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 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

The Haunting In Connecticut: A Whole New Fluid To Be Disgusted By

The Haunting In Connecticut is a horror film directed by Peter Cornwell. The plot sees a family move into a home that use to be a funeral home where the mortician performed evil rituals on the dead to boost his son’s supernatural gift, naturally after they move in things start getting out of control quickly and the spirts start attacking the family.

I remember watching this film when I was younger, and I remember being scared for days afterwards. So, when I decided to revisit recently I went in with high expectations, and I can safely say they were not met.

The scares are all fairly tame, the two ‘scary’ parts of the film are the flashback scene where the bodies are mutilated and the ectoplasm scene, the latter is more fascinating as a concept than it is scary. For the most part the scares are just the usual obvious jump scares that blight most horror films these days, they are incredibly obvious and have no impact at all.

Secondly, and stick with me on this one, I don’t like how up the churches arse this film is. Yes, I understand that religion and God will play a key role in these sort of films as they are fighting demons, but in something like The Conjuring 2 you don’t see them stopping to pray every 5 seconds and having a character (the mother), who’s whole purpose is to spout about how great the church is and how we all need to have faith; it felt like I was watching Gods Not Dead or something alone those lines. My issue to clarify is not that it is in the film, it is the total lack of nuance or subtly with it.

Overall, though the body mutilation scenes did creep me out a bit, I can’t recommend this film as the scares just aren’t very good. They are the by the numbers jump scares that you would expect from some of the lazy Blumhouse fare, with that in mind this fails as a horror film.

Pros.

A few creepy scenes

The idea of ectoplasm and the way the film explains it

Cons.

The writing lacks subtly

The scares don’t work

The characters aren’t sympathetic and are caricatures

1.5/5

Reviewed by Luke   

Annabelle: Demons Patiently Wait On Lifts, Respect Social Distancing

Annabelle is a horror film directed by John R. Leonetti, serving as the first spin off film of the wider Conjuring Universe. The plot of this film focus on Annabelle, the breakout star of the first Conjuring film and goes a ways to explain how she ended up in the Warrens private collection; though to understand that you will have to watch all 3 Annabelle films.

I remember seeing this film a long time ago and I remember it being generic and boring. However, the other night, perhaps as a result of a masochistic feeling, I decided to revisit it and see if it was as bad as I remember. It is bad, definitely the weakest of both the Annabelle trilogy and the Conjuring Universe as a whole, but it is not terrible.

The only pro I have for this film is the basement life scene, when Mia (Annabelle Wallis), first sees the demon and she gets stuck in the lift. This I think is easily the best scene of the film, both in terms of scares and execution as it actually manages to feel tense.

The issues with this film for me are twofold. Firstly Annabelle Wallis should not be cast in anything ever, why is she? She can’t act and her name being associated with anything is a sign of poor quality, The Mummy, King Arthur Legend Of The Sword, Tag, I could go on. Wallis seems incapable of showing even the slightest amount of emotion in any sense, and to call her wooden would be a disservice to wood everywhere.

Secondly there is no third act in this film. Things just plod along in the usual investigative way these films do and then bang its over. There is no final standoff between Mia and the Demon, no, instead she almost throws herself out a window, but then she doesn’t and someone else does; wow gripping stuff there.

Overall, though this film isn’t as terrible as I remember it being it is still bad, not worth your time and easily the weakest of the Conjuring films; takeaway stop casting Annabelle Wallis.

Pros.

The lift sequence

Cons.

Annabelle Wallis

There is no third act

The doll really isn’t all that involved

There is a lot of aimless plot that goes nowhere

It does not justify its existence as a spin off

1/5

Reviewed by Luke  

Annabelle Creation: Demons Love A Good Chair Lift

Annabelle Creation is a horror film directed by David S. Sanberg, serving as both a prequel to the first Annabelle film as well as adding to the Conjuring Universe as a whole. The plot this time around serves to explain the origins of Annabelle the doll, showing how the possession occurred.

This is the best film in the Annabelle trilogy by far, as it is actually scary. I enjoyed the tragic reveal of Annabelle’s creation and I think it is smart to actually show us the demon controlling the doll rather than just the doll itself. I am surprised to note that the demon actually looks like how you would imagine a demon to look, not like the Conjuring Universe’s other demons that are basically just people with yellow eyes.

Personally, I think the scarecrow scenes where the scariest and best done of the whole film.

I think by and large the film wastes most of its cast, with veteran actors like Miranda Otto brought in to do very little. Though it does continue Lulu Wilson’s rise in the horror genre, she has been in 3 ‘good’ horror films to date and is shaping herself to be a generation z scream queen for sure.

I thought the ending was clever, tying the end of the prequel into the start of the first film it is not a new idea but it is effective here and it helps us to further understand the timeline.

Overall, though a series of clever decisions this film proves itself to be more than just a collection of jump scares.

Pros.

The scarecrow scenes and showing us the demon

Lulu Wilson

The ending  

It does what it says on the tin, it explores Annabelle’s origins and it does it well

Cons.

The cast bar Wilson is wasted

4/5 Reviewed by Luke    

Demons: Never Put On A Conveniently Placed Mask

Demons is an Italian horror film directed by Lamberto Bava. The plot sees a group of cinema gowers become the victim of a centuries old mask that turns people into demons.

This is the film that killed the giallo subgenre, the Americanisation is clear to see, this film owes more to films like The Evil Dead then it does something like The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, which is not in and off itself a bad thing, it is just noteworthy.  

My main complaint with this film would be that the plot felt confused, I wasn’t quite sure what it was saying most of the time, a lot seemed to be going on and not much of it made any sense. That said I did like where the film ended things teasing a world overrun by these demon creatures and a human safe haven/resistance.

It feels very 80’s in approach, with the music and the tone, but it also feels very forgettable as a result. It blends in with a sea of other 80s based slashers and supernatural affairs. The acting is also quite so so, no one is memorable and most seem to be over acting in an effort to get noticed.

Overall, a sad death of a subgenre

Pros.

It has a promising ending

Cons.

It feels generic

The acting is bad

It has lost touch with its roots

It is hard to follow

1.5/5

Reviewed by Luke  

House Of The Devil: The 80’s Will Never Die

House Of The Devil is an 80’s themed possession horror film directed by Ti West. The plot sees struggling student Samantha (Jocelin Donahue), take a babysitting job so she can pay to move into her own place. However, after she arrives at the house, she quickly begins to realise that something isn’t right and as the night progresses thing take a turn for the demonic.

My feelings on Ti West as a director are mixed, his style of directing is more miss than hit for me; I lovingly refer to him as a poor man’s Adam Wingard. I didn’t like The Babysitters, I thought it was disjointed and clumsy and I didn’t like his section in The ABC’s Of Death, I thought it was tasteless and cheap. So when I realised, he was the director of this I didn’t have high hopes.

That said, I actually enjoyed this film. Did it have it issues? Sure. A lot of it felt too drawn out with not a lot happening, and the use of spiking the audio after a scare started to become unpleasant to listen to after a while, but apart from that I thought it was enjoyable.

I enjoyed the 80’s aesthetic of the film, my favourite sequences of the film were the opening credits and the bit when Samantha was dancing around the house, I loved the goofy tone of the film in this regard. I thought the songs were great and I truly believe the 80’s will never die.

What’s more the performances are surprisingly good, the two I would draw attention to are Greta Gerwig as Megan and Tom Noonan as Mr Ulman.  Gerwig is memorable as Sam’s best friend Megan, who guesses something is wrong right from the beginning. Gerwig has some great comedic moments and easily manages to impress; sadly she isn’t around for long. Noonan on the other hand, is creepy and imposing from the moment he appears on screen, he manages to do a lot with very little and gives a memorable performance.

Overall, this is a surprisingly good haunted house/possession horror film, with some strong performances.

Pros.

Noonan and Gerwig.

The 80’s feel of it.

Some good scares.

Cons.

Technical issues/ audio spiking.

It is overly drawn out.

Lena Dunham takes you out of the film.

3.5/5

Reviewed by Luke