Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Ballad of The Killing

The Killing was a great show,
For about two seasons.
After season two it got cancelled,
And we thought we had seen the end,
AMC having put a bullet to its head.
But then Netflix and Fox stepped in,
Wielding great and powerful magic,
Possibly threatening AMC execs’ families,
And brought it back for season three.

Despite the fact that,
In the original European version,
It was a completely different show,
And the case stretched over two seasons in the U.S.
Was only one over there!
They had played with our emotions,
Put the show out of its misery,
And then buried it in the Pet Sematary,
And brought it back as something new.

The third season didn’t need to exist,
It was pretty much completely different
From the other two.
It followed new characters and put the old ones in the background,
While it had some captivating moments,
It was largely a different show.
There was one very captivating episode,
Mostly because of that guy who played the dad in Orphan,
(Or as some call him, Peter Sarsgaard!)
And the skillful representation
Of a man left on death row.
But then came the final episode,
In which a disappointing twist was revealed,
Such a cliche I never would have expected
From a show that did so well at covering them in the past.
And to top it all off like a cherry on a pile of manure,
The worst cliffhanger I’ve ever seen
On TV in my entire life,
Was how they chose to end this show they’d spent
So much time bringing back to life.

What a disappointment!

It was as if I’d been dumped by a girl
And then she came to my house the next day
And took a shit on my front lawn.
I left the show with disappointment
Feeling in the future I’d simply
Watch the first two seasons.
It was not even half a year later,
That Netflix waved their magic wand again
Necromancers supreme
They raised the show from the dead a third time
And announced there would be six final episodes
Masqueraded as a ‘season’
To finish off the show.

So let’s recap:
This show has been cancelled
And then brought back again and again
LIke an unwilling zombie
Forcefully reanimated
Walking living-dead,
And now they say it’ll finally be done.
I don’t know if I believe it,
I’m prepared for another announcement next Spring:
‘The Killing returns for season five! Only on Netflix!’
And all I gotta say is,
Poor Mireille Enos,
Constantly pulled back and forth
In a limbo tug-o-war
Is the show dead or alive?

I dunno.
But it sure is succeeding at driving me insane.

You’ve got one shot, guys. One. Last. Shot.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Vile (2011)

Well, anything has got to be better than Curse of the Zodiac. Even if it IS a big ball of torture-porny nothing like Vile…

Director: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Eric Jay Beck, April Matson

I’ll just get this out of the way now: This movie is nothing but gore! Any film made solely for the purposes of showing off gore and sacrificing any plot or tension in the meantime is just worthless shit and Vile is no exception. Its artistic value is nil - anything just existing to show off a bunch of gore has to be done with certain levels of drama or comedy to it or else it’ll just be tasteless nonsense, which THIS FILM definitely is.

There - now I don’t have to bitch about any of that in the rest of the review, as it is becoming passe to even talk about with every single piece of shit film that does these things. Instead now we can have a funnier review.

We start off this brilliant masterpiece with a tramp stamp of the movie company’s logo above some woman’s ass, which is an incredibly befitting way to start the whole thing off as I’m sure most of this movie came from someone’s ass. Also, what, the production company is Vile Entertainment, Inc.? Is this movie so worthless that it couldn’t find anywhere else to distribute itself but starting a whole new company under its own name?

I haven't seen a logo for a production company this good since the last Metallica album cover looked like the inside of a shit-covered toilet bowl.

If that wasn’t confusing enough on its own, we then get a Gandhi quote about how science is just hurting people with no remorse. Because Gandhi quotes totally fit with asinine torture porn horror movies!

Or not. Fucking seriously? Are you just on a mission to make sure NOTHING in this movie makes sense with anything else?

Then we get a three-minute scene of a guy we don’t know being tortured by someone else we don’t know. I’ll spoil all the dialogue of this scene for you: “Mmph! Mmmmpfh! MMMMPPPPFFFHHH!”

Get that tennis ball out of his mouth, I can't hear what he's saying!

Oh boy, am I ever sold on this movie now! A scene with nothing going on but torture is the best way to open up a film! I’m excited to see the rest now.

We then get a bunch of morons sleeping in a field camping or something - either that, or they just got lost and their short attention spans led them to start a new life out there. We find out that one of the girls, Tayler, is pregnant and hasn’t told her boyfriend yet. She goes and attempts to tell him and instead they have a conversation about how running around in a forest sounds sexy. Dammit, are you gonna force me to make ANOTHER Blair Witch joke?! I can’t escape it!

We also get this gem from the other girl: “You’re pregnant, it’s not cancer. He’ll be overjoyed.” Oh, really? Pregnancy and cancer aren’t the same thing? Is that how it works now? Please bestow upon us more of your erudite gems of eternal fucking wisdom.

"Did you also know that donating to the Red Cross is NOT the same thing as enslaving hundreds of Jews in concentration camps?"

Later, at a gas station, boyfriend Nick lets some older woman hitch a ride with them to her car, which she claims has run out of gas. Tayler gets extremely jealous for no reason and starts bitching Nick out for it - like he really had any incentive to do anything with the woman or even showed signs of being interested in her. Oh, wait, he didn’t. This is just shitty writing. Can’t make any interesting characters? Just have ‘em be jealous and bitchy at one another for no reason, all the time! Bam, instant drama!

"Allow me to be suspicious of you for no reason. WE HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP!"

So in a surprising twist, the lady they picked up is actually kidnapping them to go be tortured and stuff! Wow! If I hadn’t seen any horror movies in the last 40 years, maybe I’d actually be surprised by that! I do have to laugh at the way she does it though - she says she wants to give them a sample of perfume, then comes back wearing a gas mask and sprays gas into the car. That’s pretty fucking stupid. But funny as well, I admit.

Those car-to-car perfume saleswomen are just getting pushier and pushier.

They wake up in some old house that looks more like the filmmakers just asked one of their grandmas to use their house because they had no fucking money to get a better location. They meet another group of people who I am pretty sure got lost while filming an entirely separate torture porn shit film. It’s happening; they’re all converging into one giant interchangeable mass! Run for your lives!

"We got lost from the cast of Hostel 4: Beating the Dead Horse with Another Dead Horse. Can you help us find our way home?" Also we never learn anything about these characters; not where they're from or how they know each other or anything. Then again, this would have just made the movie longer, so...go ahead and just have them be two-dimensional cardboard cutouts.

They all notice something weird - apparently they all have wires hooked into their brains. Apparently they also find this videotape of a woman telling them the backstory of the film exposition-dump style: they need to cause pain to one another to make some chemical come out of the wires and into this other meter, for some science experiment some random, unidentified group is doing.

Uh, pretty fucking sure there are other ways to do this besides kidnapping people to torture them. You couldn’t find any other way to achieve the result you wanted except to kidnap like 10 people and put them in a room and make them torture one another? There’s really no other way you could have done it? And I’m really supposed to believe that this group who can fund a science experiment to hook wires into peoples’ brains perfectly without causing any neurological damage to extract chemicals, can’t get any more efficient way to kidnap those people in the first place than just sending one woman out to trick people in the middle of the night at run-down gas stations on country roads. Uh huh. Sure.

Oh who cares, nobody put any thought into this. So I guess everyone just starts immediately freaking the fuck out, not bothering to have any rational thought. Bradley Cooper here, afraid of starring in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, pulls his wires out and immediately drops to the floor dead:

Oh, you’re saying that wasn’t what happened? you'll be telling me that WASN'T really Bradley Cooper at all! Well I say, I have never heard such baseless accusations.

They all vote to just start beating the crap out of this one guy. The scene seems ridiculous at first, especially when after it’s done the one guy is just nonchalantly like “shit, this isn’t working.” But just picture Ulli Lommel in the beating victim’s place and it’ll be OK.

There’s also this one other girl, who I'm going to call Yellow Shirt Girl based off the color of her shirt, who is completely insane and horrible all the time. After Bradley Cooper-wannabe kills himself, she starts asking why none of the men will do more work to stop what’s going on. Mr. Take-a-Beating gets snarky with her and tells her he doesn’t want to hear any feminist crap. She freaks out on him and starts screaming so as to hurt the audience’s ears, but really I don’t see how asking men to do more work is feminist crap, so I think she should really be pissed off about the guy’s completely back-asswards view of feminism.

So then they strap Mr. Take-a-Beating to the table - not sure why they strap him down as he has volunteered… - and start whaling on him. They yank out some fingernails, burn him with an iron and beat his legs up. Yellow Shirt Girl gets way too into it though as she somehow musters up the strength to lift the guy up and break his leg clear in two pieces on the edge of the table. What, did she just eat a lot of spinach?

Throughout the next twenty-odd minutes of torture nonsense, Yellow Shirt Girl constantly tries to facilitate the torture, yelling at people that it’s THEIR TURN to be why isn’t SHE just volunteering to go? Because having likable characters would ruin this movie’s main goal of doing nothing right and flaunting it in our faces like a two dollar whore’s underwear.

Oh and there’s also a scene where one kid suggests to Yellow Shirt Girl that having sex could also produce the same chemicals as being tortured. For some reason this is just glazed over throughout the entire film, which is weird because you’d think THAT would have been preferable to torturing one another, but whatever! Yellow Shirt Girl is disgusted by this and says she’d rather be tortured than have sex with that guy. Yup, because having consensual sex with some guy who was just asking with no threat of violence or harm is SO MUCH WORSE than being tortured! Fuck this.

The movie also has a habit of using really serious, dramatic music over the torture scenes, which I would say is retarded, but as my brain has been turned to apple sauce by this movie, I’ll say it works! After all, if it’s good enough for Lifetime movies and Hallmark commercials, it’s good enough to play over your shitty Saw-wannabe movie. There's also some other scenes of pregnancy-related drama, and honestly, who ever thought THAT was gonna be a good idea? Yeah I'm real sure this shitty gore-movie has what it takes to pull off a sensitive topic like pregnancy drama well.

It's just what I was saying before; this film has no idea what it's doing. Nothing fits. The pregnancy storyline tries to evoke drama but that is offset by the ridiculous plot and over the top gore going on. It never meshes together well at all.

Yellow Shirt Girl spills boiling water all over the floor in an attempt to make the pain meter rise higher and get them all out of there faster. It doesn’t work, and they end up tying her up. She gets loose and accidentally kills one of the other girls. Her boyfriend then proceeds to go crazy and torture Yellow Shirt with everyone else in tow.

I know doing this helps them get to the right level of pain chemicals or whatever it is, but c’mon, it WAS kind of an accident...not sure that really means you have to torture her to death out of pure rage. I mean, hate her, yeah, but how does torturing her to death solve anything? It’s just weird because it’s played off more like we’re supposed to be happy they tortured and killed this girl, rather than feeling disgusted at what they’ve been driven to - I know they were TRYING to make it seem like the latter, but the film is so tonally confused it doesn’t work at all.

Then after that the videotape says they’re good now and can leave. They have to put their heads into this contraption on the wall which will remove the wires in their heads. Then they can leave through the door. It all goes pretty well until this guy is randomly revealed to be evil:

So if this guy was evil the whole time and working with the scientists, why didn't he tell them how to get the pain meter up higher and higher? Why did he instead let them beat the crap out of each other first in ways that did very little to further their goals? How come he even had to be in there at all? I mean, there's just no sense to any of this.

Yeah, because I guess they needed someone to be the villain. I get the idea they didn’t intend this guy to be evil at all; they just hit a wall in the writing process and had to choose someone at random. I mean there really is no fucking reason this guy would be evil - it’s never even really explained why he had to be in there with them, or what his real motivations are. He’s just evil! How did that magnificent writing process go again?

Oh yeah.

So Tayler gets trapped back inside the house and the whole torture-timer starts all over again, making her have to torture herself to get back out. It takes her about two minutes of screentime, and all she does is stick her hand in a pot of boiling water and impale her hand on a nail - really? This was all the time it would have taken them to get out? Why did we even have the rest of this fucking movie then? It could’ve been over in five minutes!

This is just the hazing ritual for most sororities these days; man up! Or...woman up, I guess it would be instead...

Unfortunately it’s deus ex machina time, as then some other crap happens that results in the chemicals in the wires in their heads killing them now. Tayler dies, Nick stabs the on-a-whim bad guy to death and then walks out the door...somehow surviving even though I thought the point was that they were dying now. This whole sequence takes up like 10 minutes of screentime, when you add in close-ups of Tayler crying and Nick and Mr. Baddie-Bad-Guy bantering - it’s really just like they didn’t have enough material to sustain a full movie, so instead they just padded everything out for no reason. You know, like most good filmmakers do.

"Quick, we need more padding! Hold this shot and have some melodramatic music playing over it to make it seem meaningful and shit!"

We then get a scene of Nick in some diner ordering food. He sees the older woman from before who kidnapped them outside, follows her to the middle of nowhere where she’s trying to do it again, and kills her. So what, he didn't bother alerting law enforcement to what happened in that house? No investigations were done there? What about the parents or families of the other people who died? No questions asked about their disappearances or deaths? I just don't think eating breakfast at some random diner is the highest priority after the whole mess was over! Then again breakfast IS the most important meal of the day.

Oh well. Our hero, a murderer who didn't even tell the police about a highly sophisticated (or somewhat, anyway) torture operation kidnapping innocent people, thus damning more people to suffer similar fates, then sits in a car looking super serious and another song plays to close the film, beginning with the line “FUCK IT!”

That's the weight of this whole ridiculous movie settling on his shoulders forever.

Yeah, I think that about sums up the attitude of the filmmakers while making this garbage: fuck it!

I mean this whole thing is just nonsense. It’s completely valueless. There’s very little direction here, no atmosphere to speak of, the acting sucks, the story is contrived...there’s basically no reason to watch this thing. The fact that they managed to do exactly nothing right, achieving absolutely nothing they set out to, is a near miracle of horribleness though, and does tend to lend a certain degree of unintentional comedy to this. However, I don't think that justifies its existence. Fire the space lasers and destroy every copy of this movie now!

Images copyright of their original owners, I own none of them.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Curse of the Zodiac (2007)

I started having visions in my mind of the Zodiac killer. Even though there's no evidence of supernatural powers being a real thing in this world at all, I began to have vivid dream sequences shot in shaky-cam vomiting nausea style, with the Zodiac mostly just muttering swear words under his breath. I dunno, honestly I’m not sure what was really going on, as I then was overcome with an overwhelming desire to go pay for the services of a prostitute instead of continuing the investigation into the psychic powers of the Zodiac killer.

If that didn’t make any goddamn sense to you, well, congratulations yet again - you’re any person in the world except Ulli Lommel.

Director: Ulli Lommel
Starring: Cassandra Church, Jack Quinn

Yes, made a year after the successful film Zodiac made by David Fincher, Ulli Lommel decided to make a fucking worthless piece of trash called Curse of the Zodiac. Surprise, I’m really not that into this one. This will be a short review, as there is nothing worth talking about in this thing. And I really don’t want to give a hack artist like Lommel any more time-of-day than he deserves. I mean, the guy looks like Dick Dastardly from Wacky Races! How can you trust him with anything?

We start off with some shaky-cam seizure-visions for the opening credits that make it pretty clear exactly what the intent behind this was - send all your viewers into a blind comatose state so they can’t pay attention to the rest of the movie. Heh - “movie.” That’s a good one.

Then we get a text scroll summarizing the Zodiac killer, which is really awesome because it shows Lommel was able to read Wikipedia, which IS awesome since I wouldn’t have guessed he was literate otherwise. Other than that, no, I don’t think a despicably short and plain-looking series of text slides on a boring black background was a particularly good way to tell this real life, interesting crime story that you instead boiled down to an insultingly Neoandethal-ish pile of crap. But hey, serial killers are awesome, man! They’re so dark and tormented and shocking and stuff. So anything about them, even if it’s the worst thing since Rock n’ Roll Frankenstein, must be interesting, right? Right?

We then get an astounding opening with all the poetic wit Lommel could muster - the Zodiac Killer speaking in a raspy voice more befitting of that weirdo on the subway, and calling this journalist guy “fat fuck” over and over. I guess the journalist guy is supposedly investigating Zodiac, but really we never see him do anything but read from books at an agonizingly slow pace in dimly lit rooms.

How about turning up the lights, you fucking idiot? Oh wait, that wouldn’t give you the best excuse ever to not read the script for this movie - carry on, then.

About half of this film’s dialogue is pretty much just made up of the Zodiac muttering obscene nonsense about killing women, and frankly I didn’t even need to hear it the first time, let alone the other 50 times. For some reason at the beginning, he keeps going on little tangents about how his name is spelled; saying things like “You know how my name is spelled, with a Z…” Uh, okay then? Is this a Zodiac Killer children’s picture book, complete with ABC lessons and games? Maybe I’d read that. But only if Jake Gyllenhaal narrated it for the audio-book version.

The other main character is this skittish, skinny white girl who keeps having weird dreams about the Zodiac killer coming to kill her. She blabs about it to her boyfriend/husband/whatever, who is a suave tan-skinned hip hop-looking guy who doesn’t even look like he belongs in the same room as her, let alone a relationship. But why start making sense now?

These two characters look like they were both pulled from two completely different movies. The girl looks like she belongs as a background character in a meet-cute indie romance comedy, maybe at a coffee shop, and the guy looks like he needs to be in a 1970s period drama about an art school.

They have an annoying conversation about whether or not she needs to see a shrink. It kinda goes like this:

“You should really seek help about these visions of a serial killer you’re having in your dreams!”


“I know, but you should really seek some help about all of these weird dreams!”


She also says he’s “getting out of his league” by suggesting she seek help for the obviously distressing dreams she’s having. Getting out of his league? But I love this guy...whatever his name is. Itt’s really asinine for her to be so bitchy to him for just trying to help her out when she’s obviously upset. You’d hope this would just be another one-note kill character, but nope, she’s the heroine for the film! Heh heh heh...somebody get the straitjacket; I think I’m going to need to go away for a while after this review.

We then get a scene with a boring guy who constantly talks like he’s half asleep and a girl whose direction, I believe, was “be as bitchy and rude as possible.” She’s chewing him out for not spending enough time with her, because, yeah, she’s really giving him a lot of incentive to hang out with her! The awful attitude, the constant hang out material!

Is it bad that all I want to do here is make shadow-puppets against the background?

Fortunately the Zodiac kills them, or something - if sticking a gun in her mouth mafia-style while there’s a split-screen with psychic-visions girl holding her head and moaning counts as killing, then I guess that's what happens.

I just...cannot for the life of me understand why this directing choice was made. It is so asinine, so pointless and so amateurish that it’s pretty much indefensible. Lommel has been directing films since the late 70s, and this is really the best he can do? The only conclusion I am forced to draw is that he’s doing this on purpose. You absolute ass-monger. You commander on this sea of shit!

Then there’s another scene of the girl and her hip hop, beret-wearing, wine-sipping boyfriend, who apparently has nothing to do all day but sit in the exact same spot as he was the other scene. In fact, did he even move at all?

"My job includes sitting on the couch, drinking wine and watching Desperate Housewives. In fact I think my ass may be glued to this couch!"

They talk about how she met the reporter at the police station (who turns out to be the “fat fuck” guy the Zodiac taunts sometimes) who agreed to help her research the Zodiac. This sequence of events is never shown, just told here - yes, because seeing THAT scene which would have moved the plot forward would have been lame, but THIS scene, in which the boyfriend asks if the reporter is attractive, is TOTALLY useful! Because why have any likable characters at all? what, there’s another scene where some prostitute is arguing with her pimp and the Zodiac is narrating more garbage over-top about wanting to kill her in some sick way. The camera tilts around like the cameraman just tripped and fell over while filming and then they just decided to use that take, as they clearly did not care:

...and the whole scene is about as unpleasant on all fronts as humanly possible. It’s literally a fucking assault on your senses. The picture quality makes old 1970s no-budget horror movies look like a James Cameron blockbuster, the camerawork makes no sense, the dialogue between the prostitute and the pimp is just a bunch of screaming and shouting you can barely understand, and the Zodiac’s narrating over-top is a constant stream of misogynistic, hate-filled garbage that more denotes someone who should be euthanized rather than allowed to continue making films. It is so omnipresent in near every scene in this film and so lacking in anything resembling taste, that I just have to call it what it is - absolutely deplorable, disgusting filth.

Ugh. I really just can’t. The rest of the film is pretty much like this: the Zodiac preys upon some girl in horrible picture quality, muttering more bullshit about how he’s going to kill her, then he does it in some boring manner, then we get some scenes of the psychic-dream girl holding her head and crying, then we get a bunch of shaky cam scenes trying to look all artsy and demented. Rinse, repeat and hate yourself - that’s your movie. Was it good for you?

I'll translate to Lommel-ese, for the uninitiated: LOOK HOW ARTSY I AM! SMELL MY FARTS AND PRAISE ME AS A NEW GOD OF CINEMA!

There’s really only a few other things worthy of note - in the scenes where he’s stalking the girls and muttering, why can’t they hear him? I guess it's supposed to be his inner thoughts or whatever, but it's so poorly done you can't tell half the time, in the beginning anyway. If he’s really right there, it’s either A) he’s muttering so low nobody can hear him, which makes him a total weenie loser, or B) the white static noise in these girls' heads in place of cogent thoughts is so loud they can't hear anything else. Neither one would surprise me. The scenes where the main girl is seeing visions just make less and less sense as this thing goes on. Is the Zodiac psychic? Is he astral-projecting his murders into her brain? Why her, anyway? Why not any other person? What’s so special about her?

The answer to all of these questions is “Fuck you, I’m Ulli Lommel, I don’t have to make any goddamn sense.”

There are maybe two scenes of actual investigating, you know, that thing the girl and the reporter claimed to be doing, but they're not very long and nothing of importance is discovered in them. Instead we just get a scene where the reporter gives up on all that boring detective work and instead hooks up with a prostitute. He goes outside to have a smoke, then while he’s doing that, the Zodiac sneaks in through the air vents and kills the prostitute. Yes, I am dead serious about that, and yes, my soul died a little bit even writing it.

"Hey, I liked that window view; get out of there!"

The guy comes back in, sees her dead and doesn’t care. Like literally I’m not even exaggerating - he doesn’t show a reaction at all. I think that about sums it all up. I could reiterate what about this film is so awful, but frankly, I think this one speaks for itself.

Images copyright of their original owners. I do not own any of them.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The following account is a true story of one reviewer’s quest to review one of the most famous horror films of all time. He was never seen again and this is the last known record of his existence on Earth. Do not read this review in the dark - this will be your final warning.

I arrive in Burkittsville early in the day and get a cup of coffee from the local diner, black and steaming. The waitress is middle-aged with dyed brown hair and a pleasant face. As she pours my coffee, she asks what my business in town is – this is a small town where everybody knows everybody and they spotted me as an outsider almost immediately.

“I’m going to find the Blair Witch,” I say.

The look of horror that came over her wrinkled face then was palpable.

“Oh, my,” she says. “Are you sure you want to do that?”

“Sure am,” I say.

“We get some tourists doing that every year,” she says. “Lot of em, they don’t come back. Or if they do … well, they’re not the same afterwards.”

I feel a shiver down my spine, which I ignore, and put on a steely smile. “Thanks for the tip,” I say. “But I have to do this.”

As I leave, I feel her eyes boring into my back.

The Black Hills are big and dark. Even though it is a sunny day, it looks overcast in the woods. One could get lost in there, I think. I can’t believe the size of these woods – I mean, it’d be easy to get lost in there. Especially if a witch supernaturally enlarges the size of the woods and makes it impossible to find my way out. But I need this experience to make sure my review is all the more credible!

I look at the woods and feel an acute terror. I can’t believe what I'm about to do. I take a couple of steps into the woods. The air is damp and the ground crunches and crackles under my feet with each step. Around me on all sides the woods stretch out in an inviting manner, saying come in, come further.

So I walk a few steps in. Then a few more. Then I am completely surrounded by woods. I keep going and after about ten minutes I come to a flowing stream, crystal-clear and odd amidst the eerie woods. At the bank of the stream is a small bundle of sticks. I pick it up and pocket it - maybe it'll help me get some inspiration later on while writing.

I decide I've got enough. I leave the woods and head back into town. Maybe, I think, I'll come back later on, in the dark when it's really scary. Take a longer walk then. Yes, that will add the right level of credibility to this whole thing.

I check into a hotel room at the nearest hotel to the woods, and once settled in for the afternoon, I boot up my laptop. I find The Blair Witch Project on Instant Streaming and turn it on. It's time to get down to business.

Directors: Eduardo Sanchez, Daniel Myrick
Starring: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard

The film begins with a text blurb saying the characters in the film went missing and this is the only proof we have of the events that unfolded. I sure am glad the Blair Witch gave back their camera so we could see this movie! Otherwise I don’t know what we would’ve done. Also, yes, I totally believe a film distributed by Lionsgate is actually a real story found on cameras once owned by missing people.

Then we get our main characters playing a game I like to call “Camera-ception” – where they film each other filming one another.

After that, main characters Heather and Josh meet up with their other main character-slash-friend, Mike. Or as they call him, Our Little Mikey!

Truly a dignified and adult nickname.

That truly is the glare of death – are they sure THIS guy isn’t the killer in the film?

We then get some interview clips that educate us on some things – like that camera angles for documentaries in the past were getting it all wrong, and THIS is the real way to do it:

Ohhhh yeah. That’s some good documentary makin’ right there. If you don’t tell your interview subjects to hold the camera tilted up at a close-up of their faces, it’s just not as real. Almost as interesting as the only redneck white trash trailer park home to have an American flag in it. I think that’s worth noting because patriotism is at an all-time low now in this country.

Sure the flag belongs to a crazy tin-foil hat old lady who thinks she's seen Bigfoot, but ... it's still a ringing endorsement for our country! Really!

But enough of that nonsense. We do get some stories from old people in the movie about how there were several grisly murders in this town in the past. I’m sure glad these people weren’t part of the committee to make the town’s new promotional “welcome” video – I don’t think stories about that crazy time a guy kidnapped and ritually murdered a group of kids is exactly good PR.

In other news, crazy ladies who work at coffee shops AREN’T the most reliable sources! This one talks a lot about how she believes in “witches and ghosts and stuff like that.” Oh, really? “Stuff like that”? Please, tell us more about stuff like that – the viewers are waiting with bated breath. Then maybe you can show us your tinfoil hat collection and pictures of that time you visited Area 51 and thought you had an extraterrestrial experience in your sleep, but it turned out it was just some guy robbing your purse from your hotel room.

We also get a story from an old crazy woman about how she once saw a really hairy woman in the woods. Uh, excuse me lady, but they’re making a documentary about the Blair Witch, NOT about the secret origins of Ellen Degeneres!

In the woods, they wander around for a bit and show off their hairy chests and what not. Given that the Blair Witch was just described as being covered in thick, dark hair, I think they should start looking at the possibility of this guy being the killer more seriously.

Get your man boobs out of my face.

I dunno though; I’m mostly just waiting for these idiots to run into the cast of the 1981 Don’t Go in the Woods in this forest. Surely they’re built around similar agendas – I mean the killer in THAT movie was a hairy bigfoot as well; it’s pretty fucking similar.

So they manage to get lost within the next five minutes of the movie’s screentime. In the movie it’s supposed to be like a whole day, but it’s funnier to say five minutes, so that’s what I’m going with! You could also say that it’s actually the Witch messing with their minds and making them get lost in these woods that, apparently, aren’t all that small. And I’d agree with you – this aspect of the film is well done, creepy and effective.

However, for the humor-related purposes of this blog … man, these must be the biggest woods in the world! Or they’re just the worst navigators in the world.

I do have a bit of justification for that one – I mean, when they lose their map and Mikey eventually confesses to getting rid of it on purpose, we find out that apparently only Heather knew what the map actually meant and where they were going. Because you know, that’s a good contingency plan for going out in the woods! “Hey, let’s just make sure our only means of knowing where we’re going is confusing and nobody knows what it means except one person! Also, let’s make sure one of the guys that DOESN’T know what it means is the one who holds onto it!” “Awesome; we’ll get lost and die for SURE now!”

Also, Mikey seems to be taking Nic Cage classes, judging by his constant maniacal laughter and random forays into screaming his head off. That’s always good for a documentary, right?

A man truly in his element.

They also keep finding little bundles of sticks in the woods. They think it’s the Blair Witch, but I think it’s the Monty Python reenactment of The Crucible.

Josh also goes on a long-winded rant about how his girlfriend will notice if he’s gone. For some reason this goes on for quite a few lines of dialogue. Oh, really? That how it works now? Your girlfriend will notice if you go missing? Well, color me surprised. Unless your girlfriend regularly talks to the wall and confuses it for you, then I guess that’s just a strange thing to have to point out to others. Maybe there’s some insecurity at play here?


I hear a rustling noise outside. I pause the film. I look out the window and am surprised to see that the hotel is bordering on the forest – the trees are less than ten feet from the window. I could have sworn they were further away when I first came in. I think perhaps I simply misjudged the proximity of the woods. It happens sometimes. Maybe I'd been so preoccupied on the review I just had not noticed. That's plausible, right?

The noise must’ve been a branch, I think. Scraping on the window. I’ve seen Poltergeist. I know this whole rigamarole!

But was it just a branch? Or is there something out my window? A shadowy figure, perhaps – lurking between the trees, just out of my line of sight?

Are my eyes playing tricks on me, or is the movie getting to me? I suppose I have been doing this a long time, after all – maybe I'm finally coming a bit undone. Out the window it looks dark now, and pregnant, swelling clouds have usurped what was a pleasant sunny day.

I shrug it off. I need to finish the review. That is the main goal – I won’t, and cannot, let anything else distract me.


We continue the movie with the characters descending further into arguing. Josh says if Heather keeps on filming shit, he’ll THROW HER INTO THE WOODS. Grr, manly threats! Except it’s dumb because, you know, they’re already in the woods.

Meanwhile, Mikey is upset because they have no more cigarettes. What kind of backwoods convenience store is this? No cigarettes? Well, I’m certainly not ever shopping here again, no thank you very fucking much!

We're lost in the woods with no hope of getting back AND there's no cigarettes? If you don't fix this problem we'll MAKE SURE YOU KEEP BREATHING! DAMN YOU!

How the hell are they even still filming at this point? It’s been like two days and counting and the cameras show no sign of dying even though they’re constantly filming. Is there just a bunch of hidden power outlets out in these woods? Hell, just slap an ad for batteries over top – Duracell: it’s now Blair Witch accessible!

Also, this is now a documentary about women crying.

Apparently, Heather and Mikey keep getting turned around and ending up at the same place they started even though they traveled all day in a straight line. I would say this is horrifyingly creepy and macabre, but really it’s just what I told these kids before they left – shoulda brought a GPS.

We then see something finally happen as Josh goes missing in the middle of the night. Heather and Mikey wander around shouting his name at the top of their lungs. Mikey, exasperated, then says “Josh would have told us where he was by now.” Yes, that Josh was always known for telling people where he was. It was one of his defining characteristics. Except, apparently, where his girlfriend was concerned.

I will give this movie one thing, though – it at least isn’t relying on jump scares to constantly move the plot forward. Maybe if it was made ten years later it would have, but fortunately this was made in a time where jump scares were not quite as comparable in value to the lowest form of currency in another country while you're broke and living on the streets in America.

In case you’re wondering when they’re going to stumble onto the Voorhees shack with Pamela’s decapitated head inside, it doesn’t happen. But we do get the discovery of some of Josh’s clothes as well as some bloody teeth.

That’s it, put a search out for this guy!

You know, it’d really be funny if Josh had made it out of the woods and was safely back home with his family eating Cheerios by the time the rest of the movie happened.

We then get the final breakdown of Heather as she makes a video apology to everyone she’s let down through her mistakes in the film, including her parents and the parents of the other two characters. It’s an affecting and somber scene, especially in the raw darkness going on – it really makes the best use of the low-fi camera format.

Having a close-up on one eye was the best way to get the apology across. I totally see why she chose this. And yes, I realize she is supposed to be in extreme emotional distress during this scene, but I don't care; that shouldn't stop her from making better directing choices. For shame.

Then they come across a decrepit old house and, feeling they have nothing left to lose, just go in anyway. They hear some screams from upstairs, which I’m pretty sure is just the filming sessions from another movie, but they think it’s Josh. They go upstairs, but get separated. When Heather comes back downstairs, it seems Mikey has been sent to the corner for being a bad boy:

That's what you GET for taking too much ice cream before dinner, young man.

Heather falls down, and drops the camera, which now means the movie is over. What, you’re not going to go all Cloverfield on us and show us another shot afterwards of them all being happy, to juxtapose the two scenarios? Pfft. So disappointing. I mean, the way this ended as is, it was atmospheric, unsettling and really underlined how hopeless and dark the whole thing was. But I NEED to have a hokey un-subtle shot of them having fun and smiling to point out that they had lives and happiness before the movie's events; otherwise I just don't get it!


I’m typing the conclusion to the review when I hear the next crackle of the “branch” outside, banging on my window in the wind. My head snaps up. There’s a rash of goosebumps on my arm. There's a heavy storm outside, having crept up on me as I was enraptured by the movie, and the wind is whipping like mad. I rub my eyes – it seems there’s something out there in the woods, standing between two tall trees – a black, hooded spectre with clawed hands … but the window is dripping wet with rain and I can't see clearly. When I blink, the figure is gone.

I turn back to the computer and start to type, but my mouth is dry. I get up and pour myself a glass of water from the mini-fridge. I drink and the water cools my throat – which has become oddly parched over the course of the film. It is as if I myself have been as lost in the woods as the film’s characters, deprived of food and water. My stomach rumbles and I put a hand to it – a shaking hand, trembling with fear. My head feels light and fuzzy.

There’s a loud bang against the window, and I jump near clean out of my skin. I go to the window despite every nerve screaming for me to run, run right home and never look back. The figure is there now, and closer! I can see it’s a feminine body-shape, and beneath the cloak she has pitch-black, mottled fur which I imagine is wet with blood.

No, I think – stop, damn you; stop having such wretched thoughts. Stop imagining such horrors, for they will come true. It's just a byproduct of sitting in the dark and watching the damn movie for so long.

I close my eyes and expect the figure to be gone when I open them, but when I do she’s still there – this malefic black-cloaked horror with clawed hands and fur covering her whole body. I can’t see her face and I don’t want to.

In a fit of energy I run. I throw open the door and run down the hall, which becomes a blur of velvet-red carpeting and golden stripes on the walls. I come to a stop when the hall dead-ends into another hotel-room door. It is with an acute sense of terror that I realize it’s my own. I’ve run down this hallway, sprinting to get out into the world, but come back to the very room I was just running from!

I open the door, for there’s nowhere else to go. It’s my room, only my computer is now gone. I look around the room and it’s not there – it’s simply vanished. And out the window the hooded spectre looms. I feel the inevitability of death creeping up on me. I look out the window and this time, clear as day even in spite of the torrential downpour separating us, I can see her face – and oh it is a hideous sight to behold.

I turn and face the wall – anything to get away from the awful sight – and then the blackness comes and devours me whole.

Images copyright of their original owners; I own none of them.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Legend of Sorrow Creek (2007)

Are you tired of your movies having any budget or financial means put into making them at all? Well, meet The Legend of Sorrow Creek.

Director: Michael Penning
Starring: Freya Ravensbergen, Matt Turner

Co-written with Clayton and Kayleigh.

This thing was co-produced and co-filmed by Geoff Klein, who is a mini-celebrity of the Cinema Freaks blog as he directed Bikini Girls on Ice, which I reviewed three years ago. As I am not one to look down my nose at a man who could make something of that quality, of course I was going to give this a chance! (I’m also glad to see he’s kept up appearances by directing something else called Pinup Dolls on Ice four years after his first masterpiece.)

The Legend of Sorrow Creek, however, is a personal project – written and directed by a guy named Michael Penning, who also did the music, co-produced it and edited the sound for the film. Various other people sharing his last name, who I can only assume are relatives, also worked on the film in various capacities – including a guy named William Penning who plays one of the ghosts in the film. Given that, I’m sure this will be a well-rounded and balanced film with no flaws at all.

Heh heh heh…heh heh…heh.

We start off with some highly annoying scenes of a girl getting hanged, shot with constant flashes to black – I suppose this is to create some kind of atmosphere, but really it’s kind of like a kid turning the lights on and off repeatedly to tell a ghost story at camp. Oh, and then we get a title sequence where the letters slowly fade in from black – yeah, guys; probably not a good fuckin’ idea when your title is five words long. Thank the Heavens they just do the Sorrow Creek part like that…

We then get the sheriff and some braniac from a college walking in the woods talking about an abandoned civilization in the woods or something – apparently after a series of incidents that spooked the residents of this town near the woods, everyone just packed their shit and left. Chief among them being when a super-religious father carved his daughter’s eyes out because he thought she had seen the devil, and then hung her – the scene from the opening, apparently. I guess that’s a better reason to leave than piranhas killing everyone.

I'm really not sure why they had to come out into the middle of the woods to have this conversation, as they don't even go to the scene of the crime at any point; they just stand there and talk in a random spot in the woods. Why couldn't this have happened down at the sheriff's office again? Also, look at how bad that pixellated video quality is. Is this just one of those mid-90s interactive video role playing games or something?

Then we get a bunch of people hangin’ out in the woods after one of them got a fish hook stuck in his hand. The only thing that would make this scene better is if they broke out into song during it like in the 2010 version of Don’t Go in the Woods.

Then they go get lost in the woods on their way back, not even knowing if the way they’re going will lead them back to their cottage. Sure, they have this theory that the river will lead them back to the cottage faster than the other way, but they don’t know – I mean all it does is lead them to a river full of water that nearly makes main girl Kayla throw up:

Eh, it's no big deal; this is where Dasani gets their water from, and you know they're trustworthy.

I also love some of the dialogue we get here, like this one guy talking about his heart problem. One of the girls asks what happens if he doesn’t take his medication in time and he cheerfully responds: “My heart will explode, and I’ll die.” It’s pretty goddamn funny, and sounds more like the guy was reading off a cue card for an instructional school video or something. You know, a school video about dying from a heart problem. The best kind.

One girl, Jesse, says she wants to stay behind and sketch the markings on a tree, and says she won’t get lost and will find her own way back later on. Like the amazing friends they are, they agree to this insane plan and leave her alone in the woods as it’s getting darker. I guess it’s an alright plan though. I mean they do have a good insurance plan for this kind of thing under Obamacare – it’s called the Blair Witch plan, and if you make a home video movie of your experiences lost in the woods, you can get your insurance to pay for any and all injuries.

So it gets to be dusk and Kayla and her boyfriend Ashton Kutcher here have a conversation about how he’ll understand if she doesn’t hang out with him as much because she’s trying to get published. It IS impossible to work on a relationship while also waiting on emails from publishing companies, so I get it. Best line from this scene is when she chides him about wanting more time to hang out with his “other girlfriend” – I dunno, given how little we know about these characters, maybe she’s not joking after all and is actually the other woman in his sordid romantic affair.

Eventually after it’s nighttime already, they FINALLY realize Jesse hasn’t come back yet and MAYBE they should go find her. Why start now? I’m sure you can wait until you’re back at your day jobs and she still hasn’t returned yet to start panicking. After a creepy phone call of Jesse crying for help over static, they really get worried and go out to the car – though they forget the keys for one, and two, Ashton Kutcher says he doesn’t want to go anywhere and just wants to “get ready” in case they have to.

Yeah, man, let's sit in the car JUST TO GET READY in case we have to go anywhere. Y'know, because we usually get really anxious when things get stressful and just end up driving into walls instead. THIS TIME we're really prepared!

Uh, your friend just called the house crying – well, the phone didn’t work and it was an illusion, but still, she hasn’t come back yet anyway – what more do you need? Does your friend possibly being in danger not seem like a big deal? Then they see a large caveman-looking guy standing in their headlights not responding when they call out to him, which I’m sure is normal.

Pfft, that's just your senile old neighbor getting lost again. He's not scary, he just needs help getting back home.

The guy is clearly still in the area, which prompts our heroes to do the natural thing – not go anywhere in the car and instead go back in the house themselves. Fortunately the guy they saw was an optical illusion. I mean phew, dodged a bullet there! What would they have done if it really WAS a madman waiting to kill them? That would’ve just made it really stupid that they didn’t immediately leave. Also fortunately for them – luck is just going their way tonight – Jesse comes back all on her own! I mean, sure she’s scratched up to hell and half insane, but at least she isn’t possessed! Oh, wait, yes she is:

Either he's trying to date-rape her, or she's possessed. Either way I think this situation is bad news all over.

Also this prompts the funniest heart attack scene from a movie ever - maybe next time you should NOT let the guy with the heart condition be in a horror movie about evil spirits and possession. Just a thought.

Aaaaand I'm going to hell for laughing at this scene.

This prompts Ashton Kutcher to go into the biggest and toughest game of tug-o-war ever, which is REALLY GRIPPING when the girl on the other side of the door is like 110 pounds when soaking wet:

I guess this guy's muscles are just wet noodles.

Possessed Jesse is not given any real explanation. But you know what REALLY makes me mad? When they show Jesse walking down the hall and one window has sunlight shining it, while the other one at the back of the hall is CLEARLY still night outside!

Well that's it, this movie just lost ALL credibility with me!

Jesse tries to kill Heart Attack Boy, but when she realizes what she’s done, she moves the knife across her throat without actually making contact. Oh, my bad, was that supposed to be cutting her throat for real?

I personally only like horror movies where they cut their throats FOR REAL on screen. 

Now we get what this movie REALLY excels at though … scenes of Ashton Kutcher and Kayla sitting around holding each other crying, saying they need to leave but never actually doing so.

I jumped around for over a half hour of the movie's running time - I'm just fuckin' astounded that they keep doing this same set-up OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

"I'm so scared, we should leave!"

"Nah, we should just keep repeating this same scene over and over again until we puke!"


"On second thought, ewww."

Sure, their car gets destroyed and sort of strands them there, but how is that an excuse? They could still leave on foot, especially considering Kayla used to vacation here all the time and should know the way out of the woods, but no, then we wouldn’t have a movie. I don’t even get it … they’re scared of the ghost guy around the house, so they stay in the house. If you can make any sense of that, let me know, because I sure as fuck can't.

Eventually they do try to leave, going into the toolshed out back, but Ashton Kutcher gets a chainsaw dropped on his leg and this somehow breaks his leg. Kayla takes him back into the house and says she’ll go get help, but I don’t know why she’s bothering; clearly she’ll end up back there in five minutes crying with him some more about leaving – why stop now? Just have that same scene on a loop for the next hour; that’s good cinema.

I guess she does actually make it to the road though. She doesn’t make it far though, as a bunch of ghosts appear to her, including a little girl with anuses for eyes and the Halloween Remake Michael Myers guy from before:

You’d think they would have just killed her, but no, she’s back in the next scene. She wanders back through the woods and finds the river from before that choked her when she drank from it. She also finds a trap door in the ground and, being one of the smartest young people of our generation, she gets in and traps herself in there. I’m really just waiting here for Jason to open up that box and stab this girl, but the filmmakers apparently couldn’t find a goalie mask in time.

I never thought I'd be able to make a comparison between a low budget supernatural slasher film and that movie Buried with Ryan Reynolds, but there you go.

Instead we get the box filling up with water as someone pushes the box into the river which leads down into a lake somehow. You’d think THIS would be the end for her, but nope, she escapes somehow! Because you know, almost drowning in an enclosed box randomly placed in the woods is really easy to escape from, and she’s just a natural at it. When it comes to finding help in a place she’s been going to all her life, however, she’s stumped!

Come to think of it, if she’s been going here since she was a kid, and the town was abandoned after that guy killed his daughter in the 1800s, WHY is all this ghost shit just happening to her NOW? Did the ghosts just see her as a kid and go “nah, we’ll wait til she’s of age; we’re really considerate ghosts!”?

Oh well – back at Casa Possession Murder, Ashton Kutcher lamely crawls outside to the tool shed where he broke his leg. Because second time’s the charm, ya know; THIS time it’ll go fine! Except it doesn’t and he gets gasoline poured on his face. This creates the best camera effect of all time – the “I forgot to wear my glasses today” style:

"Hey, son, it's Mr. Jenkins from down the road. I noticed you were in trouble and decided to come see if I could help you. Are you alright?" OK, I know it's actually one of the ghosts coming to get him, but wouldn't that have been the funnier ending?

Meanwhile out in the woods, we see the ghosts somehow got Kayla, too, and have turned her eyes into anuses as well:

We also see that the film’s budget was good enough to include a noose for her to hang herself from.

Then we switch back to the sheriff and the other dude from the opening of the film. They blather on some more about the movie we just saw being a mysterious crime that hasn’t been solved, and they find a picture of that girl from the opening with no eyes, apparently drawn by Jesse while she was lost in the woods. Except it’s really not very accurate, since in the drawing she clearly has both her eyes:

I have to come clean with you guys now about something that pains me to admit: Ashton Kutcher wasn't really in this movie. It was a joke based on the main guy's appearance. I'm so sorry I deceived you all like this. I can never show my face in public again!

What were the ghosts even trying to do here? Kill the main characters? They had multiple opportunities to do so, but kept letting the characters live (even when they had Kayla surrounded and alone on the empty road) for no reason but that the movie needed more screen-time. Screen-time which, if you forgot, was mostly taken up by the two main characters sitting on the couch crying.

Also, the possession subplot was totally random, as it only happened to one character before seemingly being forgotten about entirely. Add to that production value that looks more like a 1990s movie rather than a 2007 one and tons of dialogue awkwardly shoehorned in as exposition, and you have what mostly feels like an unfinished home video project. But with that said, the ideas are at least decent and not just riding on current trends to be flashy and get noticed, and the raw darkness of the woods scenery is at least trying to conjure up a feeling close to fear.

So in conclusion, I’d totally watch this again over anything Lionsgate is pushing out these days!

Images copyright of their original owners; I own none of them.