The Devil Rides Out: Christopher Lee Becomes A Magical Warrior Of The Lord

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A satanic secret society infiltrates British high society and Christopher Lee is all that stands between them and their dastardly ends.

Yes, yes I know this film has some racial undertones and is in many respect problematic, but it was from over fifty years ago so I am not hugely surprised. I have acknowledged these elements but for the purpose of my review I am going to try and look past them as little more than a product of their time.

Without further ado on with the review. Christopher Lee was a fantastic actor; he commands the screen here as Duc de Richleau. He brings such gravitas to the performance it is hard to look away, you really buy his performance consistently throughout.

Moreover, the film handles its stakes very well. Though only small in scale the film makes its stakes feel far grander and it is hard not to get caught up in this battle between good and evil. The tension coursing through the film is often palpable especially when it comes to scenes of mental sparing.

The film is beautiful to look at, even though a few of the scenes look quite poor by today’s standards, especially the car chase. However despite this there is longing towards this style of film making within me wherein whole films are not just massive dumps of CGI that underpaid visual effects people were forced to make during one long weekend wherein they couldn’t go home and were paid below minimum wage most likely.

Overall, there is a charm to this film that we don’t seem to see anymore.

Pros.

Lee

The stakes

The tension

The Angel Of Death scenes

The ending

Cons.

The rather blatant racism

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Paranormal Activity Next Of Kin: Break On Through To The Otherside

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young woman, played by Emily Bader, tries to find out more about her biological mother as such she travels to the Amish community she grew up in, bringing a film crew along for the ride because why not? However, once there things start to turn sinister.

Okay so this film won’t win any prizes for originality, but that is not to say that this film is bad quite the contrary.  I will admit I soured on the Paranormal Activity franchise after the ending of Ghost Dimension all that build up and for what? Then the initial trailers for this didn’t look great, and I was worried that this film was going to taint the series reputation even further, but if anything it resurrects it.

This film isn’t quite sure whether it wants to be a sequel to the other films or a straight up reboot of the series, as such it goes in both directions there is no direct reference to the previous films either in terms of events or characters, however there is enough free space narratively that they could connect it up if they wanted to.

What I think is the best thing about this film is that it does the opposite of Ghost Dimension and actually delivers on the pay off of the film. The film ends with, spoilers here, a demon coming up to earth to begin a reign of terror, with seemingly no one able to stop it as it can jump from body to body. Not only did I think this was a terrific ending in terms of everything the film had been building to, but I also thought this was magnificent in what it sets up for the series, what’s next? The possibilities seem endless and that has me excited.

Overall, I would say this film is easily up there as one of the best of the franchise and you should check it out if you like all things spooky.

Pros.

The pay off

The set up for the future

A few good scares

Not being too lore heavy
Cons.

The characters are all fairly meh

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Insidious 3: The Least Scary Villain In A Horror Film Ever

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After the death of her mother Quinn, played by Stefanie Scott, reaches out to the spirit world to try and contact her, and obviously because this is a horror movie, something other than her mum reaches back.

In my mind this is the worst of the Insidious films. This is mainly due to the demon antagonist of this one. Whoever designed it should be let go as there is nothing creepy about an old man with an oxygen tank, nor should there be. Furthermore, in terms of how easy it is to defeat this villain, simply by removing his oxygen mask, there is no threat at all there. In the first film The Man With Fire On His Face would be a lot worse of a villain if you could just turn off his music and that’s it he’s done.

The film tries to do something with ideas around mobility, Quinn is confined to a wheelchair for most of the film and so centres a lot of its scares around that. This isn’t a total failure as it does lead to a few good scares however, more needed to be done with it for it to be explored in any satisfactory way.

Another failure of the film comes with its characters who are instantly forgettable. We get the usual stock characters of the misunderstood teen, the boy she has a crush on, her parent, and then of course the paranormal investigators. None of the characters in this film are served by it, even veteran of the genre Lyn Shaye can’t save it, and they give her a much bigger role so she gets the chance to try.

Overall, a sad state of affairs but one that provides us with the crucial lesson of not all horror films need to be franchises.

Pros.

A few good scares

Cons.

The characters are awful

The villain is weak

They don’t develop their ideas enough

They waste the talent of Lyn Shaye  

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Insidious: If Your Kid Starts To Astral Project It Is Time To Have A Serious Talk With Them

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young boy, played by Ty Simpkins, passes into a coma and whilst there some otherworldly demonic being tries to take over his body. His family and a team of paranormal investigators must step in and fight back.

I remember being absolutely terrified by this the first time I watched it, all those years ago. Though watching it now I find myself somewhat disappointed. Maybe it is because I have watched a lot more horror since and have seen the same scares here parroted back at me thousands of times over, maybe my taste has simply changed. That is not to say this film is bad rather that watching it now it feels overly familiar.

The idea of the Further, the demonic realm, is well realised and is used to great effect to set up a number of scary scenes. It is a shame the Further sequence only last for around ten minutes as it is the most creative and visually stunning of the whole film. Moreover, the titular evil demon looks terrifying, and is an obvious and well deserved addition to the halls of memorable horror monsters.

Lin Shayne is of course a horror icon and proves her status here. Though Shayne’s Elise is only in the film for a short while, she leaves a mark.

Overall, a solid horror film, but not as good as Wan’s later horror efforts, i.e. The Conjuring.

Pros.

 The Man With Fire On His Face

The Further

Patrick Wilson

A few good scares

Cons.

A little bit familiar

We needed more time in The Further

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Paranormal Activity: Antagonizing Demons, Smart Move

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young couple is plagued by strange goings on so decide to record everything that is happening for reasons.

I remember when I was young and I first watched this I was terrified. A friend had convinced me that it was all real and it really messed me up for a few nights after watching. Now years later I know it is not real but I still find this film scary. I know a lot of the people don’t like the franchise for what it would later become and the litany of clones it spawned, but I think this film plays with expectations and builds tensions in such a superb way.

As the film progress and Micah, Micah Sloat, becomes more and more annoying the tension really does amp up and you start to believe it and really empathises with the couple. Obviously the film uses jump scares in its horror but I think it does it better than later films not just in the series but in the genre as they enhance the atmosphere of fear rathe than acting as a standin.

The film has so much promise and so much mystery, sadly they would ruin that as the series progressed, but this film has a fantastic mythology to it.

My main complaint with this film would be that it has a very slow start, made worse by the use of shaky cam and the whole home video aspect.

Overall, an enjoyable film with a few issues.

Pros.

A strong mythology

A nice tense atmosphere

The ending

A few good scares

Cons.

Pacing issues

Micah is an awful character and is super toxic

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The Rite: Anthony Hopkins Was Made For Horror Roles

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A faithless trainee priest, Colin O’ Donoghue, is send to Rome to become an exorcist.

I went into this film excited because I like Anthony Hopkins and he usually does horror very well, so I had high hopes and whilst the film isn’t bad it certainly is mixed.  I think the main issue with this film is the fact that it has all been done before so many times over. This film is content to retread old familiar ground without actually doing anything all that new with it and therein lies the problem.

Whilst there are some scary moments here and there, mainly dream sequences for some reason, I found a lot of the horror to again be overly familiar. The issue with this is that the horror then loses some of its impact as you know what is going to happen before it does.

Hopkins is good as he always is, even in a low budget horror film he brings his A game. However that just isn’t enough to make this film good as the material he is given to work with is bad and his co-stars likewise fair poorly: with the exception of Ciaran Hinds who again tries valiantly but is limited by the material given.

Overall, a few good scares but nothing you haven’t seen before.

Pros.

Hopkins

Hinds

A few good scares

Cons.

Very predictable

Not all the scares land

The ending

It is very up the Catholic Churches rear end

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Demonic: The Fight Against Demons Has Evolved

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Carly, Carly Pope, has to meet her mum after years of cutting her out after she committed a series of murders. As she enters her mum’s mind, literally, she begins to see things were far darker and more supernatural than they first appeared. A battle for Carly’s soul soon follows.

For full disclosure here, I am a big fan of Neill Blomkamp so bare that in mind throughout this review.

After Chappie, which I have a soft spot for, but a lot of people didn’t like, Neill Blomkamp had a lot of bad luck. Both his Alien and Robocop projects were passed on and it wasn’t clear what was next for the director. However, then I saw the first trailer for this and knew he was back.

There is a lot of demonic possession films out there, I have seen, and reviewed for this blog tons and tons of them. After a point all of these films start to feel similar and you start looking for something new and different enough to bring you back to the genre again, this film did that. Whether it is the black ops army of priests hunting demons, or the new tech that allows said priests and others to venture into the mind of the possessed to fight demons in cyberspace, there are a lot of new ideas here and they mostly work.

Moreover, I enjoyed that the demon looked distinctly different from what we usually see in these type of films, which is either a human with glowing eyes or a red skinned horned entity. I thought the look of the demon with the bird head was distinct enough to be memorable and crucially scary.

In terms of scares this isn’t the scariest film in the world, but it did give me a few good scares throughout.

Overall, it is nice to see Blomkamp back in the game and bringing something new to the genre.

Pros.

The demon costume design

The new tech focus

The army of black ops exorcists

A few good scares

Cons.

It could do with being scarier

A few pacing issues

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The Seventh Day: The Devil In The White Collar

The Seventh Day

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

A lot of possession or exorcism films play a lot of lip service to the Church, as such it is nice to see a film that takes a different approach and asks the question what if the monster/demon was the priest? It is an interesting idea as yes, if a demon was possessing people why wouldn’t they possess priests, figures that are trusted by thousands of people. It reminded me a lot of Robert Kirkman’s terrific comic Outcast.

That said, despite the twist being interesting it is not executed well. It is clear which of the priests is evil almost from the get-go, and the film does not subvert your expectations in anyway, the one you think is bad is.

I thought the ending was a little too sequel baity for my taste, and I don’t think this film is really good enough to warrant sequels. The horror was very iffy, some moments were strong and had real promise and other moments were painfully by the numbers and played out.

Guy Pearce brings a lot to the film, but even he cant save this film from mediocrity.

Overall, a few good moments but for the most part very average.

Pros.

Guy Pearce

A few good scares

Cons.

It is painfully obvious

The ending teases an unearned sequel

More than a few bad/ generic scares

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Little Evil: That Kid Is Looking At You Funny

Little Evil is a horror comedy film directed by Eli Craig. The plot sees a new step dad (Adam Scott), have to deal with his new step son who as luck would have it, turns out to be the Anti-Christ; can the power of the father son bond overcome even the greatest of evils?

I found the parody of things like The Omen funny at first, but as the film went on and on and kept repeating the same parody jokes over and over again they quickly became played out. The same can be said for a lot of the humour of this film.

I will give the film praise for getting the balance of horror and comedy closer to even then it normally is in these sorts of films. The film obviously favour the comedy elements over the horror ones, but there are a few good scares that I actually found quite effective, the worm scene and the early scenes with the hand puppet would be what I point to here.

Adam Scott is just likeable enough to allow you to root for him, and he has enough dad vibes to make his and Lucas’s (Owen Atlas) relationship believable and have emotional resonance.

A final point would be that it is uncomfortable to see Chris D’ Elia in this film, and he features quite prominently as well. He took me out of the film and soured the film as a whole somewhat.

Overall, this film is goofy fun. Is it the best horror comedy film you will ever see? No. Is it without any problems? No, again. However, if you just want something mindless to sit and turn your brain off to then you can do worse than this film.

Pros.

Scott

The initial parody

A few funny jokes and a handful of good scares

Cons.

It gets tiresome

Chris D’ Elia

3/5

Reviewed by Luke  

The Witches Of Eastwick: The Powers Of Liberation

The Witches Of Eastwick is a dark fantasy comedy film directed by George Miller. The film sees 3 suburban women go on a voyage of self-discovery and sexual exploration after a mysterious man (Jack Nicholson), comes to town and tempts them out of their boring lives.

I enjoyed the more overt references to the supernatural and the implication that Nicholson’s character was the Devil (or a demon of some kind), I thought it added a nice extra something to the film and really enriched Nicholson’s character.

I thought the performances were strong from everyone involved, Cher, Sarandon and Pfeiffer all gave great performance and I liked seeing their journey over the course of the film, when they became ‘witches’ the character transformation felt earned.

My one complaint would be that at nearly two hours the film is far too long. The film definitely could be improved by being shortened as a lot of the scenes have very obvious bloating and plot padding, the latter of which takes away from the drama of events after they have happened and effectively derails the film.

The monster CGI form the film’s final moments is laughable at best and does not feel in any way tense, but this was probably good for the time, so I won’t be too harsh.

Overall, an interesting premise boosted by some strong performances is let down by poor pacing and an inability to form meaningful tension.

Pros.

Strong performances

An interesting premise

Hints of the supernatural

Cons.

Poorly paced

Lacking in tension

2.5/5

Reviewed by Luke