Category Archives: Horror

The Perfection (2018) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

 

The Perfection Review

Director: Richard Shepard
Writers: Eric C. Charmelo (as Eric Charmelo), Richard Shepard
Stars: Allison Williams, Steven Weber, Alaina Huffman

Whenever I read newsflashes about films that make people suffer from migraine attacks and even make them sick, my curiosity is immediately awakened. The final verdict can go two ways. Or the film indeed has an ingeniously elaborated story and is provided with images the average stomach can’t bear. Or it’s the umpteenth overrated movie of which you ask yourself afterward “Who on earth made such statements?“. Are those people who’ve never seen a similar film as “The Perfection“? Are they film lovers who limit themselves to innocent rom-coms? Or supporters of superficial films such as “The Sound of Music“? No idea. In any case, I couldn’t find any nauseating fragments or rancid footage in this Netflix Original. But that doesn’t mean I thought it was a terrible movie. On the contrary. “The Perfection” contains a cleverly put together story, some successful acting, and a surprising denouement. So, highly recommended.

I myself thought that “The Perfection” was nothing more than a psychological thriller with a bit of erotism and a few lurid events. Admittedly, the denouement will look pretty disturbing for some. But I assure you that this film will mislead you from the start. The goal that Charlotte (Allison “Get out” Williams) has in mind and the reasons for this are of a very different nature than you would expect. If you realise what a dark secret the Bachoff Institute is hiding, where Charlotte has taken lessons for years as a gifted cellist, it will give you more chills than the bus ride through rural China. The film fits in perfectly with our modern zeitgeist where there’s a “Me too” movement that explicitly tries to draw attention to sexual harassment and sexual assault. How the renowned academy Bachoff can be associated with this is something that you have to discover for yourself in this original film.

It’s quite clear that this film is difficult to catalog when it comes to the genre. It’s actually a mixed bag of different genres. It’s a light-erotic thriller with a dash of horror. For experienced horror enthusiasts, the horror part will be slightly disappointing. You could describe it as an ultra-light version of “I spit on your grave“. But without explicit visual material and a wide variety of horrifying revenge actions. And from the beginning of the film till roughly halfway, it’s a mild drama where you are introduced to the most important protagonists. Charlotte, a talented cellist who, after years of absence (taking care of her sick mother), seeks contact again with her former music teacher Anton (Steven Weber) and his wife Paloma (Alaina Huffman). But especially the meeting with the new star of the academy, cellist Lizzie (Logan Browning), is causing some stir. First of all, you can feel the competition between the two cellists whose finger-fastness and sensitive handling of the fiddlestick create magical sounds the moment they squeeze a cello between their knees. As these two, not bad-looking classical musicians spend more time together, the sexual tension between them increases. And before they know it, they make use of the skills they use while playing the cello, when they are all over each other when lying naked under the sheets.

Once this introduction took place and the two lovebirds are sitting on a local bus on their way to some small town in China, the film goes in a higher gear. The frivolous atmosphere makes way for exciting situations and horror elements. It feels rather mysterious. Even the rewind moments won’t really clarify it. On the one hand, I thought this technique was kind of an original approach. On the other hand, it seemed rather pedantic. Let’s say something about acting. There’s actually nothing negative to announce. You can safely state that the two main characters almost reach perfection when it’s about that. The chemistry between the two girls is realistic. The different moods that they struggle through are convincing. Steven Weber and Alaina Huffman also fit perfectly into their role. An illustrious couple consisting of dark personalities. Perhaps it seems as if they have mixed a number of different genres and it feels as if they didn’t know which direction to go. But it never gets boring. No, “The Perfection” is certainly not perfect. But it wasn’t very far from perfection.

The Grudge (2020) Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

The Grudge Review

Director: Nicolas Pesce
Writers: Nicolas Pesce (screenplay by), Nicolas Pesce (story by)
Stars: Tara Westwood, Junko Bailey, David Lawrence Brown

I was never that enamored with 2004’s The Grudge, mostly because it felt pretty derivative of The Ring, as did all the other remakes Hollywood cranked out during its brief infatuation with J-horror. So my expectations for this belated fourth entry in the franchise weren’t exactly lofty.

Maybe that’s why I kind-of enjoyed it.

Despite the identical title, this isn’t a remake, nor is it exactly a sequel. The Grudge is more like a spin-off with a prologue that has an American nurse quitting her job at the same Tokyo house from the first film, unknowingly bringing the curse back home with her. A few years later, an investigation by the recently-widowed Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) loosely works as a framing device for the film to tell three concurrent stories. All of them involve poor bastards unfortunate enough to have ventured into a suburban house where the titular demon has taken residence. Like a virus, once someone is exposed, the little Grudgling follows, along with a variety of violent pleasantries.

None of it is particularly original, nor are there a ton of surprises. However, The Grudge makes nice use of its non-linear narrative to show how the characters from each “story” are ultimately linked. It also features a strong cast that includes a variety of familiar character actors, such as John Cho, Demián Bichir, William Sadler, Frankie Faison and everyone’s favorite senior scream queen, Lin Shaye. Finally, the film more-than-earns its R-rating with some nasty bits of bone-breaking, blood-spattering violence (though I could have done without seeing a child murdered by her own mother).

The Grudge isn’t a great film. A reasonable argument could be made that it isn’t even a good one. But since I was expecting neither, it was certainly watchable enough. While bringing nothing new to the franchise (or horror, in general), the film is efficiently assembled and doesn’t water-down the mayhem for the mallrat crowd.

Stephanie (2017) Movie Review By Steve Wilkins

Stephanie Review
Director: Akiva Goldsman
Writers: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski (screenplay)
Stars: Shree Crooks, Frank Grillo, Anna Torv

A mysterious occurrence finds young Stephanie (Shree Crooks) home alone fending for herself.  Amid the day and night, strange events take place but young Stephanie seems completely comfortable amid the drama and has developed a routine day to day to avoid the “monster”.  One night her randomly parents show up surprised she’s still alive and well.

Over time through some news coverage and flashbacks its unveiled some kind of invasion had taken place. There are some decent creepy moments and a few shockers within the story which in time becomes predictable but still worth it as the biggest mystery to it all is Stephanie herself. Take some time, pop up a bowl to snack on and enjoy this solid Blumhouse product.

Grade: A

He’s Out There (2018) Movie Review By Steve Wilkins

He's Out There Review

Director: Quinn Lasher
Writer: Mike Scannell
Stars: Yvonne Strahovski, Anna Pniowsky, Abigail Pniowsky

When Laura (Strahovski) takes her daughters to remote cabin for a vacation getaway, her and her children are preyed upon by an axe wielding masked man in the night.

Another edge of seat thriller/horror that delivers heavy on the thrill. Like Hush (2016) this movie focuses on entrapment and stalking to put the viewer in the shoes of the victim. It does well though there are times you want a bit more action. The entire event takes place over the course of one night which means the main bit action that IS delivered culminates at dawn with a nice enough payoff. Overall cut and dry, routine thriller makes for a nice view amongst all or alone.

Grade: A-

The Prodigy (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

The Prodigy Review

Director: Nicholas McCarthy
Writer: Jeff Buhler
Stars: Taylor Schilling, Jackson Robert Scott, Peter Mooney 

Murderous children or those possessed by dark forces appear in horror movies on a regularly base. Sometimes it’s a diabolical power that possesses them. Damien from “The Omen” and Regan in “The Exorcist” are good examples. Or it’s the mental condition that turns lovely little boys into horrible little monsters like Luke in “Better watch out” and Chavs in “Eden Lake“. In “The Prodigy” Miles develops a deviant behavior pattern as he gets older. This cuddly little boy appears to have a dual personality. One moment he snuggles into his mother’s arms. The next moment he looks at her demonically. Such an evil look that gives you goosebumps instantly. Verily, there’s something wrong with these Miles (Jackson Robert Scott).

To be honest I was pleasantly surprised by “The Prodigy“. Admittedly, it’s not very original and the film makes good use of all known tricks from the horror genre. Yet this film managed to make me feel uncomfortable. And I even felt a slight form of tension. And that was mainly achieved by the acting of the young Jackson Robert Scott. A little guy who’s years ahead of other kids in terms of intelligence. But when his use of language during his sleep (in a Hungarian dialect) takes on a fairly mature tone and he tackles fellow students with a heavy wrench, a sense of suspicion begins to increase on his mother Sarah (Taylor Schilling). The result is an adult psychological game that unfolds between mother and son.

Jef Buhler (scriptwriter of, among others, “Pet Sematary“, “Jacob’s Ladder” and next year’s film “The Grudge“) takes his time here and slowly builds up the tension. Hence the slow pace at the start of the film. Which for once I didn’t experience as disturbing. It’s only when spiritualist Arthur Jacobson (Colm Feore) is introduced that the pace goes up. Here it also becomes clear what the opening scene has to do with this sweet-looking youngster who’s troubled by behavioral problems. Fragments of a psychopath shot down by a special unit and the birth of Miles are being linked to each other. And then the term reincarnation comes up. An explanation that suddenly makes everything clearer. Unfortunately, the motivation why this all happens is easy to guess.

“The Prodigy” is an easily digestible and entertaining horror, despite the predictability and a not so ingeniously put together story. The acting work of Jackson Robert Scott and Taylor Schilling makes up for a lot. Expect some excitement, some jump scares and for some perhaps a surprising denouement. In recent years, a few films have been released with bombastic statements claiming to be the “Scariest horror in years” or “More frightening than The Exorcist“. “The Prodigy” surpasses them all. Without magniloquent slogans. Ergo, highly recommended.

Family Blood (2018) Movie Review By Steven Wilkins

Family Blood Review

Director: Sonny Mallhi
Writers: Nick Savvides, Sonny Mallhi
Stars: Vinessa Shaw, James Ransone, Colin Ford

Ellie (Shaw), a recovering drug addict moves to a new city with her children to start over. After attending a meeting one night, she’s met by a man named Christopher (Ransone) who gifts her with a way to end her addiction problem. Unfortunately, said gift comes with its own problem when Ellie finds she has an insatiable appetite for blood.

This supernatural horror really has one glaring issue in that when it comes time for action it backs out last second which is a huge letdown given the implications made within said scenes. Had they jus gone all out and let the gore shine, this dark tale easily could top a list. Overall, it’s not a bad movie. In another light, it’s really an origin story that could setup a deeper story in a sequel.

On the plus side, the tone is nice, the action is good and the characters are interesting enough. Again, should another installment become of this, hopefully they cut loose and let horror aspect really be just that. Family Blood is flawed some but overall very enjoyable.

Grade B-