Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Posts tagged “Ghosts

Paranormal Activity goes on… and on…

Paranormal Activity 5Paramount and Blumhouse Productions have been very happily cranking out a new Paranormal Activity film each year since the first became a smash hit in 2009. But the fifth film won’t hit this October. It was pushed back not long ago, and we know now that Paranormal Activity 5 will open (as expected, more or less) on October 14, 2014.

But there’s another dose of supernatural found-footage horror coming before that October ’14 date. The horror website ‘Shock Till You Drop‘ reports that the first spin-off from the series, aimed at the Latino audience and called Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, will be one of the first films out of the gate next year. Release is planned for January 3 2014.  Paranormal Activity 2-4 writer Christopher Landon directed the film, and this confirms the expected January release date.

No one seems to know what the story of The Marked Ones will be at this point, other than it is set in the same general world as the other films, but don’t know if it relates directly to the story established in the first four core films in the series.

Poltergeist Remake News

poltergeist_posterA remake of the Tobe Hooper-directed horror classic Poltergeist will be made by MGM and Fox 2000, with Gil Kenan (Monster House) directing a script by David Lindsay-Abaire (Oz: The Great and Powerful). Rosemarie DeWitt has been cast in the Mum role. Jobeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson were the original parents whose ideal family life is uprooted by a cavalcade of spirits that culminates in the kidnap of their youngest daughter Carol Anne played by Heather O’Rourke. Given how well these paranormal films are faring against studio product lately, this one seemed ripe for remaking and it’s surprising that it hasn’t been remade before now. Sam Raimi and Nathan Kahane are producing.

The Conjuring – Trailer

The Conjuring is inspired by Ed and Lorraine Warren, experts in paranormal activities, who investigated the spirits — both friendly and sinister — who allegedly inhabited the Rhode Island farmhouse of the Perron family. James Wan directs a cast led by Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston.

Also check out the documentary below which focusses on the real case and features survivor Andrea Perron.  “House of Darkness House of Light”, is a collective memoir which chronicles the supernatural events which occurred between 1970-1980, during the decade her family spent dwelling among the spirits in a house alive with death.


Run For Your Life, Charlie Brown – By Dennis Davies

Anathema Photography

Check out this clip on Vimeo featuring a selection of work from the fantastic photographic website focussing on all things horror… Anathema Photography. Click on the LINK to go to Anathema Photography… Adults only.

Anathema Photography from Anathema Photography on Vimeo.

The Awakening – Trailer

Haunted by the death of the fiancé, Florence spends her time debunking supernatural claims, using methodical and rational explanations to disprove the notion that the dead can still haunt us. She feels compelled to accept a request to go to Rookwood, a boarding school in the countryside where a boy has recently been found dead and rumours about a ghostly boy haunting the school are causing panic amongst pupils and parents alike.

Florence sets to work immediately, laying traps, gathering scientific evidence, uncovering secrets and seemingly unravelling the mystery. However, as Florence is about to leave, she has a chilling spectral encounter which defies all of her rational beliefs and sets her on a journey toward a heartbreaking climax…

Paranormal Activity 4

After the recent news that Paranormal Activity 4 will be released on October 19, it has now been revealed Joost and Schulman will return as directors, this time with several more months to prepare. Bloody Disgusting exclusively broke the news of the film’s returning directors. They don’t have any additional information on what the film will focus on, but, we can speculate in one of two directions based on the third film.

The first Paranormal Activity set the stage by showing a haunting in the house of a girl named Katie. The second film showed how that haunting came to be, originating in the house of her sister Kristi, and where a possessed Katie went after the end of the first movie. It was sort of a prequel tagged with sequel elements. Paranormal Activity 3 added a few seconds to the story of the second before jumping back to the 1980s when Katie and Kristi were pre-teens. There it showed them being haunted and revealed that it was because of the ritual beliefs of their grandmother. Either it can go back in the past and show why Katie and Kristi’s grandmother got all wacky or it can jump ahead (something the third film was lacking) and explain what is going on with the now possessed Katie and her nephew, who she’s kidnapped from her dead sister… stay tuned.

Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro (born October 9, 1964) is a Mexican director, producer, screenwriter, novelist and designer. He is mostly known for his acclaimed films, ‘Blade II’, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and the ‘Hellboy’ film franchise.

He first got involved in filmmaking when he was about eight years old and studied special effects and make-up with legendary SFX artist Dick Smith. He spent eight years as a special effects make-up designer and formed his own company, Necropia. Guillermo wrote and directed ‘Cronos’ in 1993. A Mexican horror film starring veteran Argentine actor Federico Luppi and American actor Ron Perlman, the first of several films on which del Toro, Luppi and Perlman have collaborated.

In 1998, at the age of 34, Guillermo was given a $30 million budget from Miramax to shoot his second film, ‘Mimic’. During this time, his father, Federico del Toro, was kidnapped in Guadalajara, Mexico. Although Federico was eventually released safely, the event prompted Del Toro, his parents and his siblings to move abroad.

In 2001, del Toro wrote, directed and produced ‘The Devil’s Backbone’, a gothic thriller set in Spain, 1939 during the Spanish Civil War. the film follows Carlos (Fernando Tielve), a young boy who arrives at an orphanage, thinking that he will be staying there temporarily, until his father returns from the war. Carlos then sees a ghost of a boy in the kitchen doorway… The movie was a critical and commercial success, enough to warrant another Hollywood project.

He was entrusted with the sequel to comic book vampire hit Blade, ‘Blade II’ was a better film than it’s predeccessor and to date the most successful in the franchise. Taking up the action two years after the first movie, Blade has been killing vampires in Russia and Eastern Europe before a new challenge arrises. Decribed brilliantly at time of release as “Blade II is for those undiscriminating movie-goers who want nothing more from a trip to the multiplex than loud, raucous, mindless entertainment.”

In 2004, he wrote and directed  his dream project, ‘Hellboy’ based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola. Starring Ron Perlman as Hellboy, a demonic beast who secretly works to keep the world safe from paranormal threats. The movie is visually spectacular and was successful enough to warrant a sequel in 2008. ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’, also written and directed by del Toro.

In 2006, del Toro released his best film to date, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’. The film takes place in Spain in May–June 1944, five years after the Spanish Civil War, during the early Franco period. The narrative of the film interweaves this real world with a fantasy world centered around an overgrown abandoned labyrinth and a mysterious faun creature, with which the main character, Ofelia, interacts. Ofelia’s stepfather, Captain Vidal, hunts the Spanish rebels who fight against the Fascist reign in the region, while Ofelia’s pregnant mother grows increasingly ill. Ofelia meets several strange and magical creatures who become central to her story, leading her through the trials of the old labyrinth garden. The film won three Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Cinematography and Make-Up.

Since the release of the Hellboy sequel, del Toro hasn’t directed another movie. He has however been incredibly busy writing and producing work for others. In a production capacity he brought us ‘The Orphanage’ (2007), ‘Splice’ (2009), ‘Julia’s Eyes’ (2010), ‘Kung-Fu Panda 2′ (2011) and ‘Don’t be Afraid of the Dark’ (2011) among others. He was bust for a considerable time writing the screenplay for the forthcoming adaptation of Tolkeins ‘The Hobbit’ which he was going to direct. he has since left the project and has four films lined up for Universal: ‘Frankenstein’, ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’, ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ and ‘Pacific Rim’… the slate keeps changing, however whatever he decides to do, I’ll see.

Paranormal Activity 3 – Trailer

Check out the new trailer for Paranormal Activity 3… and don’t forget to click on the link and Tweet Sydney to be included for one of 20 exclusive screenings. Click here

Paranormal Activity 3 – Tweet To See It First

Paramount Pictures has announced a “Tweet To See It First” campaign which will allow twitter users to determine which 20 cities will get to see Paranormal three days before the film’s global release. The third film in the series is a prequel which takes us back to 1988, where we get to “Discover How The Activity Began.” Paramount press release:

Tweet to Decide Who in the World Sees “PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3″ First!

Paramount Pictures Launches First Ever Global “Tweet To See It First” to Kick Off the Eagerly Awaited 3rd Installment of the Thriller Franchise

Movie Will Premiere in 20 Cities Worldwide on October 18th

In an unprecedented move, Paramount Pictures will debut PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 exclusively in cities where the most fans “Tweet To See It First”. This first ever of its kind campaign launched today at 8:00 a.m. PDT and is open to fans worldwide. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 will premiere on October 18th in the top 20 cities with the most tweets, 3 days before the film’s global release.

“The support of this franchise from the online community is phenomenal. We again look to reward them for that support by offering them the chance to see it first, this time expanding our reach globally,” said Rob Moore, Vice Chairman of Paramount Pictures.

To vote, fans can go to ParanormalMovie and select their city from a global map, which will also serve as the point of entry to create a tweet with a special set of hash tags that link directly to twitter. Once a tweet posts, it counts as a vote. A leader board will show the top 20 global markets in real-time.

The “Tweet To See It First” competition is available to audiences worldwide and ends at 11:59 p.m. PDT on Thursday, October 13th. The top 20 cities will be announced on Friday, October 14th.

Dark Shadows – Images

Tim Burton’s latest film, an update of campy classic television series ‘Dark Shadows’ has already drawn quite a few negative reactions from online sites and the gossip magazines, all from people who haven’t seen any footage… Prompting Warner brothers to release a few official images to try to counter the negative publicity. Check out the on set report at UK Empire and official Press release at Entertainment Weekly.

Dark Shadows cast: Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman; Chloe Grace Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard; Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard; Gulliver McGrath as David Collins; Bella Heathcote as Vitoria Winters; Johnny Depp as Barnabas; Ray Shirley as Mrs. Johnson; Jackie Earle Haley as Willie Loomis; Jonny Lee Miller as Roger Collins; and Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard.

Stephen King

Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, fantasy and science fiction. is books have sold more than 350 million copies worldwide, which have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books. As of 2011, King has written and published 49 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, five non-fiction books, and nine collections of short stories. Many of his stories are set in his home state of Maine.

When King was two years old, his father left the family under the pretense of “going to buy a pack of cigarettes,” leaving his mother to raise King and his adopted older brother, David, by herself, sometimes under great financial strain. As a child, King apparently witnessed one of his friends being struck and killed by a train, though he has no memory of the event. His family told him that after leaving home to play with the boy, King returned, speechless and seemingly in shock. Only later did the family learn of the friend’s death. Some commentators have suggested that this event may have psychologically inspired some of King’s darker works, but King himself has dismissed the idea.

While browsing through an attic with his elder brother, King uncovered a paperback version of an H.P. Lovecraft collection of short stories that had belonged to his father. From 1966, King studied English at the University of Maine, graduating in 1970 with a bachelor of Arts in English. After leaving the university, King earned a certificate to teach high school but, being unable to find a teaching post immediately, initially supplemented his laboring wage by selling short stories to various mens magazines. Many of these early stories have been published in the collection Night Shift.

In 1973, King’s novel ‘Carrie’ was accepted by publishing house Doubleday. King actually threw an early draft of the novel in the trash after becoming discouraged with his progress writing about a teenage girl with psychic powers. His wife retrieved the manuscript and encouraged him to finish it.  His advance for Carrie was $2,500, with paperback rights earning $400,000 at a later date. King then began writing a book titled Second Coming, later titled Jerusalem’s Lot, before finally changing the title to ‘Salem’s Lot’ (published 1975). King has written of his severe drinking problem at this time, stating that he was drunk delivering the eulogy at his mother’s funeral.

After his mother’s death, King and his family moved to Boulder, Colorado, where King wrote ‘The Shining’ (published 1977). It would appear that Kings well documented issues with Stanley Kubrick’s version of the Shining stem from Kubrick removing most of Jack Torrance’s alcoholism that is prevalent in the novel. King produced his own TV version in 1997, it wasn’t as good as Kubrick’s classic.

The family returned to western Maine in 1975, where King completed his fourth novel, ‘The Stand’ (published 1978). By now King was well established as an international bestselling author. He has continued to publish novels at an exceptional rate of at least one every year since ‘The Shining’. Apart from those first 4 mentioned, my favourites have been ‘The Dead Zone’(1979), ‘Firestarter’ (1980), ‘Cujo’ (1981), ‘Pet Sematary (1983) and ‘Misery’ (1987). I have to confess that I became less interested in Kings books as my reading preferences became more varied.

There have been almost 40 filmed versions of his work, the best of which are, as with his novels, from his earlier work. ‘Carrie’, ‘The Shining’, ‘Creepshow’, ‘Cujo’, ‘The Dead Zone’, ‘Misery’, being the best of the them. There have also been some excellent movies from his short stories, ‘Stand by Me’, ”The Shawshank Redemption’, ‘Apt Pupil’, ’1408′ and ‘The Mist’. The best filmed version of his later work is ‘The Green Mile’. There has been a long running bid to get his book series, ‘The Dark Tower’ into production, however the scale of the story has thus far prevented any real progress.

King has received Bram Stoker Awards, World Fantasy Awards, British Fantasy Society Awards, his novella ‘The Way Station’ was a Nebula Award novelette nominee, and in 2003, the National Book Foundation awarded him the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

100 Greatest Horror Movie Quotes of All Time

Great compilation of classic quotes from some great and not-so-great horror/thriller movies.

Full list of quotes can be found here

The Alphabet Killer *½

In Rochester, a young girl has been abducted, raped and murdered. The FBI believe that the killer is a drifter; Detective Megan Paige (Eliza Dushku) believes otherwise. She thinks that the killer knew the girl and selected her because her first and last initials and area her body was dumped all began with the letter ‘C’; she also believes that he will kill again. She works obsessively, her mental state fragments and she starts to see visions of the dead girl; unable to find any leads she has a complete breakdown and in despair, slits her wrists.    

After therapy and on medication, Megan is reinstated, working on limited duties in the records office and on reception duties. However, she is vindicated when another murder follows the same pattern, a young girl, same first and last initial and area where the body was discovered all match her theory. Back on the case Megan starts to get closer to the killer as another murder takes place…

The Alphabet Killer has some good ideas but none of them are implemented very well. The script, direction and acting are all average at best.

I must admit to watching this movie for two reasons, one, that is another ‘based on real events’ thriller and I was attempting to watch as many as I could before compiling a list of the good and bad serial killer movies; however the main reason is that I quite like Eliza Dushku, however her looks can only get her so far. She isn’t the only one who puts in a poor performance; most of the cast are either trying to hard or not at all. Which is disappointing as the supporting cast; Timothy Hutton, Cary Elwes, Tom Noonan and Bill Moseley are all generally good. Can someone please give Timothy Hutton a good role before his talent is completely wasted.

The scriptwriter Tom Molloy and director Rob Schmidt don’t seem to be sure exactly what it is they’re aiming for. The movie tries too hard to be all things to everyone and doesn’t work on any level. There are good moments and it is photographed well, however as a whole the movie is too stereotypical, predictable and clichéd to recommend. Schmidt directed ‘Wrong Turn’ (2003), which although not a classic was much more enjoyable. If you want to see some good serial killer detective thrillers, stick with Manhunter, Silence of the Lambs, Se7en or Zodiac and give this a miss. 

Quality: 2 out of 5 stars

Any good: 1 out of 5 stars

The Orphanage – Remake

An English-language remake of Juan Antonio Bayona’s ‘The Orphanage’ (2007) has been in the works for a few years now, but it hit a rough patch in 2009 when would-be director Larry Fessenden left the project after dealing with casting issues. It seems his successor Mark Pellington (The Mothman Prophecies, Arlington Road and U2 3D) may be having somewhat better luck on that front.

According to a new report, producers are eyeing three-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams to play the lead in the film. Adams has entered talks with New Line for the part of Laura, who returns to the orphanage where she grew up with the intention of turning it into a home for disabled children. However, her plans take an unexpected and disturbing twist when her young son befriends a mysterious imaginary friend who wears a mask.

Pellington will be directing The Orphanage from a screenplay written by Fessenden and Sergio Sanchez, back when Fessenden was still set to direct. Guillermo del Toro is producing the remake, as he did the original. Personally, I’d rather they left it alone…

Ghostbusters 3

Ghostbusters 3 has been in developmental limbo for years, held up in large part by the studio’s inability to get leading man Bill Murray to commit, or for that matter even read a script. Yesterday, franchise co-star Dan Aykroyd said the film will shoot next year, even if Murray’s not in. “That is our hope. We have an excellent script,” he said on radio’s The Dennis Miller Show. ”What we have to remember is that Ghostbusters is bigger than any one component, although Billy was absolutely the lead and contributed to it in a massive way, as was the director and Harold (Ramis), myself and Sigourney (Weaver). The concept is much larger than any individual role and the promise of Ghostbusters 3 is that we get to hand the equipment and the franchise down to new blood.” Somebody better tell the execs at Sony, where it’s still no movie. And for that matter, Murray.

The Dibbuk Box

Check out this creepy story, courtesy of Brad at work. It’s such a great, creepy tale in the mould of ‘Drag Me To Hell’ and it looks likely to be the next feature from horror supremo Sam Raimi’s production company Ghost House.

Jason Haxton, the curator of a medical museum in a small Missouri town, learns of the mysterious cabinet and is intrigued by it as an artifact to be studied and researched. He places a bid on eBay and he soon finds himself the proud owner of the dibbuk box. But as he carefully investigates and records everything he can about this unusual item said to be possessed by a Jewish spirit, Haxton discovers far more than he bargained for. In this true account, a dark story comes to light—a story that began at the time of the Holocaust and seems to have come full circle.

Listen to the podcast at ‘Darkness Radio’ that features an interview with Jason Haxton.

Grave Encounters – Official Trailer

A reality TV show about ghost hunting goes terribly wrong when the crew enters a psychiatric hospital. Very much in the vein of the recent ‘The Tunnel’ movie, which is legally free to download here and of course ‘Blair Witch Project’.
This looks like an interesting indie film. Read more on the official site and on facebook  

Ghostbusters – A review by my 5½ year old son

Another review by my 5½ year old son. He can’t wait for Harry Potter (he’ll have to wait for me to see it first to make sure it’ll be okay for him… which he’s not happy about) so he knocked off this review of Ghostbusters which he saw for the first time at the weekend.

Ghostbusters is about ghosts and Ghostbusters. The Ghostbusters are guys who stop the ghosts from causing trouble. It’s about gargoyles that break out of the gargoyle statues and come alive. And it is about one skeleton ghost and a green ghost. It is about a giant marshmallow man and the Ghostbusters were attacking it and it looks good but it isn’t really. It is a little bit scary for little kids.

Rating 4 stars out of 5

Dr. Raymond Moody

Dr. Raymond Moody was born today, June 30, in 1944. He is most famous as an author of books about life after death and near-death experiences (NDE), a term that he coined in 1975. His best-selling title is ‘Life After Life’.

Moody studied philosophy at the University of Virginia, United States, where he obtained a B.A. (1966), an M.A. (1967) and a Ph.D (1969) in the subject. He also obtained a Ph.D in psychology from the University of West Georgia. In 1998 Moody was appointed Chair in Consciousness Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. After obtaining his M.D., Moody worked as a forensic psychiatrist in a maximum-security Georgia state hospital.

Moody’s own beliefs on NDEs can be summed up with the following quote from his interview with Jeffrey Mislove: “I don’t mind saying that after talking with over a thousand people who have had these experiences, and having experienced many times some of the really baffling and unusual features of these experiences, it has given me great confidence that there is a life after death. As a matter of fact, I must confess to you in all honesty, I have absolutely no doubt, on the basis of what my patients have told me, that they did get a glimpse of the beyond.”

From a study of 150 people who had clinically died or almost died, Moody concluded that there are nine experiences common to most people who have had a near death experience. These are:

  1. hearing sounds such as buzzing
  2. a feeling of peace and painlessness
  3. having an out-of-body experience
  4. a feeling of traveling through a tunnel
  5. a feeling of rising into the heavens
  6. seeing people, often dead relatives
  7. meeting a spiritual being such as God
  8. seeing a review of one’s life
  9. feeling a reluctance to return to life

Decide for yourself if he’s a nutter or not by checking out this interview with Moody and his website where you can purchase a signed copy of his book. All this fuels the supernatural movie genre so I view it, with skepticism, as a good thing.

Haunted Mansion – Review by my 5 year old son ***

Another review from my 5 year old son. He couldn’t wait until the weekend to review ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ so knocked out this review until he sees that behemoth on Saturday afternoon. This is more of a synopsis than a review. SPOILER ALERT. He gives away the ending. I usually edit out huge spoilers from his movie reviews but figured that this is so old now and no-one is going to rent it anyway.

“It’s about a spooky house that’s called a mansion. It’s about ghosts and graveyards. A man and a woman give some people some cookies. There’s a nice ghost. The nice ghost helps the man get his children out of a box from the skeletons that are spooky. The bad ghost can’t get hurt by anyone but in the end he gets fire on him and the good guy is okay. It’s not too scary for kids but little kids might get scared. It’s spooky and funny but spooky.”

Any good ***

The Ward **½

1966, Kristen (Amber Heard), a beautiful but troubled young woman burns down a remote farmhouse and is incarcerated in a remote ward in the psychiatric hospital. She has no idea why she is there and no memory of her life before the fire. Kristen is treated by Doctor Stringer (Jared Harris) and his stereotypically brutal staff, Nurse Lundt (Susanna Burney) and orderly Roy (D.R. Anderson). 

In the ward Kristen meets four other disturbed girls, Emily (Mamie Gummer), Sarah (Danielle Panabaker), Zoë (Laura Leigh) and Iris (Lindsay Fonseca). They are four very distinct characters with a shared secret. Who was Tammy, the girl who had Kristen’s room before she arrived? Who is Alice? Who is walking the halls at night and more disturbingly why are the other girls starting to disappear?

Kristen is determined to escape before she becomes the next victim.

The cast of girls are all okay, and although each of them is playing fairly stereotypical roles, they deliver decent performances. Sadly I can’t say the same about Jared Harris as Dr. Stringer, Susanna Burney or D.R Anderson, they are quite wooden. Amber Heard has the most to do and is obviously relishing the role. She’s a good physical presence and instils Kristen with some believability.

The Ward is John Carpenters first movie as a director in seven years and he has made a return to the psychological thriller genre in which he made his name. The movie retains most of his stylistic touches, forced perspective, extreme angles and tracking shots; it is very much a Carpenter movie. He makes good use of the limited sets and creates a typically sinister atmosphere.

The make-up effects are good as they are; however, the extra expense incurred by adding the CG overlay has backfired. Once again a modern genre flick has been hampered by some shoddy CGI that removes us from any involvement in the featured scenes. Carpenter directed the pioneering effects movie ‘The Thing’, surely of all horror genre directors he’s aware of the impact that good effects can have.

The Ward is part horror film, part psychological thriller and as such it works fairly well. However if you’ve seen ‘Shutter Island’ or ‘Identity’ there’s nothing much new to see here. Not the return to form of ‘Halloween’, ‘Escape From New York’ or ‘The Thing’ but better than Carpenters last few movies as director, although it will take more than this to erase memories of ‘Ghosts of Mars’. An okay movie but not the return to form we’d hoped for; current scream queen of the moment Heard is good and overall the movie is worth the effort. Check out the trailer here  

Quality: 3 out of 5 stars

Any good: 2 out of 5 stars

Reeker **½

Five college kids Gretchen (Tina Illman), Trip (Scott Whyte), Cookie (Arielle Kebbel), Nelson (Derek Richardson) and ‘Blind’ Jack (Devon Gummersall) share a ride through the desert to a rave. They are all different personalities and we are given a few thankfully brief moments to get to know them before Gretchen decides to throw Trip out of her SUV as he has a bag full of stolen ecstasy tablets. Not wanting to ditch him in the middle of the desert they agree to take him back to the gas station/diner/motel that they stopped at on the way. However once there they discover that the previously busy place is now deserted, their SUV has run out of fuel and alarmingly, find themselves the target of a foul-smelling, deranged killer with a penchant for dismembering his victims. They are joined by drug manufacturer Radford (Eric Mabius) who wants his drugs back and (Michael Ironside) who is looking for his missing wife, but he may not be telling them the entire truth…

Directed solidly enough by David Payne, the movie throws up just enough information to give us clues, keep the interest levels up and moves along at a good pace.

Although it’s done well enough, Reeker offers nothing really new to the dusty, desolate location stalked by a killer scenario; other than the ‘smell’ factor, the reason for which is revealed towards the latter part of the movie. The story is fairly simple and the characters are slightly different from the average jock, nerd, and hot girl etc., college kids by numbers that are usually thrown together in slasher flicks; however we still want to see them killed and any real lack of empathy with any of the characters makes that easy. The major distinct change is ‘Blind’ Jack, although his alleged heightened sense of smell proves to be wasted as far as story point possibilities are concerned.

The design of the ‘Reeker’ is pretty good but the finished look is not, CGI doesn’t work in horror movies. They should have delayed showing him and then used that saved time and energy in fewer shots to raise the overall quality. The ‘woozy’ smell effect is terrible, it cheapens the movie and isn’t necessary; having the characters reacting would suffice.

The scenario has been done before, and better, in ‘Identity’ and some of the ‘Final Destination’ movies. Having said that, at least it tried to do something new and that’s something that is very rare in American horror films these days.

It’s hard to know what to make of ‘Reeker’, I can’t say too much about the plot without giving away pointers towards the ending, which depending on your previous viewing history will leave you pleasantly surprised or groaning. However the final coda after what should have been the ending feels tacked on and unnecessary.

There’s a 2008 sequel: No Man’s Land: The Rise of the Reeker. Haven’t seen it and in no hurry to.

Quality: Well made 3 out of 5 stars

Any good: 2 out of 5 stars (a point off for shoddy CGI effects and the final ending)

Insidious ***½

The trailer for ‘Insidious’ is excellent, it’s incredibly well put together, looks great and ends with a fantastic line of dialogue and an unnerving shot of a terrifying claw-handed figure in the shadows of a kids bedroom. I loved it and was desperate to see this film; usually with each new horror release that comes along we get a pretty good trailer and are let down by the final product. Not with Insidious.

Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) move into a huge new house, it’s perfect for them and their 3 children, the eldest of whom, Dalton (Ty Simpkins – another scary kid to add to the growing list) is terrified of something. There are strange noises in the house, things move by their own volition and one night Ty investigates, falls and bumps his head. The next morning falls into what appears to be a coma; the doctors are confounded, he doesn’t get any better and after a few months he’s allowed to go home under the care of a day nurse. This is when things get worse, the odd activities in the house increase, Renai is terrified and starts to see the ghosts; then the bloody hand print on Daltons bed sheet is the last straw. Unlike most other haunted house thrillers the family here move out, at last someone in this situation gets it… or so we think.

Despite the move the situation worsens. As a last resort Josh and Renai decide to bring in the help of two paranormal investigators (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson) and psychic Elise Reiner (Liz Shaye). Reiner delivers the fantastic line that was used so well in the trailer: “It’s not the house that’s haunted, it’s your son”. The film takes an unexpected turn from here to the end, go with it and you’ll probably love the movie… if you don’t then you’ll probably feel a little let down.

Insidious was written by the ‘Saw’ team of Director James Wan and Actor Leigh Whannell and they’ve crafted a genuinely creepy and in some parts terrifying movie. The scares all derive from the tension that Wan ratchets up from the very start. He doesn’t throw in all the fake scares that are commonplace these days, no ‘closing the bathroom cabinet to reveal…’ or ‘nearing a sound in a wardrobe only for it to be a cat’ etc. Instead the movie concentrates on building the tension and creepy atmosphere so we’re on edge throughout.

As you would expect with the likes of Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey (as Renai’s mother), the actors are all good. Even Whannell turns in a kooky performance that works and Liz Shaye is definitely channelling Zelda Rubinstein from Poltergeist. Which brings us to the script; it’s obviously very well written and researched… and by researched I mean it lifts freely from any number of classic horror films of the past: Poltergeist, Amityville Horror, The Exorcist and The Omen. It also features similar themes to ‘Paranormal Activity 2′ which is no surprise as it’s co-produced by Jason Blum. That’s not a complaint as at least they’ve come up with some new and different ideas. The script is also quite funny but not in a ‘Scream 4’ way, the humour here works with the movie.

Quality: 4 out of 5 stars

Any good: 3 out of 5 stars      


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