SEANCE (2021)

Written & Directed By: Simon Barrett
Cinematography: Karim Hussein
Editor: James Vandewater

Cast: Suki Waterhouse, Ella-Rae Smith, Madisen Beaty, Stephanie Sy, Inanna Sarkis, Djouloet Amara, Jade Michael, Seamus Patterson, Marina Stephenson

At the prestigious Fairfield Academy, an elite boarding school for girls, six friends jokingly engage in a late-night ritual, calling forth the spirit of a dead former student who reportedly haunts their halls. Before morning, one of the girls is dead, leaving the others wondering what they may have awakened.


This is an old-school type of horror film that builds towards the payoff rather than offering cheap thrills all upfront. 

It offers a little of every type even though at heart it is one really.

While the film is predictable it does try to offer a few surprises and keep you on your toes. As it stays entertaining even while it takes its time. 

The film is perfect for its target audience of teenage girls. As it is not over the top violent. Seems more focused on moods and scares than violence. Letting the audience know and see the dangers. Dwelling on it but not going overboard. 

The cast mostly looks like regulars on the CW teen shows. More attractive than normal. So that it feels like a very special episode of one of Their original shows and the characters are way more snarky than also. 

This film feels more like a genre exercise that feels refreshing if not also familiar. While feeling also indebted to the 1980s with only a few modern touches. 

One can admire it for what it tries to be for the audience and can be for those or familiar with it’s type. An excellent starter horror film. 

It’s better than one might expect it would be. 

GRADE: C+

SUPERHOST (2021)

Written & Directed By: Brandon Christensen
Cinematography: Clayton Moore 

Cast: Sara Canning, Osric Chau, Gracie Gilliam, Barbara Crampton 

With their follower count dwindling, travel vloggers Teddy and Claire pivot to creating viral content around their most recent “superhost,” Rebecca, who wants more from the duo than a great review.


This would have been better handled as an episode of a horror anthology series. Think  AMERICAN HORROR STORY. At least as an episode it would show to get to an obvious point, that most of the audience sees coming except the protagonists and would be more heightened and direct not to mention gone for thrills more than subtle.

 As there is an interesting twist that almost makes the film surprising until it goes back on itself or even into the dark Hulu’s horror series as they are practically mini movies that barely make it to 90 minutes 

While luckily this film seems to keep it simple and straightforward exposing itself and having something to say about Online Culture.  Not to mention reality and manipulation and the results of it. 

What does keep the film afloat is the off-kilter over the top villain of the film who is energetic and polite to a t but also uncanny and once she fully lets loose. She is released and full. The film Leaves open the future for a sequel. Which would be good and hopefully give more of a chance to realize and fulfill Its ideas. 

As here while simple it sometimes feels like it is either holding back or doesn’t have much to say and is prolonging the inevitable and trying to fill out its time. Though at least in some of these scenes that seem to build up the suspense at least one is spooky. When he first leaves the house and sees someone with glowing eyes.

The film could have easily ended with a twist ending early but chooses to go on to make a point that has its victory but also comes off as basic. Then again the earlier ending might have been a cop-out to some. Though judging by the production this was meant to be an out and out horror.

The leads are meant to be both sides of the coin one innocent one guilty but we are least understand the reasoning of the guilty one and there is really only one other member of the cast shot is not a main character who comes off more so there can be more violence rather than necessary 

Grade: C+

BLACK CHRISTMAS (2019)

Directed By: Sophia Takal 
Written By: Sophia Takal, April Wolfe & Roy Lee
Cinematography: Mark Schwartzbard 
Editor: Ben Baudhuin & Jeff Betancourt 

Cast: Imogen Poots, Aleyse Shannon, Lily Donoghue, Brittany O’Grady, Cary Elwes, Caleb Eberhardt, Simon Mead, Madeline Adams, Zoe Robins, Ben Black

Hawthorne College is quieting down for the holidays. One by one, sorority girls on campus are being killed by an unknown stalker. But the killer is about to discover that this generation’s young women aren’t willing to become hapless victims as they mount a fight to the finish.


Not exactly a remake but it does involve a serial killer around Christmas when the college is empty stalking Mostly women.

The plot is Changed a bit here as it is almost an original film that might have kissed off fans of the movie. Where it seems like an ideology or a kind of feminist ideology took over more than the plot. 

That is ok if it still makes a thrilling movie but it comes off as weak. As it seems more interested in making a statement which is fine but the way it tries seems empty especially when Trying to fit it into a more blockbuster film. I applaud the message though it comes off as off-centered eventually.

As well. As the reveal of who the killers are and why with a kind of supernatural goo that I am guessing reading up On the film is toxic masculinity dripping through their veins as a kind of reaction to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.

The metaphors feel too spot-on as they are not very subtle. The film has nerve but it also needs a bit more polish. 

One can see that the film was made for a certain audience to feel represented and to show empowerment for the female audience by watching it and can applaud the film for that point but as far as watching it and being entertaining. It had many problems and weaknesses that seems random and more ambiguous and random 

Which might be me and certain audience members might not be the right audience for this film as we were expecting something different and what is here doesn’t speak as strongly to us 

The film certainly comes off with no frills to feel more homegrown and a little more natural. The film’s style seems to have very little of it. This almost comes off as an episode of a horror television series where. 

There is a message in its heart but it seems to take over the narrative. Which would work better if not necessarily trying to be subversive. Instead burying it turns the audience off from what they were expecting and mad at what they have been served. Maybe if it was better overall I wouldn’t mind. 

Though in the end.  just as Off point as the message of the film. So is the filmmaking which seems less interested in horror and more uninterested and going through the motions when it comes to that aspect of the film.

Which feels like it has gone far off from what it was aimed at. That it feels silly and far fetched. In essence, it didn’t mix well and got too preachy.

Grade: D

PLEDGE NIGHT (1990)

Directed & Edited By: Paul Ziller
Written By: Joyce Snyder 
Cinematography: Big Paul Smith 

Cast: Todd Eastland, Dennis Sullivan, Craig Derrick, Shannon McMahon, David Neal Evans, James Davies, Joey Belladonna, Will Kempke, Michael T. Henderson, Robert Lantini 

A college fraternity in the middle of hazing their new pledges during “hell week” incur the wrath of a long-deceased pledge who died during a hazing gone wrong 20 years ago.


This is what secondary markets were made for, as this is definitely a movie you would more capture on the straight-to-home video market or see on cable late at night. 

As it is lower budgeted and calls itself a horror film which it is, but actually is more like a comedy most of its run time about the hardships of pledging and then in the final act becomes a horror film.

Which at first seems like it will be about one of the frat brothers finally losing it and snapping into the role that he has been given to be the disturbed frat brother, but then it ends up being a supernatural tale.

Acid Sid the evil spirit seemingly bent on revenge is obviously the filmmakers trying to create an iconic horror character ala, Freddy Kruger. Who is not only a killer but the conductor of violence, a horror mascot, and vigilante as well as comic relief with his own liners.

The film has stilted and awkward acting and while it’s not the best-made film. It is entertaining in a simple, bad, and cheesy, it’s kind of way. As you can see the filmmakers are trying to have their heart and imagination in the right place.

The film is exploitive with plenty of nudity and sex with a misogynistic attitude throughout. Which also challenges the film’s villain’s mentality. Where this spirit is seeking revenge so it makes sense to kill the frat brothers and even the pledges who swear allegiance to the frat, but the sorority sisters might seem like collateral damage or maybe as collaborators so they are just as guilty but for some kills, they seem like more innocent victims there to up the body count and for nudity’s sake. Their kills seem more mean spirited

Even though as you get to know the characters you know who will end up being victims, but never in which order or how. This should be the new challenge to horror film fans who always can predict what will happen or how it will end. Challenge themselves with trying to come up with the kill order of the main characters. Not random one-scene characters who are collateral damage or in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Again this film is unintentionally campy and seems to be the type of film USA’s UP ALL NIGHT would have shown and appreciated giving the film the audience it craves. 

Unfortunately, this is left as a relic of another time. Hopefully to be discovered and either appreciated or ridiculed by an audience. 

Though it definitely plays more for a horror crowd who don’t mind their entertainment a little cheesy and somewhat predictable. It’s a good bad movie. 

Grade: C

DR. GIGGLES (1992)

Directed By: Manny Coto 
Written By: Manny Coto & Graeme Whifler 
Cinematography By: Robert Draper 
Editor: Debra Neil 

Cast: Larry Drake, Holly Marie Combs, Glenn Quinn, Cliff De Young, Sara Melson, Zoe Trilling, Michelle Johnson, Keith Diamond, Richard Bradford, John Vickery, Doug E. Doug

The psychopathic son of a mass-murdering doctor escapes from his mental institution to seek revenge on the town where his father was caught. The giggling doctor kills his victims with a surgical theme. His goal is to give one of the townfolk a heart transplant.


This film always seemed like a series that could continue into a franchise. Even if it was just straight to DVD sequels. One could even accept one sequel strangely enough. As here you have an iconic rather ridiculous horror character and a rather goofy yet entertaining horror film.

Though lead actor Larry Drake has unfortunately passed. I am sure it is ripe for a reimagining. I mean if Corbin Bernsen had THE DENTIST series of films. Which were a rather guilty pleasure of mine. Why not DR. GIGGLES?

While this film is not the best it fulfills a certain uncentered feel during the film. Where you laugh one minute, groan the next, then finally are appalled the following.

This film has an old-school vibe that while not classic like the universal monsters. Feels like some kind of attempt to create a more studio-friendly one.

The problem is that the film isn’t really that scary. Nor as violent as one would expect. The only time it even really gets grimy is a gory birth or rebirth scene in flashback. As the film is campier than anything. That keeps trying to make you laugh at the macabre.

It’s an example of the rather soft horror films studios were putting out At the time. This film feels more suited for 13-year-olds rather than adults with its goofiness at times as it gets over the top with puns and one-liners and the doctor having overgrown murder tools and accessories that couldn’t have been bought. So they must have been created. Making him quite the artist as well. Though also makes him come off as a crazed clown with an identity crisis. Which makes an odd screen psychopathic killer.

Director, Manny Coto, revealed that the MPAA told him he had a lot of work to do on the film before they could give it an R rating. They had to cut out a lot of the gore because the MPAA was particularly harsh on them since horror films faced heavy censorship in the early 1990s. Which would explain why the film feels so clean when it comes to deaths and violence. Nothing really terror-inducing

Larry Drake is an all-star here. He does an impressive job and is memorable. As he usually did in other films. He is a favorite in the DARKMAN series of films. He never quite got his break as a more popular character actor. Hard to believe he was actually considered only after Ted Danson and Matt Frewer turned the part down

The problem here is that his film is meant to be an introduction, but feels more like a sequel of sorts. Where we are supposed to know about him already. We see the doctor in action more as a phantom in the background. So we never get to see exactly how dangerous he was originally. So the murders he commits here seem more secondhand. Not as shocking or powerful As they should feel.

The rest of the cast unfortunately is forgettable as they just seem your average type cliche one-note characters. There didn’t seem to be an effort to humanize them. So as they are slaughtered you feel nothing or rather cheer for their demise. Making for a macabre crowd pleaser. The film is as fun as the title suggests. One just wishes there was more to it. As it easily runs out of room with its initial premise. So it keeps adding to pad out the film. Though really the film feels like an attempt to make a big-screen slasher. Though ends up coming across more as the type you would see in a film that needs a horror film for the characters to watch that could be very generic but needs a hook.

I find myself being more kind to this film than maybe I should as it is a childhood favorite. When I stuck to mainly studio horror films out of fear of the more extreme ones.

Grade: C+

FENDER BENDER (2016)

Written & Directed By: Mark Pavia 
Cinematography By: Tyler Lee Cushing 
Editor: Lana Wolverton 

Cast: Cassidy Freeman, Mackenzie Vega, Lora-Martinez-Cunningham, Bill Sage, Dre Davis, Steven Michael Quezada 

In a small New Mexico town, a 17-year-old high school girl who just got her driver’s license gets into her first fender bender, innocently exchanging her personal information with an apologetic stranger. Later that stormy night, she is joined in her desolate suburban home by a couple of her school friends who try their best to make a night out of it, only to be visited by the stranger she so willingly handed all of her information to — a terrifying and bizarre serial killer who stalks the country’s endless miles of roads and streets with his old rusty car, hungrily searching for his next unsuspecting victim.


To tell you the truth this plays is purely typical of a slasher film.

The advertising feels like a mislead to get the title as it seems like this will be some Troy of HIGHWAYMAN type thriller where the slasher’s car will be his primary weapon. When actually it is how he chooses and at first strokes his victims. Using a small crash as an excuse to trade insurance information to use to stalk them and then murder them.

During this film way, too many questions came up. I am sure he is planned for a series so maybe that is why we never really get a motive. As a killing machine he also always seemed ready to take on as many people as needed.

The film seems to need victims as it uses a flimsy excuse for the final GIRL to have a few friends over. Whose purpose only seems to be to add more gore and violence to the movie.

I kind of felt like the killer cheated to a degree. As it is understandable why in life a killer would want to make his job easier by drugging his prey, but in horror movie terms it feels dishonest and likes cheating. It is literally like shooting ducks in a barrel. They have no way to fight back or escape. So of course you are going to win.

The film also just seems mercilessly cruel to the cast. Most of whom are still teenagers. Maybe the film brought that out more than other horror movies where usually the victims are teens but you feel nothing. Maybe the cast here actually looks and acts the part more believably. Though their deaths are typical, you still feel something when they die a certain sadness.

It might be that his cast shows a certain innocence so that they are believable and feel more like victims as there is barely anything they can do against this unexpected attack. Barely any defense.

The film also luckily doesn’t specialize in everything. Nor add sex and nudity where it isn’t needed. The film is lean and to the point. It does seem to have a reliance on female victims washing beforehand, but that might be a tease to fans expecting more than what is actually being offered.

The look of the killer is certainly iconic using thick leather as armor and a mask that while basic looks like a Deranged alien or escaped demon from hell. The film reminds me of THE COLLECTOR series only not as intricate and believable as the work of one person.

At times the film sets the mood and is properly claustrophobic but also in some scenes the score and tone feel. It is only monotonous but over the top. So that while it feels airless it also feels laughable to a degree.

Director Mario Pavia also directed the horror movie and Stephen king of film adaptation of THE NIGHT FLIER (In fact this is the first film he has directed in 19 years) and just as that film was dark and had an upsetting ending. He continues the tradition here. Don’t know if that was to set up sequels or make his mark and have the film be different. It does help the film. As the ending is the one remarkable thing that doesn’t necessarily feel routine.

Grade: C-

FALSE POSITIVE (2021)

Directed By: John Lee
Written By: John Lee & Ilana Glazer 
Story By: John Lee & Alissa Nutting 
Cinematography: Pawel Pogorzelski
Editor: Jon Philpot 

Cast: Ilana Glazer, Justin Theroux, Pierce Brosnan, Gretchen Mol, Sophia Bush, Josh Hamilton, Sabina Godecki, Zainab Juh 

As if getting pregnant weren’t complicated enough, Lucy sets out to uncover the unsettling truth about her fertility doctor.


There seemed to be a trend in cinema. Where a film labels itself a horror and tries to sell itself as one but, in reality, it is more a drama with thriller elements that might get violent. So it labels itself something else. 

Whereas once you watch it, it feels like it is selling the audience false goods hoping they will come around, but the films are never quite crafty enough to win the audience over.

Especially when a film is familiar with the story. This one Might be seen as a more modern rethinking of ROSEMARY’S BABY though with a different kind of theme and ending but similar enough. luckily this film carved out enough of its own identity to stand on its own two feet.

The film keeps the audience at arm’s length and feels more clinical throughout, but then wants us to feel and identify with a character we never really got close enough to or learned enough about other than the basics.

The film Also instead of keeping us guessing. Give up answers way too soon. As it tries to keep us guessing still but is more middle ground once it offers up reveals. That in its Own way cheats itself but is understandable that it doesn’t want to copy and paste the whole is it real? Is it all in her head? Cliche 

This is one of those films that was so close to making it through with its Premise but falls short as it nears the finish line. As it gets more interesting the more outrageous it gets. A small before feels safe though at least it feels like it has some things to say 

The film has the bones of a sturdy and good movie but the follow-through unfortunately isn’t as strong. No matter how assured it believes itself to be.

The most memorable character ends up being the nurse played by Gretchen Mol. Who is in the film just enough to intrigue and make you uncomfortable but also the more you learn and see her the more you want to know about her

Creepy but tries to set itself apart from what inspires it by trying to tie in modern issues but leaves them by the wayside when it comes to its third act and explanation though in that sale act then tries to become surreal.

One interesting aspect is brought up as well as the ever-annoying line and blame of mommy brain

This feels like a film where the filmmakers wanted to say something to go along with their thriller. Which works but also feels a bit out of place or too on the nose. It also takes itself seriously while seeming to be entranced with itself that it forgets the audience. As it comes off as smug

Grade: D

CENSOR (2021)

Directed By: Prano Bailey-Bond 
Written By: Prano Bailey-Bond & Anthony Fletcher 
Cinematography: Annika Summerson 
Editor: Mark Towns 

Cast: Niamh Alger, Michael Smiley, Nicholas Burns, Vincent Franklin, Sophia La Porta, Adrian Schiller

After viewing a strangely familiar video nasty, Enid, a film censor, sets out to solve the past mystery of her sister’s disappearance, embarking on a quest that dissolves the line between fiction and reality.


A film devoted to video nasties films that were banned or cut in the 1980’s when it came to content in The UK we follow a censor on a board.

The film isn’t what one might suspect which might be of a censor going mad and killing those she finds deplorable or those who make grotesque films and u leashes them on the public 

No Instead it goes the route of a slow burn horror more of a drama that is more of a character study who slowly breaks down and loses their grip. Dealing with childhood trauma that the job seems to release and come to the surface 

Most of the violence throughout is from the movies she watches until the third act when the film offers some gore of its own 

Throughout the film keeps a creepy vibe and is stunning in it’s detail to the time period it is ye in the 1980s and obviously an homage and indebted to the films it aspires to be and influenced by.

The film has a Great ending which really saves the film. That one wishes the film had been more like but it did need that build-up to get to that point of what feels like transcendence 

As before, The film might remind the audience slightly of 8MM before it becomes its own.

As it’s not what one expects watching the film it is well thought out and actually a bit deeper than expected. Unfortunately it still ends up being slightly disappointing from a certain standpoint. 

Though as the film goes into it’s Third act it goes past unsettling to actually quite brilliant and scary. 

Grade: C

NOCTURNE (2020)

Written & Directed By: Zu Quirke CInematography: Carmen Cabana
Editor: Andrew Drazek

Cast: Sydney Sweeney, Madison Iseman, Julie Benz, Rodney To, Jacques Colimon, Ivan Shaw

An incredibly gifted pianist makes a Faustian bargain to overtake her older sister at a prestigious institution for classical musicians.


You have seen this so many times before that this feels more like something that could have been wrapped up in an anthology episode.

While the film presents Itself with a character who cares what everyone else thinks too much, doing it in an artistic ambition might be the only original aspect. As it presents a character too shy and who has worked all her life only to be considered second best or even slightly above average and whose main competitor is always her sister who she naturally takes a backseat to. The film shows that with age what might be special when you get diminished with age if you haven’t done anything. With it or are still in the same place 

It plays off more like an episode than a full-length movie. As it seems like there is some padding used more to dive deep into psychosis. Rather than furthering the story making it come off more dramatic and a character study of one character where all the others come off as one-note.

As the film comes off more like a drama that uses a kind of supernatural element to make the film come off as a thriller that reveals itself to maybe be some kind of psychosis and mental illness eating away at the character or all because of some kind of supernatural curse. It can also be seen as an obsession passed on from one to another that causes madness or preys on their weaknesses and allows them to interpret their weaknesses into some kind of mythology and allows them success. 

The film also feels like it was only really made because they had an up and comer in the lead Sydney Sweeney and this film gives her a chance to star in a more genre-leading role and see what her potential is as a lead and if it had made it to theaters the box office, but with her in it. It helped secure funding. 

This is a sibling rivalry tale that takes it to another level. Even though really it is only one sibling jealous of the other and the more successful one turning petty when the tables are turned. As she is not used to losing.

In the end, this feels like a very special episode of a series rather than a shocking thriller.

Grade: C

THE LOVED ONES (2009)

Written & Directed By: Sean Byrne 
Cinematography By: Simon Chapman 
Editor: Andy Canny  

Cast: Robin McLeavy, Xavier Daniel, Jessica McNamee, Victoria Thaine, Richard Wilson, John Brumpton 

In order to avoid a ghostly figure in the road, high school senior Brent Mitchell wraps his car around a tree, killing his father. Constantly confronted by his mother’s emotional collapse after the accident, Brent escapes into a marijuana-fueled world of loud metal music to block the pain and guilt. Dejected and out of sorts, he has a shot at happiness with his girlfriend Holly, a grounded, caring girl with drop-dead good looks, a dream date for the high school prom. But his plans are thwarted by a disturbing series of events that take place under a mirrored disco ball, involving pink satin, glitter, syringes, nails, power drills, and a secret admirer. Brent has become the prom king at a macabre, sadistic event where he is the entertainment.



I have been waiting a while for this film. I have read up all on it and have been excited to finally have gotten a chance to watch it. After reading mostly glowing reviews and have to say. It wasn’t what was expected and didn’t match up to my expectations. it Blew way past them. I figured this film would be inventive but over the top crazy violence.

While the film takes well-known cliches and expectations and constantly twists them. So that you are always on your toes as it stays unpredictable. Don’t get me wrong there is violence and some nudity. Yet it is never gratuitous nor exploitive. The film sets up Story, Characters, Mood, Tension, Atmosphere truly effective necessities to make a truly unique and fitting horror film. Where no one nor is anything disposable it all means something.

I was amazed as the film proceeded how the film ties everything together in a nice bow. Each event has consequences that affect the characters and their lives. Especially Psychologically.

Robin McLeavy gives a star-turning performance. That is memorable As the main tormentor.

This film feels like a trip into a nightmare deranged wonderland. The mood set by the film is horror at first but then becomes more darkly comedic and goofy. Then around the midway point, it raises the stakes and it becomes more serious and violent.

That is when the film truly becomes scary. It reminded me of what I thought Rob Zombie’s HOUSE OF A THOUSAND corpses would be after seeing the first preview. Where it looked crazy and unpredictable.

Watching the film though it uses small remote locations for the most part. The house that is the main setting is sort of like its own simple funhouse. As the film goes on it keeps raising the stakes and rearranging itself. So it keeps you off balance. 

SPOILER

Enjoyed like the fact that the film doesn’t just present Princess as just usually getting what she wants and this kidnapping is a one-off thing, That she has been mentally pushed to and her father just wanting to give his little girl whatever she wants, but that she and her father are pretty much sociopathic serial killers. With a hinted at Incestuous relationship that so far has yet to be Consummated. I also like the reveal to hint what exactly is wrong with his friend’s prom date.

SPOILER END 

 This is a true original that deserves not only to be seen and discovered as it feels like the type of film you discover on a whim searching for something to watch for the evening. It would be nice if Horror films like these were the type to actually reach cinemas instead of films like CHERNOBYL DIARIES, THE DEVIL INSIDE, Another SAW sequel. Which pollute our cinemas every few weeks, Which feel disposable and unoriginal as they seem to follow the same formula and feel like an extension of a fad. 

This is a film that reeks of skill and passion that went into it. The filmmaker is here to tell a story and illustrate it with visuals, Characters, and dialogue. He achieves that and actually gets reactions and emotions out of the audience. 
Paramount studios were supposed to release it into theaters wide But seemed to try it in a few test markets and speedily dumped it on DVD. It doesn’t realize what a gem it has in its hands and is mishandling it. 

 I look forward to the future works of Director Sean Byrne and the cast. This is a film that is a secret for now but do yourself a favor see it and tell your friends about it. So it can achieve the respect and audience it deserves. 

 GRADE: B+