Movie Review – Chris Ranson on Wish I Was Here (2014)

Wish I Was HereTitle: Wish I Was Here (2014)
Director: Zach Braff
Runtime: 106 minutes

I never liked Garden State, Zach Braff’s first turn as a writer/director/star, and I didn’t enjoy Scrubs. Frankly, I thought going to Kickstarter for this film was a shame because, let’s face it, if it was good, Hollywood would have eaten it up. Then I saw the trailer for Wish I Was Here, and the indie soundtrack and shiny, heartfelt images hit me in a warm, mushy way. I suddenly had to see the film that I originally had no interest in watching.

Aidan Bloom (Zach Braff) is a 35-year-old actor, if you consider a dandruff commercial acting. His wife just started a new job at the water company and feels sexually harassed by her cubical partner. His children are both going to a private Jewish school, a religion he gave up on. When he finds out the tuition is late because his father’s cancer is back, he does the one thing that any jobless father of two would do: nothing. Continue reading

Movie Review – Chris Ranson on Begin Again (2014)

Begin AgainTitle: Begin Again (2014)
Director: John Carney
Runtime: 104 minutes

Once is one of my favorite movie musicals. It’s perfectly acted and filled with excellent music. So when I heard director John Carney had a new “musical” film out – a term I feel loosely describes the experience these two movies deliver – I just had to go see it.

Begin Again opens with Steve (James Corden) introducing his friends to Greta (Keira Knightley), who is in town for a short while. He wants her to get up on stage and sing. At first she refuses, but she eventually obliges. The audience as a whole doesn’t dig her singing, but one man, Dan, does. Then we jump to the start of the day and we follow Dan (Mark Ruffalo) to the point where he ended up at the bar. He offers her a record contract on the spot and she says she’ll call him in the morning with her answer. Then the film jumps back six months and we get Greta’s story. Now that we know these two characters, and why they are here, we jump to the present, where Greta is trying to decide if she should accept Dan’s offer. Continue reading

Cinefessions Series Review – Branden Chowen on the Friday the 13th Series

A Cinefessions Series Review is a periodic column that sees one or more writers watching and reviewing an entire film series. Cinefessions considers any film franchise that has two or more films a series, and thus available for review in this column. This is a way to get a quick look at an entire collection of films in one column. Today, Branden goes through an even dozen with Jason Voorhees and the Friday the 13th series.

Friday the 13th (1980, dir. Sean S. Cunningham)

Friday the 13th - 1980


There is just something about this film that makes it a natural part of the horror canon. It is definitely a product of the pre-MTV generation, which is evident with the fact that it takes almost thirty minutes before the kills really get going. Why this works, though, is because the dialogue that the counselors share is entertaining enough to keep the pace moving forward; it never feels boring. Once the killings start, the pace really picks up, and it becomes clear why this is such a beloved film among horror fanatics. Continue reading

DVD Review – Chris Ranson on Murder University (2012)

Murder UniversityI’d never heard of Murder University before it arrived in my mailbox. It is possible that I saw the DVD at the store, but I’m sure I would have just glanced over it like I do many indie horror outings that I have never heard of. With that being said, I am so happy to have gotten this movie to review. Indie horror can be very hit or miss, but this film starts off strong and just runs with it.

A small New England college is plagued with a series of murders that resemble those that happened twenty years earlier. A recent lone survivor, Josh (played by Jamie Dufault), teams up with a former cop, a survivor from twenty years ago, and his daughter Meg (played by Samantha Acampora).

Murder University opens with a group of kids hanging out, getting naked, and having sex. We get some nice breast shots, but we also get the crazy, throwback ‘80s tone with scene as well. The dialogue is witty, the characters are crazy, and then they die, fast and bloody. Then the film jumps to current day where we meet Josh. His father has recently died, and he’s just going through the motions when he finds himself captured and tormented by some guys in devil masks. Continue reading

DVD Review – Chris Ranson on Horror Stories (2012)

Horror StoriesIf paranormal films and ‘80s slasher revivals are the current trend for the horror genre, the short story compilation is the next trend right around the corner, and it is already booming. With the likes of V/H/S and the ABC’s of Death being two main projects, and both have already inspired sequels. It’s no surprise that Korea is tapping into this returning subgenre as well.

The only fair way to judge a short story compilation is to judge each film on its own merits, and then as an overall package. Horror Stories is made up of four short stories from five famous Korean horror directors. These are then connected by another story, directed by a sixth famous Korean director.

The film opens with a young girl being held captive by a crazy man. He tells her that he will let her go if she can help him fall asleep, but the only way he falls asleep is if he gets scared enough to do so. That is seriously the over-arching plot, connecting our four short stories. I get it, and it’s a “good” way to connect them, but it makes zero sense. This is probably the weakest aspect of the film itself, but the performances are solid, and there are some nice gore effects at one point. Continue reading

DVD Review – Chris Ranson on Caesar and Otto’s Deadly Xmas (2012)

Caesar and Ottos Deadly XmasSometimes a film has such a unique title and great cover that it makes you want to see it. With that in mind, I was excited when I received Caesar and Otto’s Deadly Xmas to review. I hadn’t heard of the film before, or the duo, but it looked like it would be entertaining. Boy, was I wrong.

Caesar and his half brother Otto take on duties as Santa and his elf. However, the bodies begin to pile up when a fellow store Santa develops a vendetta against them, and he soon turns Caesar’s list of dinner guests into a list of Christmas-inspired victims. This is a direct follow up to Caesar and Otto’s Summer Camp Massacre, which I’ve never seen, nor will I seek out unless it falls into my lap for review. Continue reading

Movie Review – Ashe Collins on Dropping Evil (2012)

Dropping EvilTitle: Dropping Evil (2012)
Director: Adam Protextor
Runtime: 82 minutes

Dropping Evil is most definitely an independent film through and through.  It’s also definitely an independent horror film, which means not all the effects are up to par.  What I didn’t know while I was watching this was that, according to IMDB, it was supposed to be a comedy as well! Looking back on it, I can see where it tries, but the film just isn’t funny. At all. Cheese-filled with a really nonsensical plot? Yup. But it comes across as trying too hard and failing instead of playing as a comedy. What it does remind me of are those early ‘80s, direct-to-video films that used to line the shelves of the rental stores, but it’s one of those ones only a few people are going to enjoy, and the rest are going to return with a sour look on their face. Continue reading