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HORROR

Pledge – “One Of The Better Low-Budget Indie Horror Movies I’ve Seen In The Last Year”

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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.

 

Pledge

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.

 

Pledge

 

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.

 

Pledge

 

Decent acting.

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.

 

Pledge

 

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
Links: IMDB

 

HORROR

Child’s Play: A Creditable Attempt To Breathe New Life Into The Chucky Franchise

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What’s your name?
Andy. ‘Sup?
Hi, Andysup.

It seems like a lifetime ago since I saw the original film with the demonic pop Chucky dangerously swinging around with a razor-sharp butcher knife. Well, It’s not a hundred years, but thirty years is a long time as well. That’s how long it’s been since I went to get the VHS of this movie in the local video store. Apparently several sequels have been made after the initial release. Somehow I’ve missed that. Me and sequels. It remains an eternal struggle. Because there wasn’t anything better to choose from and I had nothing to do, I still took the risk and watched this modern version. Apart from the fact that the doll looks slightly different, has been given a different name and the reason for its malicious behavior has changed slightly, it was exactly as if I went back in time. “Child’s Play” has the same 80s horror mood.

 

Child's Play

 

A pimped version.

But first of all a big compliment to the makers of this pimped version. Most reboots or remakes just seem like a duplicate of the original. Here they really deviate from the original story. It’s not the soul of a serial killer that transforms the doll into a bloodthirsty, diabolical murderous toy. Here it’s an aggrieved and irritated Chinese factory worker who starts to mess with the security software out of revenge. To be honest, I felt like giving up at that moment. A ragged and clearly unkempt Chinese guy reprogramming the source software was, in my eyes, completely absurd and exaggerated. Fortunately, I persisted. Because all in all “Child’s Play” wasn’t so bad.

 

Child's Play

 

Don’t expect creepiness.

What disappointed me a bit, was the doll itself. Especially the transformation from good to evil. In the original film, Chucky did get a diabolical and cruel expression. In this movie, they wanted to achieve the same effect by providing Buddi (as this child-friendly babysitter is now called) with red-glowing eyes. Well, it wasn’t really scary. And to be honest, this film isn’t creepy at all. I thought it was rather entertaining horror material, suitable for the novice horror enthusiast. Don’t expect any nasty-looking killings either. You’ll see clichéd situations where circular saws and a lawnmower (or something like that) are used in. The favorite murder instruments from the 80s.

 

Child's Play

 

Acceptable acting.

The acting was generally acceptable. Only Aubrey Plaza as Andy’s mother wasn’t really convincing. To be honest, she seemed to be the sister of Andy (Gabriel Bateman), the introverted boy with a hearing problem. David Lewis played the most annoying character. That means you can say that his acting was successful. The most light-hearted and comical part was provided by Brian Tyree Henry as police officer Mike, who lives with his mother. It’s not only the mother-son correlation that sometimes causes hilarious moments. There are also slapstick-like scenes, such as the gift-wrapped item (Well, I try to stay vague about this) that falls into the hands of Mike’s mother by mistake. Most surprising in this film was the fact that Mark Hamill (Yes, Luke Skywalker himself) was responsible for Chucky’s dialogues.

 

Child's Play

 

A nice time-killer.

In the end, this was a creditable attempt to breathe new life into the Chucky franchise. This modernized version is not an epic film but is anything but bad. It even tries to portray a failing A.I. and point out the dangers of a robotic society. And actually, what Chucky is doing, is simply the result of a learning process that he undergoes in the company of Andy. If the latter makes a remark that he would rather get rid of the cat Mickey Rooney, you already know the verdict. In the end, Chucky is nothing more than an electronic gadget that ignores the robotics laws of Asimov. It’s not really impressive or exciting at all. But “Child’s Play” was a nice time-killer.

 

My rating 6/10
Links: IMDB

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HORROR

Gary Oldman Boards a Sinking Ship in ‘Mary’

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Genre : Horror-Thriller
Rating : Unrated
Director: Michael Goi

Cast:
Gary Oldman
Emily Mortimer
Stefanie Scott
Jennifer Esposito

Things have been pretty rough for David (Gary Oldman) as of late. Working as the captain of a fishing tour boat he dreams of starting his own boating business to provide for his family. At a local boat auction he finds an old vessel, The Mary. Desperate and unable to resist the opportunity to be hi own boss he buys the ship despite the financial risk. With the help of his wife Sarah (Emily Mortimer) and daughters Lindsey (Stefanie Scott) and Mary (Chloe Perrin) are able to clean up the ship making it look as good as new. Joined by the young Tommy (Owen Teague) and David’s second in command Mike (Manuel Gracia-Ruflo) the family sets sail towards the Bahamas before the ship’s mysterious past comes to light.

 

 

Told in a series of flashbacks during a police interogation Mary should be great. In fact writer Anthony Jaswinski (The Shallows) has proven that an ocean setting is more than enough to craft a compelling tale of terror. Using it as the backdrop for a haunted house story seems like a no brainer. Sadly that isn’t quite what we get. With Jaswinski and director Michael Goi seemingly unsure what they wanted we get a mix of terror and family drama that doesn’t quite commit to either.

For the most part Mary sticks to jump scares. Whether it’s doors banging by themselves or mysterious footprints appearing out of nowhere, Mary treads very familiar waters through most of it’s run time. There are moments of intrigue such as when the ship that haunts The Mary takes control of Tommy but any chances for development are quickly glossed over in the next scene with just as much care going into the dramatic scenes. With tensions high from the time David buys the boat, we get hints through the film before Lindsey confronts her mother about committing infidelity. Although hardly the revelation they want it to be the scene is sold beautifully by Emily Mortimer. In fact, Mortimer does a wonderful job throughout the film.

 

 

Her first horror movie in nearly a decade Emily Mortimer is more than ready to carry the film on her shoulders. Playing an unreliable narrator to a criminally underused Jennifer Esposito she gives Mary her all with a performance that wouldn’t be out of place in some of her best roles. She particularly pops when paired up with Gary Oldman. While not given too much to do besides look concerned there are glimpses of suspicion when David catches Sarah talking to Mike. The two are so good together that you can’t help but be disappointed we aren’t watching the two in a straight up dramatic movie.

Between the performances from Emily Mortimer and Gary Oldman and the shots emphasising the isolation of the ocean you can see glimpses of brilliance in Mary. But like the ocean itself these hope spots are swept away just as fast. Instead what we get is a cliche ridden mess that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Leaving the door open for a sequel Mary has sunk before it even left port.

 

Rating 4/10 Links : IMDB

Mary is now on Bluray, DVD and on VOD

 

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Entertainment

First Teaser Trailer For Janelle Monáe‘s ‘Antebellum’

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Little is known about the secret film which stars Janelle Monáe‘, Marque Richardson II, Eric Lang, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Tongayi Chirisa, Gabourey Sidibe, Rob Aramayo, Lily Cowles, and Jena Malone.

The film is being brought to light by the people who produced Jordan Peele’sGet Out,’ and ‘Us.’

“Successful author Veronica Henley (Janelle Monáe) finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the mind-bending mystery before it’s too late,” the film’s synopsis states.

Antebellum’ hits theaters April 24, 2020

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