Archive for the 'Suspense' Category

Nov

Comments Off on The Shallows

petting-zooWelcome back to another review, folks! Don’t you love when a movie has an A class budget, A class team, A class writing, and even A class expectations, but plummets to B status like the suspension of disbelief for certain actors’ toupees? I do! Bad news for them, good news for the B community. So let’s dive in to a newer movie filled with surf, sun, sand, and sharks! “The Shallows” beckons us!

We open with generic blonde actress number 3,349 taking the third-world version of Uber to a beach, whose name stays hidden the entire film. The name is of absolutely ZERO consequence, but I just wanna know! Good mighty mutton, is that annoying, namely because they run the gag several times during the movie. After conversing in very bad Spanish and very, very cliched dialogue possibly setting up her driver as a possible antagonist, we finally see the unnamed beach. Normally I would complain about suspicious truck guy as the bad guy later on, but we all know it’s a shark! It’s like trying to shift the focus of Halloween, setting up the doctor while Michael Myers plays in the background until the last third of the movie. It doesn’t work well there, it doesn’t work well here.

hamBlondie meets two new guys, who also happen to be surfing on this very secret, unnamed beach. Again, trivial as sugar on sand, but it sticks in my sandwich. They surf together, they laugh together, they……pack up and leave. Wait! They’re driving by her stuff! Could they also stoop to the stereotype we think they’re going to and…No. No, they’re not. Well, thank Thor for that. As they take off, following the most common sense rules of surfing, she stays behind and vehemently breaks said rules. I’m not even a surfer, but I know the rules! You don’t sleep on Elm Street, you never go in the woods, you don’t stay in Amityville, you never go in the woods, you don’t surf at dusk, and you never go in the woods. Oh, look, something floating in the distance, past the breakers, and the conspicuously placed buoy. Seriously suspicious buoy. It belongs in the line up from The Usual Suspects. So, Blondie decides to keep going, investigating the floating mass out in the ocean, ignoring all the alarm bells going off in her head, all the red flags, and me screaming at the screen.

Also, we have a little bit of back story, just to fill in the time until the inevitable happens. She was a prominent med school student, has a younger sister, a dead mom, and a father who’s played so many bad guys in movies it’s jarring to see him as a loving dad. I mean that! Back to that floating mass! The water turns gross, seagulls cry out, and that thing is a whale carcass. Now, for those who don’t spend an uncanny amount of time researching sharks, due to an almost crippling fear of sharks, they absolutely love dead whale leftovers. After she finally comes to her senses and tries to ride a wave back to the shore, the sun is already bidding farewell to the- HOLY MOTHER OF MURGATROID! A shark just decided Blondie needed to take up parasailing. Bruce Junior decides to take a taste of our surfer, turning the sea red, and also finally moving the plot forward. Now surfer girl has to use aforementioned floating mass as a refuge from the hungry shark.cramp

Now, some things in movies are hard to believe, thus requiring us to surrender a certain amount of ‘That ain’t real’ to the film. Lately it’s been CGI clogging up the pipeline of creativity, but there are others that are just as guilty. This movie does an incredible job of making the entire thing feel real, from the sea, to the whale, to even the shark, who will be known as Wayne, henceforth. If you get the joke, you’re a nerd. Good for you. Blondie and Wayne play hide the surfer atop the corpse of Free Willy, finally ending in her having to jump and swim for it, stranding her on some nearby coral with a companion that was also injured by Wayne: a seagull, which she lovingly names Steven Seagull. Yes, I chuckled. Here is where the rest of the movie plays out, for the most part. We learn more about her backstory, and spend some time with Steven, and a GoPro, while setting up more desperate situations, building the tension. Hey, look! Our surfer buddies are back!

You know what that means! Trailer fodder! She warns there’s a shark, and, they, of course, don’t believe her. They have a very sudden look of concern, start swimming out to her, and suddenly find out that sharks really do breach like on TV. Surfer guy number two books it, but falls victim to the same fate: Fish food. After they’re dead, night falls and another guy happens to find this very hidden, unnamed beach. Yes, I’m still fuming. Only, he finds it while black out drunk. She calls to him, trying to get help. He wakes up, drops his tequila, and then plays that stereotype we were talking about earlier, but then promptly gets munched by Wayne. Here is where we move into the final play of the movie, and my wrap up.

buoy

Folks, this movie was great! I thought it was a great addition to the classic shark movies. It had its faults, like breaking rules someone who doesn’t spend five minutes on a beach annually, common sense being left in a non-waterproof bag, and the most CGI dolphins I’ve ever seen outside of a SyFy production. It grinds a while, making us wait for the action, rather than building a sense of dread. However, once it gets going, it is full steam ahead, only pausing a few times. There are most definitely moments where you will either guffaw, or have to just throw up your hands, but in the end, I’d happily recommend “The Shallows” for viewing. Thanks for reading, and Stay Tuned!

 

roadside attractions

  • He looks creepy.
  • No named beach is perfectly safe.
  • Seriously creepy guy.
  • Oh, other surfer guys!
  • Why are they creepy, too!?!?
  • Don’t do that.
  • WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!?
  • Surprising shark is surprising.
  • Sharks do not come with brakes.
totals

6

blood  

BLOOD

Medically accurate blood, really cool effects.

4

blood  

BREASTS

They’re bikini’d the whole time, but it doesn’t matter.

 

10

beast  

BEASTS

Best shark in a long time.

7.50 OVERALL
dripper
Jan

Comments Off on Evil Dead (2013)

weapons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to another review, folks. Since I did the original series of Evil Dead, it only seems appropriate that I finish off the quadrology. So, like the time elapsed between movies, it’s now time to get to the last of the films that helped define my love for horror. Let’s get to Evil Dead, the reboot.

So we start this film up on a far different note than the other three. A girl is being chased through the woods. Okay, kind of like the other three, but not really, as her pursuers are people of a…red necked nature. And with no shocker, she’s captured. The next time we see the poor girl she’s tied up, doused in gasoline, and her father is pouring out niceties while leveling a double barreled shotgun at her head. Either this is an extreme form of family counseling, or something is seriously amiss. Oh, look, a voodoo witch. Always good when there’s one of those around. Suddenly the sweet little girl is spewing obscenities that’d make a sailor blush. So with an apology, a lit match, and a shotgun blast we begin our movie.doom

After shaking off that little bit of ‘What in the hell was that about?’ we finally begin to meet the appetizers, I mean cast…..I totally meant cast. This time around, however, instead of the usual two or three teens at a haunted cabin in the woods, we have five, count ’em, five warm bodies to put through the meat grinder; Evil Dead style. The five are gathered there to help Mia kick her drug habit, once and for all. Of course, horror movie tropes aside, it has to be pointed out: Best place to kick a drug habit? Rehab Clinic with medical staff? Nope. Hospital with trained doctors? Absurd. Abandoned cabin in the woods, cut off from all modern technology, emergency services, and any help? Perfect!

Now, that we’ve set the stage…wait. Wait a minute, there, nerd guy! What are you doing? Don’t read from that! Don’t say-And it’s too late. We have our demon, folks. Yes, thanks to an overtly curious nerd, our movie can now become a full-on gorefest! Maya steals a car in a withdrawal fueled rage, crashes it, and meets up with the summoned thing from the book. Like all horror films before, she panics, and makes the classic mistake of GOING IN THE WOODS! A bad situation turns much worse and the movie gives us a hi-def re-imagining of a scene that nearly got the first film banned in a lot of countries. Old alumni of the series cringe, new comers to the series cringe, as well. It’s just cringe worthy. Don’t worry, folks, nobody blames you.

gothAfter being rescued by her brother Mia is returned to the house, gets checked out by their nurse friend, and thus the rest of the freaky truly begins. Possessions, dismemberment, and that basement. Oh, that basement. Now. THIS is where I’d usually detail all the gruesome death scenes, the ooey-gooeys, and even the spewtastic moments of this well-loved film. But, I must not go further, because it’s all just too good to describe via text, it must be seen. Even my most shining string of words would not be able to capture just how amazing the experience truly is. However, I must put my highest seal of approval on this movie, recommend it with no issue, and above all else, beg for more! Wonderful practical effects combined with minimalist CGI give us great scares, wonderful gore, and a really fresh take on a classic piece of horror cinema.

This film takes me back to another time in movie history: When people cared about their work. And that care howmondays through every frame, second, and squish that we experience while watching Evil Dead. While Sam Raimi and The Chin were not behind the camera, they were definitely on the sidelines coaching the new players. Evil Dead is a fantastic remake filled with respect and love for the original material, as well as updating a lot of different aspects, such as making the gore and the characters a little more realistic. It gets scary because the hokey-ness of the tried and true horror characters are gone, instead replaced with more grit and grime. Watch this movie, folks. And as always, Stay tuned!

roadside attractions

  • I know that car.
  • Why would you open that?
  • Don’t go in the woods!
  • That’s why you don’t go in the woods.
  • There’s a health violation!
  • Wait until after the credits.
totals

10

blood  

BLOOD

50,000 gallons in just the final scene.

1

blood  

BREASTS

Those…uh…I don’t…They’re there. 

 

10

beast  

BEASTS

While not Deadites, you won’t miss them.

10.00 OVERALL
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Oct

Comments Off on Extinction (2015)

Welcome to another review, folks! It seems the world can’t get enough of zombies: TV shows, movies, dolls, video games, books, it doesn’t matter. So film studios depend upon the word “zombie” to get attention, or some kind of segue into the more mainstream focus. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it should. “Extinction” is one that should get some recognition. Now, before you get your pretenses in place, let’s get a good look at this little movie that could.

This movie began with so much camera shake, I tried to put my seat belt on. Note to directors: Shaky cam is bad. And if the movie DOES call for it: Less is more! A man, his wife, their infant daughter and his best friend are trying to get away from the oncoming zombie apocalypse, that started well before the movie did. They’re on a bus with a large amount of people, and two army guys, all just as terrified as the next person, for good reason: The zombies have caught up! Now the bus is just a meal in a box, as they wait for the inevitable. The first military guy exits the bus, gets eaten, and the second one doesn’t fair any better. One of the gentlemen (who will be a main character later on) takes the lead, and tries to retrieve weapons from the land of jump scares. The first part of this movie is filled with jump scares, so get ready for that, along with neck-breaking shaky cam. For those with a weak stomach, skip this part altogether.

More tragedy strikes! The main characters are in all sorts of trouble; the wife is injured, the baby is covered in blood. Whose blood is it? Tune in next time to find out! Same undead time! Same undead channel! And now that the pulse-pounding beginning is over, prepare for something truly intense: FAMILY BONDING. Here’s where things grind to a halt, changing the pace so hard an airbag would deploy. One minute there’s running zombies, army guys firing guns everywhere, screaming, blood, and violence, and the next it’s father-daughter bonding time in a winter wonderland. While none of this is explained outright, hints are dropped. Get used to this domestic scene, because it lasts longer than most sequels do.

After cycling through survival set-ups, how they’re surviving, and what they’re doing to stay sane, we finally delve into the characters, themselves. It seems the family plus one have made themselves a little outpost: Two houses in a northern climate. across the street from the other, sharing resources, but that’s about it. We see few interactions between the men, as the environment paints the relationship between the two as less than hospitable. The ex-best friend has let all hygiene go, as he’s transformed into Rob Zombie’s crazier and dirtier cousin: Scruffy McCrazyDude, who spends his evenings broadcasting to any survivors out in the frozen wasteland, and getting blind, stinking drunk. Meanwhile, Angry McHostileDad spends hours with his daughter, and all seems right with the end of the world.

But, hey, this is a zombie movie! Where are the zombies? This question is the one I pondered, about the same time everyone else does at this point. The director must have foreseen that, and decided to give us a reminder that it is, indeed, a zombie movie. Scruffy McCrazyDude goes on a supply run to an old haunt, to not only get the little girl a birthday present, but to top off on end of the world stuff. A local piece of wildlife alerts him that things can still live. Then the same piece of wildlife gets eaten like a piece of cake at a two-year-old’s birthday party. Scruffy follows the shadowy creature back to their homestead, where Angry McHostileDad is showing his daughter how to shoot a gun, which attracts the beast.

The zombies at the beginning of the film are typical runners who chase their prey and eat them. The zombies at the second half are completely new: white skin, blank eyes, nude, and they hunt by sound. I like this change, making the creatures evolve with their natural environment, changing the way they hunt. I’m impressed by the switch from Play Doh-caked faces to this new super zombie. But you can’t have zombies without making them a threat. Scruffy defends the little girl from the first attack on the homestead, but gets bitten while Angry leaves him to fate to save his daughter. The three prepare for the worst: Scruffy becomes part of the legion of the undead. But days go by, and nothing happens. It seems these zombies have a glitch: their bite doesn’t turn you. This fortunate, or unfortunate, event leads Angry and Scruffy to make up and be friends, even to the point of going on a supply run together, daughter included.

During their little family trip to the grocery store, we begin to learn about what went down between all the adults in the movie, giving some background to the drama. It’s kind of hard to follow if you haven’t been paying attention, but the gist is there. While the family is shopping, they find a young woman, frozen in terror and ice. They take her back to the honeycomb hideout to find out her story, while discovering that Scruffy didn’t finish off the new zombie. Instead he took a note from “The Walking Dead’s” Michonne and disabled it, chaining it to his house for research. This decision doesn’t sit well with Angry, and things really go downhill. But, as always, no spoilers here, folks. But I will end with this: There’s a hell of an ending.

With the pace a lot slower than most modern horror movies, “Extinction” may be harder for younger audiences to grind through, but old schoolers enjoy the massive character development. There are typical “Why would you do that?!?” moments that every horror movie suffers from, but, show me one that doesn’t. There’s plenty I left out of this review, and for good reason: I want you guys to check this one out. Top-notch gore, acting, creatures, and setup, but it’s a shame it suffers from such a generic name. I recommend this movie, available on Netflix, with a big bucket of popcorn and the lights out. Thanks for reading, folks! And, as always, Stay Tuned!

roadside attractions

  • What did you think would happen?
  • Did you forget how doors work?
  • Run! Run! You can stay still.
  • Winterwonderland of Death
  • Who wrote that?
  • THAT had to hurt!
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

The blood flows, the body parts rain down, it is awesome!

0

blood

BREASTS

None. None at all.

8

beast

BEASTS

Cool new design to a tired genre!

8.5 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for Extinction

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Aug

Comments Off on Unfriended

Welcome to another review, folks! Now, I’ve covered a lot of different kind of horror movies in my reviews, so it makes me kind of proud to say that this is a first in this genre: Cybernatural. Now, I’m not saying anyone else on this wonderful site hasn’t done it, just me. As I’ve said before, anything can be a scary movie, just add the right elements. And in this review we have all the right elements to give us a pretty interesting setup. Let’s get to Unfriended.

This movie begins with a Skype call between two teenage kids, a boy and girl, of course, sharing some intimacies that will make you uncomfortable. I mean, seriously, I’m aware that countless other horror movies have used naked teenagers in them, but this is borderline voyeurism. Why is it so intimate? Because the movies perspective is from the laptop screen of one of the teens. We find out that this is the anniversary of the suicide of a friend, caused by cyberbullying. After we see the appropriate video, detailing the events that happened prior to this setup, all of the couples friends are suddenly summoned to the private moment. Mood killer, I know.

They all begin to question why they’re there, like the rest of us, and begin to converse, only to notice there’s a user in the Skype call that is not registered. Mystery begins! This setup, thus far, is pretty boring, I know, but stick with me, folks, this ride gets bumpy. Once the user is attempted to be hung up on, removed, deleted, and all but given to the Spanish Inquisition, the mystery steps up a notch. I have to warn you, though, as you watch this movie you will be tempted to close all the tabs and windows the character has open, searching for your mouse the whole time. And while annoying, it does give a very real feel to the movie, and I like that.

Soon after they begin to poke and prod the mysterious presence equally mysterious messages begin to appear, everyone in the chat thinking that the others are sending them. A scene from the trailers makes its way in and then things start to get weird. The disembodied chatter wants to start playing games. I think the folks that wrote this watched Saw a few too many times. But not before pictures, that were previously unpublished, make their way to several of their Facebook pages, exposing one girl and her partying ways. Tempers flare, words are exchanged, and here’s where the tension begins to build.

The incriminating pictures are removed from one account, only to appear on another. More tempers! More words! More incoherent shouting! And the game begins. No, there’s no Jigsaw voice employed. I’m disappointed, too. Seems the person terrorizing our little group of teens doesn’t like being hung up on. The nerd of the group finds a program to remove the user and the infected files they believe is causing the anomaly, freeing them. Though the fix is just temporary. Our resident nerd is now on the chopping block.

Now that the threat has been established as real the rest of the gang is now all on board with playing the malevolent being’s series of games. The ghost must be a teenager, as it favors the game ‘Never have I ever’. Another teen is offed in the process as the tension in the movie begins to build. This, I have to say, is probably the highlight of these young actors. The scenes and their behaviors are all very, very genuine, and easy to believe. I was very impressed with the fact that they were able to make ME feel on edge with their performances.

As we learned earlier in the movie, but I have yet to detail, the reason for the grizzly deaths and the haunting, is the dead teen wants to find out who shot and uploaded the video that pushed her to meet the business end of a handgun. The fact that the perspective is limited to just one laptop is very helpful to convey the genuine terror that is going on for the other teens, each with their own fates shown through a Skype window. The ghost begins to force secrets out of each of the callers, exposing them, for what she believed, to be their true colors.

We tackle everything from cheating, to betrayal, and even rape. The remaining teens begin to oust each other, either in an emotional tirade, or to circumvent their own demise. Either way it doesn’t end well for any of them. As our number of participants in the ghosts game begin to dwindle we reach the last scenes of the movie. No spoilers, folks, but I can at least say: They didn’t go into the woods.

Unfriended is a title, I believe, that has brought a new breath of life to the Cybernatural genre. Though some of the deaths could’ve been done better, or been elaborated on more, the few that we got clear shots of were pretty interesting. I love the social commentary about cyberbullying, and its consequences. The ending can be either fantastic, or a let down, depending on your view of the movie. But the rest is certainly a ride that most viewers should take. Thanks for reading, folks! Stay tuned.

roadside attractions

  • Salsa in the bedroom.
  • What’s that bottle for?
  • Have these kids never seen Saw?
  • Unrealistic idea of Chatroulette.
  • What happens if your wifi fails?
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

There isn’t a lot of gore, but rather some interesting ways to die.

0

blood

BREASTS

There are none. There’s a preview. That’s it.

4

beast

BEASTS

It’s a ghost. So not much. Malevolent intent, however, is good.

7.0 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for Unfriended

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Jun

Comments Off on Extraterrestrial

Welcome back to another review, folks! Ever since a certain fire happened in a certain sky alien abduction movies were hotter than Agent Scully in the 90’s. Though the premise seems to have lost it’s foothold in the movies as of late, there are still some gems that can be found. For instance; our review today: Extraterrestrial.

While this is supposed to be an alien movie it does it’s best to be a sci-fi, suspense, horror, and even a touch political. These elements in a film usually don’t blend well, but, here, they do. We start with a horror beginning: 20-somethings all in a car to go to a cabin in the woods for a few nights of partying, sex, and debauchery. Mistake #1: They’re in a cabin in the woods! Don’t these folks read my reviews? Never go in the woods!

After a quick setup, and some exposition that isn’t really needed, we begin our weekend with our victims…ahem…characters. Almost immediately stuff starts going down. While one can argue you want to know about the character’s personalities, I, for one, don’t. Let’s commence the murdering! Lights flicker, strange noises! An alien starts to walk around the house and….gets shot by a girl with a shotgun. Well. I did say let’s get to the murdering.

After E.T. goes down, making the pool his final grave, stuff REALLY hits the fan. Appropriate reactions have already been done by this point in the movie, but there are a lot of cool things yet to see. They try to flee, but there’s a tree felled in their way. Suddenly the rain stops while they ponder what could have possibly cut that tree down. These guys would trip over the laces in their velcro strapped shoes. How did they get into college? Right. Michigan State strikes again.

After some of the worst pondering, and decision making I’ve seen this side of swimming with sharks while strapped with steaks and barbecue sauce, we lose our first female to the blue light of abduction. Or as I’ve come to call it: The Bye-bye Beam. Quick! Back in the car that wasn’t functioning just a few minutes ago! We go back to meet a character, that couldn’t be more cliché if it was Jesse Ventura in a tinfoil hat, to learn more about the alien menace. After a quick break from screaming and running we get right back to screaming and running.

Jesse Ventura takes on an alien and, surprisingly, it’s a pretty good scene, ending with what you should’ve seen coming a mile away. More running! More lights! And, just for good measure, they even managed to scrounge up that ‘BWAHHH’ sound from the remake of ‘War of the Worlds’, and every Hans Zimmer soundtrack since. But that’s a tale for another time. What’s that? A would-be protagonist? Go for it, Hoss!

Enter one of the film’s side characters, who the whole movie could’ve been about, but wasn’t, Goodguy McCopDude. We established at the outset of the movie, through a very long scene that we really didn’t need, that he’s been investigating the disappearance of his daughter. How important is this plot point? Important enough to cut from the main characters and their impending deaths to go to a random RV site with a random character to get more exposition to tell us that aliens are the culprit. Which I wouldn’t mind so much if the title wasn’t EXTRATERRESTRIAL!

Goodguy McCopDude is hot on the trail of…no one. And, truth be told, I don’t even remember why he was summoned to the cabin in the woods to begin with. It goes by that quick, folks, don’t fault the viewer for losing a little interest when the action goes from high-octane to donut munching. Goodguy and his cop buddy show up at the Murder Cabin and begin to snoop around, learning the unhinged partiers are being terrorized by aliens. While the partner is skeptical, Goodguy goes full Mulder, and begins to look around.

After a brief, and somewhat fruitless, encounter in the barn Goodguy is convinced it’s those pesky grey skinned fellas causing all the commotion. After he tries to wrangle the panicked few he decides to follow suit and make equally bad decisions, taking his time to convince his partner while sitting in a lit up police car! Well, bad calls can only be called out, as the alien with a shotgun wound turns up and telekinetically forces the skeptic partner and Goodguy to do the unthinkable.

The Bye-bye Beam claims more victims! And soon even the last of the survivors is lost to that fateful blue light. Now. Here’s where the usual movie would call it quits, leaving the audience with the smoldering hole in the ground that was our female lead just a few minutes ago. But it doesn’t. It keeps going, making this movie even longer. Usually I’d say this is a detriment, but the final scenes of this movie kind of answer a few questions that we’ve had for a long time.

No spoilers here, folks! This is a good movie in the fact that it does, in most of it, fuse themes taken from so many genres. The actors do their parts, some sold it well, others not so much. The effects and some of the practical effects are worth praise. It has it’s flaws, like serious plot holes, and characters that make really bad decisions, but it’s worth the pay off. Check this one out, folks. As always, thanks for reading, and stay out of the woods.

roadside attractions

  • There’s no reason for that shot.
  • That wasn’t there before.
  • Boarding up the windows with Ikea.
  • Why did you get out of the car?
  • That was a cool rain effect.
  • Seriously. Why did you get out of the car?
  • 90’s cliche camerawork.
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Not much. Butt there is that one scene.

1

blood

BREASTS

I think I saw a nip slip. Maybe not.

6

beast

BEASTS

Old design, new things done.

7.5 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for Extraterrestrial

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About the Highway

Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>