ORBzine - Unreality 2017 Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

After.Life (2009)

After.Life (2009) Christina Ricci has a messed-up life. She ends up left for dead on a roadside, but she is taken in by a much older man (a Jedi Master from Star Wars: Phantom Menace ) who wants to help her move on. Sound familiar? Well, this is not Black Snake Moan, it is a supernatural suspense thriller with the same premise.

Ms Ricci wakes up on a mortician’s slab. The mortician himself (Liam Neeson - Star Wars: TPM ) tells her that she is merely a soul trapped in a dead body, and that she will be put to rest in a few days. Will she ever get to see her boyfriend (Justin Long - Drag Me To Hell ) again?

M Night Shyamalan in his hey-day would have done a much better job with this. However, it seems he has fallen prey to the vanity of the modern film-maker and (like most low-budget directors) considers himself an auteur.

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    Apparition, The (2012)

    Apparition, The (2012) Back in the 1970s, some English academics tried to make contact with a spirit from beyond the grave. Unfortunately it all went wrong.

    Sebastian Stan ( Captain America: Winter Soldier ) and Ashley Greene are a young couple who move into a new house. Strange things start to happen, so the husband installs CCTV. No, this is not a found footage film like Paranormal Activity , it is nowhere near that good. Despite apparently knowing in advance, Hubby did not bother to check his e-mails. His best buddy, parapsychologist Tom Felton ( Harry Potter ), sent him an expositionary video clip.

    The evil spirit keeps breaking in and re-decorating. The girl is terrified, and insists on camping out in a tent in the back yard. That did not work out well for the Blair Witch Project team. Meanwhile, her husband knows exactly what the monster is but he chooses a baseball bat as his weapon to fight it with!

    It turns out that hubby was once a parapsychologist too. He, Felton and Julianna Guill tried to contact the spirit five years previously, with predictable results. The only way to protect yourself seems to be to turn your home into a farraday cage, like the Moscow apartment in that recent Alien Invasion movie.

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    Get Out!

    Get Out! This is a psychological thriller written and directed by one man. However, as it has a decent budget it is better than it could have been.

    A young African-American man (Daniel Kalugha - Black Mirror ) goes to stay with his Caucasian-American girlfriend and her family. Comedy comes from a subplot involving the hero's best friend, a TSA Agent who conforms to the stereotypical TBG sidekick role.

    Unfortunately things begin to get a bit creepy. For example, the girlfriend's mother ( Catherine Keener ) is a hypnotist - which leads on to one of the creepiest scenes in the story.

    Basically this is the African American version of Stepford Wives . Set in the post-Obama era, it refutes his statement that There is not a Black American and a White America, there is the United States of America. Instead, the upper middle class is portrayed as completely Caucasian. Whatever African Americans manage to get there are treated like servants. Yes, this is set in a world without a Black middle class.

    The narrative is supposed to be new and original, but in fact it is quite familiar. Any Black people who achieve success or status are accused of selling out their community. Obama himself could be accuse of being an Uncle Sam (not to be confused with the fictional black astronaut, Major Tom). The traditional insult to describe a successful Black person is White Acting. This film has merely created a new phrase to describe it - Going to the sunken place.

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    Groundhog Day

    Groundhog Day TV Weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray - City of Ember ) and his new Producer ( Andy McDowell ) are sent to a small town in the mountains to film a traditional ceremony. While there he meets a bunch of small-town folks, like his former school-mate Ned Rierson (Stephen Tobolowsky - Heroes (Season 2) ).

    Phil finds himself in a time loop. In fact, the concept has become synonymous with this film. However, the idea was previously used - for example, in at least one episode of Star Trek: TNG .

    Phil is a big-city man who does not like small-town life. Despite this, he tries to adapt to his new situation. Among other things, he tries to seduce the new Producer. However, despite this rom-com storyline featuring heavily in the original advertising it is really just a minor subplot.

    This is really a drama about a man who is driven slowly insane. The original script started on day five thousand of the time loop, which means Phil would have been re-living the day for fifteen years. The final version has a lot more comedy in it, and a small touch of romance, but it is still a depressing drama at its heart.

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    Haunted AKA It's In The Blood AKA Wilderness (2012)

    Haunted AKA It's In The Blood AKA Wilderness (2012) Sheriff Lance Hendricksen ( Millennium ) and his estranged son go for a hike in the woods. However, Hendricksen gets injured. Worse, something in the mist starts to harrass and attack the two men.

    The story flips between three different views - the present-day reality, a series of flashbacks and what seem to be hallucinations. It all blends together, making an enormous unintelligible mess.

    Hendricksen is listed as having worked on a dozen Feature films in 2014 that are due for release in 2015. The laws of supply and demand indicate that he is in high demand as a skilled and well-known actor, but also he must supply his services regardless of the quality or artistic merit of the project.

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    Haunt (2014)

    Haunt (2014) An American family move into a new home - a Cabin in the Woods . The teenage son befriends the creepy girl next door - Sam ( Liana Liberato ). She looks like a young Megan Fox , so the creepiness factor is easily offset by her looks.

    The house is supposed to be haunted. The teenagers do not go into the cellar to transgress. No, they go into the attic instead! They discover a radio that can be used for talking to the dead.

    Soon it is evident that the ghosts are real. This raises the usual question in all cliched ghost movies. Is the main ghost going to commit a murder-spree, or is it a death-omen of a non-ghostly killer about to go on a spree? After all, those are the two resolutions that these storylines have. Well, it turns out that there is a new one - sort of. Really, it makes no sense at all.

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    Haunter (2013)

    Haunter (2013) Abigail Breslin is stuck in a time loop, eternally reliving the same day over and over again. She and her family live in a nice house in the suburbs.

    One day they get a visit from a stranger - Stephen McHattie ( The Dark (1993) , the Canadian Lance Hendricksen).

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    Haunting, The (1999)

    Haunting, The (1999) This was directed by Jan DeBont , best known for big-budget action films. It is based on The Haunting of Hell House, credited as a book written by Shirley Jackson . This usually goes to Richard Matheson , so there has to be a story behind it.

    The story starts with Nell ( Lilli Taylor ) grieving the death of her mother and facing eviction by her sister Jane ( Virgina Madsen ). She has nowhere else to go.

    Dr David Marrow (Liam Neeson - Star Wars: TPM ) is looking for volunteers for a scientific study. He tells everyone it is to treat insomnia, but he is really researching fear responses. As a result he decided to hold it in a creepy old mansion. Nell is selected for the study.

    Nell arrives at Hill House and meets the creepy caretaker (Bruce Dern - Silent Running ). It is actually his wife who gives the cliched doom-and-gloom speech, yet another example of this movie passing the Bechdel test. Then we meet the other test subjects - Theo ( Catherine Zeta-Jones ) and Luke (Owen Wilson - Shanghai Knights ). They add glamour and humour, and are both bigger names than Lilli Taylor. This may have been necessary for marketing reasons, but it still seems unfair that she virtually carries the entire movie and yet she only gets fourth billing. The others actually do very little, and yet cash a bigger pay cheque.

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    Regression (2015)

    Regression (2015) Emma Watson , a 20-something English girl playing a teenage American, claims to have been sexually assaulted. A police detective (Ethan Hawke - Gattacca ) and psychiatrist ( Dragonheart ) interrogate the suspect, a very impressionable man, under hypnotic regression. He implicates someone else, and the whole thing snowballs from there.

    The local Police officer (Aaron Ashmore - Smallville ) is a suspect. The victim's brother, Roy (Devon Bostick - The 100 ), gets called in as a witness. Julian Richings ( Supernatural ) also helps out.

    This works on a number of levels. On the surface it is a straightforward police procedural, like Law & Order: Sexy Victims Unit. The detective uncovers rumours of a satanic conspiracy, which edges this into horror movie status. But the third level comes courtesy of the uniformed cops, who point out that the detective is selectively following cherry-picked information sources. All in all, this is a clear-cut case of Satanic Panic.

    Ironically, for a film about a real-life puritanical witch-hunt the credited producers include Harvey Wankstain himself.

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    The Return (2006)

    The Return (2006) Sarah Michelle Gellar , now a brunette, is a travelling saleswoman who visits a small town in rural Texas. The place is so small that the only other recognisable actor is Griff the mechanic, played by a well-disguised JC Mackenzie ( Dark Angel ).

    Our Final Girl has visions concerning a woman's murder fifteen years previously. Are they memories, or is she being haunted? Perhaps she is hallucinating due to insanity brought on by being stalked by co-worker Adam Scott ( Hot Tub Time Machine 2 ).

    This is a suspense thriller with a supernatural element. As a result it is slow-moving ... too much so, in fact. There is just not enough material in this story for it to fit a feature length format. It could have been a decent episode of a TV show like The Twilight Zone , but that is about it. That said, the film is well-shot with great cinematography in a couple of scenes, but that is certainly not enough to save it. Especially since the editing is not up to the same standard, and the ADR has failed since the lip-synch does not work.

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    Amityville Franchise

    Amityville 2: The Possession (1982)

    Amityville 2: The Possession (1982) A family of Italian-Americans, the Montellis, move into the haunted house in Amityville. The father is middle-aged, and the teenagers have an incestuous vibe to them. This appears to be a prequel, set before the events of the first film. The family are a name-changed portrayal of the DeMeo family, and the teenage boy is a version of Ron. Presumably the names were changed so the film-makers could use artistic license when it came to details of real peoples' lives, whereas if it were just straight-up supernatural events without scientific verification then they would be free to make things up as they pleased.

    Ron hears a creepy demonic voice speak to him through his Walkman. Well, it was the decade of the Satanic Panic - when people thought that Heavy Metal music would convert their kids to satanism! This was due in part to movies like this, based on a supposedly true-life book brought out to cash in on the 1970s trend started by The Exorcist (1973) . Ironically, that trend also inspired the style adopted by rock and roll musicians when they created Heavy Metal itself. A case of life imitating art imitating life imitating art … a circle that could potentially continue forever.

    The cellar contains a hidden door. Ron discovers that it hides a secret gateway to Hell, or something. He also gets some strange camera angles, to indicate that his mental state is fracturing. That is about as subtle as this movie gets.

    The local Catholic priest knows that something bad is in the house. He even suggests to his boss that they arrange an exorcism. However, he still takes the weekend off so he can head off on a trip with his boyfriend (Andrew Prine - V: The Final Battle ).

    Since this is based on a true story, it is all rather predictable. Was anyone surprised when when the ship sank at the end of Titanic ? However, the story keeps going. Ron is arrested on suspicion, because he is an incredibly suspicious-looking person. The priest gets permission to perform an exorcism. Unfortunately this requires taking the mass murderer to the church - no police escort, just a lone unarmed priest. What could possibly go wrong?

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    Amityville 3-D AKA Amityville III: The Demon

    Amityville 3-D AKA Amityville III: The Demon This was part of a slew of low-budget genre pictures released in the year 1983. It has a lot in common with the others ( Jaws 3-D, Friday the 13th Part III ), and not just that it was the third part in a series. To compete with the likes of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi they decided to go style over substance. As a result they used what now looks like cheap and nasty 3-D effects.

    The first film in this series was based on the claims of the Lutz family. The second was a prequel, about the DeMeo family murders. This effort tells the story of a journalist who buys the house to debunk the claims of a haunting.

    The only teenagers in the story are the journalist's daughter Lori Loughlin and her friend Meg Ryan .

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    Amityville 1992: It's About Time

    Amityville 1992: It's About Time

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    Amityville Horror (2005)

    Amityville Horror (2005)

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    Amityville Terror (2016)

    Amityville Terror (2016)

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    Amityville: The Awakening (2017)

    Amityville: The Awakening (2017)

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    Amityville Murders (2018)

    Amityville Murders (2018)

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    Haunting In Connecticut Franchise

    The Haunting In Connecticut (2009)

    Haunting In Connecticut (2009)

  • 2000
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    Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (2013)

    Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (2013) What does this have to do with the original movie, or with the state of Connecticut? Well, nothing at all. This is about completely different characters in a completely different state, thousands of miles away.

    A woman ( Abigail Spencer ) moves her family into an old house. Her sister ( Katee Sackhoff ) decides to stay there too, in a trailer parked in the grounds.

    It turns out that Dixie-land has some bad history to it. Not that it is built on a bunch of ancient Native American burial grounds or anything, but there are the unsettled spirits of some former slaves to worry about.

    This movie is apparently based on a true story. The surviving people portrayed in the film appear at the end credits for a group photo.

  • 2000
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    The Messengers Franchise

    The Messengers (2007)

    The Messengers (2007) Dylan McDermott ( American Horror Story ) takes his wife ( Penelope Anne Miller ) and teenage daughter ( Kristen Stewart ) to live in a deserted old wooden farmhouse in the American mid-west. The Real Estate agent (William B. Davis - X-Files ) offers to buy them out, but the father wants to settle the family in and collect the first harvest.

    There is a ghostly presence in the house. Is it a murderous entity, or merely a death omen? The ghosts show themselves to the daughter, but her parents think she is merely hysterical. When she is physically injured by the ghosts, the parents think it is self-inflicted.

    A stranger (John Corbett - The Visitor ) drops by the house, and gets hired as a farm labourer. He says he cannot see the ghosts either, but at least he offers to help the heroine.

    The result is a decent supernatural suspense effort. Stewart is acceptable as a Final Girl, and the cast is not overshadowed by the special effects.

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    Messengers 2: The Scarecrow (2009)

    Messengers 2: The Scarecrow (2009) This is a prequel to the first Messengers film. A farmer (Norman Reedus - Walking Dead ) is having trouble with his creepy corn-field. On the advice of his new white trash neighbour (Richard Riehle - Texas Chanisaw 3-D ) he puts up an ugly scarecrow that is more reminiscent of Jeepers Creepers 2 than it is of The Wizard of Oz .

    Mysterious deaths start to happen. As the farmer is put under more and more stress by events, his family (including daughter Claire Holt ) think he is insane and distance themselves from him. Of course, we must ask ourselves: is this a monster movie, or is there a predictable untruthful narrator twist?

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    Poltergeist Franchise

    Poltergeist (1981)

    Poltergeist (1981) Craig T. Nelson ( ) and his family move into a suburban house. The wife ( JoBeth Williams ) discovers a supernatural presence in the new home. It seems benign at first, but later becomes threatening - especially towards the youngest daughter, Carol Ann. They call in some parapsychologists, who in turn call in a psychic medium. This time, the Magic Negro is actually a Magic Person-With-A-Disbility.

    This was directed by Tobe Hooper , his big-budget SPFX-heavy effort after the success of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1976) . Spielberg, more experienced with SPFX, was the Producer - and there is a rumour that he stepped into the Director's shoes. However, there is no sign of Spielberg's trademark foreground/background style. For better or worse, this is Hooper's work.

    There are a couple of creepy facts about this movie. One is that the eldest daughter is played by Dominique Dunne , whose role in V (1983) had to be re-cast with Blair Tefkin after Dunne was murdered half-way through filming. Another story about Poltergeist is that, rather than use plastic skeletons, the special effects crew used actual real-life human bone skeletons . This dis-proves the film's central thesis - that contact with human remains will lead to a mass haunting event.

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    Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)

    Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)

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    Poltergeist (2015)

    Poltergeist (2015) Sam Rockwell ( Iron Man 2 ) and his family move into a suburban house. The young boy, afraid of everything, gets stuck in the creepy attic room with the and a cupboard full of creepy clown dolls. This is almost as predictable a cliché as the bit when the teenage babysitter goes exploring in the dark creepy basement by herself.

    As with the rest of the ghost movies that have polluted our screens since Paranormal Activity appeared a few years ago, you can expect the Lewton Bus to be used when you most expect it.

    Let us look at the state of the movie industry these days. Poltergeist has just come out, the most controversial thing on is Mad Max , and we are all looking forward to the next Star Wars and Terminator movies. Are we all trapped in the year 1981? Is there nothing to look forward to except yet more re-hashings of old favourites? On the bright side, there is now Jurassic World on the way. Let us hope Jurassic Park 4 is more original than Die Hard 4, Scary Movie 4, Mad Max 4 and any of the other recent fourth parts of a Trilogy!

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    Silent Hill Franchise

    Silent Hill

    Silent Hill The story starts with a well-lit, well-shot night sequence of Rose ( Radha Mitchell ) in search of her adopted daughter Sharon ( Jodelle Ferland ). The girl has been sleep-walking, and may have self-destructive impulses linked to her early childhood.

    Mother and adopted daughter go on a road-trip, in search of the girl's birth-parents. She was originally from a ghost-town in Appalachia, West Virginia, which has been abandoned due to a massive underground fire in the coal seam underneath. This is actually inspired by a real-life town in the USA, although the real-life town lacks the supernatural infestation.

    Rose gets pulled over by a Police Officer ( Laurie Holden ), but does not want to have a brief conversation. Instead she commits Contempt of Cop - the worst crime imaginable - and drives off at full throttle towards the town. Naturally, the cop follows ...

    Rose and the cop end up in Silent Hill - an empty, smoke-filled ghost-town. Sharon has gone missing, so they go in search of her. Instead they discover some homeless folk, led by a Matriarch ( Alice Krige ). The birth-mother turns out to be Deborah Kara Unger .

    Meanwhile the husband (Sean Bean - Game of Thrones ) comes in search of his family. The Police Chief (Kim Coates - Sons of Anarchy) tells him to go home, but he naturally refuses.

  • Silent Hill 2
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    Silent Hill 2

    Silent Hill 2 A teenage girl (who looks like a young Michelle Williams ) has nightmares about the horrific world of Silent Hill. She wakes up in time for us to get exposition about how she and her father (Sean Bean from Game of Thrones - now pudgy and unshaven with an American accent) are on the run from Satanic Cultists. On her first day at her new school she befriends fellow Newbie, Kit Harrington (Bean's co-star from Game of Thrones ).

    The wicked Queen ( Carrie-Anne Moss ) and her minions need the girl to defeat a demon.

  • Silent Hill
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    Soon

    Soon

  • 2000
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