Horror Franchise – Scream 2 (1997) Revisited

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Kevin Williamson (Screenplay)

Starring: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jamie Kennedy, Jerry O’Connell, Jada Pinkett, Liev Schreiber, Elise Neal, Joshua Jackson, Timothy Olyphant

 

Plot: Two years after the first series of murders, a new psychopath dons the Ghostface costume and a new string of killings begins.


Tagline – Someone has taken their love of sequels one step too far

Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smart Sequel

 

Story: Scream 2 starts a couple of years after the events in the first film, a motion picture called ‘Stab’ is just being released from the Gale Weathers (Cox) book about the events, at the premier two teenagers are murdered. We pick up with Sidney (Campbell) at college still dealing with prank phone calls.

We get to see old faces in Randy (Kennedy) Gale, Dewey (Arquette) along with new friends Cici (Gellar), Mickey (Olyphant), new boyfriend Derek (O’Connell) and roommate Hallie (Neal) who bring us a brand new selection of suspects and potential victims, add Cotton Weary (Schreiber) the man who did time for a crime he never committed to the picture we will be kept guessing through this one.

 

Thoughts on Scream 2

 

Characters – Sidney is back studying a college and over the events of the first film, she has moved on with a new boyfriend and new friends, that is until the ‘Stab’ movie is released. Sidney becomes the primary target of the killer and must use the experience with surviving a massacre before to make it out alive. Dewey still suffering the effects of his injuries in the first film, he is no longer a cop and with the events occurring he arrives back in Sidney’s life to try and help before the killer can get near her. Gale wrote the book on the murders, the one that the movie is based on, she is still trying to get a story, but does start to learn the errors in her way when she deals with other reporters. Cotton Weary does have a bigger part this time, as he is trying to piece his life back together after the wrongful accusations. Randy returns to give us the rules needed to make a sequel which an important part of the original. Of our new characters we get the new boyfriend in Derek who seems to be the best part of Sidney’s new life. Cici is the best friend at the college that is the more popular one at the college. This movie does have a larger cast than the first film which doesn’t always give the characters enough screen time.

PerformancesNeve Campbell is still good in her role, she does make us believe she is the everyday student that is being tormented by the killer. Courteney Cox and David Arquette continue their good work in the supporting roles, where this film struggles to get the best of the of the supporting cast is by introducing too many characters, with Sarah Michelle Gellar seemingly filling the Drew Barrymore type role, where we expect to see her more in the film.

StoryThe story picks up in a universe following the events of the first film where Hollywood makes movies on massacres, with this release we get to see the darker side of Hollywood taking advantage of real-life murders and how the innocent victims and survivor can be painted differently to cinematic purposes, well that seems to be the message I picked up on in this one. when it comes to the slasher side of things we get to watch the victims getting picked off by the killer, this does feel the same as before, while the references through this film focus on the idea of the sequels that Hollywood makes, and how they always story to improve on the last, though we do step away from the horror discussion this time.

Horror/MysteryThe horror side of the film comes from the ideas that people can take advantage of tragic stories for a bigger story, reflecting the events of the film, the mystery can keep us guessing to just who could be behind it this time around with plenty of potential suspects.

SettingsThis time the film is set in a college that show us just where Sidney is now in her life which is important as she has moved on, but the event will always be part of her life.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film once again show us how blood and gore can be achieved without going over the top.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many supporting characters this time around.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sequel that is well worth the watch, it shows progression in the horror genre with a sequel that does make sense to how an everyday person would be moving on with their life after the events in the first one, while still having the tragedy on their shoulder.

 

Overall: Good fun sequel.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Urban Legend (1998)

Director: Jamie Blanks

Writer: Silvio Horta (Screenplay)

Starring: Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart, Michael Rosenbaum, Loretta Devine, Joshua Jackson, Tara Reid, Robert Englund

 

Plot: A college student suspects a series of bizarre deaths are connected to certain urban legends.


Tagline – Never Talk To Strangers, Never Answer The Phone, Never Flash Your Lights, Never Leave The Car, And Always Believe, What You’re Told

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Fun Slasher

 

Story: Urban Legend starts as we meet our college students Natalie (Witt) Paul (Leto), Brenda (Gayheart), Parker (Rosenbaum), Damon (Jackson) and Sasha (Reid) who are all studying in a class where Professor William Wexler (Englund) teaches them about the origins of urban legends.

When Natalie sees Damon killed in the myth of an urban legend she starts to believe there is a serial killer on campus and it is up to campus security officer Reese Wilson (Devine) to keep everyone safe, while Natalie tries to get to the bottom of everything.

 

Thoughts on Urban Legend

 

Characters – Natalie is our leading student, it is her old friend that is the first victim with the next couple of killings are people close to her, she is determined to learn the truth believing there is an Urban Legend serial killer taking advantage of the anniversary of a tragedy on campus. Paul works for the campus newspaper and with the murders starting on campus he gets big stories even if the Dean is trying to spin them into nothing, he helps Natalie investigate the truth even though he knows each murder could have an answer. Brenda is the best friend of Natalie’s who helps her through her time of need being the most frightened about the Urban Legends. Reese is the head of security that idolises Pam Grier and wants to keep the student safe no matter what.

PerformancesThis cast is filled with young actors that only went onto bigger projects, Alicia Witt in the leading role is good throughout, the innocent slasher style final girl figure. Jared Leto shows us that he is mostly likely the best performer of the students, Rebecca Gayheart is good at the typical best friend figure which again helps fill the generic roles the film painfully uses. Loretta Devine is the potential show stealer here with her character getting the best lines while trying to solve the crime. As I was saying most of the characters are generic with each performer getting their parts done very well.

StoryThe story here brings us to a slasher horror movie which makes the killer select different Urban Legends to kill their victims. This does bring an original twist to how the kills are being completed, until things just turn into a slasher generic movie for the later kills, lets all be honest, we know slasher movies don’t need the most intense stories and you generally will follow the traits of the genre. One big plus point for this movie is that we get plenty of suspects, just when you think it is one person, things take a twist a throw another suspect in the prime position, this happens plenty of times which is a huge plus for any movie.

Horror/MysteryFor a horror movie this gives us the generic characters, mistakes that we know too, the kills start being unique with the urban legend style behind them and the mystery comes from just who is behind the murders with plenty of different characters with motivations.

SettingsThe film takes place on a college campus, this give our characters reason to not be able to just run with the Dead believing things are pranks and good reasons behind other deaths. The one negative about this location is that these kids are all stupid enough to believe urban legends are real in the first place.

Special EffectsThe effects are used for the kills which are simple and never needing to be over the top either.


Scene of the Movie –
Urban Legends kills.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Understanding American laws, partial spoiler, but how did the girls not get prison time?

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most enjoyable and original slasher movies, it has a unique idea that makes it standout with a wonderfully talent young cast.

 

Overall: Slasher that stands out.

Rating

 

 

Cruel Intention (1999)

Director: Roger Kumble

Writer: Roger Kumble (Screenplay) Choderlos de Laclos (Novel)

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Louise Fletcher, Joshua Jackson, Eric Mabius

 

Plot: Two vicious step-siblings of an elite Manhattan prep school make a wager: to deflower the new headmaster’s daughter before the start of term.


Tagline – What you can’t have, you can’t resist.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Darkly Delicious

 

Story: Cruel Intentions starts as the elite prep school step siblings Kathryn (Gellar) and Sebastian (Phillippe) are planning their next conquests in making the fellow students or authority figures pay for going against them. Kathryn wants to destroy new student Cecile (Blair) for dating her ex-girlfriend, while Sebastian wants to break the new headmaster’s daughter Annette’s (Witherspoon) belief about waiting for sex before marriage.

We watch how the two navigate their way through the elite to achieve their goals only for Sebastian to start to change from his seductive ways.

 

Thoughts on Cruel Intentions

 

Characters – Kathryn is the two faced elite society girl, two the parents she is the good polite guide for their daughters through the prep school, with her brother and friends she plays people however she wants to get things done, she holds grudges and has power over her step-brother, to help her enjoy seeing people fall. Sebastian has a reputation that has seen him go through the girls at the school, he gets what he wants but is bored of the easy girls that can be pushed around. He sets his sights on the new headmaster’s daughter which will give him a new look on life. Annette is the headmaster’s daughter that has sworn off sex before marriage, she is determined not to let Sebastian take advantage of her and break her code, knowing the truth about his past.

PerformancesSarah Michelle Gellar was known for her bad ass Buffy the Vampire Slayer when this movie came out, this performance broke her typecast and showed that she could do a much darker role. Ryan Phillippe is wonderful in this role, you can see how he plans to get ahead at every step of the way believing his confident character. Reese Witherspoon bought us the innocent character we now know her for, we need her to be strong, she is and that look makes her look the part perfectly. This is easily one of he best cast movies of recent years.

StoryThe story takes us into the elite prep school life where the kids are free enough to be planning their next sexual conquest because money is no longer an issue for them. Seeing how the story plans out is interesting from early on to the finish as the plans between the characters and how the step-siblings manipulate the people in their lives is twisted. The pace of the story is great too, it never feels like it lets up from start to finish. It does however show how stupid rich kids can be because they have never learnt morals.

RomanceThe romance in this film is a complete mix, we get to see how romance can be used just for sex and how it can change people to become better people.

SettingsThe New York setting is perfect for this movie, it shows how the elite school kids can get up to the most pointless behaviour because of boredom and belief they have the power over anyone.


Scene of the Movie –
The fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me These kids never go to school.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful dark romantic thriller, that uses the music perfectly, has brilliant performances and is easily one of the most watchable films out of the late 90s.

 

Overall: Special movie that hasn’t aged a day.

Rating

 

 

Halloween Kingathon – Apt Pupil (1998)

Banner-3logoDirector: Bryan Singer

Writer: Brandon Boyce (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

Starring: Brad Renfro, Ian McKellen, Joshua Jackson, Mickey Cottrell, Michael Reid MacKay, Ann Dowd, Bruce Davison, James Karen

Plot: A boy blackmails his neighbour after suspecting him to be a Nazi war criminal.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Solid Thriller

Story: Apt Pupil starts with high school student Todd Bowden (Renfro) who takes notice of an elderly man Kurt Dussander (McKellen) who he suspects of being a Nazi war criminal. Todd uses his upper hand of knowing who Kurt is by blackmailing him into helping learn about what really happened during the war.

As the conversations become a regular occurrence Todd’s parent Monica (Dowd) and Richard (Davison) want to meet him but Todd is dealing with his own nightmares. The deeper the two get involved in the stories we get to see the darker side of Kurt but more worryingly we see Todd start to become psychotic.

Apt Pupil builds up tension through the story very well and as the film continues you really don’t know what either character is really capable off, but saying that I think most of the tension gets lost in the final acts which go on slightly too long. I liked the idea of Nazi war criminal being blackmailed into doing what the kid wants but also like how it all get turned on its head half way through. This is an interest story and the change in both characters as the film continues often comes off disturbing. (7/10)

Actor Review

Brad Renfro: Todd Bowden is a straight A high school student who uncovers the true identity of a Nazi war criminal, first he tries to blackmail him into giving him the stories but when his grades go downhill he ends up changing becoming obsessed with the idea of what the Nazi’s were doing. Brad does a good job in this role showing a full range of what he could do. (7/10)todd

Ian McKellen: Kurt Dussander is the Nazi war criminal living a normal life in America, he gets forced to too tell the stories about his time in the war before turning the tables on his blackmailer as he continues his ways. Ian is great in this performance flawlessly pulling off the performance as the German. (8/10)kurt

Support Cast: Apt Pupil has a supporting cast that includes Todd’s parents, family and teachers each one noticed a change in him in different ways.

Director Review: Bryan SingerBryan continued to show his talent behind the camera here showing he can pull off all sorts of thrillers. (7/10)

Drama: Apt Pupil shows what you could or couldn’t do when you learn the true nature of somebody. (8/10)

Thriller: Apt Pupil keeps you guessing to what both characters are capable off from start to finish. (8/10)

Settings: Apt Pupil uses basic settings of the two homes mainly with a large part in Kurt’s home. (7/10)

Suggestion: Apt Pupil is one to try, it does bring you right into the story but does let it go near the end. (Try It)

Best Part: Tramp scene.

Worst Part: Ends slowly.

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $8.8 Million

Budget: $14 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

Tagline: If you don’t believe in the existence of evil, you’ve got a lot to learn.

Trivia: The movie is based on a novella (a long short story) by Stephen King from a book of short stories called “Different Seasons” which also includes “The Body” which becameStand by Me (1986) and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” which became The Shawshank Redemption (1994).

Overall: A thriller that keeps you guessing.

Rating 70

 

Shutter (2008)

logoDirector: Masayuki Ochiai

Writer: Luke Dawson (Screenplay)

Starring: Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor, Megumi Okina, David Denman, John Hensley, Maya Hazen, James Kyson

 

Plot: A newly married couple discovers disturbing, ghostly images in photographs they develop after a tragic accident. Fearing the manifestations may be connected, they investigate and learn that some mysteries are better left unsolved.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Snap, Crackle and Scare

 

Story: Shutter starts by introducing us to the young couple Ben (Jackson) & Jane (Taylor) as they are celebrating their wedding. The couple move to Tokyo for a honeymoon before Ben starts his new job. Travelling one night Jane hits what she thinks is a woman leaving the car a wreck but no remains were found at the scene. Ben’s new job in working as a photographer for a big company with his old friends Bruno (Denman) and Adam (Hensley).

The couple get the biggest apartment in a redeveloping building but after developing the holiday snaps they find a couple of errors in them which turn out to be Spirit Photos. Jane investigates this phenomenon learning about how the spirit photos become clearer to those who believe. We continue to see how Ben starts to get haunted by a ghostly figure. We continue to watch both Ben and Jane get haunted by the ghost girl but why has she picked them? after Jane investigates more we discover that the ghost girl is one of Ben’s ex-girlfriends who he pushed away taking it the wrong way.

Shutter falls into my favourite horror sub-genre of ghost investigation, where the ghost haunts someone to help solve their murder. I do like the added mystery of what really happened in the previous life before the lead couple meet as even with knowing the person you can never know what they did in their past. Where the story lacks is not giving too much information about what really happened until the very end which really doesn’t help the film discover the real shock with the final scene. We get no hints either so it almost changes half way through the film leaving us liking the scares but not caring about what really happens. (5/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Joshua Jackson: Ben is the photographer and newlywed who goes to Tokyo with his new wife for a job, it isn’t long before we learn that his past will come back to haunt all those involved. Joshua doesn’t give his best performance but doesn’t give away too much about his real character until we need to know. (6/10)

 ben

Rachael Taylor: Jane is the newlywed who joins her husband in Tokyo only to find herself in the middle of problem her husband started with his previous ways. Rachel does a solid job as the investigator role through the film. (6/10)

jane

Megumi Okina: Megumi is the ghost that is haunting Ben, Jane and his friends, happens to be his ex-girlfriend who never took breaking up very well before her death. Now she is out for revenge on all those involved with her death. Megumi does a good job as the creepy ghost figure haunting. (7/10)

 ghost

Support Cast: Shutter has a supporting cast that includes the other people who were involved in the real crime. They make the film have a few more victims but nothing else really.

 

Director Review: Masayuki Ochiai – Masayuki does a solid job directing this horror film as we do get some very good scares throughout. (7/10)

 

Horror: Shutter has some good scares even if they do come off slightly predictable. (7/10)

Mystery: Shutter does give us a mystery but doesn’t give us enough hints about what it really is before giving us the full story. (5/10)

Thriller: Shutter does pull you in but doesn’t make you feel like the edge of your seat. (5/10)

Settings: Shutter gives us a selection of traditional Tokyo location which includes showing the classic traditional side of Japanese culture with the new modern era. (7/10)
Special Effects
: Shutter does use some good special effects to do with the ghost involvement. (7/10)

Suggestion: Shutter is one for the horror fans to enjoy but it would be fair to say a lot of fans will be disappointed with the final outcome. (Horror Fans Try)

 

Best Part: I like the final twist.

Worst Part: Unoriginal scares.

Scariest Scene: Bedroom scene.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Dark Water, The Grudge

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $48 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 25 Minutes

Tagline: The most terrifying images are the ones that are real.

 

Overall: Shutter gives solid scares but not really horror even with its final killer twist.

Rating 55