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Monday, October 31, 2011

Best to Worst Found Footage / Mockumentary Horror Movies Part 4: The Best


[REC] (2007)

Experience the true fear with the Spanish 'found footage' horror phenomenon "[REC]" - the most inventive, unpredictable, shocking, tense, scary and utterly claustrophobic movie in cinematic history. Prepare to be blown away by its terrifying brilliance and bone-chilling climax!

My Rating: 10/10

Thanks to its chillingly-original concept, pitch-perfect execution and mind-blowing visuals, "The Troll Hunter" is an absolute mocku-masterpiece and one of the most unique horror movies ever.

My Rating: 9.25/10

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

It won't be a lie if we call "The Blair Witch Project" the mother of all 'found footage' horror movies, because back in 1999 it showed us all that a movie can be SUPER-scary and effective, without featuring any gore, blood or creepy images.

My Rating: 9.25/10

[REC]² (2009)

Unexpected, brain-twisting, creative, scary and fantastically-gory, "[REC]²" is an absolutely brilliant sequel to an amazing original.

My Rating: 9.00/10

Cloverfield (2008)

Wonderfully-crafted, highly-entertaining and edge-of-your-seat thrilling, "Cloverfield" is a one of a kind 'found footage' horror that delivers everything it promises.

My Rating: 9.00/10

Paranormal Activity (2008)

The triumph of "Paranormal Activity" is in the fact that it's made for so little, but has the ability to terrify so many. It works on so many levels, and is scary enough to make even the most hardened horror buffs wince in fear!

My Rating: 8.25/10

Best to Worst Found Footage / Mockumentary Horror Movies Part 3: The Good

The Tunnel (2011)

Atmospheric, incredibly tense and utterly claustrophobic, "The Tunnel" may not be the scariest 'found footage' horror movie you'll ever see, or as innovative as its online campaign, but it's certainly one of the most finely-crafted and realistic mock-docs ever made.

My Rating: 7.50/10

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Effective, believable and at times brilliantly terrifying, "Paranormal Activity 2" is a rare sequel that not only complements the original, but also works on its own. It successfully feeds your fear, leaving almost everything to the imagination.

My Rating: 7.00/10

Quarantine (2008)

Although it's nowhere nearly as frightening and superbly-crafted as the original film, "Quarantine" is an above average shot-by-shot remake that delivers thrills, chills, scares and then some.

My Rating: 7.00/10

Evil Things (2011)

"Evil Things" is a completely underrated POV slasher flick with a supernatural twist, that shows a whole new different side of the 'found footage' horror sub-genre, and works perfectly thanks to its authentic originality, skillful camera work and brilliantly believable characters, plus, it's super-tense and actually scary.

My Rating: 7.00/10

"The Last Exorcism" is great character-driven horror/drama, that also succeeds as a mockumentary, because of its strong characters and storytelling, and its intense atmosphere.

My Rating: 7.00/10

Diary of the Dead (2007)

Shot in the effective POV style, "Diary of the Dead" the most satisfying movie George A. Romero has made in a long time, and also a solid, tense and scary zombie flick.

My Rating: 6.75/10

Best to Worst Found Footage / Mockumentary Horror Movies Part 2: The Passable

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

As expected, "PA3" is 'more of the same' in terms of style and shocks, and is the least scary of the three, however, it goes in a slightly different direction than its predecessors, and as a result it feels a bit refreshing, and is still creepy, and effective enough to leave most fans satisfied.

My Rating: 6.50/10

Lake Mungo (2008)

"Lake Mungo" is an honest mystery, full of secrets and lies, wrapped around a paranormal thriller, that is as gripping as it's chilling.

My Rating: 6.50/10

Grave Encounters (2011)

Although it gets a bit ridiculous and unnecessarily over-the-top towards the end, "Grave Encounters" is still a well-made, often chilling, and utterly claustrophobic mockumentary, that fans of the genre will enjoy.

My Rating: 6.25/10

8213: Gacy House (2010)

Although, the conclusion is a bit disappointing, "8213 : Gacy House" is a spooky moc-doc, which premise feels fresh and unique, and which offers plenty of good old-fashioned jump scares and some truly creepy images.

My Rating: 6.25/10

Though not as terrifying and effective as its two American predecessors, "PA2: Tokyo Night" features some incredibly sympathetic characters, plenty of spooky visuals, and a couple of truly chilling scenes of terror.

My Rating: 6.00/10

Atrocious (2011)

"Atrocious" delivers some believable performances, a couple of truly tense and chilling moments, and a shocking twist at the end, that not only works, but also manages to make up for the screenplay's shortcomings.

My Rating: 6.00/10

Best to Worst Found Footage / Mockumentary Horror Movies Part 1: The Mediocre + BONUS

Haunted Changi (2010)

More creepy than scary, "Haunted Changi" offers some dark, ominous settings, and a couple of tense moments, but it does pretty much nothing else to distinguish itself from every other POV horror film.

My Rating: 5.25/10

"Fourth Kind" has its eerie moments and decent thrills, but it never really rises beyond that.

My Rating: 5.00/10

Deserted House (2010)

Dull, hardly scary and amateurishly executed, "Deserted House" is a ghost story at its worst, and a poor entry in the 'found footage' sub-genre.

My Rating: 4.00/10

The Tapes (2011)

Featuring annoying characters, shallow dialogues and dull story, and lacking in suspense and genuine thrills, "The Tape"
is a rather poor attempt at 'found footage' horror. (Review coming soon)

My Rating: 3.75/10



Tape 407 (2011)

Plot summary: Survivors of an airplane crash find themselves within the borders of a government testing area and pursued by predators.

Release date: Oct 31, 2011

[REC]³ Génesis (2012)

Plot summary: In a clever twist that draws together the plots of the first two movies, this third part of the saga works as a decoder to uncover information hidden in the first two films and leaves the door open for the final installment, the future "[REC] 4 Apocalypse".

Release date: Mar 30, 2012

The Lost Coast Tapes (2012)

Plot summary: A cynical investigative journalist and his documentary team travel to a remote cabin to debunk a Cryptozoologist’s claim of finding a dead Bigfoot, but their film quickly becomes a record of their life and battle against an unseen horror.

Release date: 2012

Haunted Poland (2012)

Plot summary: A couple travel to Poland but find themselves disturbed by an evil force when the girl returns to her home town where she once played a Ouija board.

Release date: Apr 20, 2012

[6.50/10] Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Brief review: "Catfish"'s directing duo brings this parallel prequel to the original film, and thankfully they deliver in spades. Even though "PA 3" is the typical 'slow burner', the directors manage to build tension and suspense throughout very convincingly, thanks to their creative ideas and great technical skills. Though the third entry is visually-plain, in terms of variety, camera angles and editing, it's probably the best-shot of the three. It also offers more character development than the previous two films, and the characters themselves are well-written, and easy to relate to. The biggest surprise is that the over-the-top scary scenes from the trailer didn't make the final cut. On one hand, the fans of in-your-face scares might be disappointed by this fact, but on the other hand, those unnecessarily unrealistic scenes were cut for good, because their absence make the film even more credible, hence realistically frightening. Speaking of scares, "PA 3" follows the same successful formula - it doesn't show too much, allowing the viewer's imagination to go wild. The final 15 minutes of the movie are tense and heart pounding, thought the ending is rather confusing and leaves more questions than answers, which sets the stage for further debate.

Overall summary: As expected, "Paranormal Activity 3" is 'more of the same' in terms of style and shocks, and is the least scary of the three, however, it goes in a slightly different direction than its predecessors, hence, it's refreshing and effective enough to leave most fans satisfied.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

[8.75/10] Contagion (2011)

Contagion (2011)

Full review: One of the finest film-makers in history of cinema, Steven Soderbergh, brings us his latest sci-fi horror thriller that follows the rapid progress of a lethal indirect contact transmission virus, which kills within days, and an international team of doctors who struggle to deal with the outbreak. "Contagion" is so much more than just another 'deadly virus' movie. It's a social horror that warns us about many little, yet important things in life we barely pay attention to, such as basic hygiene habits, washing our hands, touching our face and having contact with dirty surfaces like door-handles, elevator buttons and bus hand grips. Probably the best thing about "Contagion" is that absolutely nothing about it feels exaggerated or implausible. The movie believable and incredibly realistic from beginning to the end, and that's what makes it as disturbing and terrifying as it is. If something like this happen in real life, this is exactly how things will look like - panic, chaos, fear and frustration among the population, and millions of dead people. Considering Soderbergh's pedantry as a director, unsurprisingly the technical aspects of the movie are just as brilliant. His direction is taut, sharp and near flawless, and deftly balances a few parallel plots that blend together exceptionally well. The pacing is smooth, the editing is pitch-perfect, the original music score is phenomenal, and the movie itself is gripping, cleverly-written and absolutely riveting. Shot in various different locations, "Contagion" is as visually versatile as it gets. The settings are as breathtaking as they're grim and realistically post-apocalyptic, and director's trademark 'hot/cold' type of cinematography alternates bright, yellow-tinted scenes with muted blue-tinted ones. The true highlight of the movie is definitely the final "Day 1" scene, which is fantastically-shot and delivered, and gives answers to many unanswered questions about the virus and its spreading. The film has a stellar ensemble cast that includes one of the best actors and actresses working today, and their performances are so as equally as good, that nobody really outshines anybody else. Well, almost. Gwyneth Paltrow gives a great and very credible performance as the Beth Emhoff - a working mother from Minneapolis, who is also the supposed patient zero. Matt Damon is far from amazing, but he gives an above average performance as Beth's husband and caring father, Mitch. Marion Cotillard once again proves she's a true chameleon, and does a fantastic job in her role as Dr. Leonora Orantes, and Laurence Fishburne is typically solid as Dr. Ellis Cheever. Jude Law also delivers as the bold and cocky blogger Alan Krumwiede, but it's the sensational Kate Winslet that pretty much steals the show as the dedicated, fearless and determined Dr. Erin Mears. The supporting cast is just as great, with Jennifer Ehle, Monique Gabriela Curnen and Bryan Cranston being the standouts.

Overall summary: Brilliantly-filmed, contagiously-compelling, subtly-terrifying, and elevated by its top-notch cast and intelligently-written script, "Contagion" is not only one of Soderbergh's most remarkable achievements, but also ranks amongst the best and most memorable virus-themed movies ever created.

Monday, October 24, 2011

[6.50/10] Green Lantern [3D] (2011)

Green Lantern [3D] (2011)

Brief review: Based on the DC Comics character of the same name, "Green Lantern" tells the story of a test pilot, who is given a ring that grants him superpowers. Unsurprisingly, the film suffers from a poor, unimaginative script, and often feels rushed and contrived, but at the end of the day, who cares? "Green Lantern" is all about the action and the visuals! It won't be a lie if we call this a CGI-driven movie, since almost 60% of it is pure CGI. Believe it or not, even Green Lantern's costume is CG, but it's so slick and well-designed, you'd never guess it's not real. The eye mask looks super-silly though. Having said all that, the graphics are nothing short of amazing! The planet of Oa is stunning, as is the space scenery, and all the alien creatures look incredible, with supervillain Parallax being the 'wow' factor. The green tint of the visuals is mesmerizing, sparkly and beautiful, and the 3D effects are impressive. The action is fast-paced, exciting and often spectacular, with the final act of the film being the highlight. Ryan Raynolds is the true star of the show as the uber-cocky, yet loyal and likable pilot-turned-superhero, Peter Sarsgaard delivers bravura performance as the silently crazy scientist Hammond, and the rest of the cast does a pretty good job as well.

Overall summary: This superhero CGI extravaganza is rushed, thin on plot, and unnecessarily overproduced, however, thanks to its first-rate special effects, kinetic action scenes and fantastic use of 3D, "Green Lantern" still shines on the screen... just not as bright as we hoped for.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

[7.75/10] Real Steel (2011)

Real Steel (2011)

Full review: Based on the 1956 short story "Steel" by Richard Matheson, "Real Steel" is a futuristic action drama set in 2020, where robot boxing is the most popular sport, and revolves around a former boxer and promoter, who tries to break into the robot fighting business, along with his recently discovered son. Plot-wise, "Real Steel" is the classic 'underdog' story - no twists and turns, no big surprises along the way, just a simple by-the-numbers story with entirely predictable outcome. Is that a bad thing? Well, not in this case... because it works. Despite its silly premise and cliche-ridden script, "Real Steel" succeeds in many areas, and it's well-made, fun to watch and totally absorbing from the first to the last minute. The dialogues are witty, smart, at times touching, but always amusing, the pacing is pitch-perfect, and the competent editing compliments director's efforts. Shawn Levy is by no means an amazing director, but he does wonders here. His direction is focused, well-balanced and at times masterful, and as a result, his dialogue-driven scenes are just as entertaining as his high-octane action scenes. Speaking of action, it is undoubtedly the highlight of the film. The robot clashes on the ring are spectacular, thrilling and brilliantly-staged and choreographed, with each next battle being bigger, better and more imposing than the previous one. The special effects are just as impressive. The robots are fantastically-designed, detailed and look like they are literally made of real steel, and their movements are fluid and well-coordinated movements, not to mention their amazing fighting skills. The acting is mostly excellent, just like most other elements of the movie. The uber-talented Hugh Jackman has been finally given a major role in a big movie, and thankfully, he doesn't disappoint. His good acting skills, bubbly personality and undeniable charm help him to deliver an incredibly sympathetic and appealing character. At first he's just a selfish and emotionless man who cares only about money and robots, but when he meets his abandoned son, Charlie finally realizes what's really important in life and shows us the lovable and caring side of him. Dakota Goyo is definitely the star of the film though. He's as sweet as he's cheeky in his role as Max, and he steals every scene he appears in. Although Max appears a bit cocky, his boldness, passion and enthusiasm make us all fall in love with his fearless character. "Lost"'s own Evangeline Lilly delivers a very solid and memorable performance as Charlie's love interest, Bailey, plus she's pure eye-candy, even without make-up on. The connection between the characters is amazing - Charlie and Max's relationship is sincere and adorable, and Jackman and Lilly's on-screen chemistry is strong and believable.

Overall summary: This autumn blockbuster may be pretty straight-forward and predictable from beginning to the end, but thanks to Shawn Levy's skillful, polished direction and the absolutely stellar cast, "Real Steel" turns into a visual and verbal roller coaster ride of thrilling action, exhilarating humor and emotions, but most importantly, it has a heart.

Friday, October 21, 2011

[7.25/10] The Three Musketeers [3D] (2011)

The Three Musketeers [3D] (2011)

Full review: Let's face it, Paul W.S. Anderson's take on "The Three Musketeers" is nothing special in terms of script and plot, as the story has been done countless times before and the premise just can't get more hackneyed than that. Having said that, Anderson's spot-on execution and great choice of cast compensate for the complete lack of originality. From the action-packed opening sequence to the spectacular finale, "The Three Musketeers" is a pure popcorn entertainment at its best! The film moves along at a brisk pace and there aren't many lulls during its two hour duration - the dialogue is fresh and witty, the characters are engaging, and there's a lot to be seen and enjoyed. The visuals are definitely one of the film's main strengths, as those are slick and absolutely dazzling! The cinematography is vividly colorful, and the production design is so posh and lavish, you'll often find yourself mesmerized by the stunning beauty of it. Rich in texture, detail and color, the costumes are mind-blowingly beautiful and a true fest for the eyes. If costume designer Pierre-Yves Gayraud do not get nominated for Oscar in this category next year, I honestly don't know who will. Paul W.S. Anderson may not be one of the best directors working today, but one thing is for sure - he definitely knows how to shoot great action scenes. Some of the stunts are absolutely spectacular, the swordplay is thrilling and nicely-choreographed, and there are a few fantastically-shot slow motion sequences, that will wow you, if not blow you away. The action looks even better in 3D, as the film has been shot in one, even if the 3D itself is not that impressive or particularly necessary. Anderson's direction has its flaws, however, he tries to be as versatile and creative as possible, and the end result is rather satisfying. For better or worse, "The Three Musketeers" is overstuffed with characters. On one hand, too many characters equals a lack of character development, but on the other hand, all of these characters are either memorable, or likable, or incredibly appealing. Matthew Macfadyen plays the tough Athos, and he does a good job in portraying his interesting character. Luke Evans appears a bit bland and dull as Aramis, but at least he looks good, and the masculine Ray Stevenson gives a stellar and incredibly charismatic performance as the cheeky and temperamental Porthos. Logan Lerman is often the center of attention, and he delivers as the cocky , yet clever and feisty D'Artagnan. The beautiful Milla Jovovich once again plays a bad-ass killer chick, but here she does it with finesse and grace. The one and only Christoph Waltz turns in another great villain as the crafty cardinal Richelieu, James Corden brings most of the laughs as the super-funny Planchetand, and even the always stiff and wooden Orlando Bloom does a good job as the narcissistic Duke of Buckingham.

Overall summary: Its premise may be way overused, hence lacking in originality, but "The Three Musketeers" is a fun, enjoyable and delightfully adventurous swashbuckler, that fascinates with its fantastic cast, and stuns the viewer with its exquisite visuals breathtakingly beautiful costumes and thrilling set-pieces.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

[4.25/10] Trespass (2011)

Trespass (2011)

Brief review: The mediocre director Joel Schumacher brings us another of his uninspired projects, and this time it's all about home invasion. Basically, "Тrespass" contains every single cliche ever used in any home invasion film, which makes it laughably obvious, often boring and constantly uninteresting to watch. Having said that, the movie is far from awful and it has its moments, but those good moments are very few and far between and overshadowed by the nastiness of it, and the unbelievable selfishness of its main male character. "Тrespass" is also aggressive and quite violent, but not in an entertaining sort of way, plus it's so loud and screamy, it may cause you a headache. Visually, "Тrespass" is an absolute lackluster as well. Although it's set in a big, modern, luxurious house, the cinematography is so dull and muted, and the lighting is so low-key, you'd wish you had a flashlight. Schumacher's direction is very straight-forward and lacking in versatility, which lets the film down even more. Aside from Nicolas Cage's unlikable character, the performances are great. Nicole Kidman delivers as the anxious mother, Cam Gigandet is surprisingly decent in his role, and Liana Liberato steals the show as the willful, yet clever daughter Avery.

Overall summary: Thoroughly predictable, annoyingly loud and often nasty, "Trespass" is a big bloody mess of a thriller that mostly relays on its A-list cast, but that cast, while capable, can't compensate for a cliched script, the lack of actual thrills, and the overall ugly nature of the film.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

[6.25/10] Grave Encounters (2011)

Grave Encounters (2011)

Brief review: Written and directed by The Vicious Brothers, "Grave Encounters" is yet another horror film shot in the popular 'found footage' style. It has the typical 'mockumentary' premise, about a group of thrill-seeking enthusiasts (in this case a ghost-hunting reality TV crew) who investigate unexplained events involving the paranormal in a creepy setting. "The Tunnel", "Haunted Changi" and "Deserted House" anyone? Anyway, despite its formulaic concept, "Grave Encounters" still manages to be enough scary and effective to give viewers nightmares for days, due to the competent POV camera work, taut pacing and tons of jump-of-your-seat scares, but mostly thanks to the darkly claustrophobic and sinister location it's been shot. The abandoned psychiatric hospital is nothing short of terrifying, especially during the night. It's a twisting maze of creepy corridors and staircases, and knowing that the characters are locked in there, makes you feel extremely uncomfortable. The final act lets the film down, as it all goes a bit out of control to the point of being ludicrous. The cast does a fairly decent job, with a few exceptions - Sean Rogerson is mediocre at best, and Ashleigh Gryzko is just terrible as Sasha. She should never ever act again.

Overall summary: Although it gets a bit ridiculous towards the end, "Grave Encounters" is still a well made, chilling, and claustrophobic mock-doc, that fans of the genre will enjoy, if they don't take it too seriously, because the it's just too implausible to be realistically scary.

[5.75/10] The Caller (2011)

The Caller (2011)

Brief review: "The Caller" is a low-budget horror thriller that revolves around the recently divorced Mary Kee, who's tormented by a series of sinister phone calls from a mysterious woman. Plot-wise, the film works as much as it doesn't. It's filled with many twists and turns along the way, maybe too many, and although that keeps it dynamic and gripping, it might be too confusing for some viewers. Director Matthew Parkhill does a good job of creating tension and mysterious atmosphere that keeps you guessing what is going to happen next, however, his direction often feels a bit too ambitious and all-over-the-place, which makes the movie seem more complicated than it actually is. The lack of budget is obvious, as visually, "The Caller" doesn't look very polished, nor is very appealing. The settings are quite gloomy and incredibly effective though. Most of the action takes place in an old, small apartment in a lower-class Puerto Rico suburban area, that looks dark and extremely creepy, and will definitely give you the chills. Rachelle Lefevre gives a solid performance as the troubled divorcee Mary, who has to handle with both - her ex psycho husband and the odd things happening in her new home, and the supporting cast do their best with the given material.

Overall summary: Despite its overly complicated plot and some execution weaknesses, "The Caller" is still a decent and fairly creepy little chiller, that delivers a couple good scares and enough twists to keep you entertained until the unexpected conclusion.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest

Pay It Forward Blogfest

Matthew MacNish @ QQQE and my dear friend Alex J. Cavanaugh are hosting this awesome blogfest, aptly titled Pay It Forward, which main purpose is to introduce everyone to everyone else. How it works? Well, each of the participants in the blogfest has to post links to three of their most favorite blogs and to share why did the fall in love with these particular blog(ger)s. So the idea is to visit and follow as many of these fantastic blogs/people as you can. What are you waiting for? Do it now! :)

It was really hard to pick only three blogs, but since I'm obviously a film-obsessed person, I decided to go with 3 of my favorite movie blogs, which I absolutely love!


Maynard Morrissey's

Harry is a true horror geek coming from Austria (not Australia!). He's not only very passionate about horror cinema in general, but he's also an amazing person - smart, funny, kind and polite. He delivers the reviews exactly the way I like them - short'n'sweet, to-the-point, and witty, plus he's such a good writer, you'd never guess English is not his first language. Check out his cool blog now! Oh, and today is his birthday. Happy birthday, Harry!



J-SON is from the stunning Singapore and he's a great reviewer and a very capable and skillful writer. He knows what he's talking about and his reviews are always compelling, competent and incredibly well-written. I still can not believe he has only 20 followers. It's ridiculous. He deserves at least 10 times as much. Go follow this amazing guy!


HorrO's Gory Reviews

HorrO is another horror fanatic I absolutely adore! He's a sucker for everything horror and I admire him for that reason. Moreover, he's an incredible writer, and I must admit that we often agree about movies, because we obviously have similar cinematic taste. His reviews are clever, entertaining to read and, well, gory. Check them out.