ABC Film Challenge – Horror – C – Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer (2010)

Director: Mark Vadik

Writer: Mark Vadik (Screenplay)

Starring: Brian Krause, Lance Henriksen, Danielle Harris, Tiffany Shepis, Doug Jones, Kim Rhodes, Shawna Waldron, Patricia Belcher

 

Plot: An independent TV reporter and her cameraman interview a man in regards to a serial killer the man knew by the name of Cyrus. The man traces back through the story of the serial killer and why he became the monster he is.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Unique Way to Tell a Serial Killer Story

 

Story: Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer starts when a reporter Maria (Harris) is looking to uncover the mysterious series of disappearances of college students reaching the 100’s, she gets a report that local Emmett (Henriksen) knows the killer and just how many he has committed through the years.

Maria looks to secure an interview with Emmett who tells him about Cyrus (Krause) claiming he is the serial killer and just what was his motivation for becoming the deadliest killer in American history.

 

Thoughts on Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer

 

Characters – Cyrus is the war veteran that started killing people after his wife cheated on him, which led him to kill her, her lover and their child, he continued to punish people he believes have done wrong, using his own unique well of getting rid of the bodies, we learn his stories from Emmett, who claims to know him personally, Emmett doesn’t want the town’s name put in the story, though he is willing to tell for the crimes he did commit. Maria is the reporter that is trying to get the story, she is willing to push the boundaries of what she can get out of Emmett, even if she is willing to break the promises. We do get to see plenty of victims of Cyrus, most get tortured before they get killed, this brings lots of screaming.

PerformancesBrian Krause as the oldest version of Cyrus that shows us just how deadly the he has made this character, that would be somebody you could fear. Lance Henriksen is the narrator for the most part, his voice keeps the story flowing while his live scenes show us how a local wouldn’t want the story to come out. Danielle Harris brings us a reporter figure that shows us just how far they would go for a story.

StoryThe story here follows a reporter trying to learn about a serial killer from a local that claims to be a friend of the killer, knowing the truth behind his kills and just the number of kills he has committed. The way this story is told is very good because it is told like a story being set up for a newspaper article exposing a serial killer, we get the details of the kills, the motivation behind them all and the reason they stopped. This all adds up nicely because the film is sold on it being based on a true story. while you could easily pick apart the timeline in the film and with the pure number of kills that we are meant to have occurred, something just doesn’t click only following the select few. This does story does end up following capture, torture, go to the next level without being anything we haven’t seen before, leaving it only being praised for the style of storytelling.

Crime/HorrorThe crime side of the film follows the story of the serial killer which does show us the horror of his crimes through the years, we get plenty of horrific wounds and kills through the film too, with plenty of blood.

SettingsThe film does keep everything inside the small town, showing how a killer could be operating under your nose without you noticing anything going on around you, the house itself is away from the rest of the town, meaning the killer can get away with screaming going on around him.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show the brutal nature of the killings and just how they are made to look that way with the makeup effects.


Scene of the Movie –
The set-up for the interview, it felt like a fresh spin on the serial killer side of horror.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Once we get into the routine, the kills can be repetitive.

Final ThoughtsThis is a strong idea for the style of creating a serial killer film, even if it does just end up uses the unique style to be a generic serial killer film.

 

Overall: Interview about a serial killer.

Rating

 

Gehenna: Where Death Lives (2018)

Director: Hiroshi Katagiri

Writer: Hiroshi Katagiri (Screenplay)

Starring: Doug Jones, Lance Henriksen, Patrick Gorman, Simon Phillips, Sean Sprawling, Matthew Edward Hegstrom, Eva Swan, Katherine Taylor, Justin Gordon

 

Plot: A group visits Saipan to search for locations for their company’s newest resort. As they find what they think is the perfect spot, they discover a hidden bunker on the property which they decide to explore. However, they soon find out that curiosity can kill. As each member faces their most private secrets and the secrets of the bunker itself, the results lead to a most shocking conclusion.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Claustrophobic Horror

 

Story: Gehenna: Where Death Lives starts when property developers Paulina (Swan), Tyler (Gordon) and Dave (Hegstrom) are shown their latest location by Alan (Phillips) and local Pepe (Sprawling) in Saipan, perfect for a view of the ocean. On the property they investigate a bunker which could cause problems for building.

Inside the bunker the five find themselves trapped after an encounter with an old man (Jones) who looks like thy have been dead for years. The five become trapped in the maze of corridors which are filled with spirits encouraging them to kill themselves just to make it out of the living hell.

 

Thoughts on Gehenna: Where Death Lives

 

Characters – Paulina is the lady leading the investment which would be a career maker for her, she wants every loose end tied up which leads the team to investigate the bunker, this is the ambitious businesswoman that isn’t selfish to her team but wants to achieve her goals. Tyler is the architect that helps locate problems that any construction could face, joining the team in the corridors he seems to be the only one without a past sin he must pay for. The Old Man is one of the victims in the bunker, he warns and haunts the five in the bunker. The fellow three members of the team fill in the generic characters, the young cameraman does is scared of his past, the local fills in the spiritual side of translations and the seedy property owner that wants to get rich quickly.

PerformancesThe performance are being sold on the special appearance from Lance Henriksen and the inclusion of the immensely talented Doug Jones, they are good with their roles. the main cast of Justin Gordon, Eva Swan and Simon Phillips are strong as they are dealing with the horror events in the bunker.

StoryThe story follows five people in a property deal that investigate a mysterious bunker on the land and soon find themselves battling to survive in what feels like a living hell. This does fall into the bunker horror story which is always good to watch because the reason behind what is going on is always interesting to unfold. We have a twist which does work even if you could see it coming. The story doesn’t offer too much to genre, but it works for everything it needs.

Horror/MysteryThe horror works for the claustrophobic feeling which has a mix of slow build and jump scares which is nice and the mystery keeps us guessing throughout to just what could happen.

SettingsThe film gives us a couple of beauty shots before we get into the bunker which keeps us confined for the horror.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well with the make up effects when it comes to the horror Doug Jones looks terrifying each time you see him.


Scene of the Movie –
The Old Man looks terrifying for his first appearance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Tyler’s reaction to what is in the dark, felt almost comical.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good horror that uses the setting to its advantage to make us feel confined with how the story unfolds.

 

Overall: Bunker Horror for all.

Rating

 

 

The Shape of Water (2017)

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Writer: Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor (Screenplay) Guillermo del Toro (Story)

Starring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Doug Jones

 

Plot: At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.


Tagline – Based on an idea by Daniel Kraus And Guillermo del Toro

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Spectacularly Beautiful

 

Story: The Shape of Water starts as we follow lonely mute woman Elisa (Hawkins) who works as a janitor in a secret government facility with her trusted friend Zelda Fuller (Spencer), Elisa’s silence helps the government know the secrets won’t get released with only her neighbour Giles (Jenkins) being anyone outside of work for her.

When a new creature Amphibian Man (Jones) is bought in with strict security officer Richard Strickland (Shannon) as the facility looks to experiment on the creature. When Elisa strikes up a friendship with the creature, she will do anything to make sure he stays alive and safe once the facility decides they want to examine his organs.

 

Thoughts on The Shape of Water

 

Characters – Elisa is a mute lonely woman that works as a janitor and only has one friend in her personal life. When a creature gets bought into her facility she sees the loneliness he is feeling and wants to save him, believing it to be her purpose. Amphibian Man is a creature taken from his home to be experimented on by the Americans, he is lonely and finds communication from Elisa comforting in his captivity, even though he is highly dangerous to anyone who gets too close. Richard Strickland is the man in charge of the operation with the creature, he wants to do harm and tries to intimidate the people who don’t want to follow his orders. Giles is the trusted neighbour that Elisa turns to for help, he is similar to him with his loneliness in the world too, while Zelda is the one co-worker that Elisa has to turn to and the one that translates her sign language. Dr Hoffstetler is the man that doesn’t want to see the creature hurt, for science and his true alliance in the world.

PerformancesSally Hawkins is fantastic in this role, her emotions are shown in every movement and expression on her face in a role with no words. Doug Jones has spent his career performing the odd roles being able to transform himself, this is his biggest and easily his best role to date. Michael Shannon in the villainous role shines just like we know he can every time. Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Stuhlbarg complete the casting wonderfully playing the supporting roles just how they need to be.

StoryThe story follows unusual attraction, finding someone that accepts you to make you feel safe and how government will do anything to learn from an unknown creature. This is both magical, tragic and special from start to finish. Each side of the story shows how different people didn’t fit in during the early 60s and just how love truly works. This is an original story that plays on as many different emotions as it possible can.

Adventure/Fantasy/RomanceThis is an adventure like never before, it shows the risk taken to do the right thing for love, which helps play into this unlikely love story that captures you from the first moment, showing just how love can change you in a second. The fantasy elements are full blown what you would have come to expect from a del Toro movie now, both magical and fantastical.

SettingsThe settings keep everything safe, we have a faceless city with a secret facility which works because we wouldn’t have this facility in a big city.

Special EffectsThe effects used through the film keep everything looking fantastic through the film, nothing seems to look out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
Bathroom flood.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I actually think this is flawless.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most perfect movies I have ever seen, if has heart in every scene and just makes you feel on edge to just where it will go.

 

Overall: Brilliant, stunning and fantastic.

Rating

 

 

Hell’s Kitty (2018)

Director: Nicholas Tana

Writer: Nicholas Tana (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicholas Tana, Doug Jones, Michael Berryman, Nina Hartley, Dale Midkiff, Adrienne Barbeau, Barbara Nedeljakova, Ashley C Williams, Nina Kate

 

Plot: Hell’s Kitty is a comedy horror series based on the true life events of Nick, a Hollywood writer, and Angel, his possessed and very possessive pussycat.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Paying Respects to Horror

 

Story: Hell’s Kitty starts as we meet screenwriter Nick (Tana) that lives with his cat Angel, he hasn’t had work in a while and struggles to find a woman, with his latest date ending badly when Angel attacks the woman.

Searching for help he starts seeing psychologist Dr Laurie Strodes (Kate) and along with his neighbour Adam, the three must come to the bottom of whether the cat is evil or Nick is losing his mind.

 

Thoughts on Hell’s Kitty

 

Characters – Nick is an everyday struggling screenwriter, he lives with his cat and struggles to get into a relationship, when he tries he ends up needing to cover up the cat’s kills as she doesn’t want him to see other people. As the bodies pile up and the different resources come up short, we learn more about the truth behind the problems in Nick’s life. We get a host of supporting characters here, we have the neighbour who loves horror, the psychologist, the priests and many others each referencing’s a different horror movie.

PerformancesNick is in the leading role of the film, he does a good job with his reaction and storytelling, the cameo like performances from the icons of horror are good throughout the film, this does help with the comedy too.

StoryThe story puts us in a world where one man finds his life being thrown upside down by his cat that is killing people that she sees being friends with Nick. The idea is farfetched, but this is movie right? This plays into horror moments which are references from previous horror movies which is fine and gives us an acceptance to this story being tongue in cheek.

Comedy/HorrorIf you are a horror fan, you will get the comedy references going on the film, most hit, but it does takeaway from the horror limits in the film.

SettingsThe film is set in the apartment of Nick’s which works because it shows the different people that comes into the life that could become the next victim.

Special EffectsThe practical effects are done really well, it is the moments that require CGI that show the budget of the movie.


Scene of the Movie –
Detective Pluto’s appearance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The CGI effects.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good horror that does pay a lot of respect to horror movies of the past, we have a story that works in the horror comedy genre only and it will keep you guessing.

 

Overall: Horror fans will get a kick out of this.

Rating

 

 

The Bye Bye Man (2017)

Director: Stacy Title

Writer: Jonathan Penner (Screenplay) Robert Damon Schneck (Book)

Starring: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas, Doug Jones, Michael Trucco, Carrie-Anne Moss, Faye Dunaway, Jenna Kanell

 

Plot: Three friends stumble upon the horrific origins of a mysterious figure they discover is the root cause of the evil behind unspeakable acts.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Well This Sucked

 

Story: The Bye Bye Man starts in 1969 as we see a man Larry (Whannell) going on a killing spree in a small neighbourhood asking each person who they told about something before someone arrives.

Move to modern day times we meet Elliot (Smith), John (Laviscount) and Sasha (Bonas) three students who find themselves getting a new house to stay in for their time in college. When noises happen, Sasha gets scared and calls for Kim (Kanell) a fellow student who claims to have psychic abilities, but what she witnesses in her visions strikes fear in her as she gives the three a warning about what Elliot had discovered earlier that night about the Bye Bye Man, Don’t Think it, Don’t Say It.

When the three friends start seeing strange events it becomes clear the Bye Bye Man (Jones) is haunting them, forcing them through horrific visions that make them all question themselves on everything they see or hear, can they figure it all out before it is too late?

 

Thoughts on The Bye Bye Man

 

Characters/PerformanceElliot is your typical leading character, he has had emotional trauma in his past but that doesn’t play into where the film goes, he does fit the paranoid boyfriend but we never learn what he is studying to be at this college, John is the best friend and that is all we learn about him. Sasha is the girlfriend who spends most of the film sick and nothing else. The figure of the Bye Bye Man looks creepy but doesn’t get used well. The rest of the character are also from the generic textbook of strange friend, family, person from the past and smart person that dies quickly.

Performance wise, well, there isn’t much to say here, Smith is solid without excelling with Lucien and Cressida also doing nothing fancy in this role. Faye Dunaway turns up, good for her same goes for Carrie Anne Moss. The only good performance in this film is in fact Doug Jones as the creepy looking Bye Bye Man.

StoryStory time, well you know how certain films do ‘the don’t read something’ but they do and spend the whole film getting haunted by a ghostly spirit or vision. That is this films story borrowing heavily from Nightmare on Elm Street and the Slender Man or Grim Reaper. This is nothing fresh and by the end you will not be surprised by what happened.

Horror/ThrillerThere are easy jump scares going on here but the most part comes from the creepy coat in the corner, doors slamming and the old favourite BOOM sound effects, we are also not kept guessing because the story doesn’t make us care enough.

SettingsThe film doesn’t offer any memorable settings for anything to take place that you will remember.

Special EffectsThe special effects are nearly all bad CGI which disappoints when we see them.

Final ThoughtsThis is just another bad horror film with lazy scares and poor character development.

 

Overall: Just a simple but boring horror film.

Rating