BARE BONES: DON’T HANG UP and ELOISE

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DON’T HANG UP (2016)

Very ho-hum horror has a group of Youtube pranksters who call themselves “Prank Monkey 69” apparently pranking the wrong person, who decides to take a cruel and gruesome revenge. The four members and some of their unsuspecting loved ones, all become targets of this deranged Saw-like individual. We might care somewhat if it weren’t for the fact that the Prank Money members all come across as a bunch of real assholes and we actually want to see them meet a horrible fate ourselves.

Flick is blandly directed by Damien Mace and Alexis Wajsbrot from an uninspired script by Joe Johnson. It’s a dull movie about a bunch of jerks who basically get what’s coming to them and we never sympathize with them for a moment. The found footage genre is running out of gas quickly and mundane flicks like this are only speeding it towards it’s demise. A scant few effective scenes, but they are very few and far between.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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ELOISE (2017)

Flick takes place at a real and infamous asylum in Michigan and even has the audacity to dedicate itself to those interned there and their families. The plot has down on his luck Jacob Martin (Chace Crawford) learning his rich dad has passed away and he is set to inherit millions…but there is a catch. His aunt was a patient at the now abandoned Eloise asylum, where a doctor (Robert Patrick) was rumored to have conducted brutal experiments and cruel treatments on patients. His aunt apparently died there, but without a death certificate, the court can’t consider him the sole heir. Jacob can’t wait months for the paper work to be found through normal channels and thus plots to break into the asylum and find them himself…what he finds, however, is that something dark and evil still remains within the walls of Eloise Asylum.

OK haunted asylum flick is written by Christopher Borrelli and directed by Robert Logato, who is an Academy Award winning FX man. Logato guides the familiar tale competently and has a nice visual eye, but the film basically covers no new ground when it comes to these kind of pics and we’ve seen it all before. That would be fine if he just could muster up some real scares or suspense, instead of just putting us and the characters through the motions. There are some effective scenes, the asylum locations are well used and Patrick has fun chewing the scenery, but other than that it’s a little too familiar and a bit too by-the-numbers to really chew our popcorn with rapt attention. There are some amusing twists at the end, but it needed more punch along the way. Also stars genre favorite Eliza Dushku as a pretty bartender who gets dragged along for the ride. If there is nothing else on, you could give it a try.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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SCOTT SPEER’S “REALM” SHORT TO GET THE FEATURE FILM TREATMENT!

 

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A cool short film called Realm written by John Swetnam and directed by Scott Speer (Step-up Revolution) has apparently gotten the attention of Relativity and is going to get the feature film treatment. Story seems to be a more religious themed Buffy The Vampire Slayer meets The Exorcist meets Anime as it presents a pretty young girl, Claire Daniels (The Purge’s Adelaide Kane), who can enter the souls of those possessed and battle the demons in a sort of demon realm. Looks kinda cool and I hope they keep Miss Kane as the lead. I think she is an undiscovered talent and reminds me of a Buffy era Eliza Dushku. Watch the short for yourself below…

Source: Joblo/Vimeo/Youtube

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HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: WRONG TURN (2003)

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WRONG TURN (2003)

The original Wrong Turn is no classic, but is a solid entry in the “inbred cannibals in the woods” horror sub-genre. It is derivative of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Hills Have Eyes, but is well done and suspenseful enough to work despite being very familiar. The story has med student Chris (Desmond Harrington) driving through West Virginia and taking a back road to get to an interview after an accident clogs up the highway. On this dirt road he literally runs into five hikers whose vehicle has been disabled from some suspiciously placed barbed wire across their path. He, engaged couple Carly (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Scott (Jeremy Sisto) along with tough girl Jessie (Eliza Dushku) head out to find help while stoners Francine (Lindy Booth) and Evan (Kevin Zegers) remain with the wrecked cars. It’s not spoiling anything to say that soon our attractive young city slickers encounter some deformed and very hungry inbred mountain folk and are running for their lives through the dense woods.

Wrong Turn is by no means original, but director Rob Schmidt is able to take Alan B. McElroy’s familiar script and create a well made and suspenseful horror/thriller out of it. Part of the reason it works is that he gets good performances out of his cast and they create very likable characters and so we care about what happens to them and some of them do meet gruesome ends. There are some gory deaths, as expected in a flick like this, that are not only well executed by the FX team, but since the victims are very likable and the villains very deserving of what’s coming to them, it adds to their effectiveness. While we never get to know the cannibalistic hillbillies here, like we do in the previously mentioned Hooper and Craven classics, they are quite formidable and lethal and they get the job done as far as being effective bad guys. The script also does set up some nice suspenseful situations to put our likable characters in, such as a chase through the upper branches of the dense forest and a really tense sequence early on with our young protagonists caught in the carnivorous country folks’ home.

So basically a good cast and a good director are able to take a familiar story and turn it into a good “Saturday night on the couch” horror flick and sometimes that’s all you want and need. Not quite a classic, but a well made horror that’s simple, back to basics and gives us enough of what we want from a modern horror flick to earn it a spot on the Halloween season view list.

Rated 3 (out of 4) damsel Dushkus!

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