Monthly Archives: October 2015

31 Days of Horror: The Amityville Asylum (NR; 2013; 91 min)

amityville asylum

I am so happy, dear viewer, to save you from wasting 1 -1/2 hours of your life by telling you to run far, far away from this B-level “horror” movie. No, wait. That’s insulting to B movies! Let’s just say: don’t bother wasting your time or money.

Drawn in by the lure of the Amityville franchise, I didn’t exactly have high hopes for this movie set at the High Hopes Psychiatric Hospital, but thought I might get at least a good scare or two. What I endured instead was a slow, tedious, foreign knock-off with terrible acting, weird POV shots, and a plot out of Horror 101.

Annoying: we are supposed to believe the H.H. Hospital was recently built and opened at the sight of the Amityville Horror house in New York. However, every character in the movie minus one speaks in an undeniable foreign accent (plus, one annoying girl calls it the “Uh-meaty-ville House), so it’s pretty obvious we are not on the New York side of the pond. We are also supposed to believe that five-minute slow conversations, long readings from books about a Native American/cult tie-in , and non-pertinent-to-plot, cleaning-with-chemicals advice during a movie are not boring; that criminally insane patients are always locked up in cave-like basements with no guards, yet their hallway needs a nightly mopping; and that an entire mental hospital runs at night without nurses (only two orderlies) and with just one doctor. Even without all these issues, the movie offers no scares, just a bit of gore, and shouldn’t be allowed to use the good Amityville name.

  • Top Scare: Hallway surprise
  • Heartbeats: 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: Burning. But if you must: 15 or older.

 

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31 Days of Horror: The Quiet Ones (PG-13; 2014; 98 min)

The Quiet Ones

 

Based oh, so loosely on a real experiment in the early 70s in Canada, this movie moves many, many steps forward to slowly, carefully terrify your pants off. I was quite surprised it has gotten such so-so ratings online, since my heart was pounding throughout much of the movie and I even jumped during several scenes.

In The Quiet Ones, an Oxford university professor and three of his students conduct an unusual and unethical experiment on a young woman named Jane who seems to be possessed by an entity – ghost? demon? spirit? – named Evey. Jane is locked in a room while Cum on Feel the Noize blares day and night (yes, there is a non-Quiet Riot version from 1973). Using various instruments and methods, the team tries to help Jane to telekinetically move Evey from her body into a doll, thus curing her and proving the professor’s theories. But Evey has other ideas about how and where she wants to live.

The Quiet Ones is not a splashy possession story, at least not at first. The two main settings – Oxford and an abandoned country house – are pretty much it. Tension builds slowly in the first half hour, but once it kicks in, it kicks up a notch every few minutes and doesn’t stop until the very end. Expect lots of surprises and even a good supply of scares.

  • Top Scare: Too many to pick just one
  • Heartbeats: 3 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 15 and up (even though it is PG-13), due to scares and some violent scenes

31 Days of Horror: The Intruders (PG-13; 2015; 92 min)

The Intruders

Miranda Cosgrove of Nickelodeon’s iCarly fame is all grown up, but is she ready to take on the lead role of a horror movie? Unfortunately, no.

Cosgrove plays Rose, a college-age girl on a break from school following the death of her mother and a subsequent breakdown. Rose and her father – who remodels houses – have just moved into an old house where a girl had gone missing. As odd happenings begin in the house, we are left to wonder if they are real or if Rose is imagining them, a side effect of a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia or possibly related to her dumping her meds down the toilet.

While there is a good bit of tension in some scenes and some odd characters to throw red herrings around, Cosgrove is just not powerful enough to help us really feel the tension and fear of her situation. Plus, it’s hard to believe she’s not twelve during several scenes – a kiss later in the movie is uncomfortable at best. So while the plot itself has potential, it falls somewhat flat at times and feels more like a movie-of-the-week. Still, for the younger viewers Cosgrove will attract to this genre, it just might be enough to introduce them to some safer scares.

  • Top Scare: Basement scene
  • Heartbeats: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 1 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 14 and up

31 Days of Horror: Unfriended (R; 2014; 83 min.)

unfriended2

While what’s truly scary is how much time teenagers spend online nowadays (was that a giveaway that I’m a bit “older”?), this scary movie uses the young generation’s uber-connectedness in its favor. Seen entirely from the viewpoint of teenager Laura, while she is chatting, IMing, researching, viewing, and flirting with friends who are each on their own computer one evening, Unfriended lets us join the group chat as they learn each others’ secrets and lies. But they aren’t giving up these scandalous tidbits willingly. They have another “guest” in their chat room who is pulling all the strings and forcing the teens to play a game designed to show how each teen is connected to the recent death of Laura’s friend, Blaire, while exacting revenge as the night unfolds.

Unfriended starts out a bit slow, and you have to be prepared to read A LOT during the movie to keep up (the movie itself is actually a shot of Laura’s computer screen as she pulls up various videos, websites, etc. and clicks away during the chat). Yet it picks up the pace nicely and lets us see only exactly what the teens are seeing, so it feels realistic and we understand the fear the teens are feeling. All in all, a decent movie, though if you are looking for true scares, you won’t find many here.

  • Top Scare: At the end
  • Heartbeats: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 3 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 3 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 17 and up due to gore and adult content