MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 REASONS IT’S NOT HALLOWEEN WITHOUT LIN SHAYE!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 REASONS IT’S NOT HALLOWEEN WITHOUT LIN SHAYE!

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Lin Shaye as ghost hunter, Elise in the Insidious franchise! Photo: Universal Pictures

Watching horror flicks during the Halloween ūüéÉ season, there might be one face, aside from Karloff, Lee, England and Lugosi, that you might see more than once‚Ķand that familiar face is actress and horror icon Lin Shaye! A horror veteran for over thirty years, Shaye has appeared in a number of horror classics and cult classics, from the early 80s to present day, like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Insidious and The Midnight Man. So, in honor of this queen of horror, here are 10 horror flicks that illustrate why it’s not Halloween ūüéÉ without Lin Shaye!

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A talented and versatile actress that despite many roles in drama and comedy, has returned to the horror genre continually for over thee decades! Photo: Steve Granitz

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(To get to the reviews of the titles listed that were covered here at the Movie Madhouse, just type the title in the search engine to find the corresponding critique!)

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL (2016)

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OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL (2016)

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

Flick is a prequel to the 2014 Ouija, a much criticized, but extremely successful teen centric horror. New chapter¬†takes us back to 1967 and tells the story of Doris Zander (Lulu Wilson) who was the malevolent entity in the first installment. The story opens with pretty widow Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) who is trying to support her two daughters, nine year-old Doris and teen Lina (Annalise Basso), as a¬†fraudulent fortune teller. Upon hearing Lina used a Ouija board at a party, Alice decides to add one to her act. This brings a presence into the house that fixates on Doris and claims to be her father. As they use the board more and more and Doris’ behavior starts to change, it appears something malevolent has entered their home‚Ķand Doris.

Origin of Evil is¬†directed by Mike (Absentia, Hush,¬†Oculus) Flanagan from a script he co-wrote with¬†Oculus co-writer Jeff Howard. While it is an improvement over the silly but amusing original, it is Flanagan’s most routine and familiar movie yet. Perhaps having to follow-up an established property without alienating it’s core audience put restrictions on just how much the usually inventive writer/director could do¬†with it, but aside from a few interesting touches, we get a story that is extremely familiar with an evil entity entering a home and targeting a child. The use of Mrs. Zander as a phony medium does work well and there was some nice depth to the characters, which is one of Flanagan’s strengths. It’s just that the core story has been done before and the film rarely gets scary because it’s all so familiar. Flanagan does deliver some spooky moments, but far fewer than in his previous films, which is surprising as spooky is something he does well. It’s the character drama that is more involving than the supernatural elements, which at least keeps our attention, if not slightly disappoints those looking for something with a far steadier scare factor for the Halloween season which it was released. His visual style is strong as always, but here he relies a bit too much on tired CGI creations¬†that resemble every other PG-13 horror film manifestation thrown at teenagers today.¬†It’s not a bad movie, just far too ‘been there, done that’ for a director who got our attention with some very original takes on his supernatural tales.

As with previous Flanagan flicks he gets strong work out of his cast. He is a director that works well¬†with actors. Little Lulu Wilson is really good as Doris. She can be really creepy at times and very sweet and precocious at others. She is asked to handle a lot of strong material for a kid and does so very well.¬†Elizabeth Reaser is solid¬†as a loving mother just trying to provide for her daughters. She’s not trying to scam people, but sees her services as a way to help¬†those suffering from¬†loss. When Doris’ ouija use seems to be genuine, she jumps at the chance to do some real¬†good. Annalise Basso is also very good as Doris’ caring teenage sister. She plays the character that was played by the incomparable Lin Shaye in the original and we see the journey that got her to that point and essayed very well by the young actress. There is also E.T.’s Henry Thomas all grown up and playing a widowed priest who is the principal at the girls’ Catholic school and has an interest in Alice. He obviously gets involved when it appears there is something sinister going on. The¬†cast¬†also features¬†a small appearance¬†in the opening sequence played by Hush star and co-writer Kate Siegal, who is also Mrs. Flanagan. A good cast that¬†helps keep the flick interesting and our attention.

This wasn’t a bad flick just a surprisingly familiar one coming from Flanagan who has been very innovative with his use of traditional story elements, like in Hush. This movie could have used some of that thriller’s intensity as the scare level was fairly low and despite a more mature story than the first installment, we got a lot of elements that we have seen often and recently. Maybe picking up someone else’s franchise didn’t fit Flanagan all that well, or possibly having to follow up a previous film he wasn’t involved in, handcuffed him a bit. It passed the time, had a few spooky moments and was an improvement over it’s 2014 predecessor, but coming from one of the brightest new director’s to hit the genre in some time, it was a little¬†bit of a disappointment.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) planchettes as the solid cast earns some extra points.

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FIRST TRAILER FOR MIKE FLANAGAN’S “OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL”

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We finally get a trailer for Mike Flanagan’s (Oculus, Hush) follow-up to Blumhouse Productions’ 2014 teen-centric horror hit¬†Ouija.¬†While originally thought to be a sequel, this seems more like a prequel or possibly a completely unrelated period piece with a ouija board being the only common thread. Either way the flick is headed our way 10/21/16 right in time for the Halloween season!

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: OUIJA (2014)

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OUIJA (2014)

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

This teen-centric supernatural chiller got a lot of flack from hardcore horror fans when it first came out, but considering it’s aimed at tweens and not at those who could recite Texas Chainsaw Massacre in their sleep, it’s treatment can be viewed as a little harsh. It’s maker, Blumhouse Productions did give us adults the clever¬†and spooky¬†Oculus,¬†so let the Divergent¬†crowd have their horror flick, too.

The story tells of longtime friends Debbie (Shelly Hennig) and Laine (Olivia Cooke) who have been pals¬†since childhood and even played with a¬†ouija board as kids. Lately Debbie has been acting strange¬†and, unknown to Laine, is dabbling with a ouija board again and whatever Debbie¬†has contacted, drives her to commit suicide. Heartbroken, Laine discovers her friend’s indulgence¬†and she decides to gather their¬†friends in Debbie’s empty house and use the ouija board to contact her and find out why she took her own life. Sounds like a good idea, right? Obviously, what they conjure up is not Debbie and now there is a malevolent force following Laine and her friends with their demises in mind. Can Laine discover the true identity of this dark spirit and send it back to whatever hell it came from?‚Ķbefore it gets them first!

Sure, this is a silly flick and it is filled with all the clich√©s and familiar horror trappings from¬†every horror flick made in the last five years, but as directed by Stiles White, from a script he co-wrote with Juliet Snowden, it never tries to be more than it is. It’s made for the ages 10¬†to¬†15 crowd and it knows it. OK, so…even on that level, it¬†is a bit stale and predictable and relies on jump scares far more than atmosphere. Yet, considering the target audience, mostly teenage girls and their dates, the film still works well enough for those who are far less demanding than the veteran horror flick fan, who is looking for the next big thing.¬†It occupied the time well enough and was completely forgettable, but I’ve been watching horror films for over four decades¬†and¬†the flick wasn’t made for me. Go in with that understanding¬†and it can be moderately amusing and certainly far from the worst thing I’ve seen this year.¬†Sure there are plot holes,¬†characters do really stupid things¬†and the last act gets especially goofy, but the film is competently enough made¬†and¬†has¬†kind of a¬†Scooby Doo¬†with an edge vibe to it. Though, it could have used a bit more of Scooby’s hip humor.

The main¬†cast are all attractive, though none really acts with any enthusiasm and are basically generic twenty-somethings as teens. Olivia Cooke has shown¬†that she has potential as an actress, but even she can’t muster¬†too much gusto as the lead, Laine. Two mediocre horror flicks (the other being The Quiet Ones) in one year is not a good sign¬†though, for Miss Cooke. We also get cameos by the Insidious series’ Lin Shaye and Paranormal Activity 2‘s ghost fighting housekeeper Vivis Colombetti, playing a similar part as Laine’s paranormally knowledgeable grandmother. To be honest, Shaye and Colombetti are having far more fun and get the material far better than their monotone speaking, younger co-stars who seem to be taking this way too seriously.

I certainly didn’t hate this flick. As a movie for older kids and young adults, it’s just fine. They probably will have a good time with it. It’s not made for a veteran horror buff like me and I’m not going to judge it from the perspective of one. If I were an average 13 year-old, I probably would have been very amused and maybe a bit spooked. As a horror movie loving adult, it passed the time and didn’t insult me, but I did go in with reasonable expectations. Its forgettable and predictable, but if you are a kid between 10 and 15, it’s probably just as much fun as the Hasbro board game that inspired and co-produced it. It was a big hit and a sequel has been announced, so it seems like it satisfied it’s intended audience just fine!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) planchettes!

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