Nicole is a young journalist eager to find out the truth in the case of an exorcism gone wrong in Romania, where a nun died and the priest and nuns involved were convicted for murder. She travels all the way over to Romania in order to dig deeper into the story, and after meeting with Father Anton and visiting the monastery where the exorcism took place, strange things start happening. As she finds out more and more about the nun that died, it becomes obvious to Nicole that something paranormal really did happen to that girl…and that it may even start happening to herself now.
The story in this movie is inspired by true events: the “Tanacu Exorcism” where an allegedly mentally ill nun, Maricica Irina Cornici, was killed during an exorcism in Romania in 2005. This was a case that was widely publicized in Romanian media, and after the priest and nuns were sentenced to jail, many of Tanacu’s residents still believed that Cornici had actually been possessed by a demon (including Cornici’s brother). Later, it was revealed that she had died of an overdose of adrenaline given to her in the ambulance.
Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes are the writers (known for being the writers of Conjuring 1 and 2), while the director is Xavier Gens, known for “Frontier(s)”. In other words, some very familiar names in the world of horror movies. While Xavier’s “Frontier(s)” is a violent and gory movie, “The Crucifixion” has none of this, and is a movie playing far more on the psychological level and giving it a drama/mystery tone.
Since this movie was filmed in Bucharest (Romania), there are many moments of beautiful and atmospheric scenery to behold, which is actually one of the film’s major advantages. It is unfortunate that it never manages to build more scares, and plays out more like a mystery thriller/drama, where the mystery takes a lot more place than the horror. With that being said, there is a certain amount of suspense (much helped by the Romanian scenery and buildings), and if you like a horror movie that plays out more like a crime/mystery/drama, then this might be right up your alley.
Director: Xavier Gens Country & year: UK | Romania | USA, 2017 Actors: Sophie Cookson, Corneliu Ulici, Ada Lupu, Brittany Ashworth, Catalin Babliuc, Matthew Zajac, Iván González, Ozana Oancea, Javier Botet, Jeff Rawle, Florian Voicu IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4181782/
Following a death in the family, its members start hearing a mysterious sound.
“The Bells” is a creepy short horror film where a man starts hearing church bells ringing inside the house. The sound of the bells gets louder and louder…and there’s something more inside than just the sound…
It’s a hot summer night in Camp Blackfoot, where a group of teenagers are preparing to pull the prank of the year on the camp’s caretaker, Cropsy. We learn that he’s obviously a bully who deserves a lesson, and the kids also learn in the hard way that a prank with matches and fire isn’t the best combination. They sneak into his cabin, planning to scare him with a rotten skull full of maggots and candles in its eye sockets. It gets from bad to worse when the fire gets to Cropsy himself, and he runs out in full flame, with the kids being helpless witnesses as he stumbles down to the lake. Five years later, he is released from the hospital, completely deformed and disfigured by the burning, and of course, hungry for revenge.
So this is the premise of “The Burning”, the film which is best known for kick-starting the movie career for the Weinstein brothers, Harvey and Bob. Having founded the company Miramax Films in 1979, with only two obscure films in its catalog, the young brothers were desperate for a hit. And having realized that making a slasher is quick and cheap and could be big business like both “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and John Carpenter’s “Halloween”, and other slashers who came and went. So, why not. Harvey Weinstein was inspired by Cropsey, a boogeyman-urban legend from New York that was a popular campfire story, but ended up using only the name for the movie’s killer. And yeah, we all know at this point who turned out to be the real boogeyman here, but that’s a whole different story. Brother Bob was involved in writing the script and their mommy Mira worked as a consultant. So this was more or less a family project. The Brit Tony Maylan, who previously made documentaries, was set to direct while Jack Sholder worked as the editor, who later made “Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge”. Yes-keyboardist Rick Wakeman gives a great soundtrack, and Tom Savini stands for the effects. But the big star here is probably a young Jason “George Costanza” Alexander in one of the roles. Here he is 22, slim and has hair. Would you imagine. This was also his debut role. And no, we don’t get a twist where Cropsy is actually Cosmo Kramer, even though it’s a hilarious thought. And enough Seinfeld references for today.
With some great talents in place with lots of potential, it’s too bad that the film itself is nothing much. After the opening sequence and a quick, gritty scene where Cropsy, dressed as a giallo killer, visits a brothel and find his weapon of choice with which he kills one of the whores before he heads to the camp, the film is pretty dull and boring. There’s too far between the interesting moments, and most of the second act is just lots of filler scenes where the kids bathe, smoke, and mostly do nothing to keep the interest up. No build up, no tension, just a bunch of random scenes that goes nowhere. And visually this looks more like a cheap teen comedy, where atmosphere is nowhere to be found. And the night scenes in the woods that were shot day-for-night…why even bother? This is just lazy and uninspiring. Yawn. Where did the budget go? Who knows. So, where’s all the killing scenes? In the last twenty minutes, if you’re patient. And some of them are brutal and juicy, at least.
And if you want to know more about the original “Cropsey”, watch the documentary “Cropsey” from 2009.
Director: Tony Maylam Country & year: USA, 1981 Actors: Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Larry Joshua, Jason Alexander, Ned Eisenberg, Carrick Glenn, Carolyn Houlihan, Fisher Stevens, Lou David IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082118/
A struggling actress moves to Hollywood where she discovers a piece of furniture, but upon bringing it inside her apartment she is haunted by a malicious ghost.
“The Armoire” is an award-winning creepy horror short, which shows us that picking up old furniture that someone else has thrown away might not be a good idea. It could have been thrown away for a reason…
Sue Ann is a lonely middle-aged woman who befriends a group of teenagers when they beg her to buy some booze for them. She eventually lets them have their parties in the basement of her own house, and the teenagers all think they’ve gotten really lucky. One of the teenagers jokingly nickname her “Ma”, a name Sue Ann immediately demands that everyone calls her. In not too long, the teenagers start questioning Ma’s intentions as her behavior gets more and more unsettling. She also forbids them to go upstairs, they’re only allowed to be in the basement. Nothing suspicious about that…
“Ma” is a psychological thriller film from Tate Taylor and Blumhouse, which came into existence because Tate wanted to make a movie about “something fucked up”, and a conversation with Octavia Spencer who admitted she was tired of getting the same-ish roles and never a lead role (Tate and Octavia are long-time friends). Tate also knows Jason Blum, and simply went to his office saying “I want to do something really fucked up”. The result was “Ma”.
The movie starts off somewhat silly and showing us early on that it doesn’t take itself entirely seriously, but it’s growing into something darker as Ma’s background story is slowly revealed piece by piece. While her actions aren’t justifiable, and it’s evident that the middle-aged woman is completely batshit crazy, the movie does bring up the legitimacy of negative personality behaviors caused by childhood trauma. We don’t agree with Ma, however we can’t help but understand and sympathize with her at least a little bit.
Octavia Spencer truly nails her role as the disturbed “Ma”, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that her role is the whole foundation needed to make this movie work. While the movie is somewhat predictable, it’s still quite an enjoyable popcorn-flick.
Director: Tate Taylor Country & year: USA, 2019 Actors: Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Gianni Paolo, Dante Brown, Tanyell Waivers, Dominic Burgess, Heather Marie Pate, Tate Taylor, Luke Evans IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7958736/
A foolhardy security guard has the night from Hell, when his curiosity sends him investigating what goes on… Downstairs…
“Downstairs” is an award-winning horror short by “The Boxleitner Brothers”. We follow the (mis)adventures of Flip Schubbers, a security guard who’s been working the night shift in an art gallery for a couple of weeks. When two obnoxious artists arrive at his desk, complaining about a foul stench from inside the building, he starts investigating and is soon lead downstairs. This horror short throws in a little bit of comedy with all the suspense and makes it quite an entertaining piece, so bring your popcorn and sit back and enjoy!
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.
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/
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.
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!