The Birds: Why Is Hitchcock A Cinematic Icon? I Don’t Get It

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A woman with too much time on her hands, played by Tipi Hedren, starts getting attacked by birds.

I am going to say something that within some film circles is the highest form of blasphemy so get ready. I don’t really like the films of Alfred Hitchcock, I think they are often slow and badly paced, and more often then not seem to think they are smarter than they actually are. His films have a certain smugness to them, the only one I actually like is Psycho.

Anyway, I did not think this was the worst film I have ever seen but I did think it was boring. Scene after scene of Hedren’s characters personal drama as she obsesses over a man she met in a pet shop, played by Rod Taylor. Honestly it is quite a ways into the film where the titular birds start to turn bad until that point you would be forgiven for thinking you are watching some old fashioned drama/romance film. The pace during this early section is so bad that it almost made me turn it off.

I enjoyed the cinematography and the shot choice and would even go so far as to say a few of the shots were quite inspired, but this didn’t make up for the wider short comings of the film. Chief amongst these I would say were the performances that frequently felt quite wooden.

Overall, painfully slow.

Pros.

A few strong shot choices

Visually a beautiful film

Cons.

It is badly paced

The birds don’t turn bad until way into the film

The performances are fairly wooden

It is boring

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Village Of The Damned: Beware The Stare

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After a mysterious incident all the women of a small town fall pregnant, a while later their offspring develop otherworldly abilities.

I want to preface this review by saying that I have never read The Midwich Cuckoos before, as such I was unfamiliar with the story. Had I seen one of the other numerous adaptions beforehand or shared some familiarity with the story I may not have enjoyed it as much.

I thought this film was really well done, it did a lot of work with atmosphere and had a show but don’t tell sort of approach to the film’s monsters. I have always found there to be something slightly disconcerting about little children especially when they gather together as such this film was bound to trigger fears in me. I thought the ‘evil’ kids here had a well-acted alien quality to them and I don’t know if they were inspired by the classic idea of the black eyed children within folklore, but if so they added a whole new dimension to it.

I also thought the pacing was really well done, far too many modern horror films try and cram in as much artsy imagery and subtext as they can bloating the film into a multi-hour behemoths which then lose sight of their scares, whereas this film does it right. I thought the runtime was tight and left just the right amount of plot to the imagination.

Overall, a very effective creepy kids movie.

Pros.

The scares

The atmosphere

The pacing

The performances

Cons.

It is a little antiquated  

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The Horror Of Dracula: From Transylvania To Klausenberg

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A retelling of the classic Dracula tale.

I have long heard that this is one of the definitive takes on the classic novel, however, now after seeing I think that it lacks a certain something. Obviously, I am approaching this old film with modern sensibilities so some things will be lost in translation, but I think that it really suffers from clearly being very low budget. Now I know Hammer Horror was low budget and campy and that was all part of the charm, but I think here due to limitations Dracula, played by Christopher Lee, was able to be set up as a truly terrifying threat.

Moreover, I also think that this film makes a number of odd changes to the book that seem to serve no purpose other than to be confusing, as for the most part it is just swapping around character names and backstories somewhat. I don’t really understand why the film did this as it certainly didn’t add anything.

However, the incredibly strong positive this film has going for it is the legendary Christopher Lee, who easily blends into the role of Dracula and I thought was able to make the role his own and put his personal spin on it. Lee saves this film from mediocrity.

Overall, a very average film pushed up by Christopher Lee.

Pros.

Lee

It is very watchable

The final battle

Cons.

It makes strange changes to the source material for no real reason

It’s low budget hurts it in places

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Dead Silence: James Wan’s Puppet Movie

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The arrival of a ventriloquist’s dummy spells doom for Jamie, played by Ryan Kwanten.

I will give this film a slightly above average score for the fact that it does boast some quite unsettling visuals and did also leave me feeling somewhat disconcerted. I think the film’s strongest element is its horror, however everywhere else it is let down.

I think the lets call it ‘industrial’ style James Wan used on the first Saw film that he tries to bring over to this film just doesn’t work at all. The two films are very different beasts and the carried over style hurts the film a lot. Nowhere is this clearer then in the final moments of the film where we get a very Saw-like twist with the same accompanying music and everything.

Speaking off the twist ending really doesn’t work, because rather than bringing everything together it instead leaves you saying, ‘wait what’ and makes the film incredibly goofy. Any kind of tension or scares are immediately undercut when you realise that a man who has played a fairly large supporting role in the film as a whole was supposed to have been a puppet the whole time. Dumb.

Overall, some neat horror visuals, but fairly weak everywhere else.

Pros.

A few good scares

Some cool effects work and make up design

It is very watchable

Cons.

The twist doesn’t work

Wan reuses the same style from Saw and it doesn’t work

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Smile: Bathsalts Will Do That To A Person

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A therapist, played by Sosie Bacon, becomes the victim of a curse.

Originally I had very low expectations for this film after seeing the trailers, but then I started to read the early reviews and my expectations went up. However, now after having seen it I can say to temper your expectations, don’t go in expecting the world and you will like this film well enough.

The two major pros of this film are Sosie Bacon’s lead performance and the final third of the film, which like Hereditary, is truly a sight to see. In terms of scares this film does manage to be quite creepy and unsettling at times and the films monster will be one that sticks in your mind long after watching. However, I did find that this film was far too reliant on jump scares to the point where they lost all effect.

In terms of the negatives about this film things are far simpler, the issues all stem from just how similar to other horror films this is. To call this an original film is quite a stretch. It takes several films such as The Ring, Truth Or Dare, Hereditary and It Follows and strips them for parts which it then sows together into a Frankenstein’s monster which then becomes this film. Moreover, because this film is so derivative there are no real surprises, everything happens exactly as you would expect it to.

Overall, better than average but far too familiar.

Pros.

A few good scares

Bacon

It is very watchable

Cons.

It is far too familiar

It is entirely predictable

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The Munsters: Use My Body To Keep You Alive

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Rob Zombie brings back The Munsters.

I saw a few episodes of the original series when I was a kid, but outside of that I have come to this project with very little familiarity with the IP. Mainly I came because I am a big fan of the films of Rob Zombie, also I wanted to see how his first foray into the world of family filmmaking went. In all honesty this film is a mixed bag, and if you aren’t a fan of Zombie’s style then you will almost certainly not like it.

I think that Zombie’s sensibilities work better outside of the family genre, I think now after watching this that Zombie needs the gore and the mania as compliments to his work. That is not to say that this is entirely without charm, to the contrary I found myself quite enjoying some of the more out there nods and jokes here and Sheri Moon Zombie is as delightful as always. However, on the whole I would say the film’s comedy left me freezing cold.

I do question who this was for, was it for the original fans? New ones? Who? I don’t think the film at all justifies its existence, even though it has many opportunities to in as the film is seemingly on for eons- maybe it just felt that way.

A saving grace of this film was the score, it gave me something to latch onto.

Overall, the only reason this film gets a slightly better than average score from me is because I am a Zombie fan and really appreciate his signature style, most other people would rate in lower.

Pros.

Zombie’s direction flair

The zaniness of it

The score

Cons.

It is too long and doesn’t justify its existence

The comedy doesn’t work, and the family friendly feel holds the film back

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Goodnight Mommy: Kids Are Freaky Man

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two young boys, played by Cameron Crovetti and Nicolas Crovetti, begin to suspect that their mother, played by Naomi Watts, isn’t actually there mother. Based on an Austrian film of the same name.

Before watching this I hadn’t seen the Austrian original, I had heard of it but not seen it, as such I went into this not knowing the twist or where it was going. However, a short while into the film I guessed the twist completely correctly and the rest of the film then proceeded exactly as I was expecting it to. My point is that the film is predictable, the twist has been done frequently before and done better at that.

The horror elements work to an extent and there are a few creepy sequences but by and large they are few and far between meaning that you spend more of your time bored than scared. Watts is trying her best but I would say the film really doesn’t give her much to do and that is a crucial missed opportunity.

Overall, generic and done before, but watchable in a pinch.

Pros.

It is watchable

A few good scares

Cons.

It is predictable

The twist has been done better before

It has pacing issues

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The Invitation: If There Is One Thing I Hate About The Aristocracy It’s All The Damn Vampires

1.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Ancestry.com leads to a young woman, played by Nathalie Emmanuel,  becoming the love interest for an evil vampire lord, played by Thomas Doherty.

This was barely a horror film, honestly after a point this film just becomes a superhuman action movie. The horror elements are fairly thin on the ground, the early parts of the film seem to be heading in the standard creepy British haunted house fare but then takes a drastic turn that really doesn’t help the film much at all. However, really the issues come in the final third when all the horror trappings are dropped and Emmanuel starts fighting vampires, this really takes out all the scare potential.

Also the final scene forces in a sense of girl power which leaves the film off on an eyeroll which is not what anyone wants. The more filmmakers and writers try and force in hamfisted political commentary into films the more I will criticise it, unless it is done well.

In terms of the vampire sub-genre this film struggles to do anything original, it inserts in its own version of Dracula who never really comes across as any kind of threat.

Honestly, the only thing I liked about it was the fact that it featured the legendary Sean Pertwee, and he is a saving grace but really isn’t given much to do.

Overall, a flawed horror film that makes a series of bad mistakes.

Pros.  

Sean Pertwee

Unintentionally funny at times

Cons.

The forced in social commentary

The weak vampire content

It makes a series of bad creative choices

It has pacing issues

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American Horror Stories: Lake

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After losing her child a grief stricken mother, played by Alicia Silverstone, decides that she can’t rest until she finds the body.

American Horror Stories is developing somewhat of a curse for itself of always closing out on a sour note, the last season did it and this season is much the same. However, I suppose if you are being glass half full about things you would say that whilst this season finale is boring and a wet blanket it is better than last season’s which was actively insulting to the fanbase.

Though this episode is watchable and not objectionably bad it does criminally waste the talents of Alicia Silverstone. She is clearly trying her best in the scenes she is given here, but there just isn’t enough in the script to help her give a good performance.

In terms of the episode itself the whole thing is rather dull and predictable, there are few surprises and you will find it hard to root for anyone or even to stay off your phone. In truth this episode is a snoozefest.

Overall, deeply average and uninspired.

Pros.

It is watchable

Silverstone is trying her best

Cons.

It is boring

It is predictable

It wastes Alicia Silverstone

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American Horror Stories: Necro

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A mortician, played by Madison Iseman, becomes attracted to dead bodies. Really we have come to this.

Honestly there was nothing even remotely scary about this episode, to even call it an episode of American Horror Stories feels disingenuous. In everything that Ryan Murphy does there is a level or eroticism some might say that is his style or even auteur signature, and that has always been very true for AHS. However, here it feels like it is taken to an extreme for no real reason at all, in truth what wants to be shocking is in fact very tame, it is the same thing as always traditionally good looking actors going at it. That is not shocking.

Really if anything this episode is fairly boring because other than the fact that the lead saw her family killed when she was a child and now has sexual feelings towards dead bodies, nothing of any real note happens. If I were to describe this episode in a word it would almost certainly be humdrum, it feels like midseason filler which it likely is.

Overall, nowhere near as shocking as it thinks it is, rather instead boring and tame.

Pros.

It is watchable

There are moments so silly that they are unintentionally hilarious

Cons.

It is tame

It is boring

It is badly paced

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