MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 RECENT HORRORS/THRILLERS WITH ASS-KICKING HEROINES!

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Haley Bennett alone against a vicious cult in Kristy

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 RECENT HORRORS/THRILLERS WITH ASS-KICKING HEROINES!

Who doesn’t love a good final girl!? Most horror fans do! So, here are twelve recent horrors/thrillers where our heroines made an especially strong impact kicking the ass of evil!

 

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

1. Kristy

2.Hush

3.Bound To Vengeance

4.Hellions

5.Final Girl

6.Don’t Breathe

7.The Guest

8.All I Need

9.Carnage Park

10.The Monster

11.Curve

12.Girlhouse

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Tina Ivlev turns the tables on female traffickers in Bound To Vengeance

-MonsterZero NJbars

REVIEW: INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (2016)

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INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (2016)

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

Film picks up two decades after the events of the original Independence Day with earth having rebuilt and now using recovered alien technology to devise a better defense system in case the invaders return…and they do. Right before they were taken down in 1996, a distress signal was issued and now it’s getting a response. With a massive ‘harvester’ ship heading towards earth, familiar and new faces must band together to battle this even more formidable invasion.

The first Indepenence Day may have been silly, corny and loaded with clichés, but it was also fun, charming and had loads of heart. Sadly, it’s sequel is a cold, soulless and actually kinda dull, follow-up that can’t even generate some emotional intensity with some major story points involving beloved characters. And while speaking of characters, the film is so quick to get to the destruction and carnage, that none of the new characters get any real development and thus we are never as endeared to them like we were to the first film’s ensemble. In fact, most of this film’s effective moments feature some of the returning characters and the newbies are left to sort of clean-up behind them. The film also feels like it was edited down quite a bit in an attempt to make it more fast moving and get to the explosions quicker. At least the first film took it’s time to set-up the story and introduce it’s stereotyped characters. Roland Emmerich directs this sequel very by-the-numbers and only sparsely does he recapture a little of the old ID4 spirit. Sure, there are a few moments, especially during the final confrontation, though one has to laugh that the battle with the giant alien queen was a far better monster movie than Emmerich’s entire Godzilla. He finally figured it out 18 years later. There is a lot of action here, though it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. If Emmerich was smart about something, he keeps the city destruction to a minimum as it’s been overdone in so many movies, including his own, since he blasted worldwide landmarks back in 1996. The SPFX are top notch, but basically boils down to the same Star Wars-esque dog fights that also have been done to death since Star Wars and Emmerich fails to give any of it a sense of urgency or intensity…and they are also kinda hard to follow as all the ships look alike in combat. This keeps us detached from what’s going on. Again, it’s pretty lifeless for a movie that sacrifices story and plot development to concentrate on the action. Speaking of story, Emmerich co-wrote the script with ID4 partner Dean Devlin and three other writers and it’s sad that five people churned out such a routine and formula flick. There are a few interesting elements, such as the previous invasion’s effect on Earth, a really interesting segment in Africa and the possibility that this formidable enemy might have enemies of it’s own, but it’s not enough to make this truly engaging. Even the first film’s goofy sense of humor has been toned down considerably making it a lot drier in the humor department. The first film wasn’t afraid to make you laugh, even in the middle of dramatic moments.

The cast is a mix of familiar and new faces and none of them are given anything really special to do or even the kind of corny, melodramatic moments that made the first film such cornball fun. Pullman, Goldblum, Judd Hirsch and Spiner all try hard to give the flick a little life, but even they seem to be performing by-the-numbers at times. Only Hirsch really feels like the guy we saw in ID4 and he also doesn’t seem to have aged any more in the twenty years since. Pullman has a big moment, too that is mishandled and it’s a shame as it should have been one of the film’s standout scenes. Emmerich blows a lot of moments like this and big moments is what made the first flick fun. As for the newbies, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher and It Follows‘ Maika Monroe all come across as bland and that’s disappointing, especially as this is Monroe’s jump to the big time after getting attention in last years horror hit. It’s not totally their fault as the script doesn’t give them much to work with and the focus keeps shifting back and forth from the previous to the new generation, which gives the old school cast the advantage as we are already familiar with them. The new generation are underused and even vet William Fichtner fails to really make a strong general turned President as Pullman successfully did with his war hero president in the first film. A good but underused cast. Will Smith is definitely missed.

So, while one was hoping this would be the surprise delight of the summer, it’s just another disappointment. It never captures the corny fun of the 1996 classic and is very cold, routine and by-the-numbers sequel. Roland Emmerich fails to recreate the magic with some of it’s returning characters and squanders the potential of it’s new generation characters and the charming young actors that play them. It’s a heartless and lazy sequel that only sporadically delivers brief moments that evoke the silly popcorn crowd pleaser that captured the hearts and dollars of a generation in 1996. Sometimes thing are better left…un-sequeled?

Personal Note: At least I can boast that I saw the original on July 4th, 1996 in a packed theater in Long Beach Island, N.J. while on vacation there with friends.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 aggressive aliens.

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2015…MAIKA MONROE!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2015…MAIKA MONROE!

This newest installment of Halloween Hotties features our Halloween Hottie Of 2015, the beautiful and very talented Maika Monroe, who easily earns this title by appearing in, not one, but two horror/thrillers this year! Now true, these films initially made their presence known at festivals in 2014, but it was not until 2015 that I saw Adam Wingard’s The Guest on home media and David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows in it’s limited theatrical release.

(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie posters to read a review of the film’s that have earned her Halloween Hottie of 2015!)

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One of the best horror films of the year and one that launched it’s talented leading lady into the spotlight! Monroe plays Jay Height, a young college girl from suburban Detroit who is cursed with some sort of malicious entity through sexual intercourse. This fiend is only visible to those it targets and can assume the shape of anyone it chooses. While it can be passed to someone else in the same manner, noble Jay refuses to put another in harm’s way and thus begins a cat and mouse chase between supernatural terror and the brave young woman. Monroe made quite an impressive heroine in a very chilling film and we hope she returns to the horror genre soon.
Click HERE to read our in-depth comparison to John Carpenter’s classic masterpiece Halloween!

Maika Monroe as It Follows stalked heroine, Jay Height!

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And her disturbing second feature…

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THE GUEST

While The Guest is not strictly a horror film, it is a blood-soaked thriller that does take place at Halloween and has enough horror touches and trappings to earn it special consideration. In the film, Maika plays Anna a young woman who has recently lost her brother, Caleb in the armed services. When a mysterious stranger, David (Dan Stevens) shows up at her family’s door claiming to be a friend of Caleb’s, they welcome him in with open arms. David isn’t what he seems, though and when bodies start piling up, Anna is the only one who realizes something is wrong with their guest and puts her life on the line to stop him.

As another strong heroine, Maika Monroe as The Guest‘s Anna Peterson!

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Maika Monroe will be returning to genre screens soon in two alien invasion flicks, the teen-centric The Fifth Wave and the long-awaited sequel Independence Day: Resurgence…for now, we can enjoy this talented young lady in two horror/thrillers that make her a more than worthy Halloween Hottie Of 2015!

HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2015 RUNNER-UP…CHLOE ROSE!

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This year I have a runner-up who seriously challenged Miss Monroe for her title. Chloe Rose made for quite a resourceful and strong-willed heroine as Dora Vogel in Bruce McDonald’s Halloween set fright flick Hellions. The young actress made quite an impression as a pregnant teen who must fend off a pack of demonic little fiends who want her unborn child. If not for Maika’s dual final girl roles, this might have been a tie!
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And don’t forget to check out our previous Halloween Hotties focusing on, last year’s Halloween Hottie Addison TimlinMelanie PapaliaBriana EviganKatrina BowdenAlexandra DaddarioKatie FeatherstonKatharine IsabelleAmber Heard and Danielle Harris! (just click on their names to go to their pages!)

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HALLOWEEN and IT FOLLOWS: A COMPARISON IN HORROR!

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HALLOWEEN and IT FOLLOWS: A COMPARISON IN HORROR!

MAJOR SPOILER WARNING! In order to properly compare these two films, I have to give DETAILED SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen John Carpenter’s Halloween or David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows, there are MASSIVE SPOILERS BELOW for each film. You have been warned!

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When sitting in my seat at New York’s Angelika Film Center and David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows was about to begin, I was wondering, based on all the hype, if I might be witnessing today’s generation find their “Halloween“. Once the film was over and now after repeat viewings, I feel that these films are a lot alike in many ways. Whether Mitchell’s flick will someday be considered a true classic, like Carpenter’s masterpiece, only time will tell. The two films, though have a lot in common and whether they are revered on equal levels at some point, it is worth looking at those similarities now…

(Click on the highlighted movie titles to go to the full length reviews and on the photos to enlarge them!)

THE STORY

John Carpenter’s classic Halloween has a young boy murdering his own sister on Halloween night. Fifteen years later Michael Myers breaks out of Smith Grove Sanitarium and returns to his home town of Haddonfield, Illinois with his psychiatrist (Donald Pleasence) in hot pursuit. Michael randomly picks high school student Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis)…remember, it wan’t until Halloween II that we found out she was Michael’s baby sister…and begins to relentlessly stalk her and her friends. Michael leaves a trail of bodies in his wake as he tracks down young Laurie while she babysits on Halloween night.

It Follows has some sort of vengeful entity passed on to pretty college student Jay (Maika Monroe) through sexual intercourse. This demonic entity relentlessly stalks Jay, taking the form of anyone it wishes and only she and the one who passed it on to her can see it. It will stop at nothing to kill Jay…unless she passes it on to another through sex…as she and her friends seek to somehow evade or destroy it.

There are stark differences in plot details, but basically both flicks have a young woman targeted and stalked by a relentless, malevolent force.

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THE ANTAGONISTS

One of the things that makes Halloween so effective is the randomness of it’s killer. Evoking the feeling it could happen anytime, any place, to anyone. Michael Myers is an average little boy who on one Halloween night, takes up a knife and slaughters his sister. He is immediately incarcerated and over the years, remains a silent vessel of some kind of growing, intense evil that is never explained. For no outward reason, he chooses to escape and return home the night before Halloween, 15 years later. He picks Laurie Strode at random and just starts to follow her relentlessly, then murdering her friends before finally coming after her. He can be slowed down and injured, but apparently not stopped. Whatever Laurie and Dr. Loomis throw at him, he keeps getting back up. He wears an ominous Halloween mask and never speaks, nor seems to take any outward pleasure out of his violent acts. He is just an malevolent juggernaut that won’t stop until he gets what he wants. His motives and what drives him are a mystery.

The unnamed entity of It Follows is similar in many respects. Jay is seemingly picked at random by Hugh (Jake Weary) to have the entity passed onto. Once it has been, it pursues Jay relentlessly. Unlike Myers, it can assume any guise as it does. Sometimes it is in the form of an old woman, sometimes a tall man and even appears as Greg (Daniel Zovatto) and his mother, when Jay passes it on to him and it comes to kill him. It’s true form may be more demonic as the wound it gives Paul (Keir Gilchrist) appears to be claw marks. While the entity seems far more supernatural than Myers, and can only be seen by it’s victim, it also seems like it can be physically wounded and slowed down, though not stopped. It is methodical and patient much like Haddonfield’s infamous killer and also never speaks or seems to truly revel in it’s acts. A big difference, though is the entity will only kill it’s target. It only harms someone else, as with Paul, if they directly get in it’s way. In this, Halloween‘s Myers leaves a far larger body count.

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THE FINAL GIRLS/HEROINES

Here is a point where there are some vast differences, probably more due to a sign of the changing times, but Jay and Laurie are very different young women, despite their mutual resilience. Laurie Strode is the quintessential girl-next-door. She’s dedicated to her school work, very pretty, but dresses conservatively and she is still quite the virgin. She is also very shy around boys. Jay Height, on the other hand, is a few years older and is not only a sexy young woman who is very comfortable around boys, but very sexually active as well. The whole plot of It Follows is started with a sexual encounter she has in the back seat of a boy’s car…on only their second date. Again, it’s almost four decades after Halloween, so the portrayal of women and youths in movies has changed and the society they grew up in, is a lot different than it was in 1978. For example, from the brief meeting with Laurie’s dad, we can see she comes from a good, loving home with caring parents. She’s courteous and polite. Jay, in contrast, comes from a broken home with an alcoholic mother. She curses and is promiscuous and rebellious. With her mother almost always in a stupor, she has only her friends to turn to. Unlike Laurie, there is no Dr. Loomis waiting in the wings to save the day, either.

Both films carry the time-honored horror film themes about the dangers of casual sex, that their respective heroines’ peril represents. In contrast, the virginal Laurie survives, while her horny friends die, while not only does promiscuous Jay’s fate remain uncertain, it is casual sex that got her in trouble in the first place.

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THE SETTINGS

Here there are equal parts similarities and differences. Both film’s have a suburban setting, but very different suburbs. Haddonfield is more of a Norman Rockwell all-American neighborhood with white picket fences, well manicured lawns and trees everywhere. Jay lives in rundown, suburban Detroit where paint is cracking, there are old beat-up cars in the driveways and not every house looks lived in. Where Carpenter used the Halloween time of year to establish a mood, with leaves blowing and cloudy fall days giving way to nights filled with pumpkins and trick-or-treaters, Mitchell uses the desolate look of a dying community to give his chiller it’s feeling of desolation and isolation. Jay’s neighborhood is disturbingly void of activity both day and night while Haddonefield is filled with playing children. It gives us the feeling that Jay and friend’s are all alone…we rarely see an adult…while Halloween gives us an almost idyllic family community unaware and unprepared for the evil that has entered it’s peaceful streets. Two separate methods of using settings to establishing fear and dread, which both films have in abundance.

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THE OPENING SCENES

Both movies have great opening scenes that really establish the mood and tone. Halloween opens on October 31st, 1963. We see pretty Judith Myers being watched as she makes out with, then makes love to, her boyfriend. After he leaves, the observer takes up a kitchen knife and we find it is Judith’s little brother Michael, who then brutally slaughters his nearly naked sister for no apparent reason. His horrified parents arrive home in time to see their little boy standing outside the house holding a bloody knife and staring blankly into space.

It Follows opens with a pan across the Detroit neighborhood as the sun sets when pretty Annie (Bailey Spry) in lingerie and heels bursts out of her house. She looks terrified despite assuring her inquiring neighbor she’s fine. The girl runs back into the house and emerges with her keys, blowing past her concerned father and getting in her car and leaving. We then see her alone on a beach, lit only with her car’s headlights, tearfully telling her father on the phone that she loves him. As she looks in the distance in terror, at the tree line lit by her car’s red break lights, we get an intense feeling of dread even before we cut to the following morning with Annie’s body lying in the sand in a horrifyingly brutalized condition.

Both openings are perfect for setting us up for what is to come, starting us off with an atmosphere of fear and foreboding.

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THE ENDINGS

Here’s where Halloween really comes out on top. Carpenter’s classic and Mitchell’s films both have ambiguous endings, but only Halloween really pulls it off. After a very intense battle with Michael Myers, Dr. Loomis comes and shoots the masked killer repeatedly till he falls off a balcony and hits the ground…presumedly dead. As Loomis tries to comfort Laurie she asks if it was the ‘Boogie Man’…Loomis replies with an ominous “As a matter of fact it was.” We then see that Michael’s body is gone. It’s very effective and leaves us chilled long after the credits roll. He’s still out there…somewhere. A perfectly spooky open ending with a classic line that still resonates.

It Follows drops the ball a bit by not quite knowing when to stop. Jay and friends have an intense battle with “It” as they lure it into the high school pool where Paul finally shoots it while it’s underwater and trying to drown Jay. Jay looks over the edge of the pool to see it ominously filling with an expanding cloud of blood. Is it dead? We’re not sure. Then the film goes on, having Jay return home and finally sleeping with Paul, who has crushed on her for years. They ask each other if they feel ‘different’ and decide they don’t. After Paul’s declining to pass it on to a pair of hookers…if it’s even still following them…the film cuts to Paul and Jay walking down the street holding hands while there is another person in the distance behind them…and then just ends. It’s supposed to leave us feeling unsure if the entity was defeated or not, but just seems abrupt. The added sex scene with Paul is motivationally unclear, especially after Jay was so guilty over what happened to Greg. It gives us the impression that the story is going to continue, but then just ends. It’s more abrupt than ominous and personally, left me unsatisfied. In my humble opinion…and while I respect the filmmaker’s vision…I would have ended it as Jay looked into the blood-filled pool. The sex scene with Paul doesn’t really add anything and doesn’t further the story. It also gives the intense pool scene a feeling of not having gone anywhere and deflates it’s impact as the film continues on with a new plot point that doesn’t resolve anything either.

Carpenter knew to end Halloween at the right point, while we’re still catching our breath. Mitchell let’s us wind down and then continues the story a bit before his ambiguous ending and thus it gives the appearance of just ending suddenly…and un-satisfyingly. Basically the only real stumble he makes with this film.

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There are other similarities. Both films have excellent cinematography and shot framing. John Carpenter’s shot framing has always been impeccable and the moody yet vibrant cinematography of Dean Cundey really makes it effective. Cundey uses shadow brilliantly and Halloween truly looks like the holiday it represents. David Robert Mitchell sights Carpenter as an influence and it shows. Much like Bereavement‘s Stevan Mena, Mitchell has learned well from the master and he frames his shots exceptionally. He is backed up by some sumptuous digital cinematography by Mike Gioulakis, who like Cundey, knows how to use light and shadow to his advantage and he gives the rundown streets of Detroit a sense of hopelessness that fits along with the film’s mood.

Also adding atmosphere for both film’s are their electronic scores. Carpenter’s score for Halloween is legendary and it brilliantly highlights what’s going on in the film, setting the mood for every frame. The same can be said for Disaterpeace’s electronic score for It Follows. A bit more complex than Carpenter’s perfectly minimalist score, it also adds a lot of mood and atmosphere even adding ominous touches when the film is in quieter moments, as Carpenter did with his keyboards.

Finally, both films got gradual releases that slowly expanded from the weeks of their premieres. Staggered releases weren’t uncommon in the 70s and Halloween slowly expanded it’s release and thus it’s reputation grew and began to precede it, as it was regionally released across the country from late October through November. It Follows was supposed to have a small four theater release in mid-March…which is when I saw it in NYC…and then open on VOD a week later. It did so well in those four locations that the VOD release was postponed and the film added more and more theaters over the following few weeks till it achieved a full wide release on 3/27/15 and a solid gross for a low budget film originally slated for VOD.

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So is It Follows the Halloween of today’s generation? By way of comparison, in many ways, it is. The true test will be years from now when we see if horror fans still revere and talk about it or…if it turns out to be a ‘horror of the moment’ and fade away with the next big thing. Only time will tell. Personally, I think it falls a few steps short, but is still a solid and refreshingly offbeat horror flick that should stand the test of time well, if not quite as importantly regarded as Carpenter’s classic masterpiece.

-MonsterZero NJ

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IT FOLLOWS SEQUEL ANNOUNCED with APRIL 1st 2016 RELEASE DATE SET!

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The success of David Robert Mitchell’s horror hit It Follows has gotten a sequel fast-tracked and Spring Break: It Follows 2 has been announced for production this summer with Mitchell again to script and direct. Maika Monroe is also slated to return as the new flick finds her Jay on Spring Break in Florida when the demonic entity once again focuses it’s pursuit on the young woman. The sequel is slated for release April 1st 2016. 

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source: HAPPY APRIL FOOLS DAY from MonsterZero NJ!

artwork: MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: IT FOLLOWS (2014)

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IT FOLLOWS (2014)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

As I was watching this much-hyped horror thriller for the first two thirds, I truly felt I might be witnessing this generation find it’s Halloween. It’s only in it’s final act when writer/director David Robert Mitchell loses his grip a bit and his chiller comes to an abrupt end, that the film falls short.

The story opens with a young girl (Bailey Spry) fleeing her own house in terror and making her way to a deserted beach where she meets a gruesome fate. We then cut to pretty Detroit teen Jay (Maika Monroe) who is going out on a date with a handsome young man named Hugh (Jake Weary). The date takes an odd turn but, Jay sees him again and this time has sex with him in his car. Hugh then abducts Jay and proceeds to tell her that he has passed something on to her and it is now coming to kill her. She, in turn, must now pass it on to someone else, by way of intercourse, or die…and if she dies, it will turn it’s attention back to Hugh. This entity can look like anyone it wants, can only be seen by those marked and will stalk her until it gets her…unless she passes this ‘curse’ on to another. He gives her a glimpse of her pursuer, in the guise of a naked woman, but, before it gets too close, he escapes with her and takes her home, leaving her to her fate. Now Jay is in constant pursuit by this being and there is nowhere she is safe and few who believe her. Can she save herself by putting someone else in harm’s way? Or can she and her friends find a way to stop it…if, indeed, it can be stopped.

David Robert Mitchell knows how to build suspense and scares here. That, combined with his shot framing and the film’s pulse-pounding electronic score by Disasterpeace, evokes John Carpenter and his classic chiller very often. Mitchell, knows how to use shadows and lighting to create tension along with a strong atmosphere and mood of constant dread and can build some pretty scary scenes right out in broad daylight, too. With the added skill of cinematographer Mike Gioulakis, this flick also looks great, as well as, conveys a constant feeling that something isn’t right. Also like Carpenter’s masterpiece, the villain here is ambiguous and stays that way and, like Michael Myers, is relentless in it’s quest to kill Jay. There is almost non-stop tension and chills during this pursuit and some flat-out scary sequences. Whether you look at it as a metaphor for the fear of STDs or simply as a horror flick, the first two thirds of this movie live up to the hype. Unfortunately, though, the film falls short of instant classic status as it loses it’s way a bit in the last act. Mitchell doesn’t really seem to know how to wrap this story up, so, we get an intense pool-set confrontation, that ultimately goes nowhere and then an abrupt ending soon after. Granted, Carpenter’s ending was a bit ambiguous, too, but, still was a satisfying conclusion that left us considerably spooked as the credits rolled. Here it’s more of a head scratcher, which leaves one asking “That’s it?” It’s too bad, as with a third act equal to what came before it, this might truly have been this generation’s Halloween. It’s that scary at times. With the last act weakness aside, there is still a lot to like about this flick and ultimately I did really enjoy it. There are enough scares and tension to satisfy and even if the film lost it’s grip when it should have tightened it, you still get more than your money’s worth overall. I also liked how Mitchell used the suburban Detroit locations to give the film a fresh look and his young cast all did a good job, especially lead Maika Monroe (The Guest).

Between this and The Guest, I can say Maika Monroe is a star in the making. She gives us a vivacious and real young women who is plunged into a world that is terrifying and unsafe no matter where she turns. She is strong to a degree but, not having the tools to fight back, is slowly breaking her down. She also struggles with the notion that simply having sex with someone else can possibly save her but, can she do that to someone…and if she does and they die, she’s back to being it’s target and an innocent is dead. Monroe conveys it all very well. The rest of the cast are also strong. Keir Gilchrist is sympathetic as Paul, a friend who has been crushing on Jay for years but, she doesn’t see him that way. Lili Sepe is good as her strong-willed and sometimes wiser little sister Kelly. Daniel Zovatto is solid as Greg, a neighbor who has a past with Jay and is willing to help despite his disbelief. Rounding out is Olivia Luccardi as their perky friend Yara, who has the least to do but, does it well. The entity itself is never played by the same person twice, but, Mitchell always evokes a strong threat and sense of fear from whomever is playing it.

Overall, I highly recommend this horror. It has a bit of a fresh look and feel, despite heavily evoking John Carpenter’s classic of stalked teens and provides some downright scary sequences, especially in it’s first two thirds. It does wander off the path a bit in the last act…though certainly not nearly enough to sink it…and doesn’t quite wrap up in the completely satisfying way it needs to. Flaws aside, though, this is still a very effective and scary horror. So, while it falls a bit short of being the Halloween for a new generation, it’s still a damn scary as hell horror flick and shows big things ahead for director David Robert Mitchell and star Maika Monroe.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 haunted heroines.

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IT FOLLOWS GETS LIMITED THEATER RELEASE BEFORE VOD!

 

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UPDATE #2 3/20/15: Variety is now reporting that It Follows WILL delay it’s VOD release and now go wide on 3/27 expanding to about 1,000 screens! Hope this is true, this flick needs to be seen in a theater!

UPDATE 3/19/15: There seems to be a lot of back and fourth as to whether It Follows would forgo it’s VOD release for a wider theatrical release. At this point it seems that it will be widening it’s limited release somewhat on the 20th but, no solid word as to whether it will pass VOD on the 27th to go even wider. Keep you posted!

One of the most highly anticipated horrors in sometime, David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows will be opening in limited theatrical release on 3/13/13… this Friday the 13th… and then on 3/27/15 on VOD! The film stars Maika Monroe, last seen in the cool action thriller The Guest. For us here in Jersey, NYC’s Angelika Film Center on Houston St. will be the closest theater showing it.

MonsterZero NJ

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REVIEW: THE GUEST (2014)

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THE GUEST (2014)

While I certainly am no fan of Adam Wingard’s overrated Your’e Next, I did have a really good time with this fun and very 80s thriller. The story finds the Peterson family grieving over the death of their son Caleb, who died while serving overseas in the military. A man named David (Dan Stevens) shows up at the door unexpectedly, claiming to be an ex-soldier and a very close friend of Caleb’s, who he says asked David to check in on them before he died. They invite David to stay with them and he quickly bonds with the husband and wife (Sheila Kelley and Leland Orser) and their two remaining kids, teen Luke (Brendan Meyer) and twenty year-old Anna (Maika Monroe). Soon, though, when bodies start to pile up in town, it starts to become clear to Anna that the charming and handsome former solider may not be who he seems and is determined to find out just who they have welcomed into their house and what his real intentions are.

First of all, if nothing else, this film has a great 80s vibe, especially with Steve Moore’s electronic score, that evokes Tangerine Dream, and Robby Baumgartner’s cinematography. Second of all, the film is just a lot of fun. We know right from his first charming smile that this guy is not who he seems and that this devil wears an angel’s face. The fun is watching him charm himself into the Petersons’ life, telling them exactly what they want to hear about Caleb, saving Luke from school bullies and helping make dinner…all the while giving us, the audience, little glimpses that there is something far darker and far more lethal behind that boyish grin. Wingard gleefully and skillfully, let’s us in on what this heartbroken family refuses to see…David is a dangerous and possibly unstable man. Once Anna starts to suspect, we know she is immediately putting herself in danger. And it’s even more fun when we find out just how much danger and just who David really is. I must say I didn’t expect the film to go in the direction that Adam Wingard and scripter Simon Barrett take this story and it’s a blast to see it play out. There are some fun and shocking surprises along the way, too. What really makes it all work, though, is that it’s makers know exactly what kind of movie they are making here. They know exactly when to play it cool and exactly when to have some fun and go a little over-the-top. And the 80s vibe is definitely deliberate as certain scenes evoked the glory days of Seagal and Norris, had they played more villainous roles. It’s not perfect. The Peterson’s seem a bit too eager to allow this stranger into their home, especially mom, Laura. Luke’s willingness to go along with David’s deception, even after Anna suspects him of murder seems a bit far-fetched and leads to a betrayal that’s a bit hard to swallow. Despite the two bonding, it seems quite a stretch that Luke would still trust David after all the suspicions and deceptions come to light. When we get the big reveal, we could have had a bit clearer picture as to what is going on with the ex-soldier, too. It’s not vague, but a few more details would have been nice. Flaws aside, though, it’s a good time with some nice suspense and a thrilling and action-packed third act that keeps you from dissecting things too much till it’s over…and by then you’ve had too good a time to be overly critical.

As for the actors, the cast are all very good. Dan Stevens almost fools us with his charming ex-soldier, but let’s just enough of the devil in for us to know something is up. When the ‘cat is out of the bag’, so to speak, he is convincingly lethal when the bullets and blood start to fly. And it makes it even more fun to watch him keep the wool over the unsuspecting family’s eyes. Maika Monroe is a nice surprise as the sweet but strong-willed Anna. She has the look of a young Brittany Murphy and may just have the acting chops too. She plays a tough girl willing to go up against a possible killer to protect her family. Meyer is solid as the meek Luke. He’s the one who bond’s tightest with David and obviously, is the last to believe David is dangerous to him and his family. Meyer convey’s the confused emotions well when it starts to be believed that David is not who he seems. Kelley and Orser are also good as parents Laura and Spencer. Two adults that are too wrapped up in their own grief and lives to see something is definitely off with their guest. They convey that obliviousness and yearning to believe something is real to soothe their inner pain, even though it’s increasingly obvious it’s not. A good cast who take their roles seriously and make this flick work very well.

So, I really enjoyed The Guest. Even without some very heavy 80s influence on it’s story and style, this is just a fun movie that knows what it’s about and just goes with it in the right degrees…and at the right times. We have a solid cast and some good direction by Adam Wingard that makes this story work, even when it sometimes asks for a little suspension of disbelief. The key here is Wingard knows that we know something’s up and he respects that we’ve seen a lot of this before and so he just has a good time telling the familiar tale and takes us along for the ride. And yes, Mr. Wingard, I saw the Halloween III easter egg…well played. A fun retro movie with a great soundtrack of songs, too! (see track listing below)

3 and 1/2 bullets.

raid rating

BONUS: SONGS TRACKS from The Guest Soundtrack…

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  1. “Haunted When The Minutes Drag” (Love and Rockets) – 8:01
  2. “Hourglass” (Survive) – 4:30
  3. “Anthonio (Berlin Breakdown Version)” (Annie) – 4:14
  4. “The Magician” (Mike Simonetti) – 3:59
  5. “Masquerade” (Clan Of Xymox) – 3:53
  6. “Omniverse” (Survive) – 4:34
  7. “Because I Love You (The Postman Song)” (Stevie B) – 5:03
  8. “Storm Column” (Gatekeeper) – 3:30
  9. “A Day” (Clan Of Xymox) – 6:40
  10. “Emma” (The Sisters of Mercy) – 6:34
  11. “Obsidian” (Gatekeeper) – 4:19
  12. “Cry In The Wind” (Clan Of Xymox) – 5:16

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