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The Haunted (2018)
Genuinely tense and atmospheric
Stripped back but effective haunted house film that builds tension nicely without ever going over the top.
It has a few issues, notably an element of predictability and a mis-handled plotline/ending, but I can only imagine the negative reviewers expected something else, even though the synopsis is a pretty accurate desciption of what to expect.
If you're looking for something to turn all the lights off and get spooked by, without the usual dumb kids getting picked off one by one, then I'd recommend it,
The Loss Adjuster (2020)
MIserable, messy, awful acting and not very festive
A total waste of time.
Don't expect feel good, don't expect musical numbers despite the cast's background, and don't even expect much Christmas.
Expect arguing, confusion, a dead rat, bad scipt, terrrible acting (and even worse accents), and some terrible photoshop images over the end credits.
The only slight positives were some nice shots of London and Beverley Knight singing over the closing credits.
Rewatch amything else rather than watching this.
The Cleansing Hour (2019)
A different twist on the Exorcism genre, and good fun
The Exorcist is probably the greatest film of all time, and aside from maybe Emily Rose and Last Exorcism I'm not sure any other even half decent exorcism films exist.
This then came as a total breath of fresh air. It approached the matter in a pretty unique way compared to most, and although it does get a bit over the top and crazy at times its all adds up to a really fun ride.
The cast are decent, making what could very easily have been hammy dialogue fairly authentic, and for something with a presumably modest budget 90% of the times the effects are on point.
I love that as a film it just doesn't hold back, everything it sets up or promises it delivers on, and as I've said, yes at some times that is crazily over the top, but it's also a worthwhile watch I'd recommend to any horror fan.
Ever wondered what it would be like to follow a slightly deranged senior for a few days?
...well here's the answer.
My favourite bit was either watching her eat breakfast or when she did the dishes.
Hour of Lead (2020)
Heavy handed, predictable and random
Not as clever or suspenseful as it thinks it is.
Some plot points are just completely random and never pay off or have any effect on how the film unfolds.
It really drags in the second half, maybe because you've already figured it all out,
Sometimes people just jump on board the hate train
It's not fantastic, but it's also not as bad as folk would have you believe.
For every half-decent action sequence, there's a bit of clunky dialogue or some forced empathy or romance, but it's definitely watchable.
It has an effects budget which is pretty well used and holds up okay 15 years later, and Garner, although perhaps lacking in some fight sequences doesn't look like she's phoning it in.
I think the Affleck hate train of the early 00's made Daredevil a very easy film for people to have a go at, and a spin off (albeit of the best character in that) would be doomed from the off.
I think at an hour and half long it's an okay popcorn flick with more in common with 1989's Punisher (and films of that era) than current Marvel movies, and all the people clamoring for diversity should probably have given this, the first female led Marvel film, a bit more credit.
Leaving D.C. (2012)
Solid Found Footage film but lacks resolution
Firstly I will state I do enjoy Found Footage for the most part, which is why I sought this out. This is an above average film from that genre, very watchable and quite absorbing.
It's a pretty simplistic story of a guy leaving DC and setting up in a remote house where a series of strange occurrences ensue.
It's solidly acted, anchored by a well rounded character, and avoids a lot of the usual FF tropes.
It drip feeds us a few suggestions along the way as to what these occurrences could be, but doesn't give a full explanation, either choosing to let the viewer fill in the blanks or just giving in to its lack of budget.
The drug Venlafaxine is mentioned a lot during the film, and I googled it to see if it would lend credence to any theories, but it is simply an OCD medication.
Last Christmas (2019)
No subtlety, a little cringy, but hard not to like
Love George Michael, love Emma Thompson, but not sure this worked as well as it could have.
There is little to no subtlety at all in the plot, so even if it has been spoiled for you go along for the ride, as you'll probably be ahead of the films narrative anyway.
There's not a lot of comedy here, or at least I didn't find it, and it falls into a few traps that make certain scenes very reminiscent of a generic Christmas TV movie, and more than a little cringe worthy.
The decision for Clarke, Thompson and co. to be Yugoslavian immigrants seems a strange choice, but I'm assuming this might be a mirror to George's own Greek upbringing, and also allows a few soap box moments about immigration in the UK's and Brexit. The film in general seems to jam as many different nationalities in as possible throughout - I'm going to go out on a limb and say this might be the first ever Malaysian/Danish pairing on screen.
All that aside, the 2 leads manage to add a bit of sparkle (Golding is charming throughout and Clarke becomes endearing as she starts to 'heal' herself), which coupled with a Christmas setting pushes you to care a little more than it deserves.
As a tribute to Michael, aside from covering a few social issues close to his heart, his music is pretty much in every scene, but can feel very forced at times. Praying for Time, although completely out of context was used to very good effect, whilst Faith and Everything She Wants injected a much needed bit of life into proceedings.
Clarke has a very sweet voice and it's a shame she doesn't sing more, I left contemplating if this would benefit from being more of a sung through musical, Michael's lyrics are honest and poignant, and for a film that uses his name heavily in promotion his songs are deserving of more prominence, and although Clarke's character professes to love George Michael it's never really followed through with.
Birdemic 2: The Resurrection (2013)
Here we go again
Presuming everyone reading this has seen the awesome and terrible at the same time Birdemic, the simple review is that it pretty much tries to emulate that movie.
It has a lot of similar beats, slow build, an opening tracking shot of strutting (think Saturday Night Fever) and a lot of Hollywood locations, attempting to show that it is a step up (but gives us the first 'really?' moment - a badly blurred out advert - why not just cut that shot from the final print.) And although the 2 leads from the first film return we have another blonde/dork romance, the cruise ship reject returns for a musical interlude, people use coat hangers for defence and find yet more firearms, not to mention lots more of my favourite element - shouting out big numbers! I'll give you a thousand dollars! I'll give you one million dollars to fund your film! A typical hollywood film costs one hundred million dollars!
We get a little exposition and catch up with the other people who survived, and this time It tries to go meta, reeling off films the director likes, telling us all about directors not having final say, how actresses struggle, actors who have died young etc. But it does come off a bit 'casting couch' early on.
Undermining all that, the uneven sound, jumpy cameras, bad editing and poor script are still there, showing us the director has learnt nothing, but when people start repeating "giant jumbo jellyfish" and we get a flashback to eagles attacking cavemen, you can't help but think they knew their audience and were playing to it.
The most overused line is "she's dead", but they also introduce bare boobs and more blood to try and make things a bit more interesting.
It does what it says on the tin, so don't watch it and complain, you know what to expect.
Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)
Hi, the eagles killed our friends, do you have a phone I could use?
The director starts with a long travelling shot, and we automatically add Kubrick to Hitchcock as directors the person behind this obviously aspires to.
The first scene shows exactly how far from that he is as he fails to a) get his actor walking like a believable human being, or b) manage 2 seconds of a tracking shot on him without the camera clunkily jumping along.
That said, visually the film isn't too bad, we get some very artistic and picturesque shots, let down a bit by lingering shots on cars, women, sandwiches and whatever else the director likes.
The sound and editing is awful, cutting between shots with completely different levels of volume and ambience. I thought it was bad during the early conversations, but the boardroom and then on the beach it got progressively worse, and at times the dialogue is even drowned out.
Everything is super heavy handed, ranging from the constant environmental/anti-war messages to via news reports and dropped into conversations, as well as frequent comments about of money - A hundred dollar fuel, a twenty thousand dollar solar panel, a million dollar contract, a 10 million dollar investment, a billion dollar takeover! I have to say though these both got funnier throughout.
I takes over 45 minutes to get to the actual birdemic, and the CGI is the next level bad you're expecting (maybe hoping for) by that stage of the film. The scene where they fight them off with coat hangers is one of my personal highlights of the film, along with pretty much every death scene.
I will give credit to the female lead, she has a bit of charm, and I find her daily activities of walking, cutting food etc. as believable as her being a model. Beyond that the extras are largely better than the main cast. The young girl in particular has clearly never acted before.
I won't go into more specifics or spoilers as you really need to watch it and be as shocked and entertained as I was. Right, I'm off to watch the sequel!
Conjuring Curse (2018)
Beware the curse!
Save yourself the time of watching this. It is possibly the worst film I've ever seen. We start with hokey 20's style silent film, some Tarantino-esque scratched film effects, an awful few minutes of rock track, and the villain of the piece is pretty much a wardrobe. Acting is terrible (the kids out-acted the adults.) Only thing I actually liked was the retro score which sounded straight out of a hammer flick.
Another poor Borley haunting film
Another poor Borley film. I'm a huge critic of Andrew Jones' low budget horrors but even his Haunting at the Rectory film had more redeeming features than this, and that didn't even feature a ghost to my memory.
Not sure how anyone can review this 9 or 10 stars unless they were somehow linked to the production.
Production values are poor and it doesn't really make sense or go anywhere.
Maybe one day Blumhouse will produce a decent Borley film.
Cabin 28 (2017)
Andrew Jones' best film to date
As a devout horror fan I've been watching Andrew Jones' efforts for several years, and they are for the most part the kind of films you put on to have a laugh at more than anything; notorious for bad acting, thin plot and a total lack of drama.
Imagine my surprise when I plumped for this on a night I had the house to myself, partly inspired by the retro casting of one of the original Hollyoaks girls which I thought would add to the kitsch, only to find myself quite enjoying it.
It starts off with Lee Bane testing a new accent and chewing the scenery as he does in every Andrew Jones film, but then suddenly a few people who aren't terrible actors turn up. Yes some must still be friends of the family or something, and the direction leaves a bit to be desired as occasionally you start wondering what actually happened in a previous scene, but this stands head and shoulders above his previous work such as Robert the Doll, and for me it even hits a few beats when the threat/intimidation level raises.
I watched it knowing very little beforehand so wasn't comparing it to The Strangers as most do. Of course it isn't as polished, but given its budget constraints it really isn't a bad little film at all.
American Conjuring (2016)
Underrated horror movie
I watched this as part of my usual Halloween horror marathon without expecting much and was pleasantly surprised. Okay it's not exactly groundbreaking, but for anyone who likes horrors anyway it moves along nicely with plenty of varied events throughout to keep you interested.
I'm not going to say it's overly original, although it certainly has fresher ideas than some movies out there, and the acting in the first 10 minutes/some of the makeup is woeful, but once you get past the opening and get into it there's an entertaining enough film.
It has no similarity to The Conjuring at all, and would have avoided any comparison and been viewed more favourably had it stuck to it's original title of Bind.