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HORROR

‘Satanic Panic’ Had All The Makings To Be The Perfect Horror Comedy

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Genre : Comedy-Horror
Rating : Unrated
Director: Chelsea Stardust
Cast:
Hayley Griffith
Rebecca Romijin
Ruby Modine

 

 

 

Sam (Hayley Griffith) has had a rough go of it as of late. Having to take a pizza delivery job from a skeevy acquaintance she not only encounters some of the worst customers possible but isn’t even tipped well. Getting a last minute delivery, Sam finds herself in the posh neighborhood of Mill Basin. When stiffed on a tip for a huge order she barges into the house to beg for it. What she discovers are a wealthy coven, led by Danica (Rebecca Ramijin) trying to conjure up the demon Baphomet. In need of a virgin they kidnap Sam and leave her with the sleazy Samuel (a hilarious Jerry O’Connell). Escaping into the wealthy neighborhood she saves Judi (Ruby Modine), a would-be sacrifice and Danica’s daughter.

From there Satanic Panic becomes a race against time with Danica and her fellow occultists (including Jordan Ladd and Jeff Daniel Phillips) after the chaste Sam. Portrayed by relative newcomer Hayley Griffith she gives her all into a relatively underwritten role. Griffith brings a charming mix of sweetness and naiveté to Sam despite, more often than not, playing the straight man to the rest of the cast. Her character is only really developed when she is paired up with Judi. Best known to genre fans as Lori in Happy Death Day, Ruby Modine goes all out as the foul mouthed rich kid. Her type A personality not only working well with the more timid Sam but stealing pretty much every scene she’s in. It’d work better if all the performances weren’t the same.

 

 

From the slacker employees at Homerun Pizza to the Satanists plotting against Danica it feels like each performer was told to play their role as big and as broad as possible. Although this works for Modine and a particularly hammy Rebecca Ramijin it becomes exhausting when nobody plays things straight. It is particularly noticeable when the jokes don’t land. Written by Grady Hendrix the jokes tend to be hit or miss with the hits rarely hitting in succession. The jokes that do work tend to require knowledge of the horror genre. Things like horror mainstay AJ Bowen playing against type as the scummy Duncan is only funny for audiences with an intimate knowledge of horror. Which is odd considering how lacking Satanic Panic can be when it comes to scares.

 

On the other hand, Satanic Panic is much more successful when it comes to the gory gags used in the spells. Clearly fans of the genre, Grady Hendrix and director Chelsea Stardust come up with several sordid set pieces. With special effects done by Tate Steinsiek and Chris A Wilks, they come up with several gruesome gags reminiscent of Evil Dead and early Peter Jackson to great effect. Satanic Panic blends humor and the macabre to great effect. Unfortunately we don’t get to see too much of their diabolical creation due to the movie’s surprising lack of thrills. Focusing mostly on the comedy aspects there’s actually very little horror with all of the surprises and kills played for laughs. Sure you don’t go in expecting it to be Midsommar but it is disappointing when you consider all of the horror connections in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

With a clear love for all things spooky and a promising premise Satanic Panic had all the makings to be the perfect horror comedy. But like Sam’s night in Mill Basin things don’t go as planned. While there are some funny bits and some fun performances Satanic Panic settles into a lull where it’s not quite funny enough to be a good comedy and not scary enough to be considered a good horror film either. I definitely think the Chelsea Stardust has a bright future and has a really great movie in her but Satanic Panic isn’t it.

 

Rating 5/10
Links : IMDB

SATANIC PANIC in Theaters, On Demand and Digital now.

 

HORROR

The Dead Don’t Die: The Film Didn’t Have A Definite Goal In Mind

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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).

 

The Dead Don't Die

 

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.

 

The Dead Don't Die

 

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.

 

The Dead Don't Die

 

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“.

 

The Dead Don't Die

 

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.

 

The Dead Don't Die

 

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
Links: IMDB

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Drama

Netflix: In the Tall Grass | Official Trailer -HD

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Genre:

Horror, Drama, Thriller

Release Date:

Netflix – October 4, 2019

Director:

Vincenzo Natali

Cast:

Patrick Wilson, Harrison Gilbertson, Rachel Wilson, Tiffany Helm, Laysla De Oliveira, Will Buie Jr.

Plot Summary:

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.

 

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HORROR

Haunt: Has All The Pedigree To Be Something Special

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Genre : Horror
Rating : Unrated
Director: Scott Beck and Bryan Woods
Cast:
Katie Stevens
Will Brittain
Damian Maffei

 

 

 

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.

Rating 5/10
Links : IMDB

Haunt is Theaters, On Demand and Digital now.

 

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