Category Archives: Horror

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-

Child’s Play (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

Child's Play Review

Director: Lars Klevberg
Writers: Tyler Burton Smith (screenplay by), Don Mancini (based on characters created by)
Stars: Tim Matheson, Ben Andrusco-Daon, Zahra Anderson, Mark Hamill

It seems like a lifetime ago since I saw the original film with the demonic pop Chucky dangerously swinging around with a razor-sharp butcher knife. Well, it’s not a hundred years, but thirty years is a long time as well. That’s how long it’s been since I went to get the VHS of this movie in the local video store. Apparently, several sequels have been made after the initial release. Somehow, I’ve missed that. Me and sequels. It remains an eternal struggle. Because there wasn’t anything better to choose from and I had nothing to do, I still took the risk and watched this modern version. Apart from the fact that the doll looks slightly different, has been given a different name and the reason for its malicious behaviour has changed slightly, it was exactly as if I went back in time. “Child’s Play” has the same 80s horror mood.

But first of all, a big compliment to the makers of this pimped version. Most reboots or remakes just seem like a duplicate of the original. Here they really deviate from the original story. It’s not the soul of a serial killer that transforms the doll into a bloodthirsty, diabolical murderous toy. Here it’s an aggrieved and irritated Chinese factory worker who starts to mess with the security software out of revenge. To be honest, I felt like giving up at that moment. A ragged and clearly unkempt Chinese guy reprogramming the source software was, in my eyes, completely absurd and exaggerated. Fortunately, I persisted. Because all in all “Child’s Play” wasn’t so bad.

What disappointed me a bit, was the doll itself. Especially the transformation from good to evil. In the original film, Chucky did get a diabolical and cruel expression. In this movie, they wanted to achieve the same effect by providing Buddi (as this child-friendly babysitter is now called) with red-glowing eyes. Well, it wasn’t really scary. And to be honest, this film isn’t creepy at all. I thought it was rather entertaining horror material, suitable for the novice horror enthusiast. Don’t expect any nasty-looking killings either. You’ll see clichéd situations where circular saws and a lawnmower (or something like that) are used in. The favourite murder instruments from the 80s.

The acting was generally acceptable. Only Aubrey Plaza as Andy’s mother wasn’t really convincing. To be honest, she seemed to be the sister of Andy (Gabriel Bateman), the introverted boy with a hearing problem. David Lewis played the most annoying character. That means you can say that his acting was successful. The most light-hearted and comical part was provided by Brian Tyree Henry as police officer Mike, who lives with his mother. It’s not only the mother-son correlation that sometimes causes hilarious moments. There are also slapstick-like scenes, such as the gift-wrapped item (Well, I try to stay vague about this) that falls into the hands of Mike’s mother by mistake. Most surprising in this film was the fact that Mark Hamill (Yes, Luke Skywalker himself) was responsible for Chucky’s dialogues.

In the end, this was a creditable attempt to breathe new life into the Chucky franchise. This modernized version is not an epic film but is anything but bad. It even tries to portray a failing A.I. and point out the dangers of a robotic society. And actually, what Chucky is doing, is simply the result of a learning process that he undergoes in the company of Andy. If the latter makes a remark that he would rather get rid of the cat Mickey Rooney, you already know the verdict. In the end, Chucky is nothing more than an electronic gadget that ignores the robotics laws of Asimov. It’s not really impressive or exciting at all. But “Child’s Play” was a nice time-killer.

In the Tall Grass (2019) Movie Review By Steven Wilkins

 

In The Tall Grass Review

Director: Vincenzo Natali
Writers: Vincenzo Natali, Stephen King (based on the novella by)
Stars: Laysla De Oliveira, Avery Whitted, Patrick Wilson

As much as I love and appreciate time loop films, In the Tall Grass really fails to deliver anything new. When pregnant Becky (Oliveira) and  her brother Cal (Whitted) pull over during a road trip, they hear a young boys (Bruie) cry for help inside a field of tall grass. Naturally,  they enter the field in search of the child only to soon realise something is very wrong with time itself.

As the 2 search for and soon find the child, the plot then starts to unravel and though it gets good it never really gets great.  The limbo is fine but more would have been welcomed.  There are some notable moments and a few dropped balls.

Patrick Wilson has a supporting role and is quite excellent.  The rest of the cast is engaging, could both be dialled up or down a tad.

In short, if you like Time loop films, this is a solid enough thriller to sit and enjoy one time.  Not a must-see but worth the time. Enjoy

Rattlesnake (2019) Movie Review By Steven Wilkins

 

Rattlesnake Review

Director: Zak Hilditch
Writer: Zak Hilditch
Stars: Carmen Ejogo, Theo Rossi, Emma Greenwell

During a road trip,  Katrina (Ejogo) and ger daughter Clara (Pratt) end up in the middle of nowhere with a flat.  As Katrina attempts to put on the spare, her daughter is bitten by a rattlesnake while playing in the open field.  Frantically searching for assistance she spots a nearby trailer.  Inside, a woman calmly assures that she can save the child…but at a price.

One is willing to bet this looked really good on paper but just didn’t fully translate. Even after all is said and done,  Rattlesnake probably would have served best as like a 45min short.  It’s a good story, the characters all could use a bit of grit and depth but for what it’s worth, its merely a decent low-budget time killer and although the word may not be great, the story itself could easily warrant new tales.

Take some time or don’t, Rattlesnake is ok but underwhelming

Grade: B-

Before I Wake (2016) Movie Review By Steven Wilkins

Before I Wake Review

Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
Stars: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay

Jessie (Bosworth) and Mark (Jane) have decided to foster a child after the unfortunate death of their son Sean.  They take in a young boy by the name of Cody (Tremblay) who is as seemingly normal as a child may seem.  They quickly learn he’s far from average as it turns out when Cody dreams, all his visions take true form in the real world.

After one incident spring’s to life an image of their deceased son, Jessie momentarily obsesses with seeing her child again and again.   Unfortunately, with any good comes the bad and with sweet dreams come nightmares.  Beautiful displays of butterflies are a telling sign that Cody is asleep, black moths fill the void once the nightmare has set.

Of course there’s a backstory and its well worth the mystery of unfolding.  There are a few moments where you may wish they went for more during scenes but overall what was delivered came off well.  The horror element in what is labeled as a fantasy/drama takes centre stage but never to a point where one would seem it a horror tale.  BEFORE I WAKE is exciting, sad, mysterious and well worth the bowl of popcorn.

Take some time to enjoy this title.

Grade: A-