Brightburn (2019)

Brightburn (2019)Tori and Kyle are struggling to have a child, when one night something from outer space crashes nearby their farm. Just like a blessing from above, it’s some sort of space craft that includes a little baby boy, and the couple are happy to take care of him and raise him as their own (hmm…have we heard this story before somewhere?). The boy, whom they name Brandon, proves to be quite special, never showing signs of getting physically hurt and a lot more intelligent than other children his age. As he grows older, however, his behavior changes and he becomes more aggressive and irritable, to the point of even hurting one of his classmates. Tori is desperate to think the best of her little boy, but soon things turn to worse and it becomes obvious to Tori and Kyle that Brandon is far from the gift from above they originally considered him to be…

 

If you are familiar with the story of “Superman” (I guess most of us are), then you’ll quickly realize that “Brightburn” is some sort of twisted version of that good old story: what if Superman was evil, instead of the do-gooder he turned out to be? What if he used his superpowers for evil instead of good, and wanted to destroy the world instead of saving it? Well, that’s “Brightburn” in a nutshell.

 

Before Brandon ventures fully into his evil ways, we see the parents viewing his transformation into something else with a fair amount of unease. Yes, you can easily associate this with puberty: your little boy suddenly changes in both behavior and needs, and for many parents this change can feel uncomfortable and difficult to accept. Except Brandon isn’t just a normal boy, and his change is something else entirely. In one scene at school, we hear Brandon explain the difference between bees and wasps, where bees are domesticated creatures and wasps are predators. His expressed interest in particularly wasps during this scene might give us a hint that Brandon’s alien race is somewhat similar to wasps: it’s simply in his nature to be an aggressive predator.

 

“Brighburn” even delivers some pleasant blood & gore, living up to its R rating. This isn’t a movie filled with twists and turns, it’s very straight-forward. If you’ve watched the trailers for the movie or read a simple synopsis, you know exactly what kind of meal you’ll be served. While “Brightburn” doesn’t really get truly creepy or scary, it delivers on well-paced action and suspense, mixed with some (not that many, but good) death scenes. If you’re tired of all the dime-a-dozen superhero movies that’s been released lately, “Brightburn” might be a fresh breath of air.

 

And finally, some food for thought: if an alien with superpowers landed on Earth, would it really be interested in using its power to protect it just for our sake? Nah…don’t think so.

 

Brightburn

 

Director: David Yarovesky
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Abraham Clinkscales, Christian Finlayson, Jennifer Holland, Emmie Hunter, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Becky Wahlstrom, Terence Rosemore, Gregory Alan Williams
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7752126/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Devil and Father Amorth (2017)

In 1972 William Friedkin made “The Exorcist”. Now, fourty years later, he got the opportunity to film a real exorcism. He travels to Rome, Italy, to meet Father Gabrielle Amorth, a priest and the Vatican’s Exorcist in Chief himself who’s performed over 50.000 exorcisms. During the documentary he was 91 years old and a bit fragile, but showed no sign of slowing down. There are 60 million people in Italy and we learn that 500.000 of them are seeing an exorcist every year. Yikes.

 

One of them is the 47-year old Christina who claims to be possessed by the devil (or 89 (!) demons as claimed in an online article), and Father Amorth have exorcised her eight times without any success. In this documentary, “The Devil and Father Amorth”, we’ll witness the ninth attempt. And Friedkin was allowed by the Vatican to film the session, but only with a small video camera and without any crew. And according to this documentary, The Vatikan has never allowed any exorcisms to be filmed before.  So I bet Mr. Friedkin was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning to finally witness the real deal, and show it to the world.

 

And after we briefly meet Christina, I wish there was a lot more focus on her and how she functions in the everyday-life while supposedly being possessed by 89 freakin’ demons. Seriously. How does she even get out of bed? How is she being able to do anything? And how does her boyfriend and family handle the situation? And this being the ninth time she’s being exorcised, she sure looks pretty healthy with her make-up an all. She gives a quick interview before the exorcism session starts, while she smiles and acts like she’s waiting for her turn to do an audition for a song contest, Italian Idol, or something. But no, there’s no in-depth with her, she just comes and goes. Is she really possessed, mentally ill or just a really bad actress who wants some attention? Still, Father Amorth is certainly convinced that she’s possessed.

 

And then the session begins in Father Amorth’s office with Christina’s family and relatives as witnesses. And oh’boy oh’boy what a cringy witnessing that is. If I sat in that room, I would really struggle not to laugh.

 

I didn’t expect any head-twisting, levitation or anything like that, but if William Friedkin waited 40 years for this, he is in his full right to tell what he really thinks. Well, he does not. And someone in the sound-department had obviously played the zombie-mode of Call of Duty and thought the sound effects from the zombies would be a great idea for a double-toned demon voice. This is an element that many viewers with a brain and common sense have pointed out, and Friedkin was asked directly in an interview with Vulture if there was some manipulation of the voice in post-production. His reply was “I wouldn’t fuck around with that! That’s ridiculous!” Ha ha, yeah right, Mr. Friedkin. With all due respect, we’re not that dumb and naive.

 

So watching this with an open mind is just plain impossible. It’s also quite amusing that this thing actually “baffled” medics when it was screened at the Venice Film Festival, and a group of doctors watching the exorcism  of Christina in a meeting room with a straight face. Like we’ve never seen anything like this before. Bob Larson, anyone? He’s one of the many television evangelists who’s done the same thing for decades, and even though he’s batshit crazy, there’s not much difference in what we see here. But when some ancient dude from the Vatican enters the screen and swings his cruicifix to someones forehead, it’s suddenly somehow believable? Meh..

 

Spoiler warning: The ending makes it even more questionable and shady when Friedkin sets up a final interview with Christina in a small village outside of Rome. We’re being told that he meets her in a church, which he describes as “trapped in a living nightmare”. And as if all the credibility hasn’t been flushed down the toilet already, he didn’t even take his camera inside… How could this get even worse? To top the level of cringe, he retells the scenario from his memory and adds some dramatic music and sounds of the demon voice in a desperate attempt to give us a climax, or a sort of. So there you have it. “The Call of Duty Zombie-Devil and Father Amorth”. What a joke. It’s hard to tell if this is a mockumentary or not, you’d expect more from a director like William Friedkin, and not a lazy nothingburger like this.

 

Just before Father Amorth could perform Christina’s tenth exorcism, he dies. Rest in Peace. Now it’s time to call Sam and Dean. Friedkin then gives a quick humble epilogue while standing in front of The Exorcist Steps in Georgetown as a reminder that he at least made one of the greatest horror films of all time.

 

Suspiria 2018

 

Director: William Friedkin
Country & year: Italy | USA, 2017
Cast: Gabriele Amorth, Robert Barron, William Friedkin
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6883152/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GHOST TRAIN – horror short

Once a year, estranged brothers Michael and Peter make a reluctant pilgrimage to the old fairground where their friend Sam went missing three decades ago. This time, Michael has a secret to confess.

 

“Ghost Train” is a horror short that obviously has a certain budget, and delivers both suspense and atmosphere. Director Lee Cronin recently made his feature film debut with “The Hole in the Ground”. We recently ordered this movie on dvd, so expect to see a review of it on Horror Ghouls later!

 

GHOST TRAIN - horror short

 

Director: Lee Cronin
Country & year: Ireland & Finland, 2014
Actors: Owen McDonnell, Steve Wall, Matthew Dillon, Sean Gormley, Matthew Broe
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3225926/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: The video has been disabled for playback on other websites, but you can still watch the video by simply clicking “Watch this video on YouTube”!

 

The Mimic (2017)

Hee-yeon and her husband moves to the countryside together with their daughter and the husband’s mother, who is suffering from dementia. Their son, Jun-seo, disappeared five years ago and Hee-yeon is struggling with accepting the fact that he might be dead. One day, she finds a mute little girl in the forest nearby, and decides to take her home. Soon, the little girl starts speaking and claims that her name is the same as Hee-yeon’s daughter, and things start to make the little girl’s intentions questionable.

 

In many cultures, there’s been stories about spirits or creatures that will mimic the appearance or voice of our loved ones, in order to trick us. You might be familiar with one of the many variations of the creepy story where a child is hearing his/her mom calling out (usually from downstairs) but on the way for the mother’s calling voice, the child sees his/her real mother saying: “Don’t go. I heard it too!” (this has actually been made into several Creepypastas as well). Something being able to mimic someone we know is a terrifying concept, and long before I even knew anything about mimics at all, I actually had nightmares as a child where I’d hear my mother’s voice from two places at the same time (usually inside the house). Upon approaching my mother (from the voice I decided to choose) I always knew I’d chosen the wrong one, even though she looked exactly like my real mother. Creepy, right?

 

In “The Mimic” (Jang-san-beom), the plot is inspired by the myths about the Jangsan Tiger (nope, not the striped feline we’re all familiar with, but a creature with long white fur). The Jangsan Tiger is an urban legend, and this creature mimics a person in order to lure people away, and, of course, eat them. It’s supposed to lurk around the Jangsan mountain near the city of Busan, the area where Hee-yeon and her family moves to. In fact, the film’s Korean title “Jang-san-beom” literally means “Jangsan Tiger”.

 

“The Mimic” blends family drama with horror, and mixed with this folktale it actually works pretty well. The movie is beautiful to watch with the scenic images from the forest and mountain area, which adds to the atmosphere of the film. The movie warms up the mood for us with a man and his mistress dragging his wife out to the cave in the forest to kill her, only to confront the creature by hearing his wife’s voice from inside the cave after he’s murdered her. We do not see the creature/spirit at any time during this scene, and in fact it is clouded by mystery very much throughout the entire film, which makes it even more chilling. What you can’t see is almost always the scariest, isn’t it? It builds while still keeping you guessing.

 

“The Mimic” is a slow-burning supernatural horror film with gorgeous cinematography, and while it may not keep you at the edge of your seat the entire time due to the movie’s pacing, it definitely manages to build up a creepy atmosphere and tells a lore-filled tale pretty well.

 

The Mimic

 

Director: Jung Huh
Country & year: South Korea, 2017
Actors: Jung-ah Yum, Hyuk-kwon Park, Jin Heo, Rin-Ah Shin, Yu-sul Bang, Jun Hyeok Lee, Hae-yeon Kil, Yul Lee, Ju-won Lee
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7046826/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLAP CLAP – short horror film

A guy is house sitting in a home where the lights can be turned on and off by simply clapping your hands. Easily amused by this, he has some fun in the house before settling in. It soon becomes evident he’s not really alone in that house, however…

 

“Clap Clap” is a horror short by Brandon Piskorik, which is simple yet still very effective, and should easily be able to give you the chills!

 

CLAP CLAP - short horror film

 

Director: Brandon Piskorik
Year: 2017
Actors: Aaron Burt, Andrew Burt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hell House LLC (2015)

“Hell House LLC” starts with some news-clips where we learn that an abandoned hotel, which has been transformed into a haunted house tour in a small town outside New York, ended in disaster on 8th October 2009. Several people were killed and injured, and nobody knows what really happened, but the police vaguely blames the outburst on a major malfunction. With the suspicion that the police are holding back some info from the public, it creates conspiracy theories among some local journalists who starts their own investigation. They get in contact with one of Hell House’s crew members, Sarah, who gives them all the raw footage that documents the whole process which spans from August 23rd to October 8th. When she is asked why she hasn’t turned this over to the police, she simply says “you’ll see”. Alright, so let’s take a look.

 

We get introduced to these four crew members who just arrives at Hotel Abaddon and starts to explore its environments and settles in, and decides to stay for the night. The days go by, and they’re installing the electricity, making the effects and props ready, and everything seems to go as planned, until weird shit starts to happen. Doors are opening and closing by themselves, and from one of the static cams we see a glimpse of an obscure person walking around wearing something that looks like a grim reaper-cape. Boo. When they start hiring local actors to the attraction, one of them reveals that the hotel has a dark past and the rumors are saying that the previous owner hanged himself in the hotel’s dining room. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the crew hears more unsettling stories based in the hotel’s past, and even satanic rituals are mentioned. And just to top that, the hotel is named after a demon from The Book of Revelation known as The Angel of Death. The name Abaddon, which also means ruin, death, desolation, and destruction. Yay. Nothing bad could ever happen here, so just enjoy your stay, and if you survive, please give us a positive review at Yelp…

 

Haunted house attractions are clearly a huge business in USA, where 35 million people around the states are visiting them in October each year to get a great scare (hey, that rhymed). And of course, this concept also makes great set-up for a horror-movie or two. Besides of this we have “The Houses that October Built” which is a more like a half-documentary done in Borat-style where they travel from different states to explore and get a unique insight to the community. Even though Hell House LLC was actually shot in a real haunted house attraction called Haunting at the Waldorf Hotel, it was only used as location with the fictitious title Abaddon Hotel.

 

It’s not uncommon to put on a found footage horror and expect the worst. How many films like this haven’t been spewed out like cheap burgers to be either total lackluster or forgotten trash, in the hopes of becoming the next Blair Witch or Paranormal Activity? But sometimes, if you really dig in the found footage-jungle, there’s some gold to find. And what a pleasant surprise Hell House LLC was. Writer and director Stephen Cognetti does a pretty steady job combining the documentary and found footage-style, while the horror itself relies mostly on the psychological and the atmosphere. The hotel’s dark backstory and lore are also intriguing and is spicing up the mood, not to mention the creepy decorations hanging around that adds to the atmosphere. This is overall a very well made horror flick with great acting, and a tension that builds up to the finale.”Hell House LLC” is  probably on the same level as “Grave Encounters” (2011), another found footage film that really knew how to use the format.

 

The Sequel “Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel” was released on the streaming service shudder.com. It’s also available from other sources, but since we live in Norway we haven’t actually found any place where we can watch it (yet) as Shudder is not available here, and the other sources are region locked and mostly only available in USA or UK. Bummer. As we currently speak, the third installment is being filmed, called “Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire”. So when comes the Hell House Trilogy Box-Set? We just have to wait and see, I guess…we currently own “Hell House LLC” on dvd, and so far it looks like the only other option for us to check out the other movies is to wait (and hope for) a dvd release when the third film is finished.

 

Suspiria 2018

 

Director: Stephen Cognetti
Country & year: USA, 2015
Actors: Gore Abrams, Alice Bahlke, Danny Bellini, Theodore Bouloukos, Natalie Gee, Jared Hacker, Phil Hess, Ryan Jennifer Jones, Lauren A. Kennedy, Jeb Kreager, Miranda Robbins, Adam Schneider, Kristin Michelle Taylor
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4267026/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018)

The Possession of Hanna Grace (2018)Megan is an ex-cop that’s just gotten out of rehab, and struggles to get back on her feet again. She applies for a job working the graveyard shift at the morgue (yeah…not exactly the best place to be if you’re a previous drug addict and struggling with trauma). She gets the job, and soon thereafter the disfigured corpse of a girl arrives. It doesn’t take long until weird things start happening at the morgue, but Megan tries to convince herself it’s her frazzled mind that makes her see things. Until things become too real for her and she realizes there’s something very wrong with that corpse.

 

Horror movies based on possessed people and exorcisms rarely bring anything new to the screen, so when checking this movie out, we didn’t really expect anything groundbreaking or new here. The movie starts with an exorcism scene that brings us many of the used-to-death clichè’s: possessed girl talking with deep male voice: check. Possessed girl making things levitate: check. Possessed girl making typical demon-grins and exaggerated facial expressions: check. The movie starting out this way does give it an unfortunate amount of predictability since we already know what’s wrong with her corpse (unlike for example “The Autopsy of Jane Doe“, which keeps us wondering why/what/how). The possessed girl (Hannah) does get a little bit too much at times and becomes somewhat goofy rather than actually scary.

 

With that being said, “The Possession of Hannah Grace” does have some creepy moments, and it does bring an interesting twist on the possession genre: will a demon really stop by just killing its vessel? Or can it possess the corpse and thus become even more menacing? It’s a good concept for a possession horror movie, so in that regard it actually does bring us something new (or at least, a tiny variation of a tale told numerous times). The movie could have benefited from making Hannah more of a mystery from the start, though, in order to prevent all the predictability. But all in all it’s an okay horror flick to watch.

 

The Possession of Hannah Grace

 

Director: Diederik Van Rooijen
Country & year: USA, 2018
Actors: Shay Mitchell, Grey Damon, Kirby Johnson, Nick Thune, Louis Herthum, Stana Katic, Maximillian McNamara, Jacob Ming-Trent, James A. Watson Jr., Marianne Bayard, Adrian M. Mompoint
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5734576/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deathgasm (2015)

Brodie is a heavy metal-outcast whose meth-head mom is sent to a mental ward after trying to give a mall-santa a blowjob, and thus he needs to live with his uncle, aunt and cousin. They are “some good Christians”, by the way, who thinks Ricky Martin is the heaviest thing they’ve ever heard. Not much in common between him and them, in other words. His cousin is a complete sport-idiot-psychopathic douche who calls Brodie a “devil worshipper” and bullies him at school, but at least he’s got two friends at school who thinks playing board games at lunchtime is the most badass thing to do.

 

Also, there’s one really cool thing about this new place: Alien Records, which is a record shop that specializes in 80’s metal on vinyls and cassettes. Here he meets the like-minded Zakk, who plays bass guitar, and they start a black metal band with the catchy title Deathgasm. When they come across some obscure note-sheets from their black metal-idol Rikki Daggers, “Black Mass”, they make it into a Deathgasm song, and unintentionally conjure the demon Aeloth who then possesses the towns residents to be devil worshippers. With the help of heavy metal, chainsaws and sex toys, it’s now up to Brodie and his friends to prevent a full-blown hellraising metalapocalypse.

 

Written and directed by Jason Lei Howden, a young newbie from New Zealand, who won a contest and a price of NZ$200,000 to make his first feature film. Howden took inspiration from his own experience as a metal-outcast in the mid-90’s, combined with a lot of splatter-fun and blood puking. When Howden isn’t behind the camera, he works at Weta Digital, Peter Jackson’s CGI company. Impressive.

 

Horror and metal goes hand in hand, and “Deathgasm” shows it to the fullest, with a plot that reminds us of “Trick or Treat” (1986) and some elements of Rob Zombie’s “Lords of Salem” (2012). The Evil Dead-ish demons look pretty cool, and the humour is a mix of “Bad Taste” and “Braindead” (or “Dead Alive” as it’s called in the states). There’s also some funny references to the Norwegian black metal-fans. The zero-budget music video our friends in Deathgasm makes in the woods, Immortal-style, is spot on. Otherwise, there’s a lot of crazy zombie action going on with dildos, vibrators, chainsaws and whatnot to keep you entertained. The perfect recipe for a party movie, in other words. And I have to mention the chopper-scene reference from Dawn of the Dead, which was awesome.

 

With a title like Deathgasm and its satanic imagery, it’s not completely without some controversy. The title was a little too much for Walmart, who refused to sell it. Pretty ironic since Walmart can be a horror-shitshow in itself (search “people of Walmart” on YouTube to get a great lol). They agreed to sell it when the title was changed to “Heavy Metal Apocalypse”.

 

Deathgasm

 

Director: Jason Lei Howden
Country & year: New Zealand | USA, 2015
Actors: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Sam Berkley, Daniel Cresswell, Delaney Tabron, Stephen Ure, Colin Moy, Jodie Rimmer, Nick Hoskins-Smith, Erroll Shand, Kate Elliott
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3705412/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FISHERMAN – SciFi/Fantasy Horror Short

Honourable old Wong has been a squid fisherman for nearly all of his life, but unfortunately, nowadays, he struggles to make ends meet. Soon, his fishing rod’s bell will cheerfully ring, but does he really want to surface his prized catch?

 

“The Fisherman” is a fun and well made horror short that should be able to please any sea monster fans out there!

 

THE FISHERMAN - SciFi/Fantasy Horror Short

 

Director: Alejandro Suárez Lozano
Country & year: Spain, 2015 (filming locations: Hong Kong)
Actors: Andrew Ng, Ng Kam Cheun, Patrick Yip, Fung Tak Che, Scott Eliasoph
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4506186/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FISHERMAN – SciFi/Fantasy Short Film from A. Suarez Lozano on Vimeo.

The Curse of La Llorona (2019)

We’re in the 1970’s Los Angeles. Anna, a social worker who’s now alone with her two children after her husband’s death, is at the risk of having some of her cases handed over to her co-worker, one of them being the case of Patricia Alvarez and her two boys. She demands to get the rights back to this case and arrives at Patricia’s house to check on her, only to find out she’s locked her children in a closet, and the boys have strange burn-marks on their arms. The boys are immediately taken away, but that soon proves to have sealed those children’s fate. Finding them both dead in the river the same night, Patricia puts the blame on her children’s deaths on Anna, claiming it’s her fault that La Llorona managed to get them. And then, Anna and her own to children are about to figure out that the curse of La Llorona is more than a simple folktale…

 

La Llorona, also called “The Weeping Woman”, is a Mexican folktale that traces back to the 1800’s. It’s the story of the ghost of a woman who drowned her own children, and after committing the horrible deed ended up drowning herself in the same river, and her spirit wanders around, crying while searching for her children. There are several variations of the folktale, but it’s one that’s been scaring the children of many Spanish-speaking families for generations: be good and don’t wander around at night, or La Llorona will come and get you.

 

Director Michael Chaves is making his feature debut with this film (he’s previously known for his horror short “The Maiden“). He is also listed on IMDb as the director for the upcoming “Conjuring 3”, and “The Curse of La Llorona” actually has connections to the Conjuring universe as well. With this being said, it’s a given that you can expect some of the same formula used in the movies from this universe, and it does feel like it’s at home here. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too much of what we have already seen numerous times, and while scares are a-plenty, and there are a few scenes that does manage to build up some good tension and atmosphere before La Llorona jumps into the screen, many of the scenes are quite basic and serves for little more than making you jump in your seat (or, if you’ve seen enough horror movies over the years, know that the jump-scare is coming, but you’re not budging even a millimeter from your chair because you’ve gotten so used to them).

 

While it may feel “unfair” to compare “The Curse of La Llorona” to the rest of the films from the Conjuring-universe, it has put itself in that position since it’s making some very clear references in the movie that it does, indeed, belong here. It’s not the best installment in the series, but not the worst either. And if you’re familiar with the old folktale of La Llorona, you might find it interesting to see her appearance in the Conjuring-universe.

 

The Curce of La Llorona

 

Director: Michael Chaves
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Linda Cardellini, Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Raymond Cruz, Marisol Ramirez, Patricia Velasquez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tony Amendola
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4913966/

 

Vanja Ghoul