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Z (2019)

Spooky flick tells of the Parsons family, mom Beth (Keegan Connor Tracy), dad Kevin (Sean Rogerson) and young son Josh (Jett Klyne). Josh is a bit of an introvert and starts talking to an imaginary friend named “Z.” At first it seems perfectly natural, then Josh’s behavior starts to change. The boy becomes verbally crude and violent to classmates, to the point of getting indefinitely suspended from school. As his parents seek help from the family psychiatrist (Stephen McHattie), Beth starts to see things and begins to believe that Z may be more than imaginary and certainly no friend.

Spooky flick is directed by Brandon Christensen from his script with Colin Minihan (Extraterrestrial, What Keeps You Alive). He directs his story well and creates a lot of spooky and disturbing scenes. It’s a familiar story, but Christensen avoids using too many of the traditional tropes and when he does, he uses them sparingly and effectively. It’s an unsettling and creepy film, especially when Josh badly hurts a friend (or does he?) and when Z starts to taunt and appear to Beth. There are some chilling moments, specifically some using an old Speak N’ Spell for example. There are some interesting twists, too, as to what this malevolent entity really wants and a startling revelation from the past, that isn’t expected. The film takes a different and disturbing direction in the last act and it is only here where it stalls a little bit. When the film makes it’s turn, while it still chills, we also start to ask where this is all going. It does answer that in the last few scenes, but for a period of time if feels like it loses some of it’s momentum before it’s unsettling climax. The film also evokes The Babadook at times, as it does share some similar themes, elements and imagery, but not enough to feel this film isn’t it’s own thing. It is. Christensen proves to be a talent to keep an eye on, as the film contains elements that might have been silly in less capable hands, such as Z’s apparent preference for 2% milk. Here it’s chilling and it works. Christensen also avoids anything too graphic and shows us only quick glimpses as to what Z really looks like, letting us use our imaginations to fill in the blanks. A solid horror flick from Brandon Christensen.

The cast are really good here. Keegan Connor Tracy is a real standout as mom, Beth. She plays first a woman dismissive of her son’s imagined pal, then one who is slowly becoming concerned at her son’s behavior. This becomes fear once she starts to believe something malevolent is actually attached to her son and takes her performance in yet another direction, when revelations and reveals change the film’s gears. Great work. Sean Rogerson is good as dad, Kevin. He is more of the ‘kids will be kids’, ‘boys will be boys’ mentality and is the Scully to his wife’s Mulder. He never comes off as a jerk, on the contrary he is a loving, caring father, but one maybe too busy in his own work to really notice his son is acting so strangely. Speaking of Josh, young Jett Klyne does strong work as the Parsons’ boy. He is sympathetic and sometimes scary and the actor conveys both very well. Veteran actor Stephen McHattie (Ponypool) is effective as family psychiatrist Dr. Seager and Sara Canning is also good as Beth’s somewhat trouble sister Jenna. Tracy and Canning have good chemistry and are convincing as siblings. A good cast.

Despite a bit of a dip in momentum in the last act, Z is a spooky and disturbing horror flick. It has a familiar story, but tells it well and uses the familiar traditions of such a story sparingly and to good effect. It has some surprising twists and revelations and is bold enough to take it’s story in a different direction before an unsettling and somewhat ironic finish. There is a very sold cast who perform the material well and Brandon Christensen shows he is a talent to watch. A spooky Shudder Original!

-MonsterZero NJ


Rated 3 (out of 4) Zs!











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At Halloween 🎃 time it is when we most think about scary movies, even those of us who watch them all year round. So why not take a look at five individuals who are bringing their own distinct vision to the genre and whom horror fans should be talking more about!…and no, I didn’t forget the ladies, they deserve their own installment, forthcoming!

(To get to the full reviews of the films mentioned, just hit the highlighted titles that link to the corresponding page!)


Adam MacDonald


Adam MacDonald is a Canadian actor and filmmaker who has written and directed two features, thus far, that have made quite an impression. His first film Backcountry is a survival thriller that followed a couple (Jeff Roop and Missy Peregrym) who go camping in the woods. Jealous of his girlfriend’s success, her beau chooses a lesser traveled route to prove himself to her. This puts them within the feeding ground of a massive and very hungry grizzly bear and thus sets up an intense and sometimes brutal last act. His second film Pyewacket is a supernatural thriller which finds a mother and daughter (Laurie Holden and Nicole Muñoz) in conflict over their methods of mourning the death of their husband/father. This propels the occult fascinated teen Leah (Muñoz) to evoke the dark entity Pyewacket to kill her mother. Leah soon learns to be careful what you wish for. Both films use troubled relationships as a catalyst for their stories and Pyewacket especially has some good old fashion scares and chills supported by a strong emotional center. MacDonald is showing a versatility and a depth to his filmmaking. Adam currently wrapped filming on Slasher season 3, so look out for more from this talented new voice in horror!

Nicole Muñoz conjures the wrong spirit in Adam MacDonald’s Pyewacket


Stevan Mena


Stevan Mena is a New York born filmmaker who is a one man production company, writing ,editing, directing, producing and even scoring his own films. He made a splash in 2003 with his low budget slasher Malevolence, which was an old-fashioned horror throwback that echoed both Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Set in and around an abandoned slaughterhouse, it told the chilling story of some bank robbers and their hostages meeting up with serial killer Martin Bristol (Jay Cohen). He followed that up with a horror icon filled horror/comedy called Brutal Massacre, before returning to the saga of Bristol in 2010 with the brutal and intense Bereavement. The second Malevolence film was a prequel telling the story of how serial killer Graham Sutter (Brett Rickaby) kidnapped Martin (Spencer List ) as a child and trained him to be his successor. It’s one of the best horrors of the decade IMO. Recently Mena overcame some tragic events to complete his Malevolence trilogy with the independently financed Malevolence 3: Killer. Sequel has an adult Martin (a returning Jay Cohen) leaving a blood soaked trail on the way back to his home town. Mena’s work evokes that of John Carpenter himself and one hopes he returns to the director’s chair sooner than later.

A killer (Jay Cohen) returns home in Stevan Mena’s Malevolence 3: Killer


Colin Minihan


Colin Minihan started out as part of the writing/directing duo known as The Vicious Brothers along with collaborator Stuart Ortiz. Their first film was the fun and spooky found footage paranormal show send up Grave Encounters in 2011. They followed that up with the entertaining and chilling cabin in the woods/alien invasion hybrid Extraterrestrial in 2014. Though co-written with Ortiz, Minihan took the director’s chair solo for the next film It Stains The Sands Red. This was an amusing, bloody and offbeat tale of a lone woman (Brittany Allen) being followed across the desert by a lone zombie. An interesting relationship forms as she fights brutal heat, dehydration and her relentless undead pursuer. Minihan wrote and directed his fourth film on his own with the brutal and intense What Keeps You Alive. One of the years best, it finds a married lesbian couple (Brittany Allen and Hanna Emily Anderson) celebrating their anniversary in a remote cabin in the woods. Soon romantic bliss becomes a battle for survival as one of the women is not who she seems. This flick proves Minihan is a force to be reckoned with, armed with a great script, taunt direction and brilliant work by his lead actresses. Minihan is a filmmaker fans need to be talking more about.

Lover vs lover in Colin Minihan’s brutal and intense What Keeps You Alive


Anthony Diblasi


Boston born Anthony Diblasi is another filmmaker showing great versatility and a mastery of horror while also providing some emotional depth to his films. His first film Dread was a chilling tale of a college documentary project about fear, spinning horribly out of control. His next film Cassadaga, found deaf art teacher Lily (Kelen Coleman) being haunted by the spirit of a murdered young woman whose killer may have his sights set next on the pretty teacher. Diblasi worked on some non-genre projects and the horror anthology The Profane Exhibit before co-writing and directing The Last Shift in 2014. One of his scariest flicks, the story found a young policewoman being given the final shift in a haunted police precinct closing it’s doors in the morning…but can she survive the night? Diblasi returned to horror again in 2015 with Most Likely To Die, an old fashioned slasher about a high school reunion turned deadly, and again in 2018 with Extremity. His latest finds an emotionally troubled woman turning to an extreme haunt to make her face her fears…bad idea. The film was not only disturbing and scary, but had a strong emotional lining with multi-dimensional characters and commentary about abuse and the lives it effects. Another filmmaker that is bringing a distinct voice to the horror genre.

Emotionally troubled Allison (Dana Christina) turns to an extreme haunt to face her fears in Anthony Diblasi’s Extremity


Oz Perkins


Just because he is the son of legendary actor Anthony (Psycho) Perkins, one should not assume actor/director Oz Perkins knows horror…but he does! One of the most interesting filmmakers out there, Perkins has a unique vision and a strong ability to chill to the bone. His first film The Blackcoat’s Daughter finds Rose (Lucy Boynton), a student at a Catholic girls school, given charge of new student Kat (Kiernan Shipka) at break. With almost everyone else gone, Rose starts to realize there is something very wrong with Kat and that she may be in danger. Perkins followed that up with a very atmospheric ghost story I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House. Perkins writes and directs a subtle, yet chilling tale of care nurse Lily (Ruth Wilson) coming to live with ailing horror novelist Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss). Soon timid Lily starts to find out that Iris Blum’s inspirations may be far more real than she’d like. It’s a creepy and very effective film. Word has it his next film may be entitled A Head Full Of Ghosts and as he is bringing a very unique style to the genre, he sounds like the right man for the job!

Care nurse Lily (Ruth Wilson) finds her charge may have had all too real inspiration for her horror novels in Oz Perkins’ I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House


So these are five creative forces bringing new blood to horror. Each one is worth screaming about and their films are certainly worth checking out!

…and stay tuned for our second installment taking a look at the creative ladies bringing their unique voices to the genre!

-MonsterZero NJ





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Grave Encounters adds nothing new to the found footage or horror genres, but ‘The Vicious Brothers’ know their source material and have a lot of fun with it.

The story involves the found footage of the last known episode of a Ghost Adventures like paranormal show investigating a notoriously haunted abandoned asylum. As we watch the footage unfold we find that the team of phonies got far more then they bargained for as the supernatural entities in the asylum turned out to be all too real and far from friendly ghosts.

Sure this flick evokes Paranormal Activity and Blair Witch often, but writer/directors The Vicious Brothers (Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz) takes the familiar ball and run with it. When it’s apparent this crew is more shysters then spook hunters, the film gets very giddy with putting them through a sinister, supernatural funhouse and takes you along for the ride if you let it. Sure you’ve seen it all before, but if you just go with it and enjoy the ride, Grave Encounters can be a lot of spooky fun as you watch our trapped paranormal team descend into madness from the safety of your couch. The found footage format is used well and the filmmakers achieve some very unsettling and creepy FX once things really get spooky and the flick does have some very creepy set-pieces and presents them very effectively.

The cast of unknowns featuring Sean Rogerson as team leader Lance Preston, Matt White as a hammy occult expert, Merwin Mondesir as camera man T.C. and Ashleigh Gryzko as investigator Sasha, all play their roles very convincingly and have a little fun with their faux paranormal team as well. Sure, we know this is just a movie, but the cast help us suspend our disbelief enough to enjoy the proceedings as we were witnessing a real paranormal investigation show out of control… and it’s fun.

So while Grave Encounters is not a very original flick, it is a fun time nonetheless and fulfills the fantasy of watching a TV spook hunter show encounter something far more then they can handle with us as the captive audience. And who wouldn’t want to see that? Also stars Ben Wilkinson as Jerry Hartfield, the producer of the Grave Encounters show who presents the found footage to us.

3 spooks.