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Monday, October 22, 2012

[3.00/10] Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines (2012)

Brief review: 5? Seriously? Let's all hope it's the last, because this franchise really got milked to death. Yes, the original was great gory fun and turned into some sort of modern horror classic, and the first sequel was a passable entertainment as well, but the next three installments, including this one, were just plain awful and rather unnecessary. "Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines" is every bit as terrible as 2009's entry, "Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead", and not at all worth-seeing, unless you are a die-hard gore freak. Pretty much everything about this stupid sequel is wrong, from the wildly unimaginative script, shallow dialogues and stereotypical characters, to the hideous direction, laughably bad make-up effects and below par execution. Moreover, it would be a complete waste of time to mention anything about the storyline, simply because such is lacking. To be able to create a decent plot for a horror movie, you need some fresh ideas, tiny bit of imagination and some inspiration, but obviously director Declan O'Brien didn't think of that, as he delivered arguably the most dull, generic and lazy sequel in the series. No need to mention that such important factors as scares and suspense are completely non-existent, but at least the kill scenes aren't that terrible. Yes, the gore looks quite fake, but there's loads of it, and the deaths are fairly well-executed, and gross enough to please most blood-lusty horror buffs out there.

Overall summary: A couple of cool, yet repulsively gory death scenes aside, "Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines" is yet another unnecessary entry in the already drained franchise, with no plot, zero scares, cheap make-up effects, awful execution, and dumb, poorly-acted characters.

This review is also featured on TVFilmNews.com

Monday, October 15, 2012

[6.50/10] Excision (2012)

Excision (2012)

Brief review: Brought by first-time feature direction Richard Bates Jr., and  based on his own 2008 short movie of the same name, "Excision" is a coming-of-age horror drama, with some fine touches of dark humor, in the same vein as Lucky McKee's horror gem "May", and driven by its central character Pauline - a teen girl with morbid, yet vivid imagination, and twisted sexual desires. "Excision" is one of those horror movies, that avoids obvious scares, but still manages to be shocking and disturbing, thanks to the well-thought-out script that take us on a mental journey to one sick girl's mind. It also delivers on the gore and gross out horror, but in a very artsy sort of way. Considering the tiny budget it was made on, "Excision" looks quite aesthetically pleasing to the eye, however, Richard Bates Jr.'s direction is nothing-to-write-home-about really, which on the other hand isn't much of an issue, because "Excision" is all about the characters. "Nip/Tuck"'s own, the stunning AnnaLynne McCord, is barely recognizable as the freaky misfit, Pauline. She demonstrates a surprising amount of acting talent, and fully dominates the screen with her oddly captivating performance. Traci Lords is engagingly over-the-top as the controlling mother two, and the supporting cast does a solid job as well. The ending is gut-wrenchingly genius, if a bit predictable, and the true 'cherry on top' of Bates Jr.'s weird, yet unsettling piece of work.

Overall summary: It certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea, but those seeking for something different, odd, bizarre, unusual and, well, sick, will remain deeply satisfied with Richard Bates Jr.'s nasty little horror movie, "Excision", as it delivers all of that in spades, and then some.

This review is also featured on TVFilmNews.com

Friday, October 12, 2012

[6.00/10] The Lost Coast Tapes (2012)

Brief review: The 'found footage' horror sub-genre had its ups and downs over the years, with a few truly memorable entries, and countless dreadful ones. Corey Grant's Bigfoot-inspired POV flick, "The Lost Coast Tapes", falls somewhere in between. Clearly and heavily influenced by 2010's Norwegian mock-doc sensation "Trollhunter", "The Lost Coast Tapes" starts out in a very familiar fashion, and there's nothing special about it at first, but the seemingly gimmicky plot becomes more and more absorbing as the movie progresses. There's definitely something about "The Lost Coast Tapes" that keeps you drawn into the story from start to finish, and that is investing the unknown and unexplained, along with the characters, which turns out something even more unexpected. There are no big scares, but last 20 minutes of the movie are incredibly intense, and even though the twist ending leaves many questions unanswered, more perspicacious viewers will figure it out. Set in North California,"The Lost Coast Tapes" offers some stunning scenery - immense woods and lofty trees that look glorious in the daytime, and yet spine-chillingly eerie during the night. The POV shooting style requires the movie to be shot with handy-cams, but thankfully the camera work is neat and not overly shaky. Also, the characters here are likable, smart, and well-acted by the actors involved, so the audience can very easily relate to them. 

Overall summary: It's no "Trollhunter", but Corey Grant's "Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes" is still a refreshing entry into the 'found footage' horror sub-genre, that intrigues with its concept, excites with its intensity, and engages the eye with its gorgeous, yet terrifying setting.

This review is also featured on TVFilmNews.com

Thursday, October 11, 2012

[3.75/10] Smiley (2012)

Smiley (2012)

Brief review: From 23-year-old director, Michael J. Gallagher, "Smiley" is yet another poor attempt at slasher - a bold take on a modern urban legend, that doesn't really work. Even from the daft premise and the ridiculous opening sequence, you could tell that "Smiley" is going to be one silly slasher film filled with hackneyed cliches, and it turns out exactly that. Simply imagine Wes Craven's hit "Scream" meets Bernard Rose's "Candyman" with a contemporary twist, and little to no imagination put into the story, and you get "Smiley". The movie shamelessly rips-off the above mention horror classics, which makes it and its director even more pathetic. The young director obviously "did it for the lulz" (as the most popular line in the movie says), because pretty much everything about this movie is ludicrous to the point of being laughable. Worst of all, the suspense and thrills in "Smiley" are nonexistent. The only 'scary stuff' this flick provides its thrill-seeking audience with, is predictable behind-your-back killer attacks, and quick deaths with too little blood. Smiley itself is creepy-looking enough, but his dullness won't let him turn into a horror legend. The technical aspects of the film are also below par. It has a cheap TV feel to it, due to Gallagher's lifeless direction and low production values. On a positive note, Caitlin Gerard delivers a genuine lead performance, despite the awful script she has to work with.

Overall summary: Unaware of its utter stupidity, "Smiley" confidently attempts to introduces us a new slasher icon (wannabe), but actually ends up being yet another generic teen horror with silly premise, copycat ideas, no thrills, and a killer that is very soon to be forgotten.

This review is also featured on TVFilmNews.com

Sunday, October 7, 2012

[5.00/10] Grave Encounters 2 (2012)

Brief review: After 2011's "Grave Encounters", The Vicious Brothers join forces with first-time director John Poliquin to deliver a sequel, that complements the original. Or does it? Sadly, Poliquin fails to take things to another level due to his and his writer's lack of creativity, as "Grave Encounters 2" rests entirely on the concept, plot and setting of first film, and therefore feels contrived and, ironically, uninspired. Furthermore, both the filmmakers and the obsessed protagonist try hard to constantly convince us, that the first film is actually a real footage, but that never seems to work. Since the action takes place in the exact same location as the original, it often feels like you're watching the same movie, but on the other hand, the eerily abandoned psychiatric hospital continues to be one of the most terrifying places ever put on film. The movie is filled with jump scares and sudden shocks, and though cheap, those are fairly effective. It also offers loads of ghastly (and ghostly) images that might give you nightmares, and even dares to rip-off the creature from "[REC]" to a certain extent. The director demonstrates different variety of camera techniques, such as shaky handy-cam, black-and-white hidden cameras, static security cameras, etc, and that versatility prevents the viewer from getting bored by the very limited POV shooting style. The acting is pretty forgettable, with Richard Harmon taking most of the screen time.

Overall summary: The setting is still creepy, and the scares work for the most part, but "Grave Encounters 2" feels too familiar and repetitive, and relies too much on the success of its predecessor, plus, it's further let down by its messy, boring and often nonsensical third act.

This review is also featured on TVFilmNews.com 

Friday, October 5, 2012

[8.50/10] Dredd [3D] (2012)

 Dredd [3D]

Brief review: Based on the British comic strip "2000 AD", Pete Travis' latest feature, "Dredd" is also a much needed remake of the lame 1995 film, "Judge Dredd", starring Sylvester Stallone. Although conceptually similar to this year's martial arts phenomenon "The Raid: Redemption", "Dredd" differs significantly in terms feel, look, and overall effectiveness. The storyline is pretty straightforward, yet well-conceived, and the script itself is reasonably smart, filled with wit and satirical humor. Director Pete Travis manages to capture the tone and mood of the source material quite perfectly, delivering one of the most visually good-looking films of 2012 - the camera work is skillful, the futuristic Mega-City One is darkly glorious, the use of the murky tower-block setting is remarkable, and the CGIs are top-notch. The 3D works as well, adding lots of depth to the already stunning imagery. The 'Slo-Mo effect' scenes, shot in super slow motion, are true state-of-the-art, and the action scenes are so loud, brutal, well-staged, and eye-poppingly entertaining, they will blow up your mind. "Dredd 3D" is also brutally violent, but the violence itself is awesomely-stylized, featuring lots of torn flesh and blood splatter. Dredd, acted brilliantly by Karl Urban, is sarcastic, tough and uncompromising, Olivia Thirlby's sweet look contrasts with her character's fearlessness, and Lena Headey is mesmerizing as the harsh drug lord Ma-Ma.

Overall summary: Grim, gritty, gory, spectacularly violent and visually-striking, "Dredd 3D" not only surpasses vastly the original in every single aspect, but also ranks as one of the best remakes ever made, thanks to its finely-written script and absolutely outstanding execution.