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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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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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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Case 39: The Most Upfront and Blatant Twist In All Of Cinema History

Written by Luke Barnes

Case 39 is a horror film directed by Christian Alvart. The plot sees dedicated care worker Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellweger), save a young girl from a brutal death at the hands of her parents. However, one thing leads to another and the rescued Lilith (Jodelle Ferland), begins living with Emily and Emily soon realises that there is something off with her.

Spoiler warning for one of the most obvious twists in cinema history.

Ok last chance.

Lilith, as the incredibly on the nose name would suggest is in fact a demon. Yes, to make it even more obvious she is a succubus demon- they are really hitting you in the face with it. She can make those who go against her see horrible visions and meet grisly ends, it is all fairly generic and nothing that you haven’t seen better before.

This film felt to me like the producers and creatives behind this film had watched Orphan and seen the great twist in that film and been like ‘let’s make something similar but dumber’.

The film has quite an all star cast as well, landing Zellweger at the waning peak of her Bridget Jones fame, Bradley Cooper and Ian McShane and manages to waste all of them. The acting in this film is the usual collection of horror movie cliches with little to elevate it beyond mediocrity.

Overall, one of the worst and most obvious twists I have ever seen in a film, and yes to a degree I applaud the film for being so blatant and up front about it, but at the same time it is still an incredibly weak film.

Pros.

Some dumb fun to be had

Ian McShane is trying his best

Cons.

The cast excluding McShane either don’t care or are being sorely underused

The twist

The ending

They repeat plot elements over and over again

2/5

Slaxx: Skinny Jeans Really Will Be The Death Of You

Written by Luke Barnes

Slaxx is a horror comedy film directed Elza Kephart. The plot sees the workers of a fashion store come under attack when a possessed pair of jeans goes on a murderous rampage.

This is one of the best surprises I’ve had recently. Though this film’s premise sounds absurd it is actually surprisingly well executed, and actually quite thoughtful as well. The backstory of how the jeans came to be possessed, and yes there is a significant backstory put in place for this, which I won’t spoil as this is a fairly new film is actually inspired and has a spot on message behind it.

The jean kills, are hilarious in the best way. A few made me laugh out loud, and the rest made me chuckle, they are so comically over the top and gory it is perfect. The unique nature of watching a pair of jeans kill someone is something that really hasn’t been covered much in the horror genre and this film makes up for that in a big way.

The acting is serviceable, and they manage to sell the serious threat of the possessed jeans rather than breaking down laughing so I will give them props for that.

Overall, a hilariously silly horror comedy film that you should definitely check out.

Pros.

The hilarious premise

A surprisingly deep backstory for the jeans

The jean kills

The gore

Cons.

The characters are a bit thin

4.5/5

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!

Know Fear: Commune With The Darkness

Written by Luke Barnes

Know Fear is a horror film directed by Jamison S. LoCascio. The plot follows a family who come under demonic attack and must do battle with an otherworldly beast. Each member of the family has to commune with the demon in order to fight back, this takes multiple forms for each different family member, but one by one they do battle.

Demonic possession films are a dime a dozen at his point, and the genre is oversaturated, and that is why this film makes me happy- because it provides us with something fresh. The demon here doesn’t just target the kids, or the wife no it goes after everyone which makes for a nice change from the usual Conjuring Universe shenanigans.

Moreover, this film has far more of an intensely personal dimension to it, than a lot of other genre fare. We are given a very intimate look into the film of this film; we view them as real people more so than characters in a film and that makes the scares and the threat far more impactful.

Overall, a nice breath of fresh air in an overcrowded subgenre.

Pros.

The intimate feel

Focusing on the whole family and each individually

The scares

The freshness of it

Cons.

A bit slow at times

4/5

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