Summer of 84 (2018)

Summer of 84It’s the summer of 1984, where there are no mobile phones, no TikTok, and kids actually spend time together outside. What a time to be young! A fifteen year old, Davey Armstrong, works a paper route and spends time with his friends Dale, Curtis and Tommy. They live in Cape May, where a total of thirteen teenage boys have disappeared over the course of a decade. None of their disappearances have ever been connected, but after a local newspaper receives an anonymous letter from someone claiming to be their killer, or the Cape May Slayer, Davey starts suspecting his neighbor Wayne Mackey who is a popular police officer. His friends don’t put much value into his suspicions, though, as Davey is known for being easily drawn to all kinds of conspiracy theories and urban legends. Things change when a boy who Davey claims was inside Mackey’s house, ends up on a milk carton just a few days later. His friends agree to help him with the investigation of his suspicious neighbor, in the hopes of revealing him as the Cape May Slayer.

 

Summer of 84 is a horror film from 2018, directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissel. It was written by Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, to a fair amount of praise as many of the critics called it one of the best horror films of 2018. Since the main cast in the movie are teenagers and it’s set in the 80’s, some may think of the popular Netflix show Stranger Things, but they can’t really be compared. Summer of 84 is more like The Goonies turned into a mystery thriller, and while you’ll definitely get your fair share of the 80’s with the fitting soundtrack and certain elements from that era, this movie ventures into a much darker road.

 

As we follow Davey and his friends, we watch them do regular stuff like meeting in their tree house, watch dirty magazines, talk about who is the hottest girls in the neighborhood, and so on. Just normal teenage-boy stuff. When their attention is shifted onto a possible serial killer next door, we still have a bit of that whimsical Goonies-vibe. You’re not really sure what to expect, which makes it quite suspenseful. It also has quite a few little easter eggs: one of the missing boy posters displays one of John Wayne Gacy’s victims, and when the boys are in the clubhouse Tommy drinks from a bottle of MacReady’s Whiskey, which is a nod to The Thing (1982). While the first part of the movie builds up rather innocently when the kids are trying to figure out if Mackey really is a serial killer, offering both suspense and a few lighthearted chuckles here and there, it pretty much makes a 180 during the final act.

 

Summer of 84 is not your typical serial killer film, but offers something quite suspenseful and enjoyable. While some people really hated the ending of the movie, to the point where some said it literally ruined the entire movie for them, I personally found the choice for a dark and somewhat edgy ending to ground the movie into even more horror themed realism, and I’m glad they had the balls to do it this way.

 

Summer of 84

 

Directors: François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell
Writers: Matt Leslie, Stephen J. Smith
Country & year: Canada, 2018
Actors: Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, Cory Gruter-Andrew, Tiera Skovbye, Rich Sommer, Jason Gray-Stanford, Shauna Johannesen, William MacDonald, Harrison Houde
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5774450/

 

 

Vanja 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

 

 

 

Skinamarink (2022)

SkinamarinkThe year is 1995, and the 4 year old boy Kevin injures himself during a sleepwalking episode. We’re told he was taken to a hospital, and then brought back home. He and his 6 year old sister, Kaylee, then wakes up in the middle of the night and finds that their father has disappeared. And that’s not all…the doors, windows, and certain other objects also keeps gradually vanishing. The children, appearing to be more puzzled than scared, decide to sleep downstairs while watching cartoons. They soon realize that they’re not really alone in the house, after all.

 

Skinamarink is a Canadian experimental horror film from 2022, written and directed by Kyle Edward Ball in his feature directorial debut. Prior to this film, the director ran a YouTube channel called Bitesized Nightmares, where he would ask his viewers to write about their nightmares and he would create short videos based on them. Skinamarink was inspired by the most recurrent themes in the submitted nightmare stories, and he also recounts having had a nightmare when he was a child where he was in his parent’s house while the parents were missing, but there was a monster there. And a lot of people seemed to have shared a similar kind of dream. Before the feature film, he created a short film called Heck which was a proof of concept for Skinamarink. The film’s title might ring a bell for some, as Skinnamarink (aka “Skid-dy-mer-rink-adink-aboomp” or “Skidamarink”) is a popular preschool sing-along song from North America. He chose to alter the spelling a bit so children searching for the song would not accidentally find his film instead. The film was shot over seven days in 2021, in the director’s childhood home, using some of his old toys. It had a budget of $15.000 which was mostly crowdfunded. The film got widespread social media attention after one of the online film festival screenings caused the movie to become downloadable due to a glitch, and thus it was spread and this caused it to go viral.

 

And yeah…this is one of the times when the worn-out phrase “this movie is not for everyone” can easily be replaced with “this movie is for a select few”. It’s very experimental, and if you’ve never seen an arthouse film before you’re probably either gonna end up wondering what the hell this is, or snooze off within the first few minutes. For the right kind of audience, though, it’s prone to be a different experience. When we watched it, we pretty much knew what we were in for, and while some movies are best seen going in blind, this is definitely not one of them. If you’re aware of this being a very experimental and abstract film, hardly providing any plot, you’re in the clear. Then you’d likely to be prepared for the experience. In many ways, the film is quite demanding towards its audience and could easily have been considerably shorter. It’s like a nightmarish ASMR, but if you’ve ever suffered from night terrors and fear of abandonment during your childhood, I’m certain this film will click more into place for you. It’s a movie that through its experimental scenes and surreal vibes, draws upon the childhood fears of being left alone without a guardian. The soundtrack mostly consists of the TV screen, playing the tunes and sounds from old public domain cartoons, and this certainly gives off an eerie and surreal vibe. Some of these movies include Max Fleischer’s The Cobweb Hotel and Somewhere in Dreamland, as well as Ub Iwerks’ Balloon Land, and Merrie Melodies Prest-O Change-O.

 

Skinamarink is a movie where you really need to know what you’re in for. It’s a movie that’s more of an experience than a story (although there is some kind of story hidden there in a very subtle way). Other experimental movies like for example Begotten will feel fast-paced and easily consumed in comparison. But I can see how it can evoke the inner childhood fear in some people, irrational as though those fears may be and how aware we are of that fact.

 

And if you think Skinamarink was too abstract, experimental and slow, there is actually a 1967 movie called Wavelength where you’ll watch a long zoom of a window stretched over 45 minutes…

 

Skinamarink Skinamarink Skinamarink

 

Writer and director: Kyle Edward Ball
Country & year:
Canada, 2022
Actors:
Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul, Jaime Hill
IMDb:
www.imdb.com/title/tt21307994/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

The Shrine (2010)

The ShrineCarmen is a journalist, and together with her photographer boyfriend Marcus and a few other people they travel to a Polish village in order to investigate the disappearances of some tourists. Upon arriving in this village, they quickly notice that the villagers appear to be secretive and quite unwelcoming. They also find out that no one in the village is allowed to leave, and everything becomes even more mysterious as they notice a strange area in the forest where the fog appears to be concentrated without ever dissipating. The villagers tries to make them leave, but who ever listens to the strange village people warning you and threatening you of doom and gloom, eh? So naturally they enter the fog, one by one. While walking through the dense fog, Carmen comes across a demon statue with bleeding eyes, and she starts hearing strange whispers. Is this statue part of the village’s secrets, and what exactly happened to the tourists who were reported missing?

 

The Shrine is a supernatural horror film from 2010, directed by Jon Knautz. The plot in the movie is one you’ve probably seen or heard a few times already: people coming to some place abroad and ends up in unimaginable danger. Now, horror movies about people traveling to some foreign place and finding themselves either trapped, hunted or otherwise caught in some kind of horrific troubles, is something that seems to be a scary premise for many. As for a setting in Europe, the torture-porn flick Hostel is probably the most well known among these. Apparently Europe is a terribly scary and mysterious place, or at least according to some horror filmmakers.

 

Now, The Shrine is not a torture-porn flick, but a supernatural horror movie which anchors its focus on the mystery it presents to you. There are a few nasty kills, but nothing over the top. The movie’s main strength is the atmosphere and the suspense created from the plot’s mystery of the disappearances, the foggy forest and the creepy demon statue. The scenes with the fog in the forest and the statue were all great elements of heightened suspense and a feeling of mystery and wonder. While the movie is supposed to be set in Poland, the Polish village Alvainia is a fictional. And of course it was not filmed in Poland at all, but in Canada.

 

The Shrine has some good moments, and ends with a straightforward kind of “twist” at the end which explains things rather than muddle them (which is the case in some twist-oriented movies, unfortunately). The average horror fan will most likely find themselves feeling that they’ve seen much of what happens here before as it does throw in a fair amount of clichés, but it still manages to offer some unexpected twists and turns. It is one of those horror movies that may feel a little bit sluggish and a tad too derivative in its first moments, until it starts picking up the pace and makes you realize this wasn’t that bad after all. Thus, The Shrine comes off as an overall well-crafted supernatural thriller.

 

The Shrine

 

Director: Jon Knautz
Writers: Jon Knautz, Brendan Moore, Trevor Matthews
Country & year:
Canada, 2010
Actors:
Aaron Ashmore, Cindy Sampson, Meghan Heffern, Trevor Matthews, Vieslav Krystyan, Laura de Carteret, Ben Lewis, Julia Debowska, Monica Hewes
IMDb:
www.imdb.com/title/tt1341710/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

Psycho Goreman (2020)

Psycho GoremanIt’s the early 90’s (I assume) in a small middleclass suburbia where the siblings Mimi (Nita-Josée Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre) are out in the backyard playing Crazy Ball. Yes, would you even imagine that there was a time when kids could have fun without a smartphone? My oh my. Luke is the the quiet and reserved one while Mimi is a fearless sociopath with some strong Tiny Tina demeanours (that crazy girl from Borderlands). She’s mean, sassy, demanding, animated and loves to pick on her brother. Later that evening they decide to dig a big hole in the yard, because that is what kids did back in the day when they couldn’t sleep. After a few feet down they find some pink/purple-glowing mystical artifact that’s clearly not from this planet. Another thing from space is an alien, played by Matthew Ninaber, covered in a full latex costume from toe to top. He’s from the planet Gigax and has telekinesis powers, the ability to throw big fireballs from his hands, and looks like a mishmash of all B-movie monsters from the 80s and maybe early 90s. For my part he reminded me more of Wishmaster.

 

Mimi and Luke encounter the alien in some abandoned shoe factory where they also stumble upon his first victims, a group of hobos with their bodyparts placed on the wall like a morbid David Fincher crime scene (the most graphic moments where the grittyness is concerned). They don’t seem that scared, though, but more thrilled. We get a whole flashback scene that tells us his origin story and how he came to Earth, but the most important thing to know is that he’s here to kill all mankind. Why? Because why not. The one and only thing that could hold him back is the glowing artifact (also called The Gem of Praxidike) we saw earlier, which Mimi luckily have in her pocket. When the alien gets the sight of it, he freezes. Because you see, those who holds the artifact can command the alien to do what they want, like John Connor did with Arnie in Terminator 2, so to speak. As the kids they are they see him as a big new toy and gives him the catchy name “Psycho Goreman”, PG for short just to play ironically with the title in case the film would end up with a PG-rating, which instead got unrated. Oh, well.

 

So, where does the plot go from here? A lot of shit happens, but not in the way you’d probably imagine it. Since Mimi outshines the entire cast with her energetic and manic presence and seems to be as psycho as Goreman himself, it would be easy to picture these two as a deadly duo going on an epic genocide crusade-mayhem while being chased by tanks, choppers and the military. Hopefully in a sequel. Mimi and Luke doesn’t know much about what to do with him other than first disguise him in some clothes, like in Frankenstein: The College years (for the few that have seen that film) and hope he gets accepted by their mum and dad. They forgot to cover his face though, but no one would notice such minor details, lol emoji. I couldn’t care much for the scenes with the parents. They’re just there with their own marriage issues to make us know that the kids aren’t orphans. Their goofy deadbeat dad (played by Adam Brooks) has some comedic nuggets here and there, and yeah, he alone got some chuckles out of me. His best scene is where he gets a mental breakdown while taking a dump. Meanwhile when Luke and Mimi gets along with PG as they start  a garage band together with PG on drums, play videogames and what kids would do with a huge toy as PG, the council from his homeplanet sends the galactic warrior Pandora, an angelic creature with small wings as eyes, to save us Earthlings from PG’s destruction.

 

Psycho Goreman is written and directed by Steven Kostanski, a young man from Canada who seems to dedicate his film career with his production company Astron-6, by producing a pastiche of  low-budget, 80’s-centric films with titles such as Manborg, The Void, Father’s Day, Leprechaun Returns to name some. With his latest feature he takes inspiration from the early 90s with films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Transformers, Star Wars, the epic intros from the Saturday-morning cartoons from the 80s, martial arts, some spices of Troma and everything from the obscure corners from the 80s, puts it all in a grinder and out comes Psycho Goreman. So, how does it taste? Hmm..

 

There’s not as much blood and gore as the title would make you believe, though. If there was some malfunction with the grinder, I don’t know, but the result is more sweet, more innocent and light-hearted that you’d expect. The film relies more on slapstick, goofy fight scenes, and overall a showcase of impressive, if not charming, make-up effects/costume designs and a handful of references. There’s something for everyone to like here, I personally have a weak spot for Death Trapper, a walking meatgrinder filled with body parts. And then we have a giant, wobbling brain with some terrified eyes. The miniatures seen in PG’s flashback scene were nothing but gorgeous which also gave some Mad God vibes. The musical trio Blitz/Berlin adds a fitting retro soundtrack to enhance that fuzzy feel of nostalgia. And then there’s probably a drinking game of references. The most notable are the  scenes with the council on PG’s homeplanet which clearly mocks the political nonsense we had to sit through in A Phantom Menace that still seems to haunt us. We also have a reference to Steven Kostanski’s favourite film Phantasm with an extended dream sequence. So, yeah, there’s a lot to chew on here and get inspired by, and with its colorful cartoonish and over-the-top silly, naive tone, Psycho Goreman suits perfectly for the the whole family to enjoy with pizza, coke and root beer on a Friday night.

 

Psycho Goreman is available on DVD/Blu-ray and can be watched on various streaming sites.

 

Psycho Goreman Psycho Goreman Psycho Goreman

 

Writer and director: Steven Kostanski
Country & year: Canada, 2020
Actors: Nita-Josée Hanna, Owen Myre, Matthew Ninaber, Steven Vlahos, Adam Brooks, Alexis Kara Hancey, Kristen MacCulloch, Anna Tierney, Roxine Latoya Plummer, Alex Chung, Scout Flint
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt11252440/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2012)

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind LeighLeon is a young man who deals with antiques, and inherits his estranged mother’s house and belongings after her suicide. He arrives at the house, and takes a look at the inventory, all the while we get a narration delivered by the deceased. Rosalind Leigh, the mother, gives a monologue about her life where she describes the overwhelming loneliness she felt after her son rejected her due to their difference in faith and his negative religious experiences throughout his childhood. She describes how she, during the remainder of her life, feared he would never regain his faith or return to her, but she kept waiting. While wandering through his mother’s old house and her belongings, he discovers that it was actually she who was his anonymous benefactor who bought all the items of antiquity he sold. The more he looks through his mother’s belongings, the more he feels that he is surrounded by sinister figures and starts having hallucinations that rocks his skeptic foundation to the core.

 

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is a horror movie directed by Rodrigo Gudiño, and is one of those typical horror films that is bound to have very split opinions: you’ll either think of it as a sluggish, boring snoozefest, or you’ll be intrigued by the atmosphere, underlying messages and metaphors. And while I have to agree that the film didn’t really tap into all the potential it could have had, I still enjoyed its ominous feeling of unease which was blended so well with the main character’s surroundings. In fact, Rodrigo drove around Toronto looking at houses, until he found one that was owned by a mother and daughter who were eccentric Collectors. And it sure was a perfect fit. It’s filled with knick-knacks, huge statues, old dolls and whatnot. The imagery, cinematography and lightning are all spot-on, and the voice-over by the deceased woman is an excellent touch, with her moody and husky voice.

 

There are a few flashback scenes presented, where the mother starts seeing a demonic cat-like entity concurrently with her failure to deal with her loneliness. Rosalind appears to have sought some kind of comfort from joining a religious cult, some kind of “angel cult”, taking her religious beliefs and eccentricities to another level. I personally wish this could have been explored a bit further, but we never really got to know too much about this cult she was an apparent member of. We do get more than a few glimpses into Rosalind’s gradually destroyed psyche, however, which is not directly in correlation with the cult, but rather how her faith overpowers her despite being the sole reason for the destruction of the relationship with her son. Leon, on the other hand, is clearly struggling as well. While wandering the house and pretty much attacked with ptsd-triggers all around, he keeps calling his girlfriend psychologist. There’s suffering and sadness all around, coming from both perspectives.

 

Overall, The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is an atmospheric, gothic ghost story and sombre tale about loneliness and the monster it can turn into, and how faith can not only bring people together, but also bring them completely apart. It’s definitely intended for a mature audience, very low-key, vague and a bit up for interpretation, and we all know that this kind of recipe doesn’t always taste well for everyone. However, it can hit the right strings if you can appreciate this sort of film, and you might find it intriguing and delightful. A pure slow burner indeed, but the atmosphere is plentiful with the creepy house and all the collectables inside.

 

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh

 

Writer and director: Rodrigo Gudiño
Country & year: Canada, 2012
Actors: Aaron Poole, Vanessa Redgrave, Julian Richings, Stephen Eric McIntyre, Charlotte Sullivan, Mitch Markowitz, Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman, Rodrigo Gudiño, Bob Dorsey, Rogelio Gudiño,
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt2332831/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

Gutterballs (2008)

In this little 80’s throwback slasher and rape/revenge-flick Gutterballs, we spend time in a bowling hall with two groups, getting ready for a bowling contest. But the plan for that night goes down the toilet when a fight escalates. The individual that stands out is the unhinged Steve, a sadistic bully with some serious anger issues. He screams desperately for attention in every scene, spews out a world record list of obscenities, one of them being over 600 fuck-bombs (yes, someone actually tried to count them). I wouldn’t recommend the drinking game for obvious reasons, but at least we have some other use of colorful words to play with such as cunt, bitch, motherfucker, whore, pussy, etc…

 

The plot and the boners thickens when Steve and his group of friends gang rapes Lisa, the girl whom left Steve for some other guy in the other group. The next night the two groups hook up again in the bowling hall to start over. Lisa is still there, that poor girl, but reserved behind some, big dark sunglasses. And when the bowling-match is about to settle, a mysterious, unseen player by the name BBK is shown on the score monitors. They soon learn that they’re being terrorized by a killer wearing a bowling bag over its head and using sharp bowling pins to penetrate the victim’s private parts.

 

THE MOST OFFENSIVE FILM EVER, many calls it. Well, at least it’s far from being boring. But yeah, it’s hard to not agree that the characters are a bunch of insufferable fucks performed by the bottom of the barrel actors from Troma, and you can’t wait to see them get brutally killed. And let me tell you, Gutterballs doesn’t disappoint in that aspect. Some dude gets his head crushed by two bowling balls, another’s head gets blown to smithereens by a shotgun, we get a nasty close-up castration, sodomizing, face melting and even more. The most memorable scene is the couple getting killed while having a steaming 69 in the bathroom. Sadistic and perverted fun for the whole family.

 

Writer and director Ryan Nicholson has since the mid 90s primarily worked as SFX artist on titles such as Ghost Rider, Stargate, Transformers, X-Files and the list goes on. Special effects is clearly his main focus, but despite the film’s limited budget, he also manages to lit up the bowling hall with the use of neon light to enhance some of the 80s atmosphere. He followed up with the sequel Gutterballs 2 for his cult-followers in the underground horror movie community, and also made films such as Dead Nude Girls. Sounds fun. Gutterballs seems to be his most approachable film for the masses, and if you like raw, trashy and silly 80s slashers like Intruder, Chopping Mall, Savage Streets and Troma in general, this one will surely please you.

 

Gutterballs Gutterballs Gutterballs

 

Writer and director: Ryan Nicholson
Country & year: Canada, 2008
Actors: Alastair Gamble, Mihola Terzic, Nathan Witte, Wade Gibb, Candice Lewald, Jeremy Beland, Trevor Gemma, Nathan Dashwood, Scott Alonzo, Jimmy Blais, Danielle Munro, Stephanie Schacter, Saraphina Bardeaux, Dan Ellis, Brandon Dix, Ryan Nicholson
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt1087853/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

Fear of the Dark (2003)

Ryan is a young boy who is afraid of the dark, and believes that there are sinister entities hell-bent on getting their claws on him once he finds himself outside the protection of light. And of course…no one believes him. One evening, Ryan’s parents are going out on a date, and his big brother Dale is going to babysit him. And what happens? There’s a power outage, of course! And Dale, who previously used to mock Ryan for his fear of the dark, soon experiences that this fear is not at all unfounded. The good old phrase “there’s nothing there in the dark that isn’t there in the light”, which Dale has told Ryan to tell himself over and over, now also lose its power over Dale as well when it becomes evident that there is indeed something there in the dark after all…

 

Fear of the Dark, with its cheesy ghoulish dvd cover and simple concept, pretty much gives you exactly what it promises: this is a “horror” film for a younger audience, and could pretty much be seen as a long Goosebumps episode, and perhaps as being a little reminiscent of Are you afraid of the Dark, which was also a horror series for a young audience which is considerably lesser known than the aforementioned one. With that in mind, and without any expectation of getting some real scares here, it can be a decent enough watch. The story is simple enough: when it gets dark, the boogeymen are coming after you. Something that is easily identifiable for many of us, as a fear of the dark is something a lot of children have experienced (and mostly, thankfully, grown out of). But not for this film’s protagonist, of course…here, the boogeyman is real, and there’s not just one, but several of them. They come off as some kind of mix-up with Freddy Krueger and the aliens from Dark City, wearing long coats and hats. Not scary in the slightest, but maybe a little for the kiddies, and the ghoulish appearance of the boogeymen kind of fits with the film’s otherwise slightly cheesy tone.

 

There’s not really all that much to say about a movie like this, and if you’re looking for a scare, then, well…this is definitely not the movie you should watch. If you’ve still got enough of your child in you to appreciate a movie aimed for a younger audience, then Fear of the Dark can be an okay experience if taken for what it is.

 

Fear of the Dark Fear of the Dark

 

Director: K.C. Bascombe
Writers: K.C. Bascombe, John Sullivan
Country & year: Canada, 2003
Actors: Kevin Zegers, Jesse James, Rachel Skarsten, Charles Edwin Powell, Linda Purl, Daniel Rindress-Kay, Derrick Damon Reeve, Charles-Etienne Burelle
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0308252/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

Hunter Hunter (2020)

Joseph lives in the remote Canadian wilderness together with his wife Anne and their daughter Renee. They try to make a living from selling the fur of the animals they trap, which isn’t much but enough to make them go by. They feel threatened when a lone wolf starts eating the animals they’ve trapped, and Joseph decides to track down the wolf and get rid of what is threatening both their livelihood as well as their safety. When hunting down the wolf, however, Joseph comes across something far more dangerous and threatening…

 

Hunter Hunter is a slow burn thriller, which is offering quite an amount of atmosphere due to the cinematography and feeling of isolation in the remote wilderness setting. There are always those people who want to live away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, in remote areas and in total or near total isolation, Mountain Men-style. This kind of lifestyle is almost always very hard, where just making a living requires hard work (and some luck). The characters in this movie is no exception to this, but Joseph appears to be the most determined to never return to the comforts of modern life, while the wife (Anne) is thinking about their daughter whom she thinks should grow up under more… normal circumstances, going to school and meeting friends. With the wolf ruining much their livelihood as well, things have become harder than usual. But things won’t be as easy as just getting rid of the wolf, of course…

 

The film does suffer a bit from a slow start of what initially appears to be a simple man vs nature/beast story, but when you’re becoming aware of how much of a darker turn it takes, it manages to keep the tension on track. The acting feels believable and realistic, and while the characters themselves doesn’t really offer much personality or traits to make them memorable, their performances heightens the build-up of tension and foreboding.

 

Now, the movie’s ending is inevitably what has gotten most people’s attention, and yes…it really does pack a punch with its vicious brutality, and probably gives it the extra bite it needed. It’s not a movie for those who are not fond of slow-burners, but overall it’s a tense thriller which provides a few surprises and twists along the way.

 

WARNING: watch the trailer at your own risk, there’s a lot of spoilers…

 

Hunter Hunter

 

Director: Shawn Linden
Country & year: Canada, 2020
Actors: Camille Sullivan, Summer H. Howell, Devon Sawa, Nick Stahl, Gabriel Daniels, Lauren Cochrane, Jade Michael, Erik Athavale, Karl Thordarson, Blake Taylor, Sarah Constible
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt2226162/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still/Born (2017)

Still/Born (2017)Mary, a new mother, gives birth to twins, but only one of them is alive. While taking care of her living child, Adam, she suspects that something, a supernatural entity, has chosen him and will stop at nothing to take him from her.

 

The horror genre has quite often touched the subjects of pregnancy and child birth, where what is supposed to be one of the greatest joys in some people’s lives suddenly turn into unimaginable horror, where the death of a newborn being the ultimate fear of any pregnant woman. After losing one of her children during birth she gets a severe depression, refusing to remove the second crib from the room, desperately holding on to what ‘could have been’. So when the first paranormal incident happen – when she hears a second baby’s cry from the room – we actually see a glimpse of hope in her eyes, not fear. As the viewer you feel that this might portray a mother’s ultimate loss in a way that makes us feel that she is, indeed, on the brink of insanity. Then again…they’ve just moved into a new house. And more things start to happen where it’s not so obvious that it’s all in her mind or a result of depression and anxiety due to her loss.

 

Still/Born does have a certain atmosphere in the first half, much thanks to “old hat” scare techniques where less is more, and where it plays more on the psychological level. When the demon/entity is introduced it turns into something that’s considerably less creepy, despite the idea of this baby-grabbing entity having potential. Unfortunately, the progress becomes somewhat monotonous, where her experiences with the demonic entity has the unfortunate effect of toning down the suspense rather than increasing it. It does have some creepy scenes, but it also feels like there is a bit of lost potential here, as it could have been so much more.

 

Still/Born is director Brandon Christensen’s first feature film, and despite some issues it is not at all a bad movie. Thus, I’m glad he’s already got something else in the works according to IMDb: a horror movie called “Z“, which is about a family that find themselves terrorized by their eight-year-old son’s imaginary friend.

 

Still/Born was co-written by Colin Minihan (one of the directors behind “Grave Encounters“). Colin Minihan is also the co-writer for Christensen’s upcoming horror movie “Z”.

 

Still/Born

 

Director: Brandon Christensen
Country & year: Canada, 2017
Actors: Christie Burke, Jesse Moss, Rebecca Olson, Jenn Griffin, Michael Ironside, Sheila McCarthy, Sean Rogerson, Grace Christensen, Dianne Snape
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt6087426/

 

Vanja Ghoul