Tag Archives: horror

“A Devil Inside”: a movie review

Firstly, this cover is misleading. No one looks like this in the film. This character doesn’t exist. Strike one of eight. Making one of your letters in the title backwards doesn’t make you spooky, that makes you the 90s metal band “Korn.” Strike two.

God, Eff off, A Devil Inside, for serious.

When your film is in and out of the theaters and on DVD in under four months, hey, you got a problem of quality. Overall, this is how you do a bad “exorcist” movie. This is the kind of film that makes the public think horror is dumb and the sub-genre of exorcism is not scary.

To begin, this film is one hour and fifteen minutes of actual movie. Over seven minutes at the end of the film are the credits; the slow, slow credits—part of which ask you go online after the film for “more about the unsolved case.” Well, shit, glad I didn’t pay 12 bucks for a seventy-five minute film which then gave me enrichment study homework. What a crock. It’s like Downloadable content that XBOX360 games ask you to buy after you buy the 60 dollar game. Put it in one package please. Doing it in stagnated pieces is lazy. You’re wasting my time or money, and sometimes both.

This film had no style, rehashing everything that’s been done in the shaky-cam, mediocre-college-actor genre that better films like “Paranormal Activity” and “Cloverfield” have already done. Something here reminds me of “Insidious” and “The Last Exorcism”, but both of those films, regardless of your opinion of them, were at least more original and clever. This film was not clever. The mood was never quite right. The pacing was never quite right. It’s difficult to put your finger on it, but if you see it, which you shouldn’t, you’ll feel what I’m talking about. Something just wasn’t done correctly here and feels sloppy, inarticulate, uncrafted. Very few details are given about the plot, what made this situation “special” or this story worth telling, and the characters are given the bare minimum of backstory and dimensionality.

Only at the one hour mark the film become something fresh and inventive, and that lasts for about fifteen minutes. Whoopie.

Just when it gets good, when an additional 15-minutes could is almost expected to follow and could wrap-up with a stately denouement and resolution, we are left at the Climax, with no way to know who lived, who died, how the demons went from body to body, or what ever happened to Maria, the protagonists mother (whose acting was actually pretty good for being possessed). The actress playing Maria kept this Phoned-In Money Grabber from dying at the front door of the genre club it desperately wanted to be a part of.

Some of you may say that “realistic endings” where everything is not wrapped up is more real and better. While that’s left to debate, this doesn’t do it well. I like movies that don’t put a bow on everything. Most people in America today who what to be intellectually-challenged when enjoying a film would agree, but this film ends shockingly in spite of itself and just for the sake of “oh, that would be a crazy ending. Like, real life, where, ya know, you don’t know what happens.” Yeah. Okay. It can be done well when a theme or irony or metaphor is in place, but this had none of that.

When the best part of your movie is the tail end of the third act, and then you don’t FINISH your third act, well, you should be ashamed to call yourself a full-length picture. On top of all of this, pieces of the trailer were re-edited in the final cut, and really, the best movie of “A Devil Inside” is the freaking trailer.

Save yourself the trouble. Don’t even get this on REDBOX unless you are a die-hard horror fan or just HAVE to know how this film stacks up to the other of its sub-genre. Hint: in the bottom half.

Because the ending was better than the whole film, it gets a 5 instead of a 4.5

I would rewatch any, yes, any exorcist movie again before this one.

5/10

MH

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Cabin in the Woods: a film review

You don’t know what this movie is and you will be happily surprised. Go see Cabin in the Woods:

The Spoiler-Free Set-up: By knowing the conventions of the genre, Joss Whedon, (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and some comics) wrote his own formula with director Drew Goddard to create the most entertaining and fun horror of 2012, and the past 12 years. You have no idea what this movie is gonna be until you watch it or read a spoiler. Do not do the latter.

Gush: Though a warm and lovely spring it has been, go see this immediately. The trailers to it no justice; it was remarkable and gushable; something to watch with friends; something worth the ticket price; bloody, funny, and so freakin’ original that my butt still hurts. It had its way with me, and, yes, I enjoyed it. It’s a genius, self-aware, teen horror that delivers, setting the bar for this decade pretty freakin’ high for me personally.

Fun fact: This was shot in 2009, but not released until this year. I don’t know why.

Categorize How?: This movie is a precise balance of action, humor, paranormal, and horror. This intelligently crafted sleeper hit will hopefully change the coming decade of horror. That’s a big statement, and while this film may not win any awards, its cult status like Evil Dead, Cabin Fever, Drag Me To Hell, and the Saw Franchise is pretty much in stone.

I can’t say anything else without spoiling it, but if you enjoy unique films, or if you’re a buff regarding the sub-genres of horror and international nods to cult-horror hits, prepare for something you’ve never seen before: a legendary stand-alone film that will have you smilin’ and laughing. Inventive twists, set-ups and reveals all work magically, including powers of ancient and global proportions. Who’s pulling the strings? I can say no more.

Best horror of 2012.

The past 12 years.

Maybe the coming decade.

While I have not seen every horror movie, I have seen a lot, and this is easily my top 10 supernatural horror for entertainment and originality alone.

It’s probably a 4/5 to most, maybe lower to non-horror lovers, but this fresh and entertaining gem has to get more than a 4 from me, and a 4.5 seems like I’m just lying to myself to avoid fallout from detractors.

This is a 5/5

Must Watch of 2012. The whole world depends on it.

MH

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“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs: a novel review

This “young adult” oriented fairy tale is beautifully written and can be read by any aged reader. Don’t let the cover fool you: it’s not a horror and it’s not terrifying or sick and twisted. A relatively clean “PG-13” style fantasy and adventure, it is centered on a 16-year-old boy but both males and females will probably enjoy it. Fans of Harry Potter and X-Men will take pleasure in this coming-of-age mystery, unfolding into a bit of the supernatural (including some time travel).

The inclusion of eerie, vintage photos added a surreal atmosphere to the book. Some may find this gimmicky, but I found it original and refreshing. You can’t please everyone.  Also, the “Mystery” portion of Jakob’s adventure as he tries to put the puzzle pieces left by his grandfather really worked well. There was a great sense of strangeness, and the tension built up fairly steadily.

The author Ransom Riggs has a gift and definitely can write a great fairy tale. He writes very descriptively, adds depth to his environments, and builds three dimensional characters. I love his sentences—often poetically quotable passages that the bookworm in you want to share with someone! “Listen to this! Great, huh?”

Critically, I can say that some information comes a little late in the story: for example—and I’m not spoiling anything here—the big reveal where Miss Peregrine discusses just what the heck happened on the island and what those creatures are that want them dead. It all comes about 50 pages too late for me.

The most beautifully written sections can be found in the romantically haunting descriptions of Miss Peregrine’s House in Chapter Five near the beginning. This was the chapter that hooked me.

Until the end, it’s not a very action packed tale—there are not many obstacles for Jakob to overcome, other than random snooping and intellectual conversations. However, the plot devices all set-up and pay off well, where many little things included early on (for little or no reason) come around in neat and surprisingly satisfying ways.

The biggest issue with the book is there are only ten chapters in this densely margined 340+ page book, making some of the chapters over 70 pages! I was begging for a good place to take a breath, no matter how good the plot. Some sections drag, there’s no way around it, but they are few in number in my opinion. The remedy is simple: break up the chapters in logical places—which exist—so the book is a cozy but still dense 15-20 chapters.

Near the end, as a “stand alone” piece, I think I would give it 3.5 Stars. I didn’t like that some characters were being developed so late which we were all of the sudden supposed to care about. But with 75 pages to go in the book, I realized this was not going to be a solitary book, but the first installment of some series. My frustrations were mildly alleviated. Because this is the first part of what could be an amazingly original trilogy over the next few years and whose sequels could outshine the original “Miss Peregrine’s”, I’ve given it a higher star rating for personal anticipation and excitement.

There is enough here to make the next book better, without question.

This is not a “Must Read”, but after you finish those two other books you’ve been meaning to read, this is a great first attempt at a novel by Ransom Riggs.

4/5

(p.s. the first thing I thought when I was half-way done this book was “Time Burton could do this.” Well, he is. Watch out on the blogosphere and imdb.com for more info.)

MH

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