RITUALS (1977)

Directed By: Peter Carter 
Written By: Ian Sutherland 
Cinematography: Rene Verzier 
Editor: George Appleby

Cast: Hal Holbrook, Lawrence Dane, Robin Gammell, Ken James, Gary Reineke, Michael Zevon, Jack Crelay, Murray Westgate 

Five doctors go on vacation deep in the Canadian wilderness. After all but one pair of the party’s shoes disappear, the remaining shoe camper decides to hike out and go look for help. Soon after he leaves, however, his four companions realize that something is very wrong when someone leaves a decapitated deer head just outside their camp. Even though they still don’t have their shoes, they decide to follow their friend’s trail out of the woods, but their path is blocked by someone who doesn’t want to see them leave the forest alive.


The film works as we spend most of the time with the characters and their reactions to various circumstances that at first seem random. As they start out as minor then grow as their desperation does also.

Already weary of each other though they are lifelong friends and siblings. Stuck in the Terrain in the middle of nowhere. The tensions are already high between them. So that when problems arise. They slowly turn on one another.

The film raises the intensity between them and their reactions in the first half of the movie before getting more to the horror/thriller elements of the second half 

The characters fit into certain types including a gay character whose sexuality is revealed not blatantly, but nonchalantly.

As the film goes along the characters’ true selves are revealed under duress. Exposing How some will truly act or react under pressure.

This is one of the first few leading man roles I have seen Hal Holbrook in and he goes above and beyond in the role. Showing a true star in the midst. In a role that feels lived in.

The film adds in the horror elements when it remembers. Only to help add to all the commotion Going on. Though there is a countdown of sorts, eventually there is going to be an attack at a certain point.

The film wisely never Amps up the action. It stays reserved. Never revealing its hand or giving hints too early. As most is revealed along with the characters. So that the audience never quite knows exactly what to expect in advance.

The film offers beautiful landscapes of nature that for all Their beauty have its own fair share of mystery.

At heart, this is a survival movie. Where a group of doctors going on a fishing trip seems to become the hunted. Out of the many places, it could have gone happy it stays somewhat simple and riveting. 

It’s filmed unglamorous so that it feels as stark and ugly as the land sometimes becomes. Mostly shot in close up so you see all the blood, sweat, and tears not to mention dirt, grime, imperfections, and injuries. 

This film came out of nowhere. As it goes along breaking down the genre while setting it up also. Until its own shocking final reveal.

Grade: B

TURISTAS (2006)

Directed By: John Stockwell
Written By: Michael Arlen Ross
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak 
Editor: Jeff McEvoy

Cast: Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Beau Garrett, Max Brown, Lucy Ramos, Andrea Leal, Diego Santiago, Agles Steib 

A group of young backpackers’ vacation turns sour when a bus accident leaves them marooned in a remote Brazilian rural area that holds an ominous secret.


This film is basically HOSTEL in Brazil. Even though the violence is brutal here it still doesn’t feel as bad, dark, or disgusting as HOSTEL does if only because this feels more like a big studio copy of it. As it seems more aimed at a worst-case scenario film, where privileged white young Americans are the victims. 

As this film has bigger names or at least more recognizable names and faces. It offers up just as much nudity also. As the film has a libidinous sexual vibe that disappears as soon as the carnage starts. It still feels a bit explosive but from a big studio 

Whereas in HOSTEL, the company is more sophisticated, it seems day by night and messy. Essentially this film is a traveler’s worst nightmare come to life. One of those urban legends you always hear about. Being seduced and then waking up and your body parts missing. As it begins everything seems magical, beautiful, and fun, and then it’s Like the characters wake up to a bad hangover and it is all a nightmare. 

For all this paradise’s Natural wonders there is a price to be paid. Whereas most of the characters/victims are caucasian tourists. Who you do feel sorry for, but also come off as annoying ugly Americans and foreigners at times. So while they don’t deserve what they get you do feel they should have some comeuppance. At least they aren’t treated like saints even though the stars Josh Duhamel and Olivia Wilde come off as the nicest and most decent.

This was Duhmel’s first starring role based on his shoulders. Though in the advertising he is really downplayed. 

The villain being caucasian also helps show that he is racist and also that he treats all the dark-skinned people who work for him horribly and like slaves. Even as he tries to make them feel like they are in a partnership.

Even though generally as is life the islanders are being taken advantage of by the tourists and the evil surgeon. But that is their way of making a living also is to entertain them to a degree. Which is the true horror. 

The film is entertaining but instantly forgettable. The island paradise and cast are nice to look at but that is about it as the rest of the film is fairly predictable. 

The only general shock to be had is how violent it gets for a mass audience studio film. Though at least It’s not gratuitous though it does feel liek it is trying hard to have an edge 

Grade: C

THE MUTILATOR (1984)

Directed By: Buddy Cooper & John Douglass
Written By: Buddy Cooper 
Cinematography: Peter Schnall
Editor: Stephen Mack

Cast: Matt Mitler, Ruth Martinez, Bill Hitchcock, Connie Rogers, Frances Raines, Morey Lamplay, Jack Chatham 

A college student, who accidentally killed his mother as a child, decides to take his friends to his father’s fishing cabin during fall break, not knowing that his crazed father is stalking the place.


This is another film from my youth whose poster/box art I remember from video stores. That always captured my imagination but I was too young and scared to ever watch. That has taken me this long to find and watch. 

I can remember the details and colors of these images from the posters. That even if the film isn’t so great the artwork will oversell it. As a poster for a better film or the one, you imagine in your head. Luckily this film lives up to the box art. 

Is this a good movie? no. is it entertaining? Yes, if 1980’s style horror films are your thing. They are for me so I thoroughly enjoyed the film. No matter how ridiculous it got or went.

The film starts off with a shocking scene of violence. Then it proceeds to play like a college coed comedy. While it sets itself and the characters/future victims up. At least as far as the opening Credits. 

Though it even has silly sight gags in the middle of the film after the killings start. 

This is pure 1980s slasher horror film bliss with questionable acting. Questionable character decisions that are obviously only there for the set-up. Scenes where the camera lingers too long. Leaving the actors feeling performative, stranded, and stiff. They also come off as false. Not to mention for a film where half the characters are obsessed with sex. There is surprisingly little nudity or sex 

The film has a strange innocence. As it never takes itself totally seriously and has good practical effects. At times it can be slow-paced and feels odd. 

The film follows the basic horror film rules. As it was made when they were still writing and defining them. 

The film offers no false advertising. It lives up to its title and even uses the weapon long-promised on the poster eventually. 

It feels overwrought at times like it takes too long to get to the point in scenes and the film I just under 90 minutes.

The killer’s motivation is somewhat understandable though you wonder what took him So long to snap.

One of the characters distractingly has the same shape of chest hair that Steve Carrell has after getting partially waxed in THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN. 

The soundtrack choices feel and seem wrong yet fun. At times too silly Or energetic for the tense mood, they are involved. 

The ending is ridiculous and does offer some jumps and seems to try to lighten the mood again once we get to the credits. 

GRADE: C

JUST BEFORE DAWN (1981)

Directed By: Jeff Lieberman
Written By: Gregg Irving, Joseph Middleton & Mark Arywitz
Cinematography: Joel King & Dean King 
Editor: Robert Olovett 

Cast: George Kennedy, Gregg Henry, Chris Lemmon, Mike Kellin, Deborah Rush, Ralph Seymour, Katie Powell, John Hunsacker, Charles Bartlett, Jamie Rose 

Five campers arrive in the mountains to examine some property they have bought, but are warned by Forest Ranger Roy McLean that a huge machete-wielding maniac has been terrorizing the area. Ignoring the warnings, they set up camp, and start disappearing one by one.


Wish I had seen this film before WRONG TURN. As the film seems influenced by it. While the film goes along you can see where a bunch of other horror films might have found influence in this film. Just as others might accuse this film of being influenced by THE HILLS HAVE EYES. 

Though this is a good starter horror film for anyone who wants to take baby steps into the genre and a perfect example of a film that is filled with cliches that it itself helped to build. With an impressive cast. 

The film has an early kill that then sets the playing field for the rest of the film and the characters.

The film is violent but surprisingly not gory or too violent. As the violence ends up showing some aftermath or suggested violence. So that it is a bit more reserved.

Though for it’s a more reserved matter. There is nudity but luckily the film isn’t as sex-obsessed as many in the genre and at the time. 

The film has a lower budget. So some effects are not quite great but good enough for the material considering the limits. Especially with its unconventional ending. 

The film gets a lot of use out of actor Chris Lemmon and his body. 

As the film goes along the victims Are humanized. Even if they are not stellar members of society they Don’t Deserve some of their fates. 

During the film it is quite understandable for the characters’ breakdown but their decisions are questionable. Though one element that becomes strong and sets the film apart is the hero and damsel in distress. Seems to switch roles as far as mentality towards the end. 

As she starts to put make-up on. It ends up being her war paint and bait. Though strange at first that she would get flirtatious after surviving an attack in which her boyfriend left her alone. Though at the endpoint he has been on his Way there to mentally deny and break down since the first body was discovered. So that he by the end is almost a shell of what he used to be. 

Which comes across as karma for earlier actions. Such as hitting a deer and lying about his fate and letting a survivor of an attack go with no real thought or concern. 

The one true surprise is the eventual reveal of the murder’s origins.

Grade: C+

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (2016)

Written & Directed By: Burr Steers 
Based on the book by: Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith 
Cinematography By: Remi Adefsrasin 
Editor: Padraic McKinley 

Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Matt Smith, Jack Huston, Lena Headey, Douglas Booth, Suki Waterhouse, Bella Heathcote, Charles Dance, Sally Phillips

The five highly trained Bennett sisters in Georgian England must try to protect themselves from the growing zombie threat, find suitable husbands for themselves, battle marriage proposals and unlikely suitors, and save the country before it’s too late.


The production values, as well as costumes and weapons, are impressive allowing the film to have a sharpness most period films lack.

The film comes across as more action or even science fiction by way of steampunk rather than horror. The film also has its comedic elements, especially Matt Smith’s performance as an ever-changing suitor

Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy has an imposing state that seems to hide a viciousness that is apparent in the action scenes. But also shows his skills and defenses

I wish the same can be said of Lily James as the lead and the rest of the female cast. Those who are pretty faces and are adequate but don’t really stand out in their performances. She is engaging as a woman of the past with more modern ideas and ideals.

Natalie Portman was originally cast as Elizabeth Bennet but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway, Emma Stone, Mia Wasikowska, Rooney Mara, Mila Kunis, and Blake Lively were considered to replace her before Lily James was finally cast. Portman remains on board as a producer. All of whom might have made the film more marketable due to name recognition and star power.

The only one who remotely makes a mark is Lena Headey who seems to play a role that might have originally been modeled for Angelina Jolie.

The film allows for originality and a fun mixture of two genres where they create to break the rules as well as play with them.

It is easy to see why this film was considered a hot property as far as adapting it from a novel to a proper film. As it allows the film to be an open bit also let’s get to know the characters.

The film seems to be fitting with what seems like get rich quick outrageousness turned into movies such as ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER and HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS. Or even films such as SCOUTS VS. ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. Where the title seems to tell you all you need to know. Though this film plays itself as more classy and less juvenile. Though with better production values and plenty of Nice scares that don’t seem requisite.

After David O. Russell left the project, Mike Newell (4 WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL), David Slade (HARD CANDY), Matt Reeves (CLOVERFIELD), Jonathan Demme (PHILADELPHIA), Neil Marshall (CENTURION) (all of whom might have been better visual stylists), Mike White (YEAR OF THE DOG), Phil Lord, and Christopher Miller (21 JUMP STREET) were all considered to direct before Burr Steers was chosen.

It’s a new Genre for Burr Steers who usually directs more talkative and intimate dramas. Here he is directing a more action-oriented material. While also having the chops to get the most out of the few dramatic and romantic scenes that contain their own burning emotional suspense,

It seems only natural that we would get to these certain characters or at least the story as it is a classic and somehow mix in popular otherworldly ghouls and creatures. As I am sure werewolves are next to be mixed with some classic tale. Usually set sometime in the past rewriting history on film to create their own worlds but challenges us to wonder how they will defeat the monsters with more prominent weapons, technology, and means. At least we can’t necessarily predict how it will all turn out.

While the fight scenes are reminiscent more of BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER television episodes rather than an impressive feature film. It is nice to watch a film that challenges gender roles and gender politics. While also showcasing dangerous physical heroic female characters. Who also are the feminine characters that want to be courted even if tougher then the men who romance and desire them. Here they are characterized and defined less like amazons, but just as dangerous as they are attractive.

They spend so much time defining the world and rewriting the main characters to be be more bold and defined. That some get left behind especially among her other sisters and seem almost interchangeable if not paying attention,

The type of film for those who like and don’t like period pieces as it stays close enough to one while also having more modern conventions and genre additions.

The film manages to keep the locations seeming small and to a minimum bit keeps the film big screen grand worthy.

More an addition to have a reason for a genre expedition that adds a swashbuckler spirit to the mix as other then gore and violence as well as an overall plot that needs them to separate the material and add action.

The film does offer a set of circumstances that could truly make the film memorable would have been more tragic. had it for. The way it seemed aimed that then serves up a spectacular finale.

That ultimately might feel like a sell-out to some people, but provides a crowd-pleasing ending and hits the familiar notes for those who have read the book PRIDE & PREJUDICE or at least know the story

Though the film does tap into the desires and fantasies of the female audience by allowing them to be frilly and have an old-style classic romance and go back to a time period where courted and wooed while also letting them be kick ass action heroes. Yet still feminine. In The end, they get to have their cake and eat it too.

GRADE: C+

WORLD WAR Z (2013)

Directed By: Marc Forester 
Written By: Damon Lindelof, Drew Goddard & Matthew Michael Carnahan 
Screen Story By: J. Michael Stracynski & Matthew Michael Carnahan 
Based On The Book By: Max Brooks 
 Cinematography By: Ben Seresin 
Editor: Matt Cheese & Roger Barton 


Cast: Brad Pitt, James Badge Dale, David Morse, Ruth Negga, Daniella Kertesz, Mireille Enos, Ludi Boekin,

Life for former United Nations investigator Gerry Lane and his family seems content. Suddenly, the world is plagued by a mysterious infection turning whole human populations into rampaging mindless zombies. After barely escaping the chaos, Lane is persuaded to go on a mission to investigate this disease. What follows is a perilous trek around the world where Lane must brave horrific dangers and long odds to find answers before human civilization falls.


Now let me start off by mentioning I avoided this film like the plague when it first came out. As A fan of the book watching what they had done seemed like a travesty. Especially once you see the what are supposed to be impressive zombies and they looked more like cartoons.

It would be easy to write this film off as just another zombie film and only zombies as it is in and can take the place of whatever villain and plague you need and can easily be faceless and not insulting. This film already had a hard road ahead of it has to deliver a PG-13 rating which isn’t easy especially when dealing with zombies, which usually require gore and graphic violence.

The film I have to say isn’t the book, but it’s not as bad or embarassing as I thought it would be. In the book, we examine from different perspectives the oncoming zombie plague and is more dramatic as we get into personal history and the history of this particular apocalypse. Here we have Brad Pitt trying to find the cause but also a way to stop the plague. While having a bunch of axiom scenes. Luckily it’s not the action epic it could have been with him as line warrior. Though throughout the film he is the smartest and toughest guy in the room. The film tries to stay true somewhat to the book as he travels he questions and finds out more information about the plague.

While the film is thrilling with a bunch of good action set pieces. it’s hard to get really involved or scared when half of the scenes feel like you are watching a video game. Zombies by the hundreds disposable, but threatening when one on one. Yet obviously digital like half of the blood spilled. So it never has that level of reality needed. In fact, the only moment that felt real was the pharmacy scene and when brad Pitt thinks he might have been infected and is ready to commit suicide if he begins to change within the next 60 seconds.

I even liked the obligatory scenes of him checking in and protecting his family, giving him added incentive to come back home safe.

The film feels a bit epic and brings more of a thriller element into many of the Action sequences, Rather than just tons of shooting and bullets. They feel dramatic and important rather than just throw away material that is there just to look cool. It is truly what saves the film from just feeling like a video game adaptation almost. The film has an urgency, but not an unrealistic one

Director Marc Forester impresses as he seems to grow as a director with each film. Here he shows adeptness at big scenes of action with an element of thrills and chills. Showing he has come a long way from QUANTUM OF SOLACE.

Originally, the film had a different ending: the plane lands in Moscow rather than crashing in Wales. The passengers are rounded up, and the elderly and sick are executed. Gerry is drafted into the Russian army. An unknown period of time passes, and we see Gerry fighting the zombies. He realizes the zombies are weak in the cold. The film ended with him getting back to the USA and leading a D-Day like invasion against the undead on the Oregon coast. The ending that was used instead made the movie less brutal and ended it with a glimpse of hope

Why Brad Pitt would see this as a franchise? I have no idea though maybe with the bulk of the book and its stories he envisioned epic films exploring the landscape which would seem to fit more as a miniseries.

Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard rewrote the screenplay in the middle of the production to create a whole new different third act.

This seems to be a studios idea of a zombie film, destroying them without more decapitations instead of more shooting in the head. Just like instead of the zombies feasting on humans they just want to bite and infect. The film feels more like a modern apocalypse film that happens to involve zombies and works on a grand global scale to involve all cultures. Instead of a small story in a limited location. It’s nice to see a bigger zombie tale.

It would be too easy to label this as a trend and cash in, this film actually seems thought out and smarter than it should be. I mean, I can honestly say I wasn’t bored and rarely rolled my eyes. A good popcorn film

Grade: C+

THE WITCH (2016)

Written & Directed By: Robert Eggers 
Cinematography By: Jarin Blaschke 
Editor: Louise Ford 
Production Design: Craig Lathrop 
Art Direction: Andrea Kristof 

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Kate Dickie, Ralph Ineson, Harvey Scrimshaw, Julian Richings, Viv Moore, Sarah Stephens


*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this
review


New England, 1630: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life, homesteading on the edge of an impassible wilderness, with five children. When their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another. ‘The Witch’ is a chilling portrait of a family unraveling within their own fears and anxieties, leaving them prey for an inescapable evil.

The premise is based on America’s first witch hysteria in colonial New England, set 62 years before the infamous “Salem Witch Trials” which occurred in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

This is one of those films that is more rewarding the less you know about it. So you are free to discover instead of coming in with perceived notions. Stephen King has stated that he was terrified by this film.

This is a film that takes you by surprise. As it is more atmospheric filmmaking. That feels more accomplished than half the horror films that are offered today. 

The film focuses more on community and character. So that it stays intimate the whole time.

The film builds itself up. So that you have to pay attention to exactly know and understand what is going on.

The film sets itself up and its own limits. It takes its time, as this is not a film of jump scares and theatrics. It is trying to tell a story so it won’t offer answers immediately that we know and they have to figure out. When it makes a move it is playing for keeps. As the film is more haunting than scary. As it gives you a sense of unease the whole time.

It continuously goes where you don’t expect it. Especially when you believe you have things figured out and it seems it will go that way. If it does get too familiar the film seems to then go to the more physical actions of the characters as they begin to uncontrollably tremble and weep in their weakness that is never clearly defined.

The film is a period piece and as well as sets and costumes even the dialogue is more said in olden speak than natural dialogue. Which only helps the actors as they are so dedicated to their performances. They are so strong you believe them, their situations, and their reactions to them. Even the child actors’ performances are great and feel natural.

Most of the film’s dialogue and story were based on writings from the time. It feels like a film of its time period. This film seems dipped in tradition and truth as it scarily reveals itself and its nature. It isn’t so much thrilling. It is more full of ideas and imagination. The work of a skilled hand filmmaker. That seems more rooted in the type of films of the ’70s that could be ambiguous and make us question more. Then set out to give the audience visceral thrills. The film was mostly filmed in natural and available light which helps give a natural Spookiness to it

This is a film that uses nature more to reinforce the atmosphere and to provide the horrors of the film. That produces a calm whiny film that never settles again after s certain point in the film.

The movie is beautifully filmed on a smaller scale. Though making the simple and expected scary and haunted. While offering many misdirections, but feels immersed In Something sinister. As when all is revealed it feels worse than anything they could have shown us or that we could imagine and not with pyrotechnics or make-up but with hints that seem more plausible and homegrown. Whose reality is easily imagined and can be felt which makes it all the more devastating. This is a film unafraid to go to the places most mainstream cinema wouldn’t or would shy away from.

The Satanic Temple has endorsed this movie and hosted several screenings of the film. Their spokesperson, Jex Blackmore, addressed the film as “an impressive presentation of Satanic insight that will inform contemporary discussion of religious experience.”

The film manages to give a fresh meaning of horror that feels like a festering Underneath its surface.

It also takes a while to get there but once we do, we get the whole scope of events and what they mean.

The film, unfortunately, was a minor hit at first through strong word of mouth, but audiences expected a more traditional horror film and weren’t prepared for this film which takes it times with its horror and fully takes advantage and explores the ideas it spills forth

Grade: B

KRAMPUS (2015)

Directed By: Michael Dougherty 
Written By: Zach Shields, Michael Dougherty & Todd Casey 
Cinematography By: Jules O’Loughlin 
Editor: John Axelrad 

Cast: Toni Collette, Adam Scott, David Koechner, Allison Tolman , Conchetta Ferrell, Emjay Anthony 


When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.

At first, this film seems to play up the more comedic elements of the story.

It plays like a darker version of GREMLINS, Only more supernatural.

The cast sets the tone, though with Toni Colette. The film can go either way from horror to drama to comedy. As she is good, versatile, and established in all, but most of the recognizable cast are comedic veterans especially both Adam Scott and David Koechner. Which it seems like this film is a warm-up for them to do a buddy movie. With the two of them instantly memories of comedic horror films such as PIRAHNA 3D come to mind and what you expect. Except only, this one is less explosive but tries more for a hard edge family-friendly vibe. That’s more well thought out.

The second act of the film has more humor. Horror at times, but slowly becomes more serious and thrilling as it goes along.

Director Michael Dougherty is making his second feature and again another horror-themed holiday film. (After TRICK R’ TREAT) Full of folklore, energy, and fun.

At first, this film takes a more cynical attitude and looks at the holidays and situations that traditionally go along with them. Though children are in peril. You know nothing truly violent will happen to them at least on screen. There are scares, but an Absence of stakes.

In his films so far there always is an Augustus Gloop type of character. A grossly overweight yet cute character who has victim written all over him, but is there for a few good pokes of humor. The director backs the silliness of the film with a strong backstory that enriches the film and helps the audience forgive the more ridiculous elements. Which serves the film from the tone and fate of films such as SANTA’S SLAY. Which seek to be made and written around the title rather than have a good story thought out.

As here the film like JAWS only suggests a phantom who we see glimpses of and shadows. As we see the hard work was done mainly by possessed toys and appliances.

The film is almost like a nightmare supernatural version of HOME ALONE or NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION.

It’s more a film of scares than actual macabre violence or graphic horror. The most objectionable thing here is language and some blood.

The creatures in the attic are truly terrifying. Even if the demented gingerbread men seem more like cute gremlins. That truly makes you wonder if the film is trying to be more innocent and family-friendly.

This film Makes more for a starter horror film. More made for those who get scared easily or are uneasy with the horror genre. As it contains the elements but does so with a lighter touch. It could almost be a harder-edged family film. Though can easily be enjoyed by horror aficionados as long as they can accept more of a mainstream and lightweight horror product.

Another aspect to enjoy here is that the special effects seem to be more practical and less extravagant then a cgi production.

The film feels too knowing and knowledgeable to be a classic. Too glossy to be quite as noteworthy. Though entertaining throughout the viewings with plenty of gothic designs. Especially the terror toys.

The film is a creepy confection with a nod to JEEPERS CREEPERS. As the film is fun yet allows it to be downtrodden and unhappy.

The film fits right in with the directors oeuvre so far  

GRADE: B-

SPIRAL: FROM THE BOOK OF JIGSAW (2021)


Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
Written by: Josh Stolberg & Peter Goldfinger
Cinematography: Jordan Oram
Editor: Dev Singh 

Cast: Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, Dan Petronijevic, Richard Zeppieri, Patrick McManus 

Working in the shadow of his father, an esteemed police veteran, brash Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks and his rookie partner take charge of a grisly investigation into murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city’s gruesome past. Unwittingly entrapped in a deepening mystery, Zeke finds himself at the center of the killer’s morbid game.


This film feels like a script that was written to be a thriller and then was rewritten to throw in some horror elements and connect it to the saw movies. Which it barely does.

The film is predictable and while like previous saw films it seems to like to play around with time or reveal certain elements to the audience when it needs to explain certain things.

The twists don’t feel as shocking, truthfully they never even feel earned. 

Amazing that this film was filmed before last summer’s racial political upheaval surrounding the murder of George Floyd. As this film seems almost like a kind of giving the audience what it wants. In a tale of dirty cops being the victims. As only one non- cop is killed throughout.

The surprise is making an African American cop The leading character. Now this film is built around Chris Rock as the star. As he supposedly also helped come up with the story. His character seems to be the only truly innocent person throughout and the film comes off as cruel. As the film seems to want to keep punishing him.

The acting throughout the film is spotty and Chris rock as hard as he tries is miscast. At times he tries too hard and his delivery sounds more comedic or non believable in his inflections. Not trying to rain on anyone’s parade he is a talented person and one of my favorite stand-up’s but here in this role, he leaves a lot to be desired. 

Samuel L. Jackson plays a supporting role in the film, but his part is integral. It also feels like he is barely in the film. 

Also, the film looks cheap. Know that these films are usually limited in the budget and tend to stay small and in a few locations, but watching the film you can tell. As it keeps making itself obvious. Which hampers the enjoyment of it.

The special effects are still top touch and the film is gory. Maybe not trying as hard as the previous films. 

All of this is a shame as this film seems to be more aimed at African Americans and starring them with representation horror. Which Could definitely use more of, but this is not the right project. 

Grade: F

NIGHTBOOKS (2021)


Directed By: David Yarovesky 
Written By: Mikki Daughtry & Thomas Iaconis 
Based on the Book by: J.A. White 
Cinematography: Robert McLachlan 
Editor: Peter Gvozdas

Cast: Krysten Ritter, Winslow Fegley, Lydia Jewett 

A young boy named Alex becomes the prisoner of a witch to avoid certain death, he convinces her to let him tell her a scary story every night. Upon meeting the witch’s servant, Yazmin, the two must use their wits to escape her apartment, a magical labyrinth filled with various dangers, before the witch kills them both.


This film feels more like what the GOOSEBUMPS MOVIE franchise should have been. Less goofy with more terror and real-world stakes. So that there feels like there is something truly troubling Constantly and a kind of emotional connection with the audience. Where you actually care about the characters.

A true fantasy film to capture the imagination that can be deadly but also fun and enchanting. 

This film revolves around only a few of them, but it also showcases the power of imagination and through action encourages reading and books. Without really having to spell it out too much.

This film is clearly made for a younger audience but parents and adults could easily appreciate the film. As it does have those moments of danger from the kind of kids in peril movies of the 1980s where parents or guardians are largely absent. 

Krysten Ritter is perfectly cast and shows she is having fun In her role. As she is always engaging and still avid tongued at times literally. Even if one question you might ask is why the platform shoes always.

The film offers animation when stores are being told and sections of the film are always brightly colored. Especially the lad and gardening sections. 

It’s a film that appreciates horror and scary stories. A perfect film for kids around Halloween. As it rises the lie. Between horror and scary for kids. It might be the perfect starter film for them and get them interested more in these types of stories.

Grade: B-