Month: June 2015

Late Phases

Ambrose (Nick Damici) is a blind war veteran. His son has decided it is time to put Ambrose in a retirement community. On his first night in his new home, Ambrose hears his neighbor get brutally killed. The police and others in the retirement community claim it was an animal attack. Ambrose knows it was something else, some kind of monster. He also knows he has a month to prepare for the return of the beast so he can destroy it.

I need to begin by saying that Nick Damici is an amazing actor. While watching this movie I started to wonder if the actor was truly blind, so I looked him up on IMDB. First, I was surprised to find that he was not really blind. His portrayal is amazing, and he almost never blinks throughout the entire film. The second bit of information I was surprised to find is that he was also the lead in Mulberry St and Stake Land. Those are both amazing lower budget horror films and I had no idea that all three movies starred Damici. This just further proves that he is a truly talented actor. While all the characters he plays have a tough guy persona, they are very different in every other way to the point where I had no idea it was the same actor. His performance made this movie so much better than it likely would have been without him.

I found the storyline really enjoyable. Werewolf films in general are some of my favorites, but the added aspect of the retirement community made it that much more interesting. It was really kind of a sad commentary on how the elderly are treated in the United States. Once our parents get to a certain age we tend to see them as a burden instead of a valued family member and essentially dump them in nursing homes or retirement communities to rot and die. It’s really rather sad. This movie does an excellent job of showing how the elderly are treated, while also using the character of Ambrose to show how capable they can be. Ambrose is completely blind, but he is more capable of taking on a werewolf than sighted people half his age.

An aspect of the film that some people will love and some will hate is the practical effects. Personally, I always appreciate the use of practical effects over CGI, especially when CGI isn’t necessary. That being said, the practical werewolf effects in this film are very eighties looking. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but again it will turn some people off during the film. It reminded me of movies like The Howling. I think the only aspect of the practical effects that I wasn’t very fond of was the actual face of the werewolf. It looks a bit less like a wolf face and slightly more like a demented bunny rabbit, which was not helped by the way the ears were done either. The best practical effects in the film are when you see someone transform into a werewolf for the first time. It was done in a way that is both visually stunning and maybe slightly cheesy all at the same time, which actually makes it even more fun to watch.

While this is not my favorite werewolf movie, it was still well done. I appreciated the use of practical effects and it was a pretty unique storyline. Looking back, I believe the main reason this movie is so good is because of Nick Damici. If he wasn’t in the film, I may not have enjoyed it as much as I did. That being said, it is still an entertaining horror movie that will make you want to hug your elderly relatives after watching it. If nothing else, you will watch this film and fall in love with Damici and his lovably gruff character and be entertained by the carnage.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10

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Insidious: Chapter 3

Three years before the Lambert haunting, Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) was ready to quit being a psychic. Then a teenage girl comes to her for help communicating with the girl’s dead mother. The girl does not heed Elise’s advice and tries to contact her mother on her own, leading to dire consequences. An evil spirit heard her calls and has latched on to her. Elise soon realizes she cannot stop doing what she was made to do. It is up to her to stop the entity from slowly killing the girl and imprisoning her soul.

The first thing I will say about this film was that it was down-right scary. There were multiple times that it made me jump, even when I knew something was about to come out and scare me. That being say, it seemed like the film relied very heavily on the scares to carry the story along. Throughout the film they constantly used scare tactics to make audiences jump out of their seats, which worked very well, but they relied so heavily on the scares that the story was a bit lacking. It was almost like every five minutes something was popping out to say “boo.”

The best part about this film, and the entire Insidious franchise, is Lin Shaye. She is an amazing actress, and her character in these films is so easy to love. It seems like this film was almost meant to be an origin story for Shaye’s character, Elise, but it was muddled a bit by the story of the poor teenage victim, Quinn (Stefanie Scott). I really feel the film would have been so much better if they had made it solely about Elise, and only involved Quinn’s story when it related Elise helping her. Considering the fact that this is a prequel, it only seems logical that it would focus on Elise. This would also have provided more opportunity to build on the mythology that was built up so well in chapters 1 and 2. There were definitely a couple attempts at adding to the mythology, such as Elise talking about the “woman in black” that wants to kill her and explaining how Elise first met Tucker and Specs, but it didn’t seem sufficient.

The acting in this film was phenomenal. Shaye, of course, was amazing as always. While her character was absolutely infuriating with how stupid she was, Stefanie Scott still did an amazing job as well. She just kept doing the most idiotic things, and she was so oblivious to the danger she was in it drove me crazy. My dislike for her character had more to do with the way she was written than her acting ability. I also loved The Man Who Can’t Breathe (Micheal Reid MacKay). Even though his character says maybe two words in the entire film, he is so good at emoting through what little we can see of his face and through his body that he sends chills down your spine. I may also be a bit biased when it comes to MacKay just because he played the mummy in one of my favorite movies of all time, The Monster Squad.

Visual effects are extremely important in horror films. The Insidious franchise does a great job in that department. The way they portray “The Further” I find especially effective. They keep it almost entirely black with fog drifting throughout, using only a single lantern to focus your attention on wherever the light is. The makeup they created for MacKay’s character was especially interesting. They used very minimal effects, making him look thin and sickly, while also giving him the appearance of having a decaying body with sallow skin and thinning hair.

Insidious: Chapter 3 was very successful in the sense that it delivered the scares and kept your eyes glued to the screen. It also brought back everyone’s favorite character, Elise, and told us a little bit about her life before she dealt with the Lambert haunting. There is definitely room for improvement. The story should have focused more on Elise, and relied more heavily on a quality storyline rather than the scares. Either way, the film was really entertaining and was a generally successful installment in a terrifying horror film franchise.

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10

Zombeavers

A group of friends decide to spend a weekend at a cabin in rural Indiana. While spending some time on the lake the friends discover a beaver dam. Little do they know that this charming little beaver dam, and it’s inhabitants, have been exposed to some toxic chemicals. Those chemicals have created what can only be described as “zombeavers!” Soon, the college coeds are terrorized by these evil little undead creatures.

This movie is so much fun. Just from the name and the trailer, you have to go into this movie knowing it is not at all serious or scary. I personally love horror comedies, when they are done well, because they choose some of the most ridiculous horror scenarios and use them to make you laugh. This film definitely delivered the laughs. The entire premise of adorable, shy little beavers becoming horrifying, bloodthirsty zombies is hilarious all by itself. Without giving away any spoilers, the movie gets even more ridiculous than that. It was such a unique story with a crazy twist in the last 15-20 minutes of the movie that I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish.

Another surprisingly great aspect of the film was the acting. Since it is a horror comedy a lot of the acting is over the top. Keeping that in mind when judging the acting, they really all did a great job. I was especially surprised to see Jake Weary (It Follows) in this film. I had never seen him in anything before It Follows, and it’s was great to see how dynamic he is and the range of characters he can play. Two of my favorite characters were Zoe (Cortney Palm) and Buck (Peter Gilroy). They were absolutely hilarious and had some of the best one-liners of the movie. You will also come to hate the character Sam (Hutch Dano). He is the epitome of everything you could possibly hate in a guy, which is an important character to have in a horror comedy.

While the practical effects are not great, they sure are fun. I at least appreciate that, for the most part, they chose to use puppets for all the beavers instead of CGI. There is something so much more fun about horror comedies when everything is practical effects, no matter how silly they look. Watching people get chased by puppet zombie beavers is absolutely delightful. If you watch the movie, be sure to watch past some of the credits. They show some hilarious outtakes from the film, one of which involves a dog from the movie swimming in the lake with beaver puppets and it is adorably funny.

Obviously this film is not cinematic genius. It’s not trying to win any awards or get critical acclaim. The point of this movie is to take what would probably be a terrifying situation and make it funny. In that respect, this movie went above and beyond. When you think about being in a situation where you are in the middle of nowhere with zombeavers, it would probably be frightening. Watching it happen to other people is hilarious. If you’re looking for a fun movie that will make you laugh out loud, definitely watch Zombeavers.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10