Do I tuck my shirt in?
I don’t care, you look like you’re gonna fix the computer anyway.
This straightforward movie “Pledge” managed to surprise me. At first, I didn’t expect much from it. But as the story unfolded, I thought that the makers of this horror story had incorporated some strong elements into it. Those who have experienced the rush into a fraternity personally will be happy that they didn’t have to endure a similar experience. It’s extremely difficult to stand out with horror when you see the number of horrors being released these days. After the first 20 minutes, it looks like you are going to watch a remake of “Porky’s“. Or better still, “Revenge of the Nerds“. You could say it was funny one way or another. But the fun part soon made way for the disturbing section. An atmosphere of panic, fear, and despair prevails until the end of the film.
They didn’t have to ask twice.
Three close friends, who probably always sit on the sidelines when it comes to social events, do their utmost to be admitted by a fraternity. Hence the title of this film. The film starts with David (Zack Weiner, writer of this film), Ethan (Philip Andre Botello) and Justin (Zachery Byrd) who visit one clubhouse after the other. The three nerds, however, are rejected, ridiculed or simply denied access everywhere. Until they suddenly receive an invitation from a hot looking girl to attend a private party somewhere on a remote domain. An orgasmic experience with ditches of alcohol in the company of a horde of ravishing looking young ladies. Young ladies who they refer to as being “out of their league” most probably. Not surprisingly, all three (and a few other “freshmen”) over-enthusiastically agree with Max’s (Aaron Dalla Villa) invitation to join this exclusive student association. An elitist club with only a limited number of members.
It certainly isn’t a typical ritual.
Unfortunately, the hazing procedure is rather rough on our 3 friends. It’s well known there are often oddities and extreme things involved during hazings here in Belgium. Binge drinking, beating with a cricket bat, sexually charged assignments and eating disgusting things. Other academies are taking it a bit easier. There, students have to work out a translation or explanation about a certain topic as an assignment. Boring! The club our three nerds want to join has another agenda. The assignments are painful, disgusting and especially deadly in nature. It’s not really terrible “torture porn”. So don’t expect situations as in “Hostel” or “Saw“. Could be I’m insensitive to that. When you’re able to watch a movie such as “Martyrs” without feeling disturbed, the humiliations the newbies have to undergo are of Sesame Street level.
There’s a lot of decent acting in “Pledge“. The three silly friends portray those typical characters who are mostly the center of mockery and bullying in American schools. A chubby dude who’s always asking for something to eat and cannot really be praised for his speed. The nerdy guy who most likely spends his days sitting behind a screen and always says the wrong things. And finally, a kind of a sissy who reacts girlishly to threatening situations and most certainly will jump on a chair when a mouse appears in front of him. Three types that are convincingly interpreted by Zachery Byrd, Zack Weiner, and Philip Andre Botello. But especially Aaron Dalla Villa made an impression. That demonic look and sadistic tone fit perfectly with the cruel Max.
Low-Budget but certainly successful.
Thanks to the short playing time, “Pledge” is suitable as an in-betweener during a weekday evening. Thanks to the pace of the film, it never gets boring. And although I found the horror level quite average, they managed to deliver an intense and exciting film. And despite the fact that it was a low-budget film (“Pledge” was funded through Kickstarter), I thought the cinematography was of high quality. The lurid and threatening atmosphere was not only delivered by the story but certainly also by the supplied footage. To be honest, “Pledge” is one of the better Low-Budget indie horror movies I’ve seen in the last year. Certainly a must-see for lovers of the genre.
My rating 6.5/10
The Dead Don’t Die: The Film Didn’t Have A Definite Goal In Mind
This isn’t gonna end well.
Life is full of surprises. First of all, the location where I saw this film. I thought it was a unique experience. I watched “The dead don’t die” outdoors in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. And yes, this is something I don’t do too often. To be honest it’s the second time that I watch a film under a starry sky. The first time, however, I guess the budget was a slight problem. The screen wasn’t exactly resistant to the wind. The result was that in “Racer and the Jailbird“, Matthias Schoenaerts looked unwillingly comical every time the wind rose. In Ljubljana, however, in addition to the perfect location namely Ljubljanski Grad (The Castle of Ljubljana), they also provided professional equipment. In short, a perfect image and sound (even with a gust of wind).
My kind of humor.
Next, I was surprised by the film itself. I’m not a fan of a mixture of comedy and horror. But, I recently saw the movie “Monster Party“. And I must say I also liked that movie. Perhaps I should, therefore, revise my opinion on this latest statement regarding humor and horror. Maybe it was also because of the type of humor that was used in “The dead don’t die“. Such a repetitive, bone-dry, absurd Monty Python-like humor. The kind of humor I’m a huge fan off. Already in the 80s, I watched TV shows such as “Monty Python’s Flying Circus“, “The Young Ones“, “Not the Nine O’Clock News” and to a lesser extent “The Muppet Show“. I’m sure there are people who don’t appreciate the “Theme song” joke. And others will be bored when a third person makes the same remark about the possibility that some wild animal had something to do with the victims in a diner. Well, that’s the humor I love.
It’s not a zombie movie per se.
However, if you expect a purebred zombie movie, then the disappointment will be even greater. Because this flick won’t scare you at all. Even the attempt to introduce some gore didn’t really help. The reason why the dead left their graves en masse can be called original. Perhaps it’s even a subtle environmental message for Governments. In any case, natural gas fracking causes incomprehensible phenomena to manifest themselves worldwide. For example, the movement of the earth appears to be disrupted, so the sunset is no longer correct (apparently it has something to do with the rotation of the earth). Pets and livestock suddenly disappear. And mobile phones and digital clocks no longer work. The behavior of the resurrected fellow human beings also deviates from the standard zombie behavior. This time no mindless non-living whose desire for blood and flesh is uncontrollable. No, these creatures stumble through the streets in search of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Xanax, and Snickers. Probably what occupied them just before they kicked the bucket.
Let’s talk about the acting.
It’s kind of normal and understandable to see actors such as Bill Murray and Steve Buscemi showing up in such an absurd horror-comedy. Bill Murray has such a natural appearance of a man who can’t be profoundly disturbed and who apparently always reacts soberly to situations that make average persons hyperventilate. And Buscemi’s appearance is extremely suitable for this kind of crazy movies. Bill Murray apparently also has a taste for zombie movies now. Hence his collaboration on the film “Zombieland: Double Tap“.
Some surprising actors.
But I didn’t expect actors such as Adam Driver (Jedi Kylo Ren in Star Wars) and Tilda Swinton (Mason from “Snowpiercer” and The Ancient One in “Avengers: Endgame“) in this film. And yet they proved to fit perfectly one way or another. Adam Driver is a person with a neutral facial expression who looks at the situation in a relaxed manner. And Tilda Swinton took care of the most hilarious role as the mortician Zelda, who speaks with a Scottish accent and dangerously swings around with her Samurai sword just like Uma Thurman did in “Kill Bill“. And last but not least you can admire the infamous Iggy Pop. The people from the make-up department didn’t have much work on him, I guess.
An absurd horror.
Although I had lots of fun watching this film, I had to conclude that the film didn’t have a definite goal in mind. The whole is fairly frivolous and absurd. The denouement manages to surpass the absurdity in this film. I’m still surprised this was the opening film at the festival of Cannes. I think Jim Jarmusch had a very different target audience in mind. Certainly not an audience consisting of gentlemen in tuxedos and coquettish ladies dressed in evening dresses. I’m sure those who were there in Cannes will speak about “The dead don’t die” for years to come. There’s one person who benefits enormously from this grotesque film. And that is Sturgill Simpson whose song “The dead don’t die” can be heard several times. Good for him.
My rating 7/10
Netflix: In the Tall Grass | Official Trailer -HD
Horror, Drama, Thriller
Netflix – October 4, 2019
Patrick Wilson, Harrison Gilbertson, Rachel Wilson, Tiffany Helm, Laysla De Oliveira, Will Buie Jr.
When siblings Becky and Cal hear the cries of a young boy lost within a field of tall grass, they venture in to rescue him, only to become ensnared themselves by a sinister force that quickly disorients and separates them. Cut off from the world and unable to escape the field’s tightening grip, they soon discover that the only thing worse than getting lost is being found.
Haunt: Has All The Pedigree To Be Something Special
Genre : Horror
Rating : Unrated
Director: Scott Beck and Bryan Woods
For a lot of people Halloween is their favorite time of the year. A time to celebrate the macabre and let loose one night a year. Not for Harper though. After dumping her abusive boyfriend Sam, she is convinced to go out by her roommate Bailey. Meeting up with her friends Angela and Mallory for a girl’s night they are introduced Evan and Nathan. Bored with the Halloween bar scene they find a mysterious extreme haunted house in the middle of nowhere.
Forced to sign liability waivers they enter what seems like an ordinary haunted house. What starts out as a tame night attraction soon turns deadlier the deeper, they go. Confronted by their deepest fears they have to find a way to escape before nights end.
Written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the writers of A Quiet Place, go a very different route from their first big screen blockbuster. Executive produced by Eli Roth (director of Cabin Fever and Hostel), Haunt takes a much more familiar path. Unlike their critically acclaimed breakout Beck and Woods tend to follow a more tried-and-true formula when constructing their own haunted house. Whether it’s the supposedly comedic (more grating than not) best friend or our frightened love interest dropping the key after a jump scare seemingly no cliché is safe. It’s particularly bad when movies such as Hell House LLC and the first Houses October Built pulled them off better.
You can see the duo’s creativity much more in the Haunt’s killers. Covered head to toe their masks hide a much more jarring reality. With their bodies heavily modified their faces taking on the horrifying properties of whatever mask they were wearing. Just as terrifying is how brutal they come off. Taking a page from the torture porn of the 2000’s they come off as the most brutal movie slashers in quite some time. Mixing Saw-esque traps and rusty tools Beck and Woods gives our antagonists the kind of gritty edge not typically seen in modern slasher movies.
Just as uncommon is our lead Harper. Portrayed by Katie Stevens (star of The Bold Type) she is seemingly the only character given any dimension. Struggling with a history of abuse Harper is forced to deal with her tragic childhood the deeper into the haunt she goes. As shocking as it is to see in a B-movie it’s handled surprisingly well. Treated with the seriousness such a sensitive subject deserves I never felt like it became exploited or treated disrespectfully. I just wish it played more into the movie overall.
Haunt has all the pedigree to be something special. With the writers of one of the most unique horror movies of 2018 at the helm we could have seen a whole new take on the extreme haunted house subgenre. Unfortunately, that’s not what we get. Although we do see some of that innovation in our realistic lead and some truly terrifying villains Haunt quickly devolves into a more traditional slasher. But one-dimensional characters and typical thrills keep Haunt from becoming the next Halloween classic.
Links : IMDB
Haunt is Theaters, On Demand and Digital now.
The Dead Don’t Die: The Film Didn’t Have A Definite Goal In Mind
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