ABC Film Challenge – Horror – X – XX (2017) Movie Review

Director: Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, St. Vincent, Jovanka Vuckovic

Writer: Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, St. Vincent, Jovanka Vuckovic

(Screenplay)

Starring: Natalie Brown, Jonathan Watton, Melanie Lynskey, Casey Adams, Breeda Wool, Angela Trimbur, Christina Kirk

Plot: Four short horror films that are directed and written by women.


Tagline – Four deadly tales by four killer women

Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Horrors Fans Will Enjoy

Story: XX has four stories, which start with;

The Box starts when a family is travelling home from a Christmas shopping trip to the big city when Danny (DaCunha) talks to a stranger with a box on the train ride home, once home he doesn’t want to eat as he doesn’t feel hungry, the days pass by as his parents Susan (Brown) and Robert (Watton) get increasingly worried about him. As the problem starts to spread within the family it tears them apart until we get to see just what the cause is.

The Birthday Party starts when Mary (Lynskey) wakes on the day of her daughter birthday, with the first guests starting to arrive, only for her to discover her husband has died, wanting to hide the body, she must avoid her daughter and the guests a hide the body for the party get fully underway.

Don’t Fall starts with four friends Paul (Adams) Gretchen (Wool) Jess (Trimbur) and Jay (Krantz) are on a hiking trip, when they discover some native American paintings. That night they come under attack from something they should never have seen.

Her Only Living Son starts when Cora (Kirk) is seeing her son Andy (Allen) start to act rebellious and dangerous in his life, he is about to hit 18 and once again commits an assault at school, only to get off scot free, with the school believing he is a prodigy.

Thoughts on XX

StoryThe Box is a very interesting horror, it poses a question that would leave the audience much like Susan wondering what changed everything in her family’s life, it has a shock moment, while the rest is filled with the psychological side of horror. The Birthday Party plays out more like a dark comedy that a horror, it does work very well watching how hard the it is to cover up a death. Don’t Fall does seem to be the weakest of the stories here, mostly because it is way too short, it seems to take us to the location, hit night and everything happens and it is over way too quickly. Her Only Living Son does play out a lot like ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ only having a supernatural side to the outcome, it is one that could easily be a longer film too. Overall the stories are different enough, we have little sparks for each sub-genre of horror too which only means if you didn’t like one, you can skip to the next with ease.

HorrorThe horror in the film gives us something different in each little story, we have psychological, dark humour, creature feature and satanic, which will give the audience something to enjoy between them.

SettingsThe film does use each setting to make us feel like we are in different stories with Happy Birthday using the environment the best through the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are strong when needed, we don’t turn to them very often which is nice for a horror film at times.


Scene of the Movie – Dinner with a difference.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Don’t Fall feels too short.

Final Thoughts This is a nice little horror anthology which highlights the female film makers in the genre, each story will have something for each type of horror fan to enjoy.

Overall: Horror Anthology 101

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ABC Film Challenge – Horror – R – Ruin Me (2017)

Director: Preston DeFrancis

Writer: Preston DeFrancis, Trysta A Bissett (Screenplay)

Starring: Marcienne Dwyer, Matt Dellapina, Chris Hill, Eva Hamilton, John Odom, Sam Ashdown, Cameron Gordon

 

Plot: Alexandra reluctantly tags along for Slasher Sleepout, an extreme event that is part camping trip, part haunted house, and part escape room. But when the fun turns deadly, Alex has to play the game if she wants to make it out alive.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Horror

 

Story: Ruin Me starts as six people, couple Alex (Dwyer) & Nathan (Dellapina), horror expert couple Marina (Hamilton) & Pitch (Odom), Larry (Hill) and Tim (Gordon) take part in a Slasher Sleepout weekend, which is designed to scare the members like they are living in a horror film.

As the weekend continues it soon becomes a race to survive because the game doesn’t seem as friendly as they first thought, and they must figure out if they are in a real slasher event.

 

Thoughts on Ruin Me

 

Characters – Alex joins her boyfriend on this weekend, she isn’t the biggest horror fan, but a couples weekend, is a couple weekends, she has a past which has seen her struggle through events in her life, which will make her fit the typical final girl for a slasher experience. Nathan is the boyfriend that was going on this weekend with his best friend who paid for everything, only to drop out, he has always been loyal toward Alex, whatever her struggles. Larry is a lone man that has been on this style of weekend before and enjoys meeting the new people that take part in the games. Marina is one half of a horror fan couple, she does fill the slutty figure of the cast.

PerformancesMarcienne Dwyer in the leading role is strong through the film, we see her go through the range of emotions as her character becomes more complex as the film unfolds. When it comes to the rest of the cast they do hit their characters well and look like they fit into the horror genre.

StoryThe story follows six people that entertain a horror theme weekend of fun that soon spirals out of control as one of them finds themselves alone and wondering if this is real or not. This is an interesting story to watch unfold, we are entering a world where horror films exists which is important for the way of surviving what is happening. We will be left to wonder if this is real or not which is just what we want. This is a simple enough story that will keep us guessing and waiting to see how the events unfold.

HorrorThe horror in this film comes from knowing horror movies, which will see how the group look to survive the events of a horror film.

SettingsThe film uses the settings that are known in horror, including the woods which is one of the easiest slasher locations in horror.

Special EffectsThe film uses practical effects to achieve everything it wants to during the weekends events.


Scene of the Movie –
The beach.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The supporting members of the group feel too generic for the genre of horror.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun horror that really does try to push the limits of the audience by showing us just how people can become affected by a horror weekend event.

 

Overall: Enjoyable horror.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – O – Out of the Shadows (2017)

Director: Allen Kellogg

Writer: Allen Kellogg, Spencer Jay Kim (Screenplay)

Starring: Allen Kellogg, Meredith Kochan, Spencer Jay Kim, Ashly Bossard, Sean Manos, Larry Nehring, Brooke Morrison

 

Plot: Cynthia O’Neil enters a haunted asylum known as the Madison Seminary in search of her father who went missing in the asylum while shooting a reality television show.


Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dull Horror

 

Story: Out of the Shadows starts as we follow a paranormal investigation team looking to recruit the only known survivor Carter (Kellogg) to join them as they search the answers about what happened on his famous activity tape.

With the team in place the teams sets up the cameras around the asylum with team member Cynthia (Morrison) getting the first does of activity in a communication from her father, whom went missing in asylum with Carter’s team. Using her as bait the team record her time inside the asylum as they look to explain the unexplainable.

 

Thoughts on Out of the Shadows

 

Characters – Carter is the lone survivor from a previous encounter inside the asylum, he goes back but could have his own motivation for this. Cynthia is searching for her father who went missing but the rest of the characters are just another mix of the crew you would expect on a paranormal investigation team.

PerformancesThe performances across the board are not the best, the crew does feel like it could be a real documentary crew at times but then other times its just a group of actors trying to overreact to everything going on.

StoryThe story does have a good twist, which is the only interesting part of the story, it is nearly 90 minutes investigating the shadows with too many characters to follow, it gets difficult to follow the characters in the dark for the most part and as for the reasoning behind everything well, it doesn’t seem to have one.

HorrorThe horror is a lot of jumping at the camera or activity happening behind the camera, it isn’t scary but will give you a forced jump.

SettingsThe film could easily have only had one setting, the asylum but going back to the motel makes it feel like the evil could escape which does try to make it stand out from just a haunted asylum movie.

Special EffectsThe effects are what you would expect for a found footage film, they work without being ground breaking.


Scene of the Movie –
Welcome to the Devil’s Toy Box.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The scares were too random.

Final ThoughtsThis is a disappointing and mostly dull horror movie, the jumps are too random, the characters don’t make smart decisions and found footage only works in places.

 

Overall: Horror film to skip by the end.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – N – The Night Watchmen (2017)

Director: Mitchell Altieri

Writer: Ken Arnold, Dan DeLuca, Jamie Nash (Screenplay) Ken Arnold, Dan DeLuca, Jamie Nash (Story)

Starring: Ken Arnold, Dan DeLuca, Kevin Jiggetts, Kara Lutz, Max Gray Wilbur, James Remar

 

Plot: Three inept night watchmen, aided by a young rookie and a fearless tabloid journalist, fight an epic battle for their lives against a horde of hungry vampires.


Tagline – Let’s Go Kill Some Dead People!

Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Bloody Horror Comedy

 

Story: The Night Watchmen starts when Justin (Wilbur) gets a new job as a security guard with Ken (Arnold), Luca (DeLuca) and Jiggetts (Jiggetts) putting him through the ringer on his first night. When a coffin is delivered by accident it has a body of an infected clown.

When the virus starts infecting the employees in the building the four hapless security guards must work together to save the company cutie Karen (Luiz) and escape from the undead vampires running riot in the building.

 

Thoughts on The Night Watchmen

 

Characters – Ken and Jiggetts are the two louder security guards, they test the new staff and go on the jobs leaving Luca behind, Ken is the closest to the smartest of the guys, while Jiggetts plays into the stereotype to black guy jokes. Luca is the mysterious guard that could be a seeing him in hiding, this is interesting to watch as we wonder what he will do next. Karen is the cutie the guys have a crush on, she is the one they try to rescue during the attack. Justin is the new guard on his first night which is going to be something he never saw coming.

PerformancesThe performances from the whole cast are good, the chemistry between Arnold and Jiggetts is the highlight of the film, while DeLuca keeps the mystery about his character throughout. Kara Luiz is good, though she isn’t the fearless warrior figure we could have seen.

StoryThe story here is simple, which we like, it follows four security guards and one employee that must work together to survive vampire zombies that have infested the building. This sees the hapless attempts they must try and escape, poking fun at certain traits of the genre along the way. It does bring us a comical idea of a villain, as we haven’t seen zombie vampires before, well I haven’t. this is a self-aware story that knows not to take anything too seriously and enjoy telling the audience the story.

Comedy/HorrorThe comedy in this film is happy to poke fun at the genre, it doesn’t want to take the film too seriously which is fun to watch. The horror side of the film comes from the countless number off vampire zombies that are killing anyone coming through to get them.

SettingsThe film takes place in the building which shows how the guards can’t leave because the threat is outside and can’t let the increasing number of vampire zombies escape either.

Special EffectsWhen we get to have practical effects, the film is good because it is buckets of blood, the CGI moments do miss but for the scale of them it was the only option.


Scene of the Movie –
Shot to the head.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The large CGI moment near the end.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun horror comedy that gets the laughs right, never takes itself seriously and even brings us a new threat in a villainous set of vampire zombies to battle.

 

Overall: Funny, enjoyable and bloody.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – J – Jackals (2017)

Director: Kevin Greutert

Writer: Jared Rivet (Screenplay)

Starring: Stephen Dorff, Deborah Kara Unger, Johnathon Schaech, Alyssa Julya Smith, Jason Scott Jenkins, Nico Roux, Chelsea Ricketts

 

Plot: Set in the 1980s, an estranged family hires a cult deprogrammer to take back their teenage son from a murderous cult, but find themselves under siege when the cultists surround their cabin, demanding the boy back.


Tagline – Family First

Runtime: 1 Hour 25 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disturbing Home Invasion Movie

 

Story: Jackals starts as Jimmy Levine (Dorff) is hired to help the Powell family, Kathy (Unger), Andrew (Schaech) whose son Justin (Sullivan) has turned his back on his family including his girlfriend Samantha (Ricketts) and daughter, has joined a cult. Jimmy is hired to help deprogram him for the beliefs he now has.

The cult Justin has joined aren’t going to let one of their brothers be taken so easily, which sees them target the house, with Justin claiming that they have come for the baby, the family must put aside their differences to work together fighting for their loved ones.

 

Thoughts on Jackals

 

Characters – Jimmy Levine has been deprogramming cult members for years, after being part of one before, he will push Justin, but this time he may have met his match. Kathy is the mother of the family, she has turned to drink after her marriage fell apart, she does enjoy the grandmother role though. Andrew is the father that brings in Jimmy, willing to face his own mistakes to save his son from the cult. Justin is the son that joined the cult, he believes he is part of a new family and they have come in search for his baby daughter to join the cult.

PerformancesWe do have a couple of well-known actors in this film, Stephen Dorff, Deborah Kara Unger and Johnathon Schaech being the big three, the problem is with the story, the three actors struggle to make the impact in this film they could have. Nobody gets to make the most of their work in this film apart from the cult members that makes us feel like we are watching the creepy crazed figures.

StoryThe story follows a family try to save their son from a cult he joined, only the cult isn’t accepting one of their members to leaving, even if he doesn’t want to leave. This does take a spin on the home invasion film because we have a ready made established member of the cult being taken against his will, the cult size is scary big with the action against being deadly. The problems with the story come from the idea that we don’t learn the true motives of the people in the cult, why he joined them in the first place and with the ending feeling like they just ran out of money. This story has so much more potential, it feels like something was just missing in the execution as the ending is completely rushed.

Horror The horror in the film comes from just what the cult is willing to do, they will make you feel uneasy every time they are just stood in the shadows, this is easily the highlight of the film. we are left to keep guessing on just what will happen in the film too.

SettingsThe film is set in a cabin the woods, we have no signal, the cars are the only way out, but taken away early meaning the family is isolated and trapped, perfect for what the cult want to do to them.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are solid enough, we see most of the aftermath of any damage, which the one time we get to see the shocking damage we can easily turn away from that.


Scene of the Movie –
The figures in the shadows.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The ending.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror film that was filled with potential, we could have seen so much more even if the horror side of the film is the highlight of the film.

 

Overall: Disturbing, yet unfulfilling horror.

Rating