31 Frightful Films – #7 Housebound

Scrolling through Netflix’s horror genre, it is a sea of one and two star shit-shows. We spotted one with four stars and jumped on it. Housebound is a 2014 film from New Zealand. What this means to American audiences is that the characters speak with accents and drive on the wrong side of the road. The premise: A young woman named Kylie commits a crime and is sentenced to 8 months of house arrest…with her mother and step-father in the house she grew up in. She’s surly and rude, but things get interesting when she overhears her mother confess that she thinks the house is haunted. With the help of the security guy that monitors her ankle bracelet compliance, she discovers that her home was once a halfway house for fucked up kids and that a 16 year old girl was murdered there. There are weird sounds and a super-fucked-up Teddy Ruxpin-ish bear. Meanwhile a creepy neighbor looms and Kylie’s mom babbles non-stop. Is it a ghost? A demon? Or is something of flesh and blood hiding in the house?
HB POSTER FINAL_BLEED_3

 

Christa’s Review

Though the film is not meant to be a spoof (I don’t think…who can tell with kiwis?), Housebound manages to be both funny and quite scary. I think this would have scared me much more if I’d watched in the dark instead of at noon while eating a turkey sandwich. I have no complaints about this, nor saw any errors. I agree with Dana that the actress playing Kylie seemed too old for the part, but she was very good. Brave though frightened, she was a real heroine. Don’t be misled by my Afghan rating. It’s very good. Just not butt-puckeringly scary.

up to nose

 

 

 

 

 

Dana’s Review

We found this movie by just flicking through Netflix to see what we could find, and this just happened to be the movie we decided on. I thought it was a stretch to place the lead actor on house arrest for the crime she committed , especially given the age of the character. Well, the supposed age of the character, because we never really know, but it seemed that the actress was stretching to play the age of the character. But once through that, it was a fairly enjoyable movie to watch. Not a lot of horror or gore, with just a little bit of suspense, but with some mystery thrown in that has you constantly guessing what is really going on. Overall, a good movie to watch for those wanting a good movie, without being a typical, all out horror movie.

 

 

31 Frightful Films – #6 Insidious: Chapter 2

Hey, I finally got to watch a scary movie with Gunny! Between his work schedule, the early bedtime he needs to maintain it, and our six-year-old daughter it’s difficult to find a time we can watch something together that is unsuitable for children. So, hooray for our first joint review! We chose Insidious Chapter 2 because we’d seen the first one and it was good and scary. The premise is that, immediately after the events of the first film, the family runs to Grandma’s house followed by the spirit that has been giving them shit and that they thought they were rid of. It’s Poltergeisty, and I mean that in a good way.

Insidious_Chapter_2_1
Christa’s Review

Here’s the first thing: You really should watch the first film before doing the sequel. There isn’t a “last time on Insidious” catch-up, so you have to try to remember what the deal is. Overall this is a good film. Shit holds together well, it’s creepy and pretty scary, and kept me guessing. Two things bugged me: 1) The wife and the mother look way too similar. They have exactly the same hairdo, so from down the hall or across the room you may not know who you’re watching. 2) I’m weary of the horror movie cliche of an abandoned hospital/mental institution/prison that still has all the furniture, fixtures, and patient records. Lame. Oh, which leads me to 3) the fake cobwebs were not convincing. Despite those small things that irked me, I will absolutely recommend this scary movie, with the caveat that you should watch Chapter 1 first.

I think last year I would have given this a higher scare score. Perhaps I'm getting jaded?

I think last year I would have given this a higher scare score. Perhaps I’m getting jaded?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dana’s Review

After watching this film, I am unsure if I ever saw the original in the first place. Lucky for me, between the first 10 minutes of the movie and Christa, I was able to get a fairly good idea of what happened in the movie, at least enough to enjoy this movie. Note to casting agents. Please don’t cast actors with similar features in a film with involves different time periods in the film. Both Christa and I got a little confused with the Mother in the first scene looking too similar to the Mother in the present day scenes, and took us more time than it should have to figure out what was going on. With some good suspenseful moments that kept you guessing about where the movie was going, and how it was going to wrap up, it was very enjoyable. I loved that way they “Back to the Futured” the original movie as well, which I felt was a fresh take of the usual sequel of retelling the original story with just more gore and fright. And guess what? There is a Chapter 3 out there to watch as well. Just enough scare for me to not make me have to change my shorts, and with a story that kept my interest through the entire film, this is a good watch for the Halloween season.

 

 

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 – #15 Leprechaun: Origins

This is the 2014 reboot of the classic Leprechaun series starring Willow, but this time starring WWE Superstar Hornswoggle as the small, bad, leprechaun. Being that this is another WWE Studios film, it should come as no surprise.  And in a weird sense of promotion, instead of releasing this movie around Halloween, they decided that this needed to be released around St. Patrick’s Day. Anyways…

Leprechaun Origins

Leprechaun Origins reboots the franchise but without the cheesy, comical, leprechaun that we all loved, but instead as a demon out to get those that have stolen it’s gold. And instead of a group of stereotypical college kids running around trying to survive the leprechaun, we are treated to a three-way dance of survival as it is the leprechaun vs the college kids vs the local villagers. The villagers found the leprechauns gold, and took it. In retaliation, the leprechaun kills in retribution for this. The villagers, in their own version of “let’s run up the stairs and hide”, decide that it is best to NOT leave town when a demon is trying to kill you, but to stay and try and lure outsiders in so the leprechaun will kill them instead. Oh, but don’t worry about the college kids, they do their own bit of “let’s run up the stairs and hide” of classic horror by, get this, running up the stairs and hiding. Actually, this movie is full of your classic horror cliche’s and suspense shots, but lacks the great special effects or memorable lines that you would hope to find in this type of movie. The best line to me was a lucky charms bit near the end, and what leprechaun horror movie be without a short joke or lucky charms joke. Watch if you want, but it isn’t that fantastic. Wait for Netflix.

31 Frightful Films – #7 Sinister

Last night we watched Sinister, a 2012 film starring 90’s anti-hero Ethan “What’s my glitch?” Hawke. He plays a writer of fiction that no one reads, textbooks that pay the bills, and one true crime book that gave him 15 minutes of fame. Hoping to reclaim that level of success, he moves his family to a new town to research another true crime book. What he doesn’t tell his family is that he’s moved them to a crime scene: the house where a family was murdered and one of the children went missing. He finds a box of Super8 film labeled “home movies.” Shit starts to happen.

 

Fuck you, Sinister.

Fuck you, Sinister.

Christa’s review

All the way scared.

All the way scared.

Well. I’ve met my match. This movie scared the shit out of me. It starts slowly, with scene after scene of Ethan Hawke sitting in the dark drinking whisky on the rocks and watching horrors unfold on the sheet he’s pinned to the wall. Here’s the thing about Sinister though. There’s no slow burn of typical haunted house films. No, “huh, didn’t I turn that light off?” or “who moved my book?” that might be attributed to playful poltergeists. Once things go bad in this house, they go all the way bad, and fast. The ending is a jaw-dropper. Afghan of Doom is exhausted from being cowered under and clutched in desperation. At one point I may have whispered “turn it off, turn it off, I hate this.” Yeah, and every time I woke up during the night, I thought about that face. UGH! If you like to be scared, Sinister is fantastic.

Dana’s review

OK, now THIS is what I was expecting going in to this with Christa. A good scary movie that puckers the sphincter, but not before empting your bowels. The story was slow as snail snot at the beginning, just teasing you on what you thought it was going to be. But then, it dropped the clutch and went full bore into it at the end, twisting and turning along the way. Turn off the lights, but away the cell phones, turn off the tablets, and give this movie a watch! It leaves you with a “did you hear that” feeling once it ends, and that’s a good thing. That lasting impression is what makes it possible to scare the brown clown out of your wife once it is over, for even more entertainment value. But be warned, your “werewolves” may become a target.

31 Frightful Films – #4 The Woman in Black

Last night we sort of had to force ourselves to watch something. We’d been up early for a 5k and it had been a long day. We choose The Woman in Black, a 2012 film starring Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe based on the book by Susan Hill. The premise is that a down-on-his-luck widower is dispatched by his law firm to clean up the papers of a dead client. In a creepy-ass house in a creepy-ass village full of creepy-ass people.

Do not go alone.

Do not go alone.

Dana’s review

Oh Boy! I get to go first this week! It must be my birthday! I missed yesterday’s movie due to me going and playing poker with some friends and taking their money, but this movie more than made up for it. Screw you with your randomly disappearing/reappearing creepy old woman face! This movie had me making noises under my blanket that sounded like Peter Griffin having sex for the first time in anticipation of what was assuredly going to be the next scare. Unfortunately, the only thing that kept me going was the waiting for the next scare just so I could swear at it again. Harry Potter could have been playing Pinocchio for how wooden his performance was, and I really have no idea what the story was about because it just didn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me and was just uninteresting in general. I had no attachment to Harry Potter’s character and was wishing that he would just die so the movie would end. Scare factor is the best we have seen yet, but otherwise, a shitty movie.

Christa’s review

Ack! Make it stop, Mommy!

Ack! Make it stop, Mommy!

I read the book by Susan Hill a couple of years ago and it scared the vajazzle out of me. Like almost too scared to turn the page kind of terror. So, honestly, I’d been avoiding watching the movie. How can a film be simultaneously boring and sphincter-puckeringly frightening? It must be some sort of wizardry. The film differs from the book in significant ways, but captured the atmosphere of Eel Marsh House perfectly. One thing that I thought was better accomplished in the book was the sense of how desperate the guy’s financial situation was and how much he needed to hang on to his job. It’s the only way his refusal to get the hell out of that mind-fuck of a house makes any sort of sense. Was it scary? Jesus fuckballs it was scary. Not only did I cower under the Afghan of Doom, I also put my fingers over my eyes and squinted, so I could only see a blurred slit of the horrors onscreen. He probably didn’t mention it in his review, but Dana was still scared when we went to bed, thinking he saw the Woman in Black in the corner of the room. My big bad Marine told me “I hate you for making me watch that.” I have to agree with him on that.

 

31 Frightful Films – #3 The Eye

Last night Gunny was playing poker with the dudes, so once Allison was abed, I watched a scary movie  with my older daughter Callahan (18). Hardly anything scares her. She’s by far the most unflappable family member. My son (22) would argue that honor belongs to him, but he’d be wrong. Uh, anyway, it’s just me reviewing today. The film was The Eye from 2008 and starring Jessica Alba.

TheEyePoster

The fingers never happened. Maybe it would have helped…

The premise of this movie is cellular memory. The idea that a donated organ can come with unforeseen side-effects. For example, a life-long non-smoker receives the kidney or liver of a stranger and suddenly really wants a cigarette. The organ donor, of course, was a smoker. In The Eye, Jessica Alba receives corneal transplants and immediately begins to see weird shit. Shit that isn’t there. (Minor quibble: why not The Eyes? She got two corneas…). Jessica Alba is all kinds of eye candy, and Parker Posey plays her sister, but this movie is pretty lame. Just…not scary. It felt a little bit like Constantine and a little bit like Ghost. And, doy, a lot like Eyes of Laura Mars. I think the main problem is that the creepy shadow creatures that come to collect the dead look sort of like rejects from the Blue Man Group. Not that they’re blue, but…

Anyway. Not scary. This is me giving this film side-eye. And a courtesy afghan-lift.

Side eye with Afghan

 

31 Frightful Films – #1 Dark Mountain

We’re watching a scary movie every day in October. Well, technically we’re watching 31 scary movies in October because we’ll be on vacation for 5 of the days.

There are two rules:

  • We can only watch movies that neither of us have seen before.
  • No torture/gore flicks in the Saw, Human Centipede, Hostel vein.

We began our search on Netflix and were quite surprised to find they don’t have a Halloween channel set up yet. Missed opportunity, guys. Amazon has a Horror listing, but it’s all stuff that requires rental and there were several mis-filed films that should not be under horror.

Dark MountainAnyway, we ended up watching Dark Mountain, a “found footage” movie from 2013 starring Sage Howard, Andrew Simpson, and Shelby Stehlin. The premise is that they journey to the Superstition Mountains in Arizona to search for the Lost Dutchman Mine. Weird shit ensues. It’s Blair Witch in the desert, basically. One of the characters even jokes about the Blair Witch. I believe that is called “lampshading.”

Christa’s review:

up to noseIt was a complete ripoff of The Blair Witch Project, including the casting of one strong female who owns the documentary project and two doofy guys along for the ride. The woman’s mistakes/hubris lead the group into trouble (and isn’t that actually the oldest story EVER?), and bickering, arrogance, sobbing, and wandering follow. Instead of the intermittent black and white footage that the Blair Witch Project employed, this film used ‘phone cam’ footage that apparently had a grainy 70s Instagram filter. The usual shit happened, and no answers were given. At least in the BWP, you knew who the bad guy was: the goddamn witch. In Dark Mountain, it is never clear if the unseen heavy is the ghost of the Dutchman, aliens, crazed locals protecting a gold claim or something else. BUT having said all that, this movie did scare me a bit. The BWP scared the shit out of me back in the day, and those familiar techniques worked again. It’s not awful by any means. Maybe if you think of it as a reboot of BWP instead of a copycat it will feel fresh and fabulous. Bottom line: I didn’t have to cover my face with the Afghan of Doom and peek through the eyeholes, but I did pull it up to my nose a couple times.

Dana’s review:

It definitely did carry a Blair Witch Project feel to it, from the “Based on real events” to the “found footage” used to create the movie. I’m unsure if the bad guy was supposed to be the Native America spirits, aliens, time vortex’s, or crazy Dutchman mine hunters. All of these played a part in the scare, but with nothing ever being explained. I know they don’t have to explain these things, but it felt like they took the rest of the Scooby-Doo mysteries and made them all be the bad guys. And while it did generate a little scare in me, it was done through the familiar “it’s dark with little light and a jumpy camera and then something jumps out” that would startle almost anybody. Overall, it was an ok movie, but not something I would really recommend to anybody.