TANK 432 (2015)
Mildly spooky thriller has a group of mercenaries coming under heavy fire and taking shelter in a tank. The longer they stay locked inside, the more they begin to realize the enemy outside is the least of their worries.
Written and directed by Nick Gillespie this is a fairly routine horror that sadly becomes more familiar the more it tries to be clever. We can guess the Twilight Zone-ish reveal coming a mile away and despite a few spooky moments, we definitely get the feeling we’ve seen this all before…though, admit-tingly not in a tank. The cast are all fine, though none really make an impression and Gillespie never really takes full advantage of the claustrophobic tank interior setting. Forgettable despite what could have been an intriguing premise.
THE TALL MAN (2012)
Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs was a brutal, shocking, visceral horror that grabbed the horror film community by the balls when released in 2008. Laugier returned to the writer/director’s chair in 2012 with The Tall Man and while it’s nowhere near as brutal or horrifying as his previous flick, Tall Man shows Laugier is a skilled filmmaker that can turn the tables on you and surprise you at will. He makes you think your watching something and that you know exactly what’s going on…then proves just how wrong you are.
The story here begins in the desolate, rural town of Cold Rock, WA., a dying town where the children are disappearing at an alarming rate and a supernatural figure known as The Tall Man is held responsible. A recently widowed doctor (a mesmerizing performance by Jessica Biel) is suddenly thrust in the middle of this urban legend when her son is abducted in the middle of the night. To say anymore would be to ruin a really intense viewing where the rug is pulled out from under you many times and you won’t see it coming. Yes, it’s more of a thriller than a horror film, but Laugier keeps you guessing and keeps you surprised and gives us something quite different, but no less effective, than his 2008 shocker. Laugier is no fluke. Highly recommended.
A HAUNTING AT SILVER FALLS (2013)
Scare-less flick has pretty, orphaned teen, Jordan (Alix Elizabeth Gitter) moving in with her aunt (Tara Westwood) and uncle (Steve Bacic) in the town of Silver Falls after the death of her father. Soon Jordan becomes haunted by the spirits of two twins who died mysteriously. No one believes Jordan, but is this a haunting or a warning?
Directed by Brett Donowho from a generic script by three writers, no less, this is a completely routine haunting flick. We have the lonely teen who stumbles onto a past murder/death and is now being haunted. Her only friend is the local outcast (Tadhg Kelly) and as she has experienced a personal tragedy, no one believes this is anything but emotional duress. Flick has a scant few spooky moments and Gitter makes for a cute, likable and thus sympathetic heroine, but otherwise this supernatural thriller is as cookie cutter as they come. The end reveal is no surprise as we are expecting something like this since we’ve basically seen this movie before. Not quite a complete waste of time, but one can do much better.
Prometheus is not only Ridley Scott’s long awaited return to sci-fi, but also to the same universe that his breakout classic Alien took place in. Prometheus is a prequel of sorts detailing events that may have set the story of Alien in motion and created it’s iconic creatures. So why at the climax are we so unsatisfied by what we just saw? As with all Scott’s films Prometheus is a gorgeously designed and filmed movie, but despite the interesting set-up about the possible origins of man and the existence of other superior beings, the visuals are just an empty candy coating as the film goes nowhere with these ideas. We get a story about Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Repace) who discovers numerous occurrences of a hieroglyphic throughout various earth times and cultures which she interprets as an invitation from an extraterrestrial race. Enter the Weyland Corporation (The villainous “Company” from the Alien films) who fund an expedition, but apparently with their own agenda. And the good ship Prometheus is off to investigate with it’s cliche’ corporate villain captain (Charlize Theron, who really doesn’t do much but be a company bitch) and the usual suspicious android, David (Michael Fassbender, who has the best role).
…And herein lies the problem. We start out expecting to find something fascinating, but Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts’ script gives us a cliche’ story of extraterrestrials whose intentions aren’t as noble as first believed and slimy corporate villains who want to use what they find for there own nefarious purposes. Sorry, been there, done that. Seen it all before. The beings’ true purpose in their genetic tampering is never revealed, nor does it make sense to leave evidence of their existence on earth when they are ultimately up to no good. Prometheus leaves the most interesting questions unanswered and instead moves the plot along by having characters do the stupidest things…seriously, genius scientists taking their helmets off in an alien environment without any clue that there might be an undetected threat?…Are you kidding me? I’ll admit there are a few tense scenes, although the film is rather laid back pace wise, and could have used a lot more suspense and energy if it wasn’t going to get overly interesting with it’s story. And most aggravating of all, is that the film is open-ended. It doesn’t even give us a satisfying conclusion. It leaves the most important questions unanswered and implies we have to wait for yet another film to find out how this story ends and how it links to the beginning of Alien, which it eventually will.
A major disappointment from Ridely Scott and company.
THE DEVIL’S DOLLS (2016)
Silly but amusing flick has a cop, Matt (Christopher Wiehl) gunning down a serial killer and taking the killer’s Guatemalan Worry Dolls into evidence. Upon visiting his ex-wife’s (Samantha Smith) house, his little girl (Kennedy Brice) sees the dolls in his car and takes them. The dolls are possessed by the killer’s evil essence and now anyone who comes into possession of one gets possessed themselves and kills…still with me? Now Matt must recover the dolls before more people meet gruesome ends and free his daughter of the killer’s spirit.
Directed by Padraig Reynolds from a script by Danny Kolker and star Christopher Wiehl, it feels like someone read about Guatemalan Worry Dolls and cobbled together a story to use them. The result is a hodgepodge of a horror mixing possessed dolls, possessed people and a Guatemalan witch doctor (Tina Lifford) living in the middle of the woods (for exposition, of course) in a shack bigger than most people’s condos. If the film has a strong point, it is that there is plenty of gore and it is well rendered and quite abundant and somehow director Reynolds seems to keep the silliness somewhat amusing for the flick’s 85 minute run. It’s never scary, though never boring either. An unintentionally goofy flick and on that level it does entertain despite how bad it all really is.
THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM (2016)
The Disappointments Room is exactly that. Kate Beckinsale stars as architect, wife and mother, Dana, who is moving into a rural country home with her family. Exploring her new house she finds it has a hidden locked room in the attic. Research reveals it’s a disappointments room…a room where well-to-do families hid deformed or handicapped children, to live out their lives in secret without ’embarrassing’ their families. Dana, having lost one of her own children, is especially disturbed by this and starts to see and be haunted by visions and apparitions of a past family and their deformed daughter. Is she just experiencing delusions caused by grief over the accidental death of her baby daughter, or is she really being haunted?
Directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), from a script by he and Wentworth Miller, this is an incredibly generic ghost story. All the well-worn clichés are present, such as Dana being the only one who sees these apparitions and the husband (Mel Raido) leaving mid-haunting to go away for a few days with the haunted wife now home alone with her son (Duncan Joiner). Beckinsale really tries hard here to give her emotionally strained mom some depth, but the incredibly bland script doesn’t give her much to work with. Raido’s husband is the typical doubter who believes it’s all in his wife’s head and there is the stereotypical young, hunky handyman (Lucas Till) to hit on Beckinsale’s hot mom, in a sub-plot that goes nowhere. Caruso directs competently, but achieves only a few spooky moments and holds our interest only by a thread. Bland and very familiar.