Archive for sacrifice

‘Clown’: This ain’t no kiddie show

Posted in horror, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2017 by aliciamovie

clown

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Jon Watts

Studio: Cross Creek Pictures

MPAA Rating: R

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

A harried father, wanting to make his sons birthday not clown-less, dons an old clown costume he found in a house he’s renting and soon discovers to his horror, he can’t take the cursed thing off!

One would think, from that oversimplified version of the plot I just spouted, that the movie is just going to be a gore-fest of body-Horror-turned-hack-n-slash, which is fairly standard for Eli Roth’s MO. However, Roth had little to do with the film in the beginning and was half seduced and half strongarm-convinced to lend his name and reputation to Clown. While yes, there is plenty of body Horror, as poor hapless Kent discovers himself literally turning into a demon, and lots of hack n slash as Kent makes his way towards the sacrifice the demon demands, the story behind the clown skin is quite cool and very different, a welcome unexpected treat.

So Kent McCoy (Andy Powers) is your standard real estate contractor type, he sells houses and has a wife and son he loves; your average schmo who’s done not a thing to deserve this nonsense. It just so happens that Kent wants his kid Jack (Christian Distefano) to have the happiest birthday possible, and if that means donning a borrowed clown costume he found in the trunk of some house he’s renting and going out to be the entertainment his damn self, he’ll do it. Good for you, Kent. The trouble is, now, he can’t take the damned clown suit, or that idiotic nose and the rainbow hair, off. Kent’s early attempts to get the cursed suit offa him, or at least cover it up, are some of the bright spots of a very dark movie.

Kent’s wife Meg (Laura Allen), well of course she’s mighty concerned, and it doesn’t help that the bit of clown-nose she managed to get off Kent only to have it eaten by the dog, is now causing the dog to act funny too. Tracking down the costumes previous owner, Dr. Martin Karlsson, proves difficult, but his brother Herbert (Peter Stormhare) has some answers that Kent really doesn’t like. And here is where Clown takes an abrupt turn down a very different Krampus-like path – Herbert informs Kent of the legend of Cløyne, an ancient demon of Northern Europe that requires a sacrifice of five children, one for each month of winter where it comes from, to eat before it is satisfied. That clown suit that is now taking over Kent is no suit, it’s the actual skin and hair from a Cløyne demon, and that is precisely what Kent is becoming.

From there, we have a mix of hilariously dark moments where Dadclown is still trying not to turn into Cløyne by killing himself and it so doesn’t work, or Dadclown deciding to get some revenge for his kids bullying while getting his demon parasite fed at the same time, interspersed with some truly odd moments with Herbert showing back abruptly to try and finish Cløyne off himself. Things come to a showdown in a Chuck E. Cheese’s, of all places, and we are forcibly reminded that there are few things scarier in this world, even moreso than an actual demon, than a mother afraid for her children.

The makeup affects for the body horror and transformation in the film are astounding, and they had better be, considering there’s practically nothing in the way of CGI. The feeling of plausibility that comes across, this could happen to you too in the right (wrong) circumstances, is also well done and gives the movie that extra creepy kick. While the slaughter-y scenes certainly do have Roth’s signature on them, one would be hard-pressed to tell that from the rest of the film. Director of the film Jon Watts, who also did Cop Car (and directed and freaking co-wrote the upcoming Spiderman Homecoming movie), gives us a stylized Horror flick that he clearly felt passionately about. For all Watts’ love of the movie and the Cløyne legend of the demonic clown, we are treated, almost tricked, into a Horror flick that has a bit of everything, and that is what the dark carnival is all about.

Visit the legend of Cløyne in Clown on Netflix!

The Sacrament

Posted in drama, horror, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2014 by aliciamovie

the-sacrament-movie-poster

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Magnet Pictures

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Ti West

Review Rating: 6.5

News journalists from Vice magazine travel to an undisclosed location to take a look at the newfound life of the recovering-drug addict sister of one of them, at a place called Eden Parish, overseen by the charismatic man known as Father.

This is another Ti West movie, and there have been some films of his I rather liked and some that were…less than stellar. Even discovering that The Sacrament was a found footage film, which normally I can simply do without, wasn’t a deterrent in the beginning. The three guys going to check out Eden Parish are journalists and at least one of them is used to camerawork, so the entire film wasn’t covered in shaky-cam shots, I’m pleased to say. There are a few shots interspersed in the film that almost gave me a headache trying to watch, as the guys holding the camera are being chased or are hiding, and it’s perfectly understandable that the first-person POV camera shots are shifty and gritty; at least there was reason for them to be that way. So the found footage aspect of the film itself isn’t all that bad. But that honestly doesn’t help the story, and that is the main focus of our review here.

So Patrick (Kentucker Adley), he’s a reporter for Vice magazine and is concerned about his sister Caroline, a recovering drug addict. He receives a letter from Caroline (Amy Seimetz), inviting him out to this utopian community where she’s clean and off drugs, to come see the place that is her salvation. Patrick decides to go and take reporter Sam (AJ Bowen) and cameraman Jake (Joe Swanberg) with him, which immediately leads to issues, when they discover they have to be flown by helicopter to an undisclosed location and the armed guards at the entrance to Eden Parish take issue with the fact that there are three of them instead of just one. Already overtones of stuff-isn’t-right-here are setting in, and our trio haven’t even made it in the front door! But hey, Sam and Jake and Patrick make it inside and are greeted by Caroline, who hauls Patrick off for some brother bonding time, leaving Jake and Sam to their own investigative devices.

From here, I really wish I could say that Jake and Sam discover instances of ritual sacrifice, cannibalism or hell even tax fraud, but no. The Parish has a big ole party that our guys are invited to, with revival Baptist style singing and all, and Father (Gene Jones) sits down to what was supposed to be an in-depth interview in front of everyone, but turns out to be a rant about the corruption of the outside world and all Father has done to shield these people from it, here in Eden Parish. Sam is quite off-put over the fact that Father tried to turn the interview around on him and creeped out a tad by the whole thing. Father takes Caroline with him to his house when its time for bed and after a teeny tiny confrontation with a mother who wants our reporters to take her daughter away with them, all we’re left over the course of the night is an undefined sense of wrongness about Eden Parish until morning. But in the light of day, fully a third of the Parishioners have packed and want desperately to leave, and the rest of Eden’s folk are trying to stop them, by any means necessary. Our reporters are being hunted down by the guards with machine guns and Father has ordered that the Final Solution (with the kool-aid, I kid you not) be brought out and distributed amongst all the Parishioners. Father tries to explain to his flock that this Final Solution is all that’s left to them now, as the reporters bad influence will bring the law and executions down on all of them, and how it’s better to take that choice from them before they get here. And Father sits calmly down to watch his flock die in what is absolutely not like drifting off to sleep forever, as he promised them. Caroline decides to take matters literally into her own hands and, after offing her poor brother Patrick, douses herself in flammable liquids and bids a final flaming screw-you to the world. All we’re left with is cameraman Jake, who did manage to make it out despite the fact that the helicopter pilot took a bullet, and his filmed evidence of the massacre at Eden Parish.

Yes, the film manages to maintain a semi-creepy vibe throughout the entire thing, but that’s all we have, as far as real Horror. Honestly, it’s like watching a documented version of the Jonestown massacre with a few small changes, and that’s it. You know what they say, don’t drink the kool-aid!

Jug Face

Posted in drama, horror, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2014 by aliciamovie

Jug_Face_Movie_Poster

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Moderncine

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Chad Crawford Kinkle

Review Rating: 7.5

A teen of a backwoods community tries to escape being sacrificed to the local creature-in-a-pit when she discovers she’s pregnant.

That is a so very basic bare-bones (pun intended) summary of the plot, which despite being about your typical backwoods hillbilly community, gives off a jarring (there it is again) number of surprises. The whole thing starts off with illicit teenager sex, all frenzied pushed-aside clothing and breathless we-could-get-caught scotch love before the main event. Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter) gets informed soon after by her all-knowing parents that she’s soon to be Joined with someone other than the guy she just humped, and is singularly displeased with it. Who will take care of Ada’s grandfather, who is ailing and can hardly move at all on his own, when she’s Joined and busy? Ada’s brother doesn’t seem too happy with the idea either, he seems to harbor a more-than-brotherly affection (if you want to call it that) for Ada, which all too soon leads to questions about the parentage of her unborn baby, at least for the audience. Ada is horribly aware that she’s pregnant, and has her own suspicions as to who the father is, but none of it will matter if her parents find out she’s not pure for her Joined bed. So Ada hies herself off to hang with Dawai (Sean Bridgers), who seems to be the village idiot type, drinking illegal moonshine and making clay jugs with faces on them. Why does he do that, we ask? And that’s when the movie takes a serious turn into the backwoods bizarre. Nevermind cannibals and inbred freaks, what lurks in the pit is actually far worse.

It turns out, in the forest of their community there’s this bloody pit and some sort of monster that lives in it, whom demands sacrifice of a live person and in turn provides miraculous healing for its tending folk. We the audience never get a close look at the pit creature, even with Ada’s damning first-person visions, which just adds to the mystery and primitive lizard-brain-fear these people live with every day. Personally, I thought it was a good choice to leave the bloody monster mysterious, never really seeing it or getting any kind of explanation as to where it came from, how the community ended up in a parasitic relationship with it, and no mention was ever made as to how to stop or fight the thing. Like the inexorable tide, the pit-monster has no pity or mercy, those are human concepts.

As often happens with these lesser-brained types, Dawai seems to be gifted, cursed more like, with visions from the pit monster. That is to say, Dawai drinks and dreams, and when he wakes he makes his clay jugs with faces, the face on the jug being the next person in the community to be sacrificed to the pit. Lo and behold, the next jug that Dawai makes bear Ada’s own face, who promptly freaks out when she discovers the jug and hides it somewhere in the forest. Dawai, who seems to bear more than a passing fondness for Ada, makes a new jug that bears the face of her intended, and with all reverent haste he’s sacrificed on the altar over the pit, while his crying parents look on. And soon after it all begins to go horribly wrong, with accusations flying against Ada’s pureness, more unsanctioned deaths being carried out by the pit-monster, and the whole community begins freaking the hell out. Can Ada save herself and her unborn child, and the idiot-mystic Dawai who tried to help her, before the pit-monster comes for all of them?

Parts of the film are slow-burn, yes, and other parts are frantic with the need to get across to the audience the sheer horror of it all. The pit and the monster and its magic aside, a great deal of the atrocities visited on poor Ada are the result of what the rest of the community, these other people, did to her and made her do to others. The concept of selfish sacrifice – I offer one death so that I, or my son, may live – versus sacrifice for the greater good – I offer the sacrifice of one life, so that an entire community may live and prosper – is brought across in a rather sympathetic way in the movie. How far would you go to save your children, your family, your whole community and way of life? Jug Face presents us with a horrifyingly realistic answer.

The House of the Devil

Posted in drama, horror, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2014 by aliciamovie

house_of_the_devil

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Magnet Entertainment

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Ti West

Review Rating: 7.5

Set in the 1980’s, a teenage babysitter encounters seriously strange circumstances when she takes a job at an unusual house during a full lunar eclipse.

Harkening back to the days of Horror yore, when titans like John Carpenter and Wes Craven still stalked our worst nightmares, House of the Devil is like a tribute band playing the best of their covers to the very best of their ability – and for the most part, it pays off. House is the very best of a slow burn, aimed at 30-somethings like me who remember the 80’s with mostly fond thoughts. The ambiance is good and believable, attention to detail so one feels like they’re in the 80’s is great, and even the actors seem to be taking the “we’re back in this time period, really” vibe seriously. Main character Sam even has her hair Heathered. (That’s feathered a la Heather Locklear folks.)

So Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) needs to make extra money, as her landlady (Dee Wallace, yes, her) is getting uppity. After getting offered a babysitting job from a rather unnerving Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan), Sam reluctantly says yes. Convincing her friend Megan (Greta Gerwig) to drive her, Sam gets more and more nervous upon arriving at the out-of-the-way mansion to find out from Mr. Ulman that yes, it is a babysitting job, but no, they have no children. Rather, Mr. Ulman and his wife (Mary Woronov) want Sam to watch over his elderly and troubled mother, they say, just for a few hours work, and we’ll pay $400+, which is a damn sight more than Sam would’ve gotten elsewise. Despite serious reservations, both from Megan and Sam herself, Sam takes the job and convinces Megan to come back and pick her up later. Megan leaves the mansion in an unsatisfied huff, and stops to have what she doesn’t realize is a last cigarette, effectively leaving Sam all alone in that house. Sam wanders through the house with her Walkman and her curiosity, learning what she can and attempting to find Ulman’s “mother” in there somewhere. After ordering a pizza, Sam discovers odd evidence that the house may have actually been stolen by the Ulmans and that there’s a lot more going on here than just a simple babysitting job. Trying to remain calm, Sam staves off the 911 call and munches down on pizza, which of course turns out to have been drugged. Well, damnit. Cut to…

Sam wakes to find herself tied and gagged and enduring some massively horrific and bloody ritual with herself as the focal point. In spite of the terrifying visions and the monstrosities being played out about her, Sam manages to escape after killing quite a few of the cultists, only to be hunted down by Mr. Ulman himself in a nearby cemetery. The gun used to kill poor Megan is turned on Ulman, but not after he gets the last word in, claiming to be only a Messenger and informing Sam that she’s too late. So Sam, rather than be party to any of this, finally turns the gun on herself. And poor Sam, I feel for the girl really, because not even popping herself with the gun saved her from the end, which it turns out is a beginning too. As in, Sam wakes to find herself in the hospital and a nurse telling her, Sam, that both her and her blossoming stomach will be just fine.

Noonan has long been a mainstay of the weird and odd, all the way back to when he starred as Francis Dolarhyde in the first version of Red Dragon, which was called Manhunter. Star Donahue was recently in Insidious Chapter 2, being the closest to the Horror flick currently reviewed. Somehow, the mix of believable ambiance, fine weird acting, and a drop-by-drop story, make for a very fine Horror viewing indeed!

Movie Moxie’s 31 Days of Halloween – Day 22 – Children of the Corn

Posted in Action, drama, Historical, horror, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2013 by aliciamovie

1984-children-of-the-corn-poster

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Angeles Entertainment

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Fritz Kiersch

Review Rating: 7

The town of Gatlin, Nebraska, harbors a dangerous band of religious fanatics who have sworn to kill everyone over the age of 19!

Spawning a whole host of sequels and remakes, Children of the Corn was originally a Stephen King story. A young couple of adults, needing to make a report to the police, find themselves stuck in Gatlin, where the population is comprised of children, led by the charismatic (and rather insane) boy preacher Isaac (John Franklin). Isaac has led the children of Gatlin in the ways of his own brand of faith, for He Who Walks Behind the Rows, a demon out there in the corn fields who demands bloody sacrifice and unquestioning obedience. Of course Malachai (Courtney Gains), Isaac’s second in command, wants to take over the leadership. The younger children who haven’t been indoctrinated quite as hard take pity on our young couple Burt (Peter Horton) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton), but that only lasts for so long. Nevermind that the final showdown looks like a revival meeting at a Puritan camp for children, the sacrifice of “the blue man” screams that our young phoneless couple is next!

I’ve seen all the sequels and remakes. Some are better than others, but the underlying story is always the same – murderous Puritanical children and cornfield demons. Which is fairly terrifying, come to think of it. This first film story, while it may be older and lack some polish, stands in a unique position of original creativity. And on Halloween, that’s awesome.

Movie Moxie’s 31 Days of Halloween – Day 21 – The Wicker Man

Posted in Action, drama, Foreign, horror, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2013 by aliciamovie

The-Wicker-Man-movie-poster

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Warner Bros.

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Neil LaBute

Review Rating: 7

An officer of the law gets convinced to go to a small private island to look for a missing girl that the islanders all insist, doesn’t exist.

The Wicker Man is actually based off a legend that’s as old as Paganism itself, which is a lot older than most people think. The idea being, to sacrifice a person for the harvest bounty, once a year, in joyous celebration. The community of Summerisle, where Nicholas Cage’s character Edward Malus is sent, is secretive and closed off and rather neo-Pagan-feminist, so they don’t take too kindly to a male officer of the law poking round their private business. The movie has a tendency to pace a bit slowly towards the beginning, but as Edward discovers more and more strange things, like the idea that the missing girl Rowan is actually his heretofore-unknown daughter, the pace picks up and the villagers run Edward to ground. Just in time for the harvest celebration, and guess who’s the guest of honor!

I know, I know, it’s Nicholas Cage after all, and not for everyone. I personally like his manic style, and his cute psycho little rants, and Wicker Man does get at least one instance of that. Ellyn Burstyn is leader Sister Summerisle, and despite appearing all white and goodly, is in charge of making this bloody and fiery sacrifice happen. Kate Beahan is Sister Willow, Ed’s former paramour and mother of Rowan. Erika-Shaye Gair is Rowan herself, and while the role is rather small, the actress has gone on to some good things. Yes, a lot of what happens to Edward seems silly and unlikely, try and focus instead on what happens to him at the end. Later DVD versions of the film had an alternate ending offering that really, wasn’t necessary at all. Though the original Six months later… vignette ending was amusingly Amazon, it wasn’t much necessary either. Just take away from the film the story of the Wicker Man, a legend that has roots deep in actual history, and a perfect tale for Halloween.