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Brilliant college student Ethan (Thomas Mann) is forced to drop out of school to care for his younger brother Matt (Percy Hynes-White) and his little sister Becca (Kate Moyer) when his parents are killed in a car accident. He keeps working on his experiment, though, a device to create wireless energy. While the device has yet to accomplish it’s purpose, unknown to Ethan, it is opening a doorway to the afterlife. At first Matt and Becca think they are being visited by their parents, but soon it is apparent someone else has crossed over, someone malevolent and with bad intentions.
Film is well directed by Anthony Scott Burns (the Father’s Day segment from Holidays) from a screenplay by Nathan Parker, which is based on Matt Osterman’s indie film Ghost From The Machine. Our House starts out with an interesting way of getting the supernatural ball rolling by having Ethan’s machine accidentally opening a door to the spirit world and letting something into the house. Eventually, though, it does settle into becoming a more routine haunting flick with both a benign and a more malevolent spirit focusing attention on little Becca. It also follows the traditional formula with a skeptical adult…here, Ethan…thinking Becca and Matt are just working through their grief. What elevates the film from the routine, is that at it’s center it is a very poignant story of children of various ages dealing with the sudden death of their parents. Anthony Scott Burns does use the familiar haunting tropes and very well, but it is his portrayal of a family in mourning and how each member deals with it, that makes the movie a supernatural horror with a heart and soul. These kids are on their own and Ethan is trying to raise them and it gives us a strong emotional investment in the young family. Even if we’ve seen the supernatural elements before, they are all the more effective because we care about the characters. Nathan Parker’s screenplay also includes a neighbor, Tom (Robert B. Kennedy) who is suffering from the loss of his wife and whose house is also falling under the machine’s influence. It creates a wild card character whose emotional instability adds some uncertainty, because we know he’ll enter the mix at the worse possible time. It adds to the supernatural elements which are already atmospheric and spooky, despite the familiarity. It was also refreshing that Anthony Scott Burns keeps things subtle, until the very end and even then avoids going over the top, keeping the story grounded. Only a brief scene with a floating doll came across as a bit silly and the rest of the flick is more accessible as it avoids getting too theatrical for it’s own good.
There is a very effective cast here. Lead Thomas Mann is very good as Ethan. He gives us a brilliant student who is a bit self-absorbed concerning his project and his attention is torn away and back to his family as he must now be guardian and provider for Matt and Becca. The actor portrays well both the frustration and the sacrifice as Ethan must put aside his life and be a dad to his siblings. He tries to find time for them and follow his dream and Mann essays the awkward juggling of responsibilities well. Percy Hynes-White is solid as Matt. He’s in high school and his way of handling things is to withdraw, until he thinks there is a chance his parents have returned to the house. He also blames Ethan for their deaths and that adds tension and conflict to an already tense situation. Kate Moyer was really good as little Becca. The young actress portrays a little girl who has her parents ripped away and now seeks solace from what family she has left. When she thinks her parents have returned, she embraces the spirits without realizing they may not be who they seem. She also finds a friend in the spirit of a little girl, Alice who is followed by a far more malevolent entity. In support is Robert B. Kennedy as the emotionally troubled Tom, who has lost his wife and Nicola Peltz as Ethan’s concerned girlfriend Hannah. Sadly Hannah is left on the sidelines for a lot of the movie, until resurfacing at the end. She was a sweet and caring character and her presence is missed when Ethan is sorting out his life.
Overall, this was an effective and enjoyable supernatural thriller. The basic story may have been routine, but the director and script start things off in an intriguing way and keep us interested with a very strong emotional center. The familiar supernatural elements are used well and are more effective as we care about the characters. Anthony Scott Burns keeps things from getting too theatrical which serves the overall story. It’s a refreshingly subtle spook fest with a good cast and a very likable bunch of characters to fear for. As he also had the best segment in Holidays, Burns proves to be a filmmaker to keep an eye on. Another solid release from the folks at IFC Midnight.
Shudder exclusive finds pretty Alex (Marcienne Dwyer) out of rehab and going on “Slasher Sleep-out” weekend with her new boyfriend Nathan (Matt Dellapina) and four other participants. It’s supposed to be a simulated slasher flick in the woods, but something strange is going on and Alex starts to believe that this Slasher Sleep-Out is far more real than they bargained for. Is it all in Alex’s troubled head?…or is this more than a game?
Flick is directed well by Preston DeFrancis from a script by he and Trysta A. Bissett. It’s a fairly fun movie that works in some of the familiar tropes and then plays with them a bit as this simulated slasher weekend starts to go awry…or does it? The concept that we are never sure if this is all part of this faux horror movie weekend, or if someone is having deadly fun with our bunch, works well enough, even if we can see certain things coming. The cast are all good, especially lead Dwyer, who makes a sufficient final girl…or is she? There is entertainment to be had and some surprises, too and while it’s not perfect, it actually surpasses the moderate expectations one might go in with. Worth a watch.
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Completely derivative U.K. slasher has a group of friends heading into the woods to camp near a farmhouse that hosted some grisly murders two decades earlier. Apparently a farmer (Benjamin Selway) heard voices which drove him to brutally kill…and partially eat…his family. Perfect location! Obviously the hulking madman is still on the premises, all these years later and this little camping excursion goes bloodily south real quick.
Multi-tasking David Ryan Keith writes, directs, edits, produces and even does the cinematography on this slasher, though there isn’t an original bone in it’s bloody body. It’s basically a Texas Chainsaw retread with a dash of Halloween thrown in as a Scottish farmer goes bonkers and becomes a mask wearing psycho. He still haunts the same farmhouse where he killed his own family and slaughters anyone who comes near…and the notoriety of the place brings him plenty of vittles for his slaughter house. Despite the lack of originality, there is a sense of fun here, or at least a good effort on the technical side from filmmaker Keith. The gore is plentiful and fairly effective and Selway’s burlap-bag-masked killer works well enough. It isn’t very suspenseful or scary, but it passes the time adequately and all the tropes are there for those who like the redneck cannibal genre for it’s own sake. The cast are OK enough with cute girl-next -door Lisa Cameron making a decent final girl, though Lee Hutcheon‘s revenge seeking hunter doesn’t accomplish much. All in all, you could do worse as far as cookie cutter slashers go.
So, maybe it’s nothing you haven’t seen before and not done in any way innovative, but you have to admire David Ryan Keith‘s effort just a bit. It’s a formula redneck cannibal slasher with a lot of gruesome kills and fairly decent production value for something made on a very low budget. The killer works within his familiar context and the cast is attractive enough to fall under his blades satisfactorily. Our final girl Pamela does her job adequately and there are worst ways to spend 80+ minutes on the couch with your favorite poison. If you are a redneck cannibal completest, you might want to check it out.
Over two years ago disappointing news came for fans of writer/director Stevan Mena and his Malevolence and Bereavementfilms. Due to the tragic death of a major cast member, production was halted with only 75% of the film completed and a lot needing to be re-shot. Recently, Stevan Mena was able to complete production and now the film is finished and a trailer has arrived!
Cult Classic Cuties are characters from some of our favorite cult classics and midnight movies who captured our hearts and/or actresses who got our attention, but sadly never returned to these type of flicks. They’re femme fatales and final girls whose sexy stars shined only briefly, not quite achieving scream queen status. And this installment’s cutie is…
This installment of Cult Classic Cuties, goes back to it’s usual format and focuses on an actress who starred in only one horror flick in her two decade long acting career and it is a cult classic for sure! Leah Ayres worked steadily in movies and TV for almost twenty years, between 1979 and 1998, yet starred in only one horror flick, The Burning! In Tony Maylam’s summer camp set slasher, drunken camp caretaker Cropsy is pranked by some teens and when it goes horribly awry, he’s critically burned and disfigured. Five years later, Cropsy returns to the area for revenge and stalks the occupants of Camp Stonewater, where the lovely and feisty Michelle is a counselor!
(You can read my full review for The Burning by clicking the highlighted titles or on the poster below)
Leah Ayres, now Leah Kalish, still keeps busy with a family and working with Yoga and fitness for kids by creating health oriented videos and programing for children. We will always remember her for her feisty and brave Michelle from her one cult classic horror, The Burning! A Cult Classic Cutie for sure!
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Sequel to 13 Cameras is again written by Victor Zarcoff, though directing chores have been handed off to Seth Fuller and Scott Hussion. Follow-up takes place years later with creepy landlord Gerald (Neville Archambault) continuing his stalker ways and filling his properties with hidden cameras, watching the occupants and occasionally kidnapping female ones that suit his fancy. He’s upped his game and now streams the footage on the web and charges other creeps to watch it. He still has Claire (Brianne Moncrief) captive and raises her young son “Jr.” (Gavin White) as his own. His current targets are a vacationing family, with their daughter, pretty college student Molly (Brytnee Ratledge) and her hot, flirty friend Danielle (Amber Midthunder) as the objects of his gross attention. Things get complicated when his footage attracts like-minded individuals, and he now has competition for making Danielle one of his collection.
New directors, Fuller and Hussion, keep this second installment creepy, and sometimes violent, as the scenario is opened up a bit to focus on not only Gerald’s disturbing habits, but having Claire and her son in captivity. Claire is almost used to her life in what looks like a bomb shelter dug into the desert floor and tries to convince new roommates, like athletic and pretty Sarah (Chelsea Edmundson), that escape attempts are not a good idea…and to a degree they are not. Pervert Gerald has set his sights on pretty, flirtatious Danielle and his intrusions into the house and in her belongings conveniently get blamed on Molly’s teen brother Kyle (John-Paul Howard). It’s creepy and very unsettling to follow mouth-breather Gerald as he watches the girls shower and romp around in bikini’s and then sell the footage…and a pair of Danielle’s panties…to his creepy subscribers. Things start to fall apart for the deranged landlord when “Jr.” starts to get curious about his “dad’s” activities and one of Gerald’s subscribers starts a bidding war for Danielle. It’s very disturbing to watch unfold and even though it shares some of the first film’s flaws…like gimp-legged Gerald getting out of occupied houses unseen…it has the viewer squirming in their seat enough to work. The idea of being watched in the privacy of your own home and having that privacy invaded is a concept that still hasn’t worn out its effectiveness. Add to that, the idea of having your most private moments sold to deviates on the dark web is equally as chilling. This flick makes good use of both scenarios.
Once again Neville Archambault paints a disturbing individual as the vile Gerald. He is a pervert and a deviate and has no moral compass whatsoever. His activities make your skin crawl and feel sympathy for those under the watchful eye of his hidden cameras, especially those who find themselves bound and gagged in the back of his truck. In this installment he even finds a way to make money off his sick behavior from like-minded creeps…and apparently, there are a lot of them. Brianne Moncrief is solid as the captive Claire. She’s pretty much given up all hope of escape and is accepting of her life in captivity, though when it comes to reuniting with the son she barely knows, it ignites a bit of fight in her. Amber Midthunder is very likable as the lively and playful Danielle. She is the type of girl that gets attention, though the wrong kind here. The cast portraying family members are all fine in support with Brytnee Ratledge as Molly, John-Paul Howard as Molly’s high school student brother Kyle, Lora Martinez-Cunningham (Sicario, Fender Bender) as their hot mom Lori and Hank Rogerson as their dad Arthur. Whether it was intentional or not, it made the older and pervy Gerald even creepier that he ignores sexy mom Lori and goes after co-ed Danielle, who’s still a teenager. Last, but not least, Chelsea Edmundson is effective as the strong-willed captive Sarah and Gavin White, equally so, as “Jr” who is becoming quite the nosy young man.
Sequel adds up to pretty much an equal as while it shared some of 13 Camera’s flaws, it was also very disturbing and unsettling. Gerald is proving to be a very effective and creepy character in his second outing and Neville Archambault really makes him realistic and scary. The flick has a good cast, and the makers took the first movie’s concept and opened it up a bit with Gerald now taking his perversions to the dark web and profiting on them from others of his ilk. An effective second film in this franchise and directed well by Hussion and Fuller.
Found footage flick takes place in 1960 and is supposed to be film footage shot by two priests, Father Thomas (Lalor Roddy) and Father John (Ciaran Flynn) as they investigate the reported bleeding eyes of a Virgin Mary statue. The statue stands in an Irish Magdalene laundry which were basically homes for wayward women cast out by society. Once the priests start to investigate, they find the statue is the least of their problems as there is true evil in this place both human and supernatural in origin.
Aside from it’s intriguing setting, there is nothing all that original in this flick, as either a found footage film or a demonic thriller. Director Aislinn Clarke makes atmospheric use of her locations, including some creepy rooms and catacombs beneath the building, but fails to set anything all that involving within them. Her script, that she wrote along with Martin Brennan and Micheal B. Jackson, drags out every cliché imaginable in the found footage and demonic possession genres from the shaky cams and conveniently failing lights to the laughter of spectral children and levitating young women in nightgowns. The last act down in the subterranean catacombs beneath the building were right out of As Above, So Belowand the sticks used for demonic symbols, right out of Blair Witch. Roddy’s Father Thomas was an interesting character and there was a creepy twist involving his past and Helena Bereen‘s Mother Superior was spooky without the last act reveals. It’s just the film seems to be simply a mash-up of elements and scenes from other movies and not done interesting enough to freshen them up or give the filmmakers a break. There is some feminist commentary mixed in, but it doesn’t make up for all the under-cooked horror elements that we’ve seen so many times before. There is some spooky and disturbing stuff in the last act, but it’s too little, too late and too familiar to elevate the film, even with a brief 76 minutes run-time.