Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Hacked (2013)

hackedDirector: Zachary Donohue

Writer: Zachary Donohue, Lauren Thompson (Screenplay)

Starring: Melanie Papalia, David Schlachtenhaufen, Adam Shaprio, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Matt Riedy


Plot: While studying the habits of web cam chat users from the apparent safety of her own home, a young woman’s life begins to spiral out of control after witnessing a grisly murder online.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Found Footage Done Right


Story: Hacked starts as Elizabeth Benton (Papalia) wants to get a student grant to spend her time experimenting on a social media site known as the Den. The idea is for Elizabeth to spend the time interacting with as many people from as any different places in the world.

When Elizabeth accepts the being able to chat to anybody in the world, she starts to experience the strange coming through as well as getting a repeat visit from the randomly generated chat selection with somebody hacking her computer to activate her account while she is sleeping. When Elizabeth witness what looks like a murder of one of the people she is chatting too, she finds herself freaked out and trying to solve the crime.

When Elizabeth’s boyfriend Damien (Schlachtenhaufen) goes missing he becomes the first of her friends and loved ones to be targeted by this serial killers.


Thoughts on Hacked


Characters/PerformanceElizabeth is the ambitious student attempting something different with her social studies course, she is committed to her idea but this does leave her outside her own social circle. She learns the dark side of the internet with her experiment. The rest of the characters are the generic boyfriend, bestie and or course family member. The next most interesting character is in fact the killers, as we want to learn about their motives.

Performance wise we have a great performance from Melanie Papalia who must be good or this film doesn’t work, she must carry everyone with her performance because she is in fact in nearly every scene, be it watching or taking part within. Saying this, I don’t feel anyone was bad they just don’t get the

StoryThe story here shows how what can look like a harmless experiment is in fact the start of something much darker on the internet, we all know there is a dark corner to the internet and this shows how people can exploit it for their own sick fantasies.  This film also poses a warning for using random chatrooms because you could find yourself being a victim down the line.

Horror/MysteryThis film builds on the mystery as it just dives into the horror of what is really going on, slowly building the suspense until the final impact of this film.

SettingsThe settings are used very well because Elizabeth is only ever watching from her webcams which shows how helpless and almost clueless she is during the situation everything is unfolding in.

Special EffectsThe limited use of special effects are used when needed to make each attack or kill look just as shocking as it can be.genre

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror film that is full of shock right until the final moments of the film.


Overall: Great horror that will give the found footage fans something to cheer for.





Jeffrey Combs Weekend – House on Haunted Hill (1999)

Director: William Malone

Writer: Dick Beebe (Screenplay) Robb White (Story)

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Peter Gallagher, Ali Larter, Bridgette Wilson, Jeffrey Combs


Plot: An amusement park mogul offers a group of diverse people $1,000,000 to spend the night in a haunted house with a horrifying past.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Enjoyable Creepy Mysterious Horror


Story: House on Haunted Hill starts as we see the horrors that took place in the Vannacutt institute, where the inmates escaped the torture the Dr Richard Benjamin Vannacutt (Combs) was performing on them with everyone dying within the fire.

Move to present day which is 1999 where Evelyn Stockard-Price (Janssen) wants her husband Stephen Price (Rush) an amusement park mogul to host her birthday inside the abandoned institute. The guest list includes Eddie Baker (Diggs), Donald Blackburn (Gallagher), Sara Wolfe (Larter) and Melissa Marr (Wilson) but the problem is neither of the Price’s know them and they have no idea why they have been invited.

When the guests along with the caretaker Watson Pritchett (Kattan) find themselves locked in the prize Stephen is offering of $1 Million becomes a draw for them all but the house has a history of coming alive at night, can these guests survive a night with Dr Richard Benjamin Vannacutt and the other victims of the mental institute?


Thoughts on House on Haunted Hill


Characters/PerformanceStephen Price is a man who has made his money in amusement parks, he has a strained relationship with his wife becoming the suspect in who is behind the goings on within the house. Evelyn believes that this whole party is a game by her husband but is happy to play the game her own way. The guests are all what you would expect, the ambitious celebrity driven, the kind hearted, the one trying to prove themselves and the doctor. The highlight comes from the creepy doctor haunting the hallways.

Performance wise, Geoffrey Rush gets to have a lot of fun in this leading role where he shows his class whereas Famke Janssen adds the dominate leading lady with a plan. Diggs and Larter both do well filling in blanks of the story with Jeffrey Combs being the doctor we all know and love.

StoryThe story is easy to follow and does explain the reasons for everything to be happening well. We do have slightly too much focus on the marriage between the Price’s and just how much they hate each other but otherwise this is a classic haunted asylum movie where it is who will survive the horrors of the house.

Horror/MysteryThe horror is all good and if you watch too young you can see just how scary certain moments are, when you look at the mystery which does get solved but is surrounding why these people got invited to the house in the first place.

SettingsAfter the introduction to the Price’s the rest of the movie is set within the house on haunted hill and that is great for everything which unfolds.

Special EffectsThe special effects do all go well until the final act where the special effects have dated being it nearly 20 years old now.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror film I do enjoy, it is short, easy to watch and has plenty of good horror moments involved.


Overall: Easy to watch fun horror film.




The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

Director: Patrick Hughes

Writer: Tom O’Connor (Screenplay)

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson, Gary Oldman, Selma Hayek


Plot: The world’s top bodyguard gets a new client, a hit man who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Watchable Fun


Story: The Hitman’s Bodyguard starts as we see how our triple A bodyguard Michael Bryce (Reynolds) lose his reputation after losing a client, we learn that Vladislav Dukhovich (Oldman) the former President of Belarus is being charged with war crimes but his witnesses keep going missing but now Darius Kincad (Jackson) a hitman comes forward to seal his fate with Sonia (Hayek) a deal to get his wife released from prison.

When the transport goes wrong Michael gets bought in to become the bodyguard for Darius but the history between the two brings us the comedy as the enemies must work together to get from Manchester to the Hauge to being Dukhovich down once and for all, as we learn the skills both men have.


Thoughts on The Hitman’s Bodyguard


Characters – Michael Bryce might as well just be Van Wilder grown up as he likes the perfect plan but feels free like it comes together naturally, his by the book style clashes with Darius which adds to the comedy as he believes he can manage this job alone if Darius can follow instructions. Darius Kincaid is the hitman that has racked up a lot of kills, he has crossed paths with Michael before and now he wants to help set his wife free from jail, his is deadly with a gun and reluctantly works with Michael to make everything work even if his style is carefree. Dukhovich is the tyrant dictator bring charged with the crimes, he does seem to believe he has ultimate power but spends most of the film just in the court room being evil looking. Sonia suffers the same fate, she is in prison most of the film just ranting about Darius and wanting to be free.

PerformanceRyan Reynolds gives us the fast taking character we know he can here with Samuel L Jackson also give his more aggressive fast talking style. Oldman is always a great villain but here he almost feels wasted as is Salma Hayek.

StoryThe story is a by the books two men from different worlds must come together for the greater good but things don’t go as planned along the way, we have generic characters that offer little to the bigger picture and in the end the story does feel flat at times, but we do get arcs to the Michael and Darius characters similar to what we saw with Hobbs and Shaw in Fast & Furious 8 but outside this we have nothing new.

Action/ComedyThe action does come off great, we have designed chases that have bullets flying all over the place but then lose the comedy in these moments, the comedy is fine but does feel like it is just the two shouting at each other most of the time, and if it was more action based it could have been a lot more enjoyable.

SettingsThe settings bring the film to Europe, well England and Holland which is fine, the chases feel more compact which the highlight being in Amsterdam.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well at times, most are used for comedy moments or flashbacks.

Scene of the Movie – Amsterdam chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It felt like it wanted to be a comedy when it seems to play out better as just an action film.

Final ThoughtsThis is an action comedy that is fine but doesn’t take any awards for best action or comedy this year.


Overall: Fine but nothing overly special.




Headhunters (2011)

headhunterDirector: Morten Tyldum

Writer: Ulf Ryberg, Lars Gudmestad (Screenplay) Jo Nesbo (Novel)

Starring: Aksel Henniee, Synnove Macody Lund, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Eivind Sander, Julie R Olgaard


Plot: An accomplished headhunter risks everything to obtain a valuable painting owned by a former mercenary.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Brilliant Crime Thriller


Story: Headhunters starts as we meet Roger (Hennie) a strict thief that has survived with his rules even if he has been struggling to make ends meet for his beautiful wife Diana (Lund) a gallery manager. Roger’s style gets the job done clean, quick and from victims that would never notice.

When Roger meets one of the guests at Diana’s gallery opening Clas Greve (Coster-Waldau) he learns that he owns a painting worth potential hundreds of millions, the kind of job that can help him leave that profession for good and finally offer his wife the children she so desperately wants.

This job takes a turn when Roger learns about the military past of Clas and with plenty of twists along the way this job could easily be the hardest of Roger’s career as the two end up in a deadly cat and mouse chase across the country.


Thoughts on Headhunters


Characters/PerformanceRoger is strong leading character with his skills in his art of thievery, hidden from his business life and married life, he knows how to handle himself in all the situations he finds himself. Clas is a great ruthless killer that has plenty of secrets behind his action.

When you look at the performances Hennie and Coster-Waldau are both fantastic in these roles with Hennie having the desperate but confident look with Coster-Waldau looking deadly from the moment you first meet him.

StoryThe story here comes from what looks like a basic heist movie before taking a turn into a cat and mouse chase across the country for survival. This keeps you guessing from start to finish and you simply just don’t know the motivation Clas has for his action, as it could be a range of reasons. The story does bring you in and never let you go.

Crime/ThrillerThis is a true crime cat and mouse story following two men who are breaking laws but one as a thief the other as a hired killer, we have no idea where this film will go and the twists keep us guessing until the final conclusion.

SettingsWith our character on the run we get to see a mix of hidden locations and busy locations show how the difference between the hidden world of the crimes mix with the businessman who Roger is.

Final ThoughtsThis is the crime thriller that could easily be one of the best we have seen


Overall: A true great thriller that everyone should be watching and enjoying.




Original v Remake Weekend – The Hitcher (2007)

casting card


Plot: A serial killer pins his crimes on two college students who gave him a ride.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Bad Remake


Story: The Hitcher starts as we follow college sweethearts Grace (Bush) and Jim (Zachary) traveling cross country for vacation. The trip gets interrupted when they clash with John Ryder (Bean) a hitchhiker that enjoys killing people, luckily they escape him for a while only to find themselves being chased across the dessert like environment.

When the two start getting framed by John they find themselves on the run not only from him but from the State Police run by Lt Esteridge (McDonough) who believes they are involved with killing all of the police officers. The game of cat and mouse leads to final showdown between the four.

The Hitcher is a remake that isn’t able to do anything original with the idea. It feels like it wanted just to do a shot for shot remake but then tried to do a fresh spin that didn’t create anything. The fact the film is incredibly short doesn’t help because nothing gets built up enough to make us care. I don’t understand the remake happening when he has an interesting sequel a few years before.


Actor Review


Sean Bean: John Ryder is the Hitcher looking for a ride, but what he really wants is to go on a killing spree. When Grace and Jim refuse to stop to help him he takes everything personally and starts targeting them and he just won’t give up. Sean is one of the good things in this movie as you believe he will be this crazy throughout the film.

Sophia Bush: Grace is our leading lady of the college student couple that always needs a pee break, she has to wait for instructions and is written to be plain as stupid. Sophia tries her best with such a badly written character.

Zachary Knighton: Jim is the boyfriend of Grace that is preparing to meet her friends on their cross country journey. He wants to help John but doesn’t get involved because Grace says no, he then has to try and keep her safe through the experience against John. Zachary is ok but you will soon forget about his character.

Neal McDonough: LT Esteridge is the state police officers trying to bring everything to an end, he doesn’t believe Grace and Jim are involved but has to follow the evidence. Neal is a standard police officer authority figure you will forget too.

Support Cast: The Hitcher has only a disposable supporting cast with barely any of the ones you meet actually making it to the end of the film.

Director Review: Dave MeyersDave gives us a simple horror film that has one brilliant scene but otherwise is forgettable.


Crime: The Hitcher puts us in a crime battle between good and evil as the couple battle the hitchhiker.

Horror: The Hitcher has easy horror elements that just don’t get the point over because of lack of tension aiming for just a body count.

Settings: The Hitcher keeps most of the film set in the dessert showing how alone the couple are but they always seem to find somewhere to hide.
Special Effects
: The Hitcher has a mix of good and bad effects, with the CGI coming off terrible but the truck scene look great.

Suggestion: The Hitcher is one I think you could easily just watch the original. (Watched Original)


Best Part: Truck scene.

Worst Part: Grace is written so badly.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $10 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes


Overall: Poor remake that loses the horror elements needed.