11-11-11

 

American author Joseph Crone travels to Spain to spend time with his dying father after the death of his own wife and child. While abroad, he is plagued by strange occurrences and the persistent appearance of the number 11. It eventually becomes clear that the number refers to a mystical date when forces will converge and Heaven’s eleventh gate will open.

Now this movie wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t that great either. I kinda understood what the writer and also the director; Darren Lynn Bousman was trying to do, but it just didn’t satisfy my expectations on the whole prophecy concept. You may know Darren Lynn Bousman’s other projects, Saw 2, 3, and 4. Lets just say that 11-11-11 was trying to live up to those movies, but just didn’t quit make it. I really didn’t have a problem with the acting. The actors were not that bad. It wasn’t like they were amateurs. One of them was Michael Landes from Final Destination 2 and the almost hit series Special Unit 2. Now i know this movie wasn’t a Straight-To-DVD film. In November 11, 2011 it came out in theaters, but only lasted a couple of weeks. There was a reason for that and after watching this film i understood why. 11-11-11 was missing that spark, that thing, what’s the word……..Suspence. The genre was put down as Horror and Thriller. I say the film was definitely missing the thriller part. Having been saying these things, the one thing the film did do exceptional, and trying not to ruin the movie, was the twist. Yes, what a surprise, there is a twist in the film. So if you want to stop by the closes video store and want to waste 1 hour and 30 minutes of your weekend  night, which to me, it was a 50/50 decision. I chose…………….poorly. 11-11-11 will be in the aisle named, Almost Good Enough To Watch.

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Cabin In The Woods

         Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods for some fun and relaxation. There they realize that all is not what it seems to be as they must discover the secrets of the cabin to stay alive. Clever kills and twist ensue.

        This is the one of the best horror movies I have seen in a long time. I mean amazing! My mind was blown away in the theater as twist after twist were thrown at me. This takes place in a cabin in the woods, hence the name, and it is then occupied by five friends. It’s very “Evil Dead”-ish in the setting and plot, but kicks into high gear as the kills began. But this movie had its own hell to endure as it was stuck in distribution hell since it was hot n 2009. I believe they released after the huge success Chris Hemsworth received playing Thor and Captain Kirk’s dad.

Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) directed and Joss Whedon (Firefly) produced this film and it was seen on screen. I am a huge fan of Whedon’s ever since “Firefly” and I loved “Cloverfield”. Its as if they made this movie to serve as a love letter to all the fans out there. The absolute best part about this movie is if you are a horror fan such as my self, you will get all the references in this movie. Friday The 13th, Hellraiser, and all the beloved 80’s flick show come out of hiding as horror fans everywhere have their question answered as to why do people split in scary movies? Have sex outside? Drop weapons or take a piss in the woods? I think I love it the move is because it heavily references “Evil Dead”. The cabin, with the basement, and the book. Wink, Wink.

We are introduced to sub-plot not so far away as we see two employees of an underground agency pulling all the levers and pushing all the button in the cabin scenario. This is what separates  this movie to all other horror movies as you are vividly pulled “behind the scenes” of a ‘horror flick” and get to understand why and how it all work. It’s really simple. And the entire story twist is worth the admission alone when these two stories come together and what it’s all for. Trust me. Its GENIUS. (*Kicks self in head for not thinking of the idea first)

I gave this movie our highest score because this is one of few horrors that does not leave you when you stop watching it. Instead of remembering cool death kills or naked chick, it makes you ponder about all the other scary movies you have seen in your past. This movie did to Evil Dead and all  other horror movies what Scream did to slasher films.

        The cast selected here was incredible as we get some less unknown actors led by Thor himself. Chris Hemworth rounds out the group of  friends as Curt, the alpha male jock, along with his blonde slutty girlfriend, Jules (Anna Hutchinson). The good girl Dana and the egg-head Holden are played great by Kristen Connolly and Jesse Williams but the scene-stealer and my favorite character/actor in the film is Fran Kranz who plays the brilliant paranoid pothead Marty.

Now I know what you are thinking. Yes, those are the obvious stereotypes in every horror movie, but trust me, it’s explained. The character development here is at an all time low, but there is a reason why and it works out in the end. You actually end up caring for these characters. Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford play the  main employees on the other side of the scene and do very well with their part. We are treated to a delightful cameo by no other than “Alien” survivor Sigourney Weaver herself as The Director. I’m trying to not give any spoilers away, so I must end this review before I keep going. In closing, to every horror fan out there, this is a MANDATORY movie to see. And to all you people out there that aren’t fond of the genre and think its predictable, all I can say is “you think you know the story…”

FILM STABS:

  • Shot in 2009, but not released until 2012.
  • The film’s release date was postponed because the studio wanted to convert it to 3D, despite objections from Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. These plans were eventually scrapped, and the film was released only in 2D.
  • Immediately after an early preview screening with fan Q&A, the first question Director Drew Goddard was asked was, “Will there be a sequel?” To which he responded, “Have you seen the ending to my movie?”


All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

Oh, Amber Heard. Why do all the boys and sometimes girls love you? We get to find out in this little horror gem about a group of high-schoolers who invite Ms. Lane to a weekend party at a secluded ranch. While the party ensues, the number of people start to dwindle as the guest disappear in some brutal way. Who’s killing? And why? Seems like the killer just wants a piece of the Lane Pie. But will she give up the goods, or die trying. There’s something about Mandy that people are just ready to kill for. Or they are just horny teenage idiots.

Things must have been to for director, Jonathon Levine. The good news was that his film, “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” was recognized at a film festival in 2006. The bad news? It would never be released in the U.S. and the only way to snatch a copy, is doing what I had to and order the U.K. version of the film through the Amazon. To start off, this movie was very hip and edgy, following the protocol of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Story wise, it’s all the same, with a group of teenagers, including the token black jock, the cool guy, the dumb cheerleader and the hip nerd, smoking pot and engaging in sexual activities, but very early on, the identity of the killer is bestowed upon you. Wait, what? And it doesn’t take long for the first victim to fall. Also what is noticed is a fairly small back story on the character of Mandy Lane. How apparently she was real fat and ugly and over the summer, blossomed into a beautiful swan. SO beautiful that people will do anything to be with her, even stupid things like kill the competition or die trying. It is very unusual for a horror film to reveal its boogeyman so early, but if you hang in there, the finale pays off. The twist ending is what will split you down the middle. Ultimately, this affected my score because I believe if they would tweaked it a bit, the ending could have been very poetic in an eerie ending. Personally, the twist made sense to me, then it didn’t. I was left kinda of scratching my head and looking around the room wondering why they chose to end it. I looked up on the internet that the director cut some scenes in the movie that explains the actions in the twist, and therefore the outcome was a bit confusing. Overall, the flick was very edgy and smart, but kind of went down for the ending that could have been phenomenal.

The movie boast a cast of great unfamiliar actors that you have probably never heard of. Speaking of heard, Amber Heard leads this cast pre “Drive Angry 3D” and plays the title character of Mandy Lane. She does very well in looking “hot” by tossing her hair a lot and smiling in skimpy shorts. Sarcasm aside, she was good, but I would have really loved to have seen the deleted scenes where she is able to build up her role a little more. A few will remember Anson Mount as the friendly ranch handler, who quickly becomes the hero of the movie in a way. Whitney Able does well in playing the superficial Chloe, who is more concerned about who she will sleep with then how to stay alive while Luke Grimes plays the cool guy she is obsessing over. I’d like to give a shout out to my favorite character of the film, Red, played by Aaron Himelstein. Not only did they guy set up the film and became a pivotal character, he was able to flourish into a whole new persona, sort of like Rider Strong’s character in “Cabin Fever”. In the end, you should check out the film if possible. If you can shell out some of the extra dollars and buy it and be that guy in your group who owns a movie not even released in the U.S, or find a guy who is that person.

Film Stabs:

  • The main ranch house in the film used to belong to Hilary Duff‘s family.
  • Local legend has it that John Wilkes Booth evaded capture in Virginia after his assassination of Abraham Lincoln and was the caretaker on the ranch property. He told the property owners his true identity as he was dying. They buried him in an unmarked grave next to the oak tree which Mandy Lane walks by to see Garth.
  • A little girl died in the upstairs bedroom in the ranch house after asphyxiating. Locals claim she still haunts the house. It is claimed a little girl in a white dress was seen several times in the ranch house during night shoots, even though there were never any children on set.
  • Producer Chad Feehan and co-producer Brian Udovich appear in the film as high-school football coaches.
  • Writer Jacob Forman and production designer Thomas S. Hammock play the firework salesmen.


The Howling: Reborn

A high school senior learns he descends from a long line of werewolves, and attempts to choose between embracing his inner-beast and holding on to his humanity as the long-running horror franchise returns. Will Kidman (Landon Liboiron) is your typical teenager; he’s got an eye for girls, and lately his gaze has been lingering on a gorgeous classmate (Lindsey Shaw). Meanwhile, an enigmatic woman (Ivana Milicevic) from Will’s distant past resurfaces with a shocking revelation: Will’s ancestors were lycanthropes, and now he will inherit the secrets of their incredible power. But when Will realizes that embracing his destiny will spell certain death for the girl he loves, he prepares to make a choice that could spell the end of his monstrous bloodline, and incur the wrath of the very creatures that have claimed him as one of their own.

This is a werewolf movie, of course. One of the many series in The Howling chronicles. I am a big fan of werewolf films, so I am going to try to be as nice as I can with this one. The Howling (1981) is the original movie and it is still the best of them all, and of the whole werewolf movie industry. Saying this, The Howling: Reborn is a Monstrosity of a film. Of a werewolf film. One mistake of the movie was that it just threw you into the so-called story. Not explaining anything. Just showing you some random scenes that just confused me. The character development was poor. The main character, Will Kidman played by Landon Liboiron, who also was in a Straight-To DVD film called Altitude, tried his best to make this movie as interesting as possible. This kid is a good actor, but he just needs to find that movie that will get him to the big leagues. Films like this just waste talent like his. So other than that the rest of the film was a flop. Another downside is that why do they make a werewolf pack, in human form, look like a bad boy band. And when does a werewolf look like a gargoyle. They are supposed to have fur. Lots of it and Look Like A Part Wolf and Part Man; Not A Hairless Demon. Also they mentioned The Alpha Dog; werewolves of werewolves. I laughed so heard i was tearing up. I really didn’t know that an alpha dog of werewolves were going to look like giant man-rats. They had a head of a rat and a rat-tail, that’s right, a long rat looking tail. So I think I damaged the make-up team well enough about the werewolves. So I will lead to another upset. One main scenario of the film is that Will and his love entrust played by the upcoming actress, Lindsey Shaw, are LOCKED DOWN in their high school with the big-bad wolves. Yes, I said locked down. Evidently the high school they attend turns into a fortress. Push a button and all of the doors and windows are locked, and steel plates cover over both of them. It actually reminded me of the lock down in House On Haunted Hill (1999). Really weird people, really weird. This is a movie that should have not been made. Take my advise, do not rent this, and most def. DO NOT BUY. As a werewolf film fan, I am disappointed. Do not waste the 1 hour and 32 minutes of your life watching this. You will never get that time back at all. The Howling: Reborn will be seen on the shelf, Don’t Bother Looking At Me, Just Keep Walking.


Absentia

Tricia’s husband Daniel has been missing for seven years. Her younger sister Callie comes to live with her as the pressure mounts to finally declare him ‘dead in absentia.’ As Tricia sifts through the wreckage and tries to move on with her life, Callie finds herself drawn to an ominous tunnel near the house. As she begins to link it to other mysterious disappearances, it becomes clear that Daniel’s presumed death might be anything but ‘natural.’ The ancient force at work in the tunnel might have set its sights on Callie and Tricia … and Daniel might be suffering a fate far worse than death in its grasp.

Calm down people. That’s right, calm down and relax. Don’t worry about being scared off your seat or seeing something so disturbing it haunts your dreams. Nothing like that in this movie. I put too much hype for this film and I did get a little let down. Not in the story though. The story was a good one; there’s something in the tunnel taking people. Creepy all on its own. Trying not to spoil the film. What is in the tunnel? I don’t know. I hear it. What’s is it? I don’t know. No Really, I Don’t Know. After watching this film I still can’t get over that feeling that there was something left out. Wished it was longer. The character development needed a little more; what’s the word……….development. There were some scenes that leaded up to a big climax scare, but ended up being a let down. Every time this happened i kept waiting to be scared, but i couldn’t stop myself. That is why Absentia, to me was actually o.k. Even though with some disappointments the anticipations in some scenes helped me coupe with it. Not all of the film was a let down. I try to give every independent film a chase to wow me, but i would buy this movie. An advise for people who might want to see this; go to a Red Box kiosk at a 7-Eleven and spend less than 2 dollars to rent…………………or you might just go in the store and get a Slurpee. Your choice, but you might get the same enjoyment with either. Just if you do decide to rent it, like i said before; Do not get your hopes up. For me, you will find Absentia under the shelf, The Cover Looks Promising.


21 Jump Street

This raunchy comedy/ action flick had every reason in it to NOT bring your children to see. Starring the two named above, 21 Jump Street is a remake of an 80’s tv series. Cops, Schmidt and Jenko, went to high school together and somehow both end up new recruits for the police force. The roles are reversed for the two when Schmidt, the once dorky wanna be rapper kid in high school, becomes the most popular high schooler while undercover, and Jenko, the once very popular football player can only appeal to the dorky kids now. Schmidt and Jenko go undercover to unveil an ever growing drug ring of some weird synthetic drug thought to be distributed by teenagers at this high school. Even though they are in high school all over again, both manage to (just barely) make it out alive and undercover what’s really going on at the high school.

I would like to say BRAVO! To Channing Tatum. He was actually funny and not a piece of cardboard like he is in everything else. He can act, I’m going to guess he just chooses not to in everything else. Jonah Hill was his usual hilarious self. And yes, I’m going to say it… I don’t miss fat Jonah Hill. Fat Jonah Hill came off pathetic. Skinny JH actually has substance.  Weird, I know.

There was also a funny Cameo by the original “Schmidt and Jenko” from the 21 jump street series, Johnny Depp happening to be one of them. That was surprising and integrated into the movie at just the perfect time.

If you like jokes about sex, dicks, ….uhm… Sex and more dicks… Well, then you’re in for a treat. The casting all together was good, lots of funny people here. Not only is this a comedy, but an action flick too. Lots of crashing, and car chasing, and evading and tons of other words associated with an action movie. It’s not an Oscar worthy movie, but if you like Jonah Hills comedy, and just want to laugh, you won’t be disappointed.

 


The Ward

Welcome to North Bend Psychiatric Hospital, an isolation ward for disturbed women that holds a terrifying secret. Kristen, a beautiful but volatile young woman finds herself bruised, cut, drugged and held against her will at the sinister asylum. Trying to gain control of her memory and figure out how she got there, Kristen discovers that a savage ghostly figure roams the halls at night. One by one, the other patients begin to disappear. To survive, Kristen must discover the horrifying truth of the ward.

Good ole’ John Carpenter. If you are a horror fan, then I don’t have to tell you who he is, but if you are from another planet, well then this is the man that brought you Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), Escape from New York (1981), The Thing (1982), They Live (1988) etc. Should i go on? This man is a legend among independent films. But the thing with independent films; you win some and you loose some. The Ward is one of his latest films that didn’t quit make the charts. As you know, this film went straight to DVD, but that does not mean it wasn’t enjoyable. The star of the film was Amber Heard, which you may remember her in films as Zombieland, Drive Angry, and Never Back Down. Amber did do an enjoyable effort into convincing me to keep watching the movie. I keep saying enjoyable because the film was only that. It was not the best and it was not a flop; it was SOMEWHERE in between. I watched till the end to get questions answered. Not spoiling the end. The Ward was mainly a mystery story than a horror one. Lots of questions entering the story board one after the other, but never being answered until the end. I thought that was pretty clever from the mind of Mr. Carpenter. He is still one of the Masters of Horror; which this movie holds up to some aspects of his work. A fan of his many films this one separates itself from the rest. It’s like he is trying something new. I say there should have been a little more added into the story about the ghostly figure and of the extra cast. Not having this made me not care what happened to the other characters. They didn’t matter to me. Not many scares as I thought it was going to have. One thing that I did realize is that this film had a lot of dialogue. Dialogue in that you mainly had to stay focused on what people were saying and doing. You couldn’t leave the room while watching this because you would miss a clever asset of the story. I do say The Ward was missing character development big time, but curiosity was the reason I stay tuned to the film. The Ward would have been a better short story film lasting at least an hour. Instead The Ward was stretched to 1 hour and 28 minutes. If you are a collector of John Carpenter films, then this is one to add to your collection, but if you aren’t and looking to see a thriller film for the heck of it, then why not. You, MAY……like it, but no promises. The Ward is a film under the shelf, Why Not, There’s Nothing Else.


Silent House

The other Olsen girl, the normal looking one, is trapped inside her family’s lakeside retreat where she realizes she is unable to contact the outside world as becomes ominous in and around the house. This is basically the whole plot. It is eighty-five minutes of the camera following a scared Elizabeth Olsen around this dark and scary. This movie is said to be shot in one single uninterrupted take. Do not buy into the marketing. It is confirmed that there are more shots in this film than just one. They are just very long ten minute shots and it is very hard to see where they edit it.

“Terror in a single take”. That is the promotional tagline that got me interested in this movie. How can it be? I must see? In every movie, there is content and form, and the two must coexist and be balanced. It feels like “Silent House” sacrificed a lot of the content in order to provide the avant-garde of this one take style. What they sacrifice is the camera not being able to leave the main character’s side and therefore the audience cannot be shown any character development for Elizabeth Olsen’s Sarah. But, most people will probably forgive this to try and find an edit splice somewhere to debunk the single take theory. I couldn’t find any, but I had an idea of where they could have stuck one in. Movie goers who are not fond of the steady cam technique will not like this movie. The ending maybe a little unexplained for the same reason stated previously about sacrificing content for form.

Elizabeth Olsen does very well in carrying this movie. This is important as she is all you will most likely focus on, like John Cusack in “1408”. She has really shined as an actress, especially in a movie called “Martha Marcy May Marlene”, which was released the previous year. Her performance is genuine and surreal, which is what saved the movie. The other actors are rarely there, just inserted in he film to drive the plot forward. All in all, I believe this movie is worth watching, but wait for it to hit video, or maybe cable. be sure to rent “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and make it an Elizabeth Olsen night.

 

 


Trick r’ Treat

Four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband.

A Halloween movie for Halloween. This is a film made to see on Halloween. It has been a long time since I’ve seen a film dedicated to Halloween. As one of my favorite holidays, this film does justice. Great acting and great visual effects. Trick r’ Treat will get you ready for Halloween and will give you an enjoyable popcorn eating viewing. Almost all of the actors in this film are recognizable. You will notice Anna Paquin from the hit show True Blood. Also, Brian Cox from X-Men 2. Michael Dougherty is the Director and Writer of this movie. Other writing work done by him was Superman Returns and X-Men 2. So why did this film not end up in the theaters? I have no idea, but it should have. The film was made in 2007, but came out straight to DVD in 2009. Two years of waiting and only ended up on a shelf at a Family Video. That was a mistake. I liked the multiple stories that collided in this one night scenario. You will laugh in some parts and you will creep out most of the time. The child like entity that you will see through the film was odd in a, I wonder who that is and why is it their, feeling. Mr. Dougherty did an excellent job in making each story as separate as possible until it was time to combine them. Four movies combined into one. Another great thing about this film was that it was old school when it came to the F/X work. That’s right, no green screen and no computer graphics. All effects done by hand. Hard work, hours and hours of make up and great talent of creativity. This film will and pretty much has been turned into a classic horror film along side others like Halloween, Friday The 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street. Add this to your collection and I promise the 1 hour and 22 minutes will not be regrettable. The only problem i did have with this movie is that it should have been a little longer. Maybe add another story or two. Trick r’ Treat is a film that belongs on the shelf, Must Have.


Lake Mungo

Sixteen-year-old Alice Palmer drowns while swimming in the local dam. When her body is recovered and a verdict of accidental death returned, her grieving family buries her. The family then experiences a series of strange and inexplicable events centred around their home. Profoundly unsettled, the Palmer’s seek the help of  and parapsychologist, Ray Kemeny. Kemeny discovers that Alice led a double life. A series of clues lead the family to Lake Mungo where Alice’s secret past emerges.

Lake Mungo was one of the films presented at the After Dark Horror Fest 4: 8 Films to Die For. So it might be a film to see. Now another ghost story? Well yes and no. It was two stories in one. Watching this film was like watching an episode of an unsolved crime show. It had a documentary taste to it. I was surprised at the outcome of this film. I thought I was going to watch a ghost movie, like a Paranormal Activity type. Instead I came across a film that I have never seen before. I do give the Director and Writer, Joel Anderson, props because the characters felt real. The reactions of their behaviors were honest, like they were actual people being interviewed about their lose. Do not get me wrong……….it is a ghost film. Now don’t expect the visual effects to be Grade A. This is pretty much all shot with home video cameras. The film had a “Where’s Waldo” feel to it when dealing with the ghost. Which helped my eyes keep glued to the tv. I was impressed by how the story escalated into something bigger. You first think, “Oh, I’m seeing a ghost randomly in these photos, no big deal”. Then like a mystery story, the plot thickens. That was cool. Like I said before, it had a documentary feel to it. You will have mixed feelings about it, but I assure you, it will intrigue you. Mystery Story sums up the description of the movie, but is it worth any bodyies time? I say so. It’s a weekday night flick. You come home from work on a Wednesday night, getting ready to eat dinner, pop this movie in and see if you like the 1 hour and 27 minutes of it. You will either hate it or like. For me, it would be another film to add-on my shelf; For Movies Just To Have.