Found footage horror finds paranormal investigator Geoff (Greg Sestero) teaming up with his estranged psychic sister Izzy (Leah Finity) to investigate an abandoned and allegedly haunted school. If personal tensions weren’t enough, the effects of a past tragedy and a sinister presence lurking the halls make this possibly the most real and terrifying episode of Infrared of all!
Flick is written and directed by Robert Livings and Randy Lundlall Jr. and the duo try hard. There are a few spooky sequences, but like most found footage flicks it takes a long time to really get going and we spend at least an hour with Geoff and Izzy’s personal melodrama. It follows the formula almost too closely with anything interesting happening in the last act and then it ends suddenly with a cheap jump scare. Yes, there is an unexpected element that is revealed near the end, but it comes too little and too late to make things interesting and not enough is done with it before the credits roll. At least the directors give the flick a bit of a found footage feel, most of the time, though an overacting Jesse Janzen as the eccentric property owner Wes comes across as nothing but scripted hijinks. Seen worse. Seen better. Infrared premiers on VOD on 7/22/22 on the Terror Films Channel and 7/29/22 on all other digital streaming outlets.
WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ACTUALS JUNE 24-26
(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to the reviews here at The Movie Madhouse!)
1. “Top Gun: Maverick” $30.5 Million
2, “Elvis” $30.5 Million
3. “Jurassic World: Dominion” $26.4 Million
4. “The Black Phone” $23.4 Million
5. “Lightyear” $17.7 Million
6. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” $1.7 Million
7. “Jug Jugg Jeeyo” $725,000
8. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” $533,346
9. “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” $513,000
10.”The Bad Guys” $439,975
source: Box Office Mojo
THE BLACK PHONE (2022)
Thriller takes place in 1978 in a working-class suburb of Denver, Colorado. It focuses on Finny Shaw (Mason Thames) who has enough problems with school bullies and an alcoholic father, but there is also a series of child abductions being committed by a mysterious individual the press has dubbed The Grabber (Ethan Hawke). Finny is kidnaped himself by the masked serial killer and finds himself locked in a sound-proof basement. The boy gets help from unusual sources as a disconnected phone in his prison bares the voices of previous victims and his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw), who shares her late mother’s gift for clairvoyance, tries to help police find him. Is it enough to keep Finny from being The Grabber’s next victim?
The Black Phone is directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Doctor Strange) from his script with C. Robert Cargill, based on Joe Hill’s short story. Derrickson smartly gives us a little time to get to know Finny, and his life at the moment, so we are endeared to him when Hawke’s creepy Grabber abducts him. We then intercut between Finney receiving phone messages from beyond, while police search for him with Gwen trying to help through her dream visions. It could have gotten silly quick with both a psychic sister and phone calls from dead kids on the menu, but Derrickson keeps it chilling and tense as Finny tries to find a way to escape. It also helps that Hawke’s Grabber is a disturbing yet grounded psycho who never goes over the top or falls into camp. He remains calm most of the time and that’s scarier. Derrickson only falters by once again letting James Ransone play a borderline goofy character that disrupts the serious tone and overdoing it a bit with his grainy footage schtick, which seems to be the only reason the film is set in the 70s. Gwen’s visions appear like old grainy film stock a la Sinister’s old film footage sequences. It doesn’t fit in as well here. Otherwise, this is a well-crafted thriller with some good lead performances and a worthy confrontation between victim and villain were certain puzzle pieces also fall into place.
The cast are mostly good with a very strong performance by young Mason Thames as Finny. Finny is resilient and smart, but a bit meek at times, despite showing there is some strength inside him. He and Hawke work very well together. Hawke is very good here and once again proves he is a versatile and underrated actor. His Grabber is low key and calm and that makes him all the scarier as he appears confident and in control, despite being obviously very twisted and deranged. Madeline McGraw is also excellent as the apparently psychic Gwen. She’s a tough and sometimes foul-mouthed little girl but determined to find her brother. A very strong performance from the young actress. Not so impressive is James Ranson as Max. This is a goofy and almost unnecessary character, and it interrupts the tension when his goofball antics are on screen. Also weak is Jeremy Davies as the siblings’ alcoholic father Terrance. The character simply should have been stronger and more threatening, thus his change to sympathetic would have been more impressive later on. Otherwise, a good cast!
Overall, this was a solid thriller with some impactful violence and some suspenseful moments. There were some strong performances from the leads, which helps make the more supernatural elements here work. There were a few supporting character missteps, but Hawke and Thames portrayed strong characters that made them good adversaries. An effective and tense thriller from the Doctor Strange director.
Rated 3 (out of 4) wall phones
Suspense thriller finds Julia (Maika Monroe) moving to Romania with her husband Francis (Karl Glusman). Bored and alone, Julia is looking out the window one night and sees a neighbor (Burn Gorman) staring back. As her feelings of loneliness and isolation grow, and reports of a serial killer on the loose spread through the city, Julia begins to believe the man staring back at her might be the killer. Is it her imagination getting the better of her, or is she really in grave danger?
Flick is written and directed by Chloe Okuno and is a sadly underwhelming thriller. This type of story with a fish out of water in a strange land believing they are being watched and followed by someone dangerous has been done many times before. That would be fine if this flick did something innovative with the scenario, but Okuno doesn’t. It plays out just as we expect, follows the formula to the letter, and even ends exactly as we knew it would. Aside from a solid performance by Monroe as Julia and some nice cinematography of Bucharest from Benjamin Kirk Nielsen, there is very little to recommend from this mundane and very routine thriller.
BREAKING NEWS: FATHOM EVENTS TO FIX ASPECT RATIO FOR CARPENTER’S THE THING!
After fan anger and disappointment was unleased online, led by filmmaker and horror expert Mick Garris, due to Fathom Events’ sub-par print of John Carpenter’s The Thing that was screened Sunday night, Fathom has responded! As stated in an article appearing on Variety’s website last night, Fathom Events will replace the shoddy print with a print in the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio for Wednesday’s scheduled screenings!
Fathom’s statement as per the Variety article…
“Your patronage and trust are of utmost importance to us. We know you come to theaters expecting the very best experience possible and we pride ourselves in being the provider of that experience,” the statement reads. “We are aware that the recent showing of ‘The Thing; wasn’t shown in its original aspect ratio and the disappointment it caused. Wednesday’s scheduled event will be shown in the proper aspect ratio, so you can see the film in theaters, as it was meant to be seen.”
Nothing was said about refunding or appeasing those, like myself, that saw it Sunday with the inferior print, but at least those seeing it at the Wednesday showings will get to see it as John Carpenter intended! Thank you, Mick Garris!
Source: Variety and Mick Garris’ Instagram
HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING (1982)!
The ill-fated crew of U.S. outpost #31 from John Carpenter’s The Thing!
John Carpenter’s production of The Thing turns 40 years old on 6/25/22 and I was fortunate to see it at a preview screening a week earlier at the long-gone Totowa Cinema in Totowa, N.J. At this point I was already a John Carpenter fan and The Thing from Another World, which is the first film adaptation John W. Campbell Jr’s Who Goes There?, was one of my childhood favorites. I was very excited and as there was no internet to spoil things, I didn’t know what to expect apart from a few stills posted in Starlog and a cast and crew with some familiar faces and names. I was wowed to say the least by this groundbreaking adaptation with some of the most amazing make-up FX I’d ever seen! There was no traditional monster such as in Alien, but a creature that changed shape and form every time you saw it and right before you eyes. I loved the flick and was actually mad when it opened officially a week later to bad reviews and even worse box office. I saw it at least twice more in a theater before it’s sadly brief theatrical run came to an end. now, after four decades I can be happy that the film is finally recognized and regarded as the classic that it is!
Something not of this world has been unleashed from it’s icy tomb!
Last night John Carpenter’s flick, now rightfully recognized as the masterpiece it is, returned to theaters to commemorate it’s 40th anniversary thanks to AMC and Fathom Events. It was a bittersweet return as, sadly, it was an inferior print that was not only faded and sometimes a bit blurry but cropped from the film’s original 2:35 aspect ratio to something more resembling 1:85! WTF!? This totally betrayed Carpenter’s impeccable visual style and Dean Cundey’s masterful cinematography. On that level it was very disappointing. However, the heart and soul of this science fiction/horror was still intact, and it was still a blast and a good time to see Kurt Russell and co-stars up on the big screen once more battling Rob Bottin’s shape-shifting alien monstrosity. It brought back a lot of memories from my first screening in 1982 and proved this flick has lost none of its potency four decades later. It will always remain one of my all-time favorites and if you truly want to see it as intended, pick up Scream Factory’s collector’s edition. The print is a beautifully restored high definition transfer that presents this masterpiece of alien terror in all it’s gory glory!
A last stand against the alien invader!
Photos: Universal Pictures
WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES JUNE 17-19
(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to the reviews here at The Movie Madhouse!)
1. “Jurassic World: Dominion” $58.7 Million
2. “Lightyear” $51 Million
3. “Top Gun: Maverick” $44 Million
4. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” $4.2 Million
5. “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” $1.1 Million
6. “The Bad Guys” $980,000
7. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” $959,631
8. “Downton Abbey: A New Era” $830,000
9. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” $228,392
10. “Brian and Charles” $198,000
source: Box Office Mojo
H.P. LOVECRAFT’S WITCH HOUSE (2022)
H.P. Lovecraft’s Witch House is an impressive low budget indie horror based on the legendary writer’s short story Dreams in The Witch House. The story finds graduate student Alice (Michelle Morris) staying at an old house that allegedly was the scene of much occult and supernatural activity. Alice intends to prove that witchcraft was actually used to open dimensional doorways, but her investigation only opens up a nightmare for the pretty young student.
Flick is atmospherically directed by Bobby Easley from a script by he and Ken Wallace, and Easley gets a lot accomplished on his low budget. The director has a good visual eye and there is some very spooky imagery here. He gets good use out of the atmospheric old house that a lot of the film is shot in, the dream/hallucination sequences are spooky, and what minimal make-up and gore FX there are, such as a very effective demonic entity, are well shot and executed. The story has been done before, and the ending is no shocker if you are a horror fan, but it’s still quite effective. Lead Michelle Morris gives a really good performance as Alice, a woman with a scientific interest in witchcraft and who is also emotionally wounded by a toxic relationship with an abusive boyfriend (Andrew Hutchinson). Aubrey Smith-Leonard is spooky as the owner of the allegedly haunted house and Julie Anne Prescott is good as her daughter Tommi, whom Alice forms a friendship and romantic relationship with. Not all the acting is as solid and some of the surreal dream sequences are shot a little too dark, with the color filters and lights being used a bit too much. Flaws and budget restraints aside, though, Bobby Easley crafts an effective little horror with some legitimate chills and some very impressive and spooky visuals on what appears to be an extremely modest budget. Worth a look when it comes to VOD on 7/5/22!