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.

I Frankenstein

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3/10

This movie had the ability to be so much better than it was. Aaron Eckhart’s latest role puts him as the creature himself from the famous legend. First of all, i had no idea Eckhart was actually playing the creature. I was led to believe he was Dr. Frankenstein. It is this casting alone that has a lot to do with what is wrong in I,Frankenstein. From anyone who has read the Frankenstein novels to anyone who has seen the countless number of films, they know what the creature is supposed to represent. He’s a tall, slow and practically brain dead science experiment that returns from the grave. The character that Eckhart plays is the EXACT opposite of those things. He’s quick, intelligent and even a master swordsman. This Frankenstein can do it all, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t get me wrong, i love Aaron Eckhart but the man clearly doesn’t belong in this role. For those of you who say this is a new take on an old tale, you would be wrong. They even talk about the events of the past films/books at the beginning of this movie.This film just picks what it liked about the Frankenstein story and leaves out the rest. Besides this, the film has cheesy CGI and laughable death scenes that haven’t been seen since Van Helsing. Frankenstein is in the middle of a modern day war between gargoyles and demons. When a demon dies, they float to hell on a fire streak. Ya know, because fire represent bad. When a gargoyle dies, they float to heaven on a beautiful blue streak. Because blue equal good guy. I hope i came off sounding like a moron in those last sentences, it was intended. That’s not to say that this film doesn’t have good ideas. The story of the creature in the middle of this war had the ability to be a great after story, but because it never feels like Frankenstein we are never fully invested. The scenery is something straight out of an Underworld movie. There is nothing wrong with that, as i always felt Underworld had some beautiful landscapes with great shading. The fighting choreography is also beautiful in sync. They definitely had great intensity with every fight from countless amounts of gargoyle and demon armies. The ending is laughable (Unintended) and takes away from any creative buildup that the movie gains in the first 80 minutes. Coming into this film, i wasn’t expecting much from it. I was a little wrong in that regards. I, Frankenstein is a film that isn’t quite the monster that critics have dismissed it to be. There is a little something there behind the dead eyes of a nonsensical script. With the right casting and a little less overbearing CGI, this film could have been near the top of the list for January releases. I would recommend this film to a very small audience, and that is the people who have seen and loved every Underworld movie. I think you will get a kick out of this movie. If it’s your intention to see I,Frankenstein, wait until the dollar theaters.

Devil’s Due

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4/10

This is probably going to be the most credit that i ever give to a film that i rated 4/10. Devil’s Due brings us back to the same tired and predictable genre of found footage. It is a modern day version of Rosemary’s Baby without all of the memorable scares.The film is about a couple that gets married and goes on their honeymoon to Mexico. The two encounter trouble late one night while agreeing to go to an underground party. This film does have it’s chilling images that make you want to take a look for a second longer, but because of the POV camera style you will miss those shots and never get to soak in the true terror. One of my biggest problems with these films are that there is never a good reason as to why the camera is always rolling. In Paranormal Activity : The Marked Ones, a gang walks up to a kid who is obviously filming them. WHY WOULD THIS HAPPEN? What gang is stupid enough to show their faces on camera? Devil’s Due actually gives us a reason for the over 20 different cameras used in the film, and i think it is acceptable. There are cheap scares with loud noises that come out of nowhere, but not as many as other franchises rely on. My favorite part of the movie is the wonderful effects done during the possession scenes. There is a shot in the woods where three stranger teenagers go flying up in the air and one of the kids is taping the whole thing on his smart phone. It’s a shot that truly warrants watching just for how impressive it is. Easy in execution, but it goes a long way with true cinema buffs like myself. After this, it’s all downhill. A film like this will always suffer from meaningless characters because the camera isn’t on them long enough for us to learn anything about their backgrounds. They will simply always be actors to us for this reason. Also, for those of you who were upset about 2012’s The Devil Inside not having an ending, you will be disappointed in this film as well. The ending is basically just pushing repeat on your DVD menu with the opening 2 minutes of the film. Devil’s Due shows a lot of heart in a genre that truly should fade out fast. If it can get past some of the weaknesses i mentioned in this review, there might be a chance for a passing grade for one of these films someday. Or maybe i am just tired from a long day at the theater

Paranormal Activity : The Marked Ones

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3/10

What can you say about this film that hasn’t already been said about the previous four Paranormal Activity films? Every time i write a review for one of these, i feel like i am just copying and pasting myself over and over again. The Marked Ones is the 5th film in the franchise. In this film, a boy named Jessie has graduated high school, but finds himself going through some frightening changes before his 18th birthday. After the death of his neighbor, he finds out some eerie things about his past. Lets get the good things out of the way. There are some better characters in this film compared to the other four films. That doesn’t mean 1. They make smart choices or 2. that you care about their survival. These films after all are the cheapest and most satisfying way to make a movie. They cost about 2 million dollars to make, but always see at least 20x the payback because they know cheap horror fans will see them. I also felt the ending had a decent concept but a terribly flawed execution. I won’t spoil much more about this film except that their is time travel. What is going on lately with horror films and time travel? After 2013’s Insidious Part 2 did a similar concept, i guess i can now look forward to Jason traveling back to 1974 to kill the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Wait, that actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea (wink wink). Anyway, The Marked Ones has all of the favorites that are included in these cheap movies; terrible acting, awful dialogue and the worst decisions made throughout this whole series. The film does connect decently with the past films, but it’s not enough to make me care. I am someone who actually did enjoy the first Paranormal Activity, but ever since it’s been a cheap knockoff of that one with small tweaks for originality. I wish horror movies would get back to the old days when a scene was built and built for a big payoff,not just jump scares. Don’t buy a ticket to Paranormal Activity : The Marked Ones. Lets show the studio that they have to quit making a cheap effort to satisfy smarter fans. In closing, if you liked the other Paranormal Activities, you will enjoy this one. Everyone else? You aren’t missing anything

In Fear

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7/10

In Fear grips like a full speed thrill ride even as the tension threatens to spin out of control. I was curious to check out this film if only for the 100% rating it currently has on Rotten Tomatoes, and it didn’t disappoint…….completely. This film is the happiest i have been with an original thriller in a good couple of years. It stars two young adults who have only known each other a couple weeks and are on their way to a festival when they decide to get a hotel room for the night. Just miles from the hotel, they encounter a maze on the way to getting there. They take different ways at different times to get there but end up at the same place they started. I really enjoyed some of the chilling themes of this movie like being stuck in isolation in the woods. Make no mistake, setting is VERY important in a film like this. It’s obvious that not a lot of money was involved in making this picture, so you have to hit the audience with ideas that can make the experience memorable. Alice Englert stars as female lead Lucy. It is in Lucy that we feel her pain as being stuck in the woods with someone she doesn’t fully know or understand. When you really think about it, that can be frightening for anyone. The sound editing/mixing is also something that should be complimented in this film. The suspenseful score starts the engine, but it is the amplified sound that compliment the high speed chases the most. I felt like i was getting the most i possibly could out of a movie with three characters and a car. The last British thriller that i saw was The Descent films, and i think this movie is sooooo much better than those. As the film’s 85 minute run time goes on, it is the darkness that plays the biggest role. Our characters sense a feel of panic and time running out with a car’s gas tank. It’s those little things that sneak up to the audience and hit you hard when you realize what is coming. The only problems i had with the film were a couple of the things the couple encounter during the movie. (Minor spoiler) With only one villain, it’s hard to imagine how all of this stuff was accomplished. I also felt the ending wasn’t entirely satisfying. It did give me a sense of pleasure, but not worth what these characters entailed. Overall, In Fear is a straight to DVD film (March 11th) that is definitely worth a look. If you like 80’s style suspense that is almost complimentary to the John Carpenter feel, this is a good film for you. I don’t know if today’s audience will be completely satisfied with the film, but it will be refreshing compared to today’s standards of shot on video (Or shot on shitteo, as i refer to them) films that are plaguing the genre.

Carrie (2013)

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6.5/10

Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore star in this remake of the 1976 thriller about a girl with telekinetic powers. This film wasn’t as bad as i thought it was going to be. The dialogue was awful, the high school kids were a little over the top with their villain hatred, and it’s a little hard to believe Chloe Moretz in this role. Moretz is a great actress and a great pick for the role of the prom scene, but it’s every thing else that i have a problem with believing her in the role. Moretz is too beautiful to play a role that was described as an “Ugly duckling” in Stephen King’s book. The prom scene is pretty badass though. They modernized it to make some pretty gruesome deaths that much more interesting. Julianne Moore and Judy Doyle were amazing as the mother and gym teach of Carrie White, respectively. Moore is one of those actresses that can play any role you put her in. She is just that damn good. I sort of wish the film were a little longer than the 91 minute cut that we received. I can imagine there are some decent deleted scenes as there was a good chunk of the story left out. Still, Carrie isn’t a bad little film. I would recommend it for the dollar theater if you want to get out of the house. We don’t really learn anything new in the story, so the only reason to see it is to see the performances by the different actors at the helm.

Birth of the Living Dead

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6.5/10

This documentary about George Romero’s original zombie masterpiece shows us the struggles of introducing the world to zombies. It’s hard to understand today just how much Romero went through with trying to get this film into theaters and drive ins because the world as we know it today loves zombies. What i loved about this film was all of the stuff i learned about the cast, what it took to purchase the equipment and the copyright mistake that led to a horror classic possibly losing millions of the take it brought in. This documentary gives us some great in depth interviews with Romero. The master of zombies tells us that no one wanted to give a first time 27 year old director a chance, and how that was his motivation to get the film released. The only thing i didn’t like about this film was how many films outside of the horror world that it took credit for. I don’t exactly think The Godfather trilogy was made because of the negative ending in Night of the Living Dead. It’s a bit of a stretch to claim many cinematic classics, but i see what they were going for. Check it out if you are like me, and a big fan of the Romero zombie epics

Machete Kills

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6/10

A decent sequel from the same people who brought you the legendary original. This film lays the ground for a very unusual trilogy. I will not give much away about the upcoming third film, but this film gave what it always promises. It had great and goofy action scenes with a lot of blood. It had laughs that were a little few and far between, but still there. It had crazy characters played by some big time actors. The best of those performances are from Mel Gibson and Cuba Gooding JR. Cuba is only in the film for a few minutes, but his performance is one of my favorites just on the attitude he brings to the role he is playing. Gibson is great as the villain of the film. He creates a Star Wars-esque scenary (Yes you read that right) that creates an over the top finale. The things i didn’t like about the film were petty, but they were there. I have never been a fan of CGI blood when there are so many amazing special effects guys anymore. Hell, Tom Savini was starring in the movie, so there is absolutely no reason for this. I get that they might do it to make it look cheesy, but i think human effects would make it even funnier. I also didn’t like the ground work laid for the 3rd film. I will definitely go see it, but i am not looking too forward to it based on the scenery. These films are all about the goofy, but sometimes you can take it a little too far. I recommend Machete Kills if you want a good time at the movies. There isn’t anything wrong with waiting till dollar theaters though to see it.

Curse of Chucky

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7/10

The moral of this story is to never judge a book by it’s previous covers. The Child’s Play franchise isn’t one one of my favorites in horror, but i did enjoy the first one. I think it’s a pretty silly premise, but has it’s charms with some great death scenes and a story that is good but never gives us a full history lesson. That is all multiplied by 5 with Curse of Chucky. This is the best film in the franchise by far. It’s got amazing death scenes, an amazing story that i will get to later and a cast of great characters. Brad Douriff dons the voice of the knife hurling doll known as Chucky. It was great to also see his daughter, Fiona Douriff as the lead of the film as a wheel chaired victim who must overcome her situation. The film is filmed with other amazing cameos that i am not going to spoil for you, and we finally get to find out the back story of the killer who possesses the Chucky doll, Charles Lee Ray. Brad Douriff had a lot to do with writing this film because he wrote a very clever way to bring Chucky back which none of the other sequels have figured out. Chucky is also menacing in this one like he was in the original. Sure, there are some comedic lines, but it’s not overdone. Chucky became a literal joke to everyone with the last couple films and this rightfully brings him back as a legend in the horror genre. The acting was terrible as usual with this film and some of the characters are dumb by actions, but i don’t think the film suffered as a result of it. Curse of Chucky is one of the biggest surprises of the year in my book, and it definitely reaches the top 5 in horror for the year of 2013. I recommend this film to fans of the franchise or anyone who thought that last few movies were crap. I think this is a film that likers and haters of Chucky will all enjoy.