BARE BONES: BOOK OF MONSTERS (2018)

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BOOK OF MONSTERS (2018)

When Sophie (Jessica Fay) was eight years-old, her mother used to read to her from an ancient book called The Book of Monsters…until one of those monsters dragged her mother under her bed and killed her. No one, including her father (Nicholas Vince), believed her and she was sent to an institution for a year. Ten years later on her eighteenth birthday, Sophie (now Lyndsey Craine) is given the Book of Monsters by her father. Smart move dad! Obviously, the monsters are unleashed during her birthday party and it become a bloodbath, as she and her friends have to fight for their lives.

UK Horror/comedy is directed by Stewart Sparke from a script by Paul Butler and is a fun 84 minutes, if you can get past the blatantly stupid plot device of Sophie’s dad giving her a book for her birthday that traumatized her as a child. The flick looks good enough for a Kickstarter movie made for under $100,000 and the gore is plentiful and it’s low budget monsters are simple yet effective. Sparke does conjure some spooky sequences and mixes the comedy and horror fairly well. The cast are all attractive and do a fine job, with Craine making a cute and endearing heroine. Sure there are plot contrivances and conveniences to move things along and it can be very predictable, but it’s bloody, homage-paying heart is in the right place. Also stars Lizzie Stanton, Rose Muirhead and Michaela Longden as Sophie’s friends Beth, Jess and Mona. Watch through the credits for the traditional sequel set-up.

Available on Amazon Prime and other VOD platforms.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: THE HOLE IN THE GROUND (2019)

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THE HOLE IN THE GROUND (2019)

Pretty single mom Sarah (Seána Kerslake) lives in a small, remote Irish village with her son Chris (James Quinn Markey). When Chris encounters a large, mysterious sinkhole in the woods near their home, his behavior starts to change. As her son’s actions become more and more disturbing, Sarah starts to believe that he might not be her son at all and that something else came back from that hole in the ground.

Irish horror is directed by Lee Cronin from his script written along with Stephen Shields. While there are some familiar elements, such as doubts about a strange behaving loved one’s identity, no one believing the doubter, Cronin turns this into a very creepy flick. Seána Kerslake also helps by giving a strong performance as Sarah, a woman who has had her own trauma, who is terrified that her child is no longer her son. Cronin and his actress gives us doubts ourselves about Sarah’s belief until Chris’ increasingly odd behavior start us believing right along with her…but who or what is he? Again, the story is familiar, but skillful and atmospheric direction from Cronin and good work from lead Kerslake, make this a very spooky and unsettling movie. Not everything is explained, but here the ambiguities work in it’s favor and the movie knows how to get under your skin in subtle but disturbing ways. Recommended!

 

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET (2018)

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RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET (2018)

Sequel finds Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) traveling into the internet to find E-Bay, to get a new steering wheel for her Sugar Rush game. Along the way Vanellope discovers a dangerous game called Slaughter Race, that she would rather stay in and in his grief, Ralph unleashes a virus which replicates hundreds of him at his most needy and threatens to bring the internet crashing down.

Sequel is cute and fun, though not quite up to the original Wreck-It Ralph. Rich Moore returns to direct, this time along with Phil Johnston, who co-wrote the screenplay along with Pamela Ribbon. The characters are still endearing and it is fun to see these retro game characters discover the new and more intense games of today and interact. There is a fun role from Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot as the sexy “Shank” who is Slaughter Race’s premiere driver, until Vanellope arrives. Ralph’s moping and whining does get a little tedious, but otherwise it’s a cute and entertaining follow-up to the charming original.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: THE AXIOM (2017) review and NEW HELLBOY TRAILER

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THE AXIOM (2017)

Indie horror finds pretty McKenzie (Hattie Smith) and her brother Mark (Zac Titus) traveling with friends to the expansive Cinder Park to find their lost sister Marylyn (Maria Granberg). They are told by local bar owner, Leon (William Kircher) that Marylyn has gone through a portal in the woods that leads to an alternate dimension called “The Axiom”. Desperate to find her sister, McKenzie follows his directions, despite her disbelief and soon she and her friends find out The Axiom exists and it is a dangerous place indeed.

Alternate dimension spin on the traditional cabin in the woods horror…and there is a cabin…is written and directed by the aptly named Nicholas Woods. It’s a low budget indie, but one that tries to freshen up the traditional deep woods horror with some inventive twists. It has some effective moments, as our group of five meet some strange beings in this otherworldly place and experience delusion and madness amongst themselves. There is a vague explanation as to how this portal got there and director Woods knows not to let his ambitions exceed his budget. There is some effective violence and bloodshed and the sparse seen occupants of The Axiom are well rendered, mostly with practical effects. The cast try hard, with Hattie Smith making a very suitable final girl. Add in murder, betrayal and a last act that goes in an interestingly different direction and it’s an offbeat and imaginative effort that’s definitely worth a look. Also stars Taylor Flowers, Nicole Dambro and Michael Peter Harrison as Edgar, Darcy and Gerrik, respectively, the rest of the group of friends.

You can fInd The Axiom on Amazon Prime.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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A new and bloody red band trailer has arrived for the upcoming Hellboy reboot. Looks like it could be fun and I am a fan of director Neil Marshall, but still am of the old school thinking that if you are going to spend money on a new Hellboy flick, let Del Toro finish his trilogy with Perlman. New flick opens 4/12/19 stars David Harbour as Big Red and Milla Jovovich as the villain.
-MonsterZero NJ
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BARE BONES: ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE (2018)

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ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE (2018)

Flick may be the first zombie Christmas musical ever, but, aside from that honor, it’s also quite fun. Story takes place at Christmas time and finds Anna (a delightful Ella Hunt), soon to graduate high school and dealing with things most girls her age deal with. Anna’s life, in the small town of Little Haven, is turned upside-down, however, as a zombie apocalypse breaks out. Now Anna and her dwindling number of friends must fight for survival with guts, determination…and song.

Film is directed by John McPhail from a script by Alan McDonald and Ryan McHenry, based on Henry’s Zombie Musical short film. It is surprisingly bloody and takes it’s zombie subject seriously, while also providing some laughs and quite a few catchy musical numbers. Star Ella Hunt is quite charming in the role of Anna and even when the tone darkens, as the zombie outbreak intensifies, Hunt’s Anna remains buoyant and hopeful…and so do we. A cute, fun movie that is both musical and comedy, yet remains a horror flick, too. Mixing genres isn’t easy and this flick does it right. Very entertaining.

SONG LIST *

1.”Christmas Means Nothing Without You”-Shonagh Murray

2.”Break Away”-Ella Hunt, Sarah Swire and Malcolm Cumming

3.”Hollywood Ending”-Cast from Anna and the Apocalypse

4.”The Fish Wrap”-Roddy Hart, Tommy Reilly and John McPhail

5.”It’s That Time of Year”-Marli Siu

6.”Turning My Life Around”-Ella Hunt and Malcolm Cumming

7.”Human Voice”-Cast from Anna and the Apocalypse

8.”Soldier at War”-Ben Wiggins

9.”Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now”-Paul Kaye

10.”Give Them a Show”-Ella Hunt and Paul Kaye

11.”I Will Believe”-Ella Hunt and Mark Benton

12.”What a Time to Be Alive”-Ryan Joseph Burns

13.”What a Time to Be Alive (Orchestral Version)”-Cast from Anna and the Apocalypse

 

*as per wikipedia

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: THE POSSESSION OF HANNAH GRACE (2018)

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THE POSSESSION OF HANNAH GRACE (2018)

Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell) is an ex-cop still traumatized over freezing up and allowing a perpetrator to kill her partner. It’s turned her into a recovering addict who gets a graveyard shift job at the morgue. Makes sense! Along comes the body of Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson), a young girl killed during a botched exorcism. The demonic entity that inhabits Hannah’s body hasn’t left yet and supernatural hi-jinx ensue. 

Film is directed by someone named Diederik Van Rooijen from an uninspired script from Brian Sieve. It offers almost nothing new to the possession sub-genre and pulls out every lame cliché demonic themed flicks have to offer. Any new wrinkles are few, far between and silly…like Hannah’s demon infested corpse being able to regenerate itself with each person it kills. What? It’s also hard to believe a former cop who is suffering from depression over the death of her partner would choose a morgue as a new place of work. Mitchell makes a solid enough heroine, but is let down by the movie surrounding her. Hannah Grace made almost four times it’s budget back at the box office, so someone thought this drivel was cool.

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: THE GOLEM (2019)

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THE GOLEM (2019)

Period horror takes place in Lithuania in 1673 and is steeped in Jewish mythology. A woman named Hanna (Hani Furstenberg) is still in mourning seven years after the death of her little boy. She is terrified at the idea of having another child with her husband Benjamin (Ishai Golan) and is scorned by his father, the village rabbi (Lenny Ravitz). A nearby community is ravaged by plague and the leader Vladimir (Alexey Tritenko) blames the Jewish settlement who are unaffected. When he and his thugs take her village hostage, Hanna uses forbidden knowledge in the Kabbalah to raise a Golem, an elemental creature, to defend them. Unforeseen complications arise, however, when The Golem proves not only uncontrollable, but takes the form of a little boy the same age as her dead son.

Film is directed by the Paz Brothers (Doron and Yoav who directed Jeruzalem) from a script by Ariel Cohen. The setting and the fact that the story is filled with Jewish mythology makes it intriguing and gives it a lot of atmosphere. The Paz Brothers also achieve some effectively spooky scenes and there is some disturbing violence, too. They get good work out of their cast and make excellent use of the Ukrainian locations. The film does evoke the classic story of Frankenstein as Hanna’s creation harms villagers and invaders alike protecting his “mother”, but also reminds one of the 80s cult classic Pumpkinhead as Hanna feels any pain that is inflicted on her elemental offspring. An intriguing and effective film from two filmmakers to keep an eye on.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: ERREMENTARI-THE BLACKSMITH AND THE DEVIL (2017)

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ERREMENTARI: THE BLACKSMITH AND THE DEVIL (2017)

Netflix original is based on a European fairy tale and finds a bitter and angry blacksmith (Kandido Uranga) holding a demon prisoner (Eneko Sagardoy). He blames the demonic creature for the bad things that have befallen him and torments it. When a young orphan (Uma Bracaglia) wanders into his smithy, things get a bit complicated for the three of them.

Film is directed well by Paul Urkijo Alijo from his script with Asier Guerricaechevarría based on this old folktale and takes place in the Basque Country of Spain. The visuals are quite sumptuous and the demonic make-up is exceptionally well-rendered. It’s a dark tale that includes a last act trip to Hell itself, but also has an old world charm to match it’s somber tone. There is some graphic violence, as it is a dark fairy tale after all, but a very well made one, with a good cast and would probably make a nice double feature with Pan’s Labyrinth or The Viy.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: HE’S OUT THERE (2018)

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HE’S OUT THERE (2018)

Wife and mother Laura (Yvonne Strahovski) is taking her two daughters Maddie (Abigail Pniowsky) and Kayla (Anna Pniowsky) up to the family’s remote cabin in the woods…always a bad sign…with husband Shawn (Justin Bruening) to join them later. Unfortunately, the three are not alone and soon find themselves stalked by a deranged masked individual.

While the film is nothing original story-wise and is reminiscent somewhat of Mike Flanagan’s Hush, it is still quite effective in it’s own right. It’s very well directed by Quinn Lasher from a script by Mike Scannell and is quite spooky and suspenseful, even though familiar. Lasher gets good use out of his remote woodland location and the large old cabin setting and evokes strong performances from his small cast. There is graphic violence though it is used sparingly and thus has impact. Strahovski is especially good in the final girl…final mom?…role and the Pniowsky sisters are impressive, too. The film wouldn’t work as well without an effective villain and the deranged individual who calls himself “John” (Ryan McDonald) is disturbing despite being derivative. He delivers his few lines of dialogue well and conveys a threatening presence behind his creepy mask. All in all, a solid horror/thriller now streaming on Netflix…where you can also stream Flanagan’s Hush for comparison.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: PLEDGE (2019)

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PLEDGE (2019)

Nerds David (Zack Weiner), Justin (Zachery Byrd) and Ethan (Phillip Andre Botello) are looking to pledge a fraternity and not having any luck. Respect from their campus peers is something they are lacking. They’re invited to a party at a remote social club by pretty Rachel (Erica Boozer) and are offered a chance to join. To be accepted they must go through 48 hours of hazing, which at the deranged hands of those running the club, turns into two days of abusive and increasing violent treatment. Can the trio make it through this brutal initiation alive?

Tale of the horrors of hazing gone extreme is written by star Zack Weiner and directed by Daniel Robbins. As the subject of harsh college initiation practices has made the news more than once in the last few years, Weiner and Robbins have decide to take it to new heights…or should we say, new lows. The film is disturbing as we watch the three tormented continuously with a couple of other young men. After a party of booze, drugs and beautiful girls they are lured into pledging, which turns out to be a blood-soaked mistake. The film gets progressively darker as the ordeals become more sadistic and cruel and just as it starts to hit that torture porn level, it turns into a deadly fight to survive, as our three pledges have had enough. There are some twists and reveals along the way and the cast all do well as villain and victim alike. While we’ve seen stuff like this before, it is done effectively and well here. Pledge can be an unpleasant sit at times, but it shows filmmakers with promise. Overall, a deft mix of social commentary and straight up horror with a chilling finale. Also stars Aaron Dalla Villa, Cameron Cowperthwaite and Jesse Pimentel as the tormenters in question.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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