Directed By: John Pogue 
Written By: Craig Rosenberg, John Pogue & Oren Moverman 
Based on A Screenplay by: Tom De Ville 
Cinematography By: Matyas Erdely 
Editor: Glenn Garland  

Cast: Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke, Jared Harris, Erin Richards, Rory Fleck-Byrne, Laurie Calvert

In 1974, in Oxford, Professor Joseph Coupland invites his introspective student Brian McNeil to film his research about the supernatural with his two assistants, Krissi Dalton and Harry Abrams, and the subject Jane Harper. Jane is a young woman with no memory from the past that has been abandoned that believes she is possessed by a doll named Evey that gives telekinetic power to her. She is kept awake in an isolated house with a doll, where Prof. Coupland intends that she puts her evil energy in and then destroys the doll to healing Jane. Strange things happen in the house and Brian feels sorry for Jane and he researches her tattoo, learning an evil secret about the past of Jane.

Filmed in 2012, it sat unreleased until 2014. Which is never good, though doesn’t make this too horrible. It’s actually decent and not a total waste.

I have to say I enjoyed this film more than expected. Not as bad as I thought initially going in, but still not quite a winner either. Though it is a welcome entry into, the hammer canon of films.

The film. fits the pedigree of being a hammer film. By being quite dated in the time that it is set in. It also has the distinction of keeping a chilling atmosphere as it goes along.

While it is better in Quality the film isn’t as fun or moving as John Pogue’s Previous Directorial Debut, QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL which is a personal guilty pleasure.

The film chooses to have an Unsettling mood and scares of its bag of tricks rather than gore and violence. I applaud it for as we go through the film we feel an increasing amount of dread as we realize the characters are not prepared for what they are messing with. It becomes thrilling towards the middle though it also starts to become predictable when it begins to reveal itself.

The script was heavily rewritten for budget reasons. Which might explain the more singular locations. Leaving It to feel more creative working with what they have and giving a more haunting atmosphere.

Of course, I am not a natural fan of ghost stories so it took me a bit to get into it. Especially when the action takes place mostly in an abandoned manor that only the characters will inhabit. In other words, waiting around like sitting ducks.

I like the fact that the film shows characters come to their sense and trying to leave, by being pulled back as they aren’t safe anywhere. Unless they face off with whatever is haunting them.

Though it is not above some skin by having actress Erin Richards constantly in revealing, tight clothes as well as reasons for shots that seem to have a reason for her backside to be featured in a few shots. That I will admit are small but became distracting for me.

Though the film deals with adult themes the violence and scenes stay on a strictly PG-13 level and become obvious they must keep to their rating when certain scenes keep escalating then the camera seems to pull away or shy away from the actual act and comes back to show only the aftermath in flashes.

The film has a more gothic atmosphere it reminds one of the more classic horror tales. Especially being more set in the ’70s

It also dips its toe into being partially a found footage film to cover its fan bases and make sure some modern audience members especially the younger members.

The film’s weaknesses however are its a central story that IF unbelievable that it isn’t supernatural, occurrences just telepathy at work with a vivid imagination of suggestion. That seems ridiculous plus add in a reason to have a good footage element that while smart in its introduction feels like a reason to add in that cliche.

The film is able to hold your attention as you watch, though after it is easily forgettable, but most likely will just be confused with memories of other similar and maybe even better or worse films.

Wait To rent, though with other films

Grade: C

RAMPART (2011)

Directed By: Oren Moverman 
Written By: Oren Moverman & James Ellroy 
Cinematography By: Bobby Butowski 
Editor: Jay Rabinowitz 

 CAST: Woody Harrelson, Robin Wright-Penn, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Anne Heche, Ben Foster, Cynthia Nixon, Ned Beatty, Jon Foster, Jon Bernthal 

Set in 1999 Los Angeles, veteran police officer Dave Brown, the last of the renegade cops, works to take care of his family, and struggles for his own survival. 

Woody Harrelson does what is called for, he seems natural in the role. The film just fails him as it gives us plenty of his background but doesn’t give us a compelling story to follow him through.

I will admit though I was more impressed by his performance in the film THE MESSENGER.

While there is a riveting story and a character study buried in here. It is never utilized to allow a greater more elaborate performance. The film seems misdirected while trying to go natural.

Then all of a sudden artsy camera movements and angles. It’s like the director didn’t know how exactly to set up shots for the best quality of the scene. So he cut together various bad ones. Considering the film is co-written by James Ellroy.

It gets the grittiness correct. As well as the political and inner workings of the L.A.P.D. But half of the bigger name actors seem only to be here in glorified cameos. They seem to only be in the film because they were attracted by the prestige. There is one scene of true originality.

When the chips are down and Woody’s character goes on a bender to an underground Club. Where sex and debauchery are going on all around him. Drunk and on any numerous narcotics. He walks through the club when the screen goes blank and over the next few minutes there are flashes of action bathed in the red light of what is going on in the club. It sneaks up on us and plays like his character going in and out of consciousness. So we are with him throughout the experience. The rest of the film is so unfulfilling that it pushes Mr. Harrelson’s performance to seem great otherwise compared to the rest of the film. Like a consolation prize.

The film shows that he seems to be living the role and reacting to what is thrown at him. Most of the other roles are underwritten and just woven into the tapestry to shape and show unspoken subtle things on the fringes. There are the makings of a great film here.

It’s a shame the film has good actors who seem stuck and misused in film.