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"Dolls" is reminiscent of 80's prop horror films like "Puppet Master" and 1987's "Dolls", keeping with a slow paced scary story format. In this film, the story does move a bit too slow in the beginning. Too much time is spent teasing the horror to come, and clumsily creating character development. It gets a little tedious but Thomas Downey's portrayal of Robert does help break up the monotony with comic relief , and a general relatability- complete with "Dad jokes".
The acting is decent, at times there is clear indication that the script never quite matured. Still, the cast did an excellent job bringing these characters to life. I do feel a need to complain there wasn't enough Dee Wallace. With a stronger script maybe it wouldn't have been so noticable, but given the over-exaggerated drama that eats up the first hour, and weak jump scares, I found myself wishing Wallace's onscreen presence was stronger.
The horror elements are not as strong as I was hoping for going into "Dolls". Expected jump scares are weak, mostly just soneone being creeped out by a doll. A couple of the kill sequences fall a bit short, but were still a welcomed sight. Carvin is clever in his choices as far as how to shoot the horror elements, very much the way Full Moon shoots their stuff these days.
The last act is the real ticket. The sinister, and tragic way the story ends, and those last few deaths are what I was hoping for the first two acts. Overall "Dolls" will disappoint as much as it will entertain. This isn't a high intensity thriller, and there are holes in the story. Still it is worth checking out at least once, just don't expect to be scared.
The story mixes mysticism and science together for a supernatural horror show. There is a more than subtle nod to 80's cult horror, most notably 'Evil Dead'. Keith does offer a bit more creativity and originality in his approach. "The Dark Within", compared to other more recent retro horror homages, is slightly more experimental. Blending both the psuedo science of psychic ability manipulation and the more sinister exploration of the demonic essence, the film does establish a clear, interesting storyline.
All that being said, "The Dark Within" does have some flaws. For one thing the platform of experimenting with psychic abilities isn't developed strong enough to sell the plot point, and the whole struggle to reconcile ones past while battling internal demons drags out a little too long. In the film's defense despite the sluggish start, "The Dark Within" does finally get there about 45 minutes into it.
The horror elements are straight up, cool atmospheric tricks. The shock moments work, the CGI elements are quality displays that sell the whole demonic haunting aspects, and the creature design is awesome and creepy. The cinematography talents and shadowing really frame "The Dark Within" in a traditional 80's VHS horror style. And it all really kicks in around that 45 minute mark. I did find the choices for ending the film a bit cheap, but it creates an easy way of questioning the truth of the events we just saw.
I have to admit, for a directorial debut Andrew Rowe sure meets his calling heading. "Crown And Anchor" rests somewhere between "Training Day" and "In Bruges". The attitude and pace of the film is more classic British thriller, but the incorporating of a dark and dingy cop in crisis hits more to the film styles this side of the pond. Appreciate considering the film is based from the point-of-view of a New Foundland native.
The story stays really traditional with familiar tropes, recognizable characters and mixed with steeley, tense angst. Even though the originality suffers a bit, the characters and situational drama is captivating and at times rife with dark humor. The acting is stellar and the build to a moment when these two tragic characters clash is compelling.
The suspense and intensity starts almost immediately in "Crown And Anchor". It gets stated in the beginning that some things have happened, we enter in the midst of the worsening chaos and things are only gonna get worse. Moments of botched criminal activity, interactions with unsavory characters, and a bit of blood and bandages bring in the thriller elements. The film could have easily been edited down about 20 minutes and still killed it, but overall "Crown And Anchor" is worth the watch.
Technically "The Bastard Fig Tree" isn't horror, though there is some horrific actions taken on behalf of horrific ideology. Still thanks to some gothically framed characters, haunting and fantasy-like cinematography there is an air of dark fairytale inspiration enveloping the story. Despite the more dark dramatic style of story telling "The Bastard Fig Tree" is a beautifully tragic, and captivating film.
The acting is superb. The characters are layered and familiar. And the story, even as it is set in a historical point, is very relevant to now. Ana Murugarren is very direct in telling the story as a classic morality tale. The use on the antagonist as transformative, becoming the protagonist and caretaker of the story's heart is brilliant.
The horror elements happen within very dramatic, chilling scenes where sheer cruelty and calculative action of man's own ideology. Violence and social cleansing of people who's views differ with such finality is horrifying. Fascists, Nazis, Death Squads, White Supremacy, all terrifying and disturbing similar. This makes "The Bastard Fig Tree" recognizable and relevant today as it is to history. The film is subtitled, but it is definitely worth watching
The story is a blend of psuedo-scifi thriller and crime drama based melancholy. At first glance I was eager to check this one out, knowing that John Noble was apart of the cast. Been a fan since season one of Fringe. However, this film practical keeps him in queue, with limited character development and weak writing. It is a shame really because with the right development, Noble could have brought his character to life, and helped vitalize the story. Same with others, several familiar actors both recognizable and talented.
The concept is a great scenario with its blend of human nature and tragedy, showing a very relatable balance between conflict and resolution set upon the backdrop of near supernatural circumstance. Unfortunately there is so much about the plot that is confusing, muddling the dramatic tendencies with questionable science fiction that raises more eyebrows than excitement. Even with the actors' committment to the project "Silencio" fails to ever pull you into the intended thriller elements.
There isn't a lot happening as far as special effects. Most of the sci-fi aspects take place in the opening scenes with quick bursts of CGI. Beyond that the film relies mostly on monochromatic atmosphere both dark and moody. Situational moments and dialog are meant to solidify the breadth of science fiction stuff with slow paced drama and some crime thriller thrown in. Overall "Silencio" never really catches enough energy to be thrilling and the writing and tempo create a sedated experience. Which is sad because the idea and the cast were great enough to elevate the story's potential.