Friend Request (2016)

Lets just put it this way, this is a film I would maybe ‘Like’, but would definitely not ‘Share’.

When a college student unfriends a mysterious girl online, she finds herself fighting a demonic presence that wants to make her lonely by killing her closest friends.

Simon Verhoeven’s cyber thriller Friend Request is a shoddily scripted horror about the chills and thrills of social media gone evil. Unfortunately, not as clever as the tech savvy Unfriended, Friend Request feels like one of those movies that you are convinced you haven’t seen and then half way through you realise why it was so easily forgettable.

In all honestly, the film actually doesn’t look half that bad and there is a campy appeal to Friend Request that warrants a few chuckles. Undoubtedly the most disturbing aspect of the film is the clever addition of the gothic animation that plagues the overly viewed social media pages.

Unfortunately though the film is let down by unimaginative death scenes, that border on goofy rather then scary. Why the director would think the use of coloured contact lens would add more fright, I have no idea?

Friend Request is another lame gimmicky quest of exploiting social media full of your average staple horror tropes; creepy children, check, dark hallways, check. Worst of all it seemed like William Moseley (Tyler) didn’t even want to be there. Every scene looked as if all he was thinking was “Why am I in this?”

4.0 / 10

“Unfriend that dead bitch!”

Rings (2017)

Pretty much the worst extra credit a student could ask for…  

A young woman (Matilda Lutz) finds herself on the receiving end of terrifying curse that threatens to take her life in seven days.

Its been 15 years since Gore Verbinski’s vision of the Japanese lore of the little girl who kills you after you watch a videotape and I can safely say, 15 years later… it wasn’t worth the wait. F. Javier Gutierrez has done nothing but muddle the mythology of Samara in a mediocre attempt.

What started out to be somewhat promising premise, Rings, is let down with its poor execution of storytelling. With a somewhat strange and scientific angle, the first act of Rings is set in an exploration of science and the human soul, but its seems the filmmakers struggled with what exactly to do with this idea and very quickly the story falls away to an imitation of ‘The Ring’, however nowhere near as visually stunning nor does it capture the icy fear of Samara.

Storyline aside, the film suffers from a lot of awkward moments. Oddly it has two very irritating openings, you know just in case you didn’t get what was going on… The first five minutes literally lead to nowhere and feel as if it was pulled directly from Final Destination. The rest of the film is filled with odd time jumps, weird dream sequences, far fetched visions, little to no character development and some of the worst over expositional dialogue ever.

“I saw Evelyn on the drive in” “No, she went missing 30 years ago” …

Don’t even get me started on the jump scares. I have now seen it all, after the filmmakers introduced me to the jump scare of an umbrella being opened… God I hate myself for actually jumping.

Worst of all, Rings is sadly not scary. The imagery is not as startling as its predecessor, the films lacks the iconic murky atmosphere and Samara is not nearly enough involved in the film, which is sadly a missed opportunity as a majority of the scenes felt bloated with nonsense, whilst meaningless creepy things happen that are never explained, for instance a certain scene involves rain flying upward.

Lutz is a likeable presence and Johnny Galecki (Professor Gabriel) is solid, but the pair aren’t enough to bring any life to the Samara mythology. There really was no need to bring back horror’s scariest monster, nobody had forgotten Samara, and like the dead bitch this script should have stayed at the bottom of a well too.

4.5 / 10

“7:10. I win, bitch”

Don’t Hang Up (2017)

Are you telling me NONE of the people they prank called have Caller Id?

An evening of drunken prank calls becomes a nightmare for a pair of teenagers when a mysterious stranger turns their own games against them… with deadly consequences.

Duo directing team Damien Mace and Alexis Wajsbrot follow up from their short film ‘Red Balloon’ with their debut feature, a home invasion cyber thriller, ‘Don’t Hang Up’.

My expectations for this film were so low, judging it from its trailer it didn’t exactly seem to be breaking new territory, the basic premise being ‘shitty teenagers acting badly, get what’s coming’. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find this nowhere near as bad as what I imagined it to be. Sure, the story is very formulaic and every single character is clearly horrible. Like, am I meant to be caring about these assholes? They are mean, so not funny and worst of all use words like “amazeballs”… The single redeeming feature is the two leads are so god damn good looking.

Not all horror films have to have something important to say. They don’t all have to have some underlying social commentary message… sometimes you want just a good ol’ fashion slasher, and Don’t Hang Up delivers with its slick atmosphere whilst giving you vibes of previous classics; Scream, Saw, When A Strangers Calls.

For an awful script, it is directed rather well. With what the actors are given, the performances are a cut above the b grade nature of the script, making everything not as silly as it would appear on paper. To ensure enjoyment one must sacrifice any sense of realism or logic, because there is not for one second that I could buy that this group of teenagers could impersonate law officials in such violent practical jokes, tape it and upload it online and NOT get into any trouble. For Christ’s sakes, we are shown in a horrendous montage sequence that there is a fanbase of muppets loving their pranks… Please, I’m insulted.

Looking past the lack of originality and super predictable story line it surprisingly held my interest throughout. The film is full of the greatest horror cliches; the power is continuously turning on and off, it is a dark and stormy night and the scary voice on the phone is always so calm and monotonous. Best of all the running time is perfect, a swift 83 minutes, any longer and I think there would have been some issues. Don’t Hang Up is a perfect, taut, somewhat hysterical little midnight thriller.

6.0 / 10

“… and no matter what, don’t hang up”

Trash Fire (2016)

Who knew Vinnie Chase could actually act?

When Owen (Adrian Grenier) is forced to confront the past he’s been running from his whole adult life, he and his girlfriend, Isabel, become entangled in a horrifying web of lies, deceit and murder.

Richard Bates Jr returns with another smashing genre mashed strange and unsettling film, this time with Trash Fire. Filled with characters that are all so abrasive and unsympathetic, Trash Fire will only appeal to those who like their humour dry and dark. I read a review where someone quoted that “Only the most bitter nihilists will think Trash Fire is funny”… Awkward… I found it side-splitting.

Overall the cast is quite strong and it is well acted. Angela Trimbur (Isabel) and Fionnula Flanagan (Violet) are particular standouts, Adrian Grenier’s character almost takes a step back in the second half, but even he is great here, and those damn big puppy dog eyes of his make him the most loveable horrible guy ever.

The film has plenty of admirable traits, the biting one liners are crude, rude and create genuinely funny moments, the stylish cinematography breaks the fourth wall with splendid but bizarre straight to camera pieces.

Trash Fire is campy brilliance, filled with my kind of humour. The glorious over the top ending may not be to everyone’s liking, personally I had no problem with it, what I did have a problem with was by far the most obnoxious title card I’ve ever seen, it nearly blasted me out of my living room.

7.0 / 10

“Your mother was a whore. Your father was a moron, and your sister’s an abomination”

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017)

But is it reaaaaaally the final chapter?

Picking up immediately after the events of Resident Evil: Retribution, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity’s final stand against the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare begun – The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse.

Paul W.S Anderson is back for the “final” entry of the absolutely chaotic post apocalyptic zombie series with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. For 106 minutes it is messy, it is violent and it is pure idiotic mayhem. For what it is, it’s a total hoot.

To really enjoy this movie, one has to leave all inhibitions and embrace the ridiculousness. Anderson is very self aware of what this movie is, and he has done a great job of meshing horror, action and a touch of jest altogether.

The pacing is relentless, with hardly any down time between the splatter of intense sequences one after the other. The choreography of the hand to hand combat scenes are undoubtedly stylish and easily the best thing about the film. That said though, the editing style follows suit and is frantically cut together resulting in choppy scenes and missed opportunities to relish in Jovovich’s mesmerizing screen presence of being a total badass.

Admittedly, I don’t think I’ve seen entries 2 – 5 of the series, but the original I’ve seen countless times, so going back to Raccoon City instantly filled me with giddiness, as I just knew it was a given that the deadly laser grid was going to be back for more turmoil!

This film is far from perfect, it barely passes as an acceptable flick. The colour grading is far too dark, at times I had trouble making out who was who, the cuts are too fast and a totally unexplained time limit of exactly 48 hours is thrown into the mix, but I don’t care…  Milla Jovovich is still smoking hot and Ruby Rose is my everything right now. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is exhilarating for every second, and I couldn’t wipe a stupid grin off my face for the entire film.

6.0 / 10

“We’ve played a long game, you and I, but now it’s over”