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Rating History

Mama (2013)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

We all like to be scared when going to a scary, or suspenseful horror movie. "Mama" and movies like this, rely on suspense, building up of tension to bring on the scares through out the movie. This movie doesn't rely on gore or grisly deaths to shock the viewer, but tension and the illusion as to what one sees and hears.

The question is does this movie effectively do that for the viewer. The answer is a double edge
blade. On one hand it does frighten, but more on a character level. On the other hand which is the movie level I felt it falls flat.

The story for "Mama" is a simple one. Two girls father comes home after killing two people at work and kills his estranged wife and takes the kids away. They have an accident and their speeding car goes off the road and they take refuge in an old dilapidated cabin. The father decides he is going to kill the daughters there and take his own life, but an entity in the cabin stops them.

Five years later the girls' uncle is still looking for them and his brother. They are finally found and are brought home to life with their uncle and his girlfriend. That is when trouble sets in.

Don't be fooled by the advertisements. This isn't directed by Guillermo del Tor, he is an executive producer. The movie is directed and partly written by Andrés Muschietti. While Andrés handles the camera well through out the film, building the tension and trying to creep us, the movie-goes out, I feel that he takes too long to get where he needs to be going. There are times when the tension is building and things start to turn creepy but end up falling flat because, if you have seen the many trailers for this film, you pretty much seen most of the big scare scenes.

What he does well though is give us a very intense and very frightening creature in the character Mama. From the looks of the character, to her movements, to the character's sounds, Mama is one frightening creature. That works well throughout the movie which at least gives you some decent frightening moments, especially one very frightening scene near the end back at the cabin.

The movie though falls into the trap of building too slowly. This in turn makes the movie start to feel very repetitive throughout the production and more than a few times I was checking to see how long we had left. The crowd at the cinema that night was in the same boat. I don't think one person there, aside from my wife, reacted to any of the scare scenes that were added for jump effect. This is where I feel that it fails as a horror film. Some scenes and a character or two could have been trimmed or even left out of the movie, such as the children's aunt. I felt that her character was completely unnecessary and could have been written out altogether. She has a scene later on in the film that made me groan and roll my eyes as to why it was even added.

Now the movie isn't a total write off. The acting was great. Jessica Chastain from "Zero Dark Thirty" gives a great performance as Annabel the girlfriend to the uncle. She's almost unrecognizable with her jet black hair, tattoos, and eyeliner. She's a rocker at heart but stands by her man in his trials of bringing up these feral children they pulled from the woods. You really feel for her throughout the movie because she's pretty much left alone to raise these children that she really doesn't want around.

The two children, Megan Charpentier as Victoria and Isabelle Nelisse as Lilly were terrific in the movie, especially Isabelle as Lilly. She had a very cute but very creepy side to her as she was the one most attached to Mama. Just by her facial expressions and eyes you could tell that something was terribly wrong with this child. Her sister Victoria was the most developed of the two children and has the more serious part of the two. Megan does a great job in portraying a child that is torn between family and the attachment that is waning with Mama.

The pace at the start of the film I felt was a little rushed but once it slowed down, it almost slowed to a crawl.

Over all I give his movie 3 stars out of 5. It's not a terrible movie but it just isn't that great as a horror movie. It needed more frights for the dollar, and ones that you couldn't see coming. When you go for scares and the audience isn't reacting to them you have a problem on your hands. It did take teh weekend box office last weeking taking in 30 million so something seems to have worked in it's favor.

If you plan on seeing this in the cinema, wait until a matinee, don't rush in and pay full price. If you elect to pass on it, at least rent it when it's out on VOD or on DVD/Blu ray. It's definitely worth rental price, just not full theatre ticket price. Till next time my friends

Sinister (2012)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I admit, I like my horror movies to be somewhat disturbing more than scary. I want to come away from a good horror film and question what the heck did I just witness and also to give me moments where I'm left wondering 'did I just see what I thought I saw' and let me tell you "Sinister" has many of those moments. This is, I think,, without a doubt the best horror film of the year. It had it's share of scary moments but most of all this movie was very horrifying and disturbing.

The movie starts off right away with a family of four being hung. This is shown as an 8mm film and it almost gives you a feeling that you are watching some sort of snuff film. It was a pretty disturbing opening and one of the more disturbing openings to any movie I have seen lately. The story of the movie goes something like this. Ethan Hawke plays Ellison Oswalt, a floundering true crime writer fixing to write his next be book about the killings of this local family and their missing daughter. He hasn't told his wife that he is moving them into the actual house where the murders happened. He wants to be in as deep as he can to ensure that he writes the best novel of his career. He later finds an old 8mm player and some family movies shot on 8mm. These appear to be just family fun happenings until he witnesses what really happened to these families. This is where the movie becomes very disturbing. The deaths of the families, which get showed over and over again give the viewers the feeling of being extremely uncomfortable and the movie starts to become very unnerving.

Oswalt's life starts to quickly spiral into his own world of madness as he tries to figure out what is going on not only with his life but the house as well. He starts to hear bumps in the night. The project comes on by itself. He knows he hears footsteps throughout the house but can never find anything that causes them. Later he enlists the help of a local deputy, who not only knows his stuff but is star truck to have this well known author in his town. The story is a slow build up to a very terrifying ending that brilliantly brought everything together.

Director Scott Derrickson from "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" fame directs this movie perfectly. His slow moving camera, the great framing of the scenes, the building up of pure terror and dismay. He really knows how to make an audience member not only feel uncomfortable with what is being presented but knows how to give them chills and make things unnerving. He doesn't make the movie as scary as it could have been but what he brings is a brilliance in atmosphere as well as beautiful performances from all of the actors, especially Hawke and Juliet Rylance who places Tracy, the doubting wife and mother. I loved Emily Rose and I absolutely loved his movie.

All though out the movie I kept saying to myself, this is how you make a great horror movie. You don't need a big budget. You don't need high end special effects, not tons of gore or sex or gratuitous violence. You get a director that understands the genre and great actors and a good engaging story. This movie had everything needed to make a great scary, disturbing picture. The story is kind of straight forward but the pay off makes everything worth while.

I easily give this movie 5 stars out of 5. It really chilled me to the bone and creeped the hell out of me. I highly recommend this to anyone who not only wants to see a fabulous movie but a well crafted horror film, which usually doesn't happen too often in North America. If you want to be scared and disturbed and are looking for a great Halloween movie to take in this season make it "Sinister", you won't regret it. Just be warned, it is a slow building movie but that is one of it;s many charms. Till next time my friends.

Killer Joe
Killer Joe (2012)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

This is a movie I have been waiting a long while to see and I finally had a chance to see it tonight. When this movie came out in theatres earlier this year it was given a rating of NC-17 due to graphic nudity, sexual situations and graphic violence so it didn't get a big run in the movie houses like regular movies. Base on the play "Killer Joe" this was a movie that pulls no punches, it puts itself out there and never holds back.

The story is quite simple. Chris is in deep with the thugs for money due to bad gambling debts. He and his father come up with a plan to hire Joe to kill his mother so they can collect the insurance money. Chris' family is pure trailer trash and this movie shows them in all their glory. Chris' sister is the sole beneficiary of the policy and all the money will come to her which they will evenly split after Joe takes his cut of the money. By day Joe Cooper is a detective for the police department and by night, a hired killer. There is one problem, they can't pay Joe until the job is completed. Joe doesn't like that idea and decides that he will take Chris' young sister Dottie as a retainer for the money.

The movie straight out is pretty disturbing and kind of makes you feel dirty after watching the movie. It's part thriller, action and dark comedy all rolled in a nice tight package of a movie. I can tell you that this is on my top 10 movies of the year list. It's a well made movie with a great cast and wonderful directing. The story is well played out, though it touches on some very dark subject matter throughout the movie. The ending will have you discussing it long afterwards of what happened and where does it go from there.

Matthew McConaughey is in top for in this movie as Killer Joe Cooper. This is one of his best roles since "The Lincoln Lawyer". He's been having a great run lately with The Lincoln Lawyer, Magic Mike and now this. You really see the sleaziness of Joe with each scene McConaughey is in. Right from the get go you can tell that this is a character you will not like and only bad things are going to happen when he is involved. I've always been a fan of McConaughey and with this film he shows that he can play the dirtiest and filthiest of characters with ease. This was a movie where he threw the screenplay in the trash because he felt like it was just that, trash. After awhile and some convincing he picked it back up again and re-read it with a new outlook. I'm glad he did because he was the perfect choice to play Joe.

Emile Hirsch plays the part of Chris, the brilliant mind behind this whole plan. I've always enjoyed watching Hirsch on screen and in this movie was no exception. He played the part perfectly. He has that naive ambition in his eyes that he can do this and things will be alright once the murder has taken place and that he will make good with his family by this. Chris is a character that really doesn't have the brains to think things through and thinks that he can fix things without worrying about the consequences. Hirsch brings that doe eyed naivety to the role which translates so well on screen. Another great performance from a good actor. I will forgive him though for his role in The Darkest Hour, this movie more than makes up for that.

Thomas Hayden Church plays the father Ansel. This guy is dumber than a bag of hammers and really doesn't have two clues to rub together. He goes along with Chris' plan even though I think somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind that he knows it's a bad idea. Church was always hilarious on the TV series "Wings" and is just as funny here, though in a dark demented way. The character doesn't have too much going on upstairs and this is showned wonderfully on screen by Church. Another great performance.

Juno Temple is Chris's sister Dottie. She is tremendous on screen as the dimwitted sister who falls in love with Joe. Temple has a very tough part to play especially in the date scene with Joe, it's very dark and very emotional and has to go to a very dark place to make the scene believable. A great job on screen and I think she is a great young actress to watch out for.

Gina Gershon plays the step mother Sharla. I think this has to have been one of the toughest roles Gina Gershon had to play. It was a very emotional roller coaster of a role for her and she also had to go to very deep dark places, especially near the end of the movie. She shows on screen that she is a powerful actress and can handle any role with the slightest of ease. I still don't know how she got her self to the stage to do the chicken leg scene at the end. A great performance throughout the movie.

Directed by none other than the director of "The Exorcist":William Friedkin and this movie shows he still has it. It is powerfully directed and wonderfully paced and Friedkin isn't afraid to bring the tough subject matter to the big screen. His scenes are beautifully framed and he really knows how to get the best out of his actors. I'm glad to see him back in the directors chair again.

This movie is a powerhouse of everything that shouldn't be seen. It's filthy, dirty, grimy, gritty and will have you glued to the screen to figure out how everything is going to play out. This movie I must say is not for everyone, especially the squeamish and the easily offended. It is offensive and it isn't ashamed to be. This is a dark story that is well written and beautifully acted and amazingly directed.

I easily give this movie 5 stars out of 5 and one my favorite movies of the year. It's well made and I think shouldn't be missed. It definitely is messed up in more ways than one, but the shock value just isn't there for shock value, it's there as part of the actual story and plays into what makes up this man they call Killer Joe. Till next time my friends.

Grave Encounters 2
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The first "Grave Encounters" movie was okay. It wasn't great but was a decent watch. We now have a sequel to the original expertly entitled "Grave Encounters 2". The story behind this movie is that a budding film student becomes engrossed with the first movie that he thinks everything was real and starts to make a documentary about how the makers of "Grave Encounters" are covering up what really happened to the actors and the people associated with the first movie.

It is a unique way to approach the sequel to the movie and in some ways works to it's advantage. The acting for the main character Alex Wright(Richard Harmon) is strong and works well as we see this fun loving college film student start to spiral down a dark path while making this documentary. He has become totally obsessed with the first movie and nothing will stop him to get the story of what he thinks really happened out there.

The movie starts out with video clips of fans of the movie telling the audience what they thought of the first one, of course they are staged quips from these people and was a little strange to open the movie with but it kind of sets the tone of the movie. We are then bombarded with quick cuts and short clips of the film students partying it up and their off and on again working on a student horror film. This worked to a point until it became a little tiring waiting for to back to the asylum. During this time Alex gets messages from a strange message board poster to meet them at the asylum in Canada and the reality of the situation will be given to the film student and he will have the proof he needs to give to the public the real story of what happened that fateful night.

This is where I think the movie kind of works and fails at the same time. It was cool and fun for the first bit to see this footage but also I felt it dragged the movie down in pacing. They could have cut out a lot of the partying scenes and get a quicker to the meat of the story, the haunted asylum, that's why the audience is watching, to see scary things happen. They do happen, just not quick enough for the style of movie..found footage. I think this is the failing point of most found footage movie is the pacing and all the fluff footage that gets thrown in. If the writers and directors could keep the movie quick, concise and to the point it would make for a better experience.

The acting overall is a mixed bag. Richard Harmon was the strongest of the group while Dylan Playfair was the weakest, mostly because of his over acting. I found Dylan's character Trevor, best friend to Alex, was a tad on the annoying side and brought the movie down a bit as well. Stephanie Bennett did a good job as Tess, Alex's girlfriend and star of Alex's movie. The rest of the cast overall were okay, just nothing too memorable. This time around acting was not the stronger suit.

The Vicious Brothers were back again as writers and did a decent job with the script though the dialogue at times was corny. What they need to work on is pacing of the story. It was a unique try on the found footage genre with the sequel that worked in some places and flopped in others. They added in some nice scares through out the asylum scenes but like the first one there was too much fluff between waiting.

The ending worked to a degree though the acting at times with the ending character who shows up was laughable at times, and for the frame of mind of this character you shouldn't be laughing at things they were saying. I won't go into details of who this character is but fans of the first movie should be able to recognize them.

Overall it wasn't bad movie but I felt it didn't live up to the first one. A unique take on the genre with subpar story telling and a mixed bag of acting thrown together with a few good scares will only work I think for people who have seen and liked the first movie. If this was the only scary movie you had the choice to watch come this Halloween then your night won't be totally wasted.

I give this movie 2.5 stars out of 5. It's not great but what keeps it a float are the couple good scares and the good performance from Richard Harmon keep this from totally bombing. I recommend this one only if there isn't anything scary out there you haven't seen or if you want to see where they go with this sequel. Till next time my friends.

Excision (2012)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Welcome everyone to another COMING SOON REVIEW. This time we have the movie "Excision", a dark horror/thriller that will either have you enthralled or turning of the TV, not in disgust but in shear boredom.

I really wanted to see this film, and from the way it sounded it was going to be one heck of a ride through dementia, but what I ultimately found out, the shock value of the dream images wore thin because of the boredom that took over while watching the movie. The story is a simple one. A young teenage girl seeks the approval of her over bearing mother while having delusions that she, one day will become this amazing surgeon. The young girl Pauline not only has to deal with her dysfunctional family, but also a younger sister who is suffering from cystic fibrosis. Pauline wants nothing but the best for her sister and will do anything to keep her safe.

Slow burn movies work to a degree, but this one moved at a snails pace. At times the movie hits those psychotic episodes where you wonder just what are you watching, but like I was saying earlier that portion of the movie over stays it`s welcome and when the shocking images arrive their become none effective of shocking the audience. The directing in the movie as well falls short and becomes stale about half way through the movie. The only really solid ground in the movie is the acting and it does have a few people in here that I was not expecting.

Richard Bates Jr. directs this movie and before this made a short film of this subject with the same name that won numerous awards. He does have talent, don`t get me wrong, but he needs to have a tighter pace for a movie like this. At the beginning of the movie I felt I was watching really short scenes string together and that gave the movie an out of place feeling. You wonder where it`s actually going and when it finds that out would it eventually get there. Bates does make a good character study film and does a good job getting the audience connected to the characters. You really feel hatred for the mother, sadness for the father. You feel the strength of the young sister and the failure that Pauline thinks she is. Bates knows what he`s doing behind the lens, he just needs to tighten a bit to make a more coherent story.

The acting is strong. With performances from Marlee Matlin, Malcolm McDowell, John Waters, and porn star Traci Lords. Traci gives a strong performance as the mother. She really knows how to make the audience hate a character and it really works in this film. It`s good to see an adult industry actress give a good performance outside of the world of porn.

The star of the show though is AnnaLynne McCord. She plays Pauline, the troubled teenager. Pauline wants to do two things in life, lose her virginity and become a successful surgeon. She has these demented visions of cutting up bodies and at one point turns to necrophilia. She seems to be a lost soul that just doesn`t know how to allow someone to help them. Throughout the movie she prays to Jesus about what she wants out of life and how she is going to do good in the world and turn her life around. McCord is brilliant in the role of Pauline and is almost mesmerizing to watch on screen.

Overall this movie is either going to be a big hit, or a big miss. A lot of people are praising this movie and in some ways I see a bit of genius film making in this movie, but not enough that I can fully recommend this movie.

I give this movie 2 stars out of 5. The performances are strong but that`s about it. The story and film at times seemed a little pretentious because of the way it was playing out. It`s a drawn out movie that needed to be a little shorter and tighter in the playback. It`s not your typical style movie, which can be a good thing, but for me it was a bad thing and really didn`t play out well. Though if you you decide to watch it stay till the end. It does have quite the ending. Till next time my friends.