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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Southbound (2015)

Directors: Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath, Radio Silence

Writers: Roxanne Benjamin, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Susan Burke, Dallas Richard Hallam, Patrick Horvath (Screenplay)

Starring: Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Kristina Pesic, Fabianne Therese, Nathalie Love

 

Plot: Five interlocking tales of terror follow the fates of a group of weary travellers who confront their worst nightmares – and darkest secrets – over one long night on a desolate stretch of desert highway.


Tagline – No matter which road you choose, it’s all going south.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Horror Anthology

 

Story: Southbound starts as we first follow two men looking to escape their past who become trapped in a loop returning them to the same gas station. This is a short a simple horror that has great effects which also dives into two different types of fears we will be tackling in this film.

The second story follows a three-piece girl jazz band, fresh with a hangover heading towards their latest gig, who must get help from strangers once they get a flat tire. This shows the struggle of musicians that could fall into the wrong household even for just one night.

With the third story we follow a man who was heading home who hit a woman on the road at night, he is guided on the phone to help the victim only to find not everything is what it seems. This story plans into the pure panic that an accident could cause that knows they could be the only one to save the victim.

The next story follows one man in search of his sister who he believes is in this town by holding up a bar, but this bar isn’t what he was expecting. This brings us to a one man on a mission against anyone who gets in his way, this feels like the most fun of the stories.

The final story follows a family who are on a vacation before their daughter goes off to college. Their quiet time turns into a nightmare when they become victims of a home invasion by a group of masked characters.

 

 

Thoughts on Southbound


Scene of the Movie –
This is tough because I loved the third story and where the fifth ones goes, so I will cheat and call it a tie. Plus the skeleton like creatures look fantastic.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I wasn’t a fan of where the second story went, like the intro though.

Final ThoughtsThe stories interlocking is the biggest plus in this movie, the transition feels seamless as they unfold, with the radio commentary giving hints to where the stories will go. The stories do work in short format because they do feel like they would be forcing the stretched-out story in a feature film. each story takes us into a different type of fear which I feel offers something for everyone too.

 

Overall: This is one for the horror fans to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

The Super (2018)

Director: Stephen Rick

Writer: John J McLaughlin (Screenplay)

Starring: Patrick John Flueger, Val Kilmer, Louisa Krause, Mattea Conforti, Taylor Richardson, Paul Ben-Victor, Yul Vazquez

 

Plot: A man becomes the superintendent of a large New York City apartment building where people mysteriously go missing.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Saved by a Shocking Twist

 

Story: The Super starts when Phil Lodge (Flueger) takes a job as a new building super after giving up his career in the police force to raise his two daughters Rose (Conforti) and Violet (Richardson). We see quickly that there is a killer in the building that is killing tenants in their own apartments.

With Phil getting to know the fellow supers Julio (Vazquez) and the strange Walter (Kilmer), the number of people who are disappearing is raising to alarming numbers, this forces Phil to put his police hate back on to learn the truth about this building.

 

Thoughts on The Super

 

Characters – Phil Lodge was a police officer, after his wife’s death he must give this life up to work in a safer field for his daughters. He becomes a super for an apartment building, but soon he must put his detective hat back on to figure out who is making the tenants disappear around the building before his family becomes the latest target. Walter is the strange super that the people believe is weird believing in his voodoo religion, he keeps to himself for a reason and is the easy first suspect behind the disappearances. Beverly is one of the tenants in the building, one that takes a shine to Phil, the two get on as even friendship would help he settle in. Rose is the youngest daughter than does have a habit of going on wonders around the apartment in search of people, learning things she shouldn’t, seeing things she shouldn’t.

PerformancesPatrick John Flueger in the leading role is good, he starts slow being the basic figure, but grows into the role as the film continues. Val Kilmer gives us a creepy role which is what we need from his performance. Louisa Krause struggles to make an impact compared to the rest in this of the cast in the leading roles. Mattea Conforti and Taylor Richardson as the two girls both work well for what we would imagine for the ages to be acting like.

StoryThe story here follows a father that takes a new job as a super in an apartment who must start to figure out what is going on with the disappearances in the apartment which is starting to become alarming high. This does the usual and points the figures clearly at one person while giving us a couple of shady people that could be the killer. This follows the normal traditions of this storyline, though it is surprising to just where everything goes, surprising, great and even confusing when you stop and think back at things. The twist does save the film from become too mediocre for the genre.

ThrillerThis does keep us on edge as we wait to see just where the movie will take things, who is the killer and why, anything film that can keep us guessing is all we want as an audience.

SettingsThe film does take place in the apartment building throughout, which is all we need to keep us interested in just where things can go wrong.


Scene of the Movie –
The final act.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The kills just seem random early on.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that will keep you guessing throughout, but it is the final twist which will save the film from being too average.

 

Overall: Thriller that keeps us edge after a slower start.

Rating

 

 

Serpent (2018)

Director: Amanda Evans

Writer: Amanda Evans (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Ainsley, Sarah Dumont

 

Plot: A romantic escape into nature turns into the ultimate moment of reckoning when a husband and wife are trapped in a tent with a deadly snake. Unable to escape and with certain death looming, the tent becomes a heated confessional to a cataclysmic truth. Betrayed, the couple finds themselves spiralling into a dark and dangerous space of which only one can survive.


Tagline – Love’s bite. Death’s Kiss.

Runtime: 1 Hour 25 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Snake Versus Human Thriller

 

Story: Serpent starts as couple Adam (Ainsley) and Gwynneth (Dumot) go into nature for Adam’s job in search for a new discovery, treating the work as part of a romantic get away the two visit the beautiful locations in the South African country side.

Setting up camp with just the tent for protection the two think they are safe, until Gwyn gets up during the night no closing the tent correctly and a poisonous snake enters the tent. The couple must work together to survive which only becomes harder when the secrets they are keeping come to light.

 

Thoughts on Serpent

 

Characters – Adam is a wildlife expert who often heads of into the wild to make new discoveries, this time he brings his wife with him to see the wonders of nature, only once they get trapped in their tent, he must use all his knowledge to keep them both alive against a venomous snake. Gyenneth is the wife who we learn early on had an affair, we know she is know trying to get rid of the guy who has become overly attached and rebuild her relationship with her husband, she goes on the trip hoping to get closer, but it is her lack of experience with the wildlife which causes the problems.

PerformancesThis only has two speaking roles, we are sat with Tom Ainsley and Sarah Dumont for nearly every shot of the film, mostly in the trapped location, we need the performances o be simple, not panic filled, calm, but scared which is what they give us, we see the anger when they face the truth along with their guilt showing us even with the slightest movement they can tell us the story.

StoryThe story follows a couple whose marriage isn’t going a smoothly as it once was going on a camping trip which doesn’t go to plan as they end up trapped in their tent with a venomous snake which could become provoked by any movement. This is an interest idea for the isolated horror story, we have seen Buried and Grizzly Bear movies which have given us this idea, but now we bring a snake into the mix, we get something different. The more interesting side to the story comes from how the two must deal with the problem which led them to take this trip, which is as difficult to make happen without being able to react. The problems with the story come from that fact, it is a lot of just the snake moving a little bit without giving us any action to go with a reaction, it could have become more intense with certain escape plans.

ThrillerThe film does try to keep us on the edge of our seats for the most part, waiting to see just how far they will go to survive. It doesn’t get as intense as it should though.

SettingsThe film mostly takes place in the tent in a blocked off area in the wildlife of South Africa which is filed with deadly animals.


Scene of the Movie –
The escape plan which is what we have been waiting for.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There is certain twist in the story which could have been given more backstory.

Final ThoughtsThis is a strong thriller about a couple that needs to put their problems behind them to survive against a snake that will bite them with the any movement.

 

Overall: Strong thriller.

Rating

 

 

Society (1989)

Director: Brian Yuzna

Writer: Rick Fry, Woody Keith (Screenplay)

Starring: Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Evan Richards, ben Meyerson, Charles Lucia

 

Plot: An ordinary teenage boy discovers his family is part of a gruesome orgy cult for the social elite.


Tagline – It is not what you think it is.

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Shock Filled Horror

 

Story: Society starts as high school student Bill Whitney (Warlock) has always had feelings of not fitting in with his family and soon he starts to believe something unusual is going on for the high society of the local area.

It only gets worse when students start going missing and the deeper Bill searches into the mystery the darker the truth is as it ends up becoming one of the most shocking truths about a cult his family is part of.

 

Thoughts on Society

 

Characters – Billy is the high school student that is starting to question what the truth is about his family, but the more he investigates the dark the truth actually is. He does have a bright future if he does just follow the trends but once he questions things this future is almost gone. Clarissa is a seductive fellow student that does seem to know what is going on but understand Billy needs to be on the right path to survive the next step. Milo is the best friend that helps Billy learn the truth.

PerformancesBill Warlock is good in this leading role where he doesn’t understand what is going on, it was a role we saw a lot in the late 80s for the high school guys. Devin DeVasquez is good too as we see the seductive character come through. The higher society performances are good because you understand how they will be looking down on everyone.

StoryThe story follows a teenager not believing he is fitting in, but the spin comes from the complete truth to what he isn’t part off. The story does tackle the idea of searching for the truth but also takes on the idea of high society believing they are better than other people. This could be looking deeper into the meaning but still we are left in shock with the truth about everything.

Comedy/HorrorThe comedy from this film comes from the darker side of how high society believes they are to others, so much so that they are a different species. The horror comes from the gore and effects used in the final scene of the movie which brings us complete and utter shock.

SettingsThe films settings get to show us the different class of people we will be dealing with, where we see the higher society side of things compared to the everyday people.

Special EffectsThe practical effects used here are fantastic to create the final act of the movie which is one you definitely won’t be forgetting any time soon.


Scene of the Movie –
Orgy

That Moment That Annoyed Me I feel we needed an opening reason for Billy to question his position in the family.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most shocking body horror movies of all time, it shows us just how the different classes could have a divide that is could be a different species.

 

Overall: One of the body horror fans.

Rating