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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Temple: A Camera So Powerful It Can Record People Having Sex Through Walls

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Three friends go to Japan in search of a supposedly haunted temple, once they find this temple things quickly start to go wrong. It is a very familiar premise.

This idea has been done to death, a group of people seek out x building usually because its rumoured to be haunted, then it is, and things go bad. At this point it is just lazy storytelling, the writers for these films could try and at least come up with some new reasons why these characters want to explore haunted buildings, but no.

Moreover, this film also trots out the dead all along little kid cliché. There is a little child guide in this film who turns out to be either not real or a ghost depending on your interpretation, of course the job of this kid is to lure the young folk out to the temple, what a shock. I think the use of this cliché just shows how bland and by the numbers this film is, clearly the writer of the film didn’t want to give it anything resembling a personality and just wanted to stick to shlock and it shows.

That said I would not say this is a terrible film, the creature design is good and there are a fair few good scares once they get to the temple, there is some promise there sadly it is just never developed in any way.

Overall, though it has a few interesting ideas for the most part this film is just things you have seen before.

Pros.

A few good scares

The creature design

The Japanese flavour to the horror

Cons.

It is riddled with cliches

The writing is awful

Not a single one of the characters is likeable

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V/H/S 94: Maybe These Tapes Were Better Returned

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Another batch of V/H/S tapes are found.

I was a fan of the first two V/H/S films but honestly they have really lost there way. This film reminded me a lot of some of the worst aspects of Ti West’s films, though he was not involved, schlocky and over the line for the sake of being over the line. Many of the segments in this anthology are honestly unpleasant to watch, and that is saying something considering I am a big fan of the genre and not much bothers me anymore. It almost seems like they are going out of there way to one up each other on who can be the most depressing and needlessly excessive.

On top of that none of the segments are even particularly good. The best of a bad bunch would be ‘Storm Drain’ by Chloe Okuno, as this was the only one I found myself enjoying: moreover I liked the concept of ‘Rat-Man’. I would say the weakest is ‘The Empty Wake’ by Simon Barrett, a regular contributor, as it is simply dull.

In terms of pacing this film is also troublesome. Some of the segments feel double their length and are honestly hard to get through whilst others feel rushed and not done justice, it is a strange mix but wrong on both fronts.

Overall, maybe don’t give this a sequel.

Pros.

The Storm Drain was interesting

Cons.

Edgy for the sake of it

Hard to watch

Depressing

Pacing issues galore

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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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Interview With Hunter Farris: Writer, Director, Producer and Actor For Cursed Camera

Written by Luke

Hey Everyone! I recently had the chance to sit down and chat to Hunter Farris about his new horror shot Cursed Camera, which is a delightful play on the found footage demonic possession genre, with the camera itself being possessed by a demon and killing anyone who goes off screen. We chat about, curses, found footage horror and Martin Scorsese’s quotes on cinema. I hope you enjoy.

Q: If you had to sum your film up in one word what would it be?

A: Experimental.

 Q: Who is your filmmaking inspiration?

 A: Todd Strauss-Schulson. I love how he used movies about movies to explore deep, universal themes.

Q: Do you have any funny on set stories?

A: I forgot to write the last scene until almost the last day of shooting. It wasn’t even in the outline; it was just an afterthought. But because of that, our cinematographer/editor was unable to plan the shot properly. So he solved the problem by taking a single screenshot and focusing on that with everything in voice-over.

Q: If you could travel back in time to when you were first starting in filmmaking out what would you say to your younger self?

 A: First starting out in filmmaking. Slash your budget down to nothing. Then work with what you get. First starting out on this video? Everything will work out just fine. There were a few issues with production that caused me a lot of stress in the moment (like recasting someone on the day of filming), but none of them ultimately affected the finished product.

Q: What would you do if you were caught on the cursed camera?

A: Oh gosh… The whole point of a horror movie is that you can’t win. I mean, sure, I could try to outsmart it by following the rules and staying onscreen… until the rules change, and the camera starts randomly turning off and on. So I guess the best thing to do is turn the camera toward the wall and report the camera to the rental house so they can take care of it.

Q: What was your catalyst for making this film?

A: Honestly? I just wanted to make something that could go to a festival, without spending a dime on production. A found footage movie seemed like the most narratively interesting excuse for no budget and killing off characters was an easy way to make sure people only had to show up for a few hours of filming. So when I asked how they could die without spending money on makeup, effect, props, or costumes, I remembered Martin Scorsese’s quote (“cinema is the art of what’s in the frame and what’s not in the frame”) and decided to play around with the relationship between the character and the camera.

Q: Are there any particular films you are homaging, referencing, or spoofing with curse camera?

A: I’m gonna be honest, I haven’t watched a single found footage movie or possession movie yet, and pre-production went so fast that I didn’t have time to research. So I didn’t want to comment on any movies I hadn’t seen, so I was more commenting on the very idea of a camera. Not many movies make the camera diegetic, and I wanted to make the camera as diegetic as possible to play around with the idea of the interaction between character and camera.

Q: What is your favourite possession film?

A: I wish I could give you a good answer, but I don’t think I’ve seen any possession movies yet. I look forward to watching a lot of possession movies.

Q: How would you describe the state of modern horror?

A: It seems to me that modern horror is splitting into 2 camps: One wants to use horror as a vehicle to explore a theme, and the other wants to use horror as a vehicle to have fun with fear. And I think those are equally valid camps.

Q: If you ever won an Oscar or other award who would you thank in your acceptance speech?

A: I’m always deeply grateful to *every* member of the cast and crew. If I can, I always like to express gratitude to each one by name. And I’d definitely be thanking the people who financially support me while I’m chasing my dreams of filmmaking.

If you want to check out Cursed Camera you can find it on Youtube, and as always there is a review of the short up on my site now!

Rec: Yet More Found Footage

Rec is a Spanish found footage horror film directed by Jaume Balaguero. The plot sees a reporter (Angela Vidal), cover a firefighter intervention at a nearby apartment complex, however, as the night draws on she becomes locked down in the building with in becoming ever more clear that something else is going on.

Much like when I reviewed Rosemary’s Baby the other day, I feel like because this film is so highly regarded in the horror community I should like it, that was the main reason I gave it a chance in the first place, but I have to say after seeing it I really don’t see what all the fuss is about.

The one pro I will give this film is that I enjoyed the tight confined setting of an apartment block, I thought it gave the film a strong claustrophobic sense of atmosphere that helped it greatly.

Conversely, I thought the characters were poorly written. I didn’t care about them and that made all of the drama and the tension in the film become rendered null for me, the reporter didn’t seem to have much personality beyond being a reporter.

Likewise, the scares and the situation did little for me because I have seen it before, and better. The idea of an outbreak with people turning into these monsters (maybe Zombies?), is not a new concept and this film fails to do anything interesting with it.

Overall, strongly disappointing.

Pros.

The claustrophobic setting

Cons.

The main character has no personality

The scares feel done before

I could guess how it would end

I left disappointed

1.5/5

Reviewed by Luke  

Host: Elbow Bumps Might Be Able To Stop The Virus, But They Can’t Stop Demons

Host is a found footage screen set horror film directed by Rob Savage. The plot sees a group of friends conduct a séance over zoom/ or an equivalent during the 2020 Covid19 lockdown, as things progress they release the spirit they have summoned is in fact demonic and wants to see them all dead.

So, to me this film was boosted by the novelty factor of having it take place during lockdown; specifically the UK’s interpretation of that. I enjoyed see people bump elbows as a form of greeting, it made me laugh. No doubt this will be the first of many films to take this format and no doubt it will get repetitive quickly, but for now, as this is the first, I found a novelty to it.

This film reminded me in a lot of ways of Unfriended and its sequel, it used a lot of the same tricks and turns. Though I did enjoy the ending of this more as we get to see the demon (though invisible), pick of each character in a horrific fashion, I thought these supernatural elements added nicely to the technology and isolation horror aspects.

This film has a strong atmosphere that it uses for most of it scares effectively. However, there is one jump scare right near the end that really got me as I was not expecting it. Normally I would be dead against the use of jump scares, but here they actually pull it off well.

Overall, a fun lockdown themed horror film. That is good for a one time viewing.

Pros.

The lockdown setting

The performances were quite good

The kills

The ending scare

Cons.

It is quite familiar

4/5

Reviewed by Luke  

The Taking Of Deborah Logan

The Taking Of Deborah Logan is a found footage horror film directed by Adam Robitel. The plot sees an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s become possessed by an evil malevolent presence. Of course, there is a student there with a film crew recording the whole thing because she is doing a thesis about the disease. I don’t know, but she is there.  

Let’s get one thing nice and clear right off the bat, this film had no reason to be a found footage film, did it add anything? No. Did the constant shaky cam and cuts to black make the film any scarier? No. If anything the use of found footage derailed this film and ultimately killed it; the final sequence boils down to the same thing you have seen a thousand times before shaky cam running down a dark hallway where everything is hard to see and there is a constant screaming that makes you want to say “shut up”. It is aggressively average.

What makes this sad is the potential the film had. Mental illness, especially the sort of ones that feature in this film, bring a special type of very real fear with them. The film could have played with the idea of is she possessed, or is her mental state getting worse rapidly, that would have been interesting. No, the film just decides yeah lets go for the predictable boring demon angle and it flushes all the potential it had down the toilet.

Overall, this is nothing new. There is promise in the first twenty to thirty minutes, but the rest of the film promptly ruins that. From a filmmaking point of view this film points out to be all the issues with found footage films and the genre as a whole; barely seeing something for half a second isn’t scary. The found footage genre is dead.

Pros.

It has promise

Cons.

It ruins said promise

The storyline is played out

The found footage filming style is grating

The third act is barely watchable

1/5

Reviewed by Luke

Skinwalkers: Hollow To The Core

Skinwalkers (Skinwalker Ranch outside of the UK), is a found footage horror movie directed by Devin McGinn. The plot sees a team of scientist and researchers go to a ranch in Utah to investigate reports of strange goings on and the disappearance of a young boy.

This is your bog standard found footage film, right now before reading this review, before even watching the film, you can tell me beat for beat what is going to happen and you will be mostly right. It is painfully average in a lot of ways.

I have written a bit about my issues with the found footage genre, my fatigue with it and this film encapsulates everything I am talking about. It is just so damn formulaic it is in no way scary or shocking. It is supposed to be about Aliens, so it does have so cool extraterritorial stuff in it, but mostly it is the same things that you have seen a million times before. The moment when a creepy little girl showed up and then her face distorted and her eyes turned black was the moment I gave up; there is nothing new here, nothing of substance.

The characters are generic, as you would expect them to be in something like this, they try and set up a wider world, but you just don’t care.

The only real pro I can give this film is that it is on for an hour and 17 minutes, so it is mercifully short. Overall, it is not aggressively bad by any means there are plenty of worse films out there, but it is painfully average and mind numbingly dull. Avoid unless you’re desperate.

Pros.

It is not terrible.

It is only on for an hour and 17 minutes.

Cons.

There is nothing to like about it.

Clearly it has been made with no real effort or consideration.

It is a waste of your time.

1/5

Reviewed by Luke

Bigfoot, The Lost Coast Tapes: The Adventures Of Discount Tom Cruise

The Lost Coast Tapes is a Bigfoot centric found footage film directed by Corey Grant. The plot follows a group of people who go out into the wilderness to meet with a man who says he can prove the existence of Bigfoot. Once the group get their things start to go wrong, and the threat is all too real!

When I first put this on, I was expecting the worst, I was expecting a cheap, low rent, bargain basket esque film. However, I am pleased to say I actually enjoyed it a far bit and would recommend it. I love the focus on Bigfoot, and I think it added a nice bit of variety to the usual found footage dross. I liked the exploration of what a Bigfoot would be like and what it could do: alien or not.

Although, never before in all my time watching films have I ever met a lead character more unlikable than the lead in this, Sean Reynolds (Drew Rausch). I came to call the character discount Tom Cruise and I feel like if you watch the film you will see why. There is just something so obnoxious about him, I don’t know if that is how the character is suppose to be, or if the actor if just unbearable, but in nearly every scene he is the worst character in the room; taking the idea of a ‘dude bro’ to the extreme.

I thought the Alien or possible demonic suggestion at the end was a nice twist and left you with something to think about. I personally enjoyed the ambiguity and the fact that we never got a good look at what a Bigfoot looked like; it keeps the mystery alive.

Overall, I think this is a surprisingly good found footage movie cursed with one hell of an unlikable lead, but if you can get past him there is a decent film waiting for you.

Pros.

The handling of Bigfoot.

The ambiguity.

The ending.

It is very interesting.

Cons.

The lead is utterly hateable.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke