Pet Sematary (1989)

 

 

You know… All this hassle could have been avoided with a fence

Behind a young family’s home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life and death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable.

Adapted from the novel of the same name from horror maestro Stephen King, Mary Lambert’s 1989 film adaptation is a ghastly tale of supernatural rebirth that hammers in on tragic themes but can’t escape from being a little on the silly side.

King unfortunately doesn’t seem to have a tonne of success with his novel to film adaptations. Of all the attempts only a handful stand out as tremendous successes; Carrie, The Shining, Misery. Regrettably, Pet Sematary fails to make the list of honours.

There is terror here no doubt about it and the dark themes of death and grief bring a tragic atmosphere of despair, but Lambert fails to build an enticing pace and plays heavily in the corny realm of comedy at times. Kudos to her though, she would take another stab at the sequel in 1992.

4.5 / 10

“Sometimes dead is better”

Advertisements

47 Meters Down (2017)

If the sharks don’t get ya, the dreaded bends will!

Two sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive.

Originally intended for a VOD release last year, 47 Meters Down was saved by the overwhelming success of shock hit The Shallows and was pulled back a week before its release and slated for a theatrical run instead. Yes, it certainly has the qualities of a B-Grade movie, but truthfully I am glad I got to see this on the big screen.

Johannes Roberts, who is following up from the underwhelming supernatural thriller ‘The Other Side of the Door’ delivers a low budget but highly effective shark survival thriller.

Shark films have always been a guilty pleasure of mine (and probably always will be), but only recently has my opinion swayed on what these fun films instigate… which is nothing but a negative impact on the reputation of sharks and further culling on these beautiful creatures. Soooo, putting aside my feelings (sue me!), this surprisingly has got to be one of the better sharks films out there. It is pure popcorn pleasure!

Although thoroughly enjoyable, the film is chock-a-block full of flaws! We are painfully introduced to Lisa (Mandy Moore) where we very quickly find out that she has been dumped by her ex… wait for it… for being boring. Henceforward, the shark diving experience is nothing but a ‘cool’ photo opportunity to impress the ex. COME ON!

The characterization is far from strong. Both Moore and Claire Holt are gorgeous and do what they can with the script, but Moore’s character is extremely unlikable, and Holt is nothing but a one dimensional party girl. The dialogue is clunky, and oh lordy is it heavy with exposition… I am now well versed in what ‘the bends’ are…

What Roberts does succeed in, is the terrific job of utilizing that gut wrenching fear of dark open water. The surrounding environment is portrayed in a tremendously spooky fashion. There a few nail biting point of view moments where we as an audience see nothing but a few meters of murky pitch black water, anxiously waiting for something to surface from the depths.

Although the characters are ugly and the dialogue quickly becomes eye rolling, 47 Meters Down is a tight 89-minute thriller. It is trashy, but deliciously dumb and if it wasn’t, I don’t think this movie would have been as amusing. The underwater scenes are shot extremely well and for a low budget film the CGI sharks are impressive creatures. 47 Meters Down is worth the gamble and worth the extra wait, one particular jump scare works a beauty on the big screen. All that needed to happen was for Roberts to end the film just thirty seconds sooner!

6.0 / 10

“It’s like you’re going to the zoo – except you’re in the cage”

Annabelle: Creation (2017)

What’s the bet the Scarecrow is next in line for its own spin off?

Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a doll maker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the doll maker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

Let’s be real for a moment. We all thought Annabelle: Creation was a prequel nobody was asking for, for a spin off no one was really interested in. We all tried to quickly forget about the disastrous 2014 Annabelle, but how could we forget when the film kept ranking in those dollars and it was quickly announced there would be sequel… As a world we collectively groaned. But, a sequel it was not, no, we were gifted with a prequel to a prequel… and my lord… it is actually good!

David F. Sandberg follows up from his 2016 chilling debut Lights Out by taking the reigns and breathing new life into the Conjuring universe with Annabelle: Creation. By no means, does Creation break any new ground, but it is a surprisingly engaging spook-fest that features some genuinely terrifying imagery, clearly influenced from Sandberg’s short film ‘Attic Panic’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjck1TNXXhI 

Sandberg clearly has style and is well versed in the land of chills and thrills. Creation indulges in your normal horror tropes but Sandberg is clever never to repeat the scare twice.

The film does have its flaws though. The final act tends to drag, but it also gives us a fantastic barn sequence that is utterly terrifying! Where I forgot just how fucking scary scarecrows can be! Pegging itself as a creation story though is a bit of a stretch. As the actual creation story is told quite quickly in a heavy flashback sequence, which leaves the mythology of Annabelle a little muddled and unclear.

Annabelle: Creation is pleasant treat, it falters here and there with cliché horror territory but Sandberg’s style is highly present and alluring. The film is littered with easter eggs and a cute nod to the ‘real’ story of Annabelle. Overall, it’s a welcome addition to a franchise that hopefully continues to grow in strength, style and originality.

7.0 / 10

“Forgive me, Father, for I am about to sin”

Wait Until Dark (1967)

Audrey Hepburn… seeing through men’s bullshit since 1967…

A recently blinded woman (Hepburn) is terrorized by a trio of thugs while they search for a heroin stuffed doll they believe is in her apartment.

Based on the stage play by Frederick Knott, but brought to the silver screen in 1967 by Terence Young, Wait Until Dark is a cunning, tight paced thriller, with a refreshing twist on the home invasion subgenre.

Leading lady, Audrey Hepburn, is truly a star. She is absolutely mesmerizing on screen and adeptly plays the insecure and visually challenged character with such bravado and confidence. The villains are equally as good, with a young Alan Arkin who is chillingly manic and Richard Crenna who is manipulative yet shows a softer side of sympathy.

It’s clever twists and turns are reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, which funnily enough was a screenplay also penned by Frederick Knott. The film’s single location creates a tense and claustrophobic atmosphere and the dialogue heavy script is a treat to behold.

Wait Until Dark is an elegant timeless classic and an enthralling ride from start to finish. Fans of the home invasion subgenre should certainly seek this treasure out, if not for the script then for the lovely miss Audrey Hepburn who captivatingly puts the pieces of this suspicious puzzle together.

8.5 / 10

“How would you like to do something difficult and terribly dangerous?”

Alien (1979)

In space no one can hear you scream…  

After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious life form, and they may soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.

It all started in 1979… Ridley Scott would fashion such a cult classic that would later spawn off seven more films those being three sequels, two prequels and two god awful crossovers. It was 1979 where we realised a haunted house could be taken into space. Instead the haunted house here being the Nostromo, and instead of a ghost terrorizing our characters it would be one motherfuckin’ tall terrifying alien… or later commonly known by the cute name of a Xenomorph.

Alien is a superbly crafted space thriller that blends science fiction into horror, creating a modern classic with one of the most iconic deaths in the genre. The pacing is tight and tense, the use of jump scares is effective and Ridley forms one of cinemas strongest female heroes, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver – who is such a banger in this!)

Presented as one of horrors top films, Alien is terrifyingly terrific and an old nightmare that is worthy of revisiting.

8.0 / 10

“I admire its purity”

A Ghost Story (2017)

Sheet happens…

In an exploration of legacy, love, loss and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased white sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try and reconnect with his bereft wife.

Raise your hands if you love A24! raises both hands, amen!

The studio famously behind such personal favourites; The Witch, Ex Machina, Green Room, It Comes At Night, The Monster have released yet another stunner with, A Ghost Story. David Lowery reunites with Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara for his poignant, yet curiously haunting tale which comes from the perspective of a ghost. This definitely will not be for everyone’s taste. It is film that demands great patience and an open mind. It’s a piece that requires no thought, but instead an almost Zen like state of mind.

A Ghost Story is so god damn beautiful. The cinematography gracefully floats this way and that way, whilst the atmosphere holds a sense cosmic lyricism. Lowery’s depiction of what happens after we die is achingly sad, his expression of what life, love, loss and time means is an inventive and artistic expression that leaves you feeling emotionally devastated. In what feels like a very personal film, Lowery angles the film at a voyeuristic approach. Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara share such an incredible screen presence and chemistry between each other, at times I felt like I was intruding on a private moment between the two.

With its tongue in cheek Halloween costume approach, A Ghost Story is an ethereal piece that is original, profound, and good… it is devastatingly good… you just have to let yourself sink into the story.

8.0 / 10

“What is it you like about this house so much?”
“History”

The Orphanage (2007)

 

Creer esta viendo…

A woman (Belen Rueda) brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.

Stepping back into 2007, J.A Bayona delivered an exceptional directorial debut with producing partner Guillermo Del Toro with the Spanish chiller, The Orphanage.

What could only be deemed as a beautifully crafted haunted house horror The Orphanage is a merited cult classic that is genuinely chilling, exceptionally detailed and most importantly a clever script that delves not only into spooks but into the real terrors of loss, bereavement and parental responsibility. Not only is the script remarkable, but the cinematography is gracefully breathtaking and the movie is soaked in a constant rich tense atmosphere.

Belen Rueda is riveting here and while constantly dealing with her ghosts that are both literal and figurative, Rueda always seem to be on the edge of an emotional breakdown.

The Orphanage is an emotional horror that surely packs a punch in its final act. It has all the clichés there, but Bayona handles them with such care and elegance that at its core this haunting ghost story is not only beautiful but tremendously sad.

 7.5 / 10

“Seeing is not believing. It’s the other way around. Believe, and you will see”

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Did anyone stop to think that maybe the monster is just deeply misunderstood?

A strange prehistoric beast lurks in the depths of the Amazonian jungle. A group of scientists try to capture the animal and bring it back to civilization for study.

Creature from the Black Lagoon is a cult classic that has aged like fine wine. Timeless and elegant this 1954 creature feature from Jack Arnold is incredibly eerie and revolutionary for its time with definitive underwater sequences that play like a mad ballet.

A member of the Universal Monster legacy from the golden age of cinema the Creature is a terrifying (but masterful) creation of half man and half fish, with a costume that is sickeningly frightful. We are gifted with genuinely frightening imagery as we spy the Creature lurking just beneath the surface of water, whilst mimicking the lazy movements of bombshell Julie Adams (Kay) as she unknowingly dangles her long lovely white legs into the grips of a misunderstood gill man.

Creature from the Black Lagoon is terrifically entertaining and is heralded as a memorable icon of horrors greatest villains. This black and white classic not only boasts impressive underwater photography, but also a little bit of magic that shouldn’t be overlooked.

8.5 / 10

“We didn’t come here to fight monsters”

The Beguiled (2017)

I hope you like apple pie…

 The unexpected arrival of a wounded Union soldier at a girl’s school in Virginia during the American civil war leads to jealousy and betrayal.

The Beguiled is the second adaption of the Thomas P. Cullinan novel, The Painted Devil, the first motion picture coming from 1971 helmed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood. Today comes Sofia Coppola’s version, a beautiful moody atmospheric piece drenched in sexuality and elegance.

Coppola’s elegant thriller is a quiet and slow suspenseful drama, led by an all star cast – Nicole Kidman, who undoubtedly shines the brightest, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and the always gorgeous Colin Farrell.

This gothic thriller is a wonder for the eyes, the costumes are marvellous and the cast are a spectacle to behold. Overall the film is elegant brilliance, however as soon as the dance of desire leads to terror Coppola fails to keep the tension tight and an unclear third act punch never feels fully conveyed as to whether vengeance was at play or not.

The Beguiled is a stir crazy mix of awakening sexuality, with ensuing flirtation and manipulations that lead to menacing and steamy scenes. Coppola is a woman of style and skill but this atmospheric remake never quite manages to be the pulpy psychodrama it should have been.

7.0 / 10

“There is nothing more frightening than a startled woman with a gun”