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.

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31 Frightful Films – #24 Playback

We were a little leary of this because of the debacle that was V/H/S, but we gave Playback a chance. It’s from 2012 and stars a bunch of teenagers (or young-looking actors) plus Christian Slater. Yes, that Christian Slater. The idea of this film is that evil can be transferred through images (not completely dissimilar to Sinister, which you may remember is our reigning butt-puckeringly scary favorite). So here’s the deal: Fifteen years ago, a terrible mass murder happened in this town and a family was wiped out. Now, in present day, a high school student is doing a film project on “The Diehl Murders” for a school project. Local grownups discourage him from digging up bad memories, but he perseveres with the help of his girlfriend and friends in researching and reenacting the crime on video.He gets a guy who works as an archivist at the local TV news station to dig up the real footage of the crime and that’s when the evil is released.

playback

Dana’s review

This movie reminded me a little of The Ring with it’s use of video as a transfer device for evil. Not an exceptionally scary movie, but then again, we watched it with the lights on in the middle of the day, so that had something to do with it, I’m sure. I did like the story on how a picture captures a potion of the persons soul, so a motion picture actually captures a bit of them, and the history of the motion picture that was included in the film. Overall, very watchable. Not over the top scary or gory.

Christa’s review

up to noseThis was pretty good. I would have been more scared if we’d watched it at night with the lights off, so I take responsibility for some of the unscariness. Although the film plays with ideas that have been explored before–heck, how many times have we heard the trope about photographs capturing the soul?–it did so in a unique way that also explored ideas of inherited evil. Slater as a corrupt and perverted cop was surprising, but I found myself wondering more about his career choices than really buying into his portrayal. Again, that may be my own personal baggage. This film delivered some good scares. I saw the twist coming, but that didn’t negatively effect my enjoyment. I give this half an Afghan of Doom with the caveat that it probably would be an eyeball-peeker if I’d watched under proper conditions.

 

 

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 – #5 The Sacrament

Last night, after dining at a fancy steak house for Gunny’s birthday, we were full and sleepy and not really in the mood for a scary movie. So we just sort of put on the first thing tagged horror we found that neither of us had watched before. This turned out to be The Sacrament. Written and directed by Ti West and starring no one you’ve ever heard of. The premise is that a a hard-hitting investigative TV news team goes off to some remote country to fetch the photographer’s sister, who has gotten involved with some sort of hippie commune.

The Sacrament

Dana’s Review

What matter of feces did I just watch? Stumbled upon this movie while flipping through Netflix, saw it was listed as horror, so screw it, let’s watch this one. Bad decision. Film crew travels to another country to see the sister of one of their crew who went to a rehab commune. Greeted by guns. The Jonestown Massacre happens. The end. There is no horror, no scares , no suspense. This movie so boring that I fell asleep at one point and missed nothing but some bad acting and horrible script. I still can’t get over the stupidity of the helicopter pilot. When they were dropped off via helicopter, the pilot said he would be back tomorrow and would only wait for an hour before leaving. Fast forward to the next day when one of the crew members “gets to the choppa” for help, and the pilot gets shot. Not dead shot, but wounded shot mind you. The crew member explains what is happening at the camp, and the pilot says he will wait while he goes back to the camp. The same guy who said he would only wait an hour, gets shot, and decided that he will now wait around longer. AFTER GETTING FUCKING SHOT! This movie sucks. The only reason to watch this movie is to screw with your friends and make them waste 90 minutes of their life.

Christa’s Review

It’s Jonestown. This film is neither interesting nor scary. A better title would be: The Excrement.

Afghan of Doom fell asleep.

Afghan of Doom fell asleep.

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.