Archive for the drama Category

‘Wish Upon’: We hate high school, too

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, horror, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: John R. Leonetti

Studio: Broad Green Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

Spoilers are in the box!

A high school girl discovers a Chinese wishing box that actually grants her wishes – with horrific consequences!

Okay, so Clare Shannon (Joey King) is your very typical Carrie-like put-upon high school girl. A pair of devoted outcast friends (anyone else recognize Barb?!), bitchy H.S. rival enemies, a toooootally embarrassing father, and that angsty artistic temperament all lead to a depressed but relatable girl lead. Clare’s mom killed herself with that old hangin’ rope right at the beginning of the movie, but it sure looked like she had the wishing box first, which leads to all kinds of interesting speculations. Clare and her dad are noticeably poor, and Jonathon Shannon (Ryan Phillipe) dumpster-diving for treasure right in plain view of Clare’s school sure doesn’t help. The only real comfort in Clare’s life is her dog, given to her as the last legacy of her beloved and missed mother. And this is where we begin.

So inevitably, Jonathon found the wishing box on some dumpster dive and gave it to Clare to try and apologize for being embarrassing. And quite soon after that, the H.S. bitch that gives Clare such a hard time gave Clare an extra-hard time, and it’s one wish down. You really should be more careful with your wording, little leading lady, but then again, wishing for someone to go rot opens up all sorts of fine body-Horror opportunities for the movie. As much fun as it is to hear that bitch-fest is in the hospital, Clare needs to learn that all magic, especially of this magnitude, comes at a price. First up to go is Clare’s beloved dog, and of course Clare is devastated.

But not devastated enough to stop wishing, oh no. Our lead just happens to take Chinese language classes in high school (when did that become a curriculum option?) and so learns she’s offered seven wishes from the pretty box that plays haunting music at odd times after Clare’s made her wishes. Like any common put-upon high school girl, Clare’s wishes continue to be selfish in the extreme, whether it be insisting the handsome boy she’s had a thing for since elementary school fall head over heels for her, or turning the death of a neighbor into a windfall of cash and extravagance for her, her father and her two closest friends June and Meredith (Shannon Purser & Sydney Park), but the sacrifices are beginning to pile up and become impossible to ignore or explain away.

A friend from Chinese class, Ryan (Ki Hong Lee), with a super-obvious crush on Clare offers to take the box to his cousin for better language translation, who of course soon after gets spiked for her trouble. Even with the super-nasty death of one of her two true friends, and the very real possibility of the death of her father, Clare can’t seem to rid herself of the box, by means fair, foul, or even necessary. Her insistence she knows what to do, how to “fix everything” and rid herself of the box simultaneously, is a pretty standard “gotcha!” Horror trope by now, so we can all guess what happened to poor Clare after that. Still, the ending of the film was a nice little ba-zing! for fans, myself included, who thought Clare needed to get what was coming to her.

With a plot very much like The Craft and a bunch of zany death scenes that strongly echo the style of the Final Destination films, Wish Upon is a very good movie for a new generation of Horror fans to begin a lifelong obsession. (Though seriously, Ryan Phillipe in the Dad role makes me feel old.) Given the PG-13 rating and the eternal high school drama that Carrie ever despaired of, Wish Upon is a burgeoning entry into the Horror world anyone can appreciate!

Many thanks to the crew of Horrible Imaginings Film Festival for the pre-screening of Wish Upon, out in theaters now!

‘Once Upon a Time In Venice’: No More Naked Skateboarding, please

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Mark Cullen

Studio: Voltage Pictures

Review Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Through a series of bizarre circumstances and roundabout confrontations, down but never out former detective turned private investigator Steve Ford gets his beloved dog stolen by Venice’s toughest gang!

It’s like the movie tried to capture the magic of ‘Go’ or ‘Snatch’ or even ‘The Big Hit’ (don’t judge, I enjoyed that last one), with the convoluted circular storylines, but in the rather relaxed setting of Venice Beach, California.

The character of Steve Ford, played by Bruce Willis as he is, seems rather unlikely to me. The man is past 60, and yet playing a character who has playful sex with women considerably younger than him (who also happen to have severely protective Samoan brothers), skateboards down deserted roads in all his naked glory (you can assume that was a stunt double), and can still badass throw down with the worst of them if need be, which he does when confronting Jason Momoa’s gang leader character Spider to get his niece’s dog back. John (Thomas Middleditch) is Steve’s assistant and the film is mostly narrated by him as we get introduced to the various sundry characters Steve’s about to have to deal with. And don’t forget Dave (John Goodman), Steve’s recently divorced and rather suicidal best friend, who needs something to get his mind off his pathetic excuse for a life and of course offers to help Steve with his own troubles. Steve loves his niece and she loves her dog Buddy, which means when the dog gets stolen to get back at Steve, the hang-loose godfather of the Venice neighborhood needs to get the poochie back by any means necessary!

Steve understands that making deals with drug lords, loan sharks, pissed-off Samoan brothers and other unsavory characters isn’t a good idea, but hey, Buddy’s in trouble and time’s running out. There has to be a way to settle his debts with every single last one of these shady nutjobs and get Buddy back safe and sound, preferably without another naked nighttime jaunt on a skateboard. (I guess it wouldn’t be quite the Venice Beach style to have Uncle Steve riding his naked glory getaway on a Harley.) Unlike many of Willis’ other characters, Steve tries hard to leave the violence as a last resort, though he can certainly kick your weak ass, if need be.

So without giving anything away, Uncle Steve does manage to wrap things up more or less nicely near the end, with a minimal amount of fuss and muss. There are even a few clever boots moments, though for the most part they are entirely predictable and therefore one-shot-ed at best. The movie is a perfectly fine way to waste an afternoon, but it will never live up to action standards like the Die Hard series.

Portland Horror Film Festival 2017: Longer-Length Horror Shorts

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Foreign, horror, Movies, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

For those Horror directors and writers who’ve had a shade bit more experience, or who need longer than fifteen minutes to tell their stories of terror and woe, we have a series of Horror shorts to shock and terrify. From the familiar twisted into something new, to ancient powers of the macabre, sit still for these longer shorts and let yourself be carried off into a whole new darkness!

‘Creatures of Whitechapel’

Country: UK

Director: Jonathan Martin

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

Spoilers will cut you down!

It’s the dark cold heart of London, and a killer stalks the alleyways of Whitechapel, hunting down the Ladies of the Night. But it turns out, that killer is actually a her-self too, and she has a Master she’s working for. What could “Jacqueline the Ripper” possibly need with those body parts she stole? Dr. Frankenstein needs a heart for his latest creation, poor thing; the eternal quest of man to make a thing with his own two hands, simply so he can boink it. He needs other parts too, and that’s why he sent the Lady Igor out in an opera cape and top hat with a scalpel blade, never imagining that she would find some kind of redemption in the arms of Mary Kelly. Nevertheless, Master needs a heart (and still doesn’t see the irony in that statement), so he can bring his lady love to life and hopefully responsive movement. Even Dr. Praetoris, Frankie’s fellow scientist, rival and skeptic, doesn’t quite seem to understand that women monsters stick together, through death and beyond!

When done well, Horror mashups are a terrific thing to behold, and Creatures of Whitechapel has certainly done that! The storyline rather reminds me of the awesomeness that was Penny Dreadful, well remembered and always missed, with scenes and sets inspired by From Hell and Victor Frankenstein, original musical scores that won awards and put me in the mind of Sweeney Todd, this particular short makes my little black heart so happy. We women really should get more gender-bent roles in the Horror world, that opens up all kinds of amazing intertwining possibilities!

‘The Madame in Black’

Country: Sweden

Director: Jarno Lee Vinsencius

Review Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Drawn from a Swedish legend in which a Countess was burned for witchery that purportedly killed her husband and children, which was of course turned into a mirror game for generations to come, very like the American legend of Bloody Mary, The Madame in Black also appears to be a parlor game for young adults who really should be more leery. Our siblings in the short played the game when they were very young and apparently the Madame makes no distinctions about what age she continues to haunt a person. Emma convinces Alex, while they’re hanging out drinking with their significant others, to say the words before the mirror again, and next thing you know, a scary Lady draped in all black is terrorizing everyone!

The story of course puts me in the mind of the movie The Woman In Black, and the atmosphere surrounding the short is very reminiscent of The Conjuring. The “gotcha!” scares are fairly good, and the makeup job for the Madame (when she is fully shown) is pretty darned terrifying, if a little predictable. While I agree it’s important to have background story to whatever game you want to play inside your Horror movie, a little too much time is spent on the brother-sister and their friends dynamic, which could be easily achieved with some flash scenes, and leave more time for the admittedly-good jump scares and hauntings of the Madame in Black.

‘Elegy’

Country: USA

Director: CJ Gardella

Review Rating: 6.5 out of 10

All around is the cycle of life and death, and nature reflects that in its simplicity and savagery. A brick house out near a swamp teeming with animal life that devours each-other endlessly holds many secrets, where the lines between being alive and being dead, or even undead, blur and become indistinct. A man and a woman walk the lonely halls of the house, attempting to not antagonize each-other, but rather understand the mysteries of the dead and the dying, and even returning back to a kind of existence. A strange kind of harmony exists, with the insects and those who feed off of death, and that which withers finds a kind of quiet beauty in its preservation.

The entire short, especially the animal scenes of hunting, killing, and decaying, really reminded me of the Lars Von Trier film Antichrist, and that was an incredibly odd one. The animals and insects caught on film mid-snap are certainly wonderful to look at, and the truly great thing about this short is the creepy between-life-and-death atmosphere the filmmakers manage to convey. In a short fraught with unique imagery, where none of the characters actually speak, one can only expect some confusion about what the short is attempting to convey in the depths of Horror. I’m still not entirely sure, but I wager it was some kind of descent into madness to study the whole process of death, and perhaps, how love never actually dies.

‘Others Like You’

Country: Italy

Director: Eugenio Villani

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

When does an obsession go too far, and land one in the depths of sheer Horror? Ester wants a child so badly, she’s been binging a series of one-night-stands to get herself pregnant, but somehow never manages to carry a baby to full term and birth. Especially after seeing the female Doctor for a pregnancy test, and showing off that what I assume is a hysterectomy scar all across her abdomen. Doc Greta herself is a scarred survivor and no longer able to have children either, yet she still manages to “mother” a group of hidden monsters, creatures of the old world and old ways, where the sacrificial math of one life for one life is perfectly valid. Ester’s looking for her missing kitten, and though it’s rather unfair of Greta to say Ester can’t even look after a kitten much less a baby, luring Ester to a place of dark birth magic doesn’t seem like the kindest lesson.

Another short that happens to be well-shot but whose storyline is near-inexplicable, Others Like You peels back the layers of women’s Horror, that deep desperate pain and emptiness of childlessness. Very much like the movie Grace with its eternal question of, ‘How far would you go for your children?’, the short adds its own dark European magickal twist that may send even the strongest advocates of The Handmaids Tale running away in disgust!

Portland Horror Film Festival 2017: Short-Length Horror Shorts Part 2

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy, horror, Movies, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2017 by aliciamovie

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‘Blackbird’

Country: UK

Director: Tim Fellingham & Charlotte Stente Nielsen

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

What happens when the one you think is your savior, turns out to have been your tormentor all along? Here on a lonely stretch of nowhere, a man with a concussion and severe memory loss, apparently from getting tossed from his motorcycle, goes to save a runaway maiden in a nightgown. The both of them hole up together trying to figure out what they’re running from, and through a series of dreams and flashbacks and one horrible “gotcha!” moment involving a blackbird tattoo, discover they really do know each-other, a little too well for either ones comfort.

The use of Memento-like timelines and flashbacks can be perfectly fine, but I thought a little too much emphasis was placed on atmosphere and not enough on the story itself. If a movie, either short or feature-length, has only two actors in it, it is very likely that the villain is one of them; it kind of lessens the potential shock value. Nevertheless, should the story be expanded, the short could have real potential.

‘The Dark Hunger’

Country: USA

Director: Anthony Williams

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

What to do when one discovers a supernatural cannibal terrorizing your neighborhood? No calling in the CIA or some paranormal equivalent, no, some sort of mafia-like gang kidnaps the man they call Dead Fred and stick him in a cell, to be fed their enemies. Because Dead Fred is a full cannibal and always cleans his plate, so there’s no evidence left behind. And when we meet up with our cannibal hero, it looks like he’s been enduring this setup for awhile.  His Dark Passenger, the actual cannibal vampire in his skull with the awesome deep voice, is content to stay in prison so long as the captors keep feeding it, but Fred has other ideas. Despite that not actually being his real name, Dead Fred decides to embrace the pseudonym and make a deal with his Dark Passenger to get out of this prison and find the man at the top, the real mastermind monster who put Fred here in the first place!

It’s never easy to combine a supernatural element with an attempt at Hannibal Lecter-like characters, and yet somehow The Dark Hunger manages it nicely. The short reads like a trailer for a film that I would certainly watch, and I sincerely wished the short was one of the longer short films, so I could pretend it was a movie. With even some of the better notes of 30 Days of Night thrown in, The Dark Hunger should make Director Williams an up-and-comer worthy of keeping an eye on.

‘Chateau Sauvignon: Terroir’

Country: USA

Director: David E. Munz-Maire

Review Rating: 7.5 out of 10 

If you could ever imagine what a winery run by Children of the Corn would be like, then the Chateau Sauvignon is for you. The stark landscape, dead animal skulls and eerie wine-making equipment that looks suspiciously like butchery pressings all serve to provide an atmosphere that screams Horror. And almost immediately, it turns out, the vitner equipment really does still make wine for the tourists and all, but is also being used in the butchery of at least some of those tourists, to keep Mom alive. (Whether Mom is a zombie, some kind of vampire, cannibal or anything else, is unclear.) But the meat juice is beginning to run out, Son is becoming concerned, and Dad is just trying to hold everything together, despite Moms condition. Two new tourists have come late to the winery and Son wants to give them the full tour, no matter what Dad says – here sample some of our wine, over here is some of the processes we use to make our vintages, and by the way, your son is a jackass, here’s a glass pouring beaker shoved into your skull. Because Mom needs to be fed, and wine isn’t cutting it anymore.

A very fine short, all kinds of atmospheric and moody, though I would have liked to have a bit more to the story. What kind of creature is Mom now, how did she get this way, what happens to all of them when the meat juice finally runs out? Perhaps for the next series of Horror shorts from Director Munz-Maire, or, he could turn the whole thing into a feature-length jaunt – I would watch it.

‘Death Metal’

Country: USA

Director: Chris McInroy

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

Dude man, I get you, hail Satan and Metal is God and all that, you bet. But if you’re handed Grand-dad’s axe (as in guitar), that he supposedly got from the Dark Prince himself, along with three important rules to follow when using it, you’d want to adhere to them and be respectful wouldn’t you? It doesn’t seem as though frustrated metal-head Lars gives two damns about any of that, and immediately goes off to break all three rules jamming in the afternoon at the park on the axe. Is it any wonder that the axe-head breaks off from the rest of the guitar and goes hog-wild?

I saw Lars and his dumbassery at another Horror film festival and thought it was hilarious then, as now. It’s always so cute to see the Metalheads tossing the horns and headbanging for all they’re worth, because of course Satan’s all kinds of into that. Just never forget, Lucifer has a very wicked sense of humor, too.

‘As They Continue to Fall’

Country: USA

Director: Nikhil Bhagat

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

Whether you’re a fan of the Prophecy series, or saw the film Legion and the short-lived Syfy show it spawned, Dominion, Angels are fairly well-known these days as something other than the be-winged halo’d bringers of light and Gods love. What we have here is the somewhat now-familiar trope of the hobo hero hunting bad guys, in this case actual Angels, and it must be said, doing a fair job of it. From the looks of the feather trophies that line his coat, keeping him warm, our hobo hero is no-one to be trifled with. (Because really, depending upon which hierarchy of Angel you’re fighting, you could strap a nuke to the Angelic type and he’d laugh at you.) Our hobo hero has been dealing with Angelic visions all his life, but now after the apparent end of the world, has taken to hunting them down with vim and vigor. And who could blame him? What is an Angel, after all, but another Devil just waiting to fall?

Many of the minds who worked on this short have made major names for themselves elsewhere (Sinister, Deus Ex, The Thing, the NBC TV show Dracula, to name only a few), and they managed to cobble together a short awesome to watch. The future dystopian world where our hobo hero hunts Angels is clear and perfectly understandable, while much is still left open to audience interpretation and judgment, and in building a world like this, that is what we would prefer.

Portland Horror Film Festival 2017: Short-Length Horror Shorts

Posted in comedy, drama, Foreign, horror, Movies, Romance, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Horror lives on in our hearts all year ‘round, and all across the world too. The fears we share cross all manner of cultural and gender lines, creating a fandom unique to any other. Because if we unite and share our fears, through glorious films and shorts, perhaps some of those fears will be lessened in shared fandom.

‘Last Resort’

Country: USA

Director: David Schneiderman

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

What couple thinks it’s a good idea to take a Horror vacation, when one half of the couple isn’t into Horror? Apparently these people do, and in the role reversal of the common, the female in this relationship is the Horrorphile and her boyfriend the reluctant tagalong. Mel the girlfriend wants the immersive Horror weekend promised in the Horror Haven brochure, which includes bloodstains in the shower, a purportedly dead body in the closet, and a cannibal wine host who likes to dance while ranting and isn’t too smart about where he leaves his tools. Oh, and don’t forget the singularly unhelpful delivery guy who keeps getting lost.

A campy little romp that pokes fun at “experience” camps and Horror in general, Last Resort reminds us that no matter how clever you think you’re being, the universe is still laughing at you. And inside the Horror universe, it’s a damned cackle.

‘Black Ring’

Country: Turkey

Director: Hasan Can Dagli

Review Rating: 9 out of 10

What looks like a professional photography setup in a rundown Turkish castle turns out to hide something far more sinister. Considering the men doing the initial setup look like European gangsters, one would think the chosen who participate in the lottery from hell would be more leery about being handed a black disc. But alas, these bright young beautiful things are here for their shot at fame, and for many of them, it is their very last shot. The shock value the artist and his audience are hunting seems almost gorgeous in the grotesquerie, and reminds a great many of us just how jaded we really are. You really can make art out of someone’s death, but how could you possibly top that?

This short was incredible, and I’ve seen a freaking ton of Horror shorts. To be able to do an entire art-house Horror piece, as a short film no less, where not a single character speaks, is even more mind-blowing. The images and ideas brought across come both starkly dark and breathtakingly bloody, mixing styles like an astounding master painter on the movie screen. Seriously, Director Dagli needs to get on making feature-length Horror movies, and right now.

‘A Fathers Day’

Country: UK

Director: Mat Johns

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

What Daddy doesn’t want to protect his little girl from the Horrors of the world? Well, what happens when both you and your daughter are already zombies, does the protecting stop once you’ve died? Of course it doesn’t! You still want to protect your drooling, growling baby, and provide fresh-ish entrails for her, and push her on the merry-go-round while she twitches. And when the human survivors take aim at your zombie daughter, when she goes to protect you, is the proudest moment any Daddy, dead or alive or anything in between, can experience!

A wonderful little short done in the sympathetic style of the movie Warm Bodies, A Father’s Day reminds us that the love of a parent for their child transcends all preconceived boundaries, and that includes even death.

‘The Gift of the Woods’

Country: USA

Director: Kris Theorin

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

Everyone knows the woods are lovely, dark and deep, but also, that they’re full of ancient creatures, some of whom are monsters. The little girl in the short is an innocent, wanting nothing more than to skip along in the woods and enjoy the bug and plant life, when she happens upon a stump with a dolly on it. The dolly itself is unusual, more like a voodoo doll than anything else, with a bloody paw-print adorning its stomach. And of course when the girl takes the dolly off the stump, it wakes the creature who made the dolly, wanting it back!

Some say even monsters have nightmares. Some monsters even need a teddy, or a dolly, to sleep with to keep their own dream-monsters away. That thought basically sums up the end of this wonderful and sadly far too short Horror cartoon short. Don’t steal another nightmares’ teddy, and if you do, give it back before the sun sets!

‘Hope’

Country: Norway

Director: Adam A. Losurdo

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

So the zombie apocalypse has come and gone, and the world remains pretty much the same, with one or two tiny exceptions – the shuffling zombies still around. They don’t eat brains, they just kind of die and shuffle along, to be abused and ridiculed by the still-living. Here we have Carl, our zombie forever dressed like a soda jerk, completely without hope as he, you guessed it, shuffles along. Carl gets harassed by young girls on bikes, has his shoes stolen, gets his dumb self buried by the meanie living (not buried alive, reburied dead I guess), only to be rescued by a female zombie inevitably named Hope, and instant attraction. After a whirlwind romance, Hope is inevitably killed and that’s when poor Carl finally becomes the killer zombie he was meant to be.

The short is a fun little turnaround on who the real monsters are – the zombie who doesn’t even eat brains and never did no-one any harm, or the still-alive folk who keep bedeviling him. Everyone has a breaking point, even zombies apparently. After all, how would you react if the love of your unlife was slain (again!) in front of you?

‘Beyond the Gates’: Go get those keys!

Posted in drama, horror, Movies, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Jackson Stewart

Studio: Destroy All Entertainment

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

A pair of brothers come together after a long estrangement to take care of their missing fathers effects, and come across an old board game that may very well hold the key to finding their father.

So, it’s not a bad premise to start off with. The very beginning of the movie shows a proud Dad (Henry LeBlanc) with his wife (Caryn Richman) and two younger sons, preparing to open what looks like a hole-in-the-wall comic-book-gaming-store. Then suddenly its some years later and the two older brothers have come back together after some time apart, to close down Dads store and pack everything away, since Dads been missing for some seven months now. The proposed timelines in the film, and the complete disappearance of Mom after that initial first scene, were kind of muddled, but whatever, we go on.

Gordon Hardesty (Graham Skipper) is the far more serious of the brothers, whereas his sibling John (Chase Williamson) is kind of flighty and humbly admits to not having a serious job or girlfriend when they reunite. John sports this drifter friend Hank (Justin Welborn), who seems like your average barfly asshole, and both brothers seem to recall not-so-fondly from their childhoods their acquaintance Derek (Matt Mercer), who’s now become a policeman in their old town. Gordon’s girlfriend Margot (Brea Grant) inevitably shows up at some point, because we need a female Protagonist in there somewhere too, and that mostly rounds out the roster of the movie. Which is fine, there doesn’t have to be a slew of actors in a given movie.

So Gordon and John discover this old VCR boardgame Beyond the Gates, and decide to play it for the hell of it, kind of a memorial to their father. And suddenly this ghoulish-looking woman, Evelyn, is on their TV giving commands on how to play the game and potentially free their father from, say it with me, beyond the gates.

Inevitably, the brothers need a series of keys to unlock the gates. And the finding of these keys involves a goodly amount of Voodoo-like bloodshed, but its in these scenes where the movie truly shines. Exploding heads and trailing guts as practical effects are hard to do well, but this movie managed it, I thought. But after keys are procured and more creepy instructions issued by Evelyn, the film kind of falters and seems to lose steam rather than gaining it. Did they run out of money, or ideas? I don’t know, but it was a pretty standard trope to have the girlfriend possessed, have the brothers go to hell (or wherever), fight a pair of demons and then roundaboutly save their father.

It would have been nice to have some more background on a great many things in Beyond the Gates – how Dad got involved in the boardgame in the first place, where the Curio shop fits into all of this, what the hells happened to Mom, etc. – but I guess there’s only so much time to fit in everything. The soundtrack is pretty good, and it’s always nice to see Barbara Crampton in yet another Horror role.

Look into what’s Beyond the Gates on Netflix!

‘Pitchfork’: Play dead – good doggie!

Posted in drama, horror, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Glenn Douglas Packard
Studio: Pioneer Motion Pictures
MPAA Rating: N/A
Review Rating: 7 out of 10

Newly out of the closet gay boy Hunter Killian (Brian Raetz) returns home to his conservative parents with a van-load of friends for some down-home partying, only to be subject to a pitchfork-happy murderer terrorizing the neighborhood!

And that, boils and ghouls, is effectively the whole movie in a single run-on sentence. Very little is new or unique about Pitchfork, and a great many of the kills and tropes are borrowed from previous B-Horror flicks. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, because the movie seems to be aware of the sheer wackiness of its own self and therefore becomes a kind of happy parody of overused Horror films tricks. The overall feel is akin to 2001 Maniacs, and I actually rather enjoyed those movies, so away we go!

So after our poor dog lady got a face-full of hooks, Hunter and pals in their gaily (literally in Hunter’s case) painted van come roaring into the rolling hills and grassy plains of town. Hunter makes a point of warning his progressive friends that his disapproving father isn’t likely to be happy to see his now-out son, and of course his pleasant companions attempt to reassure him in their cute little ineffectual ways. Hunter’s friends include Claire (Lindsey Nicole) and Matt (Ryan Moore), the stereotypical jock couple where the guy is a player and the girlfriend is a bit of a blonde ditz; Rocky (Keith Webb) and Janelle (Sheila Leason) are the ever-present token black couple; single Indian-appearing guy Gordon (Vibhu Raghave) has a thing for Claire too of course; and lastly we have the unapologetically British chick Lenox (Celina Beach) and her wildly eclectic friend Flo (Nicole Dambro). Most of these people don’t last very long and have barely a thimbleful of personality to spare, but they do represent stereotypical college kid tropes, victims to be found in any given Horror flick, so that’s fine.

Dad (Derek Reynolds) turns out to be just as Hunter said he would, stiff and unyielding when it comes to his gay son. Mom (Carol Ludwick) is just happy to see Hunter home and wants there to be peace in the house, like all Moms everywhere. Hunter’s sister Jenny (Addisyn Wallace) has a real way with animals, and that’s important, because that actually seems to be the one thing that might actually save some of them.

Save them from what, you ask? When Hunter and his friends decide inevitably to have a New York-style barn dance out here in the sticks, this monster with a dogs furry face and a makeshift pitchfork for a missing hand decides its now time to come terrorize as many of them as possible! Pitchfork (Daniel Wilkinson), as the film implies is his name, takes a fair amount of delight in running down and killing the various attendees of the barn dance, as many of Hunter’s friends as he can catch, local law enforcement, and yes, Hunter’s parents while he’s at it. Though for some reason when he catches her, Pitchfork locks Jenny up instead of outright killing her immediately, which raises some interesting side-note questions. Like any full-grown animal, Pitchfork’s desires range from killing to sex, and yes he does try to hump Lennox when he’s caught her and strung her up with razor wire, but can’t quite seem to figure out how to do it.

Round and round we run, trying to escape Pitchfork while collecting whatever survivors are left and hiding, or confronting the bad dog, which is never a really good idea. It’s only when Hunter and Claire scurry to the neighbors house and demand that the Hollisters call the police, that we discover it’s actually Ma (Rachel Carter) and Pa (Andrew Dawe-Collins) Hollister who are responsible for this whole mess, and Pitchfork is their truly messed up in the head son. Even then, the torture of Hunter and Claire by the Hollister parents, is brief and mostly nauseating rather than any kind of really gross and disgusting.

What saves Hunter, Claire and Jenny, and ultimately Pitchfork too, from the madness of the Hollister parents isn’t a weapon or some kind of strategy, it’s actual kindness and decency. Well, kindness, at any rate. Because once Jenny discovers her true power at the very end of the movie, the tiny gotcha after the title card, it’s no more little Mrs. Nice Girl.

Pitchfork is director Glenn Packard’s debut, and I thought he actually did quite well for a first-timer. The movie is a good little introductory piece for those who want to get into the Horror world, but not be overly scared or disgusted the first time out.

Get skewered by Pitchfork on DVD and Blu-ray today!