I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016)

I Am Not a Serial KillerJohn Wayne Cleaver (yeah, not Gacy, this movie is not about that guy) is a teenager who’s struggling with homicidal impulses. He’s going to a therapist, a man named Grant, who has diagnosed John as a sociopath. John is also helping his mother with work at her funeral home, having a rather distanced and curious view on the bodies there. When there’s talk about a serial killer in John’s hometown, his interest is of course piqued. One day John witnesses his friendly elderly neighbour Crowley (Christopher Lloyd, from Back to the Future) asking a drifter to join him on an ice fishing trip, and he decides to follow them. The elderly man appears at first to be in danger, and the drifter is about to attack him when things take a sudden u-turn and Crowley ends up killing the man with only his hand. Surprised and full of awe, John witnesses the scene from behind a tree, seeing how old man Mr. Crowley is cutting out the drifter’s lungs. Well, now he knows who the serial killer in town is. Instead of heading straight for the police, however, the sociopathic boy creates a profile for the killer, noting how earlier victims also had organs removed. He starts spying on Crowley, and offers to help Crowley and his wife shoveling their walkway for snow in order to get a bit closer. What ensues is a kind of cat and mouse game, only this is more like a predator vs predator game.. and John has no clue what he’s started meddling with.

 

I Am Not a Serial Killer is a horror film from 2016, directed by Billy O’Brien and based on a novel from 2009 of the same name by Dan Wells. Funding for the film was provided by the Irish Film Board, The Fyzz Facility and Quickfire Films, and its budget was a meager $1.45 million.

 

The film is deliberately slow-paced with a combination of drama and thriller. Since we’re being shown exactly who the killer is on a very early stage there’s no real mystery about it, the boy spying on the killer doesn’t do it in investigative Summer of 84-style because he’s unsure, he knows. He literally witnessed his neighbour committing murder in broad daylight. He investigates him because he wants to know more, he’s simply fascinated! This makes you wonder what direction the movie will take, as we also got to know early on that the boy is more than just a little troubled. It often offers an interesting peek into the troubled teenager’s dark thoughts, and it works well as a variation of the youngster vs the serial killer neighbour. There is a kind of unusual vibe throughout, where certain things that happen are steeped in seriousness, while having a certain indistinct silliness over it. Max Records is also doing great in the performance of the sociopathic teenager trying to keep his urges in check, and seeing Christopher Lloyd as the seemingly charming yet very deadly elderly man certainly gives the movie a heightened efficacy.

 

There are also some fun easter eggs: Dan Wells, the author of the novel has a cameo near the end of the film, as a police officer. Crowley, played by Christopher Lloyd, is suspected of being a missing person whose name is Emmet (a nudge to Lloyd’s character in the Back to the Future films, as Dr. Emmet Brown). There’s also some gameplay footage where John’s friend is gaming, and this is from a game called The Order: 1886 by Ready At Dawn, which is a game that features a protagonist battling against a hidden evil, which is very much what is also happening in this film.

 

I Am Not a Serial Killer is a fun experience, and certainly one of those films where it’s best to walk in blind for the best experience.

 

I Am Not a Serial Killer

 

Director: Billy O’Brien
Writers: Billy O’Brien, Christopher Hyde
Country & year: Ireland, USA, United Kingdom, 2016
Actors: Max Records, Christopher Lloyd, Laura Fraser, Christina Baldwin, Karl Geary, Dee Noah, Lucy Lawton, Anna Sundberg, Raymond Brandstrom, Michael Paul Levin
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4303340/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

The Conjuring 2 The Conjuring 2 opens with the well-known Amityville case which took place in the late 1970s. The Warrens are gathered in the living room where a seance is about to begin. Lorraine goes into a trance which reminds me of The Further where she witnesses Ronald DeFeo murdering his own family of six with a shotgun. An intense segment that surpasses most of the countless Amityville films alone. Lorraine gets led down the cellar where she gets attacked by a creepy nun (yes, The Nun) that looks like the twin sister of Marilyn Manson and is about to see the most terrifying thing in her life. This is as close to Hell I ever wanna get, Lorraine says after waking up from the trance while sobbing in Ed’s arms. She’s had enough and wants to retire. Dream on, lady, cuz London is calling.

 

We then meet the struggling and freshly divorced mother Peggy Hodgson with her four kids who lives in a council house in the town of Enfield, north of London where the strong odor of black mold hits you like a brick. So does the old, brown leather chair that rots in the corner of the living room. The economy is in the toilet, times are bleak, and the only joy in life is to chew on biscuits while Margaret Thatcher is on TV bragging about her red dress. Things haven’t changed much.

 

Anyway, in order to avoid dying of total boredom under the already dire circumstances, the two daughters, Janet and Margaret, have made themselves a cute little spirit board to do exactly what it’s for. Janet starts to sleepwalk around the house and finds herself in the chair in the living room. She starts to behave like a Regan by growling and speaking in a raspy man’s voice and mumbling things like This is MY house! This, of course, scares her older sisters shitless, whom she shares the bedroom with and suggests that maybe it’s best to sleep with the lights on.

 

One of the sons in the house is also experiencing some creepy stuff at night, such as his toys starting to move by themselves and someone shouting BLAEEEEEERGHH from the tent in the hallway.

 

After Janet behaves more like she’s under the influence of some serious possession, the Hodgsons is being visited by a group of local paranormal investigators, lead by Maurice Grosse. The skeptic and psychologist Anita Gregory is also on the spot, who can’t wait to debunk the whole thing as a hoax. In real-life she described the Enfield case as “greatly exaggerated” and “pathetic”.

 

The Conjuring 2

 

We soon learn that the entity who has claimed the meat suit of Janet is a fellow named Bill Wilkins, and that he’s an old, grumpy man straight from the grave who only wants his house back. And while our experts scratch their heads and bollocks and don’t know what to do, the case goes to Ed and Lorraine Warren. Lorraine is very reluctant to do another case due to what she saw in the cellar in the Amityville house, while Ed is ready for action like a kid on Christmas Eve. And it also happens to be around Christmastime. How convenient.

 

And here’s a quick history class: Guy Lyon Playfair, one of the original paranormal investigators on The Enfield Poltergeist Case who worked alongside with Maurise Grosse, came forward prior to the movie’s release and said that the Warrens had showed up “uninvited” and only stayed for a day. Ed, on the other hand, claimed that he visited the place three times by himself while Lorraine was home presumably feeding her roosters. So who’s lying?

 

One of the few facts we can take from the film is Bill Wilkins, who lived in the house before the Hodgsons and had died of a brain hemorrhage while he sat in the chair we see in the film. This has been confirmed by his son, Terry. Other than this, there’s no info to find about this poor old bloke Billy, and no gravestones were vandalized this time.

 

The family’s mother, Peggy, kept living in the house until she died in 2003. Rumors say that she died in the same chair as Bill. That’s grim. So its appropriate to ask if it was the chair all along that was the cursed villain here and why Ed didn’t claim the chair to bring it home to his occult museum  so we could have the spin-off The Chair, from the producers of Killer Sofa.

 

Now, back to the movie:

Yeah, so what more is there to say other than “if you liked the first one you’d also like this?” This one has longer screen time which ticks over two hours, but thanks to James Wan being the master of suspense that he is, it flew away in a ghoulish heartbeat. While the story isn’t the strongest, this is still a rock-solid and highly entertaining sequel. A first-class ghost ride filled with atmosphere, great scares, and James Wan’s unique ability to manipulate us to get the sense of something evil lurking in every corner despite we don’t see it. All performances are solid all the way and they also really nailed the look of Maurice Grosse.

 

I also like how they re-created the house of the Hodgsons with the grim 1970s esthetics and the fugly posters on the girl’s bedroom walls. If the film itself was shot on film instead of digital, the film would look like it was straight from that decade alongside with The Exorcist and The Omen.

 

I’m not the biggest fan of the Nun character, even though she was a creepy enough presence in this film and overall has a great look. The shot of her standing in the narrow hallway in Warren’s home where their daughter Judy points at her in pure shock is a scary and eerie moment. Too bad that the two spinoffs of hers have completely desensitized her creep factor, at least for my part, so I’m not alone blaming the character. The scene where Lorraine gets attacked by her in Ed’s office room, in some very creative and suspenseful fashion that only James Wan could pull off, is the creepiest scene you’d ever get with The Nun.

 

Then we have The Crooked Man, where I every time have to remind myself that he isn’t CGI, but actually a guy in a costume. The actor’s name is Javier Botet and has worked a lot with Guillermo del Toro.

 

The Conjuring 2 was also a hUUUge success, but despite that, James Wan hasn’t directed much other than two DC films. He returned to horror with the awesome Malignant in 2021, which was very much panned and ridiculed because people expected a new Conjuring. As for now, he seems more comfortable as a producer. In 2021 we also got the third installment The Conjuring: The Alcohol Made Me Do It, most known for not being directed by Wan. The fourth one with the undertitle The Last Rites is under pre-production, which looks to be a crossover with The Nun. Can’t say that I’m too excited…

 

Also check out the miniseries The Enfield Haunting from 2015 if you want a considerably more faithful film adaptation of the case.

 

The Conjuring 2 The Conjuring 2 The Conjuring 2

 

Director: James Wan
Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes, James Wan
Country & year: US, UK,  2016
Actors: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe, Frances O’Connor, Lauren Esposito, Benjamin Haigh, Patrick McAuley, Simon McBurney, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Simon Delaney, Franka Potente, Bob Adrian, Robin Atkin Downes, Bonnie Aarons, Javier Botet
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt3065204/

 

Related posts: The Conjuring (2013) | Annabelle Comes Home (2019) | The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)The Curse of La Llorona (2019)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

The Void (2016)

The VoidHere we have one of the more grimmer throwback horror-80s movies which seemed to be made by accident, or followed by a witness to an accident to be more correct. You see – other than producing their own low-budget horror films, the creative guys Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski from Astron-6 (Father’s Day, Manborg, Psycho Goreman and more) have also worked on bigger Hollywood films such as It, and Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark with special effects and art designs. They also worked with one of the greatest; Guillermo del Toro and Jeremy Gillespie was working at Pinewood studios where del Toro was in pre-production of his magnum opus which never happened: At the Mountains of Madness. After the project crashed and burned due to the high budget costs and the fact that del Toro refused to add in a love story and a happy ending to the studio’s demand, Gillespie and Kostanski got inspired to make their own low-budget spin on the story. And with their obsession for the 80s and the old school of filmmaking, it was natural to make it as a throwback.

 

It’s around past midnight when the small town sheriff, Daniel Carter (Aaron Pole), picks up a wounded guy on a rural road and takes him to the local hospital. Here we also meet our small group of characters, among them a cute young pregnant woman who’s about to give birth. And let’s hope that nothing bad happens to her and the baby (ha-ha). To bring this John Doe to the hospital seemed to be a very bad idea as weird things started to happen, such as the lights flickering and the phone shutting down. From here, it gets messy pretty quickly around the hospital when one of the nurses gets shot by the sheriff after she stabs the eyes of one of the patients . The lights shut down and the hospital gets surrounded by a group of cloak/hazmat suit-wearing cultists who have no intention of letting anyone get out of the building. Some ancient supernatural forces have also seemed to awaken in the basement which transforms dead people into the most grotesque-looking mutants that has been put on film in modern time.

 

It’s valid to mention that this is not an Astron-6 production which focuses more on humor, as this one has a far more serious tone. The Void is also crowdfunded on Indiegogo with a raise of only 82,510 dollars (!), which seems like a box of molded breadcrumbs for an ambitious Lovecraftian project like this. Having that said, the film looks pretty damn good with overall solid, creative filmmaking with a long string of clear inspirations from 70s and 80s classics. We have the siege element from John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, the claustrophobic paranoia from The Thing, the morbid, grotesque madness from Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond and the cryptic vibe and atmosphere from Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond, to mention some – all blended into its own unique, beefy and tasteful love letter for us older gorehounds. A great soundtrack by Blitz//Berlin which also suits the grim retro style perfectly like a penis in vagina. Except for some very few visual effects, there is no CGI here, only the usage of gallons of fake blood and sticky, top-tier latex monsters that could be something straight from 1987.

 

The Void The Void The Void

 

Writers and directors: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Country & year: Canada, 2016
Actors: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Ellen Wong, Kathleen Munroe, Daniel Fathers, Mik Byskov, Art Hindle, Stephanie Belding, James Millington, Evan Stern, Grace Munro
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt4255304/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

We Go On (2016)

We Go OnMiles Grissom (Clark Freeman) is a man who struggles with an intense fear of dying, ever since he at the age of three watched his father die in a car accident. His anxiety is so severe that he won’t drive a car, will barely leave his apartment, and suffers from night terrors. In a desperate attempt to get rid of his fears, he places an advert in a newspaper, offering 30.000 dollars to whoever can show him evidence that we go on after our deaths. When his mother finds out about his advert, she scoffs and mocks him, telling him he will never get anything except a lot of kook calls. And, well…he does have to go through a bunch of videos from people who are either clearly insane, or clearly fraudsters. After a lot of work (with a bit of help from mommy) he narrows down the responses to three candidates: a scientist, a medium, and a wordly entrepreneur. Will any of them bring him definite proof of life after death? And if that happens…will he really get the peace he’s longing for?

 

We Go On does have a pretty interesting concept, and offers up an original little ghost story. How many people haven’t wanted proof of life after death, or proof of ghosts? Despite tons of existing “footage”, consisting of a plethora of photos and videos of so-called “ghosts”, there’s no actual proof of anything as of yet. I mean, just look up some of the “scary videos” on YouTube…it’s so easy to fake all kinds of things on a photo these days, and with modern technology it’s no problem to show off so-called “proof” of ghosts or bigfoots or whatever the heck you want on videos as well. People have, for centuries, gotten a kick out of faking supernatural goings-on, whether it be for pure personal enjoyment or financial gain. And if someone really did have actual proof…among all the faked photos and videos out there…how would anyone actually be able to notice the difference? No one would, most likely. But despite all the fakery, death has always been one of our greatest mysteries and people have always wondered what happens after we die. While there are those who are content with thinking that we’ll just wither and die like other living creatures, not worrying much about any so-called “afterlife”…there’s also many who simply can’t come to terms with something like that, refusing to think that death can be the end. In fact, the fear of death can be quite severe for some, and it’s called “Thanatophobia”. Our protagonist in We Go On suffers clearly from this, and it’s pretty much destroying his life by making him so afraid of death that he can’t fully live (ironic, right?).

 

As we follow Miles in his search for proof of life after death, it’s both a bit exciting and amusing to witness all the examples of crazy people and scam attempts he’s becoming a victim to. If a guy offers 30.000 dollars for so-called proof of ghosts, why not just put up some theatrics and hope he’ll swallow hook, line and sinker, right? Well, thank goodness his quick-witted mother demanded to come along on his journey, otherwise he’d lose that money pretty quickly to one of the fraudsters.

 

I think it’s best not to explain too much about what happens throughout, as it’s better to view it without knowing too much. What I can say is that there are some scenes that are genuinely creepy. It also gives some twists and turns along the ride, which is what keeps your interest up. Albeit a little slow, it does work as an effective little chiller.

 

We Go On

 

Directors: Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton
Country & year: USA, 2016
Actors: Annette O’Toole, Clark Freeman, John Glover, Giovanna Zacarías, Laura Heisler, Jay Dunn, Dwight Augustin, David Bickford, David Bickford, Norio Chalico, Tony Devon, Cassidy Freeman, Edwin Garcia II, Tom Harrington, Clem Jeffreys
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt3904278/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terrifier (2016)

Angst

The two girlfriends Tara and Dawn are leaving a Halloween party late at night, and stops by a pizza restaurant. After Dawn has taken her “longest piss ever”, a tall and skinny person dressed as a clown-like weirdo comes in with a trash-bag over his shoulders. He sits down by the table across them and gives them an intimidating stare, not uttering a single word. He starts to make faces and evil grins, which is creeping out Tara since she’s the one he’s showing most of his attention to. Dawn, who is slightly drunk and in a funny-mood, tries to laugh it off and plays along by taking a selfie with him. After all, it’s Halloween, so he must be a harmless weirdo who’s just trolling them (or in this case clowning them), right? Oh, well…

 

After Tara and Dawn have left, Art the Clown (which is the creepy clown’s name) returns to the restaurant to do some unfinished business in a pretty graphic killing scene, which gives us a foretaste of what to come. He chops a guy’s head off to make a Jack-O-Lantern of it, and another guy gets his fingers chopped off before he stabs both of his eyes out. Then Art is going after the two girls to get his brunette (Tara). And anyone that gets in his way gets killed, or executed, to put it more correctly.

 

“Terrifier” is written and directed by Damien Leone, and based on his short film with the same title from 2011. It is also a spinoff of his previous film “All Hallows Eve” (which I’ve not seen yet). His CV is mainly listing him as a special effects and make up artist, and “Terrifier” shows that he has a good eye and steady hand as a director as well. The film is a love-letter to the 80’s slasher films, with only practical and old school effects. And they are awesome. The death scenes are creative, juicy and gruesome, and even though there’s not much characters here, the actors are doing a good job. “Terrifier” is more a cat-and-mouse game filled with tension from start to finish.

 

But the man of the hour here is undoubtedly Art the Killer Clown.

 

In Ed Gein-style we get a scene where Art mutilates a girl while she’s hanging upside-down by her legs, and uses her upper torso as an outfit while he dances around like a drunk schizophrenic lunatic. David Howard Thornton is the actor behind Art the Clown, and he’s clearly having the time of his life playing this character with a high level of energy and enthusiasm. Art is also mute and plays only on facial expressions and body language, and David makes the character creepy and believable, and just a joy to watch. And in this never ending era of remakes and reboots it is a breath of fresh air to see a new slasher villain.

 

And some great news that broke recently: Terrifier 2, which will also be directed by Damien Leone and starring David as Art The Clown once more, is in pre-production and set to be released in 2020.

 

Terrifier

 

Director: Damien Leone
Country & year: USA, 2016
Actors: Jenna Kanell, Samantha Scaffidi, David Howard Thornton, Catherine Corcoran, Pooya Mohseni, Matt McAllister
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt4281724/

 

Related posts: Terrifier 2 (2022)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wailing (2016)

The Wailing (2016)Jong-Goo is a police officer that lives a quiet life in a little village with his wife and daughter. One day he is called to the scene of a gruesome multiple murder case, where a family member of the murdered people is covered in blood from the victims. His skin is covered in strange boils, and he appears to be in a state of stupor. Soon, more incidents similar to this occur all over the little village, and some of the villagers start to blame a newcomer to the area: a Japanese man (played by Jun Kunimura, known for his roles in “Ichi The Killer”, “Audition” and “Kill Bill”) who’s taken residence in the woods. Jong-Goo starts a battle against time to figure out what is happening, as his daughter also starts showing the symptoms.

 

“The Wailing” is a Korean horror movie that lasts for 2 hours and 36 minutes, but thanks to great cinematography and some really weird and strangely entertaining scenes, it manages to spend its time well without becoming a hassle to watch through. It’s quite beautiful to watch with its misty mountains and forest locations. The story’s pacing is good enough, we are being told things gradually while still pondering about the mystery behind the murders and “possessions”, and the Japanese newcomer (is he really the bad guy here, or is something else going on?).

 

There are some comedy elements in the movie (which was for the most part intended, I think), especially an exorcism scene that is so dragged-out and insane that it actually gets oddly hilarious. The protagonist’s facial and emotional reactions are almost cartoony sometimes, and the mix of being dark and vicious with being so colorful and sometimes comedic makes it a pretty weird watch. The story keeps you guessing throughout the entire movie, until the ending reveals the true villain in its full form.

 

The Wailing

 

Director: Hong-jin Na
Country & year: South Korea | USA, 2016
Actors: Do-won Kwak, Jung-min Hwang, Jun Kunimura, Woo-hee Chun, Hwan-hee Kim, Jin Heo, So-yeon Jang, Do-yoon Kim, Kang-gook Son
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt5215952/

 

Vanja Ghoul