Tag Archives: AJ Bowen

Dead Night (2017) DVD Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Dead Night Review

Director: Brad Baruh (as Bradford Baruh)
Writers: Irving Walker (screenplay by), Irving Walker (story by)
Stars: Brea Grant, AJ Bowen, Barbara Crampton

There’s really nothing in Dead Night that a dedicated horror fan hasn’t seen before, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Originality is pretty damned rare in horror these days. It might even be frowned upon in certain circles; sometimes seeing how a new movie treads familiar ground can be enjoyable.

A feeling of deja vu is definitely present throughout this one, which has a family venturing to a remote cabin in the snowy woods. And of course, there’s something out there. This time, that ‘something’ is a band of grungy, monster-clawed nasties with supernatural abilities, but also able to ram a tree limb through your skull should the need arise. The story never makes-clear exactly what they are – it’s suggested they are witches – or their purpose, but I suppose it ultimately doesn’t matter.

The plot is murky at-best and makes the near-fatal mistake of inserting footage of a fake true-crime documentary about the incident, so we already know who lives, who dies and who killed them before the halfway mark. All that’s left is seeing how everything plays out, but few of the narrative turns will come as real surprises. Conceptually, much of it is reminiscent of The Evil Dead, though more serious in tone.

Still, Dead Night is well-paced, atmospheric – making the most of its snowbound setting – and features a few impressively nasty deaths. The practical make-up and gore effects are convincing and suitably graphic, with an elaborate ‘transformation’ scene that’s one of the visual highlights. The performances are mostly adequate, though Casey Pollack has standout moments as the family’s vengeful matriarch. And of course, it’s always great to see legendary scream-queen Barbara Crampton, who engages is some amusing scenery chewing as the primary villain (and looking pretty damn good for a woman pushing 60).

So while there may indeed be nothing new under the sun (or in this case, the moon), Dead Night is enjoyable enough to warrant a watch or two. You’ve seen it all before, but what it lacks in freshness it makes up for with technical skill and creative carnage.

Synchronicity (2015) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Synchronicity Review

Director: Jacob Gentry
Writers: Jacob Gentry, Jacob Gentry
Stars: Chad McKnight, Brianne Davis, AJ Bowen

Plot:  A physicist who invents a time machine must travel back to the past to uncover the truth about his creation and the woman who is trying to steal it.

Running Time: 1 hour 41 Minutes

IMDB Score: 5.5

Why I Watched It: Honestly just because it was Sci-Fi and it didn’t hurt that Michael Ironside was in it.

Random Thoughts: While watching Synchronicity I had this thought that the time travel sub-genre is very limited now, don’t get me wrong we’ve had some very smart and entertaining films but really the set up is almost the same going back in time or trying to and fixing something or making it worse now you can do that in many ways but I will say I’ve seen my fair share of time travel movies and they’re beginning to feel the same.

What I Liked: This film goes the “smart” route of time travel, the science route and I’ll give them credit it comes off pretty well they do have some smart ideas and they do some cool and new things with them.  Now of course they also do the twisty thing and of course it gets a little confusing but I will say they do a couple of things I hadn’t seen before and they were clever about it.

You could tell this is a very small film there’s really like only 6 actors in it, with 4 being the main ones.  The film though looks very good and all the technical stuff is done pretty well, it’s shot well and the sound is good so you wouldn’t tell this was a small budget.

The acting is mixed here so let’s be positive first, of course Michael Ironside was good he’s always good but sadly he’s the bad guy and that’s it.  AJ Bowen is good and I have to say I would have liked his character as the lead.

This is pretty much a plot driven movie and for the most part I liked most of it, even though I might be getting a little tired of time travel it’s still a fun genre and if done right it always seems to grab me, the best part of the film is that they really do try to  go big with the science and the fiction and the film does do a couple of neat things and they don’t cheat.

What I Didn’t Like: The romance part did work for me at all and that has a lot to do with both of the actors Chad McKnight and Brianne Davis, they have no chemistry and even though McKnight gives a solid performance he’s not great with Davis the romance stuff really is just a stock cliched film noir subplot that really slows down the film and honestly makes it a worse film.  Davis is the weak link here, I didn’t buy her character for a second and she just didn’t ring true.  For a film that’s trying to be smart and trying to do something different they really screwed up focusing too much time on an element that at it’s best should have been a side plot but as the film goes on it becomes about their love and it didn’t work nearly as well as the science and time travel stuff.

As I was watching this I couldn’t help of thinking about the film Primer which is a cult hit and a really smart and intellectual time travel film and Synchronicity is like the step-brother of the film, or the poor man’s version of Primer.  I don’t like comparing films but they do more than nod in Primer’s direction.

Near the end I did think of the saying “a snake eating it’s own tail.” this film does go in on it’s self so much you might not only be confused but find yourself not caring.  The other thing with the film it does take awhile to get going and the first act is stiff and a little boring it does pick up but I almost stopped watching but hung with it.

Final Thoughts: If you’re a time travel fan then this is well worth a watch, at parts it’s compelling and clever the film for me just didn’t hang together as well as I would have liked.

Rating: 6/10

You’re Next (2013) Movie Retro Review by Darrin Gauthier


Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Simon Barrett
Stars: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen

Plot: When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of the victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.

Running Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 75%  Audience 59%

Why I Watched it: This got really good buzz in the genre community when it was doing the festival circuit and of course I love horror films.

Thoughts: Here’s one of those horror films that got over hyped before it came out, people were talking about how kick ass and great this horror film was in most cases the hype is better than the film. One thing I’ve learned about horror fans they see so much crap when they see even a decent film there lose their shit over it.  The other interesting thing about this film is it has a bunch of directors in the cast, so just for trivia sake it’s kind of fun.

What I liked: The premise and how it’s set up is pretty cool.  The film starts and it looks like a family drama, they get together and fight and blah blah then the dinner scene happens and the film not only becomes a horror film but a siege film.  Honestly that’s the high point of the film, if you didn’t know what the film was about that scene is a jaw dropper.  So the film becomes about these masked people attacking and trying to kill everyone in the house.  So it’s a home invasion siege movie cause it’s a very big house.

The acting is hit or miss but for me Sharni Vinson is the standout, she has an interesting character and back story and what I liked about it is we learn about it as we go.  She gets to kick ass here and at one point the film almost turns into a Die Hard rip-off, and I guess in some ways it is.  Vinson is not only very good she pulls off the physicality, she’s a believable threat.

The action is pretty good and the kills are decent, the tension and atmosphere is good.  The one thing the movie tries to do is not only pull off the horror but also the why is this happening and who is behind it, I’ll give them credit for trying a bit more and actually trying to go full out.

What I didn’t Like: Even though I give the filmmakers credit for trying I do think they tried too hard and they throw too much into the film, I think it could have been tighter and more streamlined, they through a couple of twists too many into the mix, honestly they didn’t need it.  It kind of muddy the waters.  The film should have focused on Vinson fighting off the invaders but they decided to throw a bunch of family drama in there as well.  They also tried to get very weird and strange, there’s a scene where a character is trying to get another character to have sex on a bed where there’s a dead body and not only a dead body but a relative of the person she is trying to have sex with, yes it’s distasteful and really it’s weird for the sake of weird.  The one problem I’ve had with Adam Wingard’s films is he sometimes tries to force different genre’s together and conflicting elements and sometimes it just does work, square peg round hole.

Even though it’s only 95 minutes it drags, and the thing won’t end we have a couple of false finishes and I’ll be honest it was wearing out it’s welcome.

Final Thoughts: You’re Next isn’t a total waste, there’s some good ideas and a good lead performance and it’s a lot better than most horror films but it should and could have been better, so I was a little disappointed.

Rating: 5/10