Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Invoking (2013)

Unfortunately, despite its just-at-feature-length 80 minutes, this was a real chore to sit through. Yet it's also one of those cases where--especially after watching the making-of documentary--I feel bad posting a negative review (but not bad enough, obviously). Making a movie is no easy task, which is contrary to the way big-budget films have conditioned the perception and expectations of audiences, and the zero-budget film The Invoking (AKA Sader Ridge) is no exception. In fact, it seems that the most notable thing about this film are its behind-the-scenes limitations and consequential efforts. This type of production is valuable in some cases, as we shall see--but in the case of an average viewer and horror fan like me, it just didn't work.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dark House (2014)

I feel cheated. The way I feel cheated when watching any Wes Craven movie besides Nightmare on Elm Street and The Last House on the Left (which still baffles me as a glaring outlier in a rather mediocre yet prolific career) or when watching any John Carpenter film besides Halloween and his Masters of Horror entry Cigarette Burns. I have this predisposition that the movie should be good while actively relegating strong contrary suspicions to the back of my mind, only to be left disappointed and perhaps a bit incredulous as to how anyone could take such a movie seriously (The Ward, My Soul to Take). Of the few defenders of duds from pros, you get defenses like "the movie was meant to be bonkers," but in the case of Dark House, the filmmaker interviews included on the DVD beg otherwise, leaving me even more floored as to the actual goals of this film.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)

Bear with me. I'm writing this nearly a week after watching the movie, which isn't typical for me; I try to at least braindump my thoughts into a rough outline no later than the day after. And not only has a week passed; in that week's time, I've quit one job, vacationed in New York City, and started a new job (yesterday). So, needless to say, the freshness of my thoughts has diminished a bit. What hasn't diminished, however, is the strong inclination to watch this unexpectedly good Paranormal Activity entry again! This could possibly be the first time since the Friday the 13th franchise that I found the fifth installment to be at least as good as the first.

Monday, April 7, 2014

In Fear (2014)

I think I'm going to stop reading the text on Netflix envelopes (the only exposure to a film I actually do allow myself before seeing it). In this case, we get the plot hook "they find themselves tormented by a shadowy force that exists inside their car," which led me to believe this was going to have a supernatural angle. I thought, perhaps this would be something in the vein of a Stephen King work, where the car itself is a conduit for evil (Christine, From a Buick 8). So, I spent the bulk of the film trying to figure out how they were setting up this "evil inside the car" business, only to find that, unless they are figuratively implying this entity, there is no supernatural "force" that haunts the car. There is, however, a nice disorienting, atmospheric element of the movie that brought back fond memories of watching Dead End.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Happy House (2013)

Coming out of the gross and dark (yet not completely devoid of lighthearted touches) Contracted and We Are What We Are, I needed something like a quirky indie horror-comedy, and à propos of this desire came this past Tuesday's Netflix DVD release of The Happy House, writer-director D. W. Young's first feature film. I had nearly zero expectations for this film, but I definitely wasn't prepared for its off-beat vibe on the first viewing (Tuesday night) and fell asleep within the first 30 minutes; so I had to re-watch it the next evening. I'd like to say I fell asleep because of a tiring day, but that's not exactly the whole truth. I was fairly well-rested and looking forward to the film. What I wasn't prepared for, however, was the sluggish feel of each mini-scene and the (initially) awkward acting from Khan Baykal. Yet, the re-watch yielded a very enjoyable second half of the film (the 80-minute feature seems to find its footing around the 40-minute mark).