Month: November 2016

Fear, Inc.

A horror movie buff has his friends come in from out of town to celebrate Halloween. He wants to experience big scares, but finds the typical haunted houses and mazes predictable. A stranger tells him about a mysterious company called Fear, Inc. that will create terrifying scares catered to what he fears. Despite his friends warnings, the horror fan calls the company. It doesn’t take long for him to realize that he has made a grave mistake. He has put his friends and himself in peril as this dangerous company plays its wicked game.

What made this film stand out to me is that it strikes a cord with true horror fans. The discussions the friends have and the movies referenced are all parts of conversations we have had with other horror fans. There are also quite a few hidden gems throughout the film. They are almost like little inside jokes for genre fans to notice. An example of this is when the two lead males dress up as Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees for Halloween. The reason this is hilarious is because one of those two actors was in the movie Freddy vs. Jason. I almost died laughing when I saw them in costume and made the connection.

In terms of the overall story, this film reminded me a bit of The Houses October Built. Both feature characters that are disillusioned by what Halloween haunted houses and corn mazes have to offer in terms of scares. As a result, they look for something more intense and terrifying. This leads the characters down a path they wish they hadn’t gone down. It plays into the idea of people wanting bigger scares to get the adrenaline going, but how far should it really go?

Fear, Inc. did a great job of making sure the audience understood the company manufacturing scares was not on the up and up. They will do whatever it takes to scare the participants, even if that means by physical means. The lead character thinks it’s all fun and games, but when it clicks in his head that the gore might be real things take a turn. The film quickly goes from more of a comedic style to an intense thriller. The end of the film is what really makes Fear, Inc. shine through. The filmmakers managed to create an ending that felt familiar to horror fans, but it was also something new and exciting that kept the audience guessing. The only downfall to the plot that comes to mind is a few minor questions I have (I don’t necessarily want to call them plot holes) about how certain things were achieved.

This was a film that had an all-around great cast you could tell had fun making the film. Lucas Neff (Raising Hope, Glitch) was quite lovable as the lead, Joe. I used to watch Raising Hope, and I almost didn’t even recognize him in this film. Not only did he physically look different, but he plays such a laid-back character compared to how I was used to seeing him. I loved watching Neff portray Joe as this carefree guy that thinks everything is a game until things go too far, and then we get to see his more intense side. Caitlin Stasey (Reign, All Cheerleaders Die) was also delightful as Joe’s girlfriend, Lindsey. She stood out to me because of how she could change her character’s disposition at the flick of a switch, while still making it seem natural.

Since this is a horror film made to appease genre fans, there was of course a healthy amount of gore. The filmmakers were very clever about how they showed the blood and guts. Much of what we see looks better than a low budget horror film, but also not too realistic. It is this odd in-between area where it could possibly be real, but it could be fake as well. It helped us stay in the same mindset as Joe so the audience is never sure if what we are seeing is real or all part of an act. This helped us to try to figure things out along with Joe.

If I had to say one thing about this movie it’s that it is fun. This film was a perfect homage to the horror genre and the loyal fans. Fear, Inc. is a film that makes you laugh and gasp in turn, and it keeps you guessing from start to finish. It is a movie that will be added to my list of  must-watch films for Halloween. If you are a true fan of horror, this is not a film you should pass up on. It may not be scary, and there may be one or two things that could have used a bit more explaining, but it is the most fun I’ve had watching a horror movie in  while.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10

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Sadako vs. Kayako

After discovering a mysterious blank tape, Natsumi decides to watch it to see if it is really the legendary cursed tape. She soon regrets her decision when she realizes it is the real tape. Now she is cursed and the ghost, Sadako, is going to kill her in two days. She enlists the help of a college professor, a priestess, a medium, and her best friend Yuri in order to try to get rid of the curse. The medium determines the only possible way to get rid of the curse is to have it battle with another curse: the curse of Kayako in her haunted house. It is the ultimate battle between The Ring and The Grudge.

Most people have seen either the US or Japanese versions of The Grudge and The Ring. Personally, I have only ever seen the US versions, so this was my first dive into the Japanese versions of the stories and characters. The plot in general was very interesting. The film definitely focused more on the Sadako part of the story, only briefly showing the curse of Kayako before the epic final battle. Because of this, it felt like the young girl who gets cursed by Kayako was a bit of an unnecessary character. They needed her to show what happens to those who enter Kayako’s home, but I believe it was shown sufficiently in scenes of other lesser characters entering the house. The unevenness was one of my biggest issues with the film. A lot of “vs” films tend to either focus too much on one character or not even have the two entities meet to battle. Freddy vs. Jason is an example of a flawed “vs” film, but it succeeded in having a relatively even split between the two villains.

The film had an excellent mix of thrills, shocks, and laughs. There were a few moments that were very creepy, and more than once I was surprised by the level of violence that some of the deaths had. The humor was probably the most surprising to me. Even with the final battle between Sadako and Kayako, there were a lot of unexpected things that happened and things that I couldn’t help but laugh at (in a good way). Most of the laughs happened when spiritual medium Kyozo and his young blind sidekick, Tamao, were on screen. Tamao especially had some hilarious one-liners. Her blunt and honest take on what was happening added much needed humor.

The entire cast did a great job. There isn’t any person I can single out as not giving a stellar performance. While everyone was great, there were two specific standouts for me. Masanobu Andô was great as spiritual medium Kyozo. Then, of course, there was his young partner in crime, Tamao, played by Maiko Kikuchi. These two were so hilarious together. You couldn’t help but laugh every time they were on screen. The pair of them were so enjoyable that I can see there could easily be a spin-off movie made just about the two of them and their work in the supernatural field. 

Surprisingly, there were very few effects used in this film. Beyond the makeup and hair on the two ghosts, what made truly them creepy was through their acting. With Kayako, most of what makes her scary is the way she contorts her body. There were some subtle, yet effective, practical effects used for some of the kills. These scenes really surprised me with how grotesque they were without really being gory or bloody. There was one huge CGI effect at the end of the film, but there is no way they could have done it with practical effects. It also wasn’t something that stood out in a negative way, so that means the CGI was well done.

Sadako vs. Kayako is Japan’s Freddy vs. Jason. While I enjoyed Freddy vs. Jason, Sadako vs. Kayako definitely surpassed it in almost every category. This film will chill you and make you laugh in equal measure. The only real drawback is that this definitely feels more like a Sadako film featuring Kayako. Beyond that, it is still an exciting thrill ride with an ending that you won’t soon forget. This is also a film that should be experienced on the big screen. Keep an eye out to see if it is playing near you. You won’t want to miss it. Also, be sure to stay after the credits; there is a little something extra awaiting you on the other side.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10