“Dark Was The Night” Horror Movie Review


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Directed by: Jack Heller

Starring: Kevin Durand (Smokin’ Aces, The Strain), Lukas Haas (The Revenant, Inception) and Bianca Kajlich (Rules of Engagement)

Directed by a man from Kentucky, a monster/horror film and starring one of my personal favorite underrated actors (Kevin Durand) I was intrigued to check out Dark Was the Night despite the name. It sounds kinda cool but once thought about you half expect it to be directed by Captain Obvious. (Because no shit, it’s dark at night)

Bright Was The Day still brings the good stuff for at-least the first 2.5 acts. A nice, slow burn, mysterious story about a Father (Durand) with a painful past trying to prove to himself he’s capable of keeping his family safe. Then something fucked up comes to town and gives him the chance to x 5000.

The tension builds in an already paranoid small town when animals start to go missing and freaky hoof prints are found all over the place (No really, but they pull it off nicely). Things feel less dumb horror movie and more J.J. Abrams style Monster Mystery at this point as we slowly unravel the menace along with Sheriff Shields (Durand).

Director Jack Heller does a great job of using atmosphere & slowly delving out creepy hints rather than throwing out empty jump scares. Also working for him is Durand who overcomes a done-a-thousand-times back story and manages to deliver his heartache & intention with sincerity. Plus the dude just looks and acts like a leading man. He’s a badass Schwarzenegger type believable hero who can also act. He’s usually the best part of everything he’s in & it’s nice to see him get to keep the cameras attention throughout.

Remember those few episodes of Lost when we didn’t know the monster was just a stupid cloud of black smoke? They do almost as good of a job hiding their perpetrator here, just showing us enough to keep us scared. Maybe they knew that once we saw the evil full form, we would lose interest.

Just as things are reaching peak intensity and they create a badass moment for us to chew on everything goes flat. Mainly the special effects kill all the momentum and end our hopes of scary time goodness. The tension is literally sucked out of the film in a single ugly moment. The shock and horror instead comes from just how bad the special effects look and I think the film makers knew it because they go for a really stupid final horror moment that undermines its best character arc and renders it useless. But damn, they started off really nicely.

6.5/10 Dark Was the Night is watchable because of the well crafted pacing by Jack Heller & Kevin Durand. Damn that final act though. This is a film worthy of a re-make with a better budget for better special effects and Cinematography. As long as they could keep the same players! Just give them the money to make this look the way it should.

-Mike Holtz

http://www.youtube.com/wewatchedamovie

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Eli Roth & Keanu Reeves’ “Knock Knock” Trailer


Eli Roth & Keanu Reeves’ “Knock, Knock” Trailer

Here’s the teaser trailer:

That may be my favorite 30 second trailer of all time. One reason being I don’t remember a single other 30 second trailer off the top of my head. BUT! This one looks awesome. The Keanu Reeves badass comeback continues.

A midst trying to get Green Inferno finally released Roth and Reeves are over at Sundance promoting this little ditty. I say it looks like a blasty blast. Two hot women show up at your door soaking wet from the rain while the wife and kids are away sounds like the start to a porno…… AND IT IS!!! But what happens after?

Unless this is based on what Keanu’s real life….there will be crazy woman psycho hose beast consequences for this night of fun and shower banging while creepy lighting hits.

The idea actually creeps me out. Well done Eli Roth. Looks like a good start for a guy who says he wants to change his reputation as a film maker to not just be that-guy-who-does-gross-shit. He says it is different from anything he’s ever done. I believe him too…..because…..Keanu.

Mike
WeWatchedAMovie

Source: JoBlo

Review-a-thon! The Films of M. Night Shyamalan


Review-a-thon! The Films of M. Night Shyamalan

Mike Holtz, WeWatchedAMovie

In a new segment by WeWatchedAMovie called Review-a-thon! We pick apart and review many of the films by a Director or Actor of an upcoming film that week! This week in anticipation of Science Fiction thriller After Earth starring Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith we review the career of controversial Director M. Night Shyamalan.

Wide Awake (1998)Wide Awake

Starring: Joseph Cross (Lincoln), Timothy Reifsnyder (Hearts of Atlantis), Rosie O’Donnel  (A League of their own), Robert Loggia (Scarface) and Dennis Leary (Judgment Night)

This is the only M. Night film streaming on Netflix and lets just say from the cover it doesn’t look like a M. Night film. In Wide Awake a little boy named Joshua (Cross) loses his grandfather who he was extremely close to and has a hard time accepting it. He goes on a mission to speak to god and find out if his grandfather is okay and in heaven. Pretty deep subject material considering the cover of the DVD. You get the sense that the studio wanted Night to make a quirky family comedy centered around Rosie O’Donnel who must have been testing well with audiences at the time. Check out the picture to the left… it explains it all. Except Rosie O’Donnell is maybe in 10 minutes of the movie, hardly enough to be on the cover with the words “Rosie O’Donnell is Hilarious!”. Please.

This is somewhat a family/kids movie but it deals with heavy issues like death, mortality and the afterlife. There is a few moments of comedy and a few lines in the script that pull of heartbreak quite well. Like a few of Nights other films the kid actors are the focal point of the story here and the acting talent is extremely sporadic going from surprisingly good for some of the kids and heart achingly bad for others. Dennis Leary’s hilarious talents are wasted as he plays a pretty much completely normal father and Robert Loggia is loveable as the grandfather.

You can sense Night in the writing as the deep dialogue is original and noteworthy while other lines miss the mark completely. This works both ways for the comedy and the emotional drama. Whether it be twist endings or dialogue in a family drama Night always seems to swing for the fences and love it or hate it you have to admire it. Sometimes Wide Awake is slightly comedic and charming but for the most part it lays the emotion on way too thick and ends up feeling forced. This may be the studio attempting to push Night into making their generic version of a heart warming film but between the cheesy music and obvious attempts at emotional response Wide Awake never really lands the way it wants. As things get more and more repetitive you can sense the filmmakers wanting to land a gut shot in the final scenes but instead end up landing on their faces with a completely tacky, far fetched ending.  5/10 

Unbreakable (2000)

Starring: Bruce Willis (Die Hard) and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction), Spencer Treat Clark (Gladiator) and Robin Wright (Moneyball)

Unbreakable gives itself the luxury no other Superhero movie before or after it ever could. It’s an entire movie that is literally only an origin story. This makes a lot of people mad and intrigues a lot of others, like myself. It’s fun to really pick apart and analyze what makes a regular guy a superhero, especially in a world where there are no other superheroes to speak of. In Unbreakable David (Willis) is in a train that derails and obliterates everyone on board except for himself, who is left without a scratch. Elijah (Jackson) who has a rare disorder where his bones break like glass upon the slightest impact. This leads him to become obsessed with comic book heroes and search for one in the real world when he finds David who mysteriously seems to have never been sick or been hurt in his life. He becomes obsessed with making David out to be a hero and David slowly begins to believe him as stranger things begin to happen.

Willis and Jackson are excellent playing off one another and their roles and characters are perfectly carved out for comic book lore. Maybe Night does spend a bit too much time focusing on Davids broken relationship with his wife Audrey but it does add some character depth in the end and isn’t all bad. If you love super hero movies and are interested in the thought of us having a real life superhero among us today and what that would be like than I would recommend watching this immediately. It really is an M. Night Shyamalan superhero flick. Making it not a standard comic book flick at all as you should not expect epic battles or super powers facing off against one another but rather a hero and a villain facing off against themselves as they come in to their own and realize their own powers. The ending of this rubbed many the wrong way as it basically ends on a cliffhanger but I found it to be a legitimate twist and found it making me want to watch Unbreakable again immediately. Sure there are some plot holes and a lack of legitimate action but the drama and acting are top notch and its a well made, excellently Directed flick by Night that probably won’t ever get its due. If Christopher Nolan is legendary for making Batman realistic than Night should be lauded as well for Unbreakable.   8.0/10

                                                                                                               

 Signs (2002)                        

Signs

Starring: Mel Gibson (Lethal Weapon), Joaquin Pheonix (Walk the Line), Rory Culkin (Mean Creek) , Abigail Breslin (Zombieland) and M. Night Shyamalan

Signs is one of those movies I’ll always remember watching for the first time. Being a sucker for Alien movies to begin with; when the found footage camcorder shows us the alien for the first time at that birthday party with those kids I almost fell out of my seat. This was out of fear and excitement at the site of what I would have imagined an alien to look like in real life. When Night is at his best this is what he offers us….a movie moment that either shocks or surprises his audience to the point they won’t ever forget it. I doubt many people forget the first time the twist was revealed to them watching The Sixth Sense. This was that moment for me and helps make this my personal favorite of all Nights films. Not for that moment alone though.

The acting in Signs is perfect, hilarious and could not ever be duplicated by any other cast because of the one of a kind personalities that Pheonix and Gibson bring to the screen. They play brothers Graham (Gibson) and Merrill (Pheonix) who live together in a small community in Pennsylvania on  farm where they raise Graham’s two kids after his wife passes away. The two kids Morgan (Culkin) and Bo (Breslin) put together some of the best and most eccentric children characters ever. When aliens show up and start leaving signs in their crops the family reacts in different ways. Some of the reactions hilarious while others are heartbreaking. Graham who used to be a preacher until he lost his faith after his wife was killed by a drunk driver has his lack of faith put to the test and his kids have a hard time dealing with him. Signs is more than an alien movie….its a great character story as well and when Night gets it right….and his overtly dramatic script is acted this flawlessly he can make one hell of a fun, deep, funny and dark science fiction film. This film also features my favorite acting performance by Night.   9/10

Lady in the Water (2006)

Starring: Paul Giammatti (Cinderella Man), Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village)

Not a lot to say about this one because it has nothing that make Nights movies memorable. It was almost like a detox of all the bad stuff he sometimes does in films. Completely miserable to try and follow or understand, stupidly far fetched and completely over serious and not interesting. Paul Giammatti is wasted and so are the talents of the Director. I mean it was like a kids take without a hint of enchantment or fun. Giammatti manages to deliver a hell of a performance as the stuttering Apartment Manager and Bryce Dallas Howard was okay, Night played a typical Night role and everyone else in the film was utterly atrocious. I cannot imagine someone making a less interesting story than the one Night tried to piece together here. Low point of his career and I don’t know if you have noticed yet but I am a Night apologist for the most part. Not this time. If it weren’t for Giammatti this films blu-ray wouldn’t be fit for use as a coaster under a cold beverage.  2/10

The Happening (2008)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg (The Departed), Zooey Deschanel (Yes Man) and John Leguizamo (Spun)

I have no good defense for this movie except this…. it’s a B movie! Think about it. Over the top performance bordering on laughable, ridiculous death scenes and a plot tied together with a  piece of burnt yarn. I mean c’mon don’t tell me it wasn’t hilarious when the big reveal turned out that the plants were killing us or when Mark Wahlberg mentioned that we should try and out run the wind. Depending on how you watch The Happening it is either infuriatingly stupid or its a fun, dumb movie to watch and laugh at. For me it’s fun but for most people it seems to anger  them beyond belief. John Leguizamo’s amazingly underrated performance is wasted here and that is upsetting but how often do you get to see a popcorn B movie made with the money and effects of a big studio release? Mark Wahlberg’s worst or best role performance ever I still can’t tell. The question is did Night know he was making a laughably over the top fun movie? Or did he think he was making a film that he wanted people to take seriously? You better answer right Shyamalan because at one point a tiger rips a dudes arm right off via youtube video and it looks like a Funny or Die sketch. Hell with it… I still have fun watching this movie so I’m gonna choose to assume he meant to make it that way.  6.0/10

After Earth (2013)

Starring: Will Smith (Independence Day), Jaden Smith (Karate Kid)

Other films by M. Night:

Praying With Anger (M. Nights first film is a hard one to find)

The Sixth Sense- This film put Night on the map and added huge expectations as well. One of the most epic twist endings of all time Night crafted an excellent ghost story about a little boy who famously sees dead people and Bruce Willis and the child psychologist with the job of helping him. Original, admirably acted, written, directed and shocking to boot….this film is a classic.   8.5/10

The Village- M. Night takes a great cast and what seems like a great story and lands a twist at the end that does all the wrong things for the viewer. It was original sure, but it makes the rest of the film we worked through a waste. This flick is really where audiences started getting angry with Night and understandably so to an extent. It was a choppy film to say the least.  4/10

The Last Airbender- I think we know now that Night should make his own original material rather than make films using others ideas and stories. This popular title was torn apart by critics and fans and rightfully so as it was a total bore that apparently wasted a lot of money as well.  4/10

Final thoughts on M. Night Shyamalan:  For the most part M. Nights career has been all about swinging for the fences and whether he hits a home run or falls on his face he takes cinematic chances and usually makes things interesting if nothing else. You have to admire a Director with a signature style such as his and those asking for his departure from the movie business should be careful what they wish for…..this guy could have multiple classics left in him. Sure, you run the risk of spending ticket money to merely walk back out of a theater angry at not getting what you expected but isn’t that more intriguing than walking in knowing exactly what to expect? He gave us that with After Earth and it didn’t turn out so well. It scares me to think we may very well run this guy out of the business and I can’t help but think we would be missing out on an original storyteller by doing so. He has made more passable films than many other Directors whom we don’t criticize. Thats because those Directors never did anything to make us sit up and take notice. Atleast most of what Night has done has been memorable…. for better and worse.

“Leprechaun” Reboot has a Director


Leprechaun, a 1993 horror film about an evil Leprechaun that goes on a killing spree and attacks a group of young people including Jennifer Aniston (in her first ever movie role) looking for his stolen pot of gold is getting the reboot treatment.  Hollywood will remake anything these days wont they? Next thing you know we will be getting the re-imagination of Battlefield Earth or better yet…. someone will try to remake a classic movie like Carrie. Oh, that’s right they already did that (shoot me in the face). While Leprechaun may be a slight cult classic I doubt anybody is worried about the reputation of the film being tarnished at-least and with that being said….who knows it could be fun.

Either way Leprechaun has found its Director in Zach Lipovsky who made it to the top 16 of the competitors in the reality TV show On the Lot, where aspiring movie makers were competing for a deal with Dreamworks. Other than that Lipovsky only has a few made for TV films under his belt as a Director but does have a strong visual effects background which is really all you need for this type of film. I mean…. it is a movie about a killer Leprechaun after all. Martin Scorcese isn’t exactly necessary. 

Leprechaun will be produced by WWE studios who also produced the surprisingly fun thriller The Call starring Halle Berry earlier this year. The character of Leprechaun himself will be played by Dylan Postl whose usual job is as WWE wrestling characters Shortstack and Little Bastard.  This is one of those projects that is just too easy to rag on and that actually adds a layer of interest for me personally. I’m not saying I’m excited to watch this movie by any means but we’ll start with being merely interested in what kind of tone they go for in the trailer. Being highly optimistic here, the reboot could be entertaining as a stupid kind of fun horror flick and the original Leprechaun used to freak me out quite a bit…. but then again I was eight years old at the time.

Mike Holtz, WeWatchedAMovie

“Hemlock Grove” Review (Netflix Original Series) – Episode 1


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Hemlock Grove – Episode 1 – Jellyfish in the sky Review

By: Mike Holtz, WeWatchedAMovie

Directed By: Eli Roth (Cabin Fever)

Starring: Famke Jansenn (Rounders) , Landon Liboiron (The Howling: Reborn) , Bill Skarsgard (Behind Blue Skies)

It’s time that Twilight fans knew that werewolves weren’t all bad actors with abs. Hemlock Grove is a Netflix Original show from Horror heavyweight Eli Roth.  The last Netflix Series House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey and Directed by David Fincher was a critical success and for those who watched it, HBO worthy programming. This leaves high hopes for Roth and Hemlock Grove as the whole season debuts on Netflix April 19th.

Hemlock Grove centers around a really odd town that’s kind of like a grown up version of Eerie Indiana or Bon Temps from True Blood. Every character we meet in the pilot episode is just a bit off. It opens with a bang involving the previously mentioned werewolf and let’s just say it didn’t cover its victim in glitter.

You get the picture from the start that much like House of Cards, Hemlock Grove is going to take advantage of not having to rate it’s shows as in true Roth fashion we get both intestines and a naked prostitute early on. There’s not a whole lot of killing or horror that comes from the first episode however as we are instead introduced to the show’s peculiar characters. After all, we have a whole season to fill of nudity and murder and still plenty of time to make a tightly woven story with characters you actually care about. That’s what makes un-rated horror shows so fun and is why I was anxiously awaiting Grove’s premiere in the first place.

The most interesting character in the first episode was a tie between Roman (Skarksgard); an embarrassingly rich kid with a really cool but dark side to him whose mother Olivia (Jansenn) clearly has some issues of her own and Peter (Liboiron), a gypsy that steals and drinks a lot but also might be a Werewolf.. You can sense these two are going to have some run ins later in the show and both of them seem witty and arrogant which should make for a good time. You get the feeling these mostly unknown but memorable actors may not stay unknown for long if the show takes off.

Hemlock Grove seems to have well written characters with pasts and intentions just waiting to be explored. Eli Roth is going to give it the horror bite and darkly comic twist it needs to stay original.  The environment is surreal and creepy and its entire world is like a sandbox for creepy things. I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of what Hemlock Grove has to offer and while I’m not hooked enough to watch the whole season today, I fear the addiction may set in soon.  Jellyfish in the Sky sets a nice tone and introduces us to some sleek characters and spooky things. It’s an entrancing enough beginning to what I hope becomes a season full of nasty and violent things to supplement some well-rounded characters.

3/4 Netflix Stars

Sinister movie review


 

Sinister Movie review

By: Mike Holtz, WeWatchedAMovie

Directed by: Scott Derickson (Hellraiser: Inferno, Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Starring: Ethan Hawke (Taking Lives, Daybreakers), Juliet Rylance, James Ransone (Broken City, Prom Night)

 

Ellison (Ethan Hawke) is a writer who follows unsolved crime stories and writes books investigating them himself. He had a bestseller ten years ago called “Kentucky Blood” but hasn’t had a hit since. So he moves his family into a new home where the family occupying the house had been murdered with the exception of a little girl, who was missing. Desperate for another hit book and buried under pressure from his unknowing and un-patient wife, Ellison works diligently to solve the case of the missing little girl for his new book. After coming across a box of videos in the attic of the family that was murdered he realizes he may be opening a door to something he won’t be able to walk away from.

Ethan Hawke delivers a performance we aren’t used to in horror films. He plays a character not sure of his own true motives. He wonders whether he is putting his family through this to save a missing child or to prove he can write a great book after his last several have failed.  He closes himself off from his family out of obsession with the book yet never goes off the deep end. He is reserved and does a great job showing his inner turmoil using subtle facial expressions and line delivery rather than going off the deep end and overacting. You can sense his fear without being told about it. It’s a refreshing performance for a genre not known for its acting. Especially since for the majority of the film he’s the only one on screen.

Most of the horror in Sinister comes from the found footage video reels we view alongside Ellison. They document several terrible incidents; one in particular involving a lawn mower that is extremely unsettling. A lot of the other scenes meant to frighten though are much less original and less disturbing. Even with the slow burning suspense of the film; the ending scene comes fast and is slightly disappointing. It always felt as though the scares could have been taken a step further.

Sinister has a nice platform to tell a horror story and a capable actor in a role that fits him perfectly. At times the slow pace is perfectly suspenseful, leading us to believe we are in for an emotionally scarring climax (in a good way). At other times it had me rolling my eyes as plot lines were re-enforced over and over again (We get it, he needs a new bestseller!) and left me wondering if the film had enough time left after an hour and fifteen minutes passed to truly frighten. The footage Ellison finds delivers a lot of extremely eerie sequences but when the horror begins to occur in real time Sinister loses its originality and feels like a different film entirely.

The whole story and feel of the film though is pleasantly creepy and it’s ultimately a well-made horror film that unfortunately falls short of being as memorable or frightening as I’d hoped. It may not have been as scary as I would have liked, but it is a good film that happens to be horror. That’s rare enough to appreciate a little. 7/10

 

Chained Movie Review


Chained Movie Review By Mike Holtz, WeWatchedAMovie

Directed by: Jennifer Chambers Lynch (Surveillance) Starring: Vincent D’Onofrio (The Cell, Men In Black, Sinister), Eamon Farren, Evan Bird (The Killing), Jake Weber (Dawn of the Dead)

When a boy named Rabbit (Farren) and his mom try to take a taxi home after a movie, the driver turns out to be a serial killer who murders the mother and keeps the boy captive. He raises the boy as if he was lower than a dog. Allowing him only to eat what’s left on his master’s plate and forcing him to clean up after each horrendous murder he commits. The boy grows up under his rule, chained to his own filthy bed. The film is a hard to watch foray into the relationship of the boy, now a grown man and the twisted psyche of the psychopath that abducted him.

Chained has you uneasy from start to finish. There are no moments of comfort as you wait for the Taxi Driver Bob (D’Onofrio) to bring home another victim or fly off the handle and abuse Rabbit at any moment. All the while we are faced with the hopelessness of Rabbit’s situation. From the moment you see he has grown into an adult under the captivity of Bob, you know in your gut there may be no happy ending in site.

The casting choices for Chained are perfect. Especially Vincent D’Onofrio. With deliberately unpredictable movements and strange speech impediments make his character more realistic than you’d ever want him to be and Eamon Farren does a great job putting him-self in an unspeakably horrible situation in a role that had to be difficult to play.

If you are like me, the question you may find yourself asking is why. Why am I watching this poor kid be subjected to such a terrible life? I can only have patience for this amount of ugliness if there is a reason for it. Thankfully Chained mildly succeeds here. There is some method to the madness because they are exploring what makes a person like Bob so sadistic which is strangely fascinating. We see the interactions between these two in an unfathomably horrible situation and the relationship that unfolds through force as if we are a fly on the wall, thankful to go unnoticed.  It’s hard to watch but it’s not ugly just for the sake of being ugly like many other films of its nature and that’s what kept my attention throughout. It’s torturous but it’s not pointless torture porn either.

I get the feeling the ending was meant to be a shocker. It fell flat in that regard and was so off pace with the rest of the film that it leaves you in-different. There are some questions left to be answered which is sure to give you something to debate with your friends afterward. Assuming you don’t feel like you need a shower immediately after watching Chained. It’s a dark and dungy way to spend a couple of hours but it’s not all for naught. There are a lot of interesting characterizations to explore in Chained even if its not quite on the level of sensationalism it was shooting for.  6.5/10