Visitors (2003)

Georgia Perry (Radha Mitchell) is a stubborn and strong-willed young woman: she’s decided to travel around the world in her 44-foot sloop, all by herself (well, almost…she’s got her cat for company). Being used to spending time at sea, and also spending time alone, it goes pretty well at first. She’s used to enjoying her own company, and the cat provides just enough social comfort. Then, the solitude starts taking its toll…while starting with small and insignificant things like starting to talk to her cat…which isn’t uncommon…I mean, who doesn’t talk to their feline companion once in a while? Except, of course, the cat starts talking back to her. A big red flag for her mental well being there, all right. But when she also starts hearing strange noises, and a mysterious fog appears which brings with it a whole array of deceased family members who have suddenly decided to drop in for a visit, it’s time to take it seriously. Is this just a severe case of cabin fever, or is something else happening at sea?

 

Visitors is a psychological thriller directed by Richard Franklin (most known for directing Psycho 2) where nearly all of the playtime happens out at the big blue ocean. While it’s not a truly scary film, it does have a few chilling moments with creepy atmosphere and some interesting scenes. Georgia’s “ghosts” aren’t only appearing during nighttime, either, but in bright daylight as well, adding to the feeling of claustrophobia as there’s no escape. In a haunted house, you can always run outside…but what can you do if the haunting happens in a boat, far out at sea? Nothing of course, unless you want to jump aboard and drown yourself.

 

While Visitors is an okay thriller, it’s not faultless, and there are some rather questionable CGI effects which diminishes the creepy atmosphere a bit. There’s also some scenes that are chugging along a little bit too slowly. Still, overall the movie is an okay watch, mostly for its deep dive into human psychology and the effect of being alone over a long period of time, in surroundings where there’s no one and nothing for miles upon miles. It’s strange how the ocean can appear to be so open, but still so claustrophobic…no matter where you turn, there’s no rescue, nowhere to find refuge.

 

If you’re looking to get your toes wet with a movie that provides a good amount of action, I guess something like Deep Rising would be a safer bet. Visitors is a slow-burning thriller with some creepy scenes and atmosphere, and people that can relate to the idea of being all alone, while haunted by your inner demons, will probably appreciate this movie the most.

 

Visitors

 

Director: Richard Franklin
Writer: Everett De Roche
Country & year: Australia, 2003
Actors: Radha Mitchell, Susannah York, Ray Barrett, Dominic Purcell, Tottie Goldsmith, Che Timmins, Christopher Kirby, Jan Friedl, Soula Alexander, Roberta Connelly, Michelle McClatchy,
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0301989/

 

 

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The Asphyx (1973)

We meet Sir Hugo Cunningham who is an amateur scientist, and the time period is the end of the 1800s. He’s taking photographs of the dead, and have an interest in supernatural phenomena. Through photographing the dead with his newly invented camera instrument, he discovers strange spots on the photographs, that he later thinks could be an Apshyx: a ghostly entity that supposedly shows itself right at the moment when a person is about to die. Through several more experiments while having his macabre photo shoots with the recently deceased, he also gets to witness and film an execution through hanging. Through this it is revealed to him that the Asphyx can be captured by the light rays that emits from his camera invention, and when a person’s Asphyx is captured, this person becomes literally immortal and unable to die. His first test is done on a guinea pig, and when he discovers that it works, the temptation of achieving eternal life becomes too great and he decides to capture both his own and his family’s Asphyxes. But will this really lead to the bliss of immortality, or will there be dire consequences?

 

The Asphyx is an old-fashioned horror movie that can be considered to be on par with many of the Hammer horror movies, with its gothic atmosphere and scenery which is making the film a visual treat. However, similarly to the classic Hammer films there’s an abundance of dialogue and a rather scarce amount of any action. The strength lies in the movie’s rather interesting and quirky concept, together with the gothic visuals and convincing Victorian cinematography (done by Freddie Young) so if you’re familiar with this type of movie setting and can appreciate it for its attractive production design and its Poe-style gothic tale of death, loss and grief, mixed with scientific curiosity which eventually leads to obsession, then you’re in for a treat. It’s yet another tale of an upper-class scientist coming upon a discovery that offers a chance for him to play God…and of course, the decision to do so comes with dire consequences.

 

The special effects of the Asphyx itself and how they try to trap it, really reminds me of something that could have belonged in a Ghostbusters movie, although that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s lightly spooky rather than creepy or frightening, and the movie even comes off as slightly silly at times. Also, the pacing might be a tad bit too slow for a modern audience…but if you like classic gothic horror films, this Hammer-esque film is definitely worth a watch.

 

The Asphyx

 

Director: Peter Newbrook
Writers: Christina Beers, Laurence Beers, Brian Comport
Country & year: UK, 1973
Actors:Robert Stephens, Robert Powell, Jane Lapotaire, Alex Scott, Ralph Arliss, Fiona Walker, Terry Scully, John Lawrence, David Grey, Tony Caunter, Paul Bacon
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0069738/

 

 

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The Black Phone (2022)

The year is 1978, and the streets of a seemingly sleepy Denver suburb is prowled by a serial killer nicknamed The Grabber, who mockingly leaves black balloons in the places of abduction. We follow the daily life of siblings Finney and Gwen, who lives with their abusive alcoholic father. School is tough on the timid boy Finney, where he is frequently bullied and harassed, only occasionally getting saved by his badass friend Bruce. However, one day Bruce is abducted by The Grabber, and Gwen starts having psychic dreams regarding his kidnapping. Only days later, Finney encounters what at first appears to be a clumsy magician who needs his help, but when the boy notices the black balloons inside the magician’s truck, it’s already too late and he becomes another abductee. When Finney wakes up, he finds himself trapped in a small soundproofed basement, with a disconnected black phone hanging on the wall. His abductor is the terrifying mask-wearing “Grabber”, who appears to be playing some kind of game which Finney knows will eventually lead to his death…just like with all the other kids that were kidnapped and murdered before him. Unexpectedly, help comes from the ominous, disconnected black phone which starts ringing and gives Finney phone calls from the world of the dead…

 

The Black Phone is directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister, Deliver Us From Evil), and is based on a short story by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son). After Deliver Us From Evil, which was released on 2014, Scott was absent from horror movie directing for a while as he was working on the Doctor Strange movie, so his comeback into this genre was long awaited. The story starts off a little slowly as we get to know the youths and prepare for the inevitable, and once Finney gets kidnapped a lot of the movie unfolds mainly in the bare-bones basement as he tries to escape and avoid playing the serial killer’s sadistic game, aided by the previous victims who contacts him through the black phone. There are some creepy scenes and the setting is atmospheric enough, although it never really breaks the surface of becoming truly scary. It is mostly the performances that really carries the movie, especially the child actors, and of course, the serial killer himself.

 

The Grabber’s creepy masks are made up of several parts, each exposing different portions of his face and giving a variation in expressions. The mask was designed by makeup artist Tom Savini. Ethan Hawke plays The Grabber in his first villain role (in stark contrast to the worried family man he plays in Sinister), and he does an admirably good job on portraying the crazy and unpredictable serial killer with his various facial expressions portrayed through the use of masks, body language and tone of voice. The Grabber is someone who obviously can’t be reasoned with, and while we do not really get to know all that much about him, that actually adds to the creep factor. And while the supernatural elements aren’t even remotely scary, they help powering up the direction of the story, working more as part of the suspense component rather than the horror. We root for the boy trapped in the creepy basement, and the ghosts who try to help him.

 

Overall, The Black Phone is a welcome horror comeback for Scott Derrickson. It’s not really a very unique or original movie, but it’s a solid and tense horror thriller that’s well worth a watch.

 

The Black Phone

 

Director: Scott Derrickson
Writers: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Country & year: USA, 2022
Actors: Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Davies, E. Roger Mitchell, Troy Rudeseal, James Ransone, Miguel Cazarez Mora, Rebecca Clarke, J. Gaven Wilde, Spencer Fitzgerald
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt7144666/

 

 

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The Demon’s Rook (2013)

James Sizemore is a man of many traits and with a childhood consisting of several near-death experiences such as drowning, electrocutions, and almost hit by a freight train. And if that wasn’t traumatic enough, his childhood home in Georgia also seemed to be haunted by poltergeist activity. As he was influenced by these experiences he began to draw goblins, demons and whatnot which in later age evolved into producing some really cute Lovecraftian sculpt figures which he sells through his own company Wonder Goblin. He also makes music, has written one comic book, made two horror shorts (Goat Witch and Budfoot) and probably more I’ve forgot to mention. But the most important achievement in this case, is that he’s written, directed and produced one feature-length film, The Demons Rook. A passion project in which he gathered friends and family to a shooting schedule planned for three quick weeks in his local home community in Georgia with a tiny budget of five thousand dollars. In the purest indie-horror fashion they soon found themselves trapped in what is known as the indie horror-purgatory and continued the shooting for over two, grueling long years during the weekends, while questioning their own sanity, preventing the one mental breakdown after another, and promised themselves to never make a movie again. In other words, the normal cycle of independent movie making.

 

We meet the young boy Roscoe, not far from similar to the director himself, who during the day plays with his friend Eva, and sits up at night and makes drawings of demons. He is constantly visited by the demon Dimwos, a two-horned creature that looks more like something from Lovecraft’s universe. It is unclear why this demon shows up, but we can guess that he has been conjured by the drawings. Dimwos gets hold of the kid and one night lures him into the woods and down a hole that leads to Hell, where he trains him with black magic through manhood. Many, many years later, an grown-up Roscoe (now portrayed by James Sizemore) returns to the world with a long beard, confused and scared because, for some reason, he has accidentally managed to free three evil demons from Hell to Earth. And these demons are nothing to joke about, and makes matters worse by resurrecting the dead into Night of the Living Dead zombies and possesses people into Evil Dead monsters, to create hell on earth. Roscoe seeks out his childhood friend Eva (Ashleigh Jo Sizemore) and uses his trained Jedi powers to prevent a full demon apocalypse.

 

One quickly realize that director, producer and co-writer James Sizemore has a deep love for the good old video nasty-era horror cinema of the 70s and 80s, and has taken a laundry list of references that really shine through from old horror genre obelisks such as Dario Argento, George A. Romero, Stuart Gordon, Lucio Fulci, Lamberto/Mario Bava, Tom Savini, early Peter Jackson, H.P. Lovecraft and probably more. With impressive gory effects, juicy body-counts, and creative old-school prosthetic make-up, the use of light, colors,  flexible camera work, and massive use of a smoke machine to set the thick, retro atmosphere, the film works perfectly as a visual throwback to the good old times. And a budget of approx 70.000 dollars well spent. That being said, The Demon’s Rook suffers from the same as most home-made horror movies, with underdeveloped scripts and pacing issues with scenes that drags on, and a mixed bag of acting from amateur to decent. The actor couple James and Ashleigh both make good efforts with some naive enthusiasm and energy, even though we do not care all that much about them in the end. They got married during the filming, by the way, and are still married today. How cute. A year later after The Demon’s Rook, she got the task to be breast-naked and sacrificed to Satan in her husband’s horror short Goat Witch.

 

The DVD-release from 2015 seems to be out-of-print, but can be found after a quick search on Amazon Prime (limited by region).

 

The Demon's Rook The Demon's Rook The Demon's Rook

 

Director: James Sizemore
Writers: James Sizemore, Akom Tidwell
Country & year: USA, 2013
Actors: Ashleigh Jo Sizemore, James Sizemore, John Chatham, Melanie Richardson, Josh Gould, Sade Smith, Dustin Dorough, Lincoln Archibald, William Baker, James Becker, Michael Bremer, Laura Clark
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt2401215/

 

 

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Sinister (2012)

Ellison Oswalt is a true crime writer who moves into a new home with his wife and two children. What he has not told his family prior to moving into the house, however, is that an entire family was murdered there by hanging, and his intention is to write a book about this case. This is something he does in the hopes of regaining his lost fame, as his latest works weren’t very popular and he’s desperate for a new success. There was also a little girl who disappeared following the murders, and he hopes to learn more about her fate so he can include this mystery in his novel. Upon exploring the attic of the house, he finds a box with several reels of Super 8 footage, which are simply labeled as “home movies”. Using the projector which was also located in the attic, he discovers that the films are footage of several families being murdered, all of them filmed by an unseen camera operator. Upon investigation these cases he finds similarities that makes him suspect that both the murders in the house he now inhabits, and the ones from the Super 8 footage, are connected in a sinister way, and dates all the way back to the 1960’s…

 

Sinister is a 2012 horror movie directed by Scott Derrickson (who will have a new movie hitting the theaters soon, The Black Phone). Scott Derrickson had previously shown his competence in the horror field with Hellraiser: Inferno (his debut film) and later The Exorcism of Emily Rose (which was based on the story of Anneliese Michel).

 

Sinister is for the most part a highly effective and creepy film, with a steadily growing sense of unease without tossing a bunch of jumpscares at you. There are some genuinely hair-raising moments here, led by solid performances, and the opening scene alone sets the tone right away where we witness the Super 8 footage of the family being hanged. This scene was actually all played by stuntmen, and almost went terribly wrong: when the scene was first done, the stunt coordinator botched the preparations for the scene resulting in the actors being legitimately hanged and choked. Yikes! Fortunately they all survived, and naturally the coordinator got sacked. This wasn’t the only potentially harmful scene either: one of the other “footage” films included a family tied to chairs and pulled underwater, and the filmmakers had to be extremely careful so nobody was harmed while the filming of the scene took place. All of these scenes were also filmed on real Super 8 films camera.

 

Overall, Sinister is a solidly crafted horror film with loads of atmosphere and a really creepy feel, where some parts are actually outright scary. While it does not have any nudity, very little blood and no cursing because they were aiming for a PG-13 release, it still got an R rating just for the content alone. It is now 10 years since its release, and it’s still one of the most decently crafted horror films from this period.

 

Sinister

 

Director: Scott Derrickson
Writers: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Country & year: USA, UK, Canada 2012
Actors: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley, Rob Riley, Tavis Smiley, Janet Zappala, Victoria Leigh, Cameron Ocasio, Ethan Haberfield
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt1922777/

 

 

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The Ninth Gate (1999)

Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is a book dealer who specializes in rare items. He is hired by a wealthy collector named Boris Balkan, who has acquired “The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows“: a 17th century book that is rumored to be able to summon the Devil himself. It is said that the author of the book, Aristide Torchia, wrote the book in collaboration with the Devil, and that only three copies survived. Balkan suspects that only one of these books are authentic, and that’s the reason he’s hired Corso: so he can inspect the other books and determine which one is the real deal. Corso accepts the job, and begins his travels to check out the other books. Soon, he comes into contact with a mysterious woman who appears to be following him…and he’s getting more and more drawn into a supernatural conspiracy.

 

The Ninth Gate is a neo-noir horror thriller by Roman Polanski, which is loosely based on Arturo Péres-Reverte’s novel called The Club Dumas (El Club Dumas) from 1993. Polanski liked the script so much and “saw so many elements that seemed good for a movie. It was suspenseful, funny, and there were a great number of secondary characters that are tremendously cinematic“. Polanski was very clear about not believing in the occult at all…but he certainly liked the genre, that’s for sure. While The Ninth Gate is nowhere near as popular or praised as his first devil-worship movie, Rosemary’s Baby (1968), it’s still a solid and stylish Polanski thriller.

 

Polanski’s knack at storytelling easily keeps the viewer engaged enough throughout the movie, with minimal use of special effects. In fact, there is very little violence or blood, and it relies on atmosphere and mystery accompanied by absorbing European scenery and cinematography. The cast is good, with a good performance by Depp who is portraying the unscrupulous and cynical book dealer who finds himself entangled in occultism and devil worship. There’s a lot of occult and tarot-like symbolism in here, some which may even be easily overlooked, like for example the obvious difference between the journeys of Corso and Balkan, going in opposite directions. I guess it’s one of those movies where taking everything at face value might leave you bored and moderately confused by this little puzzle of a film…there’s so much symbolism and small things that may not be too apparent, but makes a huge difference when you notice it. Certainly that old phrase comes to good use here: the Devil is in the details!

 

The Ninth Gate is a movie that has, since its release, received very mixed reception where some have been put off by the heavy use of symbolism and the apparently non-conclusive ending. But overall, I think The Night Gate is an enjoyable atmospheric and symbolistic occult horror thriller that has Polanski’s quirky humour and slightly absurd tone all over it.

 

The Ninth Gate

 

Director: Roman Polanski
Country & year: France, Spain, 1999
Actors: Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin, Emmanuelle Seigner, Barbara Jefford, Jack Taylor, José López Rodero, Tony Amoni, James Russo, Willy Holt, Allen Garfield, Jacques Dacqmine, Joe Sheridan
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0142688/

 

 

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The Skeptic (2009)

Responding to a 911 call, a police officer enters a large house and finds a dead woman inside. She appears to have died of fright, clutching a set of rosary beads. This woman is Bryan Beckett’s aunt, who is a lawyer and confirmed skeptic, who considers everything paranormal to be nothing but pure hogwash. Upon visiting his deceased aunt’s home and subsequently moving in (mainly in order to take a break from his shattered marriage) people around him starts giving vague hints, trying to tell him that moving in might not be a good idea. After ignoring other people’s warnings that he shouldn’t do so because the place is haunted, he starts experiencing strange things which puts his skepticism to the test. There is also something about the place that bothers him, like a strange connection he can’t really figure out. When things go a bit out of hand he seeks medical help, but instead finds himself teamed up with a young psychic who wants to help him reveal the house’s trouble past – or that of the skeptic’s own mind.

 

The Skeptic is a supernatural horror thriller, directed by Tennyson Bardwell. I remember back when the movie was released, that it got a bit of flak for being “outdated” and for not being especially heavy on the fear factor. And, yeah…that’s pretty much true, and doesn’t come as a big surprise considering that the director/writer wrote the first draft of the script in the 1980s. It’s an old-fashioned ghost story that does not rely on CGI-apparitions or jump scares. The slow-burn ghost story got passé already during the 80s, where psychological horror movies became obsolete compared to the more physical and in-your-face kind of horror that shocked audiences anew. The plot also appears overly simple: a man doesn’t believe in ghosts, said man moves into a haunted house, and starts experiencing what can be perceived as supernatural occurrences. So, ironically, I was a little bit of a skeptic when first viewing it…but was pleasantly surprised over seeing how something that appears to be very cliché-filled actually ended up being both a little chilling and engaging. The atmosphere is sometimes thick as a brick, but the suspense isn’t always lingering as much as one could have hoped for. It’s slow, sometimes a bit too much for its own good, but makes up for it with polished production values and the ability to offer a few chills here and there.

 

In a movie like this, it’s often best to not give away too much of the plot, as the viewing experience is best when knowing as little as possible. Overall it was a pleasant surprise, but it’s most suitable for people who enjoy a classic haunted house story of the old-fashioned sort.

The Skeptic

 

Writer and director: Tennyson Bardwell
Also know as: The Haunting of Bryan Becket, The Haunting
Country & year: USA, 2009
Actors: Tim Daly, Tom Arnold, Zoe Saldana, Edward Herrmann, Andrea Roth, Robert Prosky, Bruce Altman, Lea Coco, Sara Weaver, L.J. Foley, Paul Tietjen, Steve, Fletcher, Christina Rouner,
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0493451/

 

 

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Final Prayer (2013)

A team of investigators, consisting of Deacon (a religious brother who is some i kind of skeptic – however that makes sense) Gray (an englishman who is both a layman and a technology expert) and Father Mark (who is, of course, sent by the Vatican to team up with these guys in order to investigate reports of supernatural activity in an old thirteenth century church. The guys arrive at the old church, where they set up their recording equipment and stuff, Ghost Adventures-style. The local priest believes that the things happening inside the church is a miracle, until he later starts questioning what is happening as being something completely different – and leaps to his death from the bell tower. After this, the inhabitants in the village become hostile towards the investigators…

 

Final Prayer, also known as The Borderlands, is a found-footage horror movie from 2013, directed by Elliot Goldner. While it may look like a very standard supernatural found footage flick, it twists around to something that is more akin to cosmic horror with some obvious lovecraftian vibes. An old decrepit church situated on top of a hill, a village with hostile and weird inhabitants…yeah, if you’ve ever read some of Lovecraft’s works like “Shadow over Innsmouth” and “Rats in the Walls“, you’ll easily spot the resemblances here.

 

The movie starts a little slow, where the characters (who differs greatly in personalities) try to get along while conducting their investigations. While many found footage horror movies have their characters portrayed with bland or shallow personalities, Final Prayer spends some time with its character development. And that is not a bad thing. It’s overall spooky and creepy enough, with an atmospheric setting and a gradual build-up of suspense. It’s treading customary paths for a while where you easily find yourself thinking this is a run-of-the-mill ghost/demon film…but as strange things keep happening you realize that this is not exactly what you expected. And so do the characters…

 

Now, what makes this movie stand out a bit from other fount-footage horror movies, is the rather unexpected WTF ending, which does come as a bit of surprise despite that you’ve been getting more than a few hints and reveals as the story progresses which tells us that this is no ordinary “haunting”. There are some scenes during the ending that are shot in some really narrow caves, which actually shows some real fear in the actor’s expressions, as they suffered from those claustrophobic confines. I’m not going to spoil any more, but it was definitely unexpected and kind of weird.

 

Overall, Final Prayer aka The Borderlands (with the working title “The Devil Lies Beneath“, which is, perhaps, the most fitting title of all) may appear at first glance to be one of those found footage movies that offers nothing more than the usual and over-used tropes…but this does change, and makes this British horror movie well worth a watch.

 

Final Prayer

 

Writer and director: Elliot Goldner
Also know as: The Borderlands
Country & year: UK, 2013
Actors: Gordon Kennedy, Robin Hill, Aidan McArdle, Sarah Annis, Lee Arnold, Drew Casson, Peter Charlton, Marcus Cunningham, Patrick Godfrey, Kevin Johnson, Luke Neal
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt2781832/

 

 

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Dead Silence (2007)

Dead Silence (2007)

Jamie and Lisa are a married couple that one day receive a gift from an anonymous person: a box that includes a ventriloquist doll that is called Billy. When Jamie is out getting some take-away food, his pregnant wife is attacked by an entity that not only causes her to have a miscarriage, but literally rips her tongue out as well. Jamie is immediately suspected for having something to do with his wife’s gruesome murder, but he is soon released from custody due to lack of evidence. When he comes home, he inspects the mysterious gift and sees a message about some called “Mary Shaw”: a ventriloquist that lived in Raven’s Fair, Jamie’s hometown. He decides to visit the old town where he grew up, which is now looking dilapidated and forlorn. He visits his estranged wheelchair-bound father, who has now remarried to a much younger woman. When trying to find out more about Mary Shaw, the doll Billy, and the secrets of Raven’s Fair, Jamie ends up realizing that there are times when it’s best to keep your lips tightly sealed…

 

Before James Wan got renowned in the world of horror due to the Insidious and Conjuring franchise, he had previously made another (completely different) type of horror movie: “Saw“. Saw is of course a completely different beast, where that franchise pretty much turned into what could probably be considered (soft) torture porn. However: what few people seem to be aware of, is that Insidious (2010) and Conjuring (2013) were not Wan’s first entries into the supernatural horror genre. Predating them both, Dead Silence was released in 2007. Unfortunately it was a box office failure upon release (some believing it was ahead of its time, as creepy atmospheric ghost horror movies had a higher popularity some years later) but it has later been somewhat re-discovered. While not on par with some of James Wan’s later achievements, it is now considered a solid entry into the supernatural/ghost horror genre.

 

In the film, you can easily spot James Wan’s distinctiveness all over the place, where you can see the early hints of what to come as he’s now exploring the realm of spirits and creepy, atmospheric settings, while also having a little bit of the Saw-grittyness in it which includes some fairly nasty death scenes. Nothing over-the-top, but enough to blend in with the the rest. There’s a lot to appreciate when it comes to eerie scenery, there’s even an old theatre partly submerged by water from the nearby lake. It’s spooky and gothic, maybe a little cheesy here and there but with enough creepy atmosphere to keep the chills coming.

 

And, let’s not forget the villain of the movie, the undead ventriloquist Mary Shaw, played by Judith Roberts. As the nursery rhyme from the movie goes: Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children, only dolls. If you see her in your dreams, be sure you never, ever scream or she’ll rip your tongue out at the seam (and let’s be honest: if you saw someone like her, it would probably be hard not to scream…). She is somewhat reminiscent of “The Bride In Black” from the Insidious franchise, so you could say that Mary Shaw was a prototype of other ghostly villains to come.

 

Overall, Dead Silence is a horror movie that still holds up well after 15 years, and can easily be seen as a nice prelude to Jame’s Wan’s later films into the supernatural horror genre.

 

Fun fact: there is actually a little easter-egg during the climax of the movie: among Mary Shaw’s collection of dolls, you can see Jigsaw’s doll (from the “Saw” movies) among them.

 

Dead Silence

 

Director: James Wan
Writers: Leigh Whannell, James Wan
Country & year: USA, 2007
Actors: Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg, Michael Fairman, Joan Heney, Bob Gunton, Laura Regan, Dmitry Chepovetsky, Judith Roberts, Keir Gilchrist, Steven Taylor, Steve Adams
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0455760/

 

 

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Leprechaun Returns (2018)

13 years has gone by since the the last Lep with Leprechaun Back 2 tha Hood, and a thing or two have obviously changed since then. Trimark was shut down in 2003, only three movies after Back 2 tha Hood, while Warvick Davis had moved over to Hogwarts with Harry Potter and recently shot the first season of the upcoming Willow series. And yeah, there’s a film called Leprechaun: Origins from 2008, an amateurish nothingburger which has zero to do with the franchise in any shape or form. So we have to jump further in time to 2013 where Leprechaun finally returned, in a direct-sequel to the original, directed by Steven Kostanski.

 

The plot goes as follows: the teengirl Lila Jenkins is on her way to an old house in North Dakota, where she’s going to spend the summer vacation with a group of college friends (body counts). As she gets a ride with Ozzie, the clumsy redneck from the first film, she tells him that her mom Tori (the protagonist from the first film) had died of cancer the same year. Rest in peace. After putting off Lila by the house, Ozzie suddenly gets some green liquid sprayed on him from the well which Lep fell into 25 years ago. The liquid somehow impregnates Ozzie, which leads to a gory rebirth where Lep punches and kicks his way out of Ozzie’s stomach like a toddler with a tantrum. He then gives a quick return monologue just to ensure us that he, after being trapped in a well for 25 years, is still a witty goofball who hasn’t forgot how to rhyme: “There once was a lad they thought DIED, his flesh had melted off his whole HIDE, but he escaped from the WELL, alive and quite SWELL. And now he’ll be killing in stride!” And he’s excited as a kid on Christmas morning to finally catch up with the killings.

 

The B-movie insanity that increased all up to eleven and blew out of all proportions in space, are toned-down and back to the roots with the farmland-setting, woods and overall back the 90s horror campyness. As the eight film in a horror franchise like this, it’s pretty remarkable how more polished and, if not, more professional (for lack of better word) Lep Returns look. Director Steven Kostanski was also co-director on the modern cult-film The Void two years earlier, so there’s clearly some talent behind the camera. There also seemed to finally be some competent special effects artists on set to give Lep some decent kill scenes, and there’s no exaggeration in saying that this is the goriest film in the franchise. Lep eagerly uses some modern technology to slice someone’s throat with drone blades, a whole body gets sliced in two, a fun little nod to Phantasm (I assume) with a mouth getting impaled by a sprinkler faucet. And there’s a … pillow fight.

 

This being said and all the positives, the film itself is pretty mediocre with the same old cliché slasher characters which you couldn’t give a toss about, and a standard mediocre slasher you’d forgotten about if it wasn’t for the – drumroll – Leprechaun. As they got the same guy who played Ozzie in the first one to reprise his role, they for one last time, also tried to get Jennifer Aniston back. But nah. So, the only curiosity is on Lep, and why he looks more like as if Mortiis had a child. This time he is played by the relative unknown Linden Porco since Warwick Davis had his whatever reasons to pass. As low to non-existent expectations I had, he was quite a surprise and did a good job by mimicking the demeanor of Davis while investing some of his own personal flavor to it. And the most important of all, he seemed to have a fun time. So, my life wouldn’t get absolutely ruined if he signs on any future Lep films.

 

Lerprechaun Returns Lerprechaun Returns

 

Director: Steven Kostanski
Writers: Suzanne Keilly
Country & year: USA, 2018
Actors: Taylor Spreitler, Pepi Sonuga, Sai Bennett, Emily Reid, Ben McGregor, Oliver Llewellyn Jenkins, Mark Holton, Linden Porco, Heather McDonald, Pete Spiros, Leon Clingman
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt8155182/

 

Related posts: Leprechaun (1993) | Leprechaun 2 (1994) | Leprechaun 3 (1995) | Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996) | Leprechaun in the Hood (2000)

 

 

Tom Ghoul