ABC Film Challenge – Horror – S – The Skeleton Key (2005)

Director: Iain Softley

Writer: Ehren Kruger (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, Joy Bryant, Maxine Barnett

 

Plot: A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house’s dark past.


Tagline – Fearing Is Believing

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Little Ghost Investigation

 

Story: The Skeleton Key starts as we meet carer Caroline Ellis (Hudson) who has been working in a home, but wants a change. This leads her to a New Orleans plantation to helps the Devereaux family, Violet (Rowlands) and the paralysed Ben (Hurt) with the lawyer Luke Marshall (Sarsgaard) trying to strike a deal.

When Ben doesn’t seem as disabled as Violet appears to let on, Caroline finds herself investigating the house more, where she finds a secret room in the attic, she turns to her best friend Jill (Bryant) to help who teaches her about Hoodoo which is what could be haunting the home.

 

Thoughts on The Skeleton Key

 

Characters – Caroline is a carer, looking to study nursing, she takes this new role which offers her the freedom needed to do the studying. She starts questioning the strange goings on within the house, which leads her to go into full investigation mode. Violet is the lady of the home, she wants to keep everything the way it was inside the house knowing and believing the curse that roams the house. She doesn’t like people coming to the home disturbing the peace she has created with the ghosts. Ben is the disabled husband that has suffered a stroke, he is the reason why Caroline is hired but not everything is right for him as he tries to communicate without being able to use his words. Luke Marshall is the lawyer putting the affairs in orders for the Devereaux’s, he hires Caroline to help care for Ben while using his charm will get him through any situation. Jill is Caroline’s best friend, she fills the filling in the information at times roles and gives us the character that helps question whether she is making the right decisions.

PerformancesKate Hudson is good in this leading role, she is strong minded character which shows in her performance. Gena Rowlands enjoys her role in the film where she gets to play the twisted character. John Hurt gets to show of his acting skills in the supporting role, he doesn’t get any dialogue in the film just gets to show the desperation he is feeling. Peter Sarsgaard is strong too, in a decade where he was always one of the go to guys in a supporting role.

StoryThe story dives into elements of horror I enjoy the most, we have a new member of the household, in this case a carer, that finds out something is right and must figure out what is happening before it is too late. The film offers plenty off potential options to where the film could go, which is what we like even if it does suggest heavily in one direction, you will need to keep thinking as to where the film will end up going.

Horror/MysteryThe horror isn’t in your face jump scares, it is well created tension filled moments that help us get to the final outcome, the mystery does take centre stage for the genres as we watch this get solved by Caroline.

SettingsThe New Orleans settings helps us understand the Hoodoo idea that is surrounded by the characters involved in the film.

Special EffectsThe effects aren’t used very often and to be honest the ones used don’t seem to come off very well.


Scene of the Movie –
The Final night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I had an issue with just having one random friend who was only used to fill in the blanks.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good little horror, it is nothing ground breaking, but it has good performances and a solid story that will keep you guessing.

 

Overall: Good horror mystery from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Horror – Q – Quarantine 2: Terminal (2011)

Director: John Pogue

Writer: John Pogue (Screenplay)

Starring: Mercedes Mason, Josh Cooke, Mattie Liptak, Ignacio Serricchio, Noree Victoria

 

Plot: A plane is taken over by a mysterious virus. When the plane lands it is placed under quarantine. Now a group of survivors must band together to survive the quarantine.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Idea, Badly Acted

 

Story: Quarantine 2: Terminal starts as we meet our flight attendances Jenny (Mason) and Paula (Blair) who have a low number passengers flight across America, I think. We get to meet the different passengers including teacher that takes Jenny’s fancy Henry (Cooke), teenager travelling alone George (Liptak), the list does go on but most importantly this red eye flight is underway.

When one of the passengers becomes infected by an unknow virus the plane makes an emergency landing and finds themselves quarantined in the terminal. Jenny must keep the passengers calm as the tensions rise between them as they wait to see just how they will make it out of this situation.

 

Thoughts on Quarantine 2: The Terminal

 

Characters/PerformanceJenny is our main character a flight attendant who knows how to have a good time, she must keep her passengers calm through the situation but nothing can prepare her for these events. Henry is a teacher who gets to play out as a potential love interest for Jenny, he stands up for what is right when passengers get out of control. George is a teenager travelling alone and Jenny’s responsibility on the flight however much he wants to be left alone, when things go wrong he wants to stay protected. The rest of the characters are what you expect from characters that are trying to make an impact in horror movies. It would be fair we get introduced to slightly too many characters that makes it hard to give them enough development.

Performance wise, well the acting isn’t great or even good through the film but at least it isn’t just shaky cam now.

StoryBy now we all know the first Quarantine movie was a full remake of {Rec} the Spanish horror movie, but this sequel takes the franchise in a different direction, this is a good thing because by the end we learn that there is a bigger picture to everything that has unfolding. I am glad we went in a different location even if the idea is very similar it does have enough for world building even if not everything is shown to the full extent.

Horror/Mystery/Sci-FiThe horror side of the film continues the idea that people have become infected and will turn into blood thirsty monster, this is all good without being terribly scary. The mystery will leave us wondering what is going on and we do get answers through the film. the sci-fi well that comes out in the mystery.

SettingsThe film is set both on the plane and the terminal in which it lands, we get the lock down to put our character trapped with the infected trying to kill them as they look to either hide or escape, this all works for the genre.

Special EffectsThe effects show we have a bigger budget now and that we can get into creature new ways to kill the infected too, everything comes off well.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good idea for a sequel especially after the criticism the film got for the shot for shot remake the first was, now we get a film that could have built the world up nicely for sequels.

 

Overall: An idea that could have worked well.

Rating

 

 

Angel Heart (1987)

Director: Alan Parker

Writer: Alan Parker (Screenplay) William Hjortsberg (Novel)

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet, Charlotte Rampling, Stocker Fontelieu

 

Plot: Harry Angel is a private investigator. He is hired by a man who calls himself Louis Cyphre to track down a singer called Johnny Favorite. But the investigation takes an unexpected and somber turn.


Tagline –  It will scare you to your very soul.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dark Mystery Horror

 

Story: Angel Heart starts as private investigator Harry Angel (Rourke) is hired by Louis Cyphre (De Niro) to locate a man Johnny, we follow Harry as he looks to track down this man using his skills along the way.

As the investigation continues Harry finds himself meeting Epiphany (Bonet) a lady that has a connection to the missing man and also deals in voodoo, taking Harry in a direction he never imagined he would go in, but can he solve the mystery before it is too late as everyone he seems to question ends up dead.

 

Thoughts on Angel Heart

 

Characters – Harry Angel is a private investigator, he gets the job done but is a shady in his methods, he gets hired to find a missing person but soon finds himself as the prime suspect in a string of murders with the people that have a connection to the missing man. Louis Cyphre is a mysterious man that hires Harry to search for the missing man but has an air of mystery about him. Epiphany is a young lady that has clues to the whereabouts of the missing man, but gets involved in a race hating state relationship with Harry while also practising voodoo.

PerformancesMickey Rourke does a great job as the private investigator showing the down and out figure needed for the desperate mindset his character ends up in. De Niro shines in the supporting role here giving a chilling performance where we only see him a few times but we are left haunted by his screen time. Lisa Bonet is great too as the young lady that knows some of the answers.

StoryThe story here does start with a standard looking investigation but it soon takes a twist involving different religious beliefs where one man must question his own sanity about what is happening. The investigation side of the film is what you would expect but the change it takes in the final act is the reward you get because things get built up nicely. This is a good mystery thriller that keeps us engaged from the start to the finish.

Horror/MysteryThe horror comes from the truth that comes out in the final act but the mystery we are watching unfold is what drives this film.

SettingsThe settings take us around America at times as we search with Harry about the truth.

Special EffectsThe effects come in the form of practical as we see just how the kills look once the killer has finished with the bodies.


Scene of the Movie –
Final act.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I wanted more De Niro.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great mystery horror that does keep us guessing and taking us into a direction you wouldn’t see coming.

 

Overall: Enjoyable Mystery horror.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – P – Prom Night (2008)

Director: Nelson McCormick

Writer: J.S. Cardone (Screenplay)

Starring: Brittany Snow, Scott Porter, Jessica Stroup, Dana Davis, Collins Pennie, Kelly Blatz, Idris Elba

 

Plot: Donna’s senior prom is supposed to be the best night of her life, though a sadistic killer from her past has different plans for her and her friends.


Tagline – A Party To Die For

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bog Standard Slasher

 

Story: Prom Night starts as Donna (Snow) witnesses her family being murdered by a crazed teacher Mr Fenton (Schaech). 3-years-later it is the senior prom and Donna still haunted by the events of that night, but with her boyfriend Bobby (Porter), best friends Claire (Stroup) and Lisa (Davis) look to have a night to remember.

The problem comes when Detective Winn (Elba) receives the news that Richard Fenton has escaped his prison and has turned up at the prom too. This prom will be one they will never forget as it becomes a fight to survive.

 

Thoughts on Prom Night

 

Characters – Donna is our damaged high school student that is still dealing with the effects of the murder of her family that she survived. Now it is her graduation prom and she is planning to have the time off her life but things soon take a turn when her stalker returns. Detective Winn catch the killer and now must do anything to stop him finishing off what he started. We do have the typical high school characters that are filled with terrible decisions on the prom night, the biggest one that cause is a problem was Lisa who wanted to be prom queen but decided to go upstairs to fool about before it gets announced even though it is the most important moment in the high school experience to her.

PerformancesThe performances, how we missed talking about how well actors perform with bad scripts, Brittany Snow is struggling here to make an impact as the lead which is the only character we only really are meant to care about if we are being honest. The other teenagers are poor to basic even if Dana Davis does look stunning in most scenes. Idris Elba is the highlight of the performances as the cop searching to the escaped killer.

StoryThe story follows one pro night when the stalker of one of the students comes to get his revenge, the idea this film takes place over one night is the best and only good thing about this movie. What follows in the story telling process is a series of awful decision, including when the fire alarm goes off, going upstairs to retrieve an item of clothing. Having a prom that feels like a film premier also doesn’t help because surely nothing we be this dramatic.

Horror/MysteryThe horror is the basic of all slashers and we don’t see any blood because of the age rating it received. It claims to be a mystery but most of this mystery is why the characters are written so poorly.

SettingsThe setting for the most part is the hotel for the prom, which feels like an everyday location but soon becomes a game of who can stay ahead of who.

Special EffectsThe effects are barely touched because of the lack of gore used in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
This is a tough decision here, well I am going to have to go shallow here and go Dana Davis prom dress.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The characters are written contradictable to their actions.

Final ThoughtsThis seems to be a remake that didn’t click, it is a bog standard to bad slasher with terrible characters, weak horror moments and just fades into a blur of bad decisions.

 

Overall: Yeah, no just forget about it.

Rating

 

 

Apostle (2018)

Director: Gareth Evans

Writer: Gareth Evans (Screenplay)

Starring: Dan Stevens, Kristine Froseth, Lucy Boynton, Michael Sheen, Bill Milner, Mark Lewis Jones, Elen Rhys

 

Plot: A man attempts to rescue his sister who’s been kidnapped by a religious cult.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slower Than it Needs to Be

 

Story: Apostle starts as Thomas (Stevens) must travel to a remote island run by Prophet Malcolm (Sheen) who has created a religious cult community where everyone is equal to locate his sister who has had a bounty placed on her head by the cult for her safe release from the island.

Once Thomas becomes part of the community he must keep his head down with Malcolm trying to figure out who the person from the mainland that is meant to bringing him a ransom, the race is on to save his sister before becoming captured himself.

 

Thoughts on Apostle

 

Characters – Thomas Richardson has experienced the world, long though to be dead, he is pushed by his father to go in search of his sister whom has joined a religious cult. Thomas must use his skills to blend into the cult to learn the truth about his sister, which he can do with ease, his problems come from needing to sneak around a secretive community that don’t keep secrets from each other. Prophet Malcolm is the leader of the cult, he has the people believing the island will keep them safe from any harm from the mainland wars, he does make strict rules and must return to his life of crime to keep the community together. Andrea is the daughter of Malcolm one that does want to keep everyone calm through any problems, she does help Thomas once she learns he knows what the problems are around.

PerformancesDan Stevens in the leading role does give us a great performance, we know he needs to feel withdrawn with his character and keeps us believing this throughout the film. Michael Sheen shines as the leader of the cult because if any actor could be seen as a cult leader, he would be that guy with his smooth delivery of his words. Lucy Boynton is good in her role which is meant to be a woman figure before her time.

StoryThe story follows that must locate his sister who has become mixed up within a cult on a remote island during the early 1900’s. we are left to see just how he must become part of the cult just to learn the truth, where evil could be around nearly every corner because of the mindset of the cult. Where the story comes off most interesting is openly telling us that the cult leader is willing to turn to crime to get money because his religious beliefs are not working. The pace of the film does feel slow because we do spend more time that we need to on one of the side stories over the mystery about why the daughter was taken or her location. Once everything sets off we will be left entertained by just how weird things do get in this film.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film comes from the way the cult and just what they are planning, we learn as Thomas does too. The mystery in the film circles around why Thomas’ sister is being put through the conditions she is and what the cults true ideas are.

SettingsThe film is set on a remote island, the idea is that we see a community away from the mainland trying to make it themselves not following the laws of the world.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film show the us the practical ones being used to product wounds which look as painful as they seem


Scene of the Movie –
Purification is the scene that will stick with you.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Everything feels overly drawn out when it doesn’t need to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that starts slow, but once it finds the top gear it doesn’t stop, to let you breath.

 

Overall: One of the better Netflix horrors

Rating