Flawed (The Unbidden movie review)

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So this weekend, my man and I finally had some time to ourselves and were able to indulge in a bit of horror watching. We had planned to watch The Hexecutioners last weekend, but when that didn’t happen, we watched it this past weekend. Long story short, it pissed us both off. More on that later. Feeling bad, babe suggested The Unbidden after watching a trailer for it and thinking that it would be better than the drivel we just watched. He was so right.

The Unbidden (2016) is the story of four female friends gathering at the home of one in order to help her through the anniversary of her husband’s death. Lauren is a mystery writer, rather anxious, fragile, on medications to help her cope with the sounds and hallucinations she is experiencing in her home. Her friends, plastic surgeon Rachel, model mama Anna, and spirit worker Kat, were there for her years ago when her husband passed and are doing everything they can to be there for her now. A simple premise, right? Throw in some melodramatic, petty girlfriend betrayal, a son given up for adoption, a few supernatural experiences and you have a pretty fun story in The Unbidden. That being said, Unbidden is by no means a perfect film. It does come off a little Lifetime Movie in dealing with a group of women who have been friends since third grade, calling each other by rude nicknames and comparing sons. There is a lack of heavy blood and gore, which works for a ghost/revenge story, but the use of CGI was laughable. The story line was good in giving a viewer enough backstory along the way to explain who everyone was and how they were connected, but there were times when the characters made several off-the-wall comments that seemed bizarre and unnecessary for shock value. It is a little soap opera-ish, a first in my horror film watching years. I mean, who has family members just show up to their home, looking just slightly pissed and demanding answers? By the time The Unbidden is half way through, the tone of it changes slightly. Is it completely horror? No. Is it suspense? Drama? Thriller? The Unbidden becomes all of these things at one point or another which runs the risk of turning a horror fan off. You will find more creep than jump scare in Unbidden.

All in all, does this make The Unbidden a bad film? In my opinion, no, but as a horror film, it is flawed. You will find no monsters hiding under the bed, no slashers suddenly standing behind you in the mirror. The monster is reduced to a more human level and if nothing else, a viewer will learn to choose their friends more carefully or at the very least, pay more attention to their actions. Directed by Quentin Lee, it appears to be his first horror film and I hope he makes more. Working with an all Asian cast, The Unbidden plays a bit on cultural stereotypes, but not so much that it’s annoying. Shot on mostly one location, The Unbidden doesn’t require a huge sweeping story to convey the uneasiness felt by all characters and doesn’t take forever to explain the reason for the uneasiness. Written by Narhee Ahn, The Unbidden displays more original thought than found in most mainstream theater-run horror films, but the film isn’t for everyone. I recommend solely on the grounds that it is an nontraditional horror film and that it pushes the envelope of what is considered to be horror. Give it a chance, hang tight through those first ten minutes and you just might find yourself more than pleasantly surprised.

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Indie Horror and Why You Should Love It

I am a huge supporter of horror. That really comes as no surprise, but as a lover of horror, I find myself becoming more and more jaded when it comes to mainstream horror. While Pet and The Witch are able to stand on their own and most horror fans (myself included) do appear to like and appreciate the films, most theatrical releases tend to fall flat with fans such as The Bye Bye Man. (That movie right there will be discussed at a later date. *insert eye roll*). It’s as though big Hollywood doesn’t get horror and doesn’t care that they don’t get it.

One of the bigger complaints that I hear time and time again from horror fans regarding mainstream horror is that it is not scary. You have your cliches, your jump scares, the mirror trick, your final girls……and not much else.  Big Hollywood drops the ball on a lot of the horror elements needed to make a good horror film. I mean, did you think that we wouldn’t notice that you don’t have a good storyline, a plot that makes sense or good character development? Aren’t these just basic rules of telling a story, no matter what the genre? I’m gonna need the Hollywood scriptwriters to come through on this and come through NOW.

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So where do we go from here? I’ll tell you, ghouling…..indie horror. Such a simple solution to all of our horror problems. Now this is not to say that all indie horror is fantastic the house (heyyy Rich Lux), but majority of what I’ve seen certainly is. I love indie horror. I live for it. For all my newbie indie fans, this is for you.

What is indie horror?

Simply put, indie horror is horror done independently by a studio or person who does not have a big network affiliation or connection. A lot of indie horror is done by raising money on their own or through crowdfunding on platforms such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Nowadays we have a lot of indie horror that is coming to the forefront because I believe wholeheartedly (and this is just my opinion) that the directors and producers are realizing that big Hollywood just doesn’t give horror the respect it deserves. Horror should be made by those who understand it and those who love it, not by those looking for a cash grab. While Hollywood may realize the appeal of horror and may even want to attempt to draw in new fans, movies like Rings and Blair Witch aren’t helping the cause. That’s why I turn to indie horror more and more these days because those behind it are the real fans of horror. Those behind it are the ones who know it, live it, breathe it, understand it, love it and put that love on display for the world to see. If you’re new to indie horror, let me introduce you to some friends (in my head). 😛

Laurie Brewster- Lord of Tears, The Unkindness of Ravens, The Black Gloves (in crowdfunding process)

Mickey Keating-  Carnage Park, Darling, Pod

Perry Blackshear- They Look Like People

Can Evrenol- Baskin (Disclaimer: I am aware that Evrenol has done other short films and I am on a mission to find and watch them all)

As I know that this is a very short list, I chose to stick to those directors whose work I’ve seen and adored as there are other studios currently at work funding their projects. Josh Hasty is continuing his funding project of Candy Corn, so please check out his website at http://www.candycornmovie. com to see the perks and status. Brewster’s The Black Gloves is one that I am definitely looking forward to and supporting, you can check out his Kickstarter here https://goo.gl/32d8ek. All in all, indie horror continues to provide horror fans with what they crave: good horror. This is horror for us, for the fans, for the gorehounds, the possession lovers, the monster fanatics. So let your horror flag fly high and support indie horror! You’ll be glad you did.

Stabbed in the Face

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I had initially wrote a short review for this film on Horror Amino, but seeing as I haven’t been on my blog in a while (sorry!), I decided to do a longer take on this so that the full impact of my wrath could be felt. Get ready, it’s gonna be a doozie.

Some background notes: I found this pretty much at random on Amazon while shopping for some other movies and I was certainly intrigued. Do you know why? THAT. DAMN. COVER. ART. Every single time. I was mesmerized by it, thinking, “Oh my blood and guts, that..looks…amazing.” Add to cart. We decided to indulge this past weekend and Stabbed was one of the choices that I pushed  for. I personally wanted to see this and once I actually watched it….I never want to see this again as I have several issues with Stabbed in the Face. 

First off, please bear with me if you have read the shorter review on HA as I will be reiterating some of the points only because it bears repeating. Second, if you look up this film on Letterboxd, there is a line in the synopsis that states, “Stabbed in the Face proves that slasher films are ONLY about the boobs, butts and body count.” I can not tell you how much of a problem I have with this line. There’s nothing wrong with boobs, butts and body count, I know we as horror fans live for a bloody good time, but don’t treat us as though we are children who are only impressed with flashing lights and loud noises. Third, if your film is ONLY about boobs, butts and body count, that’s fine and dandy, but you better have a point. A maniacal homicidal killer ONLY goes so far without a reasoning behind the madness. Slasher films are meant to be fun, not degrading to the viewer in the perspective that we ONLY want blood and guts. Did you not see Muck? Don’t go there.

Stabbed let me down in several aspects. The shoddy acting, the unlikable characters, the piss-poor sound editing and quality, the horrible script-writing, I thought I was watching an amateur filmmaker with his first movie right out the gate. (No offense to The Gate though. Sorry.) Come to find out, director Jason Matherne is no stranger to the horror genre, just one to the good type of horror. Harsh, I know, but come tf on. Matherne has directed other fims such as Goregasm and Attack of the Cockface Killer (eh?), so clearly there is a love affair with horror going on and I’m hoping at some point Matherne does his lover right. Side note: Stabbed in the Face was filmed in 2004, but was not released until 2016. One would have thought that with all that time in between, someone would have said, “Maybe we should fix some things.”

All in all, Stabbed in the Face is a huge disappointment. Usually I’m better at spotting the low-budget, B-grade films for what they are and knowing what I’m getting myself into. It’s ok to watch a bad film from time to time, but I almost feel misled with Stabbed. I mean, only one (ONE!) person got stabbed in the face, for Craven’s sake. It will be some time before I decide to visit Matherne’s work again, I have seen that his latest film, Grimewave Cockface III, has received somewhat better reviews, but for now, I will back off and wait. I always have faith in my horror directors/producers that mistakes will be learned from and improvements will be made. If not, then honey, I suggest you prepare yourself to be read the house down and dragged for filth. Do better.

 

 

The Duds of 2016

oh, 2016. You just kicked our asses, didn’t you? We lost so many good people this year, this election was NOT it, forest fires, protests…..and bad horror movies. We just got it from all sides this year. As is the norm around this time of year, we have the best and we have the worst of 2016. I will start out with the worst (in my humble opinion) of the movies that I have personally seen and am STILL upset about. (For sake of conversation, these will be movies that were released in 2016.)

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The Darkness

I actually went to the theater with my man to see this because the both of us were rather excited about this film. Judging by the trailer, it looked to be in the same vein of Poltergeist and since the remake wasn’t worth the time, I figured that something close to it would be fine. I was so wrong. if you haven’t seen this film, a short summary is that a family (headed by Kevin Bacon) takes a trip to the grand Canyon and end up bringing back a supernatural force. I really hated the way that this movie explained the events happening and the backstory of the supernatural presence because it didn’t actually explain much at all. If you leave with more questions than answers, that’s not a good sign.

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Most Likely to Die

Yes. I hear you. Just look at the poster. How could you not go, “Yea, this doesn’t look like a piece of brilliance.” I always try to give films like this a chance, you know, while giving myself an opportunity to find a diamond in the rough. Most Likely to Die is more of a $.25 plastic diamond ring than an actual diamond. While I will give Perez Hilton kudos for his hilarious acting (which was probably not intentional), the rest of the film fell flat. You would have thought that a killer bumping off his old classmates by their “Most Likely to…” tagline from high school would have been the best thing since Sharknado 2, but the kills were unimaginative to say at the least and the whole film came off more comedic than horrific.

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I really, really wanted to like Fender Bender and in the beginning, I was. While stalking isn’t a new idea in horror, a psycho stalking those he gets into fender benders with is a relatively new concept in the genre and one I hope that we don’t revisit. Once was enough. The characters weren’t exactly likable (save for one) and I had a hard time understanding the logic of the parents of the young girl who ended up stalked by our psycho when they decided to leave her at home after the fender bender took place. Good job, Mom and Dad. How you feel now?

 

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No. Just……no. You can just look at that cover and know that you’re in for a bad time.

 

Here’s hoping 2017 is so much better.

Horror Author Spotlight

For those who don’t know, I’m a big reader. Avid. Fanatic. Can’t get enough of the stuff. I want a library like Belle’s in Beauty and the Beast (It will happen one day!). In the meantime, I have books piled everywhere and I still want more. My TBR list is insane and that’s how I like it. One of my growing piles is, of course, my Horror Reading list and while granted, there are such known authors such as King, Saul, Hill and Bradbury that I have read and loved, I am always on the lookout of new authors. I thought that it would be great to start a new series talking about horror in book and in this first post, I wanted to shine a light on the amazing Neal Shusterman.

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I was first introduced to Shusterman accidentally. I was browsing B&N as I’m prone to do on a lazy afternoon and was in need of something new. It was one of those times when Goodreads just wasn’t helping me and I was on my own. Not so scary, I could handle it. And then, I chanced upon a book titled Unwind. That tagline tho….”What if your parents could unwind you?” What the what????? And from that day on, I was entranced by Shusterman’s world of horror and kids. I absolutely loved Unwind. I even stumbled on a fan-made short on Youtube giving a little taste of Unwind turned live-action. Creepy and a little emotional for me. Unwind is the first book of a 4-book dystology and Shusterman is on the fast track of being a favorite horror author. Imagine my delight when I found out that he wrote for Goosebumps the tv series! I loved that show as a kid, so thank you, Shusterman, for being there in my younger years and now my later years.

I mean to finish the whole series before moving on to Shusterman’s newest work, Scythe. scythe_cover

Look at that cover! LOOK AT IT!!!!!! (Ugh, I’m such a fangirl.) Words cannot express how excited I am to read this. I could kick myself for missing the signed copies that Barnes and Noble had, but that’s ok. I will buy it and I will read it and I will stay up late to finish it and I’m going to talk about it to all my friends and I’m going to review it and it’s going to have a nice little spot on my shelf and I’m going to sleep with it and life will be complete.

Spotlight on Neal Shusterman, author of Challenger Deep, the Unwind dystology, the Skinjacker series plus more. Read it, live it, love it.

The Walking Dead (An Open Letter)

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Dear lovers and so-called lovers of the Walking Dead:

I know. You’re feeling some type of way about the premiere of Season 7. I know. It’s ok, really it is. We saw this coming. We have to learn to move on. We still have Michonne. We still have Daryl. Isn’t that what matters? We can’t continue to lose our minds over a death we saw coming. Remember the graphic novels? Remember what the writers and artists did? I remember. I remember being shocked at what I saw, but then I got over it. After all, it’s just a graphic novel, something I can easily put down and then pick up again when I’m ready for some blood and gore because that’s what The Walking Dead is. Why do we have to ask ourselves now why is the show violent? That really shouldn’t be a question because remember, the graphic novels are violent. That’s part of the reason why it became a show just like Game of Thrones. It’s a good series, it has a good story, it has a good fan base. We shouldn’t be upset when characters die, no matter how much we like them. It is the zombie apocalypse after all. It’s going to be a rough ride, people. It was always going to be. Breathe deep, zombie fans. Remember the tagline: fighting the dead, fearing the living. So pull up those big boy britches and deal with it.

Sincerely yours,

A Horror Lover

Nope! (Creature Feature, 2015)

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O…m…G. What to say about Creature Feature? I’m going to make this real quick and sweet because this movie really ticked me off. I enjoy anthology movies, some of my favorites include Tales from the Hood (1995) , V/H/S 2 (2013), Asylum (1972) and Three….Extremes (2004), but this really threw me off a bit. Feature was released last Halloween and at first glance appears to be the type of movie to watch around that time. Who doesn’t like a good creepy story? Who doesn’t like several creepy stories featuring werewolves, supernatural boogeymen and witches? I most certainly do….when the stories are told right. Feature had a lot of potential to be added to the anthology favorites list, but it sadly fell short. It’s one thing to enter in music to keep up the suspenseful atmosphere, it’s another when the music is annoying, cuts in at weird and unnecessary times and just throws the story-telling off. Feature had so many cutaways to attempt to blend the stories together (even while the same story is being told) that it started to grate on my nerves. This is one soundtrack I will gladly miss out on.

Feature attempted to bring to mind or least pay homage to films such as Creepshow with comic book setup/graphics and Urban Legend with a well-known oft-told tale about a clown statue, but the bad acting and terrible character development left a horrible taste in my mouth. When I’m able to predict the script and my boyfriend looks at me as though I have magic powers, something is dreadfully wrong. And don’t even get me started on the mispronunciation of Samhain. *le sigh* You are a Halloween movie, that should be one thing that you get right. Someone clearly had the movie on mute when Dr. Loomis gave his history lesson. Feature missed a lot of good opportunities to give detail when needed. The story of Spring-Heeled Jack during the Three Witches segment would have made for a great campfire tale….if the audience was able to understand the story better.
All in all, I was not happy with Creature Feature. Directed by Chase Smith, this is my first film viewing of his work and while I am not ready to throw in the towel (I will admit to being somewhat intrigued by Realm of Souls (2013) and his 2012’sThe Doorway), I’m going to have to give Creature Feature a huge thumbs down. I want to be creeped out, scared, sitting on the edge of my seat, I want to be drawn into the story, not groaning every five minutes because of a cutaway with bad sound. I want to be interested in the characters and the story, not wondering if the blonde on screen is going to die soon because she is bringing nothing to the table in way of acting. Ugh. Do better.

No screams, darling. It just didn’t do it for me.