BARE BONES: THE APPARITION and THE CHILDREN

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THE APPARITION (2012)

Put equal parts Paranormal Activity, The Ring and Poltergeist in a blender and the result would be The Apparition, a routine supernatural thriller about a young couple battling a supernatural entity. Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan) move into her parent’s future retirement home to maintain it and soon start to experience strange occurrences. Before long it is clear there is a malevolent entity in the home and an experiment Ben was involved in might be why.

Director and writer Todd Lincoln helms this very familiar tale pretty much by the numbers, although he does achieve some effective scenes early on before the story starts to get more involved and thus sillier and more convoluted. It would have been better off if it stuck with being a routine haunting flick, but once Ben’s friend, Patrick (Tom Felton), the author of the experiment, shows up and tries to play ghostbuster, things just fall part with all the Star Trek meets Ghost Hunters mumbo jumbo about rifts and predatory entities from other dimensions. Fortunately, the film is barely over 80 minutes, so it moves quickly toward it’s stale climax. At least leading lady Greene is charming enough to allow us to like her character, even when she isn’t parading around wearing only half her clothes. Now only if she had a much better movie built around her scantily clad heroine, it might have been more of an enjoyable guilty pleasure.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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THE CHILDREN (2008)

Kids can be creepy enough as it is, but this chilling and sometimes brutal British horror takes it to a whole new level. Writer/director Tom Shankland’s flick is a very effective and disturbing tale of a Christmas vacation get-together that becomes a nightmare when the children start to exhibit increasingly strange and soon violent behavior. What begins as a possible cold spreading from child to child, soon starts to take on some aggressive then violent characteristics. The young couples are soon faced with a parent’s worst nightmare, as it appears their kids want to kill them.

That’s what makes this horror flick work so well, despite some flaws, is the simple questions it poses… what would YOU do if you had to fight for your life against your own child? Could you? The parents in this film are confronted with that exact dilemma, as their own children become homicidal, with nowhere to run in their secluded country house. A disturbing and well made horror flick from Tom Shankland. Stars Hannah Toiton, Eva Birthistle (Wake Wood) and Jeremy Sheffield.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: CREEP (2004)

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CREEP (2004)

Creep is the first feature film from British writer/director Christopher Smith (Severance, Black Death) and is a tale of horrors set in the train tunnels and sewers beneath the streets of London. The film opens with a couple of sewer workers (Vas Blackwood and Ken Campbell) discovering a new hole in one of the walls which leads to an undocumented tunnel. Their foray into this tunnel does not end well and sets the tone for what is to come. We then shift focus to pretty Kate (Franka Potente) who is planning to leave the party she is at and join a friend at another party where George Clooney is said to be going. But while waiting for the last train of the night, Kate fall asleep on the bench and when she awakens she finds herself locked inside the now shut down train station. And Kate is not alone. In the station are not only a homeless drug addict couple (Kelly Scott and Paul Rattray), but an obnoxious jerk security supervisor (Morgan Jones) and the lecherous and quite high Guy (Jeremy Sheffield) who followed her from the party. They all are about to be plunged into the same nightmare as there is someone, or something, lurking beneath the streets of London that has cruel and disturbing plans for all those unfortunate enough to be there after closing. And when Kate finds herself in the underground lair of this terrifying occupant, she realizes, to her horror, that those already dead got off easy.

I’ll be the first to admit that the talented Smith’s first flick has it problems. There are plenty of plot holes and the film does rely on some conveniences to tell it’s story such as Guy actually becoming stuck in the tunnel after closing as well in his search for Kate and the security guard basically being such a jerk that he refuses to do anything to help including calling authorities when it is clear there is something wrong going on. But Smith is a skilled filmmaker and he does still manage to make an entertaining, suspenseful and very disturbing horror film out of his flawed script. He has a visual style which makes good use out of the tunnels and underground rooms and corridors and gives us a villain whose methods and purpose are quite shocking and horrifying yet, not without a touch of sympathy. The film moves quickly once it gets going and is a tight and entertaining 81 minutes.

Smith gets good work from his cast with Potente being a strong heroine who starts out as a bit of a self-centered , superficial person who not only proves to be a fighter, but learns some humility along the way. And Sean Harris gives disturbing life to the deformed and deadly “Craig” who earns both our dread and a little of our sympathy. The film has some very gruesome moments with some very top notch gore and make-up effects and Smith even adds a touch of poetic justice/irony to it’s final frames.

The film overall shows potential for a director that has been living up to it with his more recent films which prove he not only is skilled at delivering films with a dark tone, but is fairly versatile with films ranging from the surreal, like his Triangle with Melissa George to his darkly satiric Severance to his grim medieval set Black Death. A flawed, but still very effective first feature from a director who’s proven he’s worth keeping an eye on.

3 frightened Frankas!

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