31 Frightful Films – #3 Exeter

The third scary film I watched this October was Exeter. I saw it on Netflix. It stars no one you’ve heard of and its selling point (according to the poster) is the horror cred of the producers and director. The premise: There’s this institution for fucked-up children and over the years a crap-ton of kids died inside it/because of it. It was finally shut down in the 1970s (that is an important point to remember) because of the abuses that went on inside. In the present day a Catholic priest, Father somebody, wants to renovate the place and has hired a strapping young man to help him. Well, his friends and friends of friends hear that there’s this big creepy place and that sounds like a great place for a big party. Does capital e Evil enjoy being woken up by screaming teens and their shitty music? It decidedly does not.exeter-2015-poster

Meanwhile, a cliche squad of after-partiers linger after the crowds break up and –of course– get trapped inside the institute. Let me introduce you to the crew. Dudebro 1 and Dudebro 2. Both handsome lugs with dark hair. One is Father Somebody’s protege and the other is rather dumb and sexist (it’s the only way to tell them apart). Then we have Fat One with Glasses, The Stoner, The Tagalong Kid Brother, and then oh yes two girls: The Blonde Slut and The Brunette Gothy Smart Girl. They each behave exactly as you would predict because you’ve seen these characters over and over your entire life.

Christa’s Review

Well. Look, if you want something mindless, dark, and gory, please by all means smoke a bowl and enjoy. It’s got some of the grossest shit I have ever seen on film (and I just watched a Chinese woman chop up and cook human fetuses!) The cinematography is good, the special effects are good. The whole thing LOOKS okay, if you don’t think about it too much. I understand many people don’t care if a horror movie “makes sense” or if people behave in a believable way. I mean, we’re talking about demonic possession which I’d wager most people in Western society anyway don’t encounter in their day-to-day lives. And with films we always expect to suspend disbelief in some ways like the often-cited “Go toward the scary sound instead of running the fuck away” trope. These characters and this story though…I could never lose myself in the film because I was repeatedly pulled out of it by things that make no sense. And I don’t mean an evil spirit being passed from teenager to teenager like a particularly virulent case of chlamydia. I mean…Dudebro 1 and Goth Girl find video cassettes of the patients/inmates. Which they watch on a VCR. Which wasn’t invented until after the institute closed. In a place without electricity. By the by, the institute didn’t lock the brain trust in from the get-go. It’s only after two deaths and one possession that that happens. Why don’t they run the fuck away? Because they’ve been doing drugs. And just in case you’re thinking…no one calls for help? I bet the capital e Evil made all their cellphones break. Or they all ran out of charge. NOPE. Every member of the Derp Squad has a iPhone. Fat Boy has a damn tablet! They look up how to perform an excorcism and watch videos but no one calls the cops, receives a “Where the fuck are you” text from Mom, or even posts anything to social media. And that, in 2015, is where I draw the line. If you’re going to give your characters phones and access to the internet then that is the film world you have chosen and you must abide by the rules of that world.

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For all the horror experience on the film making roster here, you’d think the pacing would be better. There are very simple ways to create and sustain fear. You build it slowly, you have a surprise scare here, a creeping horror there, then a moment of humor or character development to let the audience catch their breath and then WHAM! you get ’em again. You do this over and over and you use the musical score to aid you in this. In Exeter…well it just doesn’t work. There’s just a relentless parade of violence and after twenty “attacks” they no longer surprised or scared me. It was boring. And I rarely ever notice a movie score so if I know something was off, it had to be pretty bad.

Having said all that, there is a twist that came completely as a surprise to me and it was a good one. Don’t ponder it at all though because the math doesn’t add up in any way without invoking time travel or worm holes. So…just enjoy it and don’t think about it.

Bottom line, if you like gore/special makeup effects and don’t want to think too hard, kick back with a cocktail or five and enjoy. Otherwise, skip Exeter. I give it half an Afghan of Doom for the gore and the twist.

When Dudebro gets out the scythe...

When Dudebro gets out the scythe…

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31 Frightful Films – #29 The Taking Of Deborah Logan

Although this film came out this year, we’ve heard nothing about it. It sounded depressing, but we decided to give it a shot. What the hell, right? We’re in the home stretch. The Taking of Deborah Logan is about a medical student named Mia who is working on a film about Alzheimer’s patients and their caretakers. She and her crew arrive at the home of Deborah Logan who is suffering from the early stages of the disease. Her adult daughter, Sarah, is her primary caretaker. Alzheimer’s is heartbreakingly sad of course, but Deborah’s disease seems to be progressing faster than expected and she goes from a charming and gracious–if forgetful–woman to…something else over the course of just a few weeks. Mia and Sarah begin to suspect that the disease is not the only thing going on and begin to investigate.

Taking of Debra Logan poster

Christa’s review

All the way scared.

All the way scared.

Wow, this was an unexpected treat. Scary as hell, this one has everything: the non-supernatural horror of Alzheimer’s, creeping doom, spooky shit captured on cameras in the middle of the night, nocturnal wandering, violence, mystery, crime. What more could you ask for? A cast of strong female characters? Check. I didn’t actually notice–and that’s good!–until I sat down to type this that all the main roles, the action roles, are women. Deborah and her daughter of course, then the med student making the film, Deborah’s physician, and even (gasp!) the county sheriff. I dug that. But more importantly, this is just a great scary movie (at one point, Gunny was basically sitting in my lap) with genuinely frightening shit, a solid plot, and a satisfying ending.

Dana’s review

Just flipping though Netflix and noticed this little gem and decided, looks like it might scare me, so lets give it a shot, shall we. At first, I thought that the fact I recognized some of the cast might take me out of the movie, that didn’t last long as I quickly got sucked in to this disturbing take on demonic possession. It takes the all too real and very scary disease of Alzheimer and winds itself into a twisted tale of demonic possession. It dares to do things other movies never do and it does a great job with it. If this isn’t on your watch list, it should be.

31 Frightful Films – #26 Deliver Us From Evil

This one just came out on DVD this week, so it’s not free anywhere we’ve seen yet. We’ll let you decide whether it’s worth paying for after you’ve read our reviews. Deliver Us From Evil is based on what an NYPD cop claims actually happened. The premise: Marines in Iraq discover a strange underground shrine of some kind. Two years later back to their regular lives in The Bronx, weird shit starts to happen. A couple of special ops cops, The Worst Hulk and The Dude From Community investigate a series of crimes involving the former soldiers and the people in their lives. An eccentric/rogue Catholic priest is convinced there are demonic forces at work and keeps popping up with offers to help.

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Christa’s review

The first half of this had me cowering under the Afghan of Doom. When I saw this creepy owl toy creepy owl toyin the cop’s daughter’s bedroom I suddenly remembered it was in the trailer and the reason I didn’t want to see this movie in the first place. Creepy toys are not okay. I still have PTSD from watching Dead Silence half a dozen years ago. This movie, with its creeping doom, cryptic writing, and startles was well on its way to matching or even besting our current champ Sinister for quality scares. I found the heroine addict priest intriguing. And hot. But then the film took a turn toward the mundane: an exorcism scene that offered nothing new or interesting. The Power of Christ compelled me la-et-cm-the-exorcist-geffen-20120517-001to lose interest entirely. What started as a Full Afghan devolved into a Half Afghan.

How do you say "hottie" in Latin?

How do you say “hottie” in Latin?

Dana’s review

I have no recollection of this movie ever hitting the theaters, which is weird because of the amount of movies I see. But anyways, it is fresh new release for home viewing, so we thought we would give it a shot. I loved the build up in the movie. Freaky stuff is going on right off the back and you are constantly hit with a quick scare or spooky music to make you tense, never knowing what is coming next. But when it comes time for the exorcism, it had very little new to offer. It wasn’t a pea soup spewing, head spinning, demonic possession, but it was something that has been seen before. The addition of the weird crown of thorn type scars that appeared freshly over the possessed forehead was pretty cool, but overall the final act was kind of a let down. Watchable if you just want to see a decent possession movie, but don’t expect anything you really haven’t seen before.

 

31 Frightful Films – #11 The Possession

This one was recommended to us because we liked Sinister. The Possession is a 2012 film starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick. It’s a twist on the standard demonic possession tale in that instead of being based on Catholic mythology, it’s based on Jewish mythology. So instead of a demon, the little girl gets possessed by a dybbuk (a malevolent spirit). Divorced dad buys an antique carved box for one of his two daughters and the dybbuk lives in the box. Got it?

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Christa’s review

up to noseI really enjoyed this one. Even though it had all the standard plot points of a possession tale (innocently stumbling into danger, a young girl as a host, increasingly fucked-up and violent behavior, acceptance of a supernatural cause, the search for help from religious leader, exorcism), the acting was good, the characters were believable, and the horror effects were awesome. I was grossed out a lot, but not surprised and not afraid. But I would still recommend this film to anyone who likes a good story.

Dana’s review

OK, so I fell asleep for part of this film, but not because it was a bad film, but because I was just tired. However, what I did see of it, which was most of the beginning, sporadic middle, and the end, I liked. It had it’s moments of typical possession, but the way the movie played out I really liked. I really liked that it wasn’t the Catholics coming to try and save the day, but a Rabbi. I’m not sure why, but I thought that was a nice, unique twist on it. Definitely worth the watch.