BARE BONES: THE FINAL and THE CALLER

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THE FINAL (2010)

Horror flick written by Jason Kabolati and directed by Joey Stewart, tells a chilling tale about a group of high school outcasts who enact gruesome revenge on the popular crowd that tormented them. While the idea isn’t totally original and it does borrow from films like Saw and Audition, the flick is well made and the characters are human enough where the audience may find themselves conflicted when victims and victimizers trade places. Sure the popular kids are mean and cruel, but do they deserve their torment, or is this their just comeuppance? The surprising restraint in some of the nastier sequences also helps them to be more effective. Not a pleasant film, but it is well made enough to set it apart from the recent trend of torture horror and was overall much better than expected.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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THE CALLER (2011)

The Caller is a spooky Twilight Zone-ish chiller about a young woman named Mary (Rachelle Lefevre), recently divorced from an abusive husband (Ed Quinn), who moves into an old apartment and starts to get strange phone calls seemingly from the past…and from a woman who is supposedly dead. The Caller establishes some spooky atmosphere despite the story having been done to different degrees before. Director Matthew Parkhill keeps the tension going by always having one of the dual threats to Mary lurking about. We are never sure what’s worse, the stalking ex or the haunting caller named Rose. Mary tries to take charge in both situations, but they slowly escalate as the calls get more threatening and so does the ex-husband…and then things really get strange. Despite the prevading creepiness, Caller’s final act doesn’t quite deliver the punch that we are hoping for. It would spoil things to discuss the climax in detail, but suffice it to say, that it will depend on your willingness to go along with where the story leads, as to how effective the last act is. For me, it precariously tipped toward the silly and while I don’t feel that it got silly, that borderline threat of becoming so, robbed some of the impact for me when the film should have been strongest. The cast perfoms their parts adequately, helping us to go along with things, for the most part. Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight) is fine as Mary, although the performance could have benefited from a wider emotional range and True Blood’s Stephen Moyer is fine, too as a potential romantic interest drawn into Mary’s drama. A decent thriller with some nice, if not derivative, chills, but falls short of being a real nail-biter. The Caller is written by Sergio Casci and is a small film with a dark look that adds to the prevailing dread.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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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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