HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SATAN’S PLAYGROUND (2006)

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SATAN’S PLAYGROUND (2006)

Since we’ve all ready had mention here lately of The Jersey Devil with our review of Darren Lynn Bousman’s The Barrens and the TV special Real Fear: The Truth Behind More Movies, I figured I’d make it a trifecta and include a look at New Jersey filmmaker Dante Tomaselli’s 2006 horror Satan’s Playground. First off  I should start out by saying that Dante Tomaselli’s films are very surreal and have a dream-like… or more appropriately, nightmarish… quality to them and don’t follow a traditional narrative to tell it’s story. I like his films but, they are a bit of an acquired taste as they don’t quite follow a standard structure and at times place the visuals above the story. If that is OK with you, then you might enjoy his Jersey Devil themed horror. The film tells the tale of a dysfunctional family including Donna Bruno (Sleepaway Camp’s Felissa Rose), husband Frank (Salvatore Paul Piro), their autistic son Sean (Danny Lopes), Paula (Evil Dead’s Ellen Sandweiss) and her infant child, Anthony as they travel through the infamous Pine Barrens. This is a horror so, the car breaks down and as they try to locate a phone or some help, the woods begin to take on an ominous tone with the sound of beating wings and the appearance of a creepy old house. Once they knock on the door and an old women claiming to be Mrs. Leeds (Irma St. Paule) answers, the nightmare begins… one none of them may wake up from. Tomaselli does create a very creepy low budget flick here. It may not always be easy to follow but, the goosebumps are there and he does create some really spooky and sometimes nightmarish visuals on a very small budget. The cast are all adequate and in the case of St. Paule her odd delivery only enhances the disturbing effect of her performance. No Oscars but, in a weird film like this the off key acting can sometimes be a plus. It makes things all the more unnerving. How much you enjoy this flick depends on how much clarity you need in watching a movie. Tomaselli’s story does wander, don’t expect a solid explanation when all is said and done and sometimes characters appear and then seem to disappear without explanation. Again, the film follows a more dream-like structure and if you don’t mind that then this is a very atmospheric and creepy flick. There are some gruesome moments caused by both Mrs. Leeds and her demented family along with the evil presence in the woods, who is never seen but whose wings are heard and bloody carnage witnessed. Another bonus of the film, at least for me, is that Tomaselli actually filmed his chilling little flick in the Pine Barrens adding to the atmosphere. So, basically I recommend this odd but effective little horror but, warn it is not for everyone and it requires the viewer to go with it’s surreal style and not expect a more traditional flick. If you do, you’ll get a spooky, atmospheric and dementedly original little horror that may just resemble the nightmare you might have after watching it.

3 mythic Jersey Devils!

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE BARRENS (2012)

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THE BARRENS (2012)

The Barrens is a moody and atmospheric little horror thriller set in New Jersey’s famous Pine Barrens and dealing with it’s most legendary native aside from Sinatra, The Jersey Devil. Stephen Moyer plays the emotionally troubled Richard, who’s taking his wife Cynthia (Mia Kirshner) and kids Sadie and Danny (Allie MacDonald and Peter DaCunha) on a family camping trip to the Pine Barrens. But, not only is Moyer’s Richard a bit stressed, he also has been bitten by a dog that might have rabies. Add to that having possibly seen the Jersey Devil as a child and we have a great mix for a really interesting family outing. Despite it’s convoluted set-up, Barrens is actually an entertaining horror. Obviously Moyer starts to see things and then people start to go missing and we are left to wonder is Richard hallucinating or is the Jersey Devil real and poor delusional dad taking blame for it’s actions. And I must say writer/ Director Darren Lynn Bousman keeps you guessing and keeps the film filled with an atmosphere of dread as we slowly learn what’s going on… or do we? That’s what makes this deliberately paced thriller work so well, just when we think we have the facts, we get handed more reasons to doubt. The cast all perform well, though Moyer’s heavy Australian accent is odd here since he is playing someone who has lived in the tr-state area since childhood. Kirshner is a little too deadpan at times but, not enough to hurt the film. I personally liked her hot girl-next-door MILF because she wasn’t playing the role that way, it came across naturally and she provides some delightfully distracting cleavage. There is some nice gore and make up effects to go along with Bousman’s visual style which is one thing he always delivers whether his films work or not. Personally I find his films very hit or miss but, they always look good. All in all, probably one of the better films I’ve seen on the subject of Jersey’s most elusive resident, so far… though that really isn’t saying much… and whether Bousman does give us a definitive answer as to who or what is really responsible for all the carnage or not, you’ll have to investigate The Barrens to find out. A slow burn but, a fun, spooky movie especially if you are a fan of The Jersey devil legend.

3 mythic Jersey Devils!

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