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.

Deliver Us From Evil

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3.5/10

One of the things i hate the most about reviewing films is when i feel like i have watched the same movie for the 34th time. This is a result of watching the latest possession film directed by The Exorcism of Emily Rose’s own Scott Derrickson. The film stars Eric Bana in the real life story of New York Police officer, Ralph Sarchie. Ralph works in the paranormal crimes unit fielding calls to the darkest and most satanic of New York’s citizens. He himself does not believe in God and this what blinds him from his work being brought home to him. Soon, his wife and child experience paranormal activity going on in the house that includes toys coming to life (Poltergeist) and children’s voices being heard in Ralph’s head (An American Haunting). That is the biggest problem that makes this film one of my least favorite of the year, it has no original direction. There are some cool albeit laughable effects that happen with the makeup and props department, but none of it feels like anything we haven’t already seen 100 times. Just in the last couple years alone we have had The Quiet Ones, Paranormal Activity films, Sinister, Insidious one and two, The Conjuring, and Devil’s Due. This genre is being completely overrun and as a result it is making every film worst than the last. This film is full of goodies when the Scary Movie franchise wants to make their 14th film in that series. You can’t even be legitimately scared anymore of any of these gags because they set themselves up for an easy parody. Deliver Us From Evil is terribly over acted, and that is sad because Bana is a decent actor in a film that suits his style of acting. This definitely isn’t it. Olivia Munn is in the film for about five total minutes, and that is a shame because i feel like the relationship between husband and wife would’ve impacted how we as the viewers cared about them when they got in trouble. Edgar Ramirez plays possibly the worst priest i have ever seen in my life. He drinks, he smokes, he has sex, and he curses often. I get that the bad ass priest routine is 2014, but there is nothing about this guy that makes me believe for a second that he is a priest or that he studied for this role. The only character i even remotely enjoyed was the goofball of the film, Butler played by Joel Mchale. He almost stops to look at the screen to laugh with the audience on how ridiculous some of these scenes really are, and nobody does sarcastic humor better than Mchale. The atmospheres are well done, but the pacing of the scares ruin any kind of momentum denying the audience to ever remotely scream out in terror. The story itself is also easy to get lost in. I followed pretty thoroughly and there were still parts that i had to go back and remember about because so much gets thrown on you at once. By the time the ending hit, i was so bored out of my mind that i could care less what happened with the ending. The ending though is something we need to talk about. SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!!! So in the final 20 minutes of the film, Sarchie’s wife and daughter are kidnapped by the possessed guy Sarchie is hunting with the priest side by side. They arrest the possessed man and are asking him questions while he is still possessed. There are two stupid things with this scenario. 1. Do you really think a man supposedly under the possession of Satan is going to just hand over the woman and the girl? And 2. Why would a man possessed who has killed everyone he has encountered up to this point keep these two alive? I didn’t realize that possession was all about kidnapping and stupid setups for the convenient ending of Sarchie finding them. Perhaps the worst thing about this movie isn’t even anything i mentioned above but the film ruins the music of The Doors for me. It is played throughout the movie to the same effect that Quiet Riot plays in The Quiet Ones or The Rolling Stones play in Fallen. DAMMIT!!! That’s two more possession movies that this film rips off. Deliver Us From Evil suffers from the purest of all evils; evil script, evil acting, and an evil 109 minutes that i will never ever get back.

The Quiet Ones

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3.5/10

Hammer Productions return with the latest film in the possession genre, The Quiet Ones. It stars Jared Harris as a college psych professor in the 70’s who leads a paranormal study about a supposed possessed woman on if she is really haunted or terrifyingly disturbed. I can’t really say this film was a disappointment as i didn’t expect much out of it. I can truly say that i didn’t think it would be as bad as it was. Director John Pogue definitely brings the Hammer feel with him as this film is beautifully produced with that 70’s glossy camera kind of feel. I think that the setting is what people are going to remember the most about this film years from now, and that could be a good thing as most of the other parts of this film are a complete waste of your time. The movie relies on the cheap kind of scares to move it’s audience. It’s the exact reason why i loved recent horror films like The Conjuring and Sinister. They didn’t rely on jump scares with loud frightening sounds out of nowhere to scare the audience. That is one thing that is constantly annoying about this film; the audio is set to 11 on the amplifiers. I worried about going deaf before i even remotely got scared. The film also recites the 2014 horror movie problems with not knowing how to end it’s film. The ending we get is the same one we got in Devil’s Due, and it’s just extremely lazy. What happened to closure (good or bad) in a horror movie? The script itself is very sloppy with random scenes coming out of nowhere to see what sticks. It seems that this film was written with just a series of ideas and not a story to bring them all together.This film has a lot of CGI problems in the form of fire and a Ghostbusters looking creature coming out of a character’s throat. When the ladder scene happens, it almost looks like something out of The Thing. The problem is that this is 2014, and computer effects should not be looking that bad. Besides the setting, the only other thing i enjoyed was the lead 3 actors, Harris, Sam Claifin and Olivia Cooke. Harris is just too good for this film. His dialogue is charming, witty and very fast paced. He is years ahead of the writers of this film. Claifin is the character we learn the most about as the movie goes on. He is the one we can relate the most to, and this is because of his pity for this girl who is the subject of no sleep and many brutal tests. Cooke is outstanding as the possessed woman, Jane Harper. She quickly won my respct in Bates Motel, and she puts a lot into a possession victim. That isn’t always the easiest role to play, as you are playing a role that is being controlled by an entity that you have no idea how to control. She gives Jane a sweet side that hasn’t been emotionally represented this well since Emily Rose. The Quiet Ones is a film that sets itself up like a Frankenstein creature that never comes to life by the final act. It’s good for performances, but could be so much better if it had a complete story to go with it. Not recommended.

A Haunted House 2

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2/10

In 2013, i posted a review about A Haunted House that trashed the film for basically being an 80 minute sex joke. I called it crude, humorless and completely pointless. I would now like to personally apologize for everything i said about that film. A Haunted House is still a tasteless chud, but it’s sequel is where the real evil exists. Marlon Wayans returns as Malcolm Johnson. A man who is being plagued by evil spirits through two different girlfriends. This film acts as a spoof on such horror movies as Sinister, Paranormal Activity, Insidious and The Conjuring. I only enjoyed three of those films, but i can safely say that all four are better than A Haunted House 2. As to where sex jokes were the film’s premise in the first film, racism appears to be the schtick with this movie. Racism is everywhere and everything, it’s apparently supposed to be hilarious and i had no idea. Gabriel Iglesias shows up as a neighbor who is Mexican. I mention his heritage because the movie certainly does every 2 minutes. I am not someone who is a big Iglesias fan. Every joke in his arsenal is about him being Mexican or him being fat. It’s that simple. So when you hear he is in this film, it should come as no surprise that the person and the character are one and the same. Lets not stop there though because there are more sex jokes as well. Remember that amazing scene from the first film where Marlon Wayans is having nasty sex with a stuffed animal? You get to relive that whole scene times two with the doll from The Conjuring. He has sex with this thing for no reason what so ever. Somewhere in planet bizarre this is funny. All you have to know about this film is that it’s the rudest, crudest movie to come out this year…….BY FAR. I am all about a good comedy that is a little juvenile, but this is completely beyond the limit. On top of this, there are cussing children, scenes that don’t connect well with the scene that is directly after it, and THE MOST ANNOYING CHARACTER that i have seen in a long time. For those of you who thought Leonardo Dicaprio said “Old Sport” too much in 2013’s The Great Gatsby, i laugh at your comment. Affion Crockett plays Malcolm’s cousin Ray-Ray, and he says the word “Cuz” no fewer than 90 times. I AM NOT KIDDING IN THE SLIGHTEST. I turned to my friend and said i would punch the screen if he said it one more time, and sure enough he did it in that exact second. The character is like nails on a chalkboard. Like Kenny Crumpton doing the weather for your funeral. Like Nickelback on repeat 24 hours a day. The camera always on thing doesn’t work as well for this movie because in scenes where it looks like a camera is on, there is no possible way a camera can be there. Cameras appear and disappear in character’s hands. I searched my mind to find even the slightest thing i liked about this film, and i could find nothing. The house they shot in looked nice. Does that count? The credits were error free in typing. How about that? A Haunted House 2 is on par with A Winter’s Tale for the absolute biggest disgrace i have seen this year. Time will tell by December 31st when we find out which one is worse, but for now i want to go to a very quiet place and rock back and forth. A Haunted House 2 is AWFUL. It doesn’t even deserve the 6% on Rotten Tomatoes. If you see it, you are only wasting your own money. The Film Freak warns all.

Wolf Creek 2

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5.5/10

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the Australian Outback, hunter Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) returns in the sequel to the 2005 original that redefined horror. I am kind of in the middle when it comes to how i really felt about this film. It does have it’s memorable scenes like a sensitive male anatomy part getting cut off in the most graphic and revealing way possible. It also has a kangaroo massacre scene with several kangaroos being run down by a car with “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” being played in the background. I found myself laughing during these scenes, and i don’t know if that’s what the filmmakers were going for or if there truly is something wrong with me. Besides that, Wolf Creek 2 offers nothing really new in this sequel. Jarratt is outstanding as usual. He could pretty much play the antagonist role in his sleep at this point. His charm is the only reason i would recommend fans of the first film to see this one. The story structure is practically the same as the first film. You can almost time everything scene by scene, and it’s because of that you can predict what is going to happen next. The ending is EXACTLY the same as the first film. It’s at the end of this 100 minute film that you realize there was no point at all to making a sequel to this. I mean, we did see more of the hideouts for Taylor than we did in the first film, but we learn nothing more about his character. I can only hope that if they do a Wolf Creek 3 that it’s a prequel showing us the origins of Mick Taylor. That is exactly what they should’ve done with this sequel. Like the original, two backpackers are camping throughout the Australian outback when they come across a psychopath who likes to hunt humans for fun. The protagonists are so unlikable, and i blame that on the fact that unlike the first film, this one doesn’t take the time to give us a back story for them. Some people didn’t enjoy the first film because the first 40 minutes were built up so slow and only focused on the three protagonists journey to Wolf Creek. I thought it was done right, as you legitimately cared about what happened to those three people. In this film, their deaths mean nothing. The graphic gore has times of sheer genius, but it flakes out in the last act. It truly cannot decide if it wants to be a plain rated R or to really push the boundaries into territory not often seen in the States. The ending is something that is a little confusing and totally doesn’t make sense. The door is certainly open for a 3rd film, but i can only hope that they grant my wish, and not give us another plain Jane sequel. Overall, i would only recommend this film to fans of the first movie who are thirsty for more of Jarratt’s comedic tones that he brings to his characters. Either way, wait till DVD.

The Raid 2 : Berandal

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7.5/10

This hard hitting sequel to the original has some big shoes to fill. The 2012 original raid is what i consider as the greatest action film of all time. It’s fight scenes alone pack such a punch that you feel like you are going through the pain that the characters are. While some things are on a bigger scale with the sequel, the film generally follows this same format with over the top fight scenes that are complimented by shaky camera work that actually has a reason for once. Iko Uwais returns as the protagonist, Rama. He is a cop who survived the carnage of the first film, and is quickly recruited to play a criminal to infiltrate a mob boss. Uwais’s experience in martial arts is what really makes each fight scene look amazing. There are some scenes that are really violent when it comes to the consequences of the characters. It’s for that reason alone why some people might pass on The Raid series, but i promise you that this isn’t one to miss. The Raid 2 was actually given a theatrical run, and it’s good to see more foreign films get a look in American cinema. The score is also quite excellent to this film. It builds the suspense and the terror that lurks behind every corner. The Raid 2 needs that score more than it’s original because it plays more on emotions in this one. The film clocks in at nearly 2 and a half hours (A little long in my opinion), but it’s because everything is bigger in this film. One of the charms about the original Raid was that it took place in an apartment building. Thus creating the claustrophobia that our protagonists are exploring. With The Raid 2, the story is everywhere, so it needs more time to invest in that telling. I mentioned before that it is a little long in time length, but i feel this way because we literally go 40 minutes at one point without any violence what so ever. I understand that you can’t make the movie about just one thing, but that is the bread and butter for this franchise, and the action scenes have never slowed down one bit even though we have seen over 20 fight scenes between the two films at this point. The storyline itself gives us a Kill Bill kind of feel with Uwais working his way through the ruthless Jakarta Crime syndicate. He is on a mission to find out which gang members are legit and which are undercover cops like himself. You really feel for this character that Iko portrays because he is doing everything to protect his family. This includes going to prison for two years just to get close to the mob boss’s son. The Raid 2 : Berandal is a very worthy sequel to the original. It doesn’t leave you with the same feelings that the first one did because at that time that film was original. After watching the sequel, you will undoubtedly compare it to it’s predecessor. Something that doesn’t give this film as original of a taste as the first. Without question, i urge everyone to rent the original on DVD, and catch this one in theaters. For 145 minutes of solid in your face action, it’s a must see.

Oculus

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7/10

When you think of WWE films, you think of awful movies that don’t have the budgets or the writing to compete with Hollywood’s finest. Oculus will go down as an exception to that rule, but it’s a shame that the last five minutes of this film ruins what could have easily been an 8/10. Oculus is about a possessed mirror that has killed every family it has been around for the last 100 years. We pick up in current day when a brother and sister are recalling the events that went down 12 years prior. First of all, i really enjoyed the back and forth shots between present day and 1998 with the siblings being younger. We are told the end result of 1998 in the first 15 minutes of the film, but there are still a lot of shocks along the way. Another thing i really loved is that this film didn’t settle for cheap scares. Most horror movies today go for that shock when a character pops up on screen out of nowhere to scare the audience, but this film doesn’t need it. Oculus uses terrifying images to really rip at it’s viewers. I can’t really say the film is scary, but it does have enough intense moments that will stay with you long after the credits roll. The best part of the film for me was actually caring about characters in a horror film for once. So many writers have no idea how to get the crowd away from rooting for the serial killer, but Director/Writer Mike Flannagan gets it correct. I found myself feeling so bad for the terror that is unwinding in this family’s loving family. Flannagan isn’t afraid to aim for the throat on his main characters, and it’s greatly appreciated. As i said before, the last five minutes fall into a cliche mess of a famously bad late 90’s horror film that i won’t mention. If i say the film, it will automatically give away the ending. They are one in the same, and that is a shame because Oculus (Unlike that 90’s film) deserves a lot better.Honestly, this is the only problem i had with the film. This ending is so tragic because this film goes from suspenseful and original to mediocre on this list of 2014 films. Karen Gillan, Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackoff give performances that stay away from the cheesy of what every horror film this century has done. They are great facial actors, and what i mean by that is that they know how to get into the heads of their viewers when the closeup shot is shown. Sackhoff especially has eyes that are perfect when that chilling piano music starts to play. Oculus is arguably the biggest surprise so far of 2014. If we can go back and rewrite the last five minutes, it’s one of the best horror/suspense films of the 2000’s. It’s a perfect date night film for any couple who gives the time of day for awful horror films. If you gave those a chance, this definitely deserves a chance. In the era of 40 Paranormal Activity and ripoffs to that franchise, Oculus is a terrifying gasp of fresh air.