BARE BONES: WHEN WE FIRST MET (2018)

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WHEN WE FIRST MET (2018)

Dull and sometimes annoying romantic comedy has Noah (an awful Adam Devine) watching the love of his life Avery (Alexandra Daddario) become engaged to another man (Robbie Amell). He somehow uses a photo-booth he and Avery used on the Halloween night they first met and travels back in time three years to that day, determined not to end up being just the best friend this time.

This is a terrible romantic comedy that sadly starts out OK till we once again use both the Groundhog Day and Big plot devices of both someone going back in time and reliving a fateful day over and over to try to get things right. None of it done cleverly like in Happy Death Day. It’s a simply unimaginative script by Miracle Jones, whose writing is anything but, lamely directed by Ari Sandel, who did much better helming The Duff . It’s monotonous and tedious to watch Noah keep going back to that day and trying more and more ludicrous ways to win Avery, all the while screwing things up even worse. Then two thirds of the way in, he switches his attention to Avery’s gal pal Carrie (Shelly Hennig). WHAT? This is a terribly written and generic rom-com that has no point or purpose and uses a now time worn plot device in the most unimaginative way possible. Add to that a truly smug and grating performance by lead Devine and there is little to no reason to waste time on this flick. At least Daddario’s cute and perky thing saved her dignity in this mess.

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: BAYWATCH (2017)

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BAYWATCH (2017)

Comedy based on the popular 80s TV show has lifeguard legend Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) dealing with a hot shot new recruit (Zac Efron) and a sexy female drug dealer (Priyanka Chopra), who is dealing a new drug on his beaches. Now Mitch has to make this bunch a team and protect the sands and waters of Emerald Bay.

Directed by Seth Gordon from a script by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, this flick has some laughs and there is some wit behind the raunchy banter, but it drowns in the clichés of the band of misfits investigating the big bad drug queen, when no one else thinks there is anything wrong plot. The film does resemble a TV show episode and is very predictable, though the cast seems to be having fun and can be quite charming. Too bad there wasn’t a better script to go along with the muscles, cleavage and original show cameos. Also stars Alexandra Daddario as another new recruit.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: AREA 51, BURYING THE EX and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROUGUE NATION

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AREA 51 (2015)

After the smash success of Paranormal Activity, Oren Peli returned to the director’s chair for his sophomore effort in 2009…and the movie has since languished in post-production hell for the last six years…now we know why. Found footage flick has a silly plot with three young friends (Darrin Bragg, Reid Warner and Ben Rovner) concocting an absurd scheme to break into the infamous Area 51 military base. They have the help of a former employee’s daughter (Jelena Nik) and succeed where many have failed.

Obviously, they are not happy with what they find…and neither are we. Flick takes a ridiculous 70 minutes for anything interesting to happen and at about 95 minutes long (including it’s slow crawl credits) that’s simply too long to wait. What we do get is amusing, but exactly what you’d expect to get in a flick about Area 51 and it’s fleetingly glimpsed and over far too quickly. There is barely anything resembling scares or suspense and what we do finally encounter is very predictable and been done before, especially in the X-Files…and done better. Area 51’s actual secrets may still be a mystery, but why this flick sat for six years and was quietly dumped onto VOD and home media, isn’t.

 -MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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BURYING THE EX (2014)

Director Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins) has made quite a few classic films, which is why it’s disappointing that his latest effort is so sadly mediocre. Story has horror movie fan and slacker Max (Anton Yelchin) dating the hot but extremely bitchy, Evelyn (Ashley Greene), while he could be with the sweet, horror movie-themed-ice-cream-shop owner, Olivia (Alexandra Daddario). The wrong words said in front of the wrong magic item in the shop Max works at, ensures he will be with Evelyn forever…even when she is hit by a bus and killed. Now, as he desperately wants to date Olivia, Max’s girlfriend is back and there’s going to be trouble.

Flick’s problems lie in it’s uninspired and sadly unfunny script by Alan Trezza. Dante tries to give it some life and it is colorful and filled with the horror movie references and imagery Dante excels at, but the script is unimaginative, predictable and let’s Dante down at every turn. The premise has been done before, but still could have made fun use of it’s scenario, instead it is routine and without the wit to really make this a good time. At least Dante get’s good work out of the cast as Yelchin, Greene and Daddario…who is especially endearing as the ultimate horror geek girlfriend fantasy, Olivia…do their best to get something out of their thinly written parts. With a better script this could have been a real treat as it had a great director!

 -MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION (2015)

I originally was not a fan of this series, but to be honest, each installment has been an improvement over the last with this and the previous installment, Ghost Protocol, being a lot of fun. Dare I say this series has finally hit it’s stride with it’s fourth and fifth entries. This chapter finds the IMF being dissolved by the government right in the middle of Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) mission to track down “The Syndicate”, an organization that is the IMF’s equal, yet dedicated to disruption and terrorism. Now considered a rogue agent and being hunted around the world, Hunt must team with Benji (Simon Pegg), Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Luther (Ving Rhames) and mysterious agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) to bring the syndicate down.

As written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Rogue Nation is fast-paced and entertaining with some great camaraderie between Cruise and his team, especially Pegg. There are some fun action sequences and some thrilling escapes with the usual espionage and covert operations mixed in. The only thing holding it back a little, is that the action is nothing out of the ordinary, despite being well-staged and the main villain (Sean Harris) is rather weak. Otherwise this is a fun spy/action flick and Swedish actress Ferguson gets to steal a few scenes from Cruise…which isn’t an easy thing to do. Also stars Alec Baldwin as a CIA thorn in the IMF’s side. Fun!

 -MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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REVIEW: SAN ANDREAS (2015)

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SAN ANDREAS (2015)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Go into San Andreas with the right frame of mind and you may find yourself having the most fun at the movies so far this summer. From it’s opening sequence, it’s obvious that this is pure popcorn entertainment and not to be taken too seriously, though, it is played very straight. It’s all the corny, cheesy disaster movie cliche’s possible, served up in a cinematic smoothie and topped with The Rock… and it’s a load of fun if you let it be.

Our story opens with a young woman’s car being forced off a cliff by a tremor and hanging precariously (and in defiance of physical laws) off the sheer side of a thin canyon. Enter the Los Angeles Fire Department’s ace rescue pilot Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson) and his ex-military rescue crew. The girl is saved but, that is only the beginning of Ray’s soon-to-be rough day. Ray is in the process of a divorce from his hot wife Emma (Carla Gugino)…who has moved in with her millionaire douche boyfriend (Ioan Gruffudd)… at the same time, his equally hot daughter Blake, (Alexandra Daddario) is leaving for college. Nothing brings an estranged family back together, though, like a natural disaster and just as scientist Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) discovers a fool-proof way to predict earthquakes…the whole San Andreas fault decides to shift. Now Ray and Emma must reunite to go to a decimated San Francisco to find and rescue Blake, before another impending super-quake finishes the job…and as Ray is already haunted by the loss of one daughter, he vows to not lose another.

San Andreas is directed by Brad Peyton…who directed Johnson in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island…and the filmmaker mixes a straightforward approach with over-the-top situations, rescues and escapes, letting the latter provide the fun. This keeps the film from becoming a joke, but, at the same time, provides all the ludicrous entertainment we want from an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink disaster film. The script by Carlton Cuse…from a story by Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore…is loaded with all the disaster movie clichés you could want and, from the first scene, throws out logic and physics for preposterous situations and unbelievable coincidences and it’s all on purpose and, somehow, even avoids going too overboard and entering Sharknado territory. The FX are spectacular and we witness some eye popping spectacle such as the ground literally rippling under L.A. and a massive tsunami heading into an already destroyed San Francisco Bay. It’s all orchestrated very well, on a technical level and is surrounded by a fitting score from Andrew Lockington and some nice crisp cinematography by Steve Yedlin. Peyton gives the film a very brisk pace but, wisely let’s us catch our breath, as we get some delightfully corny melodrama that a disaster film like this shouldn’t be without. It’s all intentional and if you just go with it, this movie can be a blast. This isn’t about logic or realism, it’s about The Rock vs. an earthquake and a tsunami and, on that level, it delivers big time. Sure it’s not perfect…why were we introduced to Ray’s team only to have them disappear in the first act?…but, it’s a popcorn flick and it’s goal is to entertain and not portray a situation like this with too much accuracy, that it stops being fun. The corny dialog and melodramatic situations are part of the plan…and it’s OK to have a good time with them. It’s all in your frame of mind when you sit down and put on your 3D glasses…and this is one flick where I think that gimmick works in it’s favor…and I’m normally not a fan.

We have a very fitting cast, too. Dwayne Johnson has grown from his WWE “The Rock” persona into a very charming leading man/action hero. There is a very welcome hint of vulnerability in his screen presence that keeps him from being a bit too superhuman like Arnold and Stallone fell into in the 80s. It makes him more accessible and a bit more down-to-Earth, despite being a physically imposing man. Carla Gugino is very sexy as his estranged wife and she seems to be having a fun time here, despite playing second banana to her leading man and she and Johnson have a nice chemistry together that makes the corny melodrama work. Daddario shows she is also leading lady material and is not only stunning to look at, but, has a charming screen presence and despite her natural beauty, gives off a very girl-next-door vibe that makes her endearing. She also has a good camaraderie with her co-stars and shows some action hero chops herself. Maybe a DC or Marvel film in her future? Hugo Johnson-Burt and Art Parkinson play British bothers Ben and Ollie who join Daddario with older Ben becoming a romantic interest, as a disaster film needs a blossoming love story in it’s midst. Rounding out is the always enjoyable Paul Giamatti as the stereotypical scientist who is crying earthquake to empty ears, Archie Panjabi as a reporter caught in the middle of things and Ioan Gruffudd is appropriately a douche as Emma’s millionaire developer boyfriend Daniel, who turns out to be a selfish coward…like we didn’t see THAT coming.

On one level this movie is silly, preposterous, predictable and ridiculous, but, go in expecting that and you will have a blast like I did. Sure it’s science is out of whack but, it’s heart is in the right place and it is unapologetically delivering exactly what we really want from one of these epic action/melodramas. If you go in expecting a National Geographic documentary on the effects of a massive earthquake in California with Academy Award winning dialogue and performances, you will not be pleased. Go in expecting “The Rock” to wade through an epic cataclysm and rescue his daughter as a city collapses around his muscular shoulders and you’ve got a fun time at the movies.

-MonsterZero NJ

  3 and 1/2 “The Rocks”.

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: ALEXANDRA DADDARIO

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Yes,  I can read a calendar and I know that Halloween is sadly months away but, our Halloween Hotties segments last October were very popular and still get viewed so, I decided to continue the trend outside the Halloween season to take a look at horror cinema’s most fetching femme fatales and final girls…
Today we are going to take a look at the beautiful rising star that is Alexandra Daddario. She hasn’t been in a lot of horror but, she has 3 on her resume’, a horror comedy on the way, and is playing a mythical monster battling demi-goddess in the Percy Jackson film series so, that does help in qualifying her as a scream queen… not that I needed much of an excuse…

(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie posters to read a review of her horror film’s that I’ve covered here previously. And click HERE for a more in depth look at Alexandra’s Chainsaw character in our Why Do Good Scares Like Bad Girls expose’ of some of Horror’s recent femme fatales.)

ALEXANDRA DADDARIO

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The actress sans the usual make-up, grime and gore that she usually adorns in her horror hits.
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Alexandra Daddario is a New York City girl by birth and got her start acting as a teen on the long running soap opera All My Children. Her first venture in horror came in the 2008 supernatural thriller The Attic, where she starred as an ill-fated young women whose peaceful evening in the tub does not end well and then proceeds to haunt the future occupants. And while I didn’t think much of this flick overall, Daddario can haunt me anytime!  

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…As the ill-fated Ava Strauss…

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…still fetching in her spectral form.

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Daddario’s next venture into the horror genre was Stevan Mena’s exceptional horror prequel Bereavement. One of the best horrors of 2011 and of recent years. Bereavement tells the terrifying story of a young boy named Martin Bristol… the killer from the first flick Malevolence as a child who is captured by a serial killer named Graham Sutter who decides to teach the boy his gruesome trade. Alexandra plays Allison Miller, a teen orphaned by a terrible accident who comes to live with her uncle and his family. Unfortunately for our heroine, the Millers live within proximity of Sutter’s abandoned slaughterhouse lair and of course, the two will cross paths putting Alison in the fight of her life. A great horror flick with a very strong heroine from Daddario who really showed some acting chops here.

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Being hunted by Bereavement’s Graham Sutter…

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…temporarily in his clutches…

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…and in one of the film’s quieter moments.

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Daddario’s third horror flick… and we hope she’ll do more… is the direct sequel to the classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Texas Chainsaw 3D is a flawed movie but, still has a lot of entertainment value and can be a lot of fun if you cut it some slack and just go with it. Plus Alexandra gives us another hot and feisty heroine and even gets to show us a little bit of a femme fatale side to boot. And that alone makes it worth a watch!

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As Leatherface’s long lost cousin “Heather”

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…a cousin who is more then capable of standing up to her homicidal kin and some corrupt townfolk…

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…and while we admit Alexandra Daddario is quite a keeper, we think movie cousin Leatherface is taking that a bit too literally…

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As herself, a talented and beautiful young actress whose star is on the rise with more upcoming film roles, such as legendary director Joe Dante’s now filming zombie comedy Burying The Ex, and in the currently airing HBO series True Detective as a sexy court reporter!

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Alexandra as Olivia from Burying The Ex. A woman who might have competition from her beau’s zombified ex-girlfriend.

And don’t forget to check out our Halloween Hotties focusing on Melanie PapaliaKatie FeatherstonKatharine IsabelleAmber HeardKatrina BowdenBriana Evigan and Danielle Harris! (just click on their names to go to their pages!

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: TEXAS CHAINSAW (2013)

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TEXAS CHAINSAW  (2013)

Is Texas Chainsaw 3D a good movie?… well that depends. If you can’t get past a stupid script, cardboard characters and the fact that by the implied timeline our plucky heroine (Alexandra Daddario) should be in her 40s not barely in her 20s, then, no. But, if you can sit back and just enjoy a hot babe running around being pursued by a chainsaw wielding maniac who has a knack for carving up her stupid friends, then, yes, it’s unintentionally goofy, gory fun. Chainsaw 3D is a direct sequel to the 1974 classic that opens with a vengeful redneck mob laying siege to the house occupied by Leatherface and a lot of other Sawyer family members that weren’t there in the original. A baby is found on the property and we cut to 2012 (the date is confirmed on a tombstone as September 2012) where Heather (Daddario), has magically grown up to be only 20 something and is an amazingly hot butcher at a supermarket. She soon gets word that her grandmother (original Chainsaw heroine Marilyn Burns), that she didn’t know she had, has died and left her a house in Texas. Whoa! Adopted and now rich! Heather goes down to the house with some generic stereotype friends who seem handpicked to be murdered, which is smart because there just happens to be another family member living hidden in the house like Bad Ronald (70s TV movie reference. Google it.) and he just happens to like world peace, romantic evenings, chainsaws and wearing peoples faces. Before you can say, gratuitous ass close-up, Leatherface emerges from hiding and starts hacking up everyone he can find. Throw in some sleazy rednecks, some redneck cops (including Scott Eastwood, Clint’s son) and it’s a redneck smorgasbord…literally as the body parts fly fast and furious. Sure, director John Luessenhop doesn’t really generate much suspense or scares from the incredibly dumb script but, Chainsaw 3D reminded me of some of the lower tier 80s slasher flicks that were entertaining despite of and because of how bad they were. There are numerous references to the original flick and I just had fun watching a chubby, balding Leatherface carving up all the unlikable characters when not chasing his hot cousin around trying to kill her. Alexandra Daddario was a fine (and I mean FINE) and feisty heroine and I liked her character’s twist once she finds out who she really is and that she now has to buy her chainsaw wielding cousin a Christmas Card every year… if he lets her live. Yes, Chainsaw 3D is a very dumb and silly horror flick but, it also is blood drenched fun if you go in not expecting much and stop comparing it to the movie it’s trying to honor. And despite how bad it’s written, the film is trying to honor it’s roots and we get some fun cameos to prove it and when it’s all said and done, it can be a good time if you just sit back and enjoy watching hot chicks in peril and sleazy rednecks meeting chainsaw justice. A few beers before the show wouldn’t hurt… if fact it might be a good idea. Be sure to watch through the credits.

Check out “Why Do Good Scares Like Bad Girls?” for a closer look at Alexandra Daddario’s character, Heather here. (Careful though, there are some spoilers.)

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WHY DO GOOD SCARES LIKE BAD GIRLS?

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From as far back as 1936 when Gloria Holden graced the screen as Dracula’s Daughter to contemporary’s like Sheri Moon Zombie’s adorable yet vicious “Baby”, horror has always loved a good bad girl. Remember, even bad boy Jason Voorhees learned everything he knew from his dear demented mother. Recent horror cinema is no exception, as we take a look at a couple of recent horror cuties who would rather kill than cuddle…

Be warned there may be some SPOILERS if you haven’t seen some of the films our hellion honeys are featured in.

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THE LOVED ONES (2009): LOLA STONE

Cute but lethal Lola is the product of her demented father who likes to keep his lobotomized wife around like a pet. And daddy has passed his psychopathic tendencies on to his little princess as she continually shops around for her prince, keeping all the candidates locked up in the basement after a date night of torment, torture and home lobotomy. Though none of these poor lads will ever live up to her standards…she is daddy’s little girl after all…she keeps looking. She’s got quite a collection going as she chooses troubled teen Brent as her latest prom date though Brent might be a bit more than the sadistic sweetie can handle.

Actress Robin McLeavy is a powerhouse as the twisted teen, giving a tour de force performance that takes Lola from adorably awkward to gleefully sadistic to full blown psycho hose-beast without ever crossing the line into camp. Sean Byrne’s script gives McLeavy a lot to chew on and she savors every bit. Lola is ever the more effective because the Aussie actress is able to somehow imbue her with a cuteness and sexiness despite how vicious and demented she gets. She’s disturbingly adorable even as she wields a power drill on her helpless prince charming or playfully teases him about his lack of a voice after she’s damaged his vocal chords with drain cleaner. McLeavy’s Lola is as disturbingly playful as her acts are disturbingly sadistic. Despite knowing how the date will end up, not well for you obviously, you still think she’s kinda hot. One of recent horror cinema’s most seductive and sinister leading ladies and hopefully Robin McLeavy will get recognized for her talents. She recently has appeared in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and now plays Eva on AMC’s Hell On Wheels. So hopefully this talented actress’ star is on the rise.

Read my review for The Loved OnesHERE!

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EVIL DEAD (2013): MIA

Jane Levy’s Mia is an emotionally troubled girl with a heroin addiction. But that’s nothing compared to demonic possession and attempting to feed her friend’s souls to an ancient evil. As a sinister looking book is discovered in the basement…along with hordes of dead animals, which is never a good sign… and one of her overly curious friends decides to read from it despite warnings, Mia’s afternoon walk in the woods becomes a nightmare which the now filled-to-the brim vessel of horrors is more than gleefully happy to share with the rest of the gang. Even when locked in the basement, Mia is like Satan’s personal cheerleader as her brother and friends are tormented and taken over during the ensuing blood bath. But actress Jane Levy gets to pull double duty as a clever twist of plot transforms the heir to the throne of Linda Blair into a chainsaw wielding heroine determined to put evil back in the dark box it came from.

Levy, who was really good on Suburgatory as the feisty Tessa, puts in a strong performance on all stages. She is damaged and vulnerable as the suicidal heroin addict who may be trying to kick her habit, or may not. Once possessed, Levy has a blast with the demonic imp who delights in tormenting the people she used to love and is positively giddy about watching the evil force possess and torture them. Then, when free of the demon’s grasp, Levy does a good job going full blown Ash and grabbing her chainsaw to give the Evil Dead a taste of their own medicine. Levy is a wonderful actress who makes all three stages of Mia work and work perfectly. I liked how when Mia is first attacked and possessed she is wearing white and when she is freed and ready to fight, she is wearing red. Virginal and innocent no more, she’s all grown up and ready to give Beelzebub a beat down. Hollywood more Mia and more Jane Levy please!

Read my review of The Evil Dead (2013) HERE!

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THE PARANORMAL ACTIVITY SERIES: KATIE

Texas born actress Katie Featherston has the best of both world’s in that she portrays one of horror’s newest heroines…and newest villains…as “Katie” from the Paranormal Activity series. In the original film she starts out as a college student who is being pursued by a demonic entity since childhood. Moving in with her arrogant and prideful boyfriend has escalated the haunting as he decides to film the entity’s late night antics and to provoke it. The sweet Katie is slowly broken down emotionally as the supernatural fiend continues it’s attacks until it finally possesses her and has her kill her boyfriend, Micah with a sweetly scary smile. In PA2, which is both prequel and sequel we get to see both sweet Katie in the early sequences, which take place before PA1 and then demon Katie in the chilling climax which takes place the night after she has killed her boyfriend. Here we find the demon is after her toddler nephew and sends Aunt Katie to kill her sister and brother in-law in terminator fashion and make off with little Hunter. Prequel PA3 gave the demoness a break and she only had a brief cameo as sweet Katie but, in PA4, which takes place five years after the end of PA2, the bitch is back in her neck snapping glory as Aunt Katie returns to reacquire the adopted Hunter and secure his adopted teenage sister as a human sacrifice.

Actress Katie Featherston makes Katie such a lovable and sympathetic character in Paranormal Activity part 1 that it adds a welcome dose of tragedy to her intimidating demon possessed Katie. She skillfully guided us through her emotional breakdown and we are sympathetic to her now being in evil’s grasp. Sure we know when she appears in the corner of a dark room somebody is going down, but we also feel bad for her and hope she’s freed, in one of the future installments, from her torment. I personally would love to see this underrated actress play a Katie, now freed of the demon, who is horrified by the acts it forced her to commit, yet, angry and vengeful enough to want to make right her wrongs and teach a demon-loving witch coven how pissing off a sweet Texas girl is not a good idea. As with Miss Levy and Miss McLeavy, Hollywood…give us more Katie Featherston.

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TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (2013): HEATHER MILLS (SAWYER)

This might be stretching it a bit as sexy and feisty Heather spends most of the time being the embattled heroine and running her buns off from Leatherface for most of the film’s length, but let’s not forget she is his cousin and blood is thicker than water in more ways than one, here. Heather has inherited a house in Texas from a grandmother she never met and the will did not state that it included a chainsaw wielding maniac in the basement…though there was a letter which Heather neglects to read, tsk, tsk! So obviously, Leatherface can’t resist a little fun and decides to decimate Heather’s friend’s and go after her. But Heather Mills is by blood a Sawyer and as she uncovers the truth about how her whole family was murdered for the acts of a few and the sleazy mayor lead the charge, Heather decides to overlook that her last remaining family member is a murderous cannibal that killed her friends…her boyfriend was cheating with one of them so, maybe it’s for the best…and joins him in a showdown with the redneck mayor and one of his flunkies. Once vengeance is had, Heather decides to take care of her kin who repays her by cleaning up some of the unpleasant details in her life such as her white trash adopted parents, since it was dear old adopted dad that killed her mom anyway.

New York City born Alexandra Daddario, who was a feisty and strong-willed heroine in Stevan Mena’s Bereavement, does play a good horror heroine. She can be both damsel and ass kicker when called upon and was both in the horrors she’s appeared in. I was especially impressed by the emotional depth she gave Bereavement’s troubled Allison and Chainsaw’s script sadly doesn’t give her the same opportunity. But Texas Chainsaw does prove she can play a vengeful horror bad girl too and we enjoy her obvious change of heart toward her legendary cousin as the statuesque beauty tosses him his trademark weapon and encourages him to “do his thing”. I personally would like to see more of Daddario in the seductive villainess role thought, as with her horrors and the Percy Jackson series, we will be more then happy to see her as the sexy butt kicker, too. My choice for Wonder Woman if they ever get a decent movie for the comic book character going. Hollywood has taken notice of the raven haired beauty and let’s hope she gets the roles she deserves.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: BEREAVEMENT (2011)

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BEREAVEMENT (2010)

This is a pull no punches horror about a young boy, Martin Bristol (Spencer List) kidnaped by serial killer, Graham Sutter (Brett Rickaby) and forced to witness the atrocities he commits on innocent women. Worse yet, Sutter needs an heir apparent to his gruesome deeds and has chosen Martin to learn his trade. The film also follows a parallel story involving a teenage girl, Allison (Alexandra Daddario), who recently lost her parents and whose path is obviously destined to collide with the ordeal of young Martin…and to say anymore would spoil an intense chiller with a truly shocking and blood soaked final act.

Writer/director Stevan Mena showed a lot of potential with his first film  Malevolence and with his follow-up, Bereavement, he shows he is living up to it big time. While a prequel to his first film, Bereavement is crafted so you don’t need to have seen Malevolence, but if you have, there are a lot of little touches and nods you’ll recognize…especially in the post credits sequence. Mena’s involving such a young child in all the violence is daring and horrifying at the same time and we share in the horror as young Martin Bristol is made to participate in his disturbed mentor’s acts. It’s even more horrifying since he is basically a good kid forced into this and not some “bad seed” which we’ve seen before. Stevan Mena keeps a feeling of dread throughout, delivers some taunt suspense and doesn’t bludgeon us with shocking moments, so when they do come, they have the intended effect. The camera work evokes John Carpenter at times, as Mena knows how to frame a shot and achieve far more with it than just making it look good. As filmed by Marco Cappeta, the film looks beautiful at times, despite the grim subject matter. Also much like Carpenter, Mena also composed the atmospheric score and edited this highly effective chiller. The gore effects are live and well executed and the lack of CGI is quite refreshing.

The cast, including genre vet Michael Biehn, performs well with Daddario making a feisty and resourceful heroine and young Spencer List effectively handling the role of Martin. Rickaby is effectively creepy as Graham Sutter, yet gives him a subtle sadness that makes him slightly more tragic than the usual serial killer portrayal. John Richard Ingram returns as Officer Riley from Malevolence and veteran actor John Savage has a small role as Ted, the father of Allison’s romantic interest William (Nolan Gerard Funk).

A delightfully down to basics and highly recommended horror film. One of my favorites of 2011… Bereavement was made in 2010 and played at film festivals till it got a proper release in early 2011. Remember to watch through the credits, especially if you saw Malevolence.

A solid 3 and 1/2 busty imperiled heroines

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