Month: March 2015

It Follows

We’ve all heard the buzz for this film. After seeing the trailer a few months ago I was dying to see it in theaters. Sadly, the limited release did not make it to my neck of the woods. Luckily, this film did so well on it’s limited release that it was given a wide release just two weeks later. While I don’t necessarily agree that it is the scariest movie of the decade, like most of the hype claimed, it is definitely an amazing film that checks all the boxes for me.

The film focuses on a young girl named Jay (played by the very talented Maika Monroe). We see Jay falling for a guy that she just started dating. On the night she decides to finally have sex with him, things take a turn for the worst. After their fling, Jay discovers that something was passed to her through the sexual encounter. Now something is following her. It will never stop, and it can look like a stranger or someone she knows. The only way she can be rid of it is if she passes the curse on to someone else, implying that the entity that follows is essentially a supernatural STD. While this concept could be laughable if not done correctly, director David Robert Mitchell keeps the film sexy, stylish, and unnerving.

There were three very successful aspects of this film; the storyline, the music, and the lack of special effects (I know that sounds weird, but I will explain). The storyline was very original and kept you on edge. With the exception of a few good scares, there isn’t much that happens that makes you jump out of your seat. Instead, there is constant tension that you feel knowing this thing could be anyone. It is getting closer and closer to you, and you might not even know if it’s right next to you. In a way this was slightly reminiscent of Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead. In both films, what is chasing you isn’t necessarily fast moving, but it is still so horrifying because it will do everything it can to get to you and destroy you, creating a constant state of tension. And of course, both films are considered very original for their time.

The music may have been my favorite aspect of It Follows. It kind of had an eighties feel to it with lots of high keyboard notes and synth sounds. It created a sound that was both whimsical and ominous at the same time, which perfectly suited what was happening from scene to scene. Some of the greatest horror movies are known for the music that puts viewers in the right state of mind, such as the score from Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Jaws. Just like those classic films, the score for It Follows was beautiful, while at the same time it made me feel very uncomfortable because I knew something evil was coming.

As I state before, another great part of this film is the fact that it had virtually no special effects. These days, that may seem insane. Every horror movie these days seems to have over the top special effects, whether it be CGI or practical effects. This movie didn’t need all that, especially because the evil always looks like a normal person. There were only a couple instances where they used what I assume was CGI, but it was done in such a subtle way that you don’t even really think about special effects being used in the scene. It just feels like a natural part of what is occurring. This seemed to almost add the the scare factor because everything just seemed so real, like this thing could easily be following you too and you would never know.

The only thing that could be considered a negative for this movie is more just an issue that I have. Personally, I like all the answers in movies to be neatly wrapped in a pretty bow to explain why everything is happening. This movie gave absolutely no explanation and left everything open to your interpretation. This normally would annoy me to no end. That being said, I do not believe this movie would have been as good as it was if they had gone into this whole origin story with the creature explaining what it was and why it is following people.

Please go see this movie. It is the kind of movie that makes you think about it for days afterwards, which means they did a great job. I definitely believe you should see it in theaters as well, not just because it was a great movie, but because it is important to support great horror movies by seeing them in theaters. This film has already beat the odds by going from limited release to wide release, so let’s keep that trend going!

OVERALL RATING: 9/10

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Hostel: Part III

As any Hostel fan knows, these films focus around the Elite Hunting Club. In this club a person can bid on people. If they win this person, they essentially can do whatever they wish to this person. They can torture, maim, and kill in any fashion they please. This installment follows a group of guys on a trip to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. What starts as a normal vacation turns into a deadly fight for survival.

As a warning, this will be a relatively short review because it is hard to get too in depth without talking about specifics, and I hate giving spoilers. To be completely honest, I watched this movie because I expected it to be so bad you couldn’t help but laugh. I also had no intention of writing a review for this movie, until I actually watched it. Now it is very rare for a horror movie to surprise me. This film surprised me not once, but THREE different times. They did an excellent job of doing things that were totally unexpected to keep the story interesting. There were also a couple of really creative kills in the film. The trilogy is of course known for elaborate kill scenes, but there were a couple in this installment that were both disturbing and unique.

One of the things I also enjoyed about the movie was that it was gruesome and humorous at the same time. I feel like if a shock horror movie takes itself too seriously, it loses what makes it so entertaining. They also did a great job of updating the storyline a bit. There are still people buying people for the sake of killing them, but there is a lovely added twist that is fitting for the Las Vegas setting. It was a nice update that kept what could have been an old act nice and fresh.

I really was pleasantly surprised with this film. Surprised enough that I’m adding a full point to my rating just because this is a rare occurrence. It was funny, it was gory, it had great twists, and it updated an old storyline in a genius way. This film made sure that horror fans were entertained. After watching this film, I have two words of advice. First, beware anyone that has a bloodhound tattoo. Second, if you are a woman who is engaged, you should definitely make your fiance watch this before the bachelor party. He will definitely think twice about what he does and who he does it with after this cautionary tale.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10

The Lazarus Effect

For centuries, people have been fascinated with death. In The Lazarus Effect, a team of scientists doing research at a California university have discovered a serum that can possibly bring someone back from the dead. The team manages to bring a dog back to life using the Lazarus serum, with some interesting side effects. Unfortunately, the grant they had for their research did not include research into bringing people back from the dead. The pharmaceutical company that provided their funding comes in to confiscate all of their research and equipment. The team decides the only thing they can do now is to sneak into the lab and try to replicate the experiment on film, as this would provide the necessary proof of their invention. There is an accident during the experiment, killing Zoe (played by Olivia Wilde). In a state of panic and sadness, the team decides to bring Zoe back with the serum. They succeed, but they got a lot more than they expected by bringing back a human.

There are two aspects of this film that are incredibly well done. One aspect is the slow burn of the film. The story is done in such a way that the odd things that happen start out small and then gradually snowball into something even more dangerous and horrifying. Another very successful aspect is how they limit your vision to make scenes even scarier. They did a great job of using flashing lights and limiting your view to one angle to make the scares even more effective. Throughout the more terrifying scenes the film keeps you tense and gives quite a few good scares.

There is only really one thing about this movie that bugged me. Before all the scary stuff happens, they make quite a big deal about the pharmaceutical company that comes in to take their research. They make such a big deal of it, that you expect the company to play a more important role. After that initial introduction and some talk about the company later on, there is nothing. I thought maybe they would come in towards the end or something but never did. It seems silly to make it seem like the company has such a large role but then never have them make another appearance. Granted, the company needed to be the catalyst for what would become Zoe’s fate, but it still bugs me.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Now, the idea of bringing a person back to life is not the most original as far as a horror movie goes. What is interesting about this one is that it, at least in my opinion, leaves it up to you to figure out why Zoe came back differently. One thing we know for sure is that when she died she spent what was an hour to us, but years to Zoe, reliving her absolute worst memory. It is assumed that this is what Hell is. There seem to be three different possibilities that explain what happened. You may disagree or come up with a different theory, but this is what I think. My first theory: the years Zoe spent being tortured by reliving her worst memory made her go insane and turn evil. The combination of being an insane evil person, as well as having the Lazarus serum altering her brain, made her the perfect killing machine. My second theory: when Zoe was brought back, something from Hell “piggybacked” with her to our world. The main reason this seems plausible is that she seems to have two distinct personalities that she switches between. Also, in the scene where the mirror she is looking into breaks there appears to be Zoe’s own reflection and a reflection of a more evil version of her. My third theory: the Lazarus serum itself made her evil. It is an entirely new and untested drug that very well could effect the brain in such a way that it turns you into a psychopath with many paranormal abilities. In all honesty, I can’t decide which theory makes the most sense.

Another thing that didn’t make sense to me has to do with the end of the movie. At one point the dog that was brought back to life, and seemed to have been experiencing the same things as Zoe, Zoe kills the dog (or at least you assume so, it is never actually shown). After Zoe has gone through and murdered all of her friends it seems that that is the end. Surprisingly, the last thing you see is the dead bodies lined up and Zoe starting to bring them back with the Lazarus serum. It seems likely that Zoe is trying to create more evil beings like herself. My one problem is this; why did she kill the dog, who was like her, if she intends to bring back all the people she just killed to be like her? It really annoyed me, and I wish someone would explain this to me. Granted, evil Zoe and the dog did not seem to get along, but I’m still annoyed.

[END OF SPOILERS]

While the storyline is not the most original, this film still gives a few good scares. At one scene I almost jumped out of my seat. The cast is amazing and the acting is fairly well done. Olivia Wilde does an especially good job of easily switching between her human personality and her evil one. This is the kind of movie that you have to go in just expecting it to be a fun horror flick that will make you jump at least a couple times. There are definitely flaws, but the only things that truly makes me not like this movie as much as I would have is the part of the story that involves the pharmaceutical company and the unanswered questions I have about certain points of the plot. I would still recommend going to see the movie. Everything is always scarier on the big screen.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10