13 Days of Halloween: Day 5 – Branden Chowen on Coraline (2009)

CoralineTitle: Coraline (2009)
Director: Henry Selick
Runtime: 100 minutes

Coraline is a frustrating film. It is filled with incredible visuals – some of the best I have ever seen, in fact – but the story around these visuals just doesn’t hold up. The movie feels like a Tim Burton film with the dark meter turned up to eleven. Coraline is genuinely creepy; not just for a family film, but genuinely creepy regardless of its intended audience. It is a movie that I should love, but the script doesn’t allow it.

Though I’m sold on this all being an incredible dream, Coraline tells the story of the titular character (voiced wonderfully by Dakota Fanning), who lives with her two parents that are legitimate jerks. They treat their daughter like some random kid on the street, never having time for her because they are working on a gardening magazine to make money. I was surprised to see how coldly the film treats the relationship between the parents and Coraline, even after the climax, which is where one would expect the “happy ending” to be all warm and fuzzy. Continue reading

13 Days of Halloween: Day 4 – Chris Ranson on Dark Island (2010)

Dark IslandTitle: Dark Island (2010)
Directors: Sam Gorski and Niko Pueringer
Runtime: 87 minutes

I’m starting to think that no matter how many cheesy, bad films I catch on Netflix, there will always be another one in my mailbox that I’d never heard of. This time around it’s Dark Island, which tells the story about some scientists and soldiers who are sent to an island after something evil is unleashed.

I don’t even know where to begin here. There’s the typical “creepy thing” that gets released, evil corporations, and backstabbing. Basically, a dark mist – think of the mist creature from the TV series Lost – has been released on this island, and it infects someone, turning them into a type of zombie. This transformation is manifested by nothing more than a couple black veins. The special effects are pretty laughable. The best is when a possessed person is dodging someone’s blade; just thinking about it again makes me chuckle. It just looks so silly! Continue reading

13 Days of Halloween: Day 3 – Ashe Collins on Crystal Lake Memories (2013)

Crystal Lake MemoriesTitle: Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013)
Director: Daniel Farrands
Runtime: 400 minutes

Chris actually picked Crystal Lake Memories for me to stonewall my efforts in this past year’s Cinefessions Summer Screams Challenge. The idea was that I would spend over six hours of time earning one measly point.  I knew immediately what Crystal Lake Memories was going in considering the title, and that fact that our boy with the hockey mask is splattered all over the DVDs. I don’t mind documentaries, but this is a long film series. From the original Friday the 13th, all the way through to the reboot film from Platinum Dunes in 2009, this documentary covers it all.  It is hosted by Corey Feldman, and has interviews with just about everyone involved with the production series, excluding a small handful that have either passed away, or were just too busy. You get an in-depth look at the films that launched a major franchise and spawned another round of copycat films. Slashers are cheap to make and rake in the dough, though, so it’s no surprise to see how long this series has lasted.  Continue reading

13 Days of Halloween: Day 2 – Branden Chowen on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Abraham Lincoln Vampire HunterTitle: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Runtime: 105 minutes

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter gained fame back in 2011 when Seth Grahame-Smith released his novel of the same name. I remember my mom bringing me home the book after it started getting popular, but I never did get around to reading it. I missed the film’s theatrical release in the summer of 2012, but ended up buying the 3D Blu-ray when I bought my 3D television. Much like the novel, it just sat on my shelves for a long time. I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this film, and figured I would be disappointed, so I never bothered watching it. That was a huge mistake, and one I am ecstatic to have remedied.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is exactly what it sounds like: a retelling of the history of ol’ Honest Abe set in an alternate universe where vampires are very real, and Abraham Lincoln is not only one of the country’s best political speakers, but one of its best vampire killers as well. Continue reading

13 Days of Halloween: Day 1 – Chris Ranson on See No Evil 2 (2014)

See No Evil 2Title: See No Evil 2 (2014)
Director: The Soska Sisters
Runtime: 90 minutes

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder why some films get a sequel. Back in 2006, the world got to “See No Evil”. It was a WWE film with their very own Glenn “Kane” Jacobs playing a serial killer that stabbed people’s eyes out. It had a biblical flair to it, and just wasn’t very good. You don’t need to have seen the original film to enjoy See No Evil 2, though, as you’re given a brief rundown of the events in the sequel. Please be aware, though, that this review will spoil a few bits from the original film due to necessity.

Taking a cue from Halloween 2, See No Evil 2 takes place the same night as the original film. Jacob Goodnight’s (Kane) corpse is brought to the hospital morgue after his killing spree and death from the first film. It’s Amy’s birthday, and her friends decide to throw her a surprise party while she’s at work, the same night Jacob’s body arrives. Well, it turns out that Jacob isn’t dead, and now he wants to kill some more. Continue reading

Movie Review – Chris Ranson on Annabelle (2014)

AnnabelleTitle: Annabelle (2014)
Director: John R. Leonetti
Runtime: 98 minutes

I went into 2013’s The Conjuring with very low expectations. The director, James Wan, had previously left a bad taste in my mouth. I was happy to admit, though, that I left that film impressed. It was obvious that we were going to get a sequel, but first up is this prequel, telling the story of the doll that is very briefly shown in the Warren’s museum.

Annabelle reveals how this not-so-pretty doll becomes possessed by a demon and ultimately ends up in the hands of a nurse who the Warrens interviewed and helped exorcise. A happily married couple is expecting their first child. The wife, Mia, brings home a doll that she had been eyeing in the store window. A satanic cult breaks into their house, and after some blood is shed on the doll and Mia ends up being put on bed rest, some crazy things start to happen. Continue reading

Movie Review – Chris Ranson on Gone Girl (2014)

Gone GirlTitle: Gone Girl (2014)
Director: David Fincher
Runtime: 149 minutes

When I think David Fincher I instantly think of Fight Club. It’s easily one of his best works. His most recent work was the so-so Girl With The Dragon Tattoo remake, which obviously could never be as good as its Swedish counterpart. As an avid reader I heard Gone Girl was amazing, and because I always appreciate a good book, I knew I had to read it before the movie came out and ruined all the twists and turns. Well, that was a mistake because the book starts out fantastically, but then hits the twist, and turns into one of the most unbelievable plots I’ve ever read.

Gone Girl has two plotlines unfolding. The first is that of Nick Dunn, husband to the beautiful Amy. It is their fifth wedding anniversary, and he comes home to find her missing. We watch as Nick follows the clues to a treasure hunt his wife puts together every year on their anniversary, while the police believe that he killed his wife. The other story is that of Amy, told through diary entries starting with the first night they met, and ending right before her disappearance. Continue reading