Haley Bennett alone against a vicious cult in Kristy
Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!
Tina Ivlev turns the tables on female traffickers in Bound To Vengeance
(Click on the highlighted links to read a review of the films that our Halloween Hotties have appeared in)
Anya first got our attention as The Witch’s tempted teen Thomasin!
Caitlin would like to tell you how much she loves being in horror movies, but…(from All I Need)
Haley’s Claire finds outwitting 23 different personalities may not be that easy in Split!
And don’t forget to check out our previous Halloween Hotties focusing on, Maika Monroe, Addison Timlin, Melanie Papalia, Briana Evigan, Katrina Bowden, Alexandra Daddario, Katie Featherston, Katharine Isabelle, Amber Heard and Danielle Harris! (just click on their names to go to their pages or head over to the Halloween Hotties listings!)
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Despite being made about two years ago, low budget horror thriller is finally being released on VOD. It tells the story of a pretty young woman (Caitlin Stasey from All Cheerleaders Die and Fear Inc) who wakes up in a small room bound and gagged along with about a dozen or so other young women in the same predicament. Most of her fellow captives are either already dead, or soon to be, leading the young woman to engage in a battle of wills with her murderous captor in order to get out alive. The story also follows a down on his luck man named Andrew (Markus Taylor) who starts getting job offers from a mysterious benefactor. Can the fates of these two individuals be somehow intertwined?
Writer and director Dylan K. Narang, who produced the cool monster flick Dark Was The Night, will answer that question by the time this film reaches it’s conclusion and while it’s not a total surprise, Narang does provide some intensity and some disturbing sequences before the credits role. Most of that comes in the segments that follow Chloe (Stasey) in her efforts to stay alive and out of the masked killer’s clutches in a confined space. The resilient girl uses whatever resources are at her disposal, including the bonds and bodies of the other young women who have also fallen prey to this individual. When we switch to Andrew’s story, the film is less interesting and a bit flat as we have become far more endeared to the embattled Chloe and are less interested in his tale, though his story does connect. The writer/director smartly keeps the focus predominately on the bloodied and scantily clad prisoner and it is those scenes that carry some nice intensity and a few disturbing moments. Narang is also not afraid to have our heroine make some tough decisions during her escape attempts regarding her co-captors and even the use of their bodies. The film’s momentum sputters a bit with Andrew, especially one lengthy scene with his benefactor’s boss (Holly Twyford), that despite delivering some needed exposition, kinda drags a bit. Once this scene plays out, we do return to Chloe’s horrifying drama, though at that point we already have figured out how it’s going to conclude. The film does have effective atmosphere and that is helped along by an 80s-ish score by Jacob Yoffee and the fact that Narang does have a good visual eye and delivers some effective shots even working on an intimate scale.
The cast is very small and the strongest performance comes from the pretty Caitlin Stasey who endears us to her Chloe quickly with some expressive eye emoting while bound and gagged and then with body language and facial expressions when she is free and in survival mode. As she is alone most of the time, she has limited dialog and filmmaker Narang avoids having her talk to herself to fill us in on what she’s thinking. Instead he let’s his actress show us and she does a great job feeding us her fear and resilience without externalizing her inner monologue. She uses her body and eyes to good effect. Markus Taylor is a little flat as Andrew, though he’s not what I would call bad. The material involving his character is not as interesting or intense as Chloe’s terrifying ordeal, which doesn’t give the actor nearly as much to work with. Holly Twyford delvers some important exposition with a monotone delivery and while her character is supposed to be a bit emotionally detached, the revelations could have used a bit more dramatic bite to make them work better and a little more depth to the ‘explanation ‘ as to the hows and whys. As for our killer, he is masked for 99% of the flick and he does carry some menace and intensity, even though he isn’t on screen as much as you might expect. There are a couple of other girls we see briefly and they are all fine as victims.
Not a perfect flick by any means, but one that was effective in the places it needed to be most. Dylan K. Narang delivered some intense sequences with his young heroine fighting for her life and we only wish the secondary story of down on his luck divorcee Andrew carried the same type of weight. Seeing Chloe try to survive her situation and somehow escape was far more effective and interesting than Andrew puzzling over the mysterious offer from a faceless voice on the phone. Chloe made some hard decisions in her quest to survive, while we feel Andrew made his ultimate decision far too easy considering what the job proposal turned out to be. Director Narang does show some potential and Caitlin Stasey shows she is a young actress to also keep an eye on, especially in the horror genre, where she has recently been no stranger.
3 damsels in a lot of distress.
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Fear, Inc. is an OK horror/comedy that finds man-bun sporting horror movie fan Joe Foster (Lucas Neff) turning to a mysterious organization for some thrills and chills at Halloween. The group called Fear, Inc. apparently will deliver some hardcore scares, but Joe and his friends (Caitlin Stasey, Chris Marquette and Stephanie Drake) may not be prepared for just how far these folks will go to frighten them.
Written by Luke Barnett and directed by Vincent Masciale, this is a moderately amusing, if not familiar tale of a horror movie buff going to extreme lengths to gets some hardcore scares during the spooky time of year. While there is a level of amusement, the film is fairly predictable and the attempts at humor never really makes one laugh. The movie references are obvious and annoyingly Neff’s Joe has to shout them out when he sees them just in case we are too dumb to get them. If you don’t trust your target audience to get your references, then why bother? There is little suspense, though there is some decent gore and on a few occasions the film does give us some doubts as to whether it’s all a game. The cast are all decent enough, though I found Neff’s Joe to be more annoying than cool as the big kid in a man’s body. The mix of hipster and horror buff didn’t quite gel. Production value is solid enough and I can say that on a technical level it wasn’t badly directed, it just didn’t really scare and wasn’t overly clever or funny…and part of that is the fault of the script. There is some basic entertainment value here, but there is nothing daring or inventive about it and the film never takes any risks.
Fear, Inc. passed the time with moderate entertainment, but really didn’t take it’s premise and run with it like it could have. The script could have pushed the boundaries a bit and Masciale played it safe as a director. It’s a routine horror comedy that was a bit too obvious and mainstream with it’s horror references and didn’t seem to trust it’s target audience to get those references without help. Worth a look if there is nothing else on, but as it is the Halloween season, I’d much rather re-watch the movies referenced. Not a complete waste of time but overall, forgettable.
2 and 1/2 Fear, Inc business cards.
All Cheerleaders Die is a somewhat fun, if not schizophrenic horror/comedy from Chris Sivertson and Lucky Mckee that is a remake of a low budget film they made together back in 2001. Despite having a good time here, I still feel that McKee, who showed so much promise with May and The Woods, has seemed to have lost his way a bit with this and his last film The Woman. His films usually come with an offbeat sense of humor, but lately they are less deftly mixed in, though at least here this is supposed to be a comedy whereas in The Woman, it was just off-putting. But I digress…
The story opens with pretty high school student Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) reviewing footage from a video project on friend and queen bee cheerleader Alexis (Felisha Cooper). It’s revealed the Alexis died during a botched pyramid move and now Maddy seeks revenge on Alexis’ boyfriend, star athlete Terry (Tom Williamson) for immediately shacking up with another cheerleader, Tracy (Brooke Butler). So she joins the squad to set her plan in motion. During the enactment of her plot, things go awry and Maddy, Tracy and the Popkin sisters Hanna (Amanda Grace Cooper) and Martha (Reanin Johannink) wind up dead in a car crash instigated by an angry Terry and his boys, whom are chasing them. But, Maddy is being crushed on by witch Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) who witnesses the crash and uses her supernatural powers to raise the four cheerleaders from the dead. Now back from their watery grave, the four have an appetite for blood and an agenda of vengeance against the jocks that caused their initial demise…but a bizarre turn of events may have the four sexy succubi fighting for their undead lives.
As you can tell by the plot description, McKee and Sivertson’s tale of cheerleaders and revenge is a goofy one and that works both for and against it. The film’s tone is all over the place with it being silly one minute and attempting serious horror the next. The schizophrenic story takes our undead girls from victim’s to villains and back to victim’s and evokes the similar Jennifer’s Body, though without the smug, self awareness…at least Jennifer mixed it’s horror and comedy elements a bit smoother and never reached the degrees of silliness this does. It doesn’t mean the film isn’t fun at times, as it has a good time with the high school horror conventions and proudly uses it’s camera POV to ogle our shapely, scantily clad heroines as they strut around in cheerleading outfits that took like they were designed by a fetish clothier. Again, it’s obvious McKee and Sivertson know their influences and are are having fun with their subject matter, especially when the film goes all The Craft in it’s final act. But, it just never really solidifies to make it the fun treat it should have been. The abruptly shifting tone and the shifting roles of victim’s and villains makes the film more of a series of amusing vignettes loosely fit together than a solid tale. It just needed some consistency. Sometimes it was like watching a high school slasher and sometimes it was like watching an episode of Charmed. Not all the story angles even make sense, such as one where the two sister’s swap bodies upon their return from the dead. It seems only to exist to initiate a comic seduction scene with a mutual male interest. It goes nowhere. All the pieces don’t quite fit together, when all is said and done, and I still haven’t decided if where the film leaves off was cool or crass. I enjoyed this as a light diversion, but expected a lot more from the guy who gave us the deviously fun May and the atmospheric The Woods.
As for our leading ladies, all five actresses are having a blast unleashing their inner vixens, especially Stasey, Butler, Cooper and Johannink as the four spirit squad succubi. They get to tease and terrorize the boys and the audience and once the tables are turned, get to play heroines/victims against a far greater evil and have a good time doing it. Smit-McPhee seems to be enjoying her role as the awkward and lovelorn witch who is both pleased with and a little scared of the results of her spell casting. Her character is kind of a typical ‘school witch’ character, but she gives Leena some nice personality. As the overall villain, Tom Williamson takes Terry from arrogant and self-centered jock to all out demon by the time the credits role and he is very effectively detestable as such. The supporting players also seem to be enjoying their stereotypical high school horror characters and it helps this film a lot to have a cast that get the material and went with it. It adds to the fun.
So, I had a relatively good time with All Cheerleaders Die and certainly enjoyed the exploitation aspects such as making very good use of the leading ladies’ natural assets and the use of the classic fetishistic fantasy elements, as well as, the generous bloodletting and gore…though it could have done without the cheesy CGI blood. I just wish the film had a bit more of a cohesive storyline, even if it remained a silly one and the tone wasn’t so all over the place. It’s an entertaining and titillating diversion, but one that sadly implies that writer/director McKee may have shown us all he has to offer already, which is disappointing for those of us who expected big things after May and The Woods got our attention. Bloody, sexy fun, but could have been much more memorable.
3 sexy succubi.