Sunday, April 23, 2017

American Beast (2014)

After spending a good bit of my day away from my computer, I decided to kick back and watch, what I had hoped would be an entertaining creature feature. Unfortunately, that was not the case with 2014s American Beast (AKA Solitude)

Plot/ After finding an old storage locker filled with his family's history, James Erikson begins a journey to discover the truth behind a mysterious piece of land in the small town of Solitude.

Sometimes you are surprised by movies and other times you cringe as ask yourself why. That was the case with this one, as I spent more time asking myself why I had not turned it off. As a fan of low budget cinema, I can often look past the traditional flaws and try to find the positives. In this case, everything seemed to be discordant and there was nothing new or original to make it worthwhile. The sound quality was miserable at best, the scripting was flat and predictable, the performances were uneven and cardboard and the entire film seemed to just drag on making the 89 minute run time feel like an eternity. Seriously, there is really nothing with this one that makes it worth watching. I honestly wish I had given up in the first fifteen or so minutes. Stay away.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Evil Within (2017)

What a Saturday, I went to lunch with Dad, was surprised when one of the daughters cut the grass without prompting, and I was able to push through another piece for my epic poem Salvation. While that may not sound like much, it was enough to allow my week to slow down and let me get some much needed down time. To finish the evening, I decided on an interesting flick, 2017s The Evil Within.

Plot/ The sadistic tale of a lonely, mentally handicapped boy who befriends his reflection in an antique mirror. This demonic creature orders him to go on a murderous rampage to kill the people he loves most.

When I sat down to watch this one, I had no clue what to expect. What I found was an interesting film that was much better than I initially would have guessed. While this is not a perfect film and it has some uneven moments, it is rather entertaining and memorable, featuring some solid visuals, decent performances, and sound cinematography. Yes, the ending (like parts of the movie) was confusing and there were some minor pacing issues, but those really do not bring the film down especially when the history of this movie is brought to life. This relatively strange and unknown gem, originally titled The Storyteller, was the obsession of oil heir Andrew Getty, who wrote, directed, and methodically crafted this film for roughly 15-years until his tragic death in 2015. In the end, this movie may not be great, and in may not live up to its own history, but it is a memorable entry and one that I am glad I noticed during my last trip to Family Video.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Institute (2017)

Last night, I took some time away from the blog as I was working on my National Poetry Month project, the epic poem Salvation. While that has proven to be extremely challenging, I am on pace to have it finished by the end of the month. To get back into the swing of things, I decided on the 2016 psychological thriller The Institute.

Plot/ In 19th century Baltimore, a girl was stricken with grief from her parents' untimely death voluntarily checks herself into the Rosewood Institute, and is subjected to bizarre and increasingly violent pseudo-scientific experiments in personality modification, brainwashing and mind control; she must escape the clutches of the Rosewood and exact her revenge.

When I saw this one on the shelf, I decided to give it a shot. While it is not a perfect film, it is an atmospheric and entertaining flick that was different than what I expected. There are some positives, as the performances were decent, the storyline interesting, the cinematography solid, and the atmosphere was better than I would have expected. Yes, it did lack some of the horror elements that I expected, the sound quality of the disk was off, and some of the characters felt flat, but those elements did not indeed hamper the end product that fit will into the Victorian aesthetic. In the end, the real horror of this tale is that it is believable in regards to the way patients were treated and experimented on during that era. Sure, this is not a perfect film (although I personally love it, as it matches my writing style), and it is more of a mental trip into days gone by, but it is a movie that fans of period horror pieces should check out. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Arbor Demon (2016)

With having my camping trip coming closer into view, I have been in the mood for some interesting films that take place in the outdoors. So, while walking through Gamily Video on my trip to pick-up Split, I stumbled upon thin next flick, and I am glad that I did. Next up for review is the 2016 creature feature, Arbor Demon (AKA Enclosure).

Plot/ An adventurous woman with a secret from her husband insists the couple go camping to reconnect. Something in the woods wipes out a group of hunters nearby, preventing the couple from leaving their tent. Secrets and supernatural stories come to light, and they must determine if the real threat is inside or outside their enclosure.

Creature features based on camping trips are usually ripe with cliché and are rather predictable, and while this entry has a few moments like that, it is a rather impressive venture into that subgenre. Yes, it is not a perfect film (there really aren’t many that are), but it was an entertaining film with some solid elements to enjoy, the performances are better than normal with this lower budget, the pacing works to build a tension-filled atmosphere, and the characterizations are better that what you would normally expect. Sure, much of the action and horror sequences take place off screen and there are some head scratching moments, but none of those make this creature feature seem out of place, In the end, this movie was much better than I expected when I picked it up at Family Video, while it is not the best of its kind, it is am entertaining and interesting low-budget creature feature.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Split (2016)

It is nice to be back home after a trip to North Carolina. While it is nice to visit with family, that it a long drive and I often return exhausted and worn out. Plus, I usually miss my typical horror fix. To get back into the swing of things, I went to Family Video and picked up the 2016 thriller Split.

Plot/ Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities, they must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.

As many already know, movies by M. Night Shyamalan can range from awesome to terrible, and honestly, you never know what you will get. I was relieved that Split fell closer to the good productions. While not a perfect film and it does have a few clichéd moments, the performances within the storyline (especially James McAvoy) make it easy to overlook those. Besides McAvoy, the performances are solid, the story is engaging, and the direction was solid. This one was definitely an atmospheric thriller that was better than I expected. Unfortunately, it was somewhat predictable and the twist ending was not needed. In the end, there was a lot to like about this movie and it appears that Shyamalan has again put together of entertaining thrillers. Hopefully, he keeps up this trend with his next entry.