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6/10
Better than Second One
29 October 2019
The first Hell House LLC really stuck with me. I enjoyed that movie a lot. The second one ... meh. This one sort of returned to the original premise but with an ending that mostly wraps up the series (maybe).

The cast is decent, the plot ... okay. There's only so many ways you can keep telling this story, so ....

This one was better than the 2nd movie, but like the 2nd movie, this was an unnecessary sequel to the 1st. In horror, there is no need to wrap up loose ends!

Anyway, the first one was good enough that I had to watch the next two, so ... I guess that's why they make sequels.
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5/10
An Unnecessary Sequel
29 October 2019
The first Hell House LLC was really good. Yeah, there were things left unanswered, there were questions ... but that's fine. In horror, not everything needs an answer.

This one definitely feels like it has a lower budget than the last one, even if they were the same. I don't know, this definitely felt like a made-for-TV deal, even for a FF horror film.

Anyway, there were too many things that were just implausible here to work. They were trying too hard, I think, to expand the plot and the "terror" of the Abaddon Hotel by making it bigger than it needed to be.

The scare factor just wasn't there in this film. Yeah, there were some creepy moments, but on the whole, this one flopped for me. Like the Abaddon Hotel--and the first film--some things are just better left alone.
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8/10
Surprisingly Good
29 October 2019
I'm not using a fan of found footage horror films, but a lot of people were recommending this, so I gave it a shot. I really liked it. They definitely did a great job nailing the building tension and terror. The acting was generally good. And the plot was plausible as were the character motivations. The problems, usually, with found footage films is the seemingly irrational reason for someone to use their cameras even at the most horrific moments. For most of this film, there are valid reasons. Only a few moments are you thinking "why would they have a camera on for this?" I'm also sure that most haunted attractions do not allow customers to take video of the attraction itself while inside ... but that's a minor point.

The sequels were of lower quality, but they did answer some of the questions ... that maybe didn't need answering. Still, I enjoyed the first one enough to watch the two sequels, so that says something.

I definitely recommend!
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6/10
Menacing Jason
23 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This film took the best parts of the original 4 Fridays the 13th and made a single film that works for 2009, though watching it ten years later, there are some parts that are ... dated.

Remember back in the 2000s how some men had long feathered hair? Crazy, but they did, and all the main male characters in this film have that haircut. But I digress.

This iteration of Friday the 13th does a good job of upping the fear factor. Jason is menacing and brutal.

As expected, the cast of characters are all two-dimensional and have no point other than to be fodder for Jason to kill in gruesome ways.

One thing that is always funny about these sorts of movies is the hodgepodge of characters the director throws together. In what world does a wealthy college boy (sort of a jock) invite two stoners (losers) to his cabin for a weekend? He's not going to do that.

Anyway, this isn't a perfect film, but it does a fine job updating the franchise and it's a shame Friday the 13th has been dead for 10 years now.
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Halloween (I) (2018)
6/10
Disappointed
11 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I love the Halloween franchise. I'll even watch ... sigh ... when Bust-a-rhymes is battling Michael Myers. And I fully admit how bad each successful sequel got. And I fully agree that the Rob Zombie films were a disaster.

But I expected so much from Halloween 2018. This film is definitely of a higher caliber than anything that has come before in terms of production quality, cast and cast ... very similar to H20. But I was disappointed.

First, the good: The music ... oh the music is the best Halloween score, I dare say, since the original. John Carpenter and crew really nail the music with the synth and the spooky tones. The soundtrack alone bumps this film up a star in my book.

The cast all do a commendable job, though I thought Will Patton's role was underused.

The tension in the final act is definitely there. They nailed that. When Laurie is hunting the Shape through the house, your eyes are glued to the screen.

The Mask. A lot of the masks in the sequel were downright silly. This mask is perfect.

The Bad:

The teen characters teen too hard. A lot of the teenager scenes just felt overdone. The great part about the original Halloween is that the teens all were very authentic. The teens in this film were more like a 45 year old's take on how teens act these days.

The executive decision to excise ALL material from the sequels and make this a direct sequel to the original. Here me out. Yes, the sequels really made a mess with the contrived storylines involving family and Laurie dying but not dying, then dying again, she had a daughter, no she had a son ... oh and there was some cult that made Michael evil. Making a cohesive story while keeping all that would have been near impossible. But ... to completely ignore it brought out a major problem. Michael Myers loses his gravity as a mass-murdering monster. Yes, I can buy that Laurie would be traumatized by her encounter with the Shape. She most likely would have PTSD and become an alcoholic and have deep psychological issues. All that was great character development. But why would teens in Haddonfield, 40 years later, know or care about Michael Myers? He killed his sister when he was a kid and then killed 4 people as an adult (according to this new timeline). So what? There's even one teen character who suggests as much, who brings up this plot point, but it is just dismissed as "dude, her grandmother was almost killed." No, no, you still need to explain why everyone is so obsessed with Michael Myers? Why are British podcasters interested in him? They're award-winners, after all, why go to a small Illinois town to get a story on an old murderer from 40 years ago? You get what I'm saying? By removing the yearly rampages of death that Michael inflicted throughout the sequels, you reduce Michael to just a common criminal.

Then there's the fact that by removing the supernatural element to Michael, you need to explain how Michael could recover from getting shot 6 times (or even fewer). HE was also stabbed in the neck, had an eye gouged out, and was stabbed in the chest BEFORE Loomis put six slugs in his chest. That's what made the ending of the original so great ... oh my God, this guy is unstoppable! So he's not supernatural (or maybe he is, who knows) He then is able to exist in maximum security prison and after 40 years of no exercise, he's strong enough to overpower anyone? You see what I'm getting at here?

The point is, by removing ALL the material from the sequels, you reduce Michael Myers to nothing, and yet this movie's whole premise is dependent on the legacy of those sequels.

Okay, enough of that.

I still enjoyed the film. It has its moments, it has its charm. I would rank it as 3rd or 4th in terms of Halloween films.
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Oculus (I) (2013)
6/10
Good Except for the Ending
13 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I thought the psychological aspect of this film was well-done. The characters never knew what was real and the audience had to keep guessing as well. The mirror really was a character itself and boy is it evil. The cast did a good job, including Karen Gillan in her first American role.

Spoilers:

So the premise is that these two siblings who are now adults experienced a horrific series of events when they were growing up. Through flashbacks and dialogue, we learn that the boy shot and killed his father after his father shot and killed their mother. The boy spent his childhood institutionalized while the girl grew up in foster care. When the boy is released from care, the sister picks him up and promptly asks him to help her expose the truth--that their father and mother had become possessed by the evil in the mirror. The girl has set up the whole house to detect the paranormal, complete with a failsafe device that will (hopefully) destroy the mirror unless they are still alive to keep resetting it.

The mirror almost immediately begins to mess with their minds, twisting them so far out of reality that the experiment ultimately ends in utter tragedy for both of them.

I do wish the ending had been different, but I understand they were trying to establish that the mirror is too evil and too powerful, or that perhaps the siblings should have simply destroyed the mirror first without trying to prove anything. At any rate, the way the film ended felt a bit abrupt. Perhaps they planned on a sequel?
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The Ranger (2018)
3/10
What's with the Hype??
13 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I've seen this film on several lists of "must watch horror for 2018!!!" Really???

Maybe 2018 was just really short of horror films? I dunno.

Why is this not a good film? It just doesn't have anything good about it. You already know who the bad guy is coming into the film "The Ranger." It's no big surprise when he starts the punks. There was a clunky attempt to have a "she becomes just like the killer" at the end, but it just was weird and didn't hit the mark.

I also really never felt any empathy toward any of the characters other than the police officer who is killed in the beginning. The punks could have all died for all I cared because they had no redeeming qualities. Even the girl was complicit in murder and I didn't really care what happened to her.

The biggest selling point of this movie was that it was unique because it took an 80's slasher motif and applied the punk label to it. Whenever people try to pay homage to old 80s horror films, they usually fall flat. So does this one.

You can skip this one and not feel like you lost anything. In fact, if you do watch it, you'll lose about an hour and a half of your life.
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Winchester (2018)
6/10
Not as Bad as the Reviews ... But Not Remarkable Either
7 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Here we have yet another haunted house scrip that features a skeptic who is proven wrong ... and saves the day motif. There's nothing wrong with that if done well. Haunted house stories can be quite good (see The Haunting of Hill House). With Winchester, you have some good ingredients: the Winchester House is real and already creepy as it is, you have the film set in 1905 during a time when spiritualism was big, and you have a good cast.

The problem? Meh, it just failed to all come together. Jason Clark plays the man with an unfortunate past who doesn't believe in ghosts ... yet he sees weird stuff but chalks it up to his laudanum addiction. He goes to do a mental evaluation on Sarah Winchester, who by now has constructed the bizarre house. See, the Winchester Company is concerned about her mental state and would like to wrest control over the company from her. In the house is also Sarah's niece and the niece's son. These latter two characters seem more like an after-thought ... and ultimately, they detract from the main plot... And that's the problem. The plot forgets itself halfway through the movie. Clark's character goes from one who is assessing Winchester's mental state to one of trying to protect her from an evil spirit.

It probably would have worked better if the plot were for him to figure out if she was crazy or not rather than switch tracks halfway through.

I think they didn't use the house as much as they could have. The place is a literal maze, but after you are introduced to it in the first act, the house is just a backdrop ... a place for these things to happen.

Additionally, the creepy factor never really set in for me. Seeing "ghosts" so early in the film removed the tension. Finally, why did the evil ghost wait so long to attempt to kill Sarah Winchester? He had been dead for over twenty years. Seems like he could have made that his top priority once he assumed ghost-like status ... but maybe I missed something.

Anyway, this isn't a bad movie. It's worth a viewing but don't expect too much from it.
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5/10
I don't get the great reviews
10 July 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Perhaps fans of the comic book found something in this, but ... I just don't get it.

You'd think the premise of this film--Ranarok, the destruction of Aasgard--would be front and center in this film. Instead, that's more like a side plot. Most of the film takes place on this absurd trash planet ruled over by Jeff Goldblum.

Along the way, we see the death of Odin, the introduction of Hela (who should have been a fantastic villain) and the deaths of the warriors 3 (though they get about 5 seconds of screen time before their quick demise).

So basically, Thor and Loki get stranded on Jeff Goldblum's planet during a brief fight with Hela. This, after Hela easily destroy's Thor's hammer. Thor is then captured and forced to fight as a gladiator ... against the Hulk, who just so happens to be on this planet after the events of Age of Ultron (something something wormhole on earth that didn't drag anyone else in something something plot needs to tie in other Avengers for Infinity War). Oh and somehow the Hulk has been the Hulk for 2 years ... Thor finds out his enslaver is a Valkyrie and he must convince her to help him save Aasgard while also navigating Loki's usual machinations.

Anyway, during all this Aasgard is suffering under Hela, who has slaughtered the army, raised an undead army of her own, freed her giant wolf, and is "getting more powerful" with each passing day. Meanwhile Heimdall has been helping Aasgardians escape.

Therein lies the problem. This was two movies crammed into one and we could have done without the silliness that was Jeff Goldblum's planet. Hela was completely underused. We're told how powerful she is going to become, but we see her easily defeat Thor and Loki in her first few minutes, then she easily annihilates all the soldiers and establishes herself as ruler. It would have been cool to see her powers grow, to actually see her become this formidable foe for Thor.

Speaking of Thor, he loses his hammer ... and his hair, then with a fight against Hela later, he loses an eye. Oh and he becomes the true god of Thunder (and lightning), which is supposed to be cool, but it doesn't do much in his fight against Hela.

The other problem is how much comedy is injected into this film. For instance, when the Warriors 3 are killed, Karl Urban's character sees this and says "I'm just a janitor." Ill-timed comedy completely minimizes the death of these friends of Thor (nevermind they are never mentioned again). Then, when Aasgard is destroyed, there's some comedic lines ... it should have been a somber moment--seeing the destuction of Aasgard (yeah yeah, I know, Aasgard is a people not a place).

I don't know, this film really missed the mark for me.
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