Monday, February 20, 2017
By William Pattison, aka Eric Morse
For Horror Bob’s Blog
Gore and scares! For my review this time I have the new anthology XX. This anthology was done by four female filmmakers: Jovanka Vuckovic, Roxanne Benjamin,
Vincent aka Annie Clark, and Karyn Kusama. The film is made up of
four terror tales connected by a weird animated wrap a round featuring an odd
doll house with a doll’s face.
The first story is an adaptation by Jovanka Vuckovic of the overly treaded Jack Ketchum short story The Box. Honestly when I saw that they were doing The Box in this anthology I figured this segment was going to be the weakest of the stories given the fact that The Box has had three previous short film adaptation as well as a feature film. For those who somehow missed this story, in Ketchum’s original story a man with a messed up side of his face goes to a couple who is having financial problems and offers them the chance to get a million dollars. The only catch is they have to push a button inside a black box which will kill a random person. They only have a week to decide. Well, Vuckovic does a total re-writing of the tale. She still has the mysterious man and the box, but this time the box is red and has a big red bow on it. Vuckovic’s version starts on a train with a mother and two kids. A mystery man with a messed up eye is sitting nearby them holding the box. The mother’s son asks the man what is in the box. The man opens the box and shows him. From that moment on the boy refuses to eat. His father in one scene gets so frustrated he starts yelling at the boy who breaks down in tears but refuses to eat. Eventually the boy tells his sister what he saw and she refuses to eat as well. Then at the end the boy tells his father and he stops eating. You can gather the end of the story. Jovanka Vuckovic is brilliant in how she handles this story. Seriously, the way she films the food in the scene makes you hungry. It looks so appealing yet the boy and later his sister turns their noses up to it. This adaptation is psychological horror at its best and is in fact the strongest of the tales in this anthology.
The second story is by filmmakers Roxanne Benjamin and
aka Annie Clark. It is titled The Birthday
Party. It tells the tale of a mother who is having a costume party/
birthday party for her adopted daughter. Unfortunately, she finds the girl’s
father dead in his den. Now the mother finds herself trying to hide the body
from her daughter and the arriving party guests. She ends up disguising the
body in a panda costume and sits it at the party table. Of course fate hits in
a predictable ending.
I have to say this was the weakest story of the anthology and suffered from an annoying habit that some female filmmakers have. That is they fall so much in love with style and costuming that they forget the story and focus solely on visual elements. This is an issue I have with the Soskas as well. For instance the mother spends the entire story in a dark green nightgown with a mauve silk bathrobe. The daughter is wearing a supposed handmade ghost costume. The distracting thing is it is made out of a white overly shiny vinyl material. Then the other kids costumes look like nothing a modern kid would ever, and I mean ever, wear unless they were forced to. It looks like a twisted school play. Then of course the parents costuming and hair styles were horridly off. I doubt that any man, even a gay guy, would wear an orange tennis shirt with a atomic yellow sweater and puke green colored pants. With all these distracting costume elements it royally takes away from the focus of the story, which is the mother and her husband’s body.
The third story is a definite improvement over the last installment. I was directed by Roxanne Benjamin and is titled Don’t Fall. It tells the story of a group of vacationers who set up camp in an area they are not supposed to be near a ancient cave painting. The cave painting shows a group of figures. The figure in the middle is bigger than the others and appears to have horns. The group does some rock climbing, have a campout, and settle in their RV for a good night’s sleep. Well, that is when the fun begins….One of the girls wakes up in the middle of the night. She somehow had been moved up the rock face and was laying beneath the cave painting. She ends up being possessed by the evil entity that lives in the rock. Now the vacationers must try to escape their friend who has turned into a monster set to rip all of them to pieces.
I loved this story. It was a no nonsense monster story that was gritty and nasty in the tradition of The Evil Dead. The possessed girl-creature was awesome and all the FX were gory practical effects. I have nothing but praise for this installment.
The final story is titled Her only Living Son. It was directed by Karyn Kusama and tells the story of Cora, who has a special son named Andy who she spends her days protecting. Cora has had to move constantly to protect her son because some “crazy people,” as she calls them, want to take Andy and use him for their own purposes. Well, Andy’s eighteenth birthday is coming up and Cora worries that he might have to make a frightening decision.
I really enjoyed this installment. Both the actress that played Cora and Andy both did fantastic performances. In fact all the performances are top drawer. There is a scene where Cora in having a conference with the dean of Andy’s school. Supposedly Andy had pulled a fellow student’s finger nails off. Surprisingly, the dean tells Cora that she isn’t going to discipline Andy because he is a special boy and needs to be encouraged. The look on Cora’s face speaks volumes. The most frightening scene is towards the end of the story after Andy tells Cora that a strange woman told him his real father was coming to get him. He orders his mother to kneel before him and while she pleads about how she has done everything to protect him Andy strokes her hair with his hand which has changed and has long sharp finger nails. The best part of this story is when Andy’s father finally arrives the camera doesn’t show him but focuses solely on Andy and his mother. Also, though the end is bloody it is done well and fits the feel of the story rather than being overly grizzly.
So, in conclusion, I have to say that XX is a really good anthology film. If I was to give it a number rating I would give it a 3.5 out of 5. The reason I would not give it a full 4.0 is because I felt the cryptic wrap a round took away from the film. Also, as I said, I wasn’t very pleased with the second story. But, I will say that this anthology surprised me and is one I will recommend….
Keep on Creepin’, Horror Bob’s Blog….
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
William Pattison’s Top 20 Best Horror Films of 2016
Gore and Scares Everybody! It’s me, William Pattison. Well, 2017 is here and so is horror awards season. Yep, all the horror magazines and film festivals will be naming their favorite horror films from 2016 via Top Lists or full on awards ceremonies. So I thought what the hell. I’ve watched around 200 horror films this last year, more or less (Probably more than most of the people who are judging this year…). So, why shouldn’t I name my Top twenty films I thought were superior for 2016?
It was hard but after a lot of painful cutting and trimming I managed to knock my list down to twenty. It really was hard work because there were a lot of excellent horror films that came out in 2016. So here are my choices…..
20. She-wolf Rising
A nonstop supernatural thriller that explores the dark side of underground filmmaking. Gina Sklar, the reigning queen of horror, portrayed by Tiffany Shepis, lures Jake Bubar (Tim Mandala) into the decadent world of illusions and myths. Robert Lonzo (J. Edmund Fond) is Gina's mentor and producer in the world of horror cinema. Someone has stolen the footage from his latest movie and Gina needs Jake's help to recover it. It's Lonzo's best movie ever and Gina's breakout performance. Gina believes that this movie could catapult her out of the "B" world of films and into mainstream cinema. Jake struggles with his own demons internally but in the end cannot resist her. He only sees her vulnerability and beauty and will do anything to help. Jake's beliefs are challenged when he discovers Gina's true nature and realizes that the "the heart becomes savage." Together they forge ahead and deal with the demons and beasts that try to stop them from their forbidden desire.
Tiffany Shepis, Debbie Rochon, Timothy Mandala
When passengers on a train are attacked by a creature, they must band together in order to survive until morning.
Mark Huckerby, Nick Ostler
Ed Speleers, Holly Weston, Shauna Macdonald
18. The Veil
Twenty-five years after members of a religious cult committed mass suicide, the lone survivor returns to the scene of the tragedy with a documentary crew in tow.
Robert Ben Garant (screenplay)
Jessica Alba, Lily Rabe, Thomas Jane
A squad of unsuspecting cops goes through a trapdoor to Hell when they stumble upon a Black Mass in an abandoned building.
Ogulcan Eren Akay, Can Evrenol, Cem Ozuduru, Ercin Sadikoglu
Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Görkem Kasal, Ergun Kuyucu
A loving father finds a clown suit for his son's birthday party, only to realize that it is not a suit at all.
Christopher Ford (screenplay) (as Christopher D. Ford), Jon
Andy Powers, Laura Allen, Peter Stormare
A bachelor party becomes a savage fight for survival when the groomsmen unwittingly unleash a fabled predator upon the festivities.
David Bruckner (based on characters created by), David Bruckner (original screenplay: Amateur Nightt), Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski, Nicholas Tecosky (based on characters created by)
Chase Williamson, Hannah Fierman, Justin Welborn
14. Blair Witch
After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his vanished sister Heather, James and a group of friends head to the forest believed to be inhabited by the Blair Witch.
James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid
13. Hollow Creek
Seeking inspiration for his latest horror novel Blake Blackman, a writer from
New York, retreats to
a remote cabin in the Appalachian Mountains.
He is secretly accompanied by his lover Angelica Santoro a book illustrator who
he's been having an affair with. She brings her dog along with them. Upon
arrival they hear an amber alert on the radio and first learn about the case of
several boys missing in the area. Soon after they arrive to the cabin her dog
starts acting strange like there's someone or something out in the woods. A
twist of fate turns the romantic interlude into an abduction-murder case when
Angelica follows a lead to one of the missing boys and she mysteriously goes
missing. Blake then becomes the prime suspect of her disappearance.
Guisela Moro, Steve Daron (collaborating writer) Guisela Moro (creator)
Steve Daron, Guisela Moro, Burt Reynolds |
12. Don’t Breath
Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn't as helpless as he seems.
Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette
After botching an ill-conceived bank robbery in a desolate
California town, two
wannabe crooks flee the scene with a hostage and lead the local lawmen on a
dangerous high-speed chase.
Ashley Bell, Pat Healy, James Landry Hébert
A married couple of scientists create a modern-day monster.
Danny Huston, Matthew Jacobs, Dave Pressler
9. Ouja: Origin of Evil
a widowed mother and her 2 daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance
scam business, inviting an evil presence into their home.
Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard Stiles White (characters) Juliet Snowden (characters)
Elizabeth Reaser, Lulu
Wilson, Annalise Basso
10 Cloverfield Lane
After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack.
Josh Campbell (story), Matthew Stuecken (story) Josh Campbell (screenplay) &, Matthew Stuecken (screenplay) and, Damien Chazelle (screenplay)
John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.
7. The Monster
A mother and daughter must confront a terrifying monster when they break down on a deserted road.
Zoe Kazan, Ella Ballentine, Aaron Douglas
6. Before I Wake
A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams - and nightmares - manifest physically as he sleeps.
Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
Thomas Jane, Kate Bosworth, Jacob Tremblay
Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, Hell-like compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal of which is to survive twelve hours against a gang of sadistic clowns.
Malcolm McDowell, Richard Brake, Jeff Daniel Phillips
4. The Train to Busan
While a zombie-virus breaks out in
South Korea, a couple of passengers struggle to
survive on the train from Seoul
Sang-ho Yeon (screenplay)
Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jung
An investigative reporter teams up with a Police officer to solve the mystery of why a seemingly good man murdered her sister's family.
Darren Lynn Bousman
Christopher Monfette (screenplay)
Jessica Lowndes, Joe Anderson, Lin Shaye
2. The Conjuring 2
Carey Hayes (screenplay), Chad Hayes (screenplay), James Wan (screenplay) and David Leslie Johnson (screenplay) (as David Johnson), Carey Hayes (story) & James Wan (story)
Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe
1.The Autopsy of Jane Doe
A father and son, both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harboring dark secrets.
Ian B. Goldberg (as Ian Goldberg), Richard Naing
Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond
Well, those are my top twenty horror films for 2016. I hoped you enjoyed them. If you haven't seen some of these films I suggest you take the time to do that because they are worth it....
Keep on Creepin', Horror Bob's Blog!!!!