now playing


midnight swim


Found footage flick has three sisters reuniting at their family lakeside home to mourn the drowning death of their mother with sister June (Lindsay Burdge) documenting it. The aptly named Spirit Lake  is said to be bottomless and there is a local legend about The Seven Sisters, who all drowned one night in the lake trying to save each other as they were each in turn dragged under by some force. With some strange occurrences happening while they stay there, the three women start to believe that their mother’s death was possibly not an accident and there might have been something more supernatural involved.

As written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith (Holidays), the film has some spooky moments, but focuses more on the drama between the three siblings, which isn’t anything we haven’t seen before in this kind of indie drama. There is also no real reason for this to be a POV movie and sometimes it works against the more drama intensive narrative. When the film delves into the more supernatural possibilities, it is more interesting and more effective, though it doesn’t do that often. When the three sisters are reminiscing about their mother and revealing inner pain and such, it just becomes another routine indie family drama. An interesting curiosity, with some spooky moments, but nothing that one needs urgently see. Also stars Jennifer Lafleur and Aleksa Palladino as the other sisters, Annie and Isa.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating


flight 7500

FLIGHT 7500 (2014)

Story has a flight to Tokyo, Japan experiencing some very strange and deadly supernatural phenomena. When a passenger dies of a sudden seizure, it seems to unleash a mysterious force that begins to stalk the plane and starts killing the passengers. A group of passengers band together to try to find out what is going on and stop it.

Disappointing flick from Takashi Shimizu, who wrote and directed the 90s J-horror classic The Grudge and it’s very effective sequel. It plays like a 70s B-movie disaster flick complete with a cast of cliché characters played by B-list actors like Leslie Bibb, Amy Smart, Jaime Chung, Johnathon Schaech and Halloween’s ScoutTaylor-Compton as a goth chick. It’s basically a very silly film that gets more and more silly as it goes on and evoked memories of a very similar and equally silly 1973 TV movie called The Horror At 37,000 Feet with William Shatner. It’s not all Shimizu’s fault, as it is written by Craig Rosenberg and not one of his own scripts. Given the Japanese director’s track record for creepiness, though, you’d at least expect it to be somewhat spooky. Let’s not even mention the ludicrous and cliché ending. Had a moment or two, but sadly is another example of a Japanese director working for an American studio on a project that is an insult to their talents. Now we know why this has sat on a shelf for two years.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating





now playing




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

Holidays is a horror anthology that presents eight short stories, each based on a holiday and adding some kind of supernatural/horror twist. Each tale is written and directed by different filmmakers with somewhat mixed resluts.

The first is Valentines Day, written and directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch (Starry Eyes) and tells the story of  introverted high school girl Maxine (Madeleine Coghlan) who has a crush on her swimming coach (Rick Peters). When she misinterprets a sympathetic Valentine’s Day card from him, she decides to solve her bullying problem and present her object of affection with a special gift, all at the same time. It is an effective story with some very gruesome moments and has a bit of that offbeat, disturbing feel that made Starry Eyes work so well.

Next up is St. Patrick’s Day written and directed by Gary Shore (Dracula Untold). This tells the story of a new little girl (Isolt McCaffrey) at school who gives her teacher (Ruth Bradley) a St. Patrick’s Day wish with disturbing results. This episodes starts out creepy enough, but gets progressively silly till it’s goofy ending.

Next up is Easter written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact). This tells a really weird and disturbing tale of a little girl (Ava Acres) who accidentally catches the Easter Bunny (Mark Steger) in the act…but he’s not quite what she expected and there is a disturbing price for being the first child to ever see him. This is a weird episode that unsettlingly combines both the Christian doctrine and traditional bunny folklore of Easter. While not totally successful, it gets extra points for being daring enough to ‘go there’.

The next tale is written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith and is called Mother’s Day. It’s an odd story about a woman (Sophie Traub) who is ‘cursed’ by getting pregnant every time she has sex. She is sent to, of all places, a fertility clinic, to solve her problem, one which turns out to be more than it seems. This episode was really strange, yet a bit unsatisfying as it didn’t seem to go anywhere and had a predictable and cliché shock ending.

Father’s Day is one of the best tales. It is written and directed by FX man Anthony Scott Burns (FX for The Last Exorcism Part II). It tells of a young woman (House of the Devil’s Jocelin Donahue) who receives a recorded message from her long dead father, asking her to meet him at a special place from her childhood. This is a very effective episode that is moody, creepy and heartbreaking, thanks in equal parts to good direction and a very strong performance by Donahue.

The biggest disappointment and worst episode is Kevin Smith’s Halloween. It takes place on Halloween, but has little to do with the holiday as it tells the story of Ian (Harley Mortenstein) the mean owner of a Sex Cam business who has a painful rebellion from three of his employees (Ashley Greene, Olivia Roush and Harley Quinn Smith). It forgoes any attempt at something spooky for more of Smith’s traditional adolescent vulgarity. Boring, crude and has nothing to do with the holiday it represents.

Anthology get’s back on track with Scott Stewart’s (Dark SkiesChristmas. This one tells the tale of a down-on-his-luck dad (Seth Green) who goes to disturbing lengths to get his kid the pair of virtual reality glasses he wants. These glasses, however, reveal a person’s true self and he and his wife (Clare Grant) learn some very unsettling things about each other. This is a fun and chilling episode and Green is entertaining to watch as the desperate dad and Clare Grant is good as the wife with a secret side to her.

Final episode is New Year’s and is is directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind Of Hate) from a script by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch. It tells the story of a serial killer (Andrew Bowen) who has specific plans for his New Year’s Eve date (Lorenza Izzo) who turns out to have far more in common with him than he realizes. This is a twisted and fun episode with a really entertaining psycho  turn by Izzo as Jean. Izzo is showning a talent for these roles, as she was one of the few fun parts of Knock Knock.

Overall, this was a mixed bag, but the good outweighed the bad. There were a few disappointments, especially from Kevin Smith who dropped the ball on delivering something in the Halloween spirit for his tale. We did gets some spooky and effective stories, with the standout being Burn’s Father’s Day which had a sympathetic and strong portrayal from Jocelin Donahue. Definitely worth a watch for the segments that did work and even a couple of the failures had an originality to their telling.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Christmas trees.

fred clause rating