BARE BONES: WELCOME TO WILLITS (2016)

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WELCOME TO WILLITS (2016)

Ho-hum flick has pot farmer, Brock (Bill Sage) in the backwoods town of Willits, seeing aliens and conspiracy at every turn. When a group of campers invade his turf and some actual aliens drop by, too. Brock doesn’t know who to trust and his paranoia puts everyone in danger, alien and human alike.

Boring flick is directed by Trevor Ryan from a script by Tim Ryan and the flick doesn’t know whether it wants to be funny or serious and is successful at neither. It a dull thriller about a paranoid burn-out who sees aliens and conspiracy everywhere, even with his own girlfriend (Sabina Gadecki) and niece (Anastasia Baranova), not to mention some innocent campers. The flick has some decent effects, but there are long dialogue stretches that aren’t interesting or entertaining, as the film switches focus from paranoid Brock to the fish-out-of-water campers who eventually cross his path. Those looking for the credited Dolph Lundgren will be greatly disappointed, as he appears only as a cop on a TV show that Brock is watching during the course of the film…and false Dolph Lundgren advertising is definitely going to loose this flick even more points with this reviewer.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: FENDER BENDER (2016)

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FENDER BENDER (2016)

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

Co-produced by Chiller TV and Shout! Factory this is an entertaining little slasher flick that has teen driver Hilary Diaz (Makenzie Vega) getting into a fender bender with a strange guy (Bill Sage) who may have caused the accident on purpose. Grounded by her parents for the accident and taking the car without permission, this leaves the young girl home all alone when they go away. Now Hilary and two of her friends (Dre Davis and The Guest’s Kelsey Leos Montoya) are at the mercy of the deranged masked individual who is apparently making a career out of stalking his fender bender victims.

Written and directed by Mark (The Night Flier) Pavia, this is actually an effective and fun slasher that also has it’s share of brutal moments. Pavia builds some nice suspense, especially when Hilary is alone in the house early on and Sage’s “Driver” is an effective enough stalker/slasher whose viciousness is demonstrated in the opening scene. The film is modestly budgeted and works well within it’s limited framework, confining most of the action to Hilary’s home and yard…despite the poster giving expectations for a more Mad Max-esque thriller. There are some plot holes, such as Hilary’s parents unrealistically making a 17 year-old stay home alone while they’re away and the teen being a little too quick to trade texts with a complete stranger she had an accident with…don’t even get me started on her not being creeped out when he leaves a cake on her car. But the film entertains where most important and Vega makes for a very likable and resilient heroine. While it’s body count is limited and the gore is basically just spurting blood, the kills have impact and there is some intensity to the cat and mouse chases through and around Hilary’s house. There is also a really cool and atmospheric electronic score by Nightrunner that oozes John Carpenter and overall the film does play nostalgically like an 80s slasher.

I liked this little horror flick. It isn’t perfect, but was effective when it needed to be and had a killer who had some menace. The characters are likable, especially lead Makenzie Vega, who gives us a cute and gutsy heroine to cheer. And while there were some flaws and plot holes, there was also tension and suspense and a nice 80s vibe to boot. A fun little movie that smartly doesn’t try to be any more than it is.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 creepy masks.

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