BARE BONES: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY- NEXT OF KIN (2021)

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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: NEXT OF KIN (2021)

Margot (Emily Bader) is a young filmmaker who was abandoned at birth, but now has found some blood relatives. They are Amish and Margot decides to document reuniting with her family and travels to Amish country with her two friends/crew Chris and Dale (Roland Buck III and Dan LIppert). When she gets to the community village, she finds there is something strange going on, both in the farmhouse and concerning her long lost mother. The longer they stay, the more escalated the strange activity gets and the more Margot starts to feel something sinister is happening there.

Found footage flick is directed by William Eubank (Underwater) from a script by Paranormal Activity series veteran Christopher Landon. There is no connection to the original series and will probably disappoint those looking for a closing chapter on Katie’s story, or some sort of tie-in. No Toby either. It’s the most visually interesting of the series, with it’s snowy Amish countryside settings and old farmhouses and creepy churches giving atmosphere. The first half is more of the same with things going bump in the night, the traditional jump scares, ominous footsteps and doors opening by themselves. It switches gears and really ramps up in the second half, taking the action to different spooky locations and leading up to a creepy, disturbing last act that culminates in a bloody and bonkers finale. There are some actual scares here and the stuff set in the caverns under the abandoned church is quite creepy, though reminiscent of the finales of Adam Wingard’s Blair Witch and The Taking of Deborah Logan. It might be the bloodiest of the seven flicks, so far, with a lot of violent moments and some gore. The cast are fine, with Emily Bader making a solid heroine and Tom Nowicki giving a spooky performance as Jacob, the family patriarch. If you are a fan of the original films, it rates among one of the better sequels and you’ll probably like the mix of familiar and new. If you are not a fan of this franchise, it probably won’t win you over. Definitely worth catching if you like this series, or found footage flicks in general. Available for streaming on Paramount+.
 

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: UNDERWATER (2020)

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UNDERWATER (2020)

Over six miles beneath the ocean surface, the Kepler drilling station suffers a massive, crippling earthquake (or is it?). Five survivors, including mechanical engineer Norah Price (Kristen Stewart), Captain Lucien (Vincent Cassel) and crewmembers Emily (Jessica Henwick), Paul (T.J. Miller) and Liam (John Gallagher Jr), have no choice but to walk across the ocean floor in high pressure suits to another station. Something, however, is down there with them and is now hunting them, as they make a desperate attempt to get out of this catastrophe alive. Did the drilling station awaken something best left undisturbed?

Undersea horror is competently directed by William Eubank from an Alien-esque script by Brian Duffield and Adam Cozad. It’s a routine and derivative monster movie, but that’s not overwhelmingly a bad thing. The movie gets to the action quickly, with the quake hitting almost instantly, though this gives us no time for character or story development. We do learn a little about our characters as we go along, at least the ones that stick around and the cast are good, with Stewart making a solid heroine as Norah. We also learn, a la Alien, that the drilling company might have known something was amiss, but proceeded anyway. No surprise there. As for the horror, there is some suspense and a few spooky sequences, though those looking for a gory monster mash will be a bit disappointed, as the film is strictly PG-13. The creatures are kinda cool and wisely kept in shadows till the last act and are more H.P. Lovecraft than H. R. Giger in appearance. It has an effective and creepy climax, which might leave one with a few chills. On a production level, the flick moves at a decent pace and is economical at only 95 minutes long. The FX are well done, with most of the film’s $50+ Million budget on screen and it all looks good through Eubank’s visual eye. Underwater was a box office bomb when released in January, but, overall, is an enjoyable, if not familiar and forgettable monster movie.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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