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.



Strange Nature (2018)

Director: James Ojala

Writer: James Ojala (Screenplay)

Starring: Stephen Tobolowsky, Carlos Alazraqui, John Hennigan, Lisa Sheridan, Tiffany Shepis, David Mattey, Ann Hearn, Bruce Bohne, Faust Checho


Plot: The first film to expose unsolved wildlife deformity outbreaks and where they may lead.


Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Suspenseful Sci-Fi Shocker


Story: Strange Nature starts when single mother Kim Sweet (Sheridan) returns home with her son Brody (Beres) to live with her father Chuck (Bohne) and it doesn’t take long before the locals start locating deformed frogs, which leads to Kim investigate just what is happening with the local wildlife.

Soon an unknown creature starts picking off the residents of the area which takes Kim’s investigation to the Mayor Paulson (Tobolowsky). Joined by local teacher Trent (Checho) we see how the species being deformed are evolving into deadlier animals showing they must stop the cause before it is too late.


Thoughts on Strange Nature


Characters – Kim Sweet was once a rising popstar whose life didn’t turn out the way she had planned, she finds herself a single mother returning home to care for her dying father, once home she gets to see just how bad the situation back home has become and must lead the fight to save the town from a threat causing deformities in its locals. Mayor Paulson is trying his best to keep everything under wraps in the town, to stop the people panicking even if he does have his own reasons for doing so. Sam is one of the locals who sticks with his kind, he doesn’t like people that are different only for it to become clear he isn’t even safe from the deformities himself. Trent is the closest to a scientist we have in this film, a school teacher that helps Kim with her investigation.

PerformancesLisa Sheridan in the leading role is strong through the film, we get to see her show the parental side, independent side and remains strong though the challenging subject matters. Stephen Tobolowsky always makes for a good political figure and this is no different, while John Hennigan brings us a different character we are used to seeing, a villainous one that fits the trouble maker in town. The rest of the cast are good through the film.

StoryThe story here brings us to a small town which has started to get birth defecates on the first small animals soon becoming more serious and deadlier. This gives us the small-town community that begins to point fingers at what or who is causing everything going on, which of course brings moments of panic. The scientific side of the investigation is interesting because we do get to see different potential answers over the cause and by holding back on the biggest reveals and side effects we get to be left to see just how far up the evolution chain the defects will go. As we mostly follow a single mother we get to see extra protection and concern being shown, while other members of the town want to turn a blind eye to what is happening. The story does try to ask us the question about what we think about potential problems we might be causing to our environment and how the side effects could bring something terrible towards us.

Sci-FiThe sci-fi side of this story comes from just showing us how the defects are affecting the environment, this is something we are seeing in real life, just this side goes that little bit further with everything.

SettingsThe film is set in one small town, this brings us a sense of community which only makes us understand how tight knit the people are.

Special EffectsThe Effects give us plenty of practical ones showing how different animals will look if they were to become deformed. They only make things look more disturbing through the film.

Scene of the Movie –
The afterbirth effects.

That Moment That Annoyed Me That final twist.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sci-fi thriller that does ask questions, it holds back any big reveals until the final third of the film which keeps us guessing to just what we will be facing once the battle gets made clear and shows that pointing fingers never solves anything.


Overall: Sci-Fi for the thinkers.




Asylum of Darkness (2017)

Director: Jay Woelfel

Writer: Jay Woelfel (Screenplay)

Starring: Tim Thomerson, Richard Hatch, Tiffany Shepis, Amanda Howell, Scott Summitt, Nick Baldasare


Plot: After awakening in a mental asylum, a patient plans an escape to freedom, but finds an even more disturbing, supernatural world on the outside, one that threatens to keep him trapped in madness forever.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Slightly Too Confusing


Story: Asylum of Darkness starts as we meet Dwight (Baldasare) a patient inside the mental asylum who doesn’t believe he needs to be there. When he goes on his own mission to escape he discovers the cryptic truth from fellow patient Van Gogh (Jones Jr) which shows us not everything is as simple as it seems.

Once escaped Dwight finds himself meeting more faceless people before seeking shelter in a house of a man involved in a car crash, only his wife Ellen (Howell) knows who he is as it seems like he has swapped places with a famous author.

The longer Dwight keeps his new life the more Dr Shaker (Hatch) arrives to haunt him as Dwight finds people trying to take over this new body.


Thoughts on Asylum of Darkness


Characters/PerformanceDwight is in a mental asylum patient that is trying to escape only to find himself living someone else’s life, leading to him to question everything in the world he is now living in. Dr Shaker is treating Dwight and continues to follow him after his escape from the asylum. The rest of the characters all add to the puzzle going on through the film.

Performance wise, Nick does a solid job in this role having to be in nearly every scene with Richard Hatch doing a good job as the doctor who keeps appearing.

StoryWhen it comes to the story we must look at things in two ways, the first is that this does keep us guessing to what is actually going on, but this is also the flaw because it becomes difficult to keep up with each twist going on. While it is great to have a story that keeps you guessing and guessing I do feel this one is slightly too much at times.

HorrorThere are good horror moments but it would be fair to say that nothing comes off very scary just a lot of good practical gore effects.

SettingsEach setting is used to add to the mystery for Dwight to go through but they also add to moments of confusion in the story.

Special EffectsThe practical effects are all good gore based horror but when the film turns to CGI not everything looks as good.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that will keep you thinking from start to finish even if it is too often in places, the biggest problem I had with this film was the use of Dance Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens as it was used on my favourite comic mystery show Jonathan Creek, this made it difficult for me to take everything serious.


Overall: Solid horror that you will need to give your full attention.