Thursday, October 20, 2016

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: THE BOY (2016) from STX Entertainment - Oct. 11, 2016

Starring Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, James Russell, Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle, Ben Robson, Jett Klyne, Stephanie Lemelin
Screenplay by Stacey Menear
Cinematography by Daniel Pearl
Edited by Brian Berdan
Produced by Matt Berenson, Jodyne Herron, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Jim Wedaa
Directed by William Brent Bell
Released by STX Entertainment

Welcome back my faithful followers to another installment of my horror movie marathon! Tonight I have another fright-tastic flick that will surely make you quiver with fear! Or at least entertain you for about 90 minutes. So let me tell you all about THE BOY from STX Entertainment.

The film's official synopsis: Greta (Lauren Cohan) is a young American woman who takes a job as a nanny in a remote English village, only to discover that the family's 8-year-old is a life-sized doll that the parents care for just like a real boy, as a way to cope with the death of their actual son 20 years prior. After violating a list of strict rules, a series of disturbing and inexplicable events bring Greta's worst nightmare to life, leading her to believe that the doll is actually alive.

Now here is horror film that truly delivers the goods! First, you have a smart and scary script courtesy of screenwriter Stacey Menear. It's rare to see a film that contains a unique and original script like this coming out of Hollywood. The story is a perfect blend of horror, thrills and mystery. Plus, we have these interesting and realistic characters that we actually care about. What's that you say? A horror film with characters that we are emotionally invested in? Yes, the end is nigh my friends! Also worth noting, it has one of the best twist endings I have ever seen in a horror movie! Not since THE SIXTH SENSE have I been caught off guard like this! Brilliant ending!

Original Theatrical Poster (2016)
Actress Lauren Cohan's performance as Greta is fantastic, but then again, I wouldn't expect anything less from the woman who plays Maggie Green from my favorite television show The Walking Dead. She's naïve in the beginning of the movie; thinking that this family with the life-sized doll are completely nuts. But then she starts to believe in the possibility that this doll is alive, as recent evidence  persuades her to change her mind. The final act we see her become the heroine as she must not only fight to save her life but of her new love interest Malcolm, portrayed by Rupert Evans.

For a time filmmaker William Brent Bell was on my shitlist, reason being was because he directed the damn awful THE DEVIL INSIDE back in 2012. Now if you've been following my blog, you will remember that I was so pissed that film sucked so bad. In fact, I wrote that is was, "2012's first worst horror film to be released" and to, "let this movie rot in Hell for all eternity." Yup, I hated it that damn much! Now, I love the man! The directing style was flawless; each set-up, every camera angle, every composition told the story of this young nanny being tormented by this little doll. Superb work by Bell people!! He has redeemed himself!

The film was released to theaters on January 22 of this year and went on to gross over $35.7 million here in the states and another $26.6 million in the international market. Overall, its worldwide box office take was $62.4 million. Not too bad considering the budget was only about $10 million but it received mixed reviews from movie goers and film critics. It opened up against THE 5th WAVE and DIRTY GRANDPA in the same weekend.

THE BOY is one fantastic film to watch this Halloween!! It's psychological, it's thrilling, it's scary and most important, it's fun and entertaining to watch!! So bust out the popcorn and drinks, sit back and relax and enjoy watching this movie! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

THE BOY is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The movie is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, digital download and Netflix.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (2016) from Screen Gems/Sony Pictures - October 10, 2016

Starring: Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Suki Waterhouse, Sally Phillips, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith
Based on the novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Written by Burr Steers
Cinematography by Remi Adefarasin
Edited by Padraic McKinley
Produced by
Directed by Burr Steers
Released by Screen Gems/Sony

Hello again folks and welcome back to horror movie marathon! Now I'm sure you're all familiar with the name Jane Austen, since many of you (including me) had to read her novels back when we were in school. "Sense and Sensibility", "Mansfield Park" and "Emma" are literary treasures, but her most famous novel is "Pride and Prejudice." Hailed as an instant classic, the book has been adapted in many other mediums ranging from the theatre to television and the silver screen. In 2009, writer Seth Grahame-Smith combined Austen's 1813 novel with modern day zombies to create his parody novel entitled "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", which he cited Austen as co-author. It became a huge success, prompting Hollywood to come calling. Then finally in January of 2016, the film PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES was finally released to theaters.

The film's official synopsis: A zombie outbreak has fallen upon the land in this re-imagining of Jane Austen’s classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England. Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) is a master of martial arts and weaponry and the handsome Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) is a fierce zombie killer, yet the epitome of upper class prejudice. As the zombie outbreak intensifies, they must swallow their pride and join forces on the blood-soaked battlefield in order to conquer the undead once and for all.

Original Theatrical Poster (2016)
OK, so I have a confession to make and here it is: I loved this movie!! This was not what I had expected it to be. It was freaking awesome!! It had it all!! Beautiful British women dressed in Victorian clothes who did Kung Fu moves and killed zombies! Blood and gore galore!! Humor and horror blended perfectly together!! A cool story and  interesting, funny and bad ass characters!! And of course, it had zombies!! Yup, I absolutely loved watching this movie!!

Lily James is incredible as our heroine Elizabeth, who is both breathtakingly beautiful and a bad ass warrior! Strong, independent and opinionated and knows how to open a can of whoop ass on zombies, Jamesalso brings a little bit of vulnerability to her character, especially when she meets Sam Riley's Colonel Fitzwilliam Darcy. Like Austen's original novel, it isn't quite love at first sight but soon their love grows while trying to survive the plague of zombies. Another fun character was Parson Collins played by the great Matt Smith. Smith made a name for himself portraying the Twelth Doctor on the long running BBC sci-fi television series Doctor Who. Here, he's playing against type, making Parsons wimpy, cowardly and hopefully romantic. And he's very funny too.

While the book received mass amounts of rave reviews, the film itself performed rather poorly at the boxoffice. The budget was a staggering $28 million but only reaped in a measly $10.9 million in tickets sales. While there was a huge fan base for the novel, it translate into theater goers which is quite a shame. The film stayed pretty faithful to the original source material and it was entertaining as hell, but it didn't bring in the audience that it was trying to attract.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES is an action packed, zombie crawling, blood drenched, fun-filled ride for the whole family!! Pay no attention to those naysayers out there in the cold, dark world!! Check out this movie for yourself and form your own opinion, but don't be surprised when it's over, you'll want to watch it over again! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The movie is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, digital download and Netflix.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT (2014) from Image Entertainment - October 5, 2016

Starring Brandy Schaefer, Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe, Mikey Roe, Jeff Larson
Written by Zack Andrews, Jeff Larson, Bobby Roe, Jason Zada
Cinematography by Andrew Strahorn
Edited by Jeff Hall with Cesar Martinez
Produced by Zack Andrews, Todd King, Steven Schneider, Matthew Stein, Steven Steiner
Directed by Bobby Roe
Released by Image Entertainment

Welcome back everyone to my Halloween Horror Watch! Today's film is an unique one, having been a documentary first before morphing into a found footage horror film. Now I know the idea of a found footage film has literally been done to death, but taking an existing documentary movie and transforming it onto a feature length is rather clever. So for today I'll be talking about THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT from Image Entertainment.

The film's official synopsis: Five friends are stalked by a group of mysterious and disturbed individuals while on a road trip looking for the ultimate haunted house attraction.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2014)
As I mentioned earlier, the movie was at first a 2011 documentary of the same name. In it, five friends traveled across the country checking out many haunted houses while interviewing those who do the and those you attended. The documentary won the grand prize at the 2011 Schockfest Film Festival. Since then, director Bobby Roe very cleverly used footage from this and reused it for the feature length, which is a very Roger Corman way of filmmaking!

The cast of the movie are real life friends so the chemistry between them all is authentic and I really enjoyed seeing them play off one another. Also you can tell that there were having fun while making the movie. However, it drags a lot when they're visiting these local haunted houses. These scenes could have been edited down more. Plus some of the dialogue (or should I say conversations since a lot of it was lifted from the documentary) went nowhere and I started to lose interest real fast. Now when it started getting scary, it was good and creepy. But then it fell flat for me towards the end. It didn't have that much suspense for me to fell that I should fully invest myself into the characters and their dire situation.

Image Entertainment released the film on home video in October of 2014. As an added bonus, they included the original documentary the movie was based on so the fans received two films for the price of one.

THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT is a decent little horror film but it brings nothing new to the genre. However, the documentary I found interesting and fun to watch! So maybe you should pick up the movie so you can watch the documentary and then maybe see the movie so you can decide for yourself. 3 out of 5 stars! Maybe a rental!

THE HOUSES THAT OCTOBER BUILT is currently available on both Blu-Ray and DVD at your local retailer. It's also available on iTunes, Video on Demand and Netflix.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: JESSABELLE (2014) from Lionsgate - October 4, 2016

Starring Sarah Snook, Mark Webber, Joelle Carter David Andrews, Ana de la Reguera, Chris Ellis, Brian Halliday, Amber Stevens West
Written by Robert Ben Garant
Cinematography by Michael Fimognari
Edited by Kevin Greutert
Produced by Jason Blum
Directed by Kevin Greutert
Released by Lionsgate

Welcome back my fellow horror hounds! Right now I would like to take you the bayous of Louisiana, where tonight's film takes place. Filled with voodoo magic, ghosts and hidden family secrets, JESSABELLE is one of those films that will surprise you with it's interesting story and complex characters.

The film's official synopsis: Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle (Sarah Snook) comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return and has no intention of letting her escape.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2014)
Actress Sarah Snook shines as our lead heroine. Vulnerable and naive the first half of the film, brave and fearless near the end. All roads on her journey towards both self-discovery and self-aware are steps in her character development. Snook really does an excellent job of conveying all of these elements and more. Jessabelle is a young woman who is trying to heal after surviving a horrible car accident. Once home, her life becomes even more complicated as she sooon unravels her true destiny but she once again fights for her life. I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Snook's performance in the film and I am looking forward to seeing where her career takes her.

Kevin Greutert is no stranger to the horror genre, having directed SAW VI, SAW 3D: THE FINAL CHAPTER and VISIONS. However, he's best known as an editor and he not only edited this film but several others like SAW 1-6, THE COLLECTION, JOURNEY TO THE END OF NIGHT, ROOM 6 and THE STRANGERS. Greutert brings his eye for detail to the film, leaning towards more atmospheric chills as well as some nice jump scares. Credit also goes to screenwriter Robert Ben Garant for crafting a supernatural scary and intriguing script that contains a very satisfying twist ending.

The film was originally scheduled for release on January 10, 2014, but was pushed back till August that same year. It received a very limited theatrical release before being available on home video. Which to me it makes me very sad because there are some really interesting and original films being made in the independent film world. While there's the IFC Channel and Sundance Channel as well as the SyFy Network, it's not the same as going to an actual theater and watching a movie with those in your community.

Overall, JESSABELLE is a supernaturally spooky slice of cinema that you should really checkout this Halloween season! If you're looking for a movie with thrills and chills with a Louisiana voodoo twist, this will be right up your alley! 4 out of 5 stars! Recommended viewing!

JESSABELLE is currently available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The movie is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, Netflix and digital download.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: BACKCOUNTRY (2014) from IFC Midnight - October 3, 2016

Starring Missy Peregrym, Nicholas Campbell, Eric Balfour, Jeff Roop
Written by Adam MacDonald
Cinematography by Christian Bielz
Edited by Dev Singh
Produced by Brandon Baker, Michael Baker, Jeff Roop
Directed by Adam MacDonald
Released by IFC Films

Hello again boils and ghouls and welcome to Day Four of my Halloween Horror Watch marathon! Today we are going on a little hiking trip out in the woods for some rest and relaxation, to witness nature in all her beauty and bliss. Just as long as you don't accidentally run into a crazed man-eating bear!! Oh snap, there's one now! Hang on folks as we travel to the BACKCOUNTRY.

The film's official synopsis: Alex (Jeff Roop) is a seasoned camper, but Jenn (Missy Peregrym) is not. When they realize that they have entered bear territory, there terror gets turned up to a whole new level.

The film was based on the true story of story of couple Mark Jordan and Jacqueline Perry who were attacked by a bear back when they were camping up in Canada in 2005. The movie captures the authenticity of their horrific experience. Both Peregrym and Roop have great on-screen chemistry that propels the movie forward. We care about this couple and when things take a turn for the worse, we sympathize for them as well as with them. But make no mistake, Perry is the star of the movie and she proves it time and time again throughout the movie. Seriously, she is one tough actress as she pitted not only against her antagonist the black bear, but against nature as well.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2015)
The movie also marks the film debut of director Adam MacDonald, who cut his teeth at making a couple of short films. Making a film in the woods is not an easy job to pull off, especially if it's your first film. You have to worry about the elements, animals, insects, etc. MacDonald dismisses all of this by making such an intense thriller that plays on the old concept of man versus nature. But what makes him a really great director is that we was an actor prior to writing and directing, having appeared in SATAN'S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS, CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN, JEKYLL + HYDE and WOLVES plus television series like Vampire High, Beach Girls, Wild Roses and Being Erica. Because he can relate to his cast, he is able to obtain some fantastic acting, especially from the formentioned Peregrym. His directing leans towards more of the documentary style, very in your face, shaky camera and unflinching.

The movie had its premiere at the world famous Toronto International Film Festival in September 2014 to critical acclaim. It went to be screened at other festivals such as the Telluride Film Festival, Stiges International Fantastic Film Festival and the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Eventually, Event Film Distribution bought a share of ownership of the film, which they then sold the US distribution rights to IFC Midnight. The movie was finally released on home video in March of 2015.

BACKCOUNTRY is one of the best nature horror films to have been released in the past 20 years! It's a very suspenseful and horrifically realistic slice of cinema that make you shiver with fear! So if you go down to the woods today, remember that you're not going to find any teddy bear picnic! 4 out of 5 stars!! Recommended viewing!!

BACKCOUNTRY is currently available on DVD at your local retailer. It's also available on Amazon Video, iTunes, Netflix and Video On Demand.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: GREEN ROOM (2015) from A24 - October 2, 2016

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Patrick Stewart, Imogen Poots, Alia Shankar, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Macon Blair, Taylor Tunes
Written by Jeremy Saulnier
Cinematography by Sean Porter
Edited by Julia Bloch
Produced by Neil Koop, Victor Moyers, Anish Savjani, Vincent Savino, Macon Blair, Daniel Hammond, Gabriel Hammond, Brian Johnston
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Released by A24

Welcome back to another installment of Phil's Halloween Horror Watch! Tonight's film has been receiving a plethora of critical acclaim and for good reason. This is an ugly film to watch and I'm not just talking about the bloodshed, gore and the violence (which this film has). No I'm talking about the characters, the so-called human beings that occupy within this cinematic universe. With prestigious and talented actors, complex story and visceral directing, GREEN ROOM is a movie that is not for the faint of hearts.

The film's official synopsis: A band straying into a secluded part of the Pacific Northwest stumbles onto a horrific act of violence. Because they are the only witnesses, they become the targets of a terrifying gang of skinheads who want to make sure all the evidence is eliminated.

One word I used over and over again when I first watched the movie: WOW! Patrick Stewart is just unbelievably evil in the film! Vicious, malevolent, diobolical, he's everything that you would expect the man to portray. Best known as Jean-Luc Picard from the STAR TREK series and Proffessor X from the X-MEN franchise, Stewart proves that he can play any character in any genre. He has such a tremendous range that it's profoundly astonishing to see him portray this disgusting man named Darcy Banker. It was said in an interview that Stewart was reading the film's script at his English country home and was he was done reading it, he immediately locked his house up and turned on his alarm because it freaked him out that much. It was then that he knew that he wanted to play the main antagonist.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2015)
Also appearing in the film is the late Anton Yelchin, who portrays the protagonist Pat. I found it hard at times to watch the movie knowing that he no longer here. As I mentioned in my STAR TREK BEYOND review, he was accidentally killed in a freak accident at his home on June 19, 2016 when he was pinned between his keep and the brick mailbox. I find it ironic that the movie has two STAR TREK stars from two different generations appearing together. But once again Yelton knocks it out of the park. He shows a wide range of acting; showcasing determination, fear, and finally hero. It really is a shame that he is not here to see how his film has garnered so much acclaim, along with his acting as well. He was such a gifted and talented actor. Sometimes we are reminded that life isn't always fair and sometimes the good die young.

Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier poured a lot of social and political commentary into his film. Topics about Neo Nazis, racism, hate crimes, murder, punk rock codes and the human will to survive, the movie is very in-your-face. Hell, the first song Pat's band plays is the Dead Kennedy's classic, "Nazi Punks Fuck Off." The movie grabs you right in the jugular and doesn't let go till the final ending credits. It's shot as it's a documentary and it does not flinch from the violence at all. A very bold statement has been made by this up and coming filmmaker!

Filmed in October 2014, it made it's debut at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2015. Shortly thereafter, it was picked up for distribution by A24. It went on to open the Toronto International Film Festival that September and received a limited theatrical release in April of this year before being released worldwide the next month.

GREEN ROOM is a horrorific thriller of a masterpiece!! Not one time did I feel safe watching the movie! A truly disturbing cinematic gem!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Very highly recommended!!

GREEN ROOM is currently available on Blu-Ray and DVD. It is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, Netflix and Redbox.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: THE SHALLOWS (2016) from Sony Pictures - October 1, 2016

Starring: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Bret Cullen, Angelo Josue Lorano, Sedona Legge, Janelle Bailey, Pablo Calva
Written by Anthony Jaswinski
Cinematography by Flavio Martinez Labiano
Edited by Joel Negron
Produced by Jaume Collet-Serra, Lynn Harris, Matti Leshem, Douglas C. Merrifield
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Released by Sony Pictures

Hello again everybody and welcome back to my annual Phil's Halloween Horror Watch, where I'll be watching nothing but horror movies for the entire month of October! This year, I thought it would be interesting to focus on films that were released within the last couple of years. As some of you know, I'm a huge advocate and supporter for independent films, especially within the horror genre. But every now and then, Hollywood releases a film that really captures my attention. So for tonight's inaugural entry, let me present to you THE SHALLOWS, which was released to theaters this past June 24th.

The film's official synopsis: When Nancy (Blake Lively) is surfing on a secluded beach, she finds herself on the feeding ground of a great white shark. Though she is stranded only 200 yards away from shore, survival proves to be the ultimate test of wills, requiring all of Nancy's ingenuity, resourcefulness and fortitude.

Ever since the release of Steven Spielberg's 1975 classic JAWS, there have been a plethora of shark films (JAWS 2-3, SHARK NIGHT 3D, SHARK ISLAND) well as knockoffs (ORCA, PIRANHA) but this movie caught me by surprise. Not only was it entertaining, but it had character development, a good story, great acting as well as great directing.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2016)
Credit goes to the lovey Lively, who carries the entire film on her shoulders and pulls it off amazingly! Her acting is fantastic and because of this, we the audience become emotionally invested in her character. We like her from the very beginning and we want her to survive. We want her to live. We want her to defeat her aquatic adversary; the great white shark who ruined her special trip to the secluded beach that her mom visited long before she passed. Lively brings strengths, determination and depth to her character Nancy and I applaud her incredible performance!

I would also like to acknowledge the acting skills of Sully Seagull, who portrayed Nancy's companion Steven Seagall. Get it? I thought it was pretty damn funny!! But the again I have a weird sense of humor. Moving on now...

It's difficult to set a story or film on only one location, but do it right and people will forget that detail. Screenwriter Joel Negron crafted one helluva script that has a great story arc, perfect beats and plenty of tension and thrills. Combine this with filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra's directing and it's a win-win situation. Using both real world location, CGI and studio sets, Serra does the impossible by making the movie lean, mean and frightening cool! And it all takes place at one location! Impressive indeed people!

THE SHALLOWS is one of the best horror films of 2016!! This sleeper of a gem will surely make you afraid of the water all over again! So for make sure you watch this film this Halloween!! Just as long as you don't live on a boathouse or something. 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

THE SHALLOWS is still playing in select theaters across the country. The movie is also available on Blu-Ray and DVD. It is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, Netflix and Redbox.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!