Thursday, 21 March 2013

Rise of the Guardians Review

Well. I have a lot I could pick holes at with this movie. But, I found this film miles easier to just ride along with in its inconsistencies, than say Once Upon a Time (purely for the amount of episodes it has been running now). That, and I have to admit... its kind of grown on me since I intially watched it. I have somehow gained an appreciation for its stereotypical features, so I'm always cautious to say its alright for newcomers to RotG.

After seeing images of Jack Frost around while it has been at the cinema, I was surprised to find out Jack is in fact not a little boy, but eighteen years of age with a surprisingly deep voice. When I first saw him, also, my first impression was he was another version of Zero from Vampire Knight, to reap in the fangirls with his tortured backstory (and unusual white hair) by design. Pitch Black I have grown to like (Jude Law is still a weak actor in my opinion), but admittedly he's not really original per say. Kind of like a fusion of the titular Sandman from the 1992 animation, Benedict Cumberbatch (facially anyway) and the Crawler from Fable III. Venger from the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon had a steed called Nightmare, so yeah... Pitch's character kind of takes from many places and, subsequently, is generically likeable/dislikeable by design.

There's no real substance or in depth reason as to why he wants the world to be consumed by darkness, other than it giving him... power? Which, you know. Is your atypical/nonsensical reason for a villain to drive the plot as an opposing force. Honestly as a villain obsessive, I fail to see the draw - if life as a guardian, or mythological figure of belief is quite a lonely existence, why would you want that anyway? Especially with Pitch, if you look into his backstory and he remembers he had a daughter and a family, wouldn't he empathise with Jack? Wouldn't he want to regain that himself, his family? Wouldn't he want to help children? I find this makes characters less believable in terms of lack of logical motives, and disappointing a lot of villains are, pretty lazily put this way.

So yeah, unintentionally I've gone off on one philosophising about characters. Onto less contemplation and more on how it was enjoyable on a superficial level. The actual animation is beautifully done, I'm always in shock at the amazingly intricate level of detail in these films (the glitter looks so pretty). The expressions and expressionisms of the characters, and how the animation switches from different depths of focus is so realistic. The humour was... amusing for kids? I guess? (it really depends what appeals to you). As for me, I don't really rate myself as a humour critic. (If it's totally nuts, and involved people screaming chances are I will find it funny.)
But... it's so adorable and hilarious when Baby Tooth pecks Pitch's hand!
The voice acting was great. Especially Alec Baldwin and Isla Fisher.  Tooth was an interesting portrayal of the tooth fairy, but compared to other versions I'm not entirely sure I prefer her appearance over, say, the Neopets one? As a 'fairy' anyway.   

Basically, overall; generic modernised fairytale plot ,with a whole bunch of unresolved plotholes. But, it is an awesomely intricate animation that is very watchable, and not really painful to get through as films go.

Rating: 6/10
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis

Ginger Snaps Review

Honestly I don't have a lot to elaborate on with Ginger Snaps. Worth Watching? I guess so, but I understand if you skip the end, because I know I ended up doing. In short, good but too long. Much like Django Unchained. Tolerable to a point then I just had to walk away.

This film was really promising, though. The actors were brilliant in comparison to most 30 year old teen-pretenders you see these days in films. Katharine Isabelle delivers a convincing role. I can't say I relate much to characters in teen movies despite them being aimed at and/or supposed to be representative of my apparent age group, but the characters weren't too grating to me. The only downfall of this is it dragged out too long. On the positive side, I even liked the initial credits with the death photography/slideshow made by the Fitzgerald sisters. I just couldn't quite make it to the end credits.

If they had rounded the movie off at about what, and hour and a half? It would have been perfect. I'm too impatient for movies to go on beyond two hours and for me to still be watching them (unless they are absolutely fascinating and/or are LOTR). So I have never watched the ending, and probably will take several years to do so. Regardless I still think it is a good film & Ginger's style is boss. So yeah, I think you should watch it.

Rating: 6/10 (-4 for the missing ending)
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis/AbiNor-mew

Brief Thor Review

Saw Thor last weekend... and it was great! Despite my thing about films that have deserts in them... or are desert themed, it surprised me by being really quite brilliant (similar to how Rango did, which was also good).

Shockingly I have nothing to bitch about with Thor. However I am insanely sick of the 'we want to destroy the world without any apparent motivation' backstory behind the villains. I was also really suprised that Kenneth Branagh (a.k.a Gilderoy Lockheart) directed this movie. But not in a bad way.

This movie includes; cool villains lacking in  depth (I still don't really get why they wanted to destroy Asgard before they lost the weird blue cube, 'tesseract' was it?), lots of hilarious nonsense which gave me cramps in my lower back because I was tittering so much (which I won't even bother trying to list), cute Rooney Mara lookalikes if Rooney Mara genderswapped, amazing contact lenses, and hey a half decent story. The hour and something that the film was certainly did not drag. Go see it.

Rating: 10/10
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis

(Edit: This is an old-ish review, I will do an in depth one at some point)

Psychoville (First Season) Review

Hmm, I see I haven't reviewed Psychoville at all yet... I have only just finished watching the first episode of the new Psychoville series, which I have been majorly psyched up for.

Why is Psychoville worth your precious time? I do find this show terribly funny and interesting throughout. Also it is not too long, (about 20-30 minutes an episode?) which is both a good and bad thing. To be honest, I never got into Psychoville until I started liking the character of Mr Jelly (who is a hook handed clown from Salford). Yes, it incorporates clowns... and it is done by the same two writers from the League of Gentlemen (Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton), which is another horribly twisted and hilarious show.

Besides that, the other characters are equally as interesting. Especially Oscar Lomax. I find it so hard to believe that is Mr Pemberton under there! Steve & Reece are fantastic actors no doubt about it, and really immerse themselves in the characters that they play. The humour is definitely dark, but also silly at times, which appeals to me, so it really depends on what kind of humour you enjoy. Linking with the series, the interactive web experience & the characters' web pages are impressive... honestly I wish people would go in depth with characters like that more often.

Anyway, the first episode of Series 2. I cannot tell you how flabbergasted I was when the credits came up, I literally gasped out loud at how fast it was over. So I can only assume I was really engrossed in the story. Was delighted, however that I got to see the new and highly fussed over Silent Singer who seems intriguing enough so far... the sounds played when Jeremy sees him is reminiscent of Salad Fingers, the psychosis of the situation is really fantastically conveyed, even already (since we haven't really got into Jeremy's character). The new character Hattie seems very similar to the old League of Gentlemen character Trish. Also, the altercation between Oscar Lomax, Tealeaf, Mr Jelly and the police investigator was funny, but I shan't spoil it for you.

In short if you haven't watched it already, you're missing out! But I also say that for the whole series if you haven't seen that either.

Rating: 7/10
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis

Insidious (2011) Review

What a gem! Admittedly, I was cowering behind my hands too many times to count during this film. Even when the usher was looking at the audience (and probably laughing about it to himself). However, that didn't come as a surprise to me, after finding out James Wan was the director. No pressure to him, but I didn't expect this to be anything less than fantastic and suspense filled.

James Wan is a brilliant, (and also one of my favourites) director. His films (and I refer here to the first three Saws and Dead Silence) are beautifully and artistically refined, but also extremely eerie - he has really got it down to a T in building a tense atmosphere and has created some truly frightening ghosts. Personally, female ghosts hold the scariest presence (such as Kayako from the Grudge, Mary Shaw etc.), so this film really worked for me, as it incorporated several of them.

Saying that, even the not particularly nightmare worthy monsters wreaked seat jumping havoc! In comparison with Dead Silence, it was definitely an improvement in his works. Mainly down to the fact Insidious had a consistent storyline, & ended with a conclusion that at least made some sense. Whereas the ending for Dead Silence was a bit ambiguous, and it brought the film down somewhat.

Being the observant creature I am, I knew I would be buying the soundtrack for this even while I was sat in the cinema. I mean, it was genuinely incredible. Emotion is delivered through the soundtracks of James Wan's films exceptionally. Take a listen to Reverse Beartrap from Saw. He really, really knows his stuff when it comes to detail, and making a truly phenomenal horror film.

Insidious had a compelling story, and completely lacked any long period of time during the film where you weren't kept on edge. Basically, you were on the edge of your seat near enough straight from the beginning. I couldn't even finish my sweets by the end of the movie, because of the silences that came during the suspense and just completely captured the atmosphere over and over again, despite the bustling amount of people that came in to see the film.

Oh and the screening was absolutely full of people, by the way. Several people screamed in the front row, which is a first for me - I've only ever heard people being as enthusiastic as to scream in cinemas when I was over in America. There is also an element of silliness several times in the film which I thought was a nice addition to help temper the perpetual terrifying atmosphere throughout the film.

In short? It was fantastic. Definitely go and see this. I think associating this movie with Paranormal Activity does it no justice. There's is absolutely no comparison. This has been an impressive horror film, despite how many displeasing films of the genre have been emerging recently. Yet again James Wan has done a brilliant job of a film & I hope he continues doing so!

Here's a twee little tune from the movie, that can lull you into sweet nightmares.

Rating: 10/10
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis

House of 1000 Corpses Review

I've shied away from this film for eight whole years since it was released, just from the look of the poster - it looked gritty and psychedelic, and at the time my young mind was still mentally impaired from viewing the Grudge. Also I had heard House was gory, a feature in horror movies I have only recently become accustomed to. This remains a factor of horror I do not hold of paramount importance. Critically, House was panned but it still remains a cult classic today.

Although frighteningly realistic, not as heavy on graphic content, like H2 (Halloween remake from Rob Zombie) for example, or any of the later Saw movies. However there is gore, so be prepared.

To get a full appreciation of it & become accustomed to the insanity of it all, I had to watch this film several times. At first I felt extremely intimidated by the presence the actors Sid Haig, Bill Moseley and Karen Black projected. As serial killers, these three play their roles far too naturally for comfort (well done to all three!). But I warmed to this film despite my initial fears. And so, here I am, reviewing, and drawing thousands of pictures of Otis.

Though, I acknowledge this will not be everybody's cup of tea. As I keep repeating, the entire atmosphere is highly believable. When Sid Haig started losing his temper with Bill from behind the counter I genuinely felt very unnerved, as if it was actually happening before me. As with all slasher/serial killer family orientated horror, obviously there isn't much of a happy ending for the normal folks involved. So, despite the story being actually very compelling and the characters fascinating - it truly isn't for the faint hearted. In fact, it's brutal. And this film is one that is capable of creating a great atmosphere of dread, and does do very well, especially in transporting you into the position of the victims and killers alike. So whether it floats your boat or not depends on what you're looking for in a horror film.

That aside, HOTC has definite elements of an art film. The sets are fantastic; gritty, tacky, elaborately and carefully designed and have a lot to absorb with your eyes. The cinematography is brilliant, inverted shots give this film a real surreal, garish B-movie atmosphere. I loved the short recordings of characters talking to the camera interspersed throughout the film. Noteworthy sets I would say are Otis's own bedroom, of course the Museum of Monsters and Madmen plus Spaulding's shop. Really I felt quite sad that Rob Zombie decided to ditch this style for the Devils Rejects in order give the film a more 'down to earth' feel. Also, the soundtrack is fantastic - sound is used to great effect to reinforce the grittiness of the . There is a good splash of black humour in this movie that I thought helped temper the terror of it all, should you eventually side with the killers.

In short, it's disturbing but compelling.  Might not be your cup of tea, but I'd recommend at least try watching it if you're a fan of horror and haven't watched it already.

Rating: 10/10
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis/Twiste

Mama Review

I think I just gave myself nightmares :(

So, I went to see Mama today with a good friend. And would you know, honestly, there's not much to complain about really. Gasp! I was a little distressed prior to watching; after seeing the monster wholly revealed in the trailer and clips. But it turns out most of the tension built in these scenes had been cut out in the clips -thus not really ruining the effect when you finally see the film in full.

Therefore I ultimately I saw Mama herself at her creepiest during the film - it looks terrifying as I don't know what when she's crawling after the children during the latter scenes on all fours. Which brings me to my one and only plot critcism- Lily remaining to be with Mama until the end. She is physically terrifying, and from what we see of her interactions as an audience... not particularly nurturing or affectionate - so, yeah... why on earth?

Guillermo del Toro was involved in this film somewhere vaguely, I'm assuming art direction (wrong! he was the executive producer), which is what inspired me not to get my hopes up for this film, as I found the last horror film he was involved with to be an absolute shambles (Don't Be Afraid of the Dark) although I loved the tooth fairy art. This time, on the other hand, the film was great and possessed effective creativity plus a decent story, so there you go. Safe win this time, but then again, he wasn't directing.

This film is laced with artistically spooky features. The moths reminded me of The Possession. But of course its categoric that horror films borrow, and reinvent, and lend scenes and themes all over the place. The attention paid to the abnormal, distorted movement of Mama and her adoptive daughters I think paid off - it was worth those extra 'making of' videos I saw. There's a scene in the movie that reminded me of an art exhibition I visited a couple of months back at Liverpool Tate called Pak Sheung Chuen's A Travel without Visual Experience, where Mama can be seen progressing towards her victim through a series of camera flashes. I think I'd like the idea of incorporating this into a scare attraction as the strobe maze is a done and tested element, the idea of being in control of what limited vision you have as a monster approaches, seems much scarier. Anyway enough babbling about that.

Successfully did this film manage to 'weird it up' for me. Like the imagery of the band Sleepytime Gorilla Museum- a product of a nightmare lost somewhere in the early 19th century. Mama was definitely... unnervingly vintage. There is something undeniably eerie about this time in history. I always find old pictures disturbing to a degree, with how the subjects essentially look dead already, (especially the notion people would want to keep these ? these are made to be nightmare material!).Guillermo really plays on that, with how he presents the flashbacks and such. There was something archaically frightening about the whole concept of Mama - the emotional distress driving a warped, wraith like apparition to claim any children she came across - from an era where the world just was wholly less humane than the present. It's very relatable that in the 1800's, life was a lot scarier in general for everybody, and therefore would understandably produce a much more ominous ghost. Supposedly Mama was kept in an asylum in these times. What I can't relate to however is how the children warmed to such a thing.

I was quite relieved it wasn't all jump scares and no plot, which is what Sinister was veering to. The story was quite nicely tied together, and although it wasn't original in the slightest, the continuity really did it for me. Not left feeling frustrated is all I could ask for really.

Rating: 8/10
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review

Wow. I never in my mind I fathomed I would be fanatically raving about the December release of the Hobbit, after nearly a full year (of what I imagined to be, utterly contrived) hype. Yet here I sit, eagerly writing up a review the day after seeing it. Vaguely I got the feeling a lot of the film wasn't entirely book accurate, but to say I was expecting to be disappointed - there were numerous things I really enjoyed about this film.

Number one. Radagast. Corny in places (the eye crossing?!) but an overall unexpectedly kooky and entertaining character. Not how I envisioned Radagast the Brown at all. In fact there was a delightfully humorous overtone to the entire film and the script, between most characters - something I quite liked in contrast to LOTR. Although admittedly, it was a spectacular set of films in a more realistic light I am sure the characters would be more kooky and lighthearted. It's just how humans cope with life.

Also. I was so. So. Insanely. Happy. That the Necromancer/Dol Guldur scene was included. WHAT A FANGIRL MOMENT I HAD. During that scene I was positively furious at anyone trying to speak to me during the unveiling as Sauron in his form as the Necromancer. Although the chronology I know was a little inaccurate (the wizards knew already of Sauron's presence in Dol Guldur, Radagast didn't find it out) I was totally engrossed in this scene. Even the Witch King made a phantasmic appearance.

Azog was an... mediocre to barely likeable primary villain. Parallelling with LOTR a little, I liked Lurtz better as a major uruk/orc villain. Personally, I prefer make up and prosthetics than CGI effects for orcs/uruks and whatnot, as Azog looked like something worse quality than creatures of the WOW Mists of Pandaria advert we'd all seen during the beginning of the movie. That messenger orc (I did a little research and found out he was called) however, I particularly liked the physical FX and make up of, I clearly remember his contacts. Someone who has improved moving on in films is Gollum - what an immense scene. So insanely he switches from humorous to volatile you can't help but be emotionally driven along on the rollercoaster ride of his mind with him. Andy Serkis and the effects team have done a terrifyingly realistic job of Smeagol/Gollum's eccentricities and schizophrenia.

The landscapes, imagery and setting were absolutely stunning, as expected. Erebor was visually incredible, and somewhat more modernistic modernistic than what I thought - in a positive way! I liked the idea that in older times that the people (of great cities such as Erebor) in Middle Earth could fashion more technical devices - such as the harnesses the dwarves were using for mining and the sweet little mobile kites as two minor examples(or at least they seemed to be mobile, forgive me if this is not the case).

One huge frustration of mine however is that we never get to see Smaug in his entirety! Only a few vague shots of claws and shadows, and a very Shrek-esque finishing scene of a dragon eye opening into the camera. Somehow from the similarity of Howard Shore's soundtrack to LOTR I get the feeling perhaps Peter Jackson did not commission a wholly new soundtrack? The Misty Mountains/Dwarves' song was obviously new (so atmospheric, brilliant!), but I recognised quite a number of tracks throughout the movie from LOTR. As I concluded about Skyrim, minor deviations but mainly the same soundtrack? Poor!

Martin Freeman pleasantly surprised me as Bilbo. I, like many others were tentative about his performance. I'd never seen him in anything, and even those I know who have and maintain he is a brilliant actor were unsure that he could pull off Bilbo better than Ian Holm. But he was actually very good as Bilbo.. accurately portraying how I feel Bilbo would have been on this adventure. All the dwarves were funny and admirable in each of their own individual character traits, Kili I thought was definitely the prettiest. Kili, also know as Mitchell from Being Human.

Until the release date of the 2nd part to the Hobbit franchise, I know I shall watch this again and again. Truly it is both a fulfilling and really enjoyable film. To say the hefty film time of three hours nearly, not a moment of it dragged for me. Definitely a must-see!

Rating: 9/10
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis (a.k.a Twisted the Clown etc. etc)

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D Review

Back when this film was being advertised, I had no real compulsion to watch the film. Sequels, and any film with any involvement with 3D, are always mentally ringfenced into 'poor' territory. But it turns out Silent Hill Revelation wasn't too much of an ache to watch. In fact I thought stylistically and visually it was really pleasing, the sets, variety of monsters, of course the inclusion of a carnival/fairground is always good. Also there wasn't too much emphasis on the 3D aspect.

However in terms of storyline, it was a film that was only passable, and also I found the lead character Sharon somewhat irritating. But not as much her father's return to Silent Hill at the end of the film, which seemed to completely annul Sharon's motive of saving him... thus making the whole film seem fruitless. Fancy making your own daughter, whom you apparently swore to protect, risk her life to save your sorry rear... just to willingly throw yourself back into danger? So there was a little inconsistency in the plot, as is the norm with these rushed blockbuster attempts.

As for gore, I wasn't particularly repulsed at all. In fact I would say I viewed far worse in Revelation's predecessor, Silent Hill, where a woman's skin was torn from her like a fleshy suit.
I mean, yes, there was gore (Silent Hill is all about being disturbing) and it was slightly cringy, but the worst bloodshed I remember from this was a fillet of torso being ripped from a man's chest promptly to be flung and sauteed in a pan (as Sharon was syncing from reality to Silent Hill-iverse). Now I put it like that, it sounds pretty bad, but honestly in comparison its much less disturbing in this corner, I think. Makes me ponder whether I'm just used to seeing it.

Alessa somehow looks better to me in this film than in first Silent Hill film? (but then I liked most of the monsters). Something seems more clear about her appearance in the demonic sense - I like her eyes and the black speckles on her face. Also it was most pleasing not to have to see Jodelle Ferland in this new film very much. To be quite frank, she is far too overused in this genre of film, specifically as a 'creepy little girl' stereotype. Much like Tom Cruise generally speaking, but you know. You tolerate who you tolerate.

Elaborating more on the stylistic thingymabobs I pointed out to begin with. The weird mannequin scene was trying very hard to be weird (there seemed to be this overall emphasis of these screaming heads being trapped in suffering everywhere, on the mannequin and trapped underneath the floor from what I remember as Sharon was being carried by Leonard). This mannequin spider was not really what I envisioned (I didn't imagine it to be so... suspended? that everything was being held up by arms) from the trailer but it was still interesting. There seemed to be a lot of attention to detail in the carnival - the bunnies, the exaggerated giant clown facade at the entrace, the dead goldfish in vivid green water, the carousel on fire with bound torture victims instead of horses and the rides all running too fast really added to the overall atmosphere which was more exciting than anything.

There seemed to be more focus on colour. Everything was much more vibrant and smoothed out in looks and I liked that, it improved the settings and the costumes and general appearance of the characters were better. The monster Leonard mutates into, despite it being weak (why is it in the game all these things are so extremely hard to kill?) looked awesomely Hellraiser-esque. Well, that said, the whole film seems Barker influenced in parts, but, moving on. Another monster I liked besides Alessa were probably the patrolling people in gas masks (Order soldiers), although they seemed also pretty simple enough to kill since their faces bubbled and disintegrated upon removing their masks outside. On reflection it seems these characters' only purposes was to look cool and not much else. Pyramid Head is popular as a character, but, he wasn't too scary or formidable this time. Also I was really getting my hopes up they would show his face from the final fight (they didn't).

Also, if you happen to think... was that Trinity? Who was the mother of the new typical love interest figure slotted in for Sharon? Yes it was. I looked it up.

Rating: 5/10
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis

The Awakening (2011) Review

It was a long long time ago now (I've since rewatched it at home), but I went to see horror/thriller film The Awakening at the cinema starring Rebecca Hall (who you might remember from Dorian Gray, I think she was something along the lines of a feminist/revolutionist) as Florence, a sceptic driven half mad by the events of her past. Or so it seems.

This film is similar in style to The Others, however the ghost was not malicious or driven by vengeance behind its hauntings, which I thought made a nice change. Therefore, this film did have its frightening points, but overall was more of an intriguing, supernatural mystery than anything.
The ending did provide closure, which I again I find to be a refreshing from the typical endings of most recent horror films. I can see Rebecca Hall is evidently a very pretty and talented actress, however she is seemingly being typecast on reflection of her last role in Dorian Gray.

Say what?

I liked the aesthetic values of this film too to some extent - some of the outdoor scenes were filmed at Lyme Hall where I in fact have visited myself. Admittedly it is very scenic there and it has also given the outside a certain added eerie edge. Well, its certainly not somewhere, with its extensive gardens, I would want to be dragged off into.

Some favourite scenes of this have to be the realisation scene where the lead character realises the ghost is her brother etc (tying with how this is similar to the Others and the Sixth Sense) and the sweet little toy rabbit that sings a German lullaby? (don't take my word on it for accuracy, these are just vague recollections). Another scene I enjoyed with possibly the most tension was probably in the strange caretaker, Edward Judd who dragged Florence off into the woods.

I must say I did find Florence as a character quite dislikable in how she shunned that poor little ghost boy at one point, and also odd, especially on how she was prying on Robert. Funnily enough she got what she deserved for prying, but I shan't spoil that for you and let you have that little gleeful moment all on your own. Overall, I must say, a decent watch.

"I know but Floz... you really need to stop staring through that peephole. And flashing. Totes innapropes"
Rating: 6.5/10
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis

Carved: Slit Mouthed Woman Review

After watching this I feel incredibly frustrated. For the majority of this film, I found Carved to be well structured, interesting enough, and everything I would hope a film embodiment of the Kuchisake onna urban legend to live up to. But then, in the last, what, twenty minutes of the film? Occurred the most illogical and messy conclusion one could envision.

To begin I have a few major criticisms.
If we are not standing by the rules of the urban legend... why even remotely try to waver around them at all? There were vague hints throughout the film, that the only way to destroy Kuchisake onna was for her son to decapitate her (which I might add, as a rule specific only to himself, he seemed to conveniently forget during this monstrosity of an ending.)
The end of the film indicates Kuchisake Onna as now invincible, correct to the legend. But then, completely unfaithful to the legend, Kuchisake onna can now somehow attack and directly affect adults?
Her 'qualms' were meant to be primarily with children. Why build up a whole plot about ultimately destroying her... just for a discontinuous jump to the teacher suddenly becoming possessed.

Kuchisake Onna can depart from and possess bodies at will. This was logically portrayed in the little boy's home earlier in the film. But in the rigamarole zone of the ending, illogic strikes again!
Even if the possessee is nowhere near Kuchisake Onna and also present in the room... she still somehow has a manifestation... yet this is only possible through possession? What exactly is it Kuchisake Onna was possessing? Because it certainly couldn't have been Mika's mother - she was visibly present in the room with the teacher and Mika. Yet when her son decapitates and stabs her both times, it shows the Mika's mother's body taking the damage. Plotholes ahoy!

Note how any semblance of rationale magically escapes all the characters within the last twenty minutes. Admittedly, the acting wasn't sterling throughout (most of the actors had a problem accurately reacting to the violence, surely you would imagine having your achilles heels slit would inspire a lot of noise) but, for me this took the cake.
Even the acted violence looked ridiculous. Kuchisake Onna tapping her son on the floor with her foot was positively laughable. The characters, as previously mentioned, forgot simple rules on how to apparently vanquish the monster. Stayed in the vicinity of danger like imbeciles, hardly anyone was even remotely distressed. Seemingly the whole sequence was to prolong the ending. Which I truly believe to be completely unnecessary. It is feasible to draw a decent conclusion without using pointless filler stupidity. More often than not, it riles viewers to hell (like me) and beyond, watching characters do fantastically unrealistic things.

On the positive side, the majority of the film was good. Kuchisake Onna herself seemed frightening in appearance, settings were ominous enough (I particularly liked the closet scene). The music played at one point in the movie reminded me of the Desert track from Fable III. Other than that, there was nothing particularly notable about the soundtrack.

Perhaps I would have been more merciful in my analysis, but both the concept, and majority of the film did get my hopes up overall. It was quite a shame the director decided to conclude the film as weakly as he did, much like the very recent supernatural horror film Sinister. This could have easily been wrapped up more successfully.

Rating: 4/10
Reviewer: Abigail Lewis

Shirome/White Eyes Review

Shirome/White Eyes is a J-horror found footage film based around the urban legend of Shirome and the members of famous J-Pop band Momoiro Clover. I ended up having this film brought to my attention after a recommendation I read on one of my followed tumblr blogs.

This I would categorise as, perhaps, a supernatural suspense film rather than horror, as, although Momoiro Clover encounter frightening events, the conclusion involves nothing particularly unpleasant happening to them. One member was possessed momentarily from what we see at the end of the film. But overall, at least, it wasn't a conventional ending in the sense that with a very open ending, that they continue on to be a successful girl group with no negative consequences.

With some research it is apparently implied that "the young ladies face the possibility of very fearsome, dire consequences in the future, perhaps including the loss of their souls" (taken from White Eyes Wikipedia page), which from my own personal interpretation was not something I took from this film. The ending seemed a bit vague to me in this sense... as I don't necessarily think this statement would fit in with the film's Shirome legend rules - if the wish was not pure of heart, said person asking Shirome to grant a wish, weren't they meant to be dragged to hell? Not have their wish granted, then be cursed for life? So there is a bit of a, subjective plothole there, on first impression. I'd have to re-watch to make sure.

To say I have ringfenced found footage movies as not really my thing in terms of Blair Witch and Cloverfield, I actually jumped a number of times throughout. As I am not a professed fan of found footage film with the meaning of making a film more disturbing - I just find it doesn't work for the most part. Certain parts were irritating, the amount of times that we find ourselves faced with the entirety of Momoiro Clover squealing hideously like toddlers at any form of unnerving evidence or ghost stories was enough to make me grind my teeth.

That excluded I honestly thought it was a sufficiently compelling film. The plot seemed to move fluidly, I didn't find it dragged at all and I enjoyed the suspense created when supernatural events occured while the girls were sleeping in the dance studio and when exploring the shrine.

Rating: 7/10
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis

A Very Overdue Sinister Review

That girls face is exactly how I felt after the end -_-

Now I am a huge, huge, fan of psychological and supernatural horror. So naturally, I was (over the moon) extremely hopeful towards Sinister after hearing of its release and then general plotline, as advertising progressed.

Stylistically this film is absolutely stunning. The sets are pristine and beautiful, with obvious influence from Insidious. Even the light and dry ice smoke is perfectly uniformed. There has been a great deal of thought given to the soundtrack and music used. In particular the music seems to be taken from a lot of new age & electronic music groups and creates a genuinely unnerving atmosphere (I noticed the infamous Salad Fingers track 'Beware the Friendly Stranger' creators Boards of Canada were a featured artist).

It's that good I listen to it regularly - both the score composed by Christopher Young (which I recognised about half way through the film, as he uses a track almost identical to one used in the Grudge. Tsk, tsk, I noticed!) and the compliation of found tracks from various artists.

Bagul is an aesthetically pleasing looking monster (at least, in my eyes), seemingly drawing inspiration from a medley of recent pop culture boogeymen (Slender, Marilyn Manson, and the mask of Slipknot's Mick Thomson were three distinct individuals I could imagine have influenced the look of Bagul). However I find the notion of a Pagan demon donning a Slenderman-esque suit a bit ridiculous. Black cloak, more appropriate maybe?

Not focusing on more... pedantic details (although, admittedly I enjoy the more aesthestic aspects of films), overall I would describe my satisfaction of Sinister with 'it was quite good'. I enjoyed the film, yes. There is some vagueness I feel, in the plot, however. Which compounds the idea of this film, in my mind, being a rushed concept. I would have liked some further exploration into the ‘once you see him’ concept/tagline, and why Emily was the chosen child to be Bagul’s pawn – why and how she was ‘lured’, as the university professor suggested. After seeing this film twice, I identified clearly yes, she had been exposed to some images – through the paintings the little ghost ‘Stephanie’ apparently made her draw. But how are these ghosts able to disturb her, without Emily seeing the images of Bagul first? Wouldn’t it be Ethan alone who experienced disturbances as it is only he who has been exposed to them?

Also, there is this... unsatisfactory dependence on cheap corny jump scares in this film. After looking around for a while, I am not the only one who has noticed this. Perhaps not as totally reliant as ‘The Possession’, but I am still quite disappointed. Again, it is always all about the careful construction of atmosphere - which Sinister does to an extent. As far as memorability goes, the silence and the eerie music, I have observed virally through Youtube commenting, other reviews and such, stick in viewers' minds long after the movie is finished. Far over some thoughtless 'BLAAARGH' scare. Maybe then the ending wouldn't have felt so abrupt if it hadn't been so... well... obvious?

So there you have it. I do think this film was enjoyable, but given a bit more time and thought could have been a genuinely well crafted and brilliant film. New horror generally relies far too much on pre crafted conventions, and I think with a bit more thought and creativity, a whole lot of horror films could be on the whole much better.

Reviewed by Abigail Lewis
Rating 6.5/10

They Wait (2007) Review

Looking at general reviews from critics, they are far too critical on They Wait. It took me a while to remember this film, and how incredibly well crafted it was - I'd watched it a number of years back and thought it was really amazing, then had a flashback of the ghost/man in the Chinese medicine shop who lunged at the little boy quite recently and sourced it out. Contrary from what I remember this film is in fact, not subtitled, however is based on Chinese myths/urban legend. There are sections of Chinese speech which is why I think I got confused, but this is actually a Canadian film.

Set in 'Hungry Ghost month' of the chinese calendar, They Wait is a totally rad ghost story directed by Ernie Barbarash. Somewhat in the theme of Sixth Sense; only certain 'gifted' people can see or communicate with the spirits in this film. Thus begins the revealing of a dark and unnerving family secret. A fairly typical horror layout, but with They Wait in particular, like many asian horrors (or asian-esque in this case) I find the female ghosts to be the most frightening of all horror film monsters.

Unlike many, many horror films however (as I've probably rattled on about before) this one is a real gem. Know why? It actually has a genuinely enthralling story (at least, in my opinion). The soundtrack when you see the ghost of Shen I found to be somewhat cute and sinister at the same time (from what I recall there were these flighty flute sounds), which is quite fitting really, and also gave this a quirky edge - I also found the peculiarly humourous lines ("do you know what we really like to eat? Children!) between the ghost in the medicine shop and Sammy to add to this sense of quirkiness. On the whole, I get a lighthearted vibe from this film, although it certainly is creepy. Well, the ghosts and the settings definitely create an air of unease, the ghost of Shen is equally both frightening and innocent, as and when she sees fit to be. Putting into consideration the urge a film makes me feel to cover my eyes or hide behind something is always a good indicator of how well the atmosphere has been constructed, and that definitely occurred during the box scene where Sammy became possessed.

This film also comes to a satisfying conclusion; as the wrongdoers recieve their justice. Meaning, as a youngster (ahem) I would have perhaps not festered too long over the idea of a still restless spirit coming to eat my toes at night. There are elements of gore included, so although I wouldn't categorise this as a more family friendly film, its certainly a more resolved and subsequently perhaps less nightmare inducing horror film.

Rating: 10/10
Reviewer Abigail Lewis (Twisted the Clown/AbNor-mew)

The Possession Review

Before I begin, exorcism themed horror movies, - not a particular favourite sub genre of horror of mine. Therefore I was not overly keen to see this film. Any emphasis on the line 'this was based on a true story' generally makes me want to gag, as we all know film writers take true events and transform them into the furthest most fantastical thing away from the truth, in the actual film plotline.

So, I have this pre conceived opinion in my mind before seeing the Possession. However I still came away with the opinion; "it was watchable".
It was not terrifyingly scary.
Among the reams of trailers for upcoming horror films since it is now coming up to Halloween, I did catch the trailer for Paranormal Activity 5. Acting standards look dreadful, but taking the ridiculous young girl out of the equation, it had the potential of being pretty scary.
Anyway, back onto the Possession.

Overall this film was too.... lighthearted in several ways to be a truly frightening. Despite the acting quality being good, the attitudes of the characters seemed over the top, and even humorous in scenes. A part that really sticks out in my mind (this is shown in the trailer so technically not a spoiler) is the father's reaction to Emily stabbing him in the hand with a fork. There is no fucking way I would calmly respond to a fork in the hand with a 'go to your room'. This is why the line of ridiculousness has been crossed in my mind here with this film.

One thing that always royally pisses me off (even in scare attractions, reference) is the use of constant loud sounds as a method of scaring.
It is near enough archaic and extremely lame, guys.
Jump scares are the oldest and most overused, most basic way of scare I know, most of the time lazily used as well. Creating the atmosphere takes effort and thought, and it is a LOT more effective, not to mention memorable. If you take the time to think out and carefully craft an atmospheric scene, it really stays in peoples minds. Like that scene in Salem's Lot where the vampire kid famously comes to the window, for example. For me personally the end scene to the Grudge haunted me throughout my childhood when Kayako descended down the door with just her head visible.
Even with darkness and sinister music, its just not that hard. Even silence is terrifying, given the right conditions.

I see I have done a fair bit of criticism here. It was earned. Now I shall progress onto what made it watchable. I didn't feel it dragged as a film, it was pretty engaging, plus the silly sides of it carried it along at a consistent speed. Aside from the hand incident, the expert the father consults about the box... seems like he's having a laugh when he's talking about it. Stylistically, the scene where we were in the morgue - a scene with darkness and silence dominant, was pleasing to me because tension was easily built there. Myself and the audience was freaking out were just waiting for the big hit and lets face it, operating tables just look pretty in rows under flashing red light, wouldn't you agree? Of course you would.

Overall rating: 6.5/10 (for flow, minus points for unoriginality)
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis

Woman in Black Review

Woman in Black has been a film I have been looking forward to the release of for some time. As it promised a tale of supernatural fear and frightening ghosts, as opposed to the influx of gory Slasher films. The captivatingly eerie, gothic setting of Eel Marsh house was amazing.

Overall, I thought Woman In Black was safely in the category of a good film. It seemed too similar to Dead Silence in some parts, however held a stronger plot. Watching this at the cinema was a really enjoyable experience, and there were more than ample amounts of scenes filled with heart racing encounters with supernatural forces.

I really admired the aesthetics of this film. The house itself was ominously beautiful, choked in weeds and stained with its dark emotional past. Especially, I liked the little dolls upstairs, after they have become tarnished with age, and when their eyes seemingly follow Arthur Kipps’s movement with his candlelight. One thing I can never really understand with strong, threatening female ghosts (the likes of Mary Shaw and Kayako Saeki alongside Jennet Humfrye) is their continued motives, and how they somehow affect the surrounding general populus? Nevertheless it doesn’t detract from their terrifying presences. The Woman in Black herself provides fear fuel for always cautiously turning corners and rocking chairs!

Daniel Radcliffe was amiable as Arthur Kipps, which I didn’t expect; I thought he would be a bit wooden to be honest. While the ending wasn’t particularly strong, I wouldn’t say it was a typical ending, and gave the audience a generally pleasant resolve for a horror film. On a more nit-picky note, the soundtrack for me was extremely generic. It did its job of creating tension, but as someone who carefully dissects the soundtracks of all my favourite horror films, I was hoping for something a bit more original sounding.

Would I recommend you see this before it goes out of the cinema? Certainly! Experiencing atmospheric horror like this in the cinema is a far more different, exposing and terrifying experience than if you were to just watch it at home, cowering behind a pillow with mute at the ready. On reflection, I do think that for the psychological content in this film, that it was underrated at a 12A – after watching, the intense methods of scaring the audience and imagery that are utilised in this film, in my opinion, are as just as spine tingling as the Grudge or Dead Silence, and honestly I was genuinely shocked at how low the age certificate was for this film. So on another note, don’t underestimate this film for its rating, and be warned!

Rating: 7/10
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Cabin in the Woods Review

Cabin in the Woods was apparently a shock to the commercial audience, that had them wondering from the initial scenes, 'am I watching the right film here?', but I wandered into the cinema with the mindset that I was going to see a horror film that, after hearing a report back from a friend, was quite humorous in addition to be a not so terrible new horror.
Cabin in the Woods comprises entirely as a film of cliches and horror genre conventions - ultimately what the film itself is supposed to be a mockery of. Technically there is absolutely nothing original about the film, and... thats the point. How original of them with the concept of unoriginality. Uggghhh. 

Personally I found this film amusing, just for Marty and his amusingly questioning attitude to the plot. It seemed more realistic. Yes, it is quite tiresome to see the same old same old, and Jodelle Ferland typecast in yet another horror film (jesus I wish she would go away). In terms of monsters, since there were so many atypical ones, I guess I should just point out that...the mask clad 'Strangers' inspired family and the Ballerina looked interesting I suppose? I'm not sure what they based the Ballerina character on. The influences for a lot of the other monsters were pretty obvious.

Anyway go watch it for Marty. He is awesome. Maybe I have a soft spot for ridiculous stoner humour, I don't know. But yeah, Cabin in the Woods, wasn't terribly bad, but the silliness was what carried it off as a half decent movie in my opinion.