HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: AMONG THE LIVING (2014)

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AMONG THE LIVING (Aux yeux des vivants) (2014)

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

French horror finds three troublesome youths Victor, Tom and Dan (Théo Fernandez, Zacharie Chasseriaud and Damien Ferdel) playing hooky from school and sneaking onto an abandoned movie lot. There they find a woman bound and gagged in an abandoned car who is sequestered away before they can decide what to do. The police don’t believe them due to their reputations, but the man responsible, deranged war veteran Issac (Francis Renaud) isn’t taking any chances and sends his deformed son Klarence (Fabien Jegoudez) to kill the three boys and their families. 

Flick is written and directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, the duo the brought us Inside, Livide and the recent Leatherface. It combines a youth coming of age story with a Texas Chainsaw Massacre slant as these deranged individuals plan to kidnap women to expand their family…which is introduced to us in the gruesome opening…and murder any witnesses. There is some vicious and brutal violence and some very disturbing moments and the makers aren’t afraid to do more than just put the three boys in harm’s way. The deranged Issac is a war veteran whose been effected by chemical warfare and thus it has led to Klarence being born deformed and being a bit unhinged himself. That being said, this really isn’t anything new. Changing the location from an abandoned slaughter house to an abandoned movie studio isn’t much of a change and innocents being stalked and murdered by deranged and deformed individuals has been a horror standard for decades. It’s effectively done and thus is still disturbing and the cast all play their parts well. It’s an effective thriller even though it combines story elements that have been told time and time again.

In conclusion this is a brutal thriller, though nothing innovative or new. It uses a combination of popular movie tropes and adds some very graphic violence and isn’t afraid to unleash that violence on any of the cast members. It’s easy to see why the duo was chosen for the prequel Leatherface, though that was nothing new as well. An effective if not derivative thriller.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) naughty lads who should have played somewhere else.

 

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE REDWOOD MASSACRE (2014)

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THE REDWOOD MASSACRE (2014)

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

Completely derivative U.K. slasher has a group of friends heading into the woods to camp near a farmhouse that hosted some grisly murders two decades earlier. Apparently a farmer (Benjamin Selway) heard voices which drove him to brutally kill…and partially eat…his family. Perfect location! Obviously the hulking madman is still on the premises, all these years later and this little camping excursion goes bloodily south real quick.

Multi-tasking David Ryan Keith writes, directs, edits, produces and even does the cinematography on this slasher, though there isn’t an original bone in it’s bloody body. It’s basically a Texas Chainsaw retread with a dash of Halloween thrown in as a Scottish farmer goes bonkers and becomes a mask wearing psycho. He still haunts the same farmhouse where he killed his own family and slaughters anyone who comes near…and the notoriety of the place brings him plenty of vittles for his slaughter house. Despite the lack of originality, there is a sense of fun here, or at least a good effort on the technical side from filmmaker Keith. The gore is plentiful and fairly effective and Selway’s burlap-bag-masked killer works well enough. It isn’t very suspenseful or scary, but it passes the time adequately and all the tropes are there for those who like the redneck cannibal genre for it’s own sake. The cast are OK enough with cute girl-next -door Lisa Cameron making a decent final girl, though Lee Hutcheon‘s revenge seeking hunter doesn’t accomplish much. All in all, you could do worse as far as cookie cutter slashers go.

So, maybe it’s nothing you haven’t seen before and not done in any way innovative, but you have to admire David Ryan Keith‘s effort just a bit. It’s a formula redneck cannibal slasher with a lot of gruesome kills and fairly decent production value for something made on a very low budget. The killer works within his familiar context and the cast is attractive enough to fall under his blades satisfactorily. Our final girl Pamela does her job adequately and there are worst ways to spend 80+ minutes on the couch with your favorite poison. If you are a redneck cannibal completest, you might want to check it out.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 axes.

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: THE DEVIL’S WOODS and DON’T GO TO THE REUNION

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THE DEVIL’S WOODS (2015)

Low budget English horror has two couples (Stephen Cromwell, Danielle Keaney, Daniel Mahony and Caoimhe Cassidy) heading to a music festival and deciding to camp out in the English backwoods, in an area said to be haunted and a site where there have been many disappearances. Makes sense! Obviously there is someone…or something…awaiting them in the woods and their numbers begin to dwindle as one by one they meet a gruesome fate.

Written and directed by Anthony White, this is a very familiar story that features all the clichés. We get the stoner idiot who neglects to tell the others that they are going to an area known for disappearances, creepy redneck locals who stare at strangers and masked individuals stalking our youths in the spooky woods with pointy objects. There is little or no suspense and the acting is strictly amateur, though Danielle Keaney shows some spunk and fire as our final girl, Jennifer. Characters do stupid things, obviously, by the initial story set-up, including the villains who don’t understand the concept that your victim won’t kick you in the nuts and escape if your tie her up properly. Duh, even most inbred rednecks know that! A strictly low budget effort that shows White may have a love of horror flicks, but needs to learn a bit more about what makes them actually work.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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DON’T GO TO THE REUNION (2013)

Ultra low budget flick looks like a home movie, even if it has it’s heart in the right place. Flick has a very simiar plot to the recent Most Likely To Die with a group of in-crowders gathering for a ten year high school reunion at a remote house that has been arranged for them by an unknown individual…already not a good sign. Back in high school, the group orchestrated a terrible prank on the introverted, horror movie loving, high school nerd to insure their friend made school valedictorian instead. Their prank got the kid expelled and put him in a mental institution where he later committed suicide. Now the group are being slaughtered one by one and in ways the echo classic horror movies!

Directed by Steve Goltz and written by Kevin Sommerfield this horror homage wants to have it both ways. It wants to be like an 80s horror with it’s plot of a prank gone wrong being avenged years later and also wants to be a post-Scream slasher complete with all the meta horror movie references and deaths derived from horror classics. And if you didn’t get the point, the villain will explain it to you step by step like the killers in Wes Craven’s 1996 classic did. I appreciate the effort and that our filmmakers obviously have a love for these type of movies, but even as a homage it’s not very original and the dialog, acting and kills are all strictly amateur. It’s also might be a bit insulting that after all the obvious horror movie references, the filmmakers felt a need to have a character explain it to us in case we missed the blatantly obvious.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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