BARE BONES: HE’S OUT THERE (2018)

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HE’S OUT THERE (2018)

Wife and mother Laura (Yvonne Strahovski) is taking her two daughters Maddie (Abigail Pniowsky) and Kayla (Anna Pniowsky) up to the family’s remote cabin in the woods…always a bad sign…with husband Shawn (Justin Bruening) to join them later. Unfortunately, the three are not alone and soon find themselves stalked by a deranged masked individual.

While the film is nothing original story-wise and is reminiscent somewhat of Mike Flanagan’s Hush, it is still quite effective in it’s own right. It’s very well directed by Quinn Lasher from a script by Mike Scannell and is quite spooky and suspenseful, even though familiar. Lasher gets good use out of his remote woodland location and the large old cabin setting and evokes strong performances from his small cast. There is graphic violence though it is used sparingly and thus has impact. Strahovski is especially good in the final girl…final mom?…role and the Pniowsky sisters are impressive, too. The film wouldn’t work as well without an effective villain and the deranged individual who calls himself “John” (Ryan McDonald) is disturbing despite being derivative. He delivers his few lines of dialogue well and conveys a threatening presence behind his creepy mask. All in all, a solid horror/thriller now streaming on Netflix…where you can also stream Flanagan’s Hush for comparison.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE MONSTER PROJECT (2017)

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THE MONSTER PROJECT (2017)

Found footage horror finds two Youtube pranksters Devon (Justin Bruening) and Jamal (Jamal Quezaire) coming up with a idea for a put-on to find and interview monsters for a Youtube show they dub The Monster Project. They add Jamal’s druggie roommate Bryan (Toby Hemingway) and Devon’s ex Murielle (Murielle Zuker) to the crew and begin advertising for “monsters” to interview. They rent an old creepy house to use as their setting and actually get people claiming to be a vampire (Yvonne Zima), a skin-walker (Steven Flores) and demon possessed girl (Shiori Ideta) answering their ad. As the night and interviews progress, the team start to find out these “monsters” are very real and that their lives are in real danger.

Directed by Victor Mathieu from a script and story by he with Corbin Billings and Shariya Lynn, this is an amusing concept of Youtube video makers getting more than they bargained for. The interview segments are creepy and when their supernatural subject matter turns out to be real, there are some truly spooky and intense sequences, as the vampire, skin-walker wolf and demon girl pursue them all through the maze-like old house. It’s played straight and there is some gore as the four aren’t all lucky enough to evade their fiendish pursuers. The found footage style works here, with even the cop/skin-walker having his own uniform cam as he follows his intended victims. This part of the film is the best and the most entertaining, even with some weak CGI. Where the film stumbles, is where a lot of found footage flicks do. The build-up to the interview/chase segment is nowhere near as interesting, especially when it delves into the drama between Devon and Murielle’s failed relationship and Bryan’s attempts to appear clean when he isn’t. It’s kind of dull and the actors aren’t always up to the task. The film also comes apart a little bit in the last act when there is a reveal which takes the film and the survivors in a different direction. It seemed like it was unnecessary when the simpler plot of the film crew actually finding real monsters was enough to entertain. It takes the simpler premise into different territory and the initial story didn’t need a hidden agenda. It had some spooky moments, too, but also seems to overload the flick in it’s last moments.

For the most part this found footage flick has an amusing set-up and generates some intensity, chills and some fun chase sequences as a crew of Youtube entrepreneurs get exactly what they wished for. There is some decent gore and make-up for a low budget flick and the found footage format works here to the flick’s advantage. Where the flick falters is in the personal drama between some of the characters which is dull and doesn’t add much and that the cast of unknowns aren’t always convincing in their roles. The ending takes the film in an unneeded direction and convolutes things a bit when the simpler premise was working just fine and didn’t need an extra inning. Sometimes less is more, though what we get does have it’s moments. Not the complete success it wants to be, but entertains well enough when it’s working.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 full moons.

 

 

 

 

 

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