TDcore's Horror Journal: February 2016
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Pay the Ghost (2015)
The only way I can think to describe this film, would be to call it an American remake of a Japanese film. Except, it's not. It's an American film and is not a remake of any popular Japanese/Korean horror. But it sure feels like one. That's not to say it isn't a decent film, but it feels as though it would have been much more popular back in the Japanese horror boom of the mid-2000's. There is nothing original here at all. All the elements of this film have been cobbled together from various others, but thanks to good direction, a great score and nice atmosphere it doesn't feel overly stale. There's a few effective scares and the acting is good across the board. Nicolas Cage is miscast, but at least he's as decent as he usually is. At the end of the day this isn't a great film, but it's perfect if you're just looking for a simple little horror flick to escape into for a while.
Dark Summer (2015)
This one just looked to unusual to pass up. Directed by Paul Solet, who gave us the very different killer-baby film, Grace, this is indeed a very different and original horror film. It's not perfect, not even close, but it's pretty good. It's beautifully shot and directed with magnificent use of lighting and a great home-brewed score peppers the whole thing. It's a very atmospheric film, but that can be it's biggest downfall. At times the director seems more interested in milking the atmosphere than actually advancing the plot or characters. There are long stretches where we're just left staring at the back of Keir Gilchrist's head as he inspects strange noises. These scenes aren't really suspenseful and they stretch out a little too long. Also, the script can be somewhat dry and the characters, although likeable, aren't very well drawn. The acting is fairly good, but Keir Gilchrist (of It's A Funny Story and It Follows fame) gives his least impressive performance yet here. He's impressed me in all of his previous works, but he just wasn't the right choice for a character with so few speaking lines. Still, there's a few effective scares and a nifty twist ending that's actually pretty surprising. It's not a masterpiece, but if you have the patience you should check this one out.
Girl House (2014)
If there's one horror sub-genre that's struggling to stay alive today, it's the slasher. And that's a darn shame, seeing as in the early eighties and the late nineties slasher films were the undisputed rulers of the genre. As a fan of these types of films, I'm always on the lookout for any new slashers that are not painfully low-budget, or simple rehashes of previous material, and this one falls right into that category. This is a surprisingly original film. Sure, it follows a basic slasher template, but name me another horror film that takes place mainly inside a digital "porn house". The film is also refreshingly not all about nudity and sex, in fact that stuff is kept pretty minimal. Most of the time, you don't even get to see full-frontal nudity. As a more "classy" horror fan this is really refreshing for me, and no doubt for others as well. In fact, it could be said that the film even argues the moral and social implications of a society in which pornography is so easily accepted and accessible. Throw in some kills that aren't afraid to shy away from the blood and gore and you've got a fairly solid little slasher pic. Sadly, the characters are massively under-developed, with a killer who has a very minimal backstory. Rap artist Slaine is actually very menacing in the role of the killer, but he doesn't have much to work with. And although the kills don't skimp on the gore, a lot of them are sadly un-inventive. Still, if you're a slasher fan looking for a decent new flick this one is a pretty good choice.
The ABCs of Death (2012)
I've been meaning to give these films a go, seeing as they're most likely going to keep cranking them out. But after viewing this catastrophic mess I can see why almost everybody was so disappointed with it. This film is downright awful. This is a great concept, and most of the directors who made the cut are usually great, but most of these segments are absolute, incomprehensible, tasteless garbage. That's not to say that there isn't some good, because a few of the shorts are definitely memorable, but the bad really outweighs the good. I can even begin to tell you some of the things I saw in this film, but it's not even worth it for the shock value. You're much better off skipping this one.
ABCs of Death 2 (2014)
This film is certainly an improvement over the first, but at the end of the day it still feels like a lot of potential was wasted. But at least this time there's a decent amount of actually enjoyable segments spread throughout. There's still quite a few useless segments that could have been left out, which disrupt the flow of the picture, but there's definitely some things worth sitting through this film to see. It's still nowhere near what these films should be, but if they can continue to turn out fairly interesting projects like this, then I don't mind if the keep churning out these films. In fact, the third is already on it's way. Here's to hoping it's yet another improvement, and that someday we can get an ABC's Of Death that lives up to the hype.
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