HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: VISIONS (2015)

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VISIONS (2015)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Routine story starts out with our heroine Eveleigh (Isla Fisher) having been in an automobile accident where a child is killed. We then jump forward a year later where Eveleigh is still haunted by the accident, which wasn’t her fault, but is now pregnant herself. She and her husband David (Anson Mount) have recently moved into an old winery and plan to start their own vineyard. Shortly after settling in, Eveleigh starts to see and hear strange things. Her husband and gynecologist (Jim Parsons) think it’s a combination of lingering guilt and her own pregnancy and refuse to believe anything supernatural may be occurring. Eveleigh starts to look into the past of their new home and…well, you can see where this is going…

The script by Lucas Sussman is loaded with every cliché and trope these kind of thrillers contain, though director Kevin Greutert (Saw VIJessabelle) does a good job translating the familiar elements to the screen. The only new touch is setting this spooky tale in the beautiful wine country of California and it is a stark contrast to the things that go bump in the night…and day. Despite the lovely setting, we still get hooded figures, mysterious ruins, superstitious locals, a house that may have it’s own secrets and a heroine who is the only one who seems to see the strange goings on. The whole ‘is she imagining it, or isn’t she’ is played out in grand tradition. Greutert does give the proceedings an air of mystery and guides the cliché story well, but if you are a fan of these type of movies, you know where it’s all heading. There are a few interesting twists, but the main reveal is far from a surprise as you know the film’s opening would figure in there somewhere. If you like these types of flicks than this one is entertaining enough to pass the time and at least gives you a likable heroine to follow.

We have a very good cast which ups things a notch. Fisher is a determined and strong-willed woman and makes a good heroine for this type of mystery/thriller. Anson (Hell On Wheels) Mount is fine as the doubting, yet caring husband and he and Fisher are a believable couple. Jim Parsons seems a bit out of place as a gynecologist, but maybe that’s because he has created such a memorable character on Big Bang Theory that he evokes Sheldon Cooper no matter what he does. Community‘s Gillian Jacobs plays a friendly neighbor who is also expecting and Eva Longoria has a small role as Eveleigh’s friend, Eileen. Rounding out is Star Trek: TNG‘s John de Lancie as a local who provides exposition and Blade Runner‘s Joanna Cassidy as a wine distributor with a sense for the supernatural, as we need our paranormal expert and/or psychic in there somewhere.

There is nothing new or special about this very routine thriller, but it is well cast and is well directed. Aside from a somewhat less traditional setting, the familiar tropes of the ‘haunted wife in a new home’ type thriller are all here and accounted for. While the flick is not without it’s twists, you can probably see what’s coming a long way off. If you are a fan of these thrillers, you can do a lot worse, but if you are looking for something novel and different, than look elsewhere.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 wine grapes.
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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE (2006)

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ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE  (2006)

Interesting flick evokes both the horror films of the 70s and the slashers of the 80s as it tells the story of the beautiful and virginal, high school student Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) and what befalls her and her friends at a weekend getaway at a secluded ranch. Mandy is the beautiful object of every boys’ desire and as she and her group of friends party and all the boys plot to get into her pants, someone else stalks the group with far more homicidal desires.

Director Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies) gives Lane a visual style that evokes 70s flicks like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but his story is very 80s slasher complete with promiscuous teens meeting gruesome deaths. Despite the similarities with past horrors, Levine adds his own slant to the proceedings and Mandy Lane is not your typical slasher, as Jacob Forman’s script has it’s share of twists and surprises. There are some arty touches and a deliberately slow burning pace to go along with some vicious kills, and you never feel things are quite right, even when nothing wrong is going on. The cast are all fine with leading lady Heard fitting the bill as the beautiful nymph every boy wants and you can’t quite tell if she’s oblivious to her effect on the young men around her, or if she’s just playing them all like the love sick puppies they are. Once the bodies start to pile up, though, her Mandy shows she’s more than just a pretty face.

It’s an odd little horror that will probably evoke very mixed feelings from movie and horror fans alike. Not a great flick…It has it’s faults such as revealing the killer’s identity a bit too early…but one that has it’s own identity among-st the many other horrors of it’s kind. When all is said and done, it is an effective slasher.

Originally set to be released by Dimension Films, they sold it off to Senator Entertainment who then went out of business leaving Mandy Lane unreleased here in the US, adding to it’s reputation. After 7 years it finally saw a release October 11, 2013 on Blu-Ray, VOD and DVD by new distributor RADiUS-TWC, who are part of The Weinstein Company, which, ironically, also includes Dimension Films. Mandy Lane has finally come home. Also stars Hell On Wheels’ Anson Mount.

3 (out of 4) Mandy Lane’s

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