Movie Reviews 101 Halloween Midnight Horror – Darkness Falls (2003)

logoDirector: Jonathan Liebesman

Writer: John Fasano, James Vanderbilt, Joe Harris (Screenplay) Joe Harris (Story)

Starring: Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield, Lee Cormie, Grant Piro, Sullivan Stapleton, Steve Mouzakis, Peter Curtin, Kestie Morassi, Jenny Lovell, Joshua Anderson, Emily Browning


Plot: A vengeful spirit has taken the form of the Tooth Fairy to exact vengeance on the town that lynched her 150 years earlier. Her only opposition is the only child, now grown up, who has survived her before.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Short but Sweet


Story: Darkness Falls starts by explaining the legend of Matilda Dixon who was a loved member of the town who used to give coins to the children of the town after they lose their teeth gaining her the nickname ‘The Tooth Fairy’. After a fire she became disfigured but the town burns her when two children don’t come home, she puts curses on the town and after the children are found safe the town of Darkness Falls buries the secret. Matilda curse reads ‘What I took before in kindness, I will take forever in revenge’.

We see young Kyle (Anderson) lose his final baby tooth he does what every kid does and puts it under his pillow but when he gets suddenly awaken by the noise of the Tooth Fairy he catches a glimpse at her. Kyle’s life is going to change forever when the Tooth Fairy kills his mother but can’t get to him because of the light.

12 years later we get to meet a grown up version of Kyle’s school sweetheart Caitlin (Caulfield) whose own little brother Michael (Cormie) is struggling with the same problem hiding in the light. Caitlin reaches out to Kyle (Kley) who she hasn’t seen since the night out his mother’s death trying to find answers. Kyle decides to return to Darkness Falls to help even if he hasn’t got over the problem. When a local gets killed by the Tooth Fairy the town turns on Kyle framing him for the murder. Caitlin must team up with Kyle to save her brother and end the curse once and for all.

Darkness Falls is a horror film that builds on legend that children are led to believe and turns it dark, we all know the idea of the tooth fairy coming to take teeth in exchange for money and we all know it is all fake, but add in an urban legend you do actually get a frightening idea. I can’t help but want to compare this to ‘The Boogeyman’ having very similar storyline and yes I know this came out first. I feel this has good moments but I don’t quite understand how the Tooth Fairy suddenly went on a murderous rampage because she starts out slowly stalking the prey but suddenly just bursts into room to kill as many people as possible. I also feel the film is too short but then again because it is short it never seems to want to let you take a breath. This is one the horror fans will enjoy but don’t expect too much from it. (7/10)


Actor Review


Chaney Kley: Kyle Walsh is the traumatised young man who has been frightened of the dark for most of his life after seeing the Tooth Fairy at a young age. He returns to the town to help his childhood sweethearts little brother and to face his demon ending the curse once and for all. Chaney does a solid job but I can’t help but think he is a cheaper Ryan Reynolds. (6/10)


Emma Caulfield: Caitlin Greene is the former sweetheart of Kyle whose younger brother is now being haunted by the Tooth Fairy, she reconnects with Kyle hoping to get the answers. Emma does a solid job but never really gets enough time to do much in the film. (5/10)


Lee Cormie: Michael Greene is the one boy being haunted by the Tooth Fairy that Kyle has returned to town to help. Lee does gives us a terrified child performance which works very well in the film. (7/10)


Support Cast: Darkness Falls has a supporting cast that really is all disposable characters that don’t really do much for the film.


Director Review: Jonathan Liebesman – Jonathan does give us a very standard horror that doesn’t give too much new to the genre. (6/10)


Horror: Darkness Falls has plenty of easy jump scares but doesn’t build the tension is needed. (5/10)

Thriller: Darkness Falls doesn’t let you go from the first return and keeps things going at a steady pace throughout. (7/10)

Settings: Darkness Falls uses the small isolated town for the story which works to make the urban legend become more realistic. (7/10)
Special Effects
: Darkness Falls has good effects for the tooth fairy creation. (8/10)

Suggestion: Darkness Falls is one for the horror fans to enjoy but just enjoy don’t expect too much. (Horror Fans Try)


Best Part: Urban legend turned dark is nice touch.

Worst Part: Too short.

Scariest Scene: Opening sequence.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: The Boogeyman


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $47.5 Million

Budget: $11 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

Tagline: Stay In The Light!

Trivia: The closing credits run for 11 minutes. This is because without the extra time, the movie would have been considered too short to release theatrically.


Overall: Darkness Falls is a solid horror that has good jump scares that will keep the popcorn fans happy but won’t satisfy the true horror fans.

Rating 60

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

logoDirector: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Writer: Jesse Andrews (Screenplay) Jesse Andrews (Novel)

Starring: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, Katherine C Hughes, Matt Bennett, Masam Holden

Plot: High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Delightful but Tragic Drama

Story: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl starts with Greg (Mann) struggling to tell his story. Greg goes about his high school journey where he knows how to get away without ever being out of place with any social groups along with his best friend who Greg refers to as his co-worker Earl (Cyler). When Greg learns the news that one of his class mate Rachel (Cooke) has been diagnosed with leukaemia his parents force him to reach out to her.

While the Greg and Rachel start their friendship in an unconventional style as they believe they are both very different. We discovers that Greg and Earl enjoy making short films. Greg and Rachel do end up becoming actual friends and along with Earl we follow as the three continue a normal life while everyone else treats Rachel like she is suffering which includes Greg and Earl making a movie for

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl comes off feeling very fresh without becoming a full blown tear jerker, this could have easily gone down as just another film about a dying girl well dying but this film approaches the story from another angle, it shows what it would be like for a friend during the dying character time of suffering. This story never wants to let it get too down on what is happening and constantly trying to push the characters to look into the future. I especially like how Rachel is pushing Greg into making up his mind reflecting where the two stand, Greg having all the time in the world not wanting to use it while she knows she doesn’t pushing him to make sure he doesn’t waste it. This film is a delightful story that should be watched by all even if you need a tissue or two by the end. (8/10)

Actor Review

Thomas Mann: Greg is the social awkward high school student and along with his best friend which he refers to as co-worker befriend Rachel as he tries to treat her like a normal girl while everyone else everyone else is to sympathetic to her situation. We follow his last year at high school as he also has to make his big decision about his future and the two help each other. Thomas does a great job in this role and could easily be a future star. (9/10)greg

RJ Cyler: Earl is the co-worker to Greg who is actually his best friend who makes movies with Greg because they share the love for classic cinema. RJ gives a great debut role in a supporting role. (8/10)

Olivia Cooke: Rachel is the dying girl who once she gets diagnosed finds everyone treating her differently until Greg comes along to offer a new friendship where he gives her a normal friendship without sympathy and she teaches him to grow up. Olivia gives a great performance which will give us a leading star for the future. (9/10)rachel

Support Cast: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has a brilliant supporting cast that all give brilliant performances.

Director Review: Alfonso Gomez-RejonAlfonso gives us a brilliant film that goes against traditional tragic stories. (9/10)

Comedy: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has light comedy throughout which works well for the subject. (7/10)

Drama: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl gives us a near perfect drama about just growing up when one of the best friends won’t make it. (9/10)

Settings: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl uses the settings to show how normal the lives of the characters are because it will be what everyday people will have to deal with through the situation. (9/10)

Suggestion: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is one to be watched by all, it is one of the best stories of the year and will teach you the lesson in life. (Watch)

Best Part: Performances by Mann and Cooke.

Worst Part: Not one.

Believability: The suffering the characters would go through are real, the idea of friendship is real. (8/10)

Chances of Tears: You will have a few by the end. (5/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: The Fault in Our Stars

Oscar Chances: Could be an outside bet.

Budget: $8 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Tagline: A little friendship never killed anyone

Overall: Brilliant Drama about growing up and not being afraid of the world

Rating 90

Halloween Kingathon – Cujo (1983) From Flashback/Backslide

Today we have Cujo review from Damien from Flashback/Backslide lets see what he thought
Cujo helps keep modern horror movies in perspective. It’s not that today’s horror movies are bad (and there have been plenty of good ones like The Babadook and It Follows). The genre itself is just prone to badness. Even with Stephen King’s brain contributing there are still huge flaws throughout this film starring a rabid dog who traps a woman and her son in their car for days.logo
The film is weak basically in every moment when Cujo is not attacking someone. I really didn’t need to watch the marital problems of Donna (Dee Wallace) and Vic (Daniel Hugh-Kelly). Or see how Steve (Christopher Stone) turns so deranged so quickly. Let’s focus on Steve for a second. He shows up in a handful of scenes, starting out as a suave partner and transforming to a creepy, jealous stereotype in record time. The real issue is his feather cutting rampage late in the film. He goes through the Trenton’s house, shreds all of their pillows, and cuts up Donna’s picture. All for what? The entire situation is resolved with two sentences of exposition given by a cop we’ve only met for a minute or so. What does Steve bring to the movie? Sure you could say “Cujo’s not the only monster. We’re monsters too. HUMANS ARE MONSTERS TOO.” But is that what the movie is going for? Is that our theme? I’m all for symbolism but that’s shaky. This disjointed feeling pervades the entire film.
Dee Wallace gives the movie the gel it needs. She’s believable as both the grieving wife and the panicking mother. She also steps in for some of the movie’s biggest cliches. Like the fact that she didn’t instantly die when the 200 pound rabid St. Bernard attacked her. The script gives her some pretty thick plot armor which it forgot to give the police officer who Cujo takes down immediately. Speaking of Cujo vs the Police, I’m glad to see Cujo had the wherewithal to smack the officer’s gun out of his hand right away. Then when Donna tries to make a run for it in that same scene, Cujo trots over and barks at her as if to say “Hey. Hey! Get back in that car. I’m eating over here!”
I feel for the dog in this movie. Both the character of Cujo and the dog actor who had to wear five pounds of slime for days of filming. Even when he’s rabid, Cujo shows some signs that he’s still fighting for control. Which means the dog was out-acting most of the cast. The only crewmember working harder is the composer who busily adds piano tones to dramatic moments, letting us know that these moments are in fact dramatic. This might be because of my more modern tastes but the movie works best for me when it’s silent, letting the tension build until the next attack or fake-out. And despite its many genre cliches (most notably the “one last scare” cliche), there are some well executed moments. One visually striking scene is the 360 degree camera spin just after a Cujo attack. As young Tad wails in the back seat, the camera spins to look at him and then his injured mother in the front, spinning faster and faster until the cut. The 360 shot functions well here but is used to better effect in It Follows. In that newer film this shot is a tool prior to an attack, not after one.cujo
Like most horror movies, my viewing was a bit tainted by the film’s age. Audiences today are well aware of genre cliches and familar with unneccesary plotlines used to justify the film’s length (this really could have been a 30 minute movie and wouldn’t have been much worse for it. The performances by Dee Wallace and most importantly by Cujo keep the movie interesting even if the outcome is assured.
Rating: 4/10
Favorite moments:
-Police officers arrives on the scene, drives right past a bloodied car, starts to radio in to HQ, hears a noise, and decides “hey that sounds suspicious. I better go check on that. No need to tell HQ about that literal horror scene of a car. I probably ought to keep my pistol in its holster. There might be kids around.”
-A blood covered Cujo startles his owner in the same room where a man was recently eaten alive. Once the owner sees his loving dog he mumbles “Oh god…you’re rabid.” You got it guy. It’s nice of you to explain it to Cujo or anyone who ducked out of the theater to get popcorn during the introduction’s endless, music-filled prairie scene.
-Donna gets out of the car and is wearing high heels. Why would you be wearing those with a killer dog on the prowl? That’s definitely a time to go barefoot.


Halloween Kingathon – Cujo (1983)

Banner-3logoDirector: Lewis Teague

Writer: Don Carlos Dunaway, Lauren Currir (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

Starring: Dee Wallace, Danny Pintauro, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Christopher Stone, Ed Lauter

Plot: A friendly St. Bernard named “Cujo” contracts rabies and conducts a reign of terror on a small American town.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Ravenously Dark Horror

Story: Cujo starts with the friendly St Bernard Cujo chasing rabbits where he bites off more than he can chew after getting his head inside a den filled with bats, where he ends up getting bitten by fore mentioned bats. We go onto meet our main family the Trenton’s mother Donna (Wallace), father Vic (Kelly) and young son Tad (Pintauro).

When the Trenton’s have car trouble they turn to Joe Camber (Lauter) the local go to car mechnic and owner of Cujo, but as the bite becomes infected Cujo slowly starts to fall victim of the rabies he has been infected with. When Donna and Tad go to have the car looked at again they find themselves trapped by Cujo who has become a ravenous because of the rabies.

Cujo brings us such a simple idea behind a horror that could easily be real, what happens to Cujo could happen to any animal and when man’s best friend turns nasty it becomes hard to escape their strength. The trapped trying to survive a horror is such a tried and tested horror idea this films ends up using it excellently. (8/10)

Actor Review

Dee Wallace: Donna Trenton is the mother of Tad as well us the cheating wife of Vic, she needs to get her car fixed while looking after Tad but when they reach the mechanic’s house they find themselves in a battle against a now ravenous Cujo. Dee is great in this leading role trying to protect her child. (8/10)family

Danny Pintauro: Tad Trenton is the young son of the Trenton family who believe in monsters however many times Vic tries to convince him there are no such things. When he visits the mechanic’s house he gets an encounter with a real life monster in the ravenous Cujo. Danny does a good job looking scared not just for the film but most likely for years to come. (7/10)

Support Cast: Cujo has a supporting cast that is mostly local residents and a few victims for Cujo.

Director Review: Lewis Teague Lewis brings us a genuine horror film that truly scares the audience. (7/10)

Horror: Cujo puts the characters into a position where the horror will continue throughout their situation. (9/10)

Thriller: Cujo keeps you guessing to whether they will survive the problem. (8/10)

Settings: Cujo starts mostly in a small town but when Cujo traps Donna and Tad it keeps the idea of isolation together. (9/10)

Suggestion: Cujo is one for all the horror fans to have seen at least once. (Horror Fans Watch)

Best Part: Cujo is terrifying.cujo

Worst Part: Not really one.

Scariest Scene: Cujo first attack on Donna and Tad.

Believability: Rabies will do this to animals so it would be fair to say it could happen. (6/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $21 Million

Budget: $5 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

Tagline: Now there’s a new name for terror.

Trivia: Stephen King has stated that he feels Dee Wallace gives the best performance in this film of any film or TV adaptation of his books, including Kathy Bates‘s Oscar-winning turn in Misery (1990).

Overall: Scary, frightening man’s best friend gone evil that will scary you for days.


Opinion Battles Round 12 Favourite Stephen King Adaption

opinion battles

Best Stephen King Adaptation

With Rob and myself doing the October Kingathon what better choice for the subject of this rounds Opinion Battles, we have such a range of genre to pick from even if I can have a good guess what everyone will be picking.

If you want to take part in the next round we will be picking Best Franchise with 4 or more films, email by 18th October 2015

Darren – Movie Reviews 101

Stephen King’s IT (1990)it

I have chosen this one because I like the idea of a horror film, I know there are others that could easily be picking like The Shinning, Carrie and I didn’t want t go drama however brilliant Shawshank, Stand By Me and The Stand are. I have pick this one because this is the one film that created a character in Pennywise that will forever haunt children, and could easily be the most recognisable character King has ever created.

Kim – Tranquil Dream

Maximum Overdriveogo

I’m not much of a Stephen King connoisseur and while I can understand the appeal of some of his adaptations that I have seen, I do have to consider than as original pieces.  I’ve only seen a few but the one that I watch over and over again the most has to be Maximum Overdrive.  Its super dated and its so much fun to watch.  Campy and a little way out there.  The cast and the cheesy dialogue and even a balance of a variety of characters all stuck together in a truck stop while machines are possessed is just all sort of crazy entertainment.  Its definitely not top notch cinema but its an enjoyable guilty pleasure and for me, that works for me as an adaptation.  


The Shawshank Redemption

At first I thought I was going to have to sit this round out *gasp* because I thought I hadn’t seen any of Stephen King’s adaptations.  However, looking through the long list on Wikipedia, I found one: The Shawshank Redemption.  I always forget that this film is based off a Stephen King writing.  Do I really need to explain why The Shawshank Redemption is such a great film?  Anything I could possibly say has already been said in previous rounds.  The acting from Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman is top-notch, the story leaves you rooting for Andy Dufresne and has a feel good ending.  It’s funny to see how the 1994 Oscars really went and not how we all think they should have went, considering this is one of the most beloved films of all time.  If there is only one Stephen King adaptation I have seen, I’m glad it is this one.

Movie Rob

The Shawshank Redemptionlogo

Best King adaptation is actually not as simple as one would think.  I have always loved the way that the stories of Stand By Me (The Body) and The Green Mile were adapted to the screen, but I still have to say that the best must be The Shawshank Redemption (1994) (Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption) which is still considered a masterpiece and is hailed as one of the best movies to ever not win Best Picture at the Oscars.  The book is only 110 pages, but Director Frank Darabont was able to create an amazing 2.5 hour movie that is so captivating and interesting to watch.

That Other Critic

The Shawshank Redemption


Okay, confession: I haven’t seen The Shining. So, ignoring that, I have to go with Shawshank. Okay? Okay.

The Shawshank Redemption is a harrowing and inspiring tale, a well-acted, well-written, brilliantly acted film that brilliantly expands on a wonderful short story (which I highly recommend, along with the other stories in the collection “Different Seasons”) by Stephen King.

Shawshank is one of those films that’s hard to find large faults in it, and is so enjoyable that even someone like me, who prefers a fun romp to a compelling drama, finds it to be one of my favorites. Shawshank is amazing, and I love it.

Khalid – The Blazing Reel

The Shining (1980)logo

When you talk about Stephen King adaptations it’s never easy to pick just one. You could easily go with two of Frank Darabont’s three adaptations, The Shawshank Redemption or The Green Mile, maybe not The Mist. Then there are The Dead Zone and Misery too. But for me, the words ‘Stephen King’ always remind me of horror which eventually remind me of The Shining. 

The Shining is what you get when a maestro like Stanley Kubrick gets his hands on King’s source-material and while the film isn’t completely faithful the book, and features an insufferable performance from Shelly Duvall, it still stands out as one of the most chilling and suspenseful horror movies to ever hit the screens. Jack Nicholson gives, what is easily the most batshit-crazy and utterly menacing performance of a career that has seen more than a few batshit-crazy performances, and the film itself is just masterfully constructed from the first frame to the last. Truly the best Stephen King Adaptation


The Mist (2007)


This was so tough! Up until the moment of sending this to Darren I was still torn between this and two other potential choices but I’ve always loved The Mist and it’s the type of film I’d always be in the mood to watch so I went with it. The atmosphere is great, the creatures are scary (even if the CGI is dodgy in places) but it’s the way the people stuck in the store turn on each other that makes it even more gripping – the ‘mob mentality’. I love watching it unfold and there’s still plenty of gross bits, awful spiders (eek!) good dialogue and some very good acting. Not to mention a pretty crazy ending that is unforgettable.

Flicks Chicks

Stand By Mestand

The only Stephen King adaptation I have ever really liked is Stand by me (1986).  I absolutely love this film and could watch it over and over again, the performances of the lead four actors are so perfect location.   It starts as four friends looking to get recognised for finding the body of the schoolboy supposedly in the woods but ends up being an emotional journey for them as they open up and uncover secrets about each other.   It also spends a lot if time being hilariously funny which breaks up the emotion and stops it being too soppy and just a perfect Sunday movie.

S.G. Liput


I was really tempted to pick The Shawshank Redemption since I’d already picked it for best adaptation overall, but that turned out to be the reason I leaned toward a different one for this round. Instead, I’ve opted for Rob Reiner’s adaptation of Misery, the hostage thriller that put the fan in fanatic. While King is well-known for his supernatural horrors, his real-world dramas are more appealing to me. Stand by Me and Shawshank are straight dramas, but in Misery, he was able to set his talent for unnerving tension in a frightening but believable situation. What makes Kathy Bates so scary as psychopathic fangirl Annie Wilkes is that there are people like her out there, and very little suspension of disbelief is required to accept her shocking behavior. WhileShawshank and The Green Mile deserved more recognition, Misery remains the only King adaptation to win an Oscar, thanks to Bates’s outstanding performance.