy pieces flying around. This one's absolutely worth a watch and is now available to stream on a variety of platforms as of October 1st.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

 

MANIFEST DESTINY DOWN: SPACETIME (Film Review)


                                Starring:  Lexie Lowell, Jeff Kenny, Jonathan Baker

                                         Directed by: Jonathan Baker & Bo D.

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   Not every film that we take in over the course of our viewing lives has to make much sense (if any at all in this case), and at the risk of sounding like a complete malcontent, unless you've literally got NOTHING to do over the course of 90+ minutes, you could indulge in the film I'm about to ravage (ahem) - I mean "review."

  Titled Manifest Destiny: Spacetime, this completely ludicrous jaunt into the cinematic netherworld drops us on a college campus, where two lonely hearts, Toby and Kara (Kenny & Lowell) have awoken after a night of drunken debauchery, and are given the heads-up by one of their parents to drop everything and evacuate the area immediately. You see, it appears as if the world will be coming to an end soon, and for some unbeknownst reasoning, these two dolts are among an IMPLAUSIBLY minuscule remainder of the populous - so much for the future of mankind. On their tails is a man (Baker) who looks to have escaped from the cast of The Matrix, and he's got an issue with our leading fella and his way of thinking. The real skinny here is that Toby isn't as hopeless as he appears, and he's quite in-line with his Physics majoring, even going so far to disclose that he's managed to solve the literal theory of everything in the universe - so much for a cap on ineffective information.

  Now what in the blue hell this has in relation to the rest of the story is anyone's guess, and I'm sure that the film was blueprinted that way, and it'll truly be up to the adventurous soul that wants to engage the time spent viewing this to see how it all pans out. Fanatics of the sci-fi and physics set will surely dig this film and all it has to offer once it's clutched out of the mud and properly hosed off to dichotomize, but the more casual viewer will probably tune in because it's got that "stoner" feel to it. Both of the lead performances complement each other and act as a refreshing pause when things get too textbook-heavy. Outside of some of the mind-numbing dialogue and goofy cartoonish cut-scenes, the runtime is entirely too stretched out for indulgent ogling, and that alone could act as a deterrent for a prospective viewer.

 Overall, this is one of those movies that deep-down somewhere in the bowels of mystery had a reason for its creation, and who are we to question? If you didn't get enough of the mind-melting dissertations you used to sit through in science class back in the day, then settle in and enjoy this one. However, if you were one of those students who bailed on matriculation to follow the sultanas around the university, you'd be better off watching something more with a less intellectual punch - your choice, proselytes - I'm just here to offer an inoperative speculation. The film releases its scholastic fury on October 28th, so feel free to git yo-self an education.

RATING: 2 out of 5