Saturday, February 25, 2017

Raaz 3: The Third Dimension (2012)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long 

COMPANY: Vishesh Films
RUNTIME: 139 minutes
PLOT: When a new hot starlet's sudden popularity threatens to shove her out of the spotlight, a movie star uses black magic in an attempt to derail her career.

The Raaz series out of India has turned into quite the interesting little Bollywood horror franchise. After having enjoyed the first Raaz movie and then absolutely loving Raaz 2: The Mystery Continues, I was beyond excited to check out Raaz 3: The Third Dimension, the third entry in this 'anthology' series. I call it an anthology series because, despite being sequels to one another in-name, they are totally separate, unrelated stories, connected only by the same basic idea of characters being haunted in some fashion, and it being related to some deep, dark secret or mystery connected to those characters that said characters have to unravel. They even include a lot of the same actors, just in different roles. For example, while the second movie included all-new actors from the first movie, this entry includes both the main female lead from the first movie as well as the main male lead from the second movie, together in this entry as a married couple at the center of the supernatural going-ons.

While the second movie was fairly close to the first movie in terms of the story and how everything unfolded, Raaz 3: The Third Dimension takes a big step away from that to deliver us something completely new to the franchise. In the first two movies, the girl at the center of the story was being haunted by an aggressive angry spirit tied to some deep dark secret from her past that she was, in a roundabout way, connected to. She then had to figure out what that connection was and make things right. However, in this outing, there is no haunting, per sey, nor is anything really connected to a deep dark secret from the past. Here, a rich Bollywood power couple, an in-demand director and a famous actress (the above-mentioned two lead actors from the previous movies fill these roles), are instead directly responsible for everything going in as the actress is viciously jealous of a younger up and comer new actress that is beginning to steal the spotlight from her, so she seeks out an ancient ritual that will allow her to commune to, and strike a deal with, a demon from the underworld, so that she can put a curse upon the young girl.

I'm personally all for changing up a formula after a couple movies, it helps keep things fresh, and while I appreciate the attempt to do such here, I don't really care so much for the direction they went in. In the first two movies we were following along with the main haunted character while she unraveled the mystery of what was going on, and we, the viewer, were discovering the twists and turns as she did. However because of the way they play this movie out, we already know the secret from the very beginning and we spend the entire movie watching the main character try to figure out for herself what we already know, and I always dislike it when a story does that because it makes it far less interesting to me. I like being on the same page as the lead and not two steps ahead, watching them flounder around trying to find out what we already know.

With that said though, I did love Bipasha Basu in her villainous role. I think it was an ingenuous move to bring her back into the franchise, only now instead of the innocent and tortured relatable main lead she plays a very dark, very disturbed, villain, and she played the switch in character type masterfully. Even Emraan Hashmi, returning from the second movie, plays his new type of role great, always second guessing his wife's decision to curse this young girl, and straddling that tortured line between staying faithful to his wife or doing the right thing and helping this young girl.

But enough about the characters and their stories (although there is quite a lot that can still be said on the matter; Out of all the movies in this franchise, this is the entry with the most interesting character stories), this is a review about a horror movie after all, so of course what people want to know about most is the horror aspects, and while this entry is indeed the most character-driven piece in the series, there is still plenty of awesome horror elements all throughout it. See, as the young girl becomes more and more cursed, she starts seeing and having more and more horrific supernatural things happen to her, driving her to the very edge of insanity. For instance, she has a paralyzing fear of clowns due to an incident from her childhood so of course there is a scene where she gets terrorized by a creepy-as-hell supernatural clown out to kill her, then there's also killer ghost bugs, demonically-possessed housekeepers, evil curse-controlled spirits, plus the original Demon that started all these events and Bipasha Basu's icky sex scene with this it, just to list a few things. Really, out of all three movies so far this is the one that I feel potentially had some of the strongest and creepiest horror moments in the franchise.

I used the word 'potentially' for a reason. Unfortunately, this entry is also the one that makes the most use out of really bad cheap CGI, especially when that laughably-bad god awful Demon is onscreen (which is a lot towards the end). The extreme low SyFy Channel-level quality of effects really puts a big hamper on some otherwise great intense creepy scenes, ruining the mood time after time, with the exception of a couple good scenes that thankfully never used CGI. That, more than anything, really brought this movie down for me.

Add to that the hilariously-bad supernatural Kung Fu fighting-filled climax and Raaz 3: The Third Dimension is, unfortunately, the weakest entry in the series. Which is a real shame because there really is quite a lot to love about this movie, and it was well on its way to being my favorite, despite my issues with the way the story was being told to us, up until all the bad CGI started appearing and then things ended off on that previously-mentioned weird Demon-Dimension martial arts fighting sequence, and as much as I loved a lot of aspects of this, it just ended off on a sour taste in my mouth.

5/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Terrordactyl (2016)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long

COMPANY: 3rd Films and MarVista Entertainment

RUNTIME: 96 minutes


PLOT: When ancient flying reptiles attack Los Angeles, it's up to two working-class landscapers to save the day.

REVIEW: I'm always on the lookout for new dinosaur B-Movies so it's a pretty safe bet that when a new one comes out, it doesn't take me long to track down a copy and have it up on my TV screen ready to go. What always makes the experience better though? When the movie is filled with cheesy goodness and the creators know exactly what the movie is and allows it to have fun - Yes, Terrordactyl is pretty much the dinosaur version of the fun-as-hell Big Ass Spider!

Suffice to say, if you were a fan of Big Ass Spider, you'll be just as big a fan of Terrordactyl. It's essentially the exact same type of movie, with the exact same type of cheesy tongue-in-cheek humor, with the exact same high level of effects, with the only main difference being that this one is about a flock of killer flying dinosaurs as opposed to a single killer giant spider. Actually, if I'm being honest, I thought the effects in this one were even better than in Big Ass Spider. This movie uses a combination of CGI and practical, and it all actually meshed together really well in a way that exceeds my expectations for a movie such as this.

Also like Big Ass Spider, the acting in this movie is phenomenal and everyone has perfect comedic timing, hitting all the right beats at all the right moments, in all the right in-on-the-joke ways. Unfortunately, the one area that Big Ass Spider excelled at that I feel this movie never came close to matching was with the chemistry of the characters. Up to this point I've loved pretty much everything about this movie, however when it comes to the chemistry, this movie fumbles the ball pretty heavily. I don't blame the actors for this, they just work with what they got, but it most definitely is a writing issue, as these characters' interactions with one another came across as more annoying than funny. Why exactly are any of these people friends with one another? The two male leads are supposed to be best friends but they do nothing but fight with each other and seem utterly sick of one another the entire way through the movie. The same for the two girls - they're supposed to be friends as well but it seems like both of them are just annoyed and fed up up with the other one during the entire movie and nobody at all seems to have any chemistry or true proper friendship with one another, save for the romance subplot. Those two had decent chemistry with one another, at least when compared to everybody else in the movie.

Like I mentioned above, the special effects in this movie are nothing short of fantastic, and way above the level of what you would expect from a Direct-to-Video killer animal movie, the likes of which will probably eventually find a home on the SyFy Channel as well. The Pterodactyls (Well that's what they are called in the movie but based off their designs they're probably technically more-so Pteranodons) are created using a combination of CGI and practical effects and both types are simply gorgeous to behold and mesh well with one another, switching back and forth, sometimes in the same scene, and very rarely is it obvious which type of effect it is. I also love how they include many different styles and colors of the dinosaurs, so it's not just the exact same model used over and over for dozens of creatures like in most movies like this, but instead giving a good many of them unique looks from one another, something that is highly appreciated by this B-Movie fan.

The attack scenes are also all a blast in this movie, always careful to never repeat the same type of death scene or chase sequence multiple times over like many of the movies in this genre tend to do. This movie does a great job with keeping each escalating attack sequence fresh and interesting, giving us viewers plenty of visual variety for our eyes to consume, and the filmmakers never shy away from unloading a CGI-fest onto us, sometimes with dozens or even hundreds of the Pterodactyls on screen at once, wrecking havoc across Los Angeles, and never once does the CGI effects suffer or seem to downgrade to lower quality during these fun attack scenes.

With that said, this version of Los Angeles has gotta be the emptiest city in the world. There's never any other people around, nor any other cars on the road, at any point in the movie other than our main cast and the occasional secondary character they have with them. I know having background extras in the movie ultimately costs more, but it still would have been nice to have even just a small handful here and there, running around in the background, just to help establish that it's not just these core people that are having to deal with this Pterodactyl Apocalypse.

Movies just like Terrordactyl, such as Big Ass Spider and Stung, are the exact type of B-Movies that make me fall in love with the genre all over again. Just when I feel like I'm starting to get B-Movie fatigue, or annoyed beyond repair at some of the red tape that B-Movie companies have to deal with that prevents their projects from being as good as I'd like, along will come a movie just like this one that rejuvenates my love of the genre.

Terrordactyl, specifically, may not be perfect, and I was sure to voice my issues with the movie above, as I'm never one to shy away from mentioning what I think could have been done better with a movie, but at the end of the day, when the credits start rolling, what really counts is the way the overall package of the movie made me feel, and this one made me feel very, very happy. I had a total blast with this creature feature and I just wish we had more being released of this caliber, instead of the occasional one every two or three years.

8/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Top 10 B-Movies of 2015

Like with 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 this is my Annual list of my personal favorite B-Movie releases of 2015. I know it's SUPER late (Like, two years late), but I had actually given up on doing reviews for awhile and then when I got back into it I kind of forgot all about this list.

Now, there is still plenty of movies from that year that I haven't yet seen, plus it's been a couple years after the fact now, so it's possible I've potentially skipped over a few diamonds in the rough due to that, since this list is based off what I've actually watched myself and what I could dig up that came out that year. Also, this list is solely based off what has hit home video formats and Video On Demand services in 2015, so movies that aired on TV stations like Lifetime or the SyFy Channel that year, but never came out on DVD, BluRay, and VOD services until 2016 or later, does not count for this. I want this as a list of movies that you could potentially pick up yourself or have easy access to legally obtaining during that year. Likewise, some of these movies may have aired on TV in previous years, but didn't actually get released on home video formats or VOD until 2015, thus I count them as 2015 movies for that reason.

The following list won't be in any specific order, as I clearly love all of them for them to even be on the list to begin with, so putting them in any kind of ranking order beyond that is a bit moot.

 - [REC] 4: Apocalypse was a pretty action-packed finale for the [REC] series. Admittedly not quite as good as the first two movies, but way better than the third, this outing saw the return of lead character Angela Vidal in what can only be summed up as this generation's Ellen Ripley. We got Angela kicking all kinds of ass, zombie monkeys, tons of zombie carnage, and lots of mayhem on a giant boat in the middle of a storm in the ocean, plus likable new characters you can get attached to, complete with some decent twists, and we got a fun entry in the series and a nice close. 

 - Alien Outpost is a faux-documentary/Found Footage alien invasion war movie that I felt was tons of fun, with great effects and some intense action. Take Restrepo and mix it with the Halo game series and you get Alien Outpost. You can read my previously-posted full Review here.

- Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer's Curse was a pleasant surprise. I was a huge fan of the first two when I was a kid, and I'm happy to report that I loved this entry as well. Personally I think it's way better than the second, despite having a seemingly even smaller budget. Acting is a bit meh, but the characters are fun, the effects pretty good, and the musical score fantastic. Wrap it up in an engaging fantasy story that leaves it open for the upcoming Part 4 and I walked away a happy viewer.

- Extinction is a Found Footage dinosaur adventure movie that I initially hated when I first reviewed it. However, I've done a complete 180 on my opinion of it over the last couple years and after several rewatches, now I really enjoy it quite a lot. This movie includes practical effects abounds, a great sense of adventure, intense chase scenes, fun set pieces, and unique characters that all stand out from one another. I find myself going back to this movie more and more often when I'm in the mood for a fun Found Footage flick.

- A Christmas Horror Story is a horror anthology by some of the fine folks behind the werewolf trilogy Ginger Snaps, with four intersecting stories, all wrapped around by William Shatner as an increasingly-drunk radio host. In most anthology movies you'll always get at least a couple stories you hate, but with this one I found each and every short story fantastic, with some being hilariously funny and others genuinely scary. I really hope to see a sequel to this one, because this is one of the best horror anthology movies out there.

- Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No was a shoe-in for this list. The annual Sharknado movie is one of the few joys I can look forward to every year, knowing a new one is coming out each and every year. This entry is just as much fun as the previous one, and even more crazy and insane as the sharks not only attack the White House, but go intergalactic as they get flung out into Outer Space and the characters have to fend them off with...lightsaber chainsaws! If you're a fan of this wacky series than this third outing is not one you'll want to miss.

- Stung was one hell of a fun creature feature, the likes of which we don't really see much anymore. Giant mutant wasps attacking a fancy garden party at a summer home mansion might sound generic on paper, but what sets this apart from the SyFy-produced stuff that it sounds similar to is the fact that it's all done with oldschool practical effects, it's well-acted, purposefully-hilarious, and enough gooey gore to make any gorehound happy. I'm convinced that if this had come out in the early 2000s instead of now, around the time of Lake Placid, 8-Legged Freaks, etc, that this would have gotten a theatrical release.

- We Are Still Here is a fantastically-shot, moody, atmospheric, and gory-as-hell throwback to classic 1970s/1980s Italian zombie cinema, even though this is more of a haunted house type movie than full-on-zombie one. Fulci, Argento, Bava, Lenzi, you can see homages to each of them in the style and production of this movie, and as a fan of classic Italian horror, I loved every minute of it. Story-wise, it starts off kind of slow, I admit, but I love the moody atmosphere during those scenes quite a lot, and then when shit starts happening, it gets INSANE.

- 3-Headed Shark Attack is Asylum's quasi-sequel to their previous release, 2-Headed Shark Attack, even though this movie has nothing to do with that one other than having a shark with multiple heads. I liked this one just as much, if maybe not even slightly more. Includes a huge body count, a few different unique locations so the cheesy fun multi-headed shark action doesn't get boring all taking place in the same environment, and some genuinely surprising character deaths that made it hard to tell who would actually survive this outing.

- Tremors 5: Bloodlines is, without a doubt, one of my top favorite Direct-to-Video releases of 2015. I've always been a huge Tremors fan but this entry took me by surprise. After such a long wait between sequels, I was worried as to the quality of this one, but after watching it, it turned out to be my favorite sequel in the franchise! The CG effects for the new mutated forms of the classic creatures looked great, the characters (both old and new) have great chemistry with each other, and the movie balanced scary with funny in a way not perfected since the original two movies hit our screens.

All in all, 2015 was another great year for B-Movie fans. While these are just my personal favorite ten, there are still plenty of other good, fun, worthy B-Movies from that year that fans can sink their teeth into as well.

Usually I'll compile a list of up to three Honorable Mentions at this point, however since this list came out two years late, and I had a difficult enough time trying to go back through and figure out which ten movies I love were 2015 releases just to do a Top 10 for that year, I'm going to forgo the Honorable Mentions section for this year, but I'm hoping to add it back in when I do my Best Of 2016 list over the next few weeks.

Sinbad and the War of the Furies (2016)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long  

COMPANY: The Asylum
RUNTIME: 90 minutes
FORMAT: iTunes
PLOT: On a treasure hunt gone wrong, modern-day adventurer Sinbad accidentally releases the Furies, three beautiful but terrible ancient beings powerful enough to threaten life on Earth.

The Asylum has pretty much always been my favorite low budget B-Movie production company ever since I first really started getting into B-Movies back in the early 2000s. Since then, Asylum has consistently been putting out two (and on some occasions, even more) movies per month, so we always had a great B-Movie variety pack to choose from. However, these last couple years, with the SyFy Channel producing less and less Original Movies, and Asylum's own TV Show, Z Nation, taking flight as a force to be reckoned with, it seems Asylum has majorly cut back on the amount of movies they make, putting out usually only one a month now at most, and sometimes even entire months go by in between any new release.

I figured that would mean the few that they do release would be of the utmost highest quality (by low budget Asylum standards anyway), however time and time again I've been let down (Dead 7, Independent's Day, Jurassic School, Trolland, and Sinister Squad were all horribly disappointing for me, and even their annual Sharknado release last year, Sharknado 4: The Fourth Awakens was their weakest entry yet in that franchise), so it's no secret to those that know me that my undying love for all things Asylum has been quickly dwindling. No longer do I rush to instantly check out their newest release, instead just getting around to it whenever I feel like rolling those dice, sometimes months after its release. Now, don't get me wrong, there are still the occasional Asylum release I highly enjoy (Zoombies, Ghosthunters, Ice Sharks, and Planet of the Sharks being four from last year that I really loved), but it seems the ones I enjoy are in short supply these days, compared to what it used to be.

Sinbad and the War of the Furies, one of their more recent releases that took me a bit of time to get around to watching was, luckily, not among the ones that I hate, but unfortunately it's not really all that good either.

You would expect a movie with Sinbad in the title (as a character I mean, and not starring the actor) to be an adventure-filled romp through the high seas, vast sandy deserts, and perhaps even lush jungles, however Asylum's latest Sinbad-based film is sorely lacking in that fun sense of adventure. It starts off pretty great, with Sinbad and his sidekick hunting for a lost treasure in a cave system on a tropical island where they run afoul deadly arms dealers that plague them the rest of the movie, as well as accidentally unleash the ancient supernatural Furies of Greek lore, and I was really into it at this point, however it doesn't take long for the movie to leave this locale and head straight to the boring bustling city of Los Angeles, where the remainder of the movie takes place. Actually, it would be more accurate to say the remainder of the movie takes place in one house in Los Angeles, and it's here that the movie slows right down to a crawl until almost the very end. Now, I don't know if it's just me, but I don't expect the majority of a Sinbad movie to be characters standing around in a room talking, but unfortunately that's what this one is. Granted, it does get pretty fun again in the last twenty minutes of the movie as all the open plot threads converge on that house for an all-out brawl, but by that point it just feels like too little too late.

It certainly didn't help matters during that long lull that the acting in this one is pretty dreadful, even by Asylum standards. However, with that said, there were two actors that stood out above the rest as actually being quite good and genuinely funny that actually went a long way to somewhat saving the movie for me as they were always enjoyable to watch when they were on-screen, especially in the same scene as one another - John Morrison as the title character and Josh Fingerhut as Manta, the main human villain. These two stole the show during their time on-screen and seeing as how John Morrison is in almost every scene, he single-handily saved this movie for me with his charisma, perfect comedic timing and line delivery, and fun fight choreography. 

Now, I realize I've been pretty harsh on this movie up to this point, and while it's true that there's a lot that really annoyed me here, I also have to admit that there is quite a few things I did enjoy as well. As mentioned above, John Morrison and Josh Fingerhut were easily the highlight aspects of this movie, elevating even the most dragged out stale scenes just that little bit higher due to their comedic performances and laugh-out-loud line deliveries, but what enjoyment there is to be found here is not all solely on them either. For instance, the way that writer Scotty Mullen tied the lore of the Furies into Sinbad's family history was genius, and the way he implemented various aspects of the Furies' lore and their powers into the movie was consistently fun. There's also a few plot twists throughout, and while some are easy to see from a mile away, there are others that took me by surprise when they came up and I always have to applaud that.

Honestly, Sinbad and the War of the Furies is one of those entries in Asylum's filmography that I'll probably never revisit, however I also don't regret watching it as a One-Time View either. Granted there is quite a lot I dislike about this movie and felt many things could have been done much better, but the things I did enjoy helped elevate it a bit and make it easy to look past some of the shortcomings. With that said, if you're a B-Movie fan and in the mood for some random modern-day set Sinbad movie, Asylum's previous (and unrelated) Sinbad movie, the 7 Adventures of Sinbad, is a much better, more well-made, and all around more enjoyable attempt at telling a Sinbad adventure story.

5/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward

Friday, February 17, 2017

UFO: It Is Here (2016)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long   

COMPANY: Stella Maris Films
RUNTIME: 83 minutes
FORMAT: Imported DVD
Five film students are producing a documentary about the local zoo when suddenly the animals go berserk: The reason is a light ball flying by in the sky and crashing in the horizon. Convinced that they've just witnessed a meteor crashing, the students follow the trajectory to document the event with their camera. In a forest area they discover a burned crater. Since it's too dark to film they decide to spend the night in their van. The next morning one of them is missing. The remaining students find first a trail of blood and then the torn up pieces of what used to be their friend. Soon they realize that something is hunting them - something that's not from this world. 

Found Footage horror movies is a sub-genre that gets a lot of hate from almost all sides, but personally I can't get enough of them. Unfortunately, it's also the sub-genre that you really have no idea whatsoever what you're in store for when you start watching a movie, in terms of what the overall quality and story progression will be like, as it's wildly different from movie to movie.

Luckily Germany's very late answer to The Blair Witch Project, UFO: It Is Here, is one of the entries in the sub-genre that is mostly very enjoyable, not to mention downright genuinely creepy at times.

Where this is a German movie than yes, it has English subtitles. Now personally, I don't usually have trouble reading subtitles however even I found it difficult to keep up with them at times during this movie, so if you're the type of person that's a bit slower at reading subtitles or can't keep up with them on a normal basis, than I think you'll have trouble keeping up with them here for sure. On the plus side, it's actually not all that integral to 100% understand the dialog during Found Footage movies most of the time, as anything important to the plot unfolds directly on the screen, so you may just want to chance it anyway.

As for the movie itself, I had a blast with it. The last several Found Footage movies I've checked out I didn't really enjoy much at all, so finally reaching a new one I enjoyed was a nice breath of fresh air. Now, don't get me wrong, this movie is far from original. Actually, in terms of the plot and how everything unfolds there is absolutely nothing new here at all and you'll have seen this movie a dozen times over if you're as familiar with Found Footage as I am. But even though the formula is an overdone one, it's a formula that works and works quite well. As I briefly mentioned above, this movie is essentially The Blair Witch Project, just replace the supernatural going-ons with tentacled blob aliens. The characters are making a documentary for film class, they get lost in the woods, their friend goes missing, his teeth show up later in a pile of blood, strange things are going on in the woods around them, there's even the whole 'one character makes the stereotypical hold camera to face for crying confessional' moment. But like I said, even though it may not be original, it all works here.

What also works in this movie is all the technical aspects; The sound design is amazingly effective and creepy, right from the various noises and sounds that the aliens make to even the realistic-sounding blood curdling screams of one of the main characters being killed off-screen in the distance, it all worked quite well and more than once sent shivers down my spine. Also, the aliens themselves, while their design is nothing groundbreaking and, if anything, slightly unimaginative (giant blob with tentacles), the actual work that went into their practical effects was astounding! No word of a lie, these creatures in this movie looked like they could have easily been real-life alien creatures that the filmmakers actually found and put in their movie, they were that convincing. Even the little baby ones that hatch during the movie and proceed to attack our characters (which reminded me of the detachable Graboid snake-tongues from Tremors 5: Bloodlines) looked damn convincing. 

However, the first of my issues also stems from this aspect, in a round about way. As awesome as the aliens looked, I believe they showed them to us way too soon. In most Found Footage movies they save that 'holy shit' money shot moment for the very end of the movie, or if they do show us good looks at the creatures/ghosts/aliens/whatever the movie is about earlier in the movie, they continue to give us glimpses of it throughout the rest of the movie (like in the killer Bigfoot flick Exists), however this movie gives us the anticipated money shot a good half hour or so from the end of the movie, and then proceeds to pretty much show us nothing after that for the remainder of the runtime, save for a couple very quick shots of the baby aliens and then one quick shot of a lone tentacle at the very end. I wouldn't call it anti-climatic, as there is some good tension and creepy stuff in that final half hour (the scene with the creaking floorboards in the farmhouse totally had me on edge), but it was definitely disappointing having the movie give us that phenomenal reveal of the aliens so far from the end of the movie, only to give us nothing that even comes close to matching it after that.

In addition, the characters themselves are very forgettable and quite boring to watch as far as characters go. There were only two out of this group of five that were any bit interesting and stood out from the rest in any way, however one of them is the very first character to die early-on, and the other totally looses the unique personality she has once the shit hits the fan and just turns into another bland cardboard cutout random character like the rest. They run, they scream, they breathe heavy, and they argue about what to do next. That's all there is to them. I was having trouble keeping track after awhile of which ones had died and which were still alive because they were all the exact same to me and pretty interchangeable.

If UFO: It Is Here had done more with showing us the aliens during that last half hour, or saved the big money shot reveal until the end, and if it had given us better more interesting characters to watch during this movie than I think it could easily have been right up there among my all-time top favorite Found Footage flicks. 

Still, it's a highly enjoyable entry in the sub-genre all the same, with fantastic practical effects and some pretty genuinely creepy moments. though I know some viewers may get an exhausted 'been there, done that' feeling while watching this one unfold, as it plays out not just exactly like The Blair Witch Project, but also dozens of other Found Footage movies just like it. However, for those like me that can look past some of those issues, this really is a good Found Footage horror movie to throw on some stormy weekend night.

7/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Night in the Woods (2011)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long 

 COMPANY: Vertigo Films
RUNTIME: 82 minutes
FORMAT: iTunes
PLOT: A trio of friends go hiking deep in the woods, to an area with a horrible and mysterious history. What should have been a peaceful camping adventure turns to a trip into terror as collective paranoia reaches fever pitch and it becomes clear that there is a much darker force at work in the ancient eerie surroundings.

Even at only 82 minutes, A Night in the Woods felt overly long. Actually, the part of this Found Footage movie that moved along the fastest for me was the first chunk, where we're being introduced to our various main characters and having them sight seeing around the English countryside. You know, the 'boring' filler stuff. Once they actually get to their campsite in the woods and hunker down for the evening, that's when I started loosing interest because characters were acting out-of-character to how we were shown them as previously in the movie, and doing things that made no sense whatsoever other than to just move the story along.

It certainly doesn't help that none of these characters are likeable in any shape, way, or form. The lead is a pervert that secretly films his girlfriend every chance he gets, the other male lead is a trouble-making hooligan (Or 'skeet' if you're from where I live in Atlantic Canada) that breaks into people's houses and sneaks around, and the main female lead is willing to cheat on one with the other the second the one she's dating isn't around. Why give a shit about any of these characters when they're all disgusting human beings? 

To make matters worse, the movie doesn't even bother to try to explain anything that happens in it. It throws out tons of potential 'maybe it's this' and 'maybe it's actually that' explanations and red herrings as for the 'supernatural' going ons, but it never truly commits to confirming or denying any of them, so by the time the credits are rolling at the end, you still have no answers as to what exactly just happened for the last 80 minutes.

It's a shame that so much of this movie is done so poorly, because the stuff that is done well is done really well, and I wish there had been more of that. For example, the filming itself is done good, never once making the viewer feel motion sickness, the acting from the main cast, despite not liking the characters that they portray, is actually really good and believable for a low budget Found Footage movie, and there were one or two genuinely really creepy parts and jump moments in there (a really suspenseful tent scene is easily the highlight for me, even though it only takes up about 30 seconds of the movie). 

Unfortunately, that's about it. I love Found Footage movies and when I heard that A Night in the Woods was pretty much the U.K.'s version of The Blair Witch Project I knew I just had to check it out. Unfortunately, this is nowhere near one of the good ones.

3/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward