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MORGAN (2016)

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

Morgan is a sci-fi/horror about the attempts to artificially engineer a human being and the product of those experiments…Morgan. In a secret lab facility deep in the woods, a team of scientists have created a young women who they named Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy from The Witch), who at five years-old appears to be closer to her teens and is vastly intelligent. Her emotional development is not coming along as well and a temper outburst injures a team member (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and causes the corporation in charge to send specialist Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) to the facility to assess the situation. But the more Lee starts to see that the emotionally unbalanced Morgan should probably be terminated, the more she finds out what this genetically manufactured girl will do to survive.

Morgan is written by Seth Owens and directed by Luke Scott, who is the son of the legendary Ridley Scott. While this tale of man trying to play God with disastrous results is nothing new, Scott has learned well from his father and makes this a suspenseful and entertaining thriller despite the familiar plot and themes. The tension is there as Morgan begins to realize she is in danger and maybe these people who she thought of as family and friends really aren’t and it works if not a bit predictable. The last act goes expectedly in full Frankenstein mode with Morgan on the loose, but despite us knowing this is exactly where it was heading, Scott does direct the proceedings well and there is some startling and brutal violence to add weight to what we see. The closing moments may also not be the surprise it’s meant to be, but again Luke Scott makes it effective and overall this is an entertaining and atmospheric flick despite being a tale told quite often since Mary Shelley’s classic first appeared in 1818.

The cast is solid. Anya Taylor-Joy is both sympathetic and creepy as Morgan. She portrays well her conflicting emotions, so we side with her at first and then gives her a sense of threat and lethality when the monster is unleashed. A good job by the young actress. Kate Mara gives her Lee a Spock-like cold efficiency that rarely breaks. This does keep her from being endearing, but the character isn’t written to be sympathetic or a ‘hero’. She’s there to do a job and can’t afford emotional distractions. As such, Mara does good work. We also have Rose Leslie who is sympathetic and likable as the behavior expert who is most emotionally attached to Morgan. We do sympathize with her once Morgan goes into survival mode and she is caught in the middle between her and the pursuing Lee. Rounding out is Michelle Yeoh as the scientist in charge, Dr. Cheng, Toby Jones as one of the lead scientists who is opposed to Lee’s plan to terminate the experiment and Paul Giamatti as a psychologist sent in to evaluate Morgan psychologically. All do good work in their parts.

So, this flick is far from original and definitely heads in a direction that we fully expect. It overcomes some of it’s predictability with being solidly directed by Luke Scott and the cast are all good in their parts, stereotypical of this kind of flick, though they may be. There is some tension and suspense despite the familiarity and the last act has some legitimately startling moments, though leads to a conclusion we can see coming. Worth a look and not bad for an evening’s entertainment on the couch, even if we have seen it all before.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 syringes.






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last witch hunter


Flick opens in the Middle Ages where witch hunter Kaulder (Vin Diesel) has hunted down the Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) who has unleashed a plague and slaughtered Kaulder’s family. Before she is slain, she curses him with immortality so he may forever feel the loss of his loved ones. We then move forward to modern day where Kaulder works for the Axe and Cross, a church run organization which polices the witch population. All is well till an old enemy turns out not to be dead and seeks to exact a horrible revenge on Kaulder and the rest of the world.

Tedious and silly flick is directed very by-the-numbers by Breck Eisner from a barely coherent script by Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless and Cory Goodman. While the FX are decent and there is plenty of action, the plot is a completely nonsensical mess and even star Diesel does not seem like he wants to be there. There is no energy or urgency to any of the proceedings and it’s all rather dull and lifeless despite the heavy fantasy and action elements. It almost seems like no one involved really wanted to make this movie…or write it for that matter…as it has no heart or soul and all the performers are at paycheck level. Also stars Game Of Throne’s Rose Leslie, Lord Of The Rings’ Elijah Wood and the incomparable Michael Caine somehow got dragged into this forgettable mess as Kaulder’s handler, Dolan.

-MonsterZero NJ

1 and 1-2 star rating






Woman have always played a role in horror. Whether it be fiendish femme fatales, the damsels of yesteryear or the final girls of the modern era, they have always played a part. As this is Women In Horror Month, I’ve decide to look back at the past year and some very strong roles/performances from the ladies. 2014 was an exemplary year for female horror roles, as there were a lot of very strong performances from actresses in the lead parts of some of the year’s best flicks…and some movies where the performances was the only thing worth watching for. Which to me is solid proof that the ladies ruled horror in 2014!…

(Just click on the banners to go to our reviews of these films!)

#1 Essie Davis in The Babadook

essie davis

#2 Karen Gillan in Oculus

karen Gillan

#3 Jill Larson in The Taking Of Deborah Logan

jill larson

#4 Alex Essoe in Starry Eyes

alex essoe

#5 Rose Leslie in Honeymoon

rose leslie

#6 Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive

tilda swinton

#7 Addison Timlin in The Town That Dreaded Sundown

addison timlin

#8 Sarah Snook in Jessabelle

sarah snook

#9 Danielle Harris in See No Evil 2

danielle harris

#10 Perdita Weeks in As Above, So Below

perdita weeks


Manuela Velasco in [REC] 4: Apocalypse

manuela Velasco

source: MonsterZero NJ




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honeymoon poster



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

Honeymoon is a creepy and disturbing horror film that has a bit of an art house feel to it and certainly can be seen as a metaphor for the fear of entering a serious relationship with someone and suddenly finding out they are not the person you thought they were. The story finds newlyweds Paul (Harry Treadaway) and Bea (Game Of Thrones’ Rose Leslie) going to a remote cabin for a honeymoon of seclusion and romance. Strange things start to happen almost as soon as they arrive, with a light being shined into their room as they sleep and the lamps blinking on and off. One night Bea disappears and Paul finds her naked and in a trance-like state standing in the middle of the woods. The next morning Bea seems a bit off, forgetting simple things like how to make coffee and French toast. Her odd behavior begins to escalate and Paul starts to become very worried for his wife’s mental health and a bit fearful for his own. What happened to her out in those woods? Was it simple sleepwalking as a result of stress from all the recent activity, as she claims? Was there a traumatic encounter with a local man (Ben Huber) Bea has known since childhood, as Paul suspects?…or is there something more unearthly at work here?

As directed by Leigh Janiak, from a script she co-wrote with Phil Graziadei, this is a very effective and disturbing little horror, despite the fact that we’ve seen the story of the suddenly strange-behaving spouse before, though not quite told in this way. At first, husband Paul seems a bit paranoid, but our time for questioning if he’s overreacting is not long, as Bea’s behavior gets stranger and stranger quite quickly. It is chilling to watch Paul coming apart as he, in turn, watches his new wife get weirder and weirder, all the while being illusive as to what is going on. She insists she is fine, just tired, but we see it in her face and in her mannerisms that she knows far more than she is telling her increasingly frustrated and frightened husband. Her behavior creeps us out, so we can identify with what he is feeling, such as when he catches her in a mirror practicing her excuses for her behavior and writing down their names so she can remember them. Janiak does a good job of drawing us into the couple’s drama and only feeding us enough information to keep us intrigued, but still as in the dark as Paul. She knows how to build tension and knows how to present disturbing scenes for maximum effect…and there are a few gruesome scenes. She also uses the isolation of the cabin to the story’s advantage, as we do share Paul’s feeling of being trapped with someone he barely recognizes anymore…and maybe someone he should also be afraid of. The only thing that really held this back, somewhat, is that we kinda know where this is headed and despite how well it’s all presented, we are not all that surprised when it gets there. We have seen this kind of story before. It still works very well, but it was familiar and can’t escape that familiarity entirely…even with the skill of Janiak’s telling.

The cast are top notch. Rose Leslie really delivers strong work as the young bride who becomes an almost different person the morning after her ‘walk’ in the woods. She effectively creates the persona of someone desperately trying to keep up the facade of normality when she obviously knows far more than she let’s on, that something isn’t right. She really conveys the pain of someone loosing control, the more Paul strips away her excuses and demands answers she is too horrified to give. Treadaway also does fine work, though not quite up to Leslie’s level. His Paul is not quite the alpha-male and is a sensitive guy, so he quickly becomes upset when the honeymoon starts to get weird. Even with what his character is dealing with, Treadaway sometimes gets a bit too bug-eyed and a bit too whiny. Not quite over-the-top, but occasionally drifting close. We still do sympathize with him and obviously feel for him when he becomes frustrated and frightened over his wife’s behavior. His torment feels genuine and that helps make this film work as well as it does, even if he could have toned things down just a bit. The only other cast members are Ben Huber as Bea’s childhood friend Will and Hanna Brown as his wife who appears to be behaving equally odd. Their screen time is very brief, as it is basically Leslie and Treadaway’s show, but they are effective in their small parts.

Honeymoon is a spooky and chilling little movie. The story may be familiar and we may know, ultimately, where it’s headed, but it is a very effective ride under the guidance of first-time director Leigh Janiak and her good cast. There are some very disturbing and unnerving scenes within and Janiak makes good use of the secluded setting. Add in the effective breaking down of a loved one as watched by their helpless significant other and you have an intense and horrifying flick despite the familiarity of the core story.

3 wooden ducks!

honeymoon rating