Archive for ghost

‘The Disappointments Room’: Don’t go in there!

Posted in drama, horror, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2017 by aliciamovie

disappointments_room

 

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: D.J. Caruso

Studio: Relativity Media

MPAA Rating: R

Review Rating: 6.5 out of 10

After enduring a tragedy, a family moves to a rural home and the mother discovers the new house harbors some very dark secrets.

Okay, so, let’s just dive right in here. We know very well from the title of the film, The Disappointments Room, that the new house has a kind of standard haunted story thing going on. Somewhere near the attic is a locked room which used to house all the disappointing people, usually children, of any given family that was lodging there until they mercifully died, right? Fine. And sure enough, just as soon as the Barrow family takes dubious residence in the place, Mom Dana (Kate Beckinsale) discovers the locked room, finds a key rather swiftly, and gets herself locked in there to be scary-haunted by the former residents of the Room. Sure.

Dana gets mysteriously let out of the Room by one of the disfigured ghosts, and can’t for the life of her understand why her husband David (Mel Raido) or her son Lucas (Duncan Joiner) didn’t notice she had been missing for however long she could’ve sworn it was. But, therein lies the rub – was Dana really gone? The movie seems to posit, hesitantly though, that most if not all of the horrid things that happen to Dana in the new house are actually all in her head, a result of the mental devastation after the family trauma that led them to relocate here in the first place.

What family trauma, you ask? We learn, in disjointed fits of course, that David and Dana had a daughter, and at some point in the recent past, she died. The general vibe is that it was somehow Dana’s fault, the result of a tragic accident of some kind, but specifics are never really given out in the entire movie, just that Dana feels incredible guilt about her daughters death. Though the reveal sequence towards the climax scene near the end of the film seems to claim that Dana actually did kill her daughter, not on purpose but still, perhaps as a result of neglectful smothering or something like it. Well, we go on.

The house is old and in need of tons of repair and Dana would like nothing more than to do it all herself, she is the daughter of an architect after all, but eventually townie Ben (Lucas Till) is brought in to help with fixing. Dana seems to be inexplicably drawn to Ben and enjoys bluntly talking with him while simultaneously ordering him about, like a worker on a construction job. Ben somehow enjoys hanging with Dana too, and takes her abrupt attitude in stride, which is better than I would do.

Stumbling along, Dana becomes convinced that the ghosts she’s released from the Disappointments Room are after her remaining son Lucas. Despite Dana having discovered what she thinks is a source of ghostly Father Judge Blackers (Gerald McRaney) powers, hidden oil paintings of him and his wife under strategically placed mirrors, and destroying them, she’s pretty sure she’s done that anyways, the ghosts are still after Lucas. Meanwhile, David’s getting very concerned about Dana, what with the anniversary of their daughters death coming up, he decides the best thing to do to make Dana feel better would be, wait for it, to attempt to ease her loneliness and despair by hosting a dinner party with some out-of-town friends at their new haunted house. As we all could’ve guessed, this goes over with Dana like a ton of damned bricks and she just loses her shit over cake and broken crockery, screaming and ranting her head off at David and their guests at the dinner table. That’s hardly the end of confrontation either, but only seems to serve as the opening catalyst for a night of violence that may or may not be all in Dana’s own head anyways.

I’m not going to spoil the ending, mainly because I couldn’t actually figure out it out entirely. The films story just doesn’t have enough of anything to be able to tell if the ghosts are the actual problem, or if it really is all in Dana’s head and she’s just a psycho bitch, or what. It doesn’t help that there simply isn’t anything likable about Dana, she wanders the entire movie as a cee-you-next-Tuesday to practically everyone; I couldn’t tell if that was on purpose or not. There was plenty opportunity for handyman Ben to create all sorts of marital tension between Dana and David by initiating some kind of affair, that never happened far as I could tell. Even the poor kid Lucas is practically a paper cutout of a kid, with little personality given to speak of other than we know he likes his new house-kitty, and his willingness to play with dollhouses seems to speak of wanting to follow in his moms architectural footsteps. It seems to me a damned shame, because Wentworth Miller, yes this guy, wrote the script for the sleeper hit Stoker and also wrote the script for The Disappointments Room, and the movie adaptation could’ve been so much more than this hot mess.

Decide for yourself what lurks in The Disappointments Room on Netflix!

‘Beyond’ Finale: Is there Life in the Afterlife?

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2017 by aliciamovie

beyond-banner

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

So it turns out that, despite being filmed in a much more linear and episodic manner, ‘Beyond’ is a watered-down attempt at the Netflix opus ‘The OA’. We’re dealing with concepts of near-death-experiences or NDEs, life and death and the actual existence of an afterlife, and powers learned from touching the realms of these un-provable concepts. In all cases, it seems, these powers in particular are unstable and unpredictable, but are potentially catastrophic.

Holden Matthews (Burkely Duffield) is no stranger to this concept though, as he fell into a coma as the result of an accident when he was very young, and stayed there for twelve whole years before suddenly, inexplicably, waking. His body was being taken care of in the hospital as best they could, but when he woke Holden experienced no ill affects other than large gaps in his pop culture knowledge and dating experiences, at least at first. Holden begins manifesting what only can be described as otherworldly powers, mostly what looks like telekinetic emotional backlash when he’s scared or livid. But Holden also begins suffering visions, landscapes of ethereal plains that seem familiar and a haunting old man who wants him to harness his powers, both here in the otherworld and out in real life.

Spoilers live in the afterlife too!

We meet Willa (Dilan Gwyn), the enigmatic lover of Holden who has a clear agenda of her own, claiming she was with Holden the entire time he was in his coma, off in this transcendental world they refer to simply as the Realm. Willa’s grandfather, Arthur (Alex Diakun), off in his coma too but with some sort of magical sciencey phone app that allows him to communicate with her, happens to wear the face of the old man that’s been haunting Holden’s visions.

A fair amount of tedious backstory boils down to an interesting conceptual question – is there a real, knowable afterlife? Arthur and certain Isaac Frost (Martin Donovan) desperately wanted to answer this question, after Willa’s mother fell into a coma bringing her into the world. Long after they split over their philosophical differences, Frost used his power and influence to create this kind of death cult called Hollow Sky, while Arthur used one of the coma-inducing machines he built to send himself into the Realm. All this happened quite some time ago, but upon finding Holden and his somehow unique experiences in the Realm and special brain, everyone wants to use Holden for his, or her, own purposes in the here and now.

So what now? Holden is awake and being chased down by the Man in the Yellow Jacket, who technically works for Frost; Holden is dealing with his mom and dad being separated and his younger brother now acting out in college; and the memories of the Realm, which we now understand is more or less the anteroom to the afterlife, are coming on stronger too. Arthur and Willa were training Holden in the Realm, which apparently began to bleed over into the real world once he was awake, and unfortunately that makes him a good target for the Man in the Yellow Jacket and other Hollow Sky cronies. Jeff McArdle (Jeff Pierre), Kevin’s older and much more militaristic brother, is determined to avenge his little brothers murder and save Holden as best he can too.

Much of this is on the surface, and the underlying story of the afterlife question lingers in interesting use of CGI and green-screen effects. During commercial breaks in the show, the cast and crew of Beyond have snippets of effects used on the show, acting tidbits and mini character bios, which does make for interesting viewing but does rather take away from the attempt to build believable wonder in the Realm and the Afterlife inside the show itself. Despite the implausible atmosphere in previous episodes, the finale at least does deliver in a satisfactory manner on that score. With fairly simple concepts and effects reminiscent of the movie Ghost, Beyond brings across a comeuppance to most of the villains and a palatable pause to the good guys that brings approval from many skeptics.

Again like The OA, the show starts with a strong concept and pilot episode, staggers a bit in the middle with some gratuitous storytelling, and finishes with a pretty darned satisfying finale that closed off some major storylines and opened a few new ones for Season Two.

Explore the concept of an Afterlife with Beyond Season One on Freeform!

Movie Moxie’s 31 Days of Halloween – Day 23 – Gothika

Posted in drama, horror, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2013 by aliciamovie

Gothika-movie-poster

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Warner Bros.

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Mathieu Kassovitz

Review Rating: 7

Dr. Miranda Grey is a psychologist in a mental hospital who after suffering strange occurences, finds herself in a complete turnaround as a patient in the same hospital.

I didn’t think I would like this film anywhere near as much as I did. Having Halle Berry in the title role is just superfluous and unnecessary, almost anyone could’ve done it. Robert Downey Jr. is in there too, as a coworker in the hospital. And the always memorable Charles S. Dutton is Miranda’s husband Dr. Douglas Grey, who also works in the hospital with her. Yet the story is so solid and raw, an actual American take on a really good ghost story, that it’s worth a watch. Plus the video for “Behind Blue Eyes”, a theme song by Limp Bizkit for the film, blew my mind.

So Miranda Grey is working at the hospital with her husband, taking a swim in the pool after a particularly grueling session with patient Chloe (Penelope Cruz). On a storm-laden night she drives home, nearly hits an apparition of a badly beaten and bloody girl clad only in a shift, and after only trying to help the girl, wakes to find herself in the mental hospital charged with the brutal murder of her husband. Noone will help, everyone believes she killed Doug with her own two hands, and Miranda needs to get out to discover the truth! The truth is, she’s NOT ALONE. And the spirit of the dead girl haunting Miranda reveals further truths more shocking than Miranda could’ve ever imagined! I don’t want to give anything else away, but seriously, Gothika is a modern ghost haunting story worth seeing!

The Woman In Black

Posted in drama, Foreign, Historical, horror, Movies, Romance, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2012 by aliciamovie

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Hammer Film Productions

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: James Watkins

Review Rating: 7

Warning! Spoiler Review!

Tormented young lawyer Arthur Kipps travels to a remote village that’s being haunted by the spirit of a vengeful woman in black.

It’s very Victorian horror. Everyone is very proper and buttoned-up and restrained, there’s pocket-fob watches and apparently only the one car in the entire village, and of course the locals are very suspicious of strangers.

So Arthur Kipps lost his beloved wife Stella at the birth of their son Joseph four years ago. Did I mention Kipps is acted by Daniel Radcliffe, and we should all know who that is. I’m seeing a younger Johnny Depp in From Hell or Edward Norton in The Illusionist, even. At least, that’s what they tried for. Because Radcliffe is surrounded by actors considerably at least older-looking than him, his youth practically screams at you in every scene. The film did try very hard to make him look old enough to have a four year old son, nice suit and even sideburns; it still doesn’t quite work. But he’ll get there. Sadly because it’s Victorian style ghost horror, this means a good half the movie involves nothing but Radcliffe running about in his shirtsleeves, looking scared.

So the town of Cyphin Gifford is haunted, the locals young children have a tendency to die in mysterious circumstances once they reach a certain age, and of course none of the locals want to talk about it. Arthur has been given a last chance by his lawyerly employer, to go to Gifford and check out the left behind estate of one Mrs. Drablow, recently deceased. On the train he befriends Daily, who is played by the incomparable Ciaran Hinds. As much as I adore the actor, he’s yet another who makes Radcliffe’s youth scream at the screen, and the two characters are together a lot. Anyway, after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, Arthur’s made it to Eel Marsh House, Mrs. Drablow’s former residence, where he begins to piece together the whole story of the woman in black. Yes I will spoil it, sorry – Mrs. Drablow’s beloved son was lost to the marsh, and she takes her vengeance on children of the townsfolk. There’s a lot of paperwork in her house, shown at the screen in a haphazard manner so we only get parts of it, things like Mrs. Drablow was considered to be an unfit mother for whatever reason, her son was adopted out, and it was under the care of the fosters, whom it looks like are partially accused of ill-treating the boy, that the poor boy loses his life in the marsh. It also is hedged that several of the older townsfolk knew what happened to the boy, and covered it up as best they could – not hard to lose an already-dead body in another part of the marsh, right? All this combines to make a very vengeful ghost woman all in black, who generally saves her jump scares for the audience and not for Arthur, which is again, very Victorian horror. The story and the styling in which it’s presented remind me a little of Dead Silence, and I actually rather enjoyed that movie.

So after figuring all this out, which does take Arthur awhile, our tormented Protag decides he just has to lay the ghost of Mrs. Drablow to rest, before his own Joseph shows up in Gifford on the train and the curse takes him too. You would think, I would’ve thought, that because Arthur was actually able to find her beloved boy and lay his corpse to rest in her very own coffin, that Mrs. Drablow would’ve let Arthur and his son go. The fact that she didn’t, regardless of the rejoining of the ghostly family at long last in beautifully soft-lit colors, is still a truly horrific ending. It’s not bad a Victorian ghost horror story, I recommend giving it a try at least.