Archive for murder

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

portland-horror-film-festival

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?

‘Trash Fire’: All in the Family fault

Posted in drama, horror, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Richard Bates Jr.

Studio: Circle of Confusion

MPAA Rating: R

Review Rating: 6.5 out of 10

So Owen (Adrien Grenier) just seems like a flat-out asshole. I mean, yes, he’s bulimic and apparently clinically depressed, but his strained relationship with girlfriend Isabel (Angela Trimbur) doesn’t appear to be helping either one of them become a better person. Attempts at couples therapy don’t do squat, and I swear the first thirty minutes of the movie is just Owen being an asshat to everyone he interacts with, but primarily Isabel. Then Isabel tells him she’s pregnant, and things change rather abruptly.

Far as I can tell, every single last one of Owen’s issues seem to stem from the troubles of his past, wherein a horrendous house fire killed both his parents and caused burn scars on eighty percent of his sister Pearl’s (AnnaLynne McCord) body. She now lives with Owen’s crazy religious fundamentalist grandmother Violet (Fionnula Flanagan), and the two of them seem content to hide from the world and snipe at each-other for the rest of their existence. But then Owen and Isabel make the momentous decision to, despite their misgivings about each-other, keep the baby and attempt to raise it together, so Owen decides he needs to reconnect with what’s left of his family and maybe get some answers as to why he’s so screwed up.

Grandma Violet seems like a fairly standard racist religious nut, most of us have at least one in our own families, and she sure doesn’t welcome Isabel with open arms, especially after hearing of the pregnancy. As far as Grandma believed, Owen couldn’t have children, and taking Pearl entirely out of the equation, that meant this cursed family line would die with him. It isn’t until she primly puts on blacks like she’s going to a funeral and has her own confession in the office of her priest, that we realize the depths of how fucked up Grandma really is. I personally would’ve liked to have seen more flashbacks of the rather threatening confession Grandma gives, more the of the killing fire that led to and from all this madness, but somehow this perfectly-real setting and entirely possible story makes it all that more quietly creepy. And yes, there is a Grandma masturbation scene too, you were warned.

Owen does seem to genuinely care for Pearl, and wants desperately to talk with her and gain her forgiveness before he and Isabel depart Grandma’s house. Forgiveness for what, you might ask? It’s not terribly hard to convince a child that he did something horribly terribly wrong and then blame him for it forever afterward, but that also means Pearl blames him for her face and body aftermath too. Isabel tries to make friends with Pearl and about halfway succeeds, I guess, given that the sister has her own psychosis to deal with.

So where does all this quiet menace and murder attempts and buried secrets leave us? With a dark night of confrontation, shotgun blasts from a pair of surprising hands, and far too many blood splashes on the walls. Being an asshat does not qualify Owen for the killing list, but I guess it’s true his family really is cursed – at least on the women’s side.

Guard your sleeves from the Trash Fire on Netflix!

Movie Review: ‘Child 44’

Posted in Action, drama, Foreign, Historical, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2015 by aliciamovie

child 44

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Summit Entertainment

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Review rating: 7.5

In Stalin-era Soviet Russia, a disgraced member of the military police is determined to solve a series of child murders.

So this is Soviet Russia, where everything is bleak and the colors are all washed out, and all the citizens live in fear of the total power of the military police and their abrupt raids. Corruption is everywhere, especially in the government and the military, and any time anyone not dripping in medals decides to raise an objection, that’s usually the last thing he (or sometimes she) does. Women and children are not exempt from this tyranny, and when the young son of a military friend of our heroes is murdered, Leo Demidov determines to find the killer – no matter the cost.

So Leo (Tom Hardy) himself is no stranger to tragedy and suffering. The movie begins with a somewhat trite explanatory blurb about the orphaning and starvation of many Lithuanian children, and it seems our Leo was one of them, who got conscripted into the military police whether he liked it or not. Years later he finds himself embroiled in all kinds of shady doings, including thinking his wife is a traitorous spy, shielding his friends from the military raids, and yes, carrying out orders that would make normal men weep. Leo doesn’t seem to care for unnecessary bloodshed, and indeed when out on patrol to bring in a suspected spy and squad underling Vasili (Joel Kinnaman) decides to go all Executioner style on the ones who sheltered their quarry, Leo has to be restrained from some retaliation of his own. Then his fellow soldiers young son is murdered and Leo simply cannot let that go after hearing about other similar child murders. At the same time, Leo has to decide whether to renounce his suspected wife, or be branded a traitor along with her and demoted to some ass-end corner of the train depot towns. After some very wrenching scenes with his wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace), Leo choses the truth and the train lines, which actually turns out to be a good thing, because his next boss is General Nesterov (Gary Oldman) and he happens to be interested in these child murders too. Leo and Riasa are closing in on Mr. Murder, Vasili and the corrupt police force are closing in on Leo, and the dead child count is at a devastating, you guessed it, 44.

The movie is a Ridley Scott produced opus, and his slick fingerprints are all over it. Despite the incredibly bleak landscape, and multiple violent and tragic storylines, the movie manages to remain compelling and interesting. Based on the first book of a trilogy series by Tom Rob Smith, Child 44 is a fine bit of storytelling to watch come to life – no superpowers, no huge explosions, no world-ending apocalypse. Just one man (with perhaps some help) against the corrupted government that allows for ‘no murder in paradise’, to speak for the children who cannot.

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

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

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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!

Movie Moxie’s 31 Days of Halloween – Day 18 – The Amityville Horror

Posted in drama, Historical, horror, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2013 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: MGM

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Andrew Douglas

Review Rating: 7.5

Remade any number of times, The Amityville Horror is at its roots your more basic haunted house story. But did you know, the inspiration for the story came from real life? In Amityville Long Island in 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr., known as “Butch”, murdered both his parents and 4 of his siblings, and there were wild rumors of “paranormal influence” behind it. Jr. has made several different confessions over the years, and a lot of them contradict eachother in startling ways, but nothing (so far) has been mentioned about any kind of occult or paranormal influence – just a lot of familial strife and hate.

The Amityville Horror, the original story, involves the Lutz family and a period of time inside a house that terrorizes them with paranormal influences, forcing them to finally flee. The idea being it being, that the house was built on an ancient Indian burial ground (another one?) and hooboy are those natives angry. In the 2005 remake starring Ryan Reynolds as patriarch George Lutz, a character named Jodie DeFeo was introduced as having been a previous tenant of the house who died miserably and who now haunts the youngest Lutz daughter. It’s actually fairly good for a remake, largely in part due to Reynolds performance of a man going maddd. Melissa George is Kathy Lutz, she does fairly well for the retro time frame of the movie. Jesse James is Billy, Jimmy Bennet is Michael, and hey a very young Chloe Grace Moretz as Chelsea rounds out the Lutz children. Isabel Conner is Jodie DeFeo, and boy does she get the best Silent Hill-style makeup for her haunting. Having endured for many long years despite potentially being just a myth, The Amityville Horror is a classic Halloween haunting Horror story.