ORBzine - Unreality 2014 Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

Inception

Inception This was directed by Christopher Nolan , and (much like the heist itself) works on a number of different levels. Unfortunately, the dense plotting means that many viewers may be out of their depth.

Leo DeCaprio ( Titanic ) and Joseph Gordon Levitt ( Looper ) are hi-tech thieves who steal secrets from their victim's head. To do this, they have to enter the person's subconscious and interact with their dreams - a dream within a dream, as Edgar Allen Poe put it.

Our heroes are hired to do the impossible - to plant an idea in a man's mind. Their target is Cillian Murphy ( Batman Begins ). They recruit a team that includes Tom Hardy ( Star Trek: Nemesis ) and Ellen Page (the girl from Juno).

As an added distraction, Leo has the same subplot he did in Shutter Island - he is haunted by the death of his suicidal wife. This time she is played by the French actress who (like Tom Hardy and Gordon Levitt) appeared in Nolan's next Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises ).

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    Looper

    Looper Joseph Gordon-Levitt ( Inception ) is a Looper, a hitman in the year 2044. He and his compadres wipe out a steady stream of victims sent back from 30 years in the future. Apparently the far future's technology means that destroying a body is impossible. However, this has not prevented a psycho named The Rainmaker from slaughtering dozens of people and taking over the Five Syndicates. This Gang War is the source of the Loopers' victims, but they are now assigned to take out their future selves.

    As with all good Film Noirs, something goes wrong and our protagonist must go on the run. His future self (Bruce Willis, who already did this in Twelve Monkeys ) comes back, on a Terminator -like rampage to kill The Rainmaker and save the future.

    The problem with this story is the number of shocking coincidences. Our hero blunders into the families of TWO suspects, both within handy walking distance for him.

    Another Time Travel veteran, Garret Dillahunt ( Sarah Connor Chronicles ) pops up as a hitman. And Emily Blunt seems to be in everything these days, as she tries an American accent as a farm-girl.

    The result is a contrived mess full of temporal paradoxes. Unfortunately Time Travel in fiction only works in ways that the writer feels benefit the plot. Nobody cares about getting it to make sense any more. If reading this paragraph gives you a sense of deja-vu, either you are a time traveller or else the facts in it are true of so many Time Travel stories that it tends to get repeated a lot.

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    Adjustment Bureau

    Adjustment Bureau This is billed as Jason Bourne meets Inception , though it is nowhere near as action-packed as either. It's a romance with supernatural overtones, based on a story by Philip K. Dick .

    Matt Damon ( True Grit ) is a US Politician who meets Emily Blunt , an English ex-pat ballerina in NYC. But a group of supernatural entities (angels in all but name) who can alter reality have been ordered to manipulate his destiny and keep him apart from the woman. They call in Archangel Terence Stamp ( Phantom Menace ), who isn't afraid of using extreme methods.

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    Cloud Atlas

    Cloud Atlas This movie, adapted from a novel, follows a handful of people through six reincarnations as they weave interlocking stories across multiple time zones. Since the film runs for three hours there is no point in trying to summarise it all in a few paragraphs, so here are the basic outlines:

  • 1849: dying lawyer on a ship with a runaway slave
  • 1936: suicidal bisexual composer in England
  • 1972: journalist investigating Nuclear power plant
  • 2012: publisher on the run from creditors
  • 23rd Century: bio-engineered humanoid goes on the run
  • post-Apocalyptic: locate a communications structure while avoiding cannibals

    Each segment is told in a different fashion - melodrama, comedy, action-adventure and so on. The SPFX are incredible, and the make-up (which allows the cast to play different age groups, and even different races) is awesome.

    The Cast themselves are incredible. Halle Berry is her Oscar-worthy awesomeness, as always - but the real knockout is Tom Hanks ( Green Mile ). He conveys a series of different characters (or different takes on the same character) that are entirely convincing, and show his incredibly diverse range.

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    Source Code

    Source Code Jake Gyllenhall wakes up aboard a train. He has amnesia ... and as soon as her orientates himself in his new surroundings, a bomb goes off and kills everyone.

    It turns out that our hero is a time-traveller, sent back by Dr Jeffrey Rush ( Casino Royale ) to Quantum Leap into a dead man's body and find out who the bomber is.

    When our hero is not reliving the 8-minute time loop, he is trapped in a capsule - like Ryan Reynolds in Buried, communicating with an Erin Grey lookalike in full military dress uniform via a computer interface.

    This is a nice take on time travel - it has some interesting limitations (reminiscent of 7 Days ) and works on a number of levels. There is a love story, a 24-style anti-terrorist plot, and a scifi setting where the science is actually part of the plot. The excellent script is topped off with a competent director and a great cast - there is no weak link.

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    Deja Vu

    Deja Vu Urban terrorist Jim Caviezel ( Passion of the Christ ) sets off a bomb. Local police detective Denzel Washington investigates. Val Kilmer ( Willow ) borrows Detective Denzel for foot-work in a project, to solve the crime using Time travel.

    Denzel is a dreadful cop. He's so keen on following a suspect that he charges off alone to do what is obviously a two-man job. The result is that he causes multiple traffic pile-ups, involving god knows how many civilian casualties.

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    Kaboom

    Kaboom Thomas Dekker ( Sarah Connor Chronicles ) is a bisexual college boy ... who stumbles across a murderous conspiracy. Or was he just really high, and imagined the whole thing?

    As things get more and more convoluted, it becomes obvious how much the writer/director owes to Twin Peaks . Other good news is that this Indie film actually has the courage to let the female cast show their breasts in the sex scenes - unlike The Roommate , a recent dire mainstream Hollywood effort.

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    Time-Traveller's Wife

    Time-Traveller's Wife Eric Bana has a genetic abnormality which manifests itself when he gets stressed. He finds himself naked, usually in the woods. Yes, he's reliving his time as the Hulk - only this time he time-jumps (without a time machine). That said, he usually only does it within his own lifetime.

    Rachel McAdams is the title character, wife to Mr Bana. She sticks with him through a dozen miscarriages, because his offspring time-jump in the womb. Can they successfully carry a child to term?

    The other problem is, because she can see flashes of his life in a non-chronological sequence, she sees him bleeding from a lethal-looking gunshot. But he cannot change his fate, so he is doomed to live out the inevitable.

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    Time After Time

    Time After Time Jack the Ripper (David Warner - Time Bandits ) steaks a time machine from Bookish pacifist nerd HG Wells (Malcolm McDowell - Clockwork Orange, Tank Girl ). The novelist follows the serial killer, and finds himself a fish out of water in 1979 San Francisco! Luckily, Mary Steenburgen helps our hero.

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    Frequency

    Frequency This is a Hollywood time-travel thriller. Through the power of magic realism, Jim Caviezel ( Passion of the Christ in 1999 talks on the CB radio to his dad (Dennis Quaid - Dragonheart ) in 1969. There is some great father-son bonding. But they must team up to catch a serial killer. Unfortunately, as with all dramatic Time Travel stories, they change things for the worse.

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    Time Travellers, The

    Time Travellers, The Three scientists and an engineer create a time portal. They wander through, but get trapped. They meet Native American savages and hi-tech humans. They are in 2071, after a nuclear war. The survivors plan to go to Alpha Centauri. They have a teleporter beam. So why not just send the teleporter to Alpha Centauri, avoiding the necessity to build a colony ship?

    This film evokes memories of movies like Genesis II and The Langoliers . The Melrose scene is unconvincing, but the colony scenes are best. However, the ending is original.

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    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button This is based on a short story by F Scott Fitzgerald, updated for the 21st Century and brought to life by David Fincher .

    The title character is born with a strange medical defect - he ages backwards. Eventually he looks like Brad Pitt ( Fight Club ), and falls in love with ballerina Cate Blanchett . In real life the actors are about the same age, but here thanks to make-up they age in opposite directions. As time passes in New Orleans and Benjamin is seemingly unchanging, one is reminded of Interview with the Vampire .

    Typical of Fitzgerald's work, this is a slow and tedious drama. UK Comic 2000AD covered this idea in a 3-page Future-shock This is dragged out to over two hours, in an era when 90 minutes is about average for a film.

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    Back to the Future

    Back to the Future Marty McFly (Michael J Fox - Teen Wolf ) is a typical 1980s Californian teenager. He plays guitar, hangs out with a mad scientist, and skateboards to school every day with a Huey Lewis soundtrack. Mad Scientist? Yes, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd - Who Framed Roger Rabbit? ) invents a time-machine and installs it in a DeLorean car. Thanks to the intervention of some Libyan terrorists (stereotypical 1980s bad guys) Marty ends up driving that DeLorean back 30 years to 1955 …

    The first twenty minutes of the story is spent setting everything up for the 1950s. Conveniently for Marty, everyone middle-aged spent the entire day telling him what they did in the EXACT WEEK he gets sent back to. All he has to do is not interfere with the timeline. Can he do that? Well, he ends up having to play matchmaker with his own parents ( Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover - Charlie’s Angels ) or he will disappear from history, and can never go Back to the Future.

    This is a wonderful piece of film-making that works well on every level. Yes, the exposition-filled First Act seems clunky - but this is a comedy-drama, it should not be taken too seriously. What seems amazing is that the 1980s Marty would fit in so well almost 30 years later, while by travelling 30 years into the past he is completely a fish out of water. The 1950s is as foreign to him as it would be to us. In all fairness, Life on Mars did that with the 1970s. But it still makes the mind boggle …

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    Back to the Future III

    Back to the Future III This takes up where the previous film left off. Marty was abandoned in 1955, but Doc Brown sent him a letter on how to find the time machine. The Doc is in 1885, but Marty discovers that Mad Dog Tannen will murder him. Marty goes back to 1885, instead of forward to 1985 ...

    Once Marty and Doc are together again, the duo must re-enact the events of the first film, but in the wild west instead of the 1950s. Also, instead of Marty trying to discourage his own mother's romantic attentions, Dr Brown starts a burgeoning romance with schoolteacher Mary Steenburgen .

    There are plenty of references to the previous films. Marty meets his ancestor, who looks just like him - and for some strange reason his wife looks like Lea Thompson ... meaning Marty's parents were cousins! Marty poses as Clint Eastwood, and re-enacts one of the most famous scenes from the spaghetti Western series.

    There is an element of character development in this installment. Marty always gets riled when bullies insult him or challenge him - will he mellow out into a more Nineties type, and prevent the terrible personal future that awaits him in Back to the Future II ?

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    Sucker Punch

    Sucker Punch Zach Snyder delivers something with the comic-book visuals of Watchmen and the neo-Gothic anachronistic stle of Tim Burton's Batman . The intro is a music video to a re-mixed Annie Lennox song, where our heroine (a petite 20-year-old Buffy type) gets put into an asylum. She meets up with girls of her own age ( Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens ). but that is where the similarities to John Carpenter 's recent disappointment The Ward end.

    The girls fantasise that the drafty old Victorian Asylum is a more comfortable prison - a Moulin Rouge-style bordello where they are unjustly imprisoned, and our heroine only has 5 days to escape. And when she dances ...

    The heroine goes into a deeper fantasy, a dream within a dream - like Inception ! This is a World War One analogy, there the girls dress like Japanese school-girls embracing girl-power (think Kill Bill meets DOA: Dead Or Alive ) must slaughter armies of steampunk zombies, and stray orcs left over from Lord of the Rings ... Like 300 , but with girl-power.

    But is it anti-Feminist? Every female character is powerful and positive - the only dangers are fantasies, remember? (or are they?) The male characters are negative - with the exception of the mentor (Scott Glenn - Silence of the Lambs ) and a cop at the end (Ian Tracey). But the males are supporting characters, functionaries. This movie more than passes the infamous Bechdel test. But it shows that female empowerment is a male fantasy. And that seems to have created a negative backlash.

    In short, this is a love-it-or-hate-it film. In this reviewer's opinion ... watch it yourself, make your own mind up!

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    Lost Highway

    Lost Highway This is a David Lynch Film, and the structure certainly shows that. It is reminiscent of Mulholland Drive In more than one way.

    Bill Pullman ( Independence day ) is married to Patricia Arquette . But all is not well ...

    The middle section centres around Balthazar Getty ( ), a young man who gets seduced by a femme fatale (also played by Patricia Arquette ). She is the moll of gangster Robert Loggia (best known from a similar role in Scarface).

    The problem with this as a film noir is the surreal undertones that confuse matters.

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    Lovecraftian Stories

    The Whisperer in Darkness

    The Whisperer in Darkness This is an extended feature-length version of one of HP Lovecraft's short stories. The screenwriter added a third act, to give the story a climax and some closure. It is monochrome, shot in the manner of a 1930s Universal Studios-type Horror.

    A scientist investigates a farmer's claim that aliens and cultists inhabit a mountain near his remote farmhouse. He is completely genre-blind, making every cliched mistake in the book. But Lovecraft's works are probably the SOURCE for most of the cliches, so we have to give it a bit of leeway. The execution is excellent, taking us from suspense to a dramatic climax that grows effortlessly from Lovecraft's premature ending.

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    AM1200

    AM1200 A man on the run with stolen cash (a la Psycho ) ends up in a dead end ... He gets lost, and by incredible coincidence arrives at a spooky abandoned-looking radio station. The only inhabitant is John Billingsley ( Enterprise ) - who is almost unrecognisable, and gives an excellent performance.

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    Die Farbe

    Die Farbe This is an extended feature-length version of one of HP Lovecraft's short stories, The Colour out of Space. The modern-day bookends to the story explain why the setting has switched from New England, USA, to Weimar Germany.

    An American OAP goes missing. His son goes to Germany to find him. A German OAP tells him an incredible story ...

    Back in the 1930s a meteorite hit a remote farm. The rock from space dissolves into the ground, mysterious, creepy and suspenseful descent into insanity and horror.

    The film was shot in black and white, which works well since the story is set in the 1930s. Also, since the story is about an alien - imperceptible - colour, we cannot expect to actually see it.

    The climax - the colour itself finally appears - involves great SPFX. But it is too in-your-face to fit in with the relatively low-key film. The script is good enough, though - the confusions are tied up in a nice little twist.

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    Ghost Stories

    Paranormal Activity 2

    Paranormal Activity 2 A happy upper-middle-class family in California falls victim to a series of unfortunate events, which are recorded on the house's CCTV system. Naturally, since this is a sequel it has to be more extreme than the original.

    This ties in with the original film in a surprising way, providing additional backstory to the demonic haunting occurance.

  • Paranormal Activity
  • Paranormal Activity 3
  • Paranormal Activity 4
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    Paranormal Activity 4

    Paranormal Activity 4 After the disappearance of key characters in the first 2 movies, a woman and a young boy move into a house in suburban USA. The protagonist is a teenage girl, who (thanks to her BF) sets up webcams to watch everything in the house. Unfortunately they never bother to watch any of the spooky footage, or things might have ended differently. Her mother is played by genre star Alexondra Lee , a fact that destroys suspension of disbelief built up by the Found Footage setup.

  • Paranormal Activity
  • Paranormal Activity 2
  • Paranormal Activity 3
  • Paranormal Activity 5: The Marked Ones
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    Paranormal Activity 5: The Marked Ones

    Paranormal Activity 5 This is the fifth entry in the series. Like the others, it is presented as found footage, although the characters tend to record themselves at the most unusual times.

    The story follows a pair of latino teenagers in a working class area. They suspect that their neighbour is a witch. This follows on from the previous film, where the demonic entity was linked to a coven.

  • Paranormal Activity
  • Paranormal Activity 2
  • Paranormal Activity 3
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    Woman in Black (2011)

    Woman in Black (2011) Young lawyer Daniel Radcliffe ( Harry Potter ) is sent to oversee the sale of a remote country house. The superstitious locals try to dissuade him, but he will not take the hint. Local landowner Ciaran Hinds ( Ghost Rider ) helps him. Young Harry ends up in the house, which turns out to be haunted by a CGI banshee. And then the village's children start to die ...

    This is adapted from a novel, but there was actually a British TV version in the early 1990s. Despite being adapted by Jane Goldman ( Kick-Ass ), this version is actually a bit disappointing. It has been inflated up for the big screen, giving the ghost a lot more screen time. The original was a masterpiece of suspense, where the ghost was sometimes heard but rarely seen. This time, the sounds are more akin to the Lewton Bus, when it is all just a fake scare. The ghost itself is seen regularly, about as frightening as CGI can get (i.e. not at all). And the ending? Well, the facts have been altered so the tone is not so bleak. Basically, a dumbing-down for the mass-market audience who want a happy ending.

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    Woman in Black: Angel Of Death

    Woman in Black: Angel Of Death The haunted house has lain empty since the events of the previous film. But forty years have passed, and it is now the Blitz. A small class of half-a-dozen children are evacuated to the house. They have two teachers to look after them – nice to see that class sizes were so small in the good old days. However, the ghostly Woman In Black awakens and starts to do typically creepy things.

    The ghost can apparently read the minds of her victims, as well as possessing them. The young lady teacher (the Final Girl horror movie trope) has a secret – she once had her own child up for adoption, and never found him. One of the boys in the class has been orphaned, and he also gets special treatment from the ghost.

    The problem with this film is that it is basically just a ghost story. There are a lot of jump-scares (AKA the infamous Lewton Bus) – but while ghosts can make you jump, they really cannot do much to you. Except in the inevitable over-blown climax, but that is a different matter. The truth is, as with all ghost stories there is a lot of suspense but no pay-off.

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    Wind Chill

    Wind Chill A pair of college students drive across America. An ill-advised shortcut along a back-road So far, the most original thing about the film is the casting of English actress Emily Blunt as the female half of the duo, instead of the usual bikini babe.

    The pair get trapped in a snowdrift on a lonely mountain road. They start bickering as they fall apart under the strain. This is one of the better things about the film - the Blair Witch Project type examination of a group under stress. They enounter ghostly figures - first some mysterious hooded monks, then a vicious Highway Patrolman.

    As well as an unoriginal script, the film is also let down by choppy editing.

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    Oculus

    Oculus Psychiatrist Dr Manuel Davalos ( Medium ) gets a young man released from the asylum on his 21st Birthday. The man teams up with his sister ( Karen Gillen ) who is obsessed with destroying a magical mirror.

    The film is basically a rehash of 1408 , with predictably excessive use of the untruthful narrator. There are one or two powerful scares, but once it becomes apparent that the characters' perception of reality is corrupted beyond all recognition by the mirror itself the whole story becomes essentially meaningless.

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    Insidious

    Insidious Delivered by the brains behind the Saw series, this is their version of the new Paranormal Activity type of suburban horror. But it lacks the realism of a Found Footage story.

    A young boy is haunted - not by a ghost, but a Dream Demon, like something out of Nightmare on Elm Street . His mother ( Rose Byrne ) tries everything. They eventually have to call in parapsychologist Lin Shae .

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    Insidious 2

    Insidious 2 Rose Byrne tries to settle into normality after the events of the first movie. For some reason, her husband is behaving strangely.

    The parapsychologist team have info on a haunting when he was a child. Lin Shae was the original investigator.

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    The Conjuring

    The Conjuring This story is set in the early 1970s, so the compulsory sense of isolation and helplessness is compounded by the lack of 21st Century communications like internet or cell-phones.

    A family (including five daughters) move into an old farmhouse. They eventually explore the basement ... Yes, this is a trope that has already been done in Cabin in the Woods , and this should advise you what kind of film this is. The director also made Insidious , so the suspense level is high. But there is nothing really original or surprising in it.

    The husband is often away, so when spooky things happen the wife ( Lili Taylor ) calls in a couple of Ghostbusters - Patrick Wilson ( Watchmen ) and Vera Farmiga .

    This film has been condemned as anti-female, because the antagonist is the ghost of a witch-woman. But with strong roles for a couple of critically-acclaimed actresses (both aged over 35), this is about as good as it gets for a film set in the Seventies.

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    The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Haunting

    The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Haunting This story is set in the early 1970s, so we get the compulsory soundtrack of anachronistic music and montage of Margaret Thatcher clips.

    A family (two sons and two daughters) move into an old house. They play with a ouiji board ... Yes, this is a trope that has already been done in The Exorcist , and this should advise you what kind of film this is. The director manages to keep the suspense level is high. But there is nothing really original or surprising in it.

    The husband has abandoned his family, so when spooky things happen the mother ( Frances O'Connor ) calls in a couple of Ghostbusters - Patrick Wilson ( Watchmen ) and Vera Farmiga . As befits the Magic Negro trope, the outsiders happen to be experts in the exact same superstition of the demon. The Ghostbusters work for the Roman Catholic Church, so it turns out that the demon is a Catholic one. Surely it should be an Anglican Episcopalian one, since that is the State religion of England.

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    Quiet Ones, The

    Quiet Ones It is the 1970s, just like in The Conjuring . Mad Professor Jared Harris ( Fringe ) investigates mad virgin Olivia Cooke .

    This is only partly found footage, so like Insidious the pseudo-realistic feel means the writers can use the usual cliches.

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    Awakening, The (2011)

    Awakening, The (2011) Rebecca Hall looks like a young Saffron Burrows , and seems to be Britain's answer to Lynn Collins - she has been in a lot of major films, but nobody recognises her. Until now.

    Our heroine is an expert in fraudulent hauntings, in 1922 England. The land is still suffering from the loss of life in the First World War. She is summoned to investigate a haunting in a remote country house. The result is a stack of references to other ghost movies.

    The house is now in use as a boarding school for young boys. Dominic West (The Wire) is the Headmaster, and Imelda Staunton (a vicious teacher in the Harry Potter series) is the cook.

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    Lovely Bones, The

    Lovely Bones, The Saoirse Ronan is murdered by Stanley Tucci ( Captain America ). She watches from Purgatory while her parents Mark Walberg ( The Happening ) and Rachel Weitz try to get on with their lives. Like Ghost , but with less emphasis on the romance angle.

    This was Peter Jackson 's adaptation of a popular novel. It is a divisive film - made to cash in on a book, it is uninspiring as a stand-alone piece.

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    Lost Voyage

    Lost Voyage Lance Hendricksen ( Aliens ) and Sketchy from Dark Angel act out the plot of Ghost Ship . Judd Nelson (Breakfast Club) and Scarlet Chorvat round out the cast.

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    Below

    Below In 1943, a British hospital ship is torpedoed in the mid-Atlantic. Dexter Fletcher ( Kick-Ass ) and Nurse Olivia Williams end up being rescued by an American submarine. Then the spooky events start …

    The sub's dead Captain seems to be haunting the vessel. Specifically he is targeting the senior officers - Bruce Greenwood ( The Core ), Scott Foley (Scrubs, The Unit) and Holt Mcallany ( The Losers ). Luckily, the Final Girl has Matthew Davis ( Vampire Diaries ) on her side. Yes, there are a lot of very pretty (and unrealistically well-groomed) folk on this boat.

    Despite the overly attractive main cast, the director ( David Twohy ) does a great job with the visuals and the atmospherics. The spookiest aspects come from the script, written by Darren Aronofsky . Unfortunately, the submarine set was built 33% larger than a real submarine. This facilitates access for the cameras and crew when filming. However, it undermines both the authenticity and the claustrophobia of the unique environment.

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    The Fog (2006)

    The Fog (2006) Tom Wellings ( Smallville ) and Maggie Grace live in a small fishing port in the USA. On the anniversary of a famous shipwreck, they come under attack from ghosts of the victims.

    Was the remake of Halloween worth watching? Or Assault on Precinct 13? Disk Jockey Selma Blair is a poor replacement for the original ( Adrienne Barbeau ), and the rest of the movie is similarly disappointing.

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    Silent House

    Silent House This is a remake of a Spanish-language film, and while it has its moments there is very little original about it. The one redeeming feature about it is that it looks like a low-budget horror, shot in real-time ...

    Our protagonist is Elizabeth Olsen - taller and more buxom than her sisters, and already being spoken of as a potential Oscar-winner. She, her dad and her uncle are fixing up their decrepit holiday home. The house has been targeted by local criminals in the past, so all the windows are boarded up. Combined with the fact the power is shorted out, and the sun is setting, means there is no light to speak of in the house. The lonely, remote house with no land-line or cell-phone coverage, plays the perfect venue for a suspense/horror film. It is a Cabin in the Woods.

    The middle Act of the film consists of the protagonist being chased through the darkened labyrinth of rooms by unseen stalkers. This was done so much better in George Clarke's film The Last Light . Is she up against bloodthirsty hill-billies or murderous ghostly presences? She does not care, she just blubbers like Heather Donahue in Blair Witch Project .

    The climax has a twist ending. Yes, how predictable. There are three other films mentioned in this review, and all three are better than this one. Its redeeming feature, other than the buxom protagonist, is the real-time aspect.

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    The Entity

    The Entity Barbara Hershey is stalked and molested by an invisible demon in this Poltergeist rip-off. Shockingly, every time the monster appears (invisibly) a pounding Heavy Metal theme song starts up.

    Ron Silver ( Time Cop ) tries to save her. He is a Parapsychologist, and he plans to freeze the demon with liquid nitrogen!

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    (Stephen King's) Rose Red

    (Stephen King's) Rose Red Nancy Travis and a group of no-name actors investigate a haunted house. The story drags on for about four hours. Stephen King wrote it, ripping off bits of his far superior stories ( It, The Shining ). He even has a cameo as a pizza-delivery guy named Carrie.

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    (Stephen King's) Bag of Bones

    (Stephen King's) Bag of Bones Novelist Pierce Brosnan ( Goldeneye ) moves to a small town, and befriends single mother Melissa George . But something nasty happened in the woods, and now a ghostly presence is wreaking a terrible curse on certain bloodlines. The woman's son is one of the accursed ...

    This is yet another Steven King piece, ruined by dumbing-down for the mainstream audience.

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    The Canterville Ghost

    The Canterville Ghost Cherie Lunghi and Neve Campbell stay in a stately home haunted by Patrick Stewart ( Star Trek: TNG ). For once, dramatic thespian Stewart plays an actual Shakespearean!

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    Mama

    Mama A man goes postal, then becomes a family annihilator. But when he takes his two daughters into the woods, they discover a remote cabin … haunted by the ghost of his female equivalent, a kind of La Llorona. She wants to raise the kids as her own …

    Five years later, the girls are discovered. They are nearly feral, but after a few weeks with a shrink they are suitable for suburban living again. Their uncle (Nicolai Coster-Waldaj - Game of Thrones ) gets custody of them. But they spend most of their time with his girlfriend Jessica Chastain . Yes, with a couple of exceptions (men who are quickly written off) the cast is mostly female.

    This was produced by Guillermo Del Torro , and has his trademark creepiness. However, despite being spine-tingling it is actually a PG-13, due to its low body count and lack of gore. Thus it unhappily straddles two worlds (not unlike the ghost herself) … too scary for a family film, too bloodless for a full-on horror.

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    The Rite

    The Rite A young embalmer, son of Rutger Hauer ( Blade Runner ) goes to a Catholic seminary. But after his final exams he realises he is an atheist. The Principal sends him to the Vatican, where he is assigned to help Exorcist Anthony Hopkins ( Hannibal ). A pregnant teenage girl displays supernatural knowledge, but the newbie stays in constant denial. The climax is creepy exorcism - but there is nothing original. The Last Exorcism is better, though not original either. This was supposedly inspired by a true story. The moral of the tale - magic is real? If Satan and JHVH were real, we would use prayers instead of science and technology on a daily basis. Instead of electrons whizzing around, creating electricity, we would have little angels dancing in pin-sized hamster wheels to make our machinery work!

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    The Last Exorcism

    The Last Exorcism This is a Found Footage documentary following a fake Exorcist (the Professor from Veronica Mars ) as he does one last job ...

    The Exorcist and his camera crew go to a small farm in Louisiana. En route, they interview some locals like in Blair Witch Project and end up hearing tales of a satanic cult. Of course, they ignore everything they hear. After all, since the exorcist is a fake they assume the demonic possession is fake too.

    Things get creepy soon enough. The combination of night-time shooting and gun-toting rednecks hostile to strangers is enough to guarantee that, even without the supernatural element.

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    The Last Exorcism 2

    The Last Exorcism 2 The original was found footage but this is more straightforward. As with many sequels, this is quite unoriginal. It is not merely a stack of cliches, but it is completely predictable.

    The film starts slowly, with repeated use of fake tension to make it seem suspenseful. We see things from the protagonist's perspective, so we are unclear (until the end) as to whether she is insane or if the demonic events are actually happening.

    Nell, the possessed girl from the first film, is the sole survivor of a blaze that apparently killed her entire family. She is unscathed, although thanks to daylight she seems to have aged about ten years.

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    Exorcist 2: The Heretic

    Exorcist 2: The Heretic This is the infamous sequel to the classic 1970s horror movie. It is much derided, but is not an entirely terrible film. It suffers in part to the fact that the original is held in such high regard.

    It is several years after the events of the first film. Reagan ( Linda Blair ) is an attractive young teenager, trying to get on with her life. She has to see a psychiatrist ( Louise Fletcher ) for her bad dreams, but on the surface she has gotten over her possession.

    An exorcist priest (Richard Burton - Medusa Syndrome ) is assigned to investigate Reagan's exorcism, which was the last case of his mentor. His interviews with her (using a machine with flashing lights that apparently allows people to merge consciousnesses or something) allow the seamless integration of scenes from the original film.

    The backstory of the demon is completely different from the other movies in the series. In this it is called Pazuzu (as in the gargoyle from Futurama ). Apparently Pazuzu is the demon of the air, the embodiment of a massive locust. The priest becomes obsessed with the demon, and travels to Ethiopia to find the demon's first victim (James Earl Jones - Conan The Barbarian ).

    So what is so bad about it? The actors tend to stare into the camera a lot. Some of the dialogue is particularly dreadful. Also, the musical score by Ennio Morricone is typically overwrought. Worst, Director John Boorman reputedly hated the script.

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    The AntiChrist

    The AntiChrist This is an Italian effort from the mid-1970s. An aristocratic woman starts having visions of a past life. Is she being possessed by the spirit of an ancestor who made a deal with the devil?

    The climax owes something to previous efforts like The Exorcist . Unfortunately, the film-makers lacked the budget for anything more than a bit of dodgy blue-screen work. And some pea soup, of course.

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    The Tattooist

    The Tattooist Jason Behr ( Roswell ) is the title character, a young American tattoo artist who wanders Asia plying his trade. long-sleeved jacket in most scenes.

    He winds up in New Zealand, where he shacks up with Xena - a young Maori woman, not Lucy Lawless . A demonic ghost hunts down and murders everyone he tattoos. His only option is to find out who the ghost was, and appease the undead spirit.

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    Session 9

    Session 9 An asbestos-removal crew are set to work in a derelict asylum. The result is a great suspense thriller, combining a creepy setting, subtle direction and a great cast. Instead of a bunch of teenagers we get Josh Lucas ( Hulk ), David Caruso (CSI: Miami) and Peter Mullan.

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    Red Lights

    Red Lights Professor Sigourney Weaver and her sidekick, Cillian Murphy (previously seen as a psychiatrist in Batman Begins ), debunk fake psychic phenomenon. Elizabeth Olsen , a young student, joins them in their investigations. Simon Silver (Robert DeNiro - Hide & Seek ), a Yuri Gellar type, comes out of retirement. Murphy becomes obsessed with exposing him. Then bad things start to happen ...

    This is billed as This year's Sixth Sense . From that, one gets a sense of predictability. A supernatural thriller with a twist in the end? The same route has been ploughed by all four leading stars lately: Olsen's big break was the disappointing effort Haunted House , Murphy did Redeye , Weaver was in Cabin in the Woods , and (if you go back a few years) DeNiro was in Hide & Seek . If anything, this particular twist is … unforeseen despite being foreshadowed. But it is ultimately a bit unsatisfying. As if the whole thing really didn't amount to much. The ending of Sixth Sense makes you re-interpret the entire film, and allows you to enjoy it on subsequent viewings. This effort ends on something of a non-sequitor.

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    Devil

    Devil This is a supernatural suspense thriller written and produced by M Night Shyamalan , although he did not direct or act in it. It has something of a twist in the ending, too.

    Five people get trapped in an elevator. It turns out that one of them is the devil himself, come to claim the souls of the unwary.

    The blood is mostly off-screen. While one might laud the use of suspense instead of a reliance on gore, the reality is that in this case the film seems anti-climactic as a result.

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    The Devil's Advocate

    The Devil's Advocate Florida criminal attourney Keanu Reeves ( The Matrix ) is hired to join the New York law firm of Al Pacino (Heat).

    His wife ( Charlize Theron ) hangs around with Tamara Tunie , and begins to hallucinate. Is she going insane? In truth, she did a better version of this in The Astronaut's Wife . However, this story is focused on Keannu - the small-town boy being corrupted by the temptations of the big city. He finds himself fantasising about co-worker Connie Nielsen (who looks just like Dina Meyer ).

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    Skew

    Skew This is a found footage film with a difference. Three twenty-somethings video themselves on a road trip across the USA. First the cameraman starts to see peoples' faces blur - like in The Ring . It seems that everyone he films is doomed.

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    Possession

    Possession Pa Winchester (Jeffery Dean Morgan - Supernatural ) is divorced from Kyra Sedgwick , and gets shared custody of their two daughters. But the youngest one buys a cursed demon-box in a yard-sale ...

    This was produced by Sam Raimi , who wrote and directed the far superior Drag me To Hell . That film featured Gypsy magicks, whereas this one has Yiddish mysticism. Both are examples of the Magic Negro cliche, where any non-mainstream culture is only involved insofar as its purported magical concepts.

    The result is quite a let-down. Supernatural possession in the American suburbs was done to death by the Paranormal Activity series, and this effort is not in the same league. Quite disappointing, in all.

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    The Eye

    The Eye This is a Hollywood remake of an Asian horror film, itself giving a supernatural twist on blind-girl thrillers like Jennifer 8. A blind girl ( Jessica Alba ) gets an eye transplant, but as she begins to see things again she starts to see things that may not be there. She is not merely halucinating, instead she is seeing ghosts.

    Alba is playing a Caucasian, her sister is Posey Parker and she needs Doctor Alessandra Nivola ( Face/Off ) to translate for her when they visit Mexico!

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    KM31

    KM31 This is a Mexican horror film, subtitled and with no major Hollywood stars.

    A young woman motorist has a creepy encounter at the Kilometre 31 road-marker outside Mexico City. Her twin sister investigates the ghostly goings-on.

    The ghost in this case is La Llorona - also used as freak-of-the-week in Grimm. In an interesting stretch, the river she haunts flows past the mile-marker, and through a storm drain under the city.

    The problem seems to be that the TV show Supernatural has ruined this entire genre. The Winchester brothers would sort this all out in 42 minutes, plus time for advert breaks and the end-credit sequence.

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    Ghostquake

    Ghostquake This low-budget lightweight shocker is also known as Haunted High School, which gives away most of the plot.

    The ghost of former headmaster MC Gainey ( Lost ) and his demonic sidekick start to bump off pupils and staff. Victims include School Librarian Charisma Carpenter , in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene that wastes her talent.

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    Psychosis

    Psychosis For some reason, Charisma Carpenter is not glamourous or naked. Instead she is surrounded by a cast of unknowns.

    As an American author, she moves into a remote house in England. There she has visions of people being brutally murdered.

    As with many terrible horror movies, the individual behind this effort both wrote AND directed it. That said, there is actually a nice twist ending

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    Spirit Trap

    Spirit Trap This is a supernatural thriller set in England. Five college students get a call from the College Accommodation Officer telling them they have been allocated living space in a shared house. They turn up and indulge in the typical teenager/student type activities including hard drugs and a seance.

    One of the students is a very young-looking Sam Troughton ( Robin Hood 2006 ), and another is Billie Piper (who looks the same as she always looks).

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    Soon

    Soon

  • 2000
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