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

 

 

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Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw 3D The Final Chapter (2010)

Director: Kevin Greutert

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costass Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Cary Elwes, Sean Patrick Flanery, Chad Donella, Gina Holden

 

Plot: As a deadly battle rages over Jigsaw’s brutal legacy, a group of Jigsaw survivors gathers to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen, a man whose own dark secrets unleash a new wave of terror.


Tagline – The Traps Come Alive

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The End That Works

 

Story: Saw VII opens as we learn how Doctor Gordon (Elwes) survived, we see how Hoffman (Mandylor) fixes himself after the betrayal he faced in the last film from Jill (Russell), we also see how Jill spills the beans to the cops about who was John’s (Bell) apprentice.

Meanwhile Bobby Dagen (Flanery) is touring a book about how he survived one of Jigsaw’s game, but this has made him a new target for the games. With Bobby needing to complete his tests with rest of his team that made up his story, while we also see Hoffman trying to get his hands on Jill to end it all but there might be more people at play here.

 

Thoughts on Saw VII

 

Characters – John is still dead, but we learn how he wasn’t impressed with one of the so-called survivors gaining his fame from the story of being involved in the game, he does have a much smaller role though. Hoffman is known fully as the man working with John, scared after escaping the bear trap, he is playing the last gang now while keeping one step ahead of the law. Jill is in hiding with the police after Hoffman escaped the trap she placed him in, worried for her life she is willing to spill on everyone involved. Dr Gordon is back and part of a survivors support group, the fans of the series have been waiting for years to see him return. Bobby is a man that has been making money off claiming to have survived one of the jigsaw games but not he is being forced into going through one with his team.

PerformancesTobin Bell does have a much smaller part but is the drawn in the film. Costas Mandylor for me is now the star of these franchise as he is the most interesting character now. Betsy Russell is good without being as believable this time around. Cary Elwes brings the class back as we had been waiting for years for his return. Sean Patrick Flanery is also good in his role as the latest man being tested.

StoryThe Hoffman versus Jill storyline is the highlight of the film as now Hoffman is known by the police to be the bad guy he can do anything to anyone who gets in his way. The game does have a man that needs to be tested but the main victim he needs to save shouldn’t be in the game at all. This has been my problem for a while, the wrong people are being left in a place of choice. I will however praise how the film tied up at the end finishing the saga in a full circle.

Horror/Mystery The gore is at the highest level in this film, the 3D effects even add more to the gore being used, but some of it is just pointless. The mystery once again is the highlight of the film as we are kept guessing to where the characters will go next and why Dr Gordon has returned.

SettingsThe settings are a strange one here, the big game is normal location but the opening sequence is in broad daylight with the crowd running to see, not sure if this is designed to mock the fans that enjoy the torture porn general or not.

Special EffectsCan’t fault certain effects here but some are made just for the point of having 3D, when we didn’t need it.


Scene of the Movie –
Game Over.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The game is gore for the sake of gore.

Final ThoughtsWhile the game is poor, the conclusion of the story of who works for Jigsaw does work for this franchise that needed to end here.

 

Overall: Nice finish to the franchise.

Rating

 

 

Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw VI (2009)

Director: Kevin Greutert

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Mark Rolston, Betsy Russell, Shawnee Smith, Peter Outerbridge

 

Plot: Agent Strahm is dead, and FBI agent Erickson draws nearer to Hoffman. Meanwhile, a pair of insurance executives find themselves in another game set by Jigsaw.


Tagline – 6 Chances, 6 Lessons. 6 Choices.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Weak Effort

 

Story: Saw VI starts as we finish the aftermath of Hoffman (Mandylor) cleans up the Strahm body. We move to Umbrella Insurance where William (Outerbridge) who has been handling claims along with his team that decide who does and doesn’t qualify for cover. Agent Erickson (Rolston) has taken over the investigation believing Strahm has gone missing and the new prime suspect in the Jigsaw murders.

Hoffman gets the deal done with Erickson to work together on the case with a surprise return from a previous film. in a twist of events Hoffman is now working with Jill (Russell) John’s (Bell) ex-wife who is following the final request, to take place William in the latest game in revenge for the insurance he refused to give him to cure his cancer.

 

Thoughts on Saw VI

 

Characters – John is still involved in these films, now we watch him continue to build the bigger picture as he teaches Hoffman about this theories, we also see how he did have other helpers including his ex-wife but this time the game is personal as he uses the insurance company that refused to help his cancer treatment. Hoffman finds himself in the clear of any suspicious after framing Strahm now, he builds one more game with Jill as he works with the FBI to solve where Strahm is now. Erickson takes over the lead of the investigation of the FBI, he brings Hoffman into the investigation to locate Strahm but just how much will he give away. Jill is revealed to be involved in the games after films where she denied being involved, she can work with Hoffman but seems to have been set her own game. William is the latest man to be tested, he must choice who lives and who dies from his team of ruthless insurance team.

PerformancesTobin Bell once again is the star of the show, being calm through each scene as we see how John would be calculating each decision through the movie. Costas has become the backbone of this franchise not getting the praise he deserves. Mark Rolston is good but doesn’t get enough time on screen. Betsy Russell finally gets a chance to shine in the one of the movies in her role. Peter Outerbridge is good too as the man going through the test.

StoryThe story once again is split into two, the game is frustrating to watch as it goes against the idea of Jigsaw, even though it is his game, it is personal and doesn’t leave the players any chance to survive, with a twist that doesn’t click. The over arcing story does work though, as we continue to watch Hoffman design the games where he is still must escape suspicious from the FBI. We do continue to build the bigger picture but for the most part we focus on the game too much

Horror/MysteryThe horror does continue with the high levels of gore which will work for the fans of the series, but the mystery side of the film does seem to have taken a step back here.

SettingsThe settings all work for the film showing us the underground trap design as the high life insurance people would never go down to that level to hear a story.

Special EffectsThe effects are as always great from start to finish of the film, sing mostly practical to create the gore.


Scene of the Movie –
Escape the Bear Trap.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The game goes against the ideas.

Final ThoughtsThis is the weakest of the franchise to date, it goes for shocks over the storytelling process which disappoints after the last two improvements.

 

Overall: Weakest of the franchise.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Halloween Midnight Horror – Jessabelle (2014)

logDirector: Kevin Greutert

Writer: Robert Ben Garant (Screenplay)

Starring: Sarah Snook, Joelle Carter, Mark Webber, David Andrews, Ana de la Reguera, Amber Stevens West, Chris Ellis

Plot: Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return and has no intention of letting her escape.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Voodoo You Think Is Haunting You

Story: Jessabelle starts with a real bang when Jessie (Snook) and her partner are moving homes and get hit by a truck, he dies while Jessie has to go through months of physiotherapy. Jessie has to call her estranged father Leon (Andrews) to pick her up and look after her while she completes her therapy all while still being confined to a wheel chair.

Jesse finds herself in the isolated house in the middle of swamp lands with nothing but a radio to keep her company. One the first night Jessie believes she sees and hears and woman while she is sleeping. Investigating around the house Jessie finds old belongings which includes a video message sent by her mother before she was born, due to be given to her on her 18th birthday. The message warns Jessie that she isn’t alone and a girl wants her out before we learn everything her father takes the tape throwing her wheel chair into the swamp.

Jessie starts getting visited by the ghostly figure as she learns more about her mother’s sickness as her father continues to try and protect her, he ends up becoming a victim of what is going on. This brings in Preston (Webber) an old friend who offers to help her. Jessie has to try and figure out what is going on and who is this ghostly figure after her?

Jessabelle plays out like my favourite sub-genre of horror, the ghost haunting to uncover the truth. There is a slightly twist with this one though, we get all the trademarks for what you expect to see but the final moments will surprise. You are left guessing for a long time about what is happening but you really don’t know where the film is taking you. We look into voodoo which we know can go in any direction really unless you have studied it, which frankly I haven’t. I like how the film decides to jump straight into the scares even if they are gentle at first before increasing with each one. I think this is a good horror story and the ending suits the film nicely. (7/10)

Actor Review

Sarah Snook: Jessie starts off as a happy young lady whose life is turned upside down with a horrific car accident that leaves her boyfriend dead and her stuck in a wheel chair. After moving back to her father’s house but it is here where he nightmares really start to happen. Sarah does a good job in the screaming leading lady making us convinced with what is happening throughout. (7/10)jessie

Joelle Carter: Kate is Jessie’s mother who died when she was young, but she left tapes where she believes she can predict the future that only show death in Jessie’s future. Joelle does give a solid supporting performance. (6/10)kate

Mark Webber: Preston Sanders is the old flame of Jessie’s who is now married but is helping through the troubles she seems to be facing with the mysterious visits. Mark fills the partner in the investigation easily enough giving us a solid portray of the old flame. (6/10)preston

David Andrews: Leon Laurent is Jessie’s estranged father who helps take care os Jessie while she recovers but he doesn’t like her looking around for anything in her past, but whatever he is hiding her from finds a way to take him out of the picture. David gives a solid supporting performance but does end up looking like a generic swamp like local. (7/10)

Support Cast: Jessabelle has a supporting cast that helps the film unfold giving us clues to what could really being going on.

Director Review: Kevin Greutert Kevin gives us a good horror film with plenty of scares from early on until the final scene. (8/10)

Horror: Jessabelle is filled with scares, we have two very good ones with the stairs and the bath scene. (8/10)

Thriller: Jessabelle does manage to keep us guessing from start to finish which is rare in a horror film, as they usually just make us sit at the edge of our seats waiting to see what happens next. (8/10)

Settings: Jessabelle puts the action in a house where a wheel chair bound person would struggle to get out, but the use of the Louisiana swamps adds the voodoo factor. (8/10)
Special Effects: Jessabelle uses good special effects to create the haunting moments. (8/10)

Suggestion: Jessabelle is one for all the horror fans to watch and enjoy, I think the horror fans will like the number of scares as well as the story that keeps you guessing. (Horror Fans Watch)

Best Part: I like the effect of the bath scene where the ghost is just as scared as Jessie.

Worst Part: We don’t get enough true clues which I know horror films like to give us.

Oh My God Moment: Final scene.

Scariest Scene: Stair scene, where Jessie hears footsteps running down the stairs brushing past her before she sees who is doing it.

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Unlikely.

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 hour 30 Minutes

Tagline:  The dead are back for life

Overall: Jessabelle is a horror film filled with shock, scares leaving your heart pulsing before the final scene leaves you breathless.

Rating 75