ABC Film Challenge – Horror – Z – The Midnight Man (2016)

This has been selected for Z because of the director ‘Travis Zariwny’.

Director: Travis Zariwny

Writer: Travis Zariwny (Screenplay) Rob Kennedy (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Robert Englund, Gabrielle Haugh, Lin Shaye, Grayson Gabriel, Michael Sirow

 

Plot: A girl and her friends find a game in the attic that summons a creature known as The Midnight Man, who uses their worst fears against them.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Late Night Horror

 

Story: The Midnight Man starts with a young lady Alex (Haugh) caring for her elderly grandmother Anna (Shaye) who does have a dark past, when Alex and her friend Miles (Gabriel) discover a mysterious box in the attic, it sends Anna crazy forcing a Dr Harding (Englund) to check up on her.

When Alex and Miles decide to play the game from inside the box, they unleash the Midnight Man, a figure that will come and haunt its victims with their own fears if they don’t follow the strict rules of the game. They must now battle to survive the night against the deadly supernatural enemy.

 

Thoughts on The Midnight Man

 

Characters – Alex is a young lady who has been caring for her elderly grandmother, she lost her parents at a young age, she follows her routines put in place, until she takes part in the game bringing the Midnight Man to life. We don’t learn much about her life away from caring for her grandmother though. Miles is the best friend that has come to keep Alex company, there is hints of a romantic interest between the two, he is happy to play along with the game, but is the only one to search for the full rules before playing. Anna is the grandmother that played the game when she was a child, seeing her friends take by the creature, she has barely left the house since. Her secrets are kept from Alex though. Dr Harding is the trusted family doctor, but he too has a secret with his connection to the Midnight Man.

PerformancesGabrielle Haugh takes the leading role and she doesn’t do anything wrong here either, she shows the caring side needed and the smart side when it comes to fighting back. Grayson Gabriel is solid too, without needing to do too much. We do have horror legends in Robert Englund and Lin Shaye who both deliver everything to show their experience in this genre.

StoryThe story here follows two friends that accidentally unleash the game of the Midnight Man who brings to life their biggest fears. The story does come from a CreepyPasta which means it could become one that catches fire in the horror community. The rules laid out are long, but effective to create the Midnight Man figure and using the ideas of your fears is an easy way to get away with in horror. We do have a few twists along the way, but otherwise we will get everything we need for a simple and effective story.

HorrorThe horror from the film comes by using the creation of the Midnight Man, he has a unique look and how he uses his rules, he can create the fears needed. The kills are built into the horror, with age not being something this film is scared of using.

SettingsThe film is set in one location, the house, which is part of the rules, this is effective and does help play into the idea that playing supernatural games are not a good idea.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show how the kills happen, they are effective and feel more practical than CGI.


Scene of the Movie –
The game rules.

That Moment That Annoyed Me If Alex had a fear of blood, she wouldn’t get involved in anything involving blood.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting idea for horror, it does create a new villainous figure that could strike fear into people.

 

Overall: Horror game that uses the rules.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – N – Nightworld (2017)

Director: Patricio Valladares

Writer: Barry Keating, Milan Konjevic (Screenplay) Loris Curci (Story)

Starring: Jason London, Robert Englund, Gianni Capaldi, Lorina Kamburova, Diana Lyubenova, Atanas Srebrev

 

Plot: When former LAPD officer Brett Anderson takes a job as head of security at an old apartment building in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, he soon begins to experience a series of bizarre and terrifying events. Once he begins to delve deeper into the building’s sinister history and investigate its shadowy owners and past employees, Brett soon uncovers a malevolent force nestled deep in the bowels of the building that will do anything to be set free into our world.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Start, Exciting Finish

 

Story: Nightworld starts when Brett Anderson (London) takes a job as a security officers in an elite Bulgarian apartment building to help him deal with the death of his wife. Given the grand tour by the manager Martin (Capaldi) Brett sees the strange side to the apartment, with the secret being kept in the basement.

When Brett starts seeing strange images on the cameras he must call Jacob (Englund) to help uncover the truth about the apartment, with local girl Zara (Kamburova) who fills in the rumours that the town has about the building.

 

Thoughts on Nightworld

 

Characters – Brett Anderson is a grief stricken for police officer, he retired from the force after his wife’s death, he takes a job as a security guard in an apartment in Bulgaria which leads him to get caught up in a mystery about the apartment which brings him past back to haunt him. Jacob is a former guard that lost his eye sight, he knows the mystery about the apartment and helps guide Brett through the strange events. Martin is the apartment manager and needs to find a new guard to watch over any problems in the apartment when he is away. Zara is the waitress at the local café that offer a romantic angle for Brett, while filling in the blanks about the history of the apartment.

PerformancesJason London is solid enough in the leading role, most of what he does is ask questions which is how the audience must learn what is going on. Robert Englund as the elderly figure that is trying to help works well because he is the biggest draw for the film. Gianna Capaldi and Lorina Kamburova are both fine they never get out of first gear for their performances though.

StoryThe story here follows a man that needs to rebuild his life, get given a job as a security guard for an apartment building that has secrets he can’t even imagine. The pace of the story is slow, because we have a lot of building up with little to no hints to what the big conclusion will be, the final third of the film lets everything go, making the early parts of the story more interesting, the time loss angle does feel tagged in for no reason and by the end you still won’t completely understand what just happened. The reveals in the film are big, though they could be considered overkill for what could have be a much more subtle story.

HorrorThe horror comes from the nightmares Brett suffers before the big reveal in the final act which shows us just what has been going on.

SettingsThe whole film is set in one building, it shows how the layers can hold secrets and the mystery about the building is key t the story being told.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are used well when needed, we don’t go over the top with them and the best one are used for the final act.


Scene of the Movie –
Behind the door.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Starts too slow for the ending.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow burning horror thriller, it does reward us with a manic ending which is worth the wait for, only it does take too long to get there with little hints to help us understand the ending.

 

Overall: Slow though rewarding.

Rating

 

 

Meet the Deedles (1998)

Director: Steve Boyum

Writer: Jim Herzfeld (Screenplay)

Starring: Steve Van Wormer, Paul Walker, A.J. Langer, John Ashton, Dennis Hopper, Eric Braeden, Robert Englund

 

Plot: Two surfers end up as Yellowstone park rangers and have to stop a former ranger who is out for revenge.


Tagline – To protect and surf.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tasteless Comedy

 

Story: Meet the Deedles starts as we meet the two surfer school slackers Stew (Van Wormer) and Phil (Walker) Deedle whose father has given them everything in life which leads them to expelled from school, as punishment the boys are set to camp to learn responsibility and end up being recruited as rangers in Yellowstone after a misunderstanding.

While learning the ropes from LT Jesse Ryan (Langer) the boys must try to eliminate the prairie dog problem, which does have a connection to disgraced park ranger Frank Slater (Hopper) who is out for revenge.

 

Thoughts on Meet the Deedles

 

Characters – Stew is the brains of the two brothers, he always comes up with the plans to keep their cover while in rangers in Yellowstone. He is the one that is doing the work the pair should be doing. Phil is the dumb brother who does feel like he is a surfer who does take a shine toward the Lt Ryan, he does get the funniest lines and is easily the one that is too honest to lie. LT Jesse Ryan is the rescue chopper pilot, she has been raised to be part of the park and following in her step-father’s footsteps. Frank Slater is the villainous former ranger that plans to ruin the big celebration with his goons doing his dirty work.

PerformancesPaul Walker is the only reason I even considered watching this movie, he does show us that he has the most talent in this role because the playing dumb needs commitment and he hit them on every turn. Steve Van Wormer is solid enough as the other brother either though while watching he isn’t the one we came to see. AJ Langer is good enough as the love interest without getting much to do other than being that. Dennis Hopper was doing a strange number of villainous roles which he always liked to milk.

StoryThe story follows two slacker surfers that end up going into the park ranger training program to help ride Yellowstone to prairie dogs being controlled by a vengeful former ranger hell bent on revenge. This is designed for a younger audience with how most of the jokes unfold and to say this is a 90s movie is the perfect example to describe the story. we get the message of trying to seek parental approval after a string of failures, which mixes nicely with the endless plans to get away with their own mistakes to be a success, we get a villain that gets his goons to do most of his plans which all play into the comedy of the film, overall this is easily one of those films that uses the story to tell the story that everyone will have their day just let them show their potential.

ComedyThe comedy in the film is a mix of slapstick which usually sees someone flying through the air or jokes between the two brothers that only they will understand.

SettingsThe film is set in Yellowstone national park, we know this has place of beauty, legacy for its tourist attraction which all play into the reasons for the villain to have his own plan.


Scene of the Movie –
Mountain climbing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The jokes miss too often.

Final ThoughtsThis is a 90s comedy that showed us the potential of Paul Walker, it does use basic comedy and by the end of the film you will feel like it has dated.

 

Overall: Simple family comedy.

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

 

 

Wishmaster (1997)

Director: Robert Kurtzman

Writer: Peter Atkins (Screenplay)

Starring: Tammy Lauren, Andrew Divoff, Robert Englund, Chris Lemmon, Wendy Benson-Landes

 

Plot: A demonic djinn attempts to grant its owner three wishes, which will allow him to summon his brethren to earth.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Horror Fantasy

 

Story: Wishmaster starts when artefact collector Raymond Beaumont’s (Englund) latest piece arrives but is damaged with a gem finding itself way into the trade markets. When expert Alexandra Amberson (Lauren) learns that something isn’t right about the gem, she finds herself receiving whisper like messages about releasing something from the stone.

When the Djinn (Divoff) starts lurking in the shadows waiting for people to give them his wishes so he can grant them, anything including murder, but Alex feels all of these deaths as the power the Djinn has grows. Alex must learn the power of the stone while Djinn powers himself up as he searches for the one who freedom Alex.

 

Thoughts on Wishmaster

 

Characters – Alexandra is an expert in the analysing of gems but when she releases the Djinn and must gain the knowledge to prevent him from gaining the power to take over the world, we don’t learn too much about what he job is but it does give her connection that can help her along the way. The Djinn is the Wishmaster that once released listens for people’s wishes or desires and makes them happen but not in the way the people would imagine. He does like to play on the words people say to have creative ways of getting rid of the people. Raymond Beaumont is a collector that has been building a collection of all the ancient Gods, he is the one that brings the statue that contains the gem to America.

PerformanceTammy Lauren is a good lead but you do see stronger performance in the similar created characters. Andrew Divoff makes for a menacing villain through the film controlling when needed too. Robert Englund is good in what is a different role for him where he isn’t a villainous character in a horror film.

StoryThe idea that an ancient God can come back granting wishes to release his own power of the Earth is a nice touch, on the three wishes idea how the Djinn can re-word what you say into the nightmare is very clever trying to teach people to be careful what they ask for. This does follow a formula but does disappoint as we only seem to meet a lot of characters just to be victims of the wishes showing the weakness the human spirit can have.

Fantasy/HorrorThe idea of a mystical figure that can create wishes that only turn into nightmares is a very good use of the horror fantasy genres.

SettingsThe settings are not the most important or noticeable part of this film, which disappoints in places.

Special EffectsThe effects do look good for a film that is 20 plus years old, the film did become creative with some of the kills too.

Scene of the Movie – You would have to go through me.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many disposable characters we don’t learn enough about.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good film that does seem to grow in quality as the film unfolds to being something you just want to watch until the end.

 

Overall: Good little horror fantasy

Rating