Jessabelle

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4/10

The most amazing thing about Director Kevin Greutart’s newest film isn’t the fact that he made just a terribly uninspiring film. It’s the fact that this guy has made so many bad movies that they still allow him to hold a camera. “George of the Jungle 2”, “Saw 6”, “Saw 7”, and now the generically flat “Jessabelle”. The latest in the horror possession genre is about a girl named Jessabelle (Sarah Snook) Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident. She comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return and has no intention of letting her escape. The film does have some good things going for it. The idea of a possession theme story that has touches of voodoo in it is perfect. I always thought that Louisiana bayou setting is a creepy one to perfectly set the mood. Some of the imagery is also shrieking in the same way that “The Grudge” did it. The compliments will stop there however, as the acting is thin, the mystery is bad, and the 3rd act is absolutely dreadful. We live in an age where 3rd acts in horror movies are used to being refund worthy. So what makes “Jessabelle” stand out with some of the worst? We feel like nothing has been solved and we just wasted 85 minutes on a film that had no particular directional decision when it comes to our protagonist. Snook has the ability to be a decent actress, but this role and it’s laughable dialogue puts her front and center of the blame. Characters seem to change long before they become possessed, and we are never given the full details why. I feel like the producers of this film were banking on a sequel to tell the rest of the story, but i can’t imagine anyone will take anything positive from this with the exception of goosebump imagery. On top of it, this is another film that calls itself “Horror”, but showcases no blood and little violence to counteract such labeling. The next instinct would be to not call this a horror film, but a suspence film. The problem with that is the movie doesn’t have many suspenceful moments, and the ones it does can be telegraphed from a mile away. It never feels like it’s trying to be anything than another decision on bad movie night. I feel like i have seen this movie seven or eight different times this year alone. These movies continue to keep borrowing off of others, and lack or originality will never earn you points in this film freak. I can’t recommend this movie at all. Even for a dollar at the Redbox, it feels too expensive. There are plenty of better and ACTUAL horror movies that you could be watching. No answers equals no thrills for this mountain of a bore.

Ouija

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3/10

The world’s of the silver screen and the board game collide in this possession haunt. Ouija tells the story of a group of friends who must confront their most terrifying fears when they awaken the dark powers of an ancient spirit board. There isn’t much of a surprise when Ouija comes up mostly empty in the 85 minute run time it tries to stretch out. The film feels double of this run time mainly because it’s pacing is terribly misconstrued in a PG-13 rating that¬†suffers even further because of it. The film stars Bates Motel’s Olivia Cooke, and this is an actress who is MUCH better than the roles she chooses. This film isn’t as bad as her earlier 2014 film, The Signal, but this film isn’t doing her any favors. It’s a role that is too generic for someone like her to take on. The strange thing is that the movie doesn’t even really do anything terribly wrong, it’s just an antagonizingly boring effort. The visuals that the movie does conjure up certainly is not anything we haven’t seen from better films in the last two years. The dialogue is something on the line of early 90’s teenage shows like “Saved By The Bell”, and it just makes you care less and less about these characters and their survival. The movie’s ending is unforgiving to even the couple of people who are interested enough to stick around for nearly an hour and a half. There was a group of teenagers a couple rows ahead of me, and they enjoyed the film until the ending when i heard one yell “THAT’S IT?”. Even though i hated the film, i was kind of surprised along the same lines. First of all, the evil spirit haunting the group of friends is easily defeated to where any pee brain could figure it out. Lets put it like this, the person who dies second or third in a Friday the 13th film, would breeze through the villain in this movie. Once the spirit is defeated, the film continues on for ten more minutes for absolutely no reason what so ever. The camera cuts to black because it feels like we ran out of film rather than produce a real ending. It’s not as bad as 2012’s “The Devil Inside”, but it gives the whole presentation a pointless film. What’s the saddest about a movie like this is that it will still make a ton of money and inspire ten other films just like it. I think that is the biggest problem with horror films today; they have no reason to strive for better because they have an easily pleasable teenage audience just itching for the next one. Ouija by all accounts is a boring game that (SURPRISE SURPRISE) crosses over to a boring film. I would only recommend it if you absolutely need to catch up on sleep that you have been depraved of. If i want real Halloween scares, i will settle for a heart pounding game of Candy Land. Ouija is shamelessly…….BORING.

See No Evil 2

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6/10

WWE Films reprises the horror film from eight years ago that is arguably their best film to date. See No Evil 2 revives the nightmare of the first film when Jacob Goodnight (Kane) rises from the dead in the city morgue after his killing spree at the Blackwell hotel. In this ominous, underground locker for the dead, a group of medical students fight to survive as this deranged psychopath once again starts to pick them apart one by one and make them pay for their supposed sins. As a fan of old school horror films, i found the first “See No Evil” to be violently refreshing in an era where horror films settle for cheap jump scares or lack of character build. I can pleasantly declare that “See No Evil 2” is just as patietnly written as it’s predecessor. The first act of this film takes it’s time with a couple characters back stories. They aren’t your typical strong and heroic bunch, but it’s because of that you will no doubt support these characters and their well being. The second act brings the violence and action full force with many fast paced chase scenes down a dark corridor of an abandoned hopital. Horror film fans will recognize some great casting choices in Danielle Harris (Halloween franchise) and Katherine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps) to the cast. Isabelle in particular always plays a character that pushes her psychological depth, and this movie is no exception. What comes off at first as “Just another bimbo”, is played with perfect execution. I believe there are few horror actresses in the game today that play a helpless girl being chased better than Katherine. Without it, many horror movies fail at making it’s audience believe the terror that they are trying to convey. Kane is perfect for this role, as just looking at him makes you think of the strong bodied killers like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. He is believable in the role even if his character isn’t written with the most intriguing of backstories. I relate Jacob Goodnight to the overall way i felt about both of these films. Good enough ideas, but not something i would necessarily care to see drawn out into four or five films. I think this franchise is acceptable enough at two films, and i hope they leave it that way. The blood/gore level is exceptionally well for such a small budgeted horror film. The way The Soska Siblings shoot the film is stylishly terrifying, and gives them a young, fresh voice in a dying art (Both figuratively and literally). There is some faily obvious foreshadowing in the film that i would’ve stayed away from, but it’s a small criticism in an otherwise bloody treat. I think horror films is something WWE Films should stick with (Leprechaun excluded). The wrestling world is filled with big bodies, and if the scripts are as honorable to 80’s horror films as this one is, then i am all for it. “See No Evil 2” won’t win any end of the year awards from me for best film, but i can safely recommend it above “Ouija”, “Exists”, “Annabelle”, or “Tusk”. It’s a movie that knows how to do horror well, and sometimes it comes from the most unlikely of places.

Dracula Untold

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4/10 –

Luke Evans stars as Vlad The Impaler, a legend on the battlefield just looking for the peace of his Transylvania town during the invasion of the Turkish Army. His only hope is the power of master vampire (Played by Charles Dance) to give Vlad superhuman powers to defeat the army at the cost of becoming a monster. It’s the epic story of one of the most well known Universal Studios monsters of all time given a new side of a classic tale. The film is told from the point of view as Dracula himself which makes this film feel along the same lines as 2014’s “Maleficient” as that film is also told from the point of the historical villain. The film however is a disappointment as it’s so bad on so many scales that it channels similar vibes of failures like “Van Helsing” or “I Frankenstein” just on it’s cinematography alone. The whole film feels like a studio controlled mandate at every turn of the movie with the lack of execution for a human lead character that feels like a superhero cliche even before he is given his powers. By presenting Vlad’s history, it takes away the mysterious nature of the character. I feel that all monsters need that realm of mystery because it adds the suspense of dealing with an enemy you know nothing about. I get that the point of the film was to tell the origins story of Vlad, but i felt that too much was revealed that takes away his powerful presence later on. That’s not to say that Luke Evans isn’t good in this role. I personally agreed with his casting, but the character never feels like Vlad The Impaler even when the best of his legend is being told. I think a straight shot Dracula story would’ve done him better instead of the origins story that we are presented. Most of his problem is in a script that tries to make a character nicknamed “The Impaler” a likeable character and a menace at the same time. Both sides don’t play well off the other, and instead the traits of both end up cancelling each other out. It just doesn’t work for me because the character is described as “Genocidal” killing hundreds of people. Dance is by far the best part of this film. His presence gives the movie the theater like overacting shot in the arm that it needs even when the film is trailing off at the 20 minute mark. Dominic Cooper is cast as the villain (SHOCKER), and the head of the Turkish Army that Dracula is put against. Cooper’s villain turn in this year’s “Need For Speed” was bad, but his role in this film might be worse. Complete with a Borat sounding Turkish accent, and less than ten minutes of screen time that is nowhere close enough to make a lasting impression. The PG-13 rating is also a blunder. It is brutalizing on a character known for his violent tones and appetite of the human flesh. In the end, it all feels too watered down to be a real Dracula telling, and doesn’t hold up well to the Bela Lugosi films of the 20th century. When i think of a vampire film, i think of the color red. In this film, none of it is present because the film is held in shackles to it’s pitiful rating. Complete with a 90 minute run time, Dracula Untold feels like a cash grab that is less interested in paying attention to it’s horror backgrounds, and more interested in CGI gags for cheap thrills. The effects like a Dracula formation in the form of hundreds of bats is quite impressive, but there isn’t enough of these visual effects to leave a lasting memory on the audience 24 hours after they have left the theater. I mentioned before that i had a problem with the time, and that is because there is so much that Director Gary Shore is trying to convey in such a little time frame. By the time the final epic battle takes place on camera, the film feels rushed in a way that feels like a major scene explaining everything was deleted along the way. I wouldn’t recommend this film beyond a rental at Redbox. I can assure you of one thing though. If your child is interested in this film, it’s safe to take them because “Dracula Untold” is a watered down colorless muck that is a story better left untold.

Annabelle

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3/10

A couple begin to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by a satanic cult. Annabelle is the prequel to 2013’s The Conjuring based on the backstory of the most terrifying gag of that film, a demon possessed doll named Annabelle. “The Conjuring” was probably my favorite horror film easily of the last five years because it affected it’s audience psychologically instead of the cheap jump scares that Hollywood horror films have been famous for over the past two decades. “Annabelle” goes back on all of the greatness that it’s predecessor has created. It’s a dull, uninspired, and lazily acted film that adds nothing to the genre, and makes you wish you were watching something better from the films it steals it’s inspirations from. “Child’s Play” came out in 1988, and it’s a film that has one of those premises that is hard to rip it off without people seeing that you legitimately stole from that film. This movie is the exact same premise, possession, and goal of the doll as it’s 1988 counterpart. What i liked about the doll in “The Conjuring” was that she was mysterious and even a little believable in the way that Annabelle never moved or winked or said a word. Her charms were in her abilities to look at a camera and have the audience shriek at the eyes of a demon that she possesses. That is the first thing that this movie does wrong; it gives away her origins for a story that isn’t very interesting. My biggest question coming out of this film is how this doll isn’t classified as police evidence when the authorities arrive at the doorstep of our main protagonists. It’s logic like that which will make the watchers at home roll their eyes. But what makes the viewer really lose their interest in this film is the lack of delivery from how the camera never knows when to cut. There were scenes that lasted 5-10 minutes with beautiful suspenseful music playing to almost ear shattering levels when the scene just ends. I kind of compare this film’s problems to that of “Godzilla” this year, in which it never delivered on the things it was teasing the whole film. We got so many looks from Annabelle that you were just waiting for her terror to be unleashed at any moment. Things eventually start happening towards the end of the film, and it concludes with a brutally nauseating ending that makes you wonder how that was supposed to solve the problem to begin with. I mentioned before that the acting was awful, and boy do i mean it. The actors resemble hardcore pornography actors, and their acting only supports my theory. These two (Played by Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton) are more wooden than the damn doll is. How is it that the depth of a character who barely moves and doesn’t talk is more emotionally gifted than that of two characters who soak up all of the 93 minute run time? The musical score of the film did give me a little enjoyment with the classic violen infamously known in James Wan films. There is also one scene that i legitimately liked involving an elevator not going to the floor that Wallis needs. I have been getting some recommendations on how i feel about kids seeing the films that i see. I don’t think Annabelle has anything terribly bad in it when it comes to gore. There are some bloody scenes, but nothing crazy. It’s more about the cheesy imagery of the demons that it presents as nightmare candy. With that said, i wouldn’t recommend the film to anyone under the age of 10 years old. The language is clean, the sex is non existent, but the imagery might make the wrong impression on a little one who doesn’t quite know that this is only a movie. “Annabelle” presents characters and situations that easily sets itself up for mocking by the awful “Scary Movie” franchise. The sixth version of that franchise will have enough gags and jokes from “Annabelle” to give the audience another torturing 90 minute film. If that isn’t enough to make you truly hate this movie, then i don’t know what is. I would only recommend “Annabelle” as a rental, but even that is pushing it.

A Good Marriage

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4/10

When her husband, Bob (Anthony LaPaglia) of more than twenty years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson (Joan Allen) looks for batteries in the garage. Instead, she discovers the stranger inside her husband who she never knew. It’s a horrifying discovery, that turns Darcy’s world upside down. A Good Marriage is the newest Stephen King adaptation that is directed by Peter Askin. Askin does some things right in this film, but he does so much wrong to render it completely empty of any heart pounding drama or artsy violence. That is the biggest problem that i found with this film; it struggles to find an identity in 97 minutes of screen time. The first act is set up well enough with the shocking discovery, but the movie sputters out over the middle act when it doesn’t seem to know where to take our main characters. Darcy plays alright with the notion that her husband is a killer which is extremely absurd because he isn’t blackmailing her or keeping her there for any reason. The only link they have together is the three children who are all grown up, and have left the nest. The final act starts to pick up some of that good storytelling in the opening 20 minutes, but we are fed a showdown that is neither satisfying nor progressive. The point of no return is over before any of the audience can even enjoy it. This gives it a rushed kind of feeling that i didn’t see coming in a film that is barely an hour and a half. The acting is done about as well as can be asked considering the characters are written like blank pieces of paper. Allen in particular continues her longstanding history of powerful female characters who find the strengths they didn’t know they had. There was a second in the film when i was hoping Bob would find out the same thing about Darcy as she did about him, but it never materializes. I think a horror themed “Mr and Mrs Smith” would make for a great film with king of weird writing Stephen King at the helm. It certainly would’ve made for a better film than the one we got. After the showdown, the film still has 20 long minutes with so many false endings that it gets put back on the shelf of mediocrity. It’s a shame too. The camera work is done brilliantly for many shadow shots. There is also great shading inside of the house that just begs for that shade of red that we never see. No blood in a Stephen King writing is like no buildings falling down in a Michael Bay film. That is the central problem with calling this film a “Horror movie”. There is no blood, little violence, and nothing to ever make us hate Bob’s character enough to cheer Darcy on to get out of it. The movie never really feels like a Stephen King movie because it’s missing his touch. Lapaglia is a great method actor, and i think he would’ve been great in a role similar to “Mr Brooks”, but that isn’t what he is given here. He plays a killer more generic than a Lifetime Television movie of the week. I begged for a dominant twist in his actions when the shoe drops that he is a killer, but i was sadly disappointed. It’s simple to write off A Good Marriage as a boring film, but that isn’t quite the case. There is a good idea here with a good film just begging to be let out. I wish King would’ve been more hands on with this film, as i feel he knows better than anyone what gives his audience goosebumps as the master of suspense. The lack of that last word is what inevitably dooms this straight to DVD film to a lifetime of dull emptiness. If you are a HUGE Stephen King fan, then maybe you won’t mind spending a dollar on this at the local Redbox. I don’t think there is any harm in it, but you won’t find anything special when comparing it to other films that King let someone else helm the director’s chair. A Good Marriage offers great on screen chemistry from Lapaglia and Allen, but it’s story is much thinner than i expected after watching the trailer.

Horns

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6.5/10

Based on the novel by Joe Hill, Horns is the story of Iggy Parish (Daniel Radcliffe), the main suspect in the violent rape and murder of his childhood sweetheart girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple). Iggy awakens after a long night of drinking to find that he has grown horns on his head that give him the power to drag peoples dirtiest secrets out. The film itself begins as a dark comedy, but then transitions the 2nd and 3rd acts into a fantasy psychological thriller of a murder mystery whodunnit? Lately, there have been a slew of murder mystery films about couple gone wrong. So what makes Horns any different? It’s wickedly dark humor combined with the performance of Radcliffe as an ever growing actor among Hollywood’s best. Daniel takes on a role in this film that he has never done before, and that can be very refreshing. The film satisfies a lot of genre fans from Horror, comedy, romance, and Mystery. The horror fans in particular will love the film for it’s sparse, but gruesome violence that rivals any horror film this year. Personally, i thought the film worked best when it stuck to the moments of the mystery itself and the various flashbacks made possible by Iggy’s powers. The horns are never explained to the audience as to why or how they got there, but it personally didn’t matter to me. The story itself is something fresh and that is always nice to see for this genre. The things i didn’t enjoy about Horns was the switching back and forth as the film tried desperately to find it’s identity. Many films can pull genre switches during a film, but this one does it so often that it feels jokingly when it’s supposed to be serious, and vice versa. I also felt that the mystery itself wasn’t too hard to predict once your mind opens up to the situation of Merrin’s final night, and the characters that surround her. The film also goes on for about twenty minutes too long after the disappointing reveal of Merrin’s murderer. I think the movie could’ve done well enough if the reveal was followed by the big fight scene, and then the credits. It goes on for too long at the very minute when the film starts dragging. That’s not to say that there isn’t something deeper about Horns. It’s got an independent charm to it mainly because of the director of such B-List horror films like The Hills Have Eyes Remake, Maniac, and Piranha 3D, Alexandre Aja. What Aja does better than a lot of his B-Movie counterparts is that he takes a movie that sounds prepostorous by description, but makes it work casting an actor like Radcliffe who we never expected to dance like the devil. He also adds a beautifully chosen soundtrack to give the film many smiles during certain scenes. The sounds of ‘Where is my Mind’ by The Pixies plays perfectly during childhood innocence, and there is always room for ‘Heroes’ by Alesso when Iggy feels like he is the only believer that he has walking the Earth. It’s a perfectly sounding musical narration of musical trivia for anyone who feels music plays an important part in film. There is a good movie under all of this sillyness somewhere. Horns is a failure, but it’s a beautiful one at that. The camera work is exceptional, and the dark comedy is funnier than anything i have seen in a film with religious tones since 1998’s “Dogma”. The difference with that Kevin Smith film is that he was comfortable in the controversial story he was dancing on. Horns is an OK movie that could be better with a better defined ideal of where Aja wanted to go. I think it’s harmless for a rental at the local Redbox, but anything beyond that is pushing it. See it if only for Radcliffe’s performance, brutal violence, and if a murder mystery is your cup of tea

Gone Girl

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9/10

The pages of Gillian Flynn’s novel comes to life as Ben Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, a married man whose wife is kidnapped the morning of their 5th anniversary. Nick is the prime suspect in the trial, and the film has bombshell reveals that really make you question his character. Gone Girl is my favorite novel that i have ever read. I find it’s twists and turns so original and eye opening, and it’s always great to see an author who writes characters with human traits. The film is no disappointment. There are a lot of things that director David Fincher does to make this one of the best films of 2014. First of all, the cast is absolutely perfect. I was a little worried about Ben Affleck as the main protagonist when this film was first developed, but i honestly couldn’t see anyone else playing him. Nick experiences a love/hate relationship with the media, and i don’t think anyone knows that better than Affleck. With all of the critiques about his upcoming role as Batman in 2015, Affleck knows fine and well the beatings that a man in the spotlight can take. Another pleasant surprise is Tyler Perry as Nick’s lawyer, Tanner Bolt. Perry is finally working off of a script that isn’t his, and Fincher gives him great direction as a hot shot think fast lawyer. Perry exherts so much charisma, and even delivers the best line of the movie for me. Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens are also very noteworthy as Nick’s sister Margo, and Detective Boney respectively. For a while, it seems like this film will easily be Dickens for the taking, but that changes with the casting of Roseamund Pike as Amy Dunne, the woman who is taken. I am not embellishing even slightly when i say that Pike deserves an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Amy. There are so many emotions that this character has to display, and i knew she would knock it out of the park. She gives you so many goosebumps in just a stare. It really is impressive to see her with a role that brings out her absolute best. This is a role that people will remember her for the rest of her life. The sound editing/mixing was also top notch once again for a Fincher film. David always does sound better than anyone in Hollywood because he takes a situation at a club or a public area and make it a little drowned out to hear our characters. This is great because people are always heard perfectly in films whenever they are at a bar or club. The lighting is also given that Fincher treatment with plenty of pale tones to echo the moods of the story. The eggshell coloring of the Dunne’s house inside makes the house feel empty even when our characters inhabit it. The film’s score is again brilliantly done by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The reflections of our characters actions are played to dark and ominous tones that are reminiscent of early 90’s Twin Peaks instrumentals. When i compare the film to the book, i feel that they both have a place. People who read the book and enjoyed it will enjoy the film, and people who haven’t read the book will enjoy the film for the smart, sleek nature of the story it reveals. The narration of Amy’s journal is very welcome with the pacing of the story, and the flashback scenes that they describe. There are some differences with the film from the book and that is much expected. The absences of a couple key characters hit home a little bit for me. Nick’s Dad is in the film, but his role is greatly devalued. I would’ve liked to have seen his backstory involved a little more as he is a prominent suspect in the book. If i have one critique with the film, it’s that some areas of the story aren’t told to the full value that they were in the book. One example is the reveal of the objects in the shed and their sentimental meaning. It’s not a big deal, but those kind of things meant more in the book. The big reveal is done about an hour into the 2 hour and 20 minute film, and i thought this would be took quick while watching the film. I was totally wrong because it allows enough time to show how derranged the film gets, and explain every single step in the kidnapping. I definitely recommend this film to anyone over the age of 16. There is nudity, language, and surprisingly a lot of graphic violence. Gone Girl twists and turns through a maze of emotions and character shifts, but it’s ending is unlike anything you have ever seen, and it’s for that reason why Gone Girl is can’t miss.

Tusk

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1/10

Director Kevin Smith has somehow managed to give us a fond memory of his biggest failure known as Jersey Girl after seeing his latest dive into the horror world. This review isn’t going to be friendly by any means, so if you can’t take me verbally bashing a movie this bad, i suggest you walk away now. I was actually kind of psyched to see Tusk as it shows Kevin Smith growing more and more as a film maker. I wasn’t crazy with his last film, Red State, but i could understand if people did enjoy it. Tusk left me completely and utterly speechless and not for the better. It stars Justin Long as the voice of his own podcast. He shares stories with his listeners in an attempt to make them laugh and tune in. He goes to Canada to meet a kid who has a world famous Youtube video, but is left in shambles when the teenager commits suicide. He comes across a posting guaranteeing good stories and follows through to meet a mumbling paralyzed creeper (Played by the great Michael Parks). Long is drugged and when he awakens he finds himself at the mercy of a plot to turn him into a walrus. If the idea of this film isn’t crazy enough, the film does no favors to get anyone to stay interested in this snoozefest. The film is dragged down by so much dialogue and story telling even for a Kevin Smith film. The first 30 minutes are very difficult to stay interested in because you find yourself rolling your eyes everytime Parks goes to tell another of his around the world tales. When the action finally does pick up, you will be sorry it did. The movie is guided by terrible acting from everyone outside of Parks, and it just stinks. Tusk Tries to be scary and funny at the same time, but it doesn’t succeed with either one. It totally suffers from an identity crisis. The comedy is dragged down because it drags on for too long, and the movies scares don’t work because the laughable imagery and ridiculous suspension of disbelief have you comparing it to The Human Centipede. I am sure there will be tons of Kevin Smith fans who will adore this film because they are afraid to stand against their God, but this movie is awful. I get that it was supposed to be a step in the artistic direction, but not all art is good art. I respect that he took a chance, but it’s time the master of comedy returns to his bread and butter. I myself am a big Kevin Smith fan, but i’m not going to give the film a passing grade because i feel like his fans and i are misunderstood and only we understand the joke. The film isn’t supposed to be taken seriously so how can i ever give it enough serious thought to give it a passing grade. It felt like i was watching something from a Syfy channel movie of the week, and i expect way more from a man who has crafted some of the best movies of the 90’s. The positives i pulled from the film began with Michael Parks performance. He is absolutely creepy as the kidnapper. Parks is having the time of his life, and the guy can always make a presence even if he is being smothered by a terribly written script. It’s sloppy storytelling of forward and back shots will have the viewer confused for three minutes at a time as to where the story just went. I did enjoy a HUGE cameo that popped up midway through the movie, and the actor did the most he could to add fun to a movie that was spiraling out of control. It all feels like a 97 minute joke that goes on for far too long by the final ridiculous fight scene. I am not kidding when i say that the last ten minutes of Tusk might be among the most speechless i have ever seen. If leaving a lasting impression and leaving your audience speechless was the premise, then you Mr Smith have succeeded wonderfully. I just don’t always think that is a good thing. Sure, the film will be remembered for ages, but it will be remembered for being one of the biggest pieces of shit that anyone has ever paid hard earned money for. It’s a film based off of a joke on a podcast and if that doesn’t sound like a thin thinking idea then i don’t know what does. Tusk feels like a film where the audience is laughing at Kevin Smith and not with him. Audacity can only take you so far when you have to write 97 minutes around such a ridiculous idea. With the buzz coming out of the Toronto Film Festival about this film, i think the city has more problems than their crack smoking mayor. Tusk is not only one of my least favorite films of the year, it is one of my least favorite films of all time. The only saving grace i had was that i was sitting next to friends watching it as we laughed and made fun of it. Go ahead and tell me how great this movie was. It’s a joke i don’t want any part of

As Above So Below

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3.5/10

A team of explorers search for a lost rock beneath the catacombs of Paris, France in the newest found footage film designed to give you nightmares. As Above So Below is the worst kind of film that you could possibly encounter for an array of reasons. The first is that the plot is actually intriguing enough to get your curriosity flowing. I did a report on the Paris Catacombs in high school, and the caves in them are just begging for a scary movie to be made down there. You get sucked in and then you immediatly regret the decision to spend money on it when you see the presentation. Even for found footage movies, the camera work in this film is awful. Most of the time, you find yourself confused on what you are looking at. It is even more aggravating when a character will say “Look at that” and you can’t tell for one second what is present in front of the camera. It moves around too much and that hurts a film that relies on scary visuals. I won’t say it’s pointless because for once it actually makes sense why everything is being recorded. The main character of the film (Perdita Weeks) is being interviewed for a documentary about her uncovering some great mysteries in the catacombs. Each character is equipped with a helmet camera and it makes sense. What sucks is that we get the feel of constant quick reactions every time a character is scared or hears something. Another thing that annoyed me about the film was just how conveniently these characters figured out mysteries that are a thousand years old. Like i’m sure no one else figured out to touch a tombstone a certain way to get the wall to move, or no one else could figure out the verbal clues given on the walls all around the catacombs. Our characters figure things out like they are sharing the same brain, and it’s aggravating because unless you study alchemy or ancient scriptures, it will all be greek to you. I found myself still stuck on the start of the sentence when these characters have already figured out what moves walls. I mentioned Alchemy before because it’s interesting how much of this film is more about that than Hell and the Devil. I was led to believe that this was a movie about the gates of Hell, but it turns out that it’s more about rocks and the powers that they behold. The film is only 88 minutes and the first 50 or so establishes nothing with no death scenes and not much backstory for the characters. When the film has about 20 minutes left, it starts killing off characters because the movie needs to end soon and we haven’t done much with the threats of this cave. It’s just utterly sloppy. The ending is so frustrating because it’s more of the “Love conquers all” kind of thing. It’s crazy because you wouldn’t expect anything like that in a movie like this. It seriously made me angry the way that this film ends because it’s unlike anything you would ever dream up. I found myself asking how this ending couldn’t have been done 40 minutes prior to this. I won’t give much away, but it’s a solution that was right in front of our characters eyes the whole time. The lone thing i enjoyed about this film was the setting of the actual catacombs. I appreciate that this film was shot mostly in the Paris caves as it shows more on camera than you are used to seeing in documentaries. I just wish the setting had a better story to capitalize on what could’ve been the scariest film of the year. I definitely cannot recommend this film to anyone as it is one of the worst films i have seen in 2014. In closing, if above is anything like below, then leave it as well as this film buried with Paris’s terrible past. The Catacombs hold the remains of about six million people. Hopefully the film won’t affect as many people.

Sin City 2 : A Dame To Kill For

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5.5/10

Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez return for a sequel of the 2005 original that satisfied eyes with a beautiful art background straight out of Miller’s comics of the same name. A Dame to Kill For is at best a film that was made too late to capitalize on the Sin City lure, and just doesn’t pack the brutal punch that the first film did. I did enjoy Sin City 2, so don’t be too fooled by my rating, but i did feel like there was a lot of time wasted in a movie that will have arguably the best cast of the year. The good things are definitely there in the best cinematography of the year again. Frank Miller gives a comic book feel to the silver screen better than anyone i have ever seen. He knows how his stories are supposed to be translated and he gets the camera work done perfectly. The negative to this is that for those of you who pay extra for the 3D are going to be let down. Sin City are films that are beautiful enough to begin with, so the 3D does nothing extra to show off black and white tones straight out of the noir genre. Back in the cast are Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson, and Bruce Willis playing a small role as his character died in the first film. Rourke in particular shows us everything we love about Sin City. He is an anti hero who has seen the nasty side of life one too many times. He works as a rescuer of sorts, but always seems like he is in a rut despite being the lone person who acts to save the city at times. Alba wasn’t much different. Her character gets a lethal makeover, but her acting hasn’t improved to bring her character to the next level. We are supposed to believe that this beautiful woman who destroys her face is now ugly, but the look is anything but. Newcomers to the film are Josh Brolin, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Joseph Gordon Levitt, and the sexy sultress Eva Green. Green once again steals a film like she did 300 : Rise of an Empire earlier this year. She uses her sexuality to tear apart every man in Sin City, and she is so good at the task that even our biggest of heroes have trouble doubting her capabilities. She is the perfect person for a role of this calling, and was one of the lone bright spots in 3 different dull stories told in Sin City 2. Gordon-Levitt had the best of the three tales in my opinion, but his story ends without much closure. He had a good presence playing off of Boothe in an eye to eye poker game where the winner is anything but a winner. The first act of the film involves this poker game, and that is where this film is at it’s very peak. The story lasts about 25 minutes before we are shown the second story and bulk of the movie in Josh Brolin being used by Eva Green to do terrible things. This story is overwhelmingly long and clocks in around the 50 minute mark. Towards the end of the second story, Christopher Meloni and Jeremy Piven are thrown in at a point where the story is getting very repetitive. Their characters feel rushed and almost thrown in at the last minute. The third story is Jessica Alba getting revenge on Boothe for the death of detective John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) in the first film. This story is way too short because of the overlapping of the second story, so there isn’t much time for the audience to get behind this revenge tale which on paper would’ve had the best following from the audience who saw the first film. The violence is still in this film, but one thing in particular bothers me about it’s presentation. Any time blood is splattered, it’s a white streak across the film. I think this would be the perfect time to flash some red in a color starved black and white background. The white almost makes the violence come off cartoon like even with it coming from the pages of a comic book. The biggest problem with the violence in this film is that it doesn’t pack the same punch of the first film because we have already been introduced to the worst that Sin City has to offer. The first Sin City was revolutionary because no one had ever seen anything like it, and it’s animation to brutality was ahead of it’s time. The second Sin City just feels like a rehashing that is done too late. A decent film, but not a good one. For those of you who have flat screen TV’s, i would just wait till DVD. The 3D is useless, so there is no point in going the extra mile to see this one on the silver screen. If you have a dollar theater in your area, that would be a good time to see it if you are hell bent on the silver screen. In closing, Sin City : A Dame To Kill For is very stylish, dirty, and sexy, but it lacks character in a movie that is full of them. This film struggles to find it’s identity unlike the first film, and that’s why i can’t give it a passing grade. Disappointing.

The Purge : Anarchy

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8/10

Director James Demonaco shows how much he has grown with his ability to capitalize on the original groundbreaking ideas he had during the original film. In this sequel, Demonaco gives us characters who we care about, haunting images that show us the breakdown of not only the city but hope as well, and non stop action that never really stalls or slows down. I am going to be completely honest, i was looking forward to this film but i didn’t think it would be nearly as good as it ended up being. One reason for that could be that i felt this was the best Punnisher movie i have ever seen. No, The Punisher isn’t actually in this movie, but Frank Grillo’s performance of Sergeant absolutely hints at how great a Frank Castle he would be. Grillo plays the main character of this film and is out for vengeance of his own for the death of his son. Along the way, he rescues and picks up citizens who are being kidnapped so the rich can purge against them. The fact that this film was more from the point of the poverty crowd as compared to the wealthy main characters we got in the original film gives these characters more to relate to. They are fighting for a cause much further than just surviving for 12 hours; they are fighting to show the huge differences in the social classes. That is the hidden message i loved in Anarchy. It shows that The Purge itself might not be the cruelest of events that goes on between the world in the movie and our own. It’s a cautionary tale suggestion about a division class system where the lines keep getting thicker and thicker. The characters were definitely written with more humanity in the way they get sucked in to the events of the night. One couple’s car is vandalized into breaking down in the most dangerous part of the city. A mom/daughter team is in their house when a Swat team breaks in to take them. Then there is the Sergeant character, and his night of vengeance against a drunk driver. We get behind his character so much because he isn’t quite a hero, but he always does the right thing. Some of his action scenes make you wonder why Grillo at the age of 51 is just now getting these starring roles. On top of the movie’s heart pounding action, it gives you a lot of well choreographed fight scenes that will leave you on the edge of your seat. One thing that has me thinking while watching these movies is that i wonder if keeping The Purge around is even needed with how many people die every year. Is it all just another reason for the rich to get rid of the lower class? If so, it’s completely genius and only adds to the feeling that these poverty level families are at the mercy of the dollar. There is no doubt that this was the film we should’ve gotten the first time. One of my biggest problems with the first film aside from the ending is that the people made such stupid decisions that put their loved ones at risk every time. If the family from the first film was in the sequel, they would’ve been dead in the first five minutes of this movie. These five people are out on the streets with nowhere to run and no one to trust. That is the most terrifying thing about The Purge. I sit here so shocked by how good this film was that i think it is the best sequel to a film that sucked. The ending to this film was even done very well. There was a point where i felt it was going to screw the viewers out again like they did in the original, but this one makes up for lost time. The Purge : Anarchy clocks in at 100 minutes, and it never feels like it drags or treats itself as anything less than a dirty, grungy, action filled good time. I totally recommend this film to everyone. Even if you hated the first film, you will be flabbergasted at the difference between the two films.