HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: WE GO ON (2016)

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WE GO ON (2016)

Original slant on a haunting flick finds a man named Miles (Clark Freeman) suffering an almost fatal car accident. Even when his injuries are healed, Miles finds himself living with his mother Charlotte (Annette O’Toole) and living in fear. Not only is Miles timid about driving again, but now terrified of dying. To try to ease that fear, Miles takes out an ad promising $30,000 to anyone who can give him definitive proof of the afterlife. Initially he finds nothing but disappointment from the various scientist, paranormal experts and psychics that apply, until a strange phone call gives proof to the old adage ‘be careful what you wish for.’

Flick is co-directed by Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland from their script and story. It has a very interesting and clever premise with a man suffering a close call and now being terrified of death. He will go to any lengths to prove there is an afterlife to alleviate that fear, and as this is a horror film, that pursuit comes back to bite him. Mitton and Holland provide some very spooky scenes, even when Miles is scammed by con-artists, as some of those sequences are still creepy, before being revealed as fraud. When Miles gets a phone call from a mysterious man, things get even creepier, especially when we learn who this man is and what his intentions are. It then takes the film in an interesting new direction, when to free himself from what he’s gotten himself into, Miles is faced with a moral conundrum. Miles is forced to confront his morality, as well as, his mortality. He is also forced to confront some truths about his own past, as well. The resolution to Miles’ tale is interesting to say the least. A solid idea well carried out in both script and direction. As with Mitton’s The Witch in the Window, there are some make-up FX which are well rendered and it appears all the FX are in-camera. If not, any CGI is very subtle. This is a spooky and disturbing flick that asks some interesting questions and goes in some provocative directions. The duo of Mitton and Holland prove that the spookiness in Yellowbrickroad was not a fluke and is even more well-honed with a solid and less ambiguous story. The flick is not for everyone, as with any paranormal themed film, it depends on your beliefs in such as to how effective it will be for you.

There is a small but solid cast. Yellowbrickroad veteran Clark Freeman is very good as Miles. He is a man terrified and living in fear and wanting to find a way out. This puts Miles in a position to find definitive answers to some age old questions about life and afterlife and is even morally challenged as well. The actor handles all these facets of Miles’ journey very effectively. Annette O’Toole is very good as his caring mother Charlotte. She is very protective of Miles and is probably more skeptical of the answerers to his ad than he is. Jay Dunn is appropriately spooky as the author of the phone call, the mysterious Nelson. There is more to Nelson than meets the eye and that’s all that need be said. In support, we have good work from Laura Heisler as Nelson’s girlfriend Alice, veteran John Glover as a scientist and Giovanna Zacarías as a psychic who might be more legit than Miles first believes. A good cast that take the material seriously and give down-to-earth performances which suit the tone and material.

Overall, Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland prove they are filmmakers to watch in the indie film arena. They have come up with an intriguing and original slant on the haunting scenario, carry it out effectively and take it in some provocative directions. The film has some very spooky and disturbing moments, as well as, some thought-provoking questions. It can be low key at times, but the slower burn keeps it from getting theatrical and that keeps it grounded…and it’s all the more effective for it. Another flick that can be found on Shudder.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) cellphones on which to receive ominous messages!

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW (2018)

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THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW (2018)

Flick opens with mom Beverly (Arija Bareikis) sending her son Finn (Charlie Tacker) from New York City to Vermont to stay with his estranged father Simon (Alex Draper). Finn saw something traumatic online and his mom wants to get him out of the city and away from such negativity for the summer. Simon is flipping a house in a rural area, though secretly hopes he can bring his family back together there. Local electrician Louis (Greg Naughton) tells Simon that the house was once owned by Lydia (Carol Stanzione), a woman said to be a witch, who may have murdered her own family and then herself died in the house. Soon Simon and Finn begin to hear and see things in the house, as they renovate and come to believe Lydia may still be there and want her house back.

Flick is written and directed by Andy Mitton, who was one of the filmmakers on the spooky indie Yellowbrickroad. It does vaguely evoke the 1976 Burnt Offerings, and has a familiar basic story, but is definitely it’s own thing. Mitton crafts a slow burn haunted house flick that has some very thick atmosphere, for a film that avoids the classic tropes of the genre, yet remains very effective. There are no fog shrouded nights, full moons, or even any blood or gore. Most of the film takes place in broad daylight and Mitton still achieves some solid chills. There are maybe only two jump scares in the film and they are all well-earned, not cheap. Things get really freaky in the last act, for reasons that won’t be spoiled here, and while the ending is quite subtle, it is also very effective. That is what is so refreshing about Andy Mitton’s supernatural chiller, is that it achieves a very spooky tale without falling back on familiar tropes, or relying on an abundance of SPFX. Aside from Lydia’s make-up, there are no visual FX, no blood, no gore and no CGI. It’s all done in-camera with some really impressive cinematography from Justin Kane, an atmospheric score by Mitton himself, good direction and solid performances from the small cast.

As for that cast…one of the reasons this flick works so well, is because the performances are all very good. Alex Draper does a really good job as a flawed, but loving father who wants to bring his family back together. His love for his son is evident and his need to finish this house, despite the warnings, is heartfelt. Charlie Tacker is good as Finn. He’s a typical rebellious 12 year-old, but one caught in the emotional turmoil of being in the middle of a parental separation. This brings about the not unexpected behavioral issues. Tacker and Draper have really good chemistry and their scenes together crackle with authenticity of a real father/son relationship. Arija Bareikis is solid as mom Beverly, a woman who may be a little over-protective, but loves her son. Greg Naughton is good as the very scared electrician and neighbor, who may not be telling Simon everything, despite all he has told him. Finally, Carol Stanzione is very spooky as Lydia, despite having only one word of dialogue…in her original form anyway.

In conclusion, Andy Mitton delivers a spooky and subtle movie without falling back on the clichés of this type of flick. He accomplishes some solid chills with some simple camera work, atmosphere and the performances of his actors. It’s a slow burn and a bit of a familiar story, but one that requires no CGI or SPFX, aside from some simple make-up. It’s a good example of it being the filmmaker, not all the bells and whistles, that a spooky flick makes. Available to stream on Shudder and certainly recommended.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) hammers used to renovate a witch haunted house!

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: YELLOWBRICKROAD (2010)

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YELLOWBRICKROAD (2010)

There were things I liked about Yellowbrickroad and things I didn’t. The premise is cool. In the 1940s the population of an entire fictional New Hampshire town walks off into the mountains and vanishes. Search efforts recovered some bodies in unnatural states of death, but a large portion of the populace remains unfound. In modern day, a group sets out to retrace their steps, follow their trail and try to get some answers. Their journey takes them deep into the still uncharted mountains where mysterious music can be heard and the further they go, the more they seem to lose their minds and some lose their lives. Will they find out what happend to all those people on that fateful day or become the next chapter in an all too real urban legend?

As written and directed by Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton, the film can be quite spooky and unsettling at times, but never really grabs you like it should. Clunky dialog and bland characters keep you from getting drawn in, as does not really understanding enough about what’s going on to make you afraid. At least in The Blair Witch Project, a film this resembles to a degree, you knew there was a possibility that there was an evil entity that might be out there causing the trouble. It gave you something to focus on and be afraid of. Here there’s nothing to focus on as we never really know what’s going on, or get so much as a clue as to what happened 70 years earlier. It appears to be something supernatural, but we are never really certain. Sure, there is some nice atmosphere here and the film can be creepy, but it’s a little too vague for it’s own good. Sometimes not being spoon-fed everything is good and leaving some things to the imagination is effective, too, but here it’s a case of giving us a little too little. We at least needed some clues to get our imaginations fired up even if the answers were ultimately going to be left a mystery or up to us to decide. I really liked the effort to do something different and hopefully these filmmakers keep trying. Their work shows potential and imagination, but they need to give their audience something a bit more solid to work with and liven up their characters to really deliver.

I still recommend horror fans check this one out. It’s definitely worth a look, but be prepared to know pretty much the same when the credits roll as you did going in. The cast of unknowns include Cassidy Freeman, Anessa Ramsey and Clark Freeman.

2 and 1/2 gramophones… at least that sounds like what is playing that creepy music…

yellowbrickroad rating

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