The 100 Candles Game: Blowing Out The Light

The 100 Candles Game is a New Zealand horror anthology film. The plot sees a group of people play the 100 candles game which basically involves sitting in a circle and telling each other spooky stories and then going to look in a mirror after blowing out your candle and seeing if you can commune with the spirits.

I have mixed feelings about horror anthology films, as very often they end up not being very good: indeed often one bad sequence can ruin the whole film, especially in terms of tone. So, I went into this with cautiously low expectations and I am please to say that this film far exceeded my expectations.

All of the segments in this anthology work, and work well at that. They are all scary and smarty written it is nice to see the consistency maintained over the whole film rather than just have one or two good stories surrounded by bad. A lot of the segments really did scare me, and I don’t scare easily at this point, I think personally for me the black-eyed children segment was the best as it was the most tense, but that is subjective.

My one criticism of the film would be that the ending is a bit cheap and comes out of nowhere, deeply unimpressive.

Overall, ignoring the final moments this is an incredibly strong horror anthology.

Pros.

Consistency

Genuinely scary

Smartly written

Good twists

Cons.

The ending is bad

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Widows Point: The Type Of Film You Can Make At Home

Widows Point is a supernatural, mystery film directed by Gregory Lamberson. The plot sees an author (Craig Sheffer), become locked overnight in a haunted lighthouse as a promotional stunt for his new book. However, the longer he trapped inside the more he realises something isn’t right and soon he becomes the prey of supernatural forces.

This is a bizarre film. I am not simply referring to the end that literally comes out of nowhere, but rather the film as a whole. Midway through the film there were that many flashbacks and timelines going on I quickly became lost, there is something to be said for keeping you central narrative simplistic.
Moreover, the film as a whole looked very cheap. I don’t know quite what it was about it, yes it would have had a smaller budget but other films with small budgets don’t look like this, in many ways it looked incredibly amateurish; like the sort of thing you might see presented as a student film.

The acting is similarly as bad, and not for a single moment throughout are you convinced off what is supposedly happening on screen, acting or otherwise.

Overall, a very poor film that needed to be drastically reformed to be anything close to good.

Pros.

The wacky randomness of the monster just showing up at the end

Cons.

It makes no sense

The narrative is far too complicated and also doesn’t work

The acting is god awful

It looks cheap

1/5

Reviewed by Luke  

Shadow In The Cloud: The Next Ripley?

Shadow In The Clouds is a war time horror film directed by Roseanne Liang. The plot sees a stowaway female pilot (Chloe Grace-Mortez), board a plane with a mysterious object. During the flight paranormal forces seek to work against her and to steal what is inside the mysterious box.

Though coming out in the final days of 2020 this may be a strong contender for best horror of 2021, unless something truly exceptional comes out to dethrone it. The sheer level of creativity and originality that this film boasts is a sight to behold, I honestly don’t think I have ever seen a film quite like this.

The scares are well earned as well, whether it is coming in the form of distressing gore, such as when she has to mend her broken finger), or supernatural threat. Both of which help to add to the tension of the film as a whole and make it hard to look away from.

Moreover, I have complained about the female empowerment message in a lot of recent films for not feeling earned or for feeling forced in, but here it is spot on. Grace-Mortez’s Maude is a kickass unstoppable action hero very much in the vein of Ripley or Sarah Conner. Also much like those examples, the film does not feel overt in its messages or politics rather it all feels natural and well done. Honestly the final fight scene is a cheer worthy moment.

Overall, one of the best films I have seen in a long time, a must see!

Pros.

It is empowering

Chloe Grace-Mortez is terrific

There is nothing else quite like it out there

The supernatural WW2 mix

The ending

Cons.

None

5/5

Reviewed by Luke   

Apartment 143: Smacking Your Head Against The Wall

Apartment 143 is a Spanish Horror film directed by Rodrigo Cortes. The plot sees a father and his two children become the victim of a poltergeist believed to have something to do with the recently deceased mother of the children – as is custom the father hires a team of paranormal investigators to get to the bottom of it.

The only positive I can give this film is that there are a few moments that do actually feel quite scary. These are not the moments where something paranormal might be a foot, but are instead the moments when we see that the father might have far more to hide than we first thought. That the real monster might be alive and well; however they ruin this as the film goes on and just ignore the plot thread in favour of a more generic supernatural ending.

The characters are all deeply generic and the plot goes exactly how you would expect. That really is my main take away with this film, it is not bad – it is watchable, but it is deeply generic. If you have even a slight interest in the horror genre and have seen more than one other haunted house/ and or possession film then you have seen this film before.

Overall, boring, and generic.

Pros.

When it looks like the supernatural is not the real cause of the evil

Cons.

Promptly ignoring that plot line

It is boring

It is generic

It is not scary

1/5

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   

The Vigil: Waking The Dead

The Vigil is a horror film directed by Keith Thomas. The plot sees a young man (Dave Davis), perform an overnight vigil for a recently deceased member of the Jewish community. However, once his watch begins thing begin to go wrong, and the man must fight off the efforts of a demon if he ever wants to leave that house again.

This film genuinely unnerved me, that is not something I get to say very often. I think by capitalising on an underrepresented type of horror, Jewish horror, we really get to see something fresh and unique. When thinking about these sort of films, possessions films/ demon films, we often are presented with a narrative from a Christian view point, and it is nice to explore the idea of demons from another faith’s viewpoint. The only other obvious example I can think of a similar film would be the Jeffery Dean Morgan stating The Possession where we get the Jewish view point represented.

I think the scares are very well done here and I enjoyed a lot of the slow burn horror scenes. This film does have a few jump scares in it, which is usually a point of derision, but here they actually work well within the film and the film as a whole doesn’t feel reliant on them.

My only negative would be that this film is very bleak and will make you feel sad after watching, which personally I was not anticipating, but be warned.

Overall, a very original film that is brimming with exploration and novel approaches.

Pros

The focus on Jewish mythology

The demon itself, the look and design

The horror

The ending

Cons.

It is very bleak

4/5

Reviewed by Luke   

May The Devil Take You Too: Yet Another Chosen One

May The Devil Take You Too is an Indonesian horror film directed by Timo Tjahjanto, serving as a sequel to May The Devil Take You. The plot follows the immediate aftermath of Alfie’s (Chelsea Islan), escape from the demon summoned by her father, we see her drafted in to help a group of wayward orphans whose guardian also made a deal with the devil; she is the only one that can stop the evil.

My biggest issue with this sequel is that it is too ambitious. The sequel adds a whole lot of lore and exposition on top of the premise from the first film and has Alfie as some sort of mythical being?, or destined to become some form of immortal being? I don’t know, and that is the problem. There is a lot going on here, a lot of set up and worldbuilding, which is crammed in and not really mentioned in the first film; the film as a whole feels overstuffed and by the end you have no idea what is going on.

The scares are still strong, and it is still nice to see the film’s very unique take on demons. I enjoyed the look of these creatures and their design especially endgame boss Moloch, I though they all looked well realised and quite menacing.

Overall, though the acting is still good and the scares still strong the film suffers from too much going on at once making it a confusing mess that leaves the world have developed.

Pros.

The scares

The creature design

The acting

Cons.

There is far too much going on

The plot easily becomes confusing

3/5

Reviewed by Luke   

May The Devil Take You: Never Look Behind Hospital Medical Curtains

May The Devil Take You is an Indonesian horror film directed by Timo Tjahjanto. The plot follows Alfie (Chelsea Islan), a young woman who learns that her father made a deal with a demon to attain wealth and now must deal with her fathers end of the bargain, namely said demon wanting her and her sibling’s souls.

This is a very striking film. I have watched a lot of horror films over the years and never yet have I seen one quite like this. Whether it how the film chooses to show The Devil, or the communing ritual at the start of the film, there are multiple scenes that push the horror genre in a new direction and inject it with fresh blood.

I enjoyed the physicality of the performances of those who were possessed, as more than one person was over the course of the film. I thought seeing these demons jumping about the room, or running up walls was truly a sight to behold it was both terrifying, but also visually impressive from a filmmaking stand point.

The film had a lot of good scares both in terms of jump scares, which this film actually manages to pull off well, and scares from its atmosphere: both of these are incredibly effective. In terms of similar scares I would compare this to the TV series Marianne.

Overall, this is a very well-done horror film that is brimming with new ideas and strongly thought out scares.

Pros

The scares

The physicality

The visuals

The performances

Cons.

The ending is a slightly weak, and off the mark

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke 

The Cleansing Hour: The Hottest Live Stream In Town

The Cleansing Hour is a horror film directed by Damien LeVeck. The plot focuses on a live stream exorcist Father Max (Ryan Guzman), who pretends to fight the forces of evil and rid the world of demonic forces. However, one night, on a stream, rather unexpectedly it all becomes far too real and Father Max comes face to face with the Devil himself.
This was an unexpected treat. I recently joined back up with Shudder to watch Anything For Jackson, and as I have it for a month I thought I would check out some of their other newer offerings as I already had the service earlier in the year. As such I stumbled across this film, I went in with low expectations of vapid teen focused fare and walked away genuinely surprised by one of the best twist endings I have ever seen in a horror film. The ending I am still thinking about now, well over a week after I watched the film.

I enjoyed how the demon fed of the secrets and lies, this resulted in slow drip-fed character development and an exploration of the character’s world and inner motivations. This made me care about the characters and made me invested in their story and survival. Likewise, I thought Guzman was a strong lead, the wayward priest who has fallen to the dark side but who still longs for a more noble cause is a role he plays well; in this he adds new emotional depths to the standard character architype and adds his own spin.

Overall, this is a horror gem that you can’t let pass you buy.

Pros.

The ending

The twist

Guzman

The character development

A novel new approach that felt, at least to me, very original

Cons.

None

5/5

Reviewed by Luke    

Anything For Jackson: Demons Are Surprisingly Flexible, Who Knew They Had Yoga In Hell

Anything For Jackson is a horror film directed by Justin G. Dyck. The plot follows an elder couple of devil worshippers who kidnap a pregnant women to use as a bargaining chip in the demonic resurrection of their dead Grandson.

This film really is a testament to the use of practical effects. The demons in this film are genuinely menacing, more so than anything I have seen in recent memory, why? Well because they seem all too real. The main two demons that I would like to draw attention to are the tall ghost demon, I like how they played around with the size, and of course the contortionist main demon who quite frankly was unlike anything I have ever seen before in a horror film- truly chilling.

I enjoyed the empathises this film placed on creating scares through its atmosphere. The film manages to a have a few good jump scares that don’t feel manufactured and that come about organically because of the tense atmosphere, the early resurrection of the bird would be a good example.

My issues with the film are only slight. Firstly, the first act is too slow, I understand it is establishing a lot of things, but it does become a slog after a while, luckily the film quickly rectifies this. Secondly, the central couple were fine but did not blow me away, anyone else could have played those roles.

Overall, this is a very strong, very original horror film that you need to see as it is trying something new and different and pulling it off to great effect.

Pros.

The demons

The scares

The ending

The atmosphere

Cons.

The first act

The main couple were bland

3.5/5

Reviewed by Luke