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Oh, the Horror!

In general the horror genre is my favorite.  But these days, the lack of good horror films has proven to be much scarier than the movies themselves.  In the spirit of Halloween, I’ve decided to try to delve deeper into the horror movie catacombs in search of films that have flown under the radar.  Somewhat invisible to the big Hollywood limelight, there are many films that people have never heard of usually that turn out to be better than the ones we pay $8.00 and up to go see in the cinema.  I still have a lot of work to do but here are a few that I’ve checked out recently.

Blackout (2007)

          Complete strangers find themselves trapped in an elevator due to a neighborhood blackout.  Each one of them desperately needing to be somewhere else at the very time they become entombed with each other.  As the minutes turn into hours and frustration turns into being terrified, they slowly learn more and more about each other.  Including the fact that one of them is keeping a secret; that they are a serial killer.

            I know what you’re thinking, “ok, this sounds just like M. Night’s Devil that came out last month”.  I thought the same thing, in fact that was one of the main aspects that lured my attention.  The outcome is that, yes, it is similar but I may remind you that this film was released in 2007.  So if anyone is actually playing copycat, it would be the newest project.  But there are differences; the obvious number of people trapped on the elevator, their reasons for wanting to rid themselves of the transport their sharing and there’s nothing supernatural about this one. 

            Beginning with potential, the story written by Ed Dougherty fizzles towards the end. It drags a little and yes, it won’t be hard to guess who the serial killer is.  M. Night made it reasonably difficult to decipher who the culprit was in his film.  Nevertheless, I recommend checking it out if you like “guessing the killer” plotlines.  Amber Tamblyn, Aidan Gillen and Armie Hammer star in this thriller directed by Rigoberto Castaneda.
I give it “2.5 stuck elevators out of 5”.

“I have to get out of here before my daughter gets home”

Deadline (2009)

          A writer who is in desperate need of completing her next novel seeks peace and quiet in an old Victorian home alone.  She secludes herself with no car, no internet, just the house and her cell phone and her laptop which she uses to write upon.  During the night, she over hears strange noises and voices including a piano playing all by itself but of course when she investigates, she finds nothing.  She comes across a series of videotapes that captured the everyday going-on’s of a young newlywed couple who used to live there.  From playing the tapes, she discovers the husband has a jealous rage side which sits very uneasy with his bride.  She finds herself thrusted into their lives which forces her to deal with hidden demons from her own past.

            The late Brittany Murphy headlines this film released in 2009, probably one of the last movies she worked on before her unexpected death in December.  The best thing about this film was probably the setting.  The classic horror environment of an old, dark and quiet house sets the eerie mood needed for a haunted house movie.  Writer/director Sean McConville makes a valiant effort at combining the couples’ untold story with that of Murphy’s characters’ past but it kind of falls flat for me.  The second best aspect of this film is following the story of the young husband and wife.  I found myself sticking around just to see what happened with them. 

            Might be one to check out with your better half with the mild hints at a love story gone awry.  That way, the guys can turn to their ladies and say, “see honey, I would never treat you like that”, always (ok, maybe just usually) a guaranteed good night after the movie is over (Enter: your own bedroom scene).  Thora Birch, Tammy Blanchard and Marc Blucas round out the rest of the cast.  I give it “2 creepy houses out of 5”.

“You look like an angel when you’re sleeping”

Train (2008)

            A young American wrestling team ventures to Europe to compete in a tournament.  Ignoring their coaches’ orders to be in bed early so they can make an early train ride the next day, they attend a party instead.  This causes them not to make it back to their hotel until the next morning missing their trains’ departure.  A strange woman offers her assistance, inviting them to join the passengers aboard another train headed in the same direction.  Enter complete gruesomeness; the events that follow are not for the faint of heart.

            Some might single this film out as “torture porn”.  Still not exactly knowing what’s so pornographic about seeing people being sliced open and mutilated, I classify it as Hostel on tracks.  The above average special effects make for some pretty entertaining scenes of blood and gore.  The audience receives hints here and there for the reason that people are sinisterly capturing and removing body parts to help the plot along.  Although not too difficult to figure out what this mysterious motive is, I wouldn’t say the mystery carries very well within the film.  Of course the star of the movie is the relentless carving of unsuspecting American passengers.

            There are a couple of moments in this movie where you swear it is going to end but it finds some way to continue.  I was pleased with the first try at this but then it seemingly became a little old.  Usually placing a magnificent story line within a horror movie is not easy to do so it generally falls on the special effects and killing off of the characters to make it watchable.  This film stood suit with the latter.  People die quickly and viciously.  If you’re looking for lots of blood and just nasty scenes of decaying bodies, this one is for you.  Thora Birch heads a cast of unfamiliar's including Gideon Emery, Kavan Reece and Gloria Votsis.  I give it “3 reasons not to get on a strange train in a foreign country out of 5”.

“Why are you doing this?”


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