A teen comes into possession of a new laptop and soon discovers that the previous owner is not only watching him, but will also do anything to get it back.
Starring: Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, Stephanie Nogueras, and Colin Woodell
Directed and written by: Stephen Susco
Talk about an awkward feeling. Sitting here writing a review about a movie featuring a person being stalked on their laptop, and wondering…is someone watching me write this? Could I be next? Double check if the green light is on! Does that even matter? Well hopefully they agree with what I’m writing! Focus…time to review “Unfriended: Dark Web.”
While not a direct sequel to “Unfriended,” this sequel is shot in a similar way. This time the audience is viewing the action from Matias’ (Colin Woodell) computer. Well sort of his computer, as apparently he has gotten his hands on someone else’s computer, and they want it back. He opens some familiar sites like Facebook, FaceTimes his deaf girlfriend, Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras), and Skypes a group of his friends. The computer is giving him some problems, so he starts digging around. He finds some files, and trouble starts when he begins looking through them.
The real owner of the laptop has been watching him, and threatens Amaya in order to get it back. They use a technique to cloud their image in the video making them almost seem like a ghost. Instead of just giving it back, Matias opens more files in front of his Skype friends, and they see some extremely shady videos. These videos are the true horror in this story, and it would have been nice to see more of them.
There’s no turning back for Matias and his friends, as they’re eliminated one by one. While the deaths are brutal, the view on the laptop takes a little something away from them. It's the same thing that took away from the deaths in the original movie. Also, once the audience sees that it’s a character's time to die, what’s about to happen to them is kind of predictable.
Seeing “Unfriended” definitely prepares the audience for all the clicking back and forth on the big screen. After a slow start, the plot thickens, and mystery and tension set in. They end up putting together a nice story for something that all takes place on a laptop. Secrets and twists play out along the way, with the biggest one being who is behind all the deaths. While this isn’t a direct sequel to “Unfriended,” it might actually be nice to see a direct sequel to this one focusing a little more on why this all happened. So if you’re watching, hopefully I don’t offend you by giving “Unfriended: Dark Web” 2.5 pools of blood!
After the rise of a third political party, the New Founding Fathers of America, an experiment is conducted, no laws for 12 hours on Staten Island. No one must stay during the experiment yet there is $5,000 for anyone who does.
Starring: Y’lan Noel, Scott Davis, and Joivan Wade
Directed by: Gerard McMurray
Written by: James DeMonaco
Between “The Purge” and “The Purge: Anarchy,” it always seemed like the movies should have been switched. Anarchy gives audiences more details about the Purge, which would have been nice to know in the original movie. “The Purge” has always seemed more like just another home invasion movie because audiences didn’t truly grasp what the Purge was. Now “The First Purge” changes that thinking, and gives this franchise a proper starting place, even though audiences have to watch them out of order.
So how does the Purge begin? The government is changing, and times are rough in the United States. This allows a new party to come in and run an experiment, which they hope will help them gain the power they’re looking for in this country. Basically they go to a poor area in Staten Island and tell people they will get $5,000 to stay there during the Purge, and even more if they participate. Of course this is met with protest, led by Nya (Lex Scott Davis). She wants what’s best for her community, including her brother, Isaiah (Joivan Wade). Isaiah is tired of living poor and is looking for the easy way out, but soon learns it isn’t so easy. Unknown to Nya, he just started working for the neighborhood drug dealer, Dmitri (Y’lan Noel), who has history with Nya.
The story is set up well, but it’s all about what happens on Purge night! To start, not much happens. Actually it’s all fun and games until one local crazy person is willing to go to the extreme of killing his fellow neighbors, while a few others are in for a couple of scares. Since it’s the first Purge, it’s fair to expect nothing as exciting as in other movies. However, it's still full of some wild masks, which will hopefully be available this Halloween!
For the audience that follows this franchise, they’ve seen involvement in the Purge from outside sources, and they get to see where that starts. It helps fill in some blanks as to where these groups come from in later movies, as well as showing why the Purge was a success. Eventually all hell breaks out, and Dmitri and his crew decided to take a stand against these outsiders. There are some good gun fights between the sides before Dmitri has to come to Nya and Isaiah’s rescue. While exciting to watch, it unfortunately moves the movie from being a horror movie to an action film.
If you’re a fan of this franchise, “The First Purge” is definitely a must see. At a minimum, it explains some things that happen in previous movies, and gives the franchise a much better starting place. The story sets up well, including how these character’s lives are intertwined. It might not be a surprise that nothing exciting and new happens on Purge night like in previous movies. This one is actually short on horror, and becomes an action movie in its final sequence. The movie does deserve some credit for not being afraid of some of the social commentary it makes. With that, I give it 2.5 pools of blood, and look forward to what the upcoming T.V. series has to offer.
When the matriarch of the Graham family passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry.
Starring: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, and Gabriel Byrne
Written and directed by: Ari Aster
Alright, no messing around with recaps or sarcastic openings this time! I’m going to dive right into this review because apparently I’m in the minority on “Hereditary.” It seems like this movie is getting a lot of love, and I just don’t see it. No, it’s not a bad movie, but it just didn’t “wow” me like it has many others.
Let me get the obvious out of the way first, and something most of us can agree on. Toni Collette did an amazing job. Most people expected it, and got what they were looking for in her performance. Really she could have stood in the corner and said the same word for the entire film, and everyone would have said she was awesome. Regardless, she mastered the extreme emotions of her character, and it was definitely a tough role to play. The other thing I really enjoyed was the cinematography. Moving some of scenes in and out through the use of the doll houses was creative.
Now to the rest of the movie. First, I heard some people say it was scary. Sorry at no point was I scared by anything. Shocked at some of the scenes…yes, but scared no way! Scares are different for many people, but the movie didn’t even come off as trying hard to scare like say an “Insidious” movie. If anything, creepy is a word I would use more than scary.
The movie is a slow burn, which is usually a killer for me, especially the first half. The first half is used to put a few ideas in the audiences’ head, and then shock them with a tragic event. Yes, shocking, but clearly the most interesting thing that happens in the first half of the movie. To the movie’s credit, it also changes the focus from one character to another, which might throw off some as to guessing at what’s coming next.
And what does come in the second half of the movie? Lets call it a lot of very strange and weird scenes. It originally seems like the movie might be about ghosts, but it’s really about mental illness. It ran in the family big time, and it eventually comes to a head (for those who still have heads!) There’s hints of what’s in their minds, but it didn’t appear that it would come true. However it does in full bizarre fashion!
When walking out of the theater I had that same kind of feeling I did when leaving “Mother.” The feeling of “what the hell did I just watch.” No feeling of that was amazing, or scary. Just “what the hell just happened?” Yes, they did a great job of taking mental illness to a horrific level, but it just didn’t do anything for me. The acting was great, the mental illness aspect of the story was interesting, and the cinematography was fantastic. However, it just got too weird too quick, which ruined it for me. With that, I’ll be in the minority on “Hereditary” and give it 2.5 pools of blood.
Set in the near-future, technology controls nearly all aspects of life. But when Grey, a self-identified technophobe, has his world turned upside down, his only hope for revenge is an experimental computer chip implant called Stem.
Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Richard Anastasios, and Rosco Campbell
Written and directed by: Leigh Whannell
The summer is here and that means it’s summer movie time. There will be all kinds of movies from action to comedy, from horror to romance. Wouldn’t it be nice to kick off the summer movie season with a film that has a little bit of everything? Well, let me introduce you to “Upgrade.”
Set in a tech heavy future, Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) is everything but a tech nerd. He prefers the hands on approach like repairing a car in the garage. His wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo), on the other hand, is definitely a tech nerd with a sweet car. On the way home from meeting Grey’s client Eron (Harrison Gilbertson), the couple shares a romantic moment before tragedy strikes. That sweet car malfunctions, crashes, and leaves the couple ambushed in a bad neighborhood. Grey ends up paralyzed, and with no wife.
Grey is now depressed, suicidal, and left with machines mostly taking care of him. All he wants is revenge for his wife’s death, but obviously can’t do that in a wheelchair. Not until tech savvy Eron convinces him to have an experimental piece of technology named Stem placed inside of him. Stem remarkably restores his body, and allows him to function even better than before the accident.
Cue the awesomeness of the movie! Grey starts confronting the men who killed his wife, and this produces some awesome fight scenes. Stem helps give Grey an advantage over his attackers. They do a great job combining his fight movements and the way the scenes are shot. There is also a little bit of humor in the way Grey responds during and after the fights.
Besides the exciting fight scenes, the film also keeps the audience engaged with the crime Grey is trying to solve. As he puts the pieces together, so will the audience. Seeing many of these kind of movies the audience might have their guesses, but there is a nice twist at the end. They do a good job of wrapping it up, and giving the audience one slight misdirection before the ultimate reveal.
“Upgrade” has all types of summer movies wrapped up in one (except maybe dinosaurs). It starts with a little comedy and romance, which quickly turns to tragedy. From there sci-fi makes an appearance, and turns the movie into murder mystery. The highlight without a doubt are the fantastic action, and fight scenes. The deaths should satisfy any horror fans with a thirst for a little blood. It all ends with a twist, and will leave audiences wondering if there will be a sequel! Any good summer movie also has a great performance by its lead, and Logan Marshall-Green nails his role. With that, this movie gets a solid upgrade to 3.5 pools of blood!
*Video interview with Leigh Whannell below and some pics from the screening*
A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.
Starring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, and Millicent Simmonds
Directed by: John Krasinski
Written by: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and John Krasinski
It’s nice when a movie like “IT” approaches with lots of buzz, and it meets most of the high expectations. But do you know what’s even better? When a much lesser known movie premieres, creates lots of positive reviews, and horror fans flock to see what all the fuss is about. I was one of those horror fans, and here’s what I thought about “A Quiet Place.”
The Abbott family is forced like many to live a quiet life. Any loud sounds and creatures, who hunt extremely well by sound, come quickly running in for the kill. This becomes clear in the opening scene, where the family loses one of their own. The opening scene gives the audience just a taste of what the family is up against, and sets a terrific tone what’s to come.
Around a year later the family seems to be better adapted to their new life. Lee (John Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) have set up their home, and surrounding area to be as silent as possible. They cover the ground in sand, and mark safe places to step amongst many things. The parents are even looking forward to the future because Evelyn is pregnant. However their children are having issues of their own. Regan (Millicent Simmonds), who is deaf, has grown frustrated in their new living situation and the loss of her sibling, and Marcus (Noah Jupe) is terrified of the creatures.
Just as the audience gets sucked into the Abbott family’s life, all hell breaks loose when Evelyn’s water breaks. The birth of a child is a great thing, but not when you have to live in silence. The family members are in separate places, and all must race to rescue each other, but do it as quietly as possible. The tension couldn’t be any higher, as the audience braces themselves every time a noise is made. And in the middle of that, throw in an absolutely heartbreaking moment.
There’s more that could be said, but the important point here is that this story is so well written from beginning to end. It’s well thought out with great detail from how the family lives in the new environment, to the family members themselves, and even how they deal with the creatures. Speaking of the creatures, they’re just as amazing as the story. The way their heads are designed, and how they respond to sound is just another fabulous detail.
Who knew this quiet little movie was going to make so much noise at the box office? Well deserved noise starting with the great writing, and detail. Making the family live in silence just creates tremendous tension with every sound that’s made. Lets not forget the terrific acting from everyone. They do a great job of bringing out the emotions of their characters, and striking at the hearts of the audience in key moments. On top of that, throw in some horrifying, and almost unstoppable creatures. With that, I give “A Quiet Place” a loud 4.5 pools of blood.
A harmless game of Truth or Dare among friends turns deadly when someone - - or something - - begins to punish those who tell a lie or refuse the dare.
Starring: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, and Violett Beane
Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
Written by: Jillian Jacobs, Michael Reisz, Jeff Wadlow, and Christopher Roach
I can’t say I’ve ever played Truth or Dare so how about a little test run. Dare: To watch “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare.” Done! Truth: Was the movie any good? The truth… well I’m going to have to dare you to read on for the truth!
Olivia (Lucy Hale) and Markie (Violett Beane) are best friends, and that friendship gets tested after what is supposed to be a harmless game of Truth or Dare. However, this game comes with a curse, and they have now taken it home with them. Unknown to the two of them and their friends, they now have to answer truthfully, do the dare, or die. This tests the group because they know some damning secrets about each other.
When it’s someone’s turn, they will see the demon in the face of another person, or even their own face in the mirror. As you might have seen in the trailers, it kind of looks like something you would do on Snapchat. This is obviously one of the gimmicks the movie is built around, but there isn’t much scary about it. At best, it’s creepy, but it doesn't help create any big scares.
While short on scares, the most interesting thing becomes the secrets. There is a love triangle, and some secrets surrounding the death of Markie’s father. The demon continues to test the group by separating them with the hurtful secrets, but forcing them back together to try and save each other. In particular, Olivia knows too much about Markie, and has some really big secrets to reveal. The demon makes the most of pitting them against one another.
The worse thing about the movie might be the ending. The final scene isn’t bad, and puts the survivors in a tough situation. However, how the game continues, or ends is just a cop out. Yes, it brings everything back to a question earlier in the movie, but please. With the creativity used with all the secrets, it would have been nice to find a better way to wrap things up.
In the end, the truth hurts them emotionally, and the dares test them physically. The deaths are alright, but nothing new. The reveal of how the secrets play out really keeps the movie afloat, not the creepy faces. Actually the movie is more like “Final Destination” light. So the truth is “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” gets an average 2.5 pools of blood!
A family staying in a secluded mobile home park for the night are visited by three masked psychopaths, to test their every limit.
Starring: Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, and Martin Henderson
Directed by: Johannes Roberts
Written by: Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai
After watching “The Strangers,” I was inspired to write horror because I thought they did such an excellent job with a simple idea. Well that was many years ago, and I’m obviously not a horror writer just horror reviewer. Regardless, I’ve always held “The Strangers” in high regard because of how it inspired me, and couldn’t be happier to finally get a sequel. Unfortunately, I can’t say “The Strangers: Prey at Night” inspired me in the same way, and here’s why.
The sequel starts off much like the original did introducing the audience to characters who are having a conflict amongst themselves. This time around Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and her husband Mike (Martin Henderson) have made a decision to send their troubled daughter, Kinsey (Bailee Madison), to boarding school. Kinsey isn’t thrilled with this decision, and gives her parents and brother, Luke (Lewis Pullman), a hard time while on their road trip. While this isn’t bad drama to build on, it just doesn’t pull on the heart strings the way the couple did in the original.
The home and how the strangers were able to keep the couple inside it was something important to keeping the tension in the original. When the family arrives at the trailer, it quickly becomes apparent that the strangers won’t be keeping them contained there long. This creates some problems for this sequel, the first being that it isn’t as intense as the original. With the characters spread out, the movie goes back and forth, and this kills any tension that is created. On top of that, it creates a lot of coincidences of how the strangers seem to always be at the right place at the right time. A great example of that is the jack in the box scene, as fun as that was.
Enough with the bad, how about some good? Not as creepy as the when the Man in the Mask is watching Kristen in the living room in “The Strangers,” but it’s definitely messed up when the Man in the Mask sits down next to Mike in the car. It’s crazy how he just takes his time, plays with the radio, stabs him, and just stares at Mike as he bleeds out. Another scene that is getting a lot of attention is the pool scene. The lights, the music, and the struggle between Luke and the Man in the Mask is pretty cool.
However, this just leads to another complaint. It was so nice to see a horror film like “The Strangers” break from having at least one survivor, and kill off the couple. This time around, the strangers aren’t so lucky, and we get a standard horror movie ending. It’s shocking when Luke slices up Pin-Up Girl, and even more disappointing when Dollface is blown away. Kinsey and the Man in the Mask put on a good ending fight, even reminding some of us of a classic horror movie, but ultimately having Kinsey freak out in a hospital room is too standard. An argument can be made that the Man in the Mask and/or Pin-Up Girl survived for a part three, but that seems like a stretch. They aren’t Jason or Michael. Does it open the door for new killers…maybe but then it won't be THE Strangers!
Overall, as with many sequels, “The Strangers: Prey at Night” just doesn’t live up to the original. It starts off with a similar formula of drama within the family and the strangers appearing in time to take advantage of that, but then what made “The Strangers” so great evaporates. Instead of creating a movie that is intense throughout, they take the time to give it some style and dramatics with how it’s shot jumping from character to character. They not only kill the tension, but also kill the strangers creating an all too familiar horror movie ending. No, this isn’t a bad movie, it just really fails to do what the original did. With that, I really wish I could give this more than than 3 pools of blood, of which 1 pool of blood basically comes from it being the freaking strangers!
Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier faces her most fearsome and personal haunting yet - in her own family home.
Starring: Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, and Angus Sampson
Directed by: Adam Robitel
Written by: Leigh Whannell
When “Insidious” premiered in 2010, it seemed like this was going to lead to big things, and it sort of did. Some arguably good movies followed like “The Conjuring,” “Annabelle,” and their sequels. It has also led to several of it’s own sequels, and now “Inisidious: The Last Key.” So lets begin the argument over the latest chapter in this franchise!
For “Insidious: Chapter 3,” they decided to go the prequel route, and it turned out alright. It would make audiences think that this sequel would open a new chapter for this franchise. Unfortunately it doesn’t because The Last Key is yet another prequel. Seriously, how many prequels does a franchise need, especially one with only three movies under its belt?
This time the story begins and ends with Elise (Lin Shaye). The audience is introduced to events that haunted her as a child, and have returned for some unfinished business. Elise, along with Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), return to her childhood home to find the demon behind it all. As always, Lin does a terrific job in her role, but having the movie focus mostly on her is too much. The pace seems too slow, and there isn’t enough action going on. Specs and Tucker add some humor, but that isn’t enough.
Most importantly, the slow pace also kills most of the scares. There are a few scares that are way overdone because of the build up to it. The audience will know it’s coming, but they do the best to drag it out. If they are hoping to make it suspenseful, they are really just boring the true horror fan who sees it coming. On top of it, for a franchise born on some really good scares, The Last Key seems to be short on them.
Yes, fans were probably alright with another Insidious movie, but probably not a second prequel. Everyone agrees that Lin is great in her role, but having the movie follow her is too much. The story isn’t bad, but just unfolds too slowly. A small twist here and there isn’t enough to make up for it. The Key Demon is the most interesting thing in the movie, especially in what it does to people, but there isn’t enough of it, or the scares Insidious movies are known for. With that, I give “Insidious: The Last Key” 2.5 pools of blood, and can only hope we see more of the Further in the next movie!