The Conjuring

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Warning: Contains some spoilers

The Conjuring movie poster

The Conjuring movie poster

The Conjuring is a horror/thriller film released on July 19. The film is directed by James Wan, the same man responsible for Saw, Insidious, and the upcoming Insidious: Chapter 2. The film is rated R for sequences of disturbing terror and violence. The film has a 7.8 out of 10 rating on IMDb.

The film is based off of a true story about the Perron family and the horror they endured when moving into a new home back in the 1970s. The film does not only follow the Perron family, but paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren are also prominent characters in the film.

Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren are paranormal investigators that have participated in many investigations and when approached by Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) about a haunting in her house they agree to come check it out. Ron Livingston plays the part of Roger Perron, Carolyn’s husband.

The thing about this film compared to more recent horror movies is that it isn’t all about blood and guts. In fact, from what I recall, there isn’t much blood and definitely no guts at all. What I liked about this film is, not only is it set in the 70’s, but this film is almost reminiscent of horror films from that same decade. Such as The Shining, for example. The Conjuring relies on the setting, the tone (which is set from the very beginning), even the musical score, to induce a creepy feeling in the audience. There aren’t even that many “jump scares” present. One scene in particular is seen in the trailer, so while watching the movie, you know it’s about to happen because it was in the trailer. Unless, of course, you never saw the trailer before seeing the film. With this film the less is more vibe is put off and it works. This movie had a lot of hype surrounding it. Especially since the film is rated R based purely on how terrifying it is. The film has no sexuality or nudity and pretty much no cussing.

Ed & Lorraine Warren

Ed & Lorraine Warren

The film has almost two different plots going on. One being the Perron haunting and the other being the possessed doll named Annabelle. The majority of the film is focused on the Perron family, but the Warren’s and their daughter are also a focal point. To some film-goers having the film not focus on just the Perron’s might be confusing, but I liked getting to have that inside look into the Warren’s personal life.

Carolyn &Roger Perron with their daughters

Carolyn & Roger Perron with their daughters

The real Perron daughters with their respective film counterparts.

The real Perron daughters with their respective film counterparts.

I liked the use of The Zombies’ “Time of the Season” (great song) in the film. Also, the song “In the Room Where You Sleep” by Dead Man’s Bones, a rock duo consisting of actor Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields, was a pleasant surprise. Even though it is not a song from the 1970’s, it actually works really well in the film. The musical score is also really good.

I think the one scene that would frighten most people would be the exorcism/possession scene. Seeing Carolyn Perron possessed was pretty eerie. Of course, the film ends happily. There is a reference to Amityville at the end of the movie. When Lorraine gets off the phone with the priest, she says to Ed that the priest has a case in Long Island he wants to discuss with them. Ed and Lorraine, in real life, worked on the Amityville case, which the film The Amityville Horror is based off of. The film is left open for a sequel, which I read is actually in the works and Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are already signed on to reprise their roles as Ed and Lorraine. Another thing, Lorraine Warren served as a consultant, as well as one of the Perron daughters (Andrea, I believe) and both have stated that the film is very close to how the events really played out.

A fun fact I’d like to end this review with is about the Annabelle doll. In the movie, the doll is depicted as a porcelain (and extremely creepy) doll. However, in real life, the doll was a Raggedy Ann doll. I would imagine that if they used a Raggedy Ann doll in the movie, people probably would’ve laughed. However, who would suspect a Raggedy Ann doll would be possessed by something evil? If I went to someone’s house and they had a Raggedy Ann doll I would think  nothing of it. But if I went to someone’s house and they had the porcelain doll instead I would automatically think that thing was possessed and going to kill me. Haha. For those that might be interested about reading more about the real events, check out this website: http://www.warrens.net/index.html The website talks about the Annabelle doll as well as a few other things Warren-related. After I saw the film I had wanted to learn about the real events and this is one of many sites I had checked out.

The real Annabelle doll on the left; the movie version on the right.

The real Annabelle doll on the left; the movie version on the right.

Tell me, if you were the director of this film, would you have used the same doll that was used in the film or would you have kept it as it was in real life and used a Raggedy Ann doll?

Now You See Me

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Now You See Me movie poster

Now You See Me movie poster

Warning: Contains spoilers

Now You See Me is a crime/thriller/magician movie released May 31. The film is directed by Louis Leterrier. It is rated PG-13 for language, some action, and some sexual content. The film has a 7.5 out of 10 on IMDb.com and a 48% on Rotten Tomatoes.

When I first saw the trailer for this film I definitely knew I was going to see it and it did not disappoint. I really liked this film. It has a great cast (Woody Harrelson is one of my favorite actors) and interesting story. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine also have parts in this film; Michael Caine also appeared in The Prestige, which is also a magic-themed film.

The story revolves around four magicians, J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco). The group are brought together (mysteriously) and end up becoming known as The Four Horseman. The group is sponsored by Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). For the finale at their performance in Las Vegas, the Four Horseman invite a man from the audience to help with their last trick–rob a bank. The man is teleported to a bank in Paris and the money is then vacuumed up by an air duct that ends up “raining” down on the crowd at the show in Vegas.

The Four Horseman (from left to right): Henley Reeves, J. Daniel Atlas, Merritt McKinney, and Jack Wilder

The Four Horseman (from left to right): Henley Reeves, J. Daniel Atlas, Merritt McKinney, and Jack Wilder

FBI agent, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is partnered up with Interpol agent, Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) to investigate the robbery. The Four Horseman are taken into custody and interrogated, but are eventually released. Dylan meets with ex-magician Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). Thaddeus makes a living out of revealing magician’s secrets behind the tricks they perform. Thaddeus believes that the Four Horseman actually stole the money before the show and somehow tricked the audience into believing it all happened in real time.

The Four Horseman’s next show is in New Orleans; Dylan, Alma, and Thaddeus attend. The finale for this show involves stealing money out of Arthur’s bank account and giving it to members of the audience. Dylan attempts to arrest the Four Horseman, but they get away. Alma does some research on the Four Horseman and learns about a secret society of magicians called “The Eye”  and she suggests to Dylan that all this might somehow be connected to the magician Lionel Shrike that was exposed by Thaddeus and that Lionel was so embarrassed by being exposed that he attempted a underwater stunt and drowned.

The Four Horseman’s last performance is in New York City. Before the performance, Dylan and Alma find the Four Horseman’s secret hideout. Jack is there. He escapes and a car chase ensues. However, Jack’s car ends up flipping over and explodes. At this point, it begins to look like Alma might actually be involved with the Four Horseman; she definitely seems suspicious. The Four Horseman have targeted a particular safe which has been under surveillance by another FBI team that has taken over the case. The safe is intercepted, but is found empty. Dylan begins to suspect there must be a fifth member of the Four Horseman, thinking that Alma or Bradley are in on it.

The Four Horseman (which consist of only J. Daniel, Henley, and Merritt at this point) are almost arrested, but they jump from the rooftop of 5 Pointz and seem to turn into money (the money from the safe) that again “rains” down on the crowd. However, it is discovered that the money is actually fake; pictures of the Four Horseman appear on the money. Thaddeus, returning to his car, discovers that it is filled with the real, stolen money. He is then arrested and taken to prison. While there, Dylan visits him and it is revealed how each trick was performed. Here comes the big reveal: Dylan is the fifth member of the Four Horseman. Dylan is the mysterious person that brought together the Four Horseman in the beginning, he is the mastermind behind everything.

Dylan leaves the prison and meets up with the Four Horseman (Jack is there too; he faked his death earlier) and they are surprised to learn he is the one behind it all. He initiates them into The Eye. Later, Dylan visits France where he meets up with Alma. He reveals he is the son of Lionel Shrike. He came up with the Four Horseman idea to get revenge on those that were the cause for his father’s humiliation and death. Dylan admits to being in love with Alma and Alma decides not to turn Dylan in.

FBI AgeThe closer you look, the less you see...

The closer you look, the less you see…

 

I have to admit, the reveal that Dylan was behind it all did surprise me; I really didn’t see it coming. Of course, looking back on the film, I feel like I should have been able to figure it out. I can’t wait to be able to watch this movie again and it will be interesting to see if I can pick out certain moments that might hint at Dylan being behind everything since I now know that he is the mysterious benefactor. Another thing, when Jack gets into the accident I kind of had a feeling that he somehow wasn’t really dead. Especially considering just before the car flips, Jack smiles and says something along the lines of “A-ha!” And now looking back on that scene, he reacts that way because he knows he outsmarted the FBI and that the plan is working out. This film really kept me engrossed throughout. The acting is great, although Jesse Eisenberg still has that somewhat annoying persona that he tends to have in some of his other films. Sometimes when I see movies I check the time just to get an idea of how long the movie has been playing, but with this film I didn’t do that once; I didn’t care about how long the film had been playing because I didn’t want it to end. If you like magic/caper type films, I highly suggest you watch this film.

A quote that is said in the film, “The more you look, the less you see,” really fits well with the whole plot of the film. As the audience you are looking closely (in my case, really thinking that Alma and/or Thaddeus were involved somehow), but you end up seeing less (Dylan, the least likely to be involved, actually is responsible to everything).

The Purge

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The Purge movie poster

The Purge movie poster

Warning: Contains Spoilers

The Purge was released this past weekend (June 7th). The film was directed and written by James DeMonaco. It is rated R for strong disturbing violence and some language. The film currently has a 5.9 out of 10 on IMDb and a 41% on Rotten Tomatoes. It is also currently number 1 at the box office with $36.4 million.

The Purge takes place in 2022 and the U.S. is now a reborn nation ruled by the New Founding Fathers of America. Crime and unemployment rates are at a all time low. The cause of the low percentages in crime and unemployment are thanks to the government mandated annual “Purge.” The purge is a 12 hour period where all crime is legal, even murder. The purge is a way for the citizens to cleanse themselves of all negative emotions and in the film it is stated that humans have a natural, violent side and that the purge helps us to not bottle in all that violence and be able to rid ourselves of the negativity.

The film focuses on the Sandin family. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) makes all his money from home security systems that are put to use during the annual purge. James is married to Mary (Lena Headey) and they have a teenage daughter, Zoey (Adelaide Kane), and a son, Charlie (Max Burkholder).

James (Ethan Hawke) & Mary (Lena Headey). I think I'll just go watch Mr. Hawke in Sinister instead...

James (Ethan Hawke) & Mary (Lena Headey).
I think I’ll just go watch Mr. Hawke in Sinister instead…

When I first saw the trailer for this film I was excited. I thought it looked good and was an interesting concept. Plus, Ethan Hawke is in it and I thought he did a great job in Sinister (released late last year). Well, I sure was wrong. Not that this film was the worst film I have ever seen, it just did not play out how I expected. The film had an interesting concept, it was just executed poorly.

It is a home invasion film and by watching the trailer, you get the idea that this creepy group of young people wearing creepy masks are going to be taunting and (possibly) killing each member of the Sandin family one-by-one.

Now where have I seen somewhat similar looking masks before?? Oh, right, now I remember....

Now where have I seen somewhat similar looking masks before?? Oh, right, now I remember….

Yes, the masks totally remind me of The Strangers. And with The Strangers, where the majority of the film the couple are being terrorized by the killers, I thought The Purge would be the same. Nope. Watching the trailer for The Purge you already know that the young son, Charlie, lets in some random guy (credited as Bloody Stranger; played by Edwin Hodge) off the street during the annual purge. Dumb, dumb, dumb! I’m not going to lie, I spent most of the movie completely annoyed with Charlie. I know he is just a young kid, but still. Everything that happens after Charlie lets in the bloody stranger I kept thinking: “Yeah, none of this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for you. This is all your fault.” Anyways, in a movie that is only 1 hour and 25 minutes long, a lot more of the movie than necessary takes places with James and Mary trying to find the bloody stranger. Charlie actually helps the bloody stranger hide (idiot).

The reason they are looking for the bloody stranger is because the “leader” of the gang outside (credited as Polite Stranger; played by Rhys Wakefield) states that the bloody stranger is just some “homeless pig” and is their target for the purge. The polite stranger says that the Sandin’s must hand over the stranger to them within one hour or they will break into the house and kill everyone. When the gang finally breaks into the house, only about 15 minutes (maybe 20 minutes) of the film are of the gang terrorizing and stalking the Sandin family. It got pretty good when James encounters some members of the gang and some intense fighting occurs, but then he goes around a corner and dies. He gets stabbed by the polite stranger. I was disappointed by that. I didn’t want Ethan Hawke to die.

Another thing that I didn’t like, at the beginning of the film, was the character Henry (Tony Oller), Zoey’s older boyfriend. We learn that Zoey’s dad won’t let them be together because Henry is a few years older than Zoey. Later that night, Zoey goes up to her room after the purge has commenced only to find Henry in her room (he snuck in when the family was eating dinner before the purge began). Henry says he is going to talk to James, man-to-man, about being with Zoey and since it’s the purge, James can’t just throw Henry out. Right when the bloody stranger has come inside, James (who grabbed a gun after Charlie let in the bloody stranger) sees Henry and then *surprise* Henry didn’t want to “talk”, instead he pulls out a gun and tries to shoot Zoey’s dad, but instead gets himself shot. Needless to say, that role was a short one and I honestly think the film could have done without the character. It wasn’t important; it wasn’t something that we, as the audience, needed to remember for later on in the film or anything. The storyline with the boyfriend was just a waste and not really necessary.

I won’t say anymore about the ending. There is somewhat of a “twist.” I really didn’t expect it, but then the more I thought about a scene from earlier on in the film, it made sense and I probably should have seen it coming. I really wanted to like this movie, but it just was not what I thought it was going to be. I really was disappointed about the strangers outside only really being a part of the film for a short period of time. Yeah, they had quite a few scenes of them standing outside, but I went into the theater to see a home invasion movie and instead I saw a movie where a family spends a good chunk of time trying to find some stranger, while the creepy strangers outside were only inside the house for what seemed like a total of 15 minutes.

Even though I wasn’t a big fan of this movie, like with anything opinion based, there will be people that will like this movie and then there will be people like me that end up disappointed. But, with all that said, I’m glad there is no such thing as a annual “Purge.”

Less Than Zero

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Warning: Contains spoilers

Less Than Zero movie poster

Less Than Zero movie poster

Less Than Zero was released in 1987 and is very loosely based off of a novel by Bret Easton Ellis of the same name. The film looks at wealthy life in 1980s Los Angeles and the effects of drug abuse. The film has a 6.1 out of 10 on IMDb and a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes. It is rated R for language, some violence, nudity, sexual content, drug abuse, adult situations, mature themes, and graphic scenes of drug withdrawal.

Clay (Andrew McCarthy), a college freshman, returns home for Christmas, but a lot has changed since he was last in L.A. Clay’s high school girlfriend, Blair (Jami Gertz), and their mutual best friend, Julian (Robert Downey Jr.) are now together and Julian has become a heavy drug user. The reason that Clay came back home was after an insistent request from Blair worrying about Julian because of his drug habit and being hassled by his drug dealer, Rip (James Spader), because of a debt of $50,000. The film focuses on Clay ending up back with Blair and the both of them trying to help Julian clean his act up.

I love watching movies from the 80’s and had always wanted to see this film, so when I saw it was on HBO one day, I jumped at the chance to finally see it. This movie, like I mentioned at the beginning, is based off of a novel. I haven’t read the novel, so I can’t really compare it to the film. I’ve only read American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction, both by Bret Easton Ellis, and I’ve seen the movies based off those books. However, even though I haven’t read the book, I did read in a article that Bret Easton Ellis didn’t like the film very well and that the film is very different than the book.

Happier days...before drug abuse. (From Left: Julian, Blair, and Clay.)

Happier days…before drug abuse.
(From Left: Julian, Blair, and Clay.)

After watching this movie, I did like it, but at the same time it isn’t going to be a movie I watch all the time, like other movies from the 80’s that I like a lot. I thought the acting was alright, but with the exceptions of Robert Downey Jr. and James Spader. They were both pretty good. Robert Downey Jr. really knocks it out of the park with this one. This film shows really well what can and will happen if someone becomes a drug addict. The character of Julian ends up dying in the end. Even though you get the feeling that something bad is going to happen to Julian, it still is a bit of a shock when he actually dies. The other “scary” thing about this film is that Robert Downey Jr. has said that the role of Julian “was like the Ghost of Christmas Future.” If you are unaware, RDJ became involved with drugs and ended up getting arrested multiple times on drug related charges. So, to look at how Julian ends up in the end and to think that if RDJ had not cleaned up his act, there is a chance he would no longer be here.

I think it’s safe to say that I would definitely suggest this movie. It’s interesting to see RDJ in his younger days (I haven’t seen too many movies of his back when he was younger) and to see how life almost imitated art. If you like 80’s movies, especially ones that include members of the “Brat Pack“, then give this movie a shot.

 

The Great Gatsby

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the-great-gatsby-poster1The Great Gatsby (2013 version) was directed by Baz Luhrmann, the same guy who directed Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge. The film is rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language.

Well, where to begin? I have a lot to say about this new take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic book, but I’ll try not to write too much. This film has had so much controversy and hate surrounding it ever since people found out it was going to have modern music in it. I think that’s just ridiculous. I mean, come on, Baz Luhrmann directed it. What did you expect?

When I saw this movie for the first time on opening weekend (in 3-d) I went into the theater with an open mind. I re-read the book before seeing the movie and re-watched the 1974 Great Gatsby so I would be able to see how closely this version of the film followed the book and how it compared to the 1974 version. The whole modern music thing did not outrage me as much it seemed to have other people. I wasn’t about to judge a movie I hadn’t seen yet. But, you know what? I think the soundtrack worked really well in the movie. It fit the scenes perfectly. From what I’ve read on IMDb message boards, a lot of people keep saying the modern music was a distraction. But, that’s their opinion. In my opinion, the modern music was in no way whatsoever a distraction and the film had a great blend of the songs that are found on the soundtrack and actual 1920’s music. As far as the rap/hip-hop songs in the film go, well…Hip-hop is about the closest thing to jazz we have nowadays. What hip-hop is for people nowadays is what jazz was for people back then. Plus, it’s not like the entire soundtrack is nothing but rap. The songs are sung by modern singers, but some of them almost have a 1920’s kind of sound to them. I still don’t understand the hate people are having with the music. I don’t remember anyone being in an outrage with all the modern music in Django Unchained. I’m pretty sure no one in the Old West was listening to Jim Croce or James Brown. Baz Luhrmann made some original, creative choices when making this film and to me, those choices were executed really well. To get the point across of what the 1920’s were like (sex, booze, partying, complete carelessness and carefree ways) some changes were to be made to make it more enjoyable to modern audiences. When watching the 1974 version, during the party scenes, classic 1920’s music is playing and that’s cool and all, but after seeing the 2013 version and watching the party scenes with loud, modern dance music with a slight 1920’s twist, I feel like I now fully understand what it was like to be living in the 1920’s. Anyways, my favorite songs on the soundtrack are: “Over the Love” by Florence + The Machine, “Young & Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey, “Love is Blindness” by Jack White, and “Together” by The xx.

This movie is loud, colorful, and crazy (but in a good way). Visually this movie is wonderful. Yes, there’s CGI, but a lot of movies nowadays have a lot of CGI. Acting is superb. I actually found myself feel for the characters, care about what happens to them. Coming from someone that has read the book more than once (it’s one of my favorite books), this movie followed the book soooo much better than the 1974 version. Not that the 1974 version didn’t have direct quotes from the book, but the new version had a lot more direct quotes from the book and just about every scene in the new film was taken straight out of the book. As in, there weren’t numerous scenes in the film that maybe had the same dialogue as the book, but was taking place in a totally different environment. This version also does a better job at explaining some things (like how Jay and Daisy met, etc.) than the 1974 version. The one thing that is definitely not in the book are the scenes of Nick at the sanitarium. It might not be in the book, but it makes sense with why this guy would be telling this story about a guy named Gatsby. Making it seem like Nick Carraway is the author of The Great Gatsby is not completely far-fetched as some people think that Nick is based off of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I can definitely see that. There is a line in the book (that is in the movie, too) where the narrator, Nick, makes a comment about “reading over what I have written so far.”

My favorite performance in the film was definitely, hands down, Leonardo DiCaprio’s. His portrayal of Jay Gatsby was spot-on with Gatsby from the book. Not that Robert Redford is a terrible actor or anything (I remember when I watched the 1974 version in high school after reading the book I thought Robert Redford did a good job in the movie), but after seeing Leo’s take on Gatsby, I won’t be able to watch the original the same way again. I also thought Carey Mulligan’s performance was much more preferable compared to Mia Farrow’s. Newcomer Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker gave a good performance. Lois Chiles as Jordan in the 1974 version I thought was alright, but with her, as well as Sam Waterston’s performance of Nick Carraway, I felt was not very developed. Jordan and Nick in the original film seemed to always have the same expression and monotone-like voice throughout the entire film. I liked Tobey Maguire’s take on Nick Carraway. I do like Bruce Dern as Tom in the original, but Joel Edgerton definitely did a good job as Tom, too. One of the things that irks me with the original version is the lack of chemistry between Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan definitely have better on-screen chemistry.

I saw the film in both 3-d and 2-d. The 3-d doesn’t really add much, but it does give the viewer the feeling of really being a part of the movie, which is the point of 3-d…obviously. I loved this movie. When reading the book, I had an image in my head and the 2013 version has fulfilled what I imagined while reading the book. What I will suggest when seeing this movie is keep an open mind. Do not go see it already hating what you’ve seen from the trailers and the modern music. Keep an open mind! If you don’t like this version or the 1974 version, well, there’s always the 1949 and 2000 version, neither of which I’ve seen.

Last tidbit…One of my favorite scenes in the new version is when Jay and Nick are waiting for Daisy to come to Nick’s place for tea and how nervous Jay is acting and even after Daisy and Jay are reunited, Jay still acts nervous. Leo did such a good job during that scene and that entire scene and dialogue is just like how it is in the book. I love it when movies follow the books their adapted from closely… 🙂

Remember, keep an open mind when seeing this film, old sport.

Silver Linings Playbook

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Warning: Contains Spoilers

Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic comedy drama film that was released in late 2012. The movie is based on the book by the same name by Matthew Quick. Directed by and adapted screenplay written by David O. Russell. The film is rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity. It has a 7.9 out of 10 on IMDb and 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.

This is a film that I didn’t really know much about when it first came out. I like Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence and did consider going and seeing it when it was still in theaters, but just never made it. I ordered the DVD from Netflix and watched it the other day.

The movie centers around Patrick “Pat” Solitano (Bradley Cooper) who has bi-polar disorder. He is released from a psychiatric hospital and moves in with his parents, Pat Sr. and Dolores (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver). While at the hospital Pat forms a friendship with Danny (Chris Tucker) who is having legal issues with the hospital preventing him from leaving. Pat learns that his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), has moved away. Pat’s father has lost his job and is resorting to bookmaking to make money to start a restaurant. Pat wants to get his life back on the right track and wants to reconcile with Nikki. We learn that Nikki put a restraining order on Pat after a violent episode. When having a session with his court mandated therapist, Pat recounts what led him to be admitted to the psychiatric hospital. Pat had come home early from work to find his wife with another man and Pat nearly beat the man to death. Despite all that, Pat does not believe he needs to take medication for his disorder.

Pat has dinner with his friend, Ronnie (John Oritz) and Ronnie’s wife, Veronica (Julia Stiles). At dinner, Pat meets Veronica’s sister, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Tiffany is a widow who has some issues of her own–she lost her job, partly because she slept with just about everyone she worked with after her husband’s death. Pat and Tiffany end up developing a friendship. Tiffany tells Pat that she can deliver a letter from Pat to Nikki (since Pat can’t because of the restraining order) as long as Pat will agree to be Tiffany’s dance partner for a dance competition. The two begin practicing dancing with the help of Danny when he is finally released from the hospital. Pat starts to believe the dance competition will help him get Nikki back and show that he has changed. Pat receives a letter back from Nikki hinting at reconciliation.

Pat Sr. asks Pat to attend a Philadelphia Eagles game as a good-luck charm because Pat Sr. has bet just about all of his money on the game. Pat skips dance practice with Tiffany to go to the game. A fight breaks out and Pat along with his brother and therapist are escorted from the game. The Eagles lose the game and Pat Sr. is furious. Tiffany shows up angry that Pat skipped practice with her and then Pat Sr. berates Tiffany stating that everything has been going bad since Pat started hanging out with Tiffany. However, in probably one of my favorite scenes, Tiffany begins to point out that the Eagles do better when Pat is with her and she begins to list all the times Pat and her were together when the Eagles were playing. Pat Sr. is then convinced that Pat being with Tiffany is good luck and so he makes a parlay with his gambling friend. The conditions of the parlay are if the Eagles win their game against the Cowboys and Tiffany and Pat get at least a 5 out of 10 at their dance competition, Pat’s father will get all the money he lost back.

Pat is at first reluctant to be in the competition under those conditions, but Tiffany persuades him by telling him that Nikki will be there, even though she is lying. Later, Pat re-reads the letter from Nikki and notices some things in the letter that make him realize that Tiffany actually wrote the letter.

At the night of both the game and the dance competition, Tiffany is upset to discover that Nikki is actually at the competition. Tiffany gives up and begins drinking with some random guy. Pat convinces her go out and do their dance. This was a pretty funny scene; everyone else at the competition are clearly dance professionals, while when we see Pat and Tiffany do their dance, it’s…crazy. Definitely funny. The Eagles win the game, so now Pat and Tiffany just need to get at least a 5 on their routine. And….they get the 5 points. While everyone else is confused why they are so excited about their low score, they don’t care because they won the parlay. Pat walks over to Nikki and Tiffany watches as Pat whispers something to Nikki. Tiffany, upset, leaves. Pat Sr. tells Pat that Tiffany left and that she loves Pat and it would be wrong if Pat didn’t go after her. Pat chases after Tiffany confessing that he loved her from the moment they met and is sorry that it has taken him so long to realize it. Pat and Tiffany end up together and Pat Sr. ends up opening up a restaurant. Happy ending, the end.

Overall, I enjoyed this film. From what I’ve heard, the film does a pretty good job at showing what living with bi-polar is like; I don’t know anyone with bi-polar so I can’t really vouch for that, but it is what I’ve heard. Both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence did a fantastic job. The two of them had great chemistry. Jennifer Lawrence won an Academy Award for Best Actress, while nominated for Best Actor, Bradley Cooper did not win. I do feel like there was a bit too much hype surrounding this film, but that is pretty common for movies that are heavily nominated for awards at the Oscars. I really enjoyed this movie and after watching it I think I might read the book.

The Cabin in the Woods

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Warning: Contains spoilers

The Cabin in the Woods is a horror film that was released in April 2012. The film was written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard and directed by Drew Goddard. It has a 7 out of 10 rating on IMDb and a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. It is rated R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity.

Let me just go ahead and say it: I freakin’ love this movie. I can watch this film all the time and not get tired of it. As someone that likes scary movies, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I would like this movie. At first glance this film seems like a typical horror film where a bunch of teenagers go out into the woods and party and eventually get killed one by one. But it isn’t really like that.

The film does start off with a group of friends going on a trip to the woods. The characters seem totally cliche, as in they are straight up stereotypical horror movie characters. The jock, the whore, the stoner, the boring smart guy and the good girl/virgin. The jock being Curt (Chris Hemsworth), the whore being Jules (Anna Hutchison), the stoner being Marty (Fran Kranz), the boring smart guy being Holden (Jesse Williams), and the virgin being Dana (Kristen Connolly). However, the whole film isn’t necessarily about a group of friends being chased by monsters. As the movie progresses we learn that these characters were chosen and manipulated to fit the typical archetypes of horror films by some organization to complete some sort of ritual. The main guys that seem to be in charge of everything are Steve Hadley (Bradley Whitford) and Gary Sitterson (Richard Jenkins). Another technician seen throughout the film is Lin (Amy Acker). The organization is in control of everything that goes on at the cabin the group of friends are staying at. There are cameras watching the characters’s every move and are even give mood altering drugs to cause the group to do certain things, such as reducing their intelligence and cause the characters to venture down the creepy cellar.

From left: Curt, Holden, Jules, Marty, and Dana.

From left: Curt, Holden, Jules, Marty, and Dana.

Back at the facility, all the different departments of the the organization bet on which monster will be chosen. From a fan of horror films, I like the references to other monsters from horror films that are shown on the big whiteboard. It’s something true horror fans will appreciate.

The whiteboard

The whiteboard

From left: Sitterson, Lin, and Hadley.

From left: Sitterson, Lin, and Hadley.

While down in the cellar the characters come across a vast array of items. We later learn that these items are the way the characters end up choosing their fate, as in choosing how they die. Dana ends up reading an incantation from a diary (Rule #1 of horror movies–don’t read some weird incantation/Latin/whatever out of a book) that used to belong a girl named Patience Buckner who was abused by her sadistic family and Dana ends up summoning the zombified Buckner family. The first one to die is Jules after her and Curt have sex in the woods (Rule #2 of horror movies–don’t have sex or you will die). Curt is able to run away. Marty, the stoner that has been smoking weed every second, is actually the smart one in the group. We end up learning that all the mood altering drugs don’t affect him because of the marijuana he has been smoking. He discovers a camera in his room and believes he is on a reality show. He is paranoid and keeps thinking that they are being manipulated, like puppets. He ends up being dragged away and killed by one the zombie Buckners. Marty is probably my favorite character in the film. He’s funny and like I said, the only one that actually seems to actually get what is going on. Curt, Holden, and Dana get into their RV and try to flee, but while driving through a tunnel it starts to collapse, forcing them to back up. Curt decides to jump over the ravine to the other side using his motorcycle. It is unsuccessful; he hits some sort of invisible force field and falls down to the bottom of the ravine. Holden and Dana get back into the RV and drive back to the cabin, but one of the zombie Buckners is hiding in the RV and kills Holden. The RV crashes into a lake and Dana swims toward a dock and ends up getting attacked by another zombie Buckner. But wait! Who just knocked out the zombie Buckner attacking Dana? It’s Marty! He isn’t dead! However, him being alive sucks for the technicians in charge of the ritual.

After Marty dismembered the zombie Buckner that tried to kill him earlier, he stumbled upon some control box and found an underground elevator. Marty and Dana take the elevator and discover a vast array of monsters that are imprisoned. Some of the monsters are homages to monsters from various classic horror films. Dana sees one monster (a homage to Pinhead from the Hellraiser films) holding an item she recognizes from the basement earlier in the film. She realizes that the items in the basement determined which monster would be released. Marty and Dana end up causing a system purge, releasing all the monsters that were previously locked up. This part of the film is pretty bloody/graphic. The monsters go on a rampage killing just about everyone in the facility. Hadley and Lin are killed. Sitterson ends up escaping into some underground tunnel system. Dana and Marty go down underground where Dana accidentally stabs Sitterson killing him. Dana and Marty discover a temple-like room with large stone tablets that have various carvings. Dana and Marty meet the Director (Sigourney Weaver). She explains that the ritual is to appease the Ancient Ones that live below the facility. The Ancient Ones are kept below by the rituals that sacrifice five young people that represent the archetypes–the Whore (Jules), the Athlete (Curt), the Scholar (Holden), the Fool (Marty), and the Virgin (Dana). It doesn’t matter the order that each is killed, as long as the Whore is first and the Virgin is last (the Virgin’s death is optional, as long as she suffers). The Director tells Marty and Dana that there have been other rituals around the world, but all of them have failed and if the Ancient Ones awake they will destroy the world. The Director tries to convince Dana to kill Marty and Dana points a gun at Marty, but is attacked by a werewolf that had escaped earlier. The Director and Marty fight until zombie Patience Buckner shows up and kills the Director. Marty pushes both the Director and Patience down below toward the Ancient Ones. Marty and Dana accept what is happening and then a gigantic hand belonging to an Ancient One rises up destroying the facility and the cabin, thus implying that the world will now end.

This is a film that might be confusing to some. A friend of mine, after watching the movie, said they didn’t get it all and didn’t like it. However, this is a film that horror fans will love. But even if you don’t watch scary movies, I think that you can still enjoy this film and even have a few laughs at the more comedic scenes. The film is filled with twists and turns. At the start of the film, you think you know what kind of movie you’re watching, but just wait… If you haven’t seen this film, watch it now! It’s streaming on Netflix.

Last tidbit…One of my favorite scenes from the movie is after the cellar door opens up by itself and Curt says that the wind must have blown it open (a phrase that has been said in other horror movies before) and Marty replies with: “Uh, and that makes what kind of sense?” Thank you Marty for pointing out how absurd it is for someone to say “the wind did it” when that clearly makes no sense at all.

 

Chernobyl Diaries

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Warning: Contains spoilersChernobyl Diaries Poster

Chernobyl Diaries is a horror film released in 2012 and was written by Oren Peli, the same guy who wrote and directed Paranormal Activity. The story follows a group of friends on a trip across Europe. They travel to Ukraine and go on a extreme tourism trip to the town of Pripyat where workers of the Chernobyl power plant lived. While they are there, they soon learn they are not alone in the “abandoned” town.

First, for those that are unfamiliar, let me write a bit about the real Chernobyl disaster. The disaster occurred on April 26, 1986 in Ukraine at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. During a test at reactor number 4 at the power plant, a power surge occurred. An emergency shutdown was attempted, but caused a larger spike in power output which led to a reactor vessel rupture. A fire was started and that sent a large plume of highly radioactive fallout into the air over a large area, which included the town of Pripyat. This disaster is considered to be one of the worst nuclear power plant accidents in history. The residents of Pripyat were not immediately evacuated. It wasn’t until an announcement the next day did people begin to evacuate. 237 people suffered from acute radioactive sickness and of those 237 people 31 of them died. There are still long term effects being accounted for, such as cancer and deformities. Today, the area is still radioactive.

Site of the real Chernobyl after the disaster

Site of the real Chernobyl after the disaster

Now, about the movie. Well, let me just start off with saying this wasn’t the worst scary movie I’ve seen, but it definitely wasn’t the best. There were some things about the film that I liked. I really liked the setting. There is just something about abandoned places that I think are really cool. So, to have the film set in an abandoned town, especially one that is actually real, is something I thought was pretty cool. I liked the fact that the film uses a real life disaster, something that most people learned about in school, as a backdrop for the movie. The film was filmed in Serbia and Hungary, so they didn’t actually film at the real Chernobyl, but I can see why they wouldn’t, considering that would be dangerous. At first I was intrigued to find out what would end up happening to the characters and what was stalking the characters. The characters in the film are: Chris (Jesse McCartney), Paul (Jonathan Sadowski), Amanda (Devin Kelley), Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley), Michael (Nathan Phillips), Zoe (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), and Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko).

From left: Zoe, Michael, Paul, Uri, Amanda, Natalie, and Chris.

From left: Zoe, Michael, Paul, Uri, Amanda, Natalie, and Chris.

Chris, his girlfriend Natalie, and Amanda are on a trip across Europe. They stop in Kiev, Ukraine to see Chris’s brother, Paul, who lives in Kiev. While in Ukraine, Paul convinces everyone to go on an extreme tourism trip to Pripyat. They visit a tour guide, Uri, and are joined by another couple, Zoe and Michael. They head to Pripyat and that is where the adventure begins…

The problem (or actually problems) I had with this film are extensive. First off, there are so many plot holes that I won’t even bother describing all of them. The creatures that are terrorizing the group are mutated freak beings (a lot of people say the creatures are zombies). You never really get a real clear look at the creatures, which might add to the mystery and leave it to the imagination of the viewer, but at the same time I really wanted to see what the creatures looked like. There are some dumb decisions made by the characters, but in horror movies there tends to always be at least one character that does stupid stuff. This is also one of those movies where no one survives. Uri is the first to go, which I was actually disappointed about. I kind of would have like to see him kick some mutated ass before being killed off. I mean, the guy is huge! He could have been a badass character, but pretty much all the characters are “weak”. I was surprised that Chris gets injured early on in the film and ends up dying. We never actually see his body, but as the viewer you pretty much come to the conclusion that he died, which he had a badly injured leg, so it’s not like he would have gotten very far. When the movie first started out, I figured Chris and either his girlfriend or his brother would have made it to the end of the film. Instead, Paul and Amanda are the last ones left standing…that is until Paul gets shot.

The ending of the movie is something that I know a lot of people had problems with and totally hated. I have to agree with all those other people. At the end, Paul and Amanda were exposed really badly to radiation after being right by the reactor that blew up. We see a bunch of lights and realize that it is Ukrainian military personnel. The military tell them both to stop and not come any closer. Paul had already been complaining about not being able to see, so even though he is being told to stop, he still continues to stumble forward and then is shot dead. I really hated the way he died. Out of the characters he was one that I somewhat cared about and for him to survive as long as he did and then just get shot was disappointing in my opinion. Amanda crawls toward Paul’s body and then she passes out. She wakes up inside what looks like an ambulance and then we see her being pushed on a gurney asking where she is. Doctors in hazmat suits tell her she is in a hospital. We learn that the creatures were escaped patients who have been recaptured. The doctors realize that all her friends are dead and that she knows too much, so they toss her into a cell. She gets attacked by a bunch of the mutant creatures. The end.

I wanted to know more about these “patients” and why they were all mutated and roaming all around the town. I mean, there appeared to be A LOT of them, so wouldn’t that have taken forever to recapture them all? I guess I wish the film had some more back story, maybe via flashbacks. The film had a lot of potential and there are definitely a lot of things that could have been executed differently. Rotten Tomatoes gave this film a 20% and IMDb has it at a average 5 out of 10 stars. I give it about a 5 out of 10 too. Will I ever watch this movie again? Maybe. Maybe I’ll watch with some friends who haven’t seen it, but I don’t think this is a film I will choose to watch again on my own and I definitely will not be buying this movie to own.

 

 

Walk the Line

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Warning: Contains spoilers

Walk the Line was released in 2005 and stars Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. The film tells the story of country singer Johnny Cash from his life as a kid in Arkansas to his rise to fame recording his first record at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. Joaquin Phoenix channels Johnny Cash really well in my opinion and Reese Witherspoon’s performance of June Carter is great as well. The film is basically a biography of Johnny Cash, but can also be categorized as a Drama and Romance.

The film starts off in 1968 at a prison (which we later learn is Folsom Prison) and we see Johnny Cash for a brief moment looking at a table saw while inmates can be heard cheering in the background and then the scene switches to 1944. We see Johnny (known as J.R. back then) as a child growing up on a cotton farm in Arkansas and he has an older brother named Jack. The two brothers are really close. One day J.R. goes fishing while Jack saws wood. Jack ends up injuring himself on the table saw and later dies from the injuries. Johnny and his father are not very close and their relationship becomes even more strained after Jack’s death. His father, Ray, exclaims that the wrong child died.

Fast forward to 1950 and Johnny enlists in the U.S. Air Force and is stationed in Germany. We learn that when he gets back to the U.S. he plans to marry Vivian Liberto (played by Ginnifer Goodwin). Also, while in Germany, Johnny starts to write a song, which will later become “Folsom Prison Blues”. Once Johnny is discharged he does marry Vivian and the two of them move to Memphis, TN. It’s 1955 and we see that Johnny and Vivian have a baby. Johnny works as a door-to-door salesman which proves unsuccessful. Cash and two friends of his form a band and eventually audition for Sam Phillips at Sun Studios. The band obtains a contract with Sun Studios, the same studio where Elvis Presley first recorded music.

The band Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two begin to tour and while on tour Johnny meets other singers, including June Carter. June is married to singer Carl Smith and Johnny is still with Vivian. The two spend time together and sparks ignite. June divorces Carl Smith and Johnny tries to make advances causing June to feel somewhat uncomfortable because of Johnny still being married and her divorce from Carl being real tough. Johnny begins to take drugs and alcohol. However, later on, Johnny convinces June to go on tour with him.

It’s 1965 and we Johnny and June performing “Jackson” on The Johnny Cash Show in Las Vegas.  Johnny and June end up sleeping together. The next morning June catches Johnny taking pills and she begins to question her choices and she begins to shut him out. This causes Johnny to delve even deeper into drugs and alcohol. Johnny loses it during a performance forgetting the lyrics to “I Got Stripes” and he ends up passing out. Later, we see June begin to write the song “Ring of Fire” to describe how she feels about Johnny. Johnny is in Mexico to buy drugs and is later caught and arrested. Johnny doesn’t serve any jail time and he returns to Vivian and his children. Vivian and Johnny end up getting a divorce. Johnny moves to Nashville with Waylon Jennings in 1966. Johnny, wanting to reconcile with June, buys a house in Hendersonville. During Thanksgiving, Johnny’s children he had with Vivian, Johnny’s parents and June and her parents come over. June and her family witness the strained relationship between Johnny and his father. Johnny, in an attempt to prove he is worthy to his father, goes outside and tries to get a tractor that was stuck in the mud out (his father had made a remark about the tractor). His family leaves and June and her family begin to leave until June’s mother, who can notice how June feels about Johnny, tells her to go down and help him. June, with the help of her family, help detox Johnny from his drug and alcohol habit. June tells Johnny that he has been given a second chance. They continue to spend more time together.

Later, Johnny begins to read some fan mail and realizes that a lot of them come from prisons, most notably Folsom Prison. Johnny convinces his record company to let him make a live record at Folsom Prison. The brief scene we saw at the beginning of the film we see again. Johnny, his band, and June perform at Folsom and it is a hit. It’s 1968 and while on a tour bus, Johnny asks June to marry him. She gets mad at him, telling him she is tired and not to propose to a girl on a bus. They arrive in Canada to perform a concert. While singing the song “Jackson” Johnny interrupts the song saying he can’t perform the song anymore because it would be like they were lying (because of the lyric in the song that says: “We got married in a fever…”) He asks June to marry him again. She says yes. The film ends with them at his house in Hendersonville and his family and her family and all their kids.

The marriage proposal scene is one of my favorite scenes. I love how Johnny picks June up and twirls her around and you see everyone in the audience cheering. It’s a beautiful scene. I don’t really have anything bad to say about this film. The acting is great, the costume design, and even the musical score is great. Joaquin and Reese did a great job singing. Joaquin sounds pretty close to how Johnny actually sounded like; Reese sings great, but doesn’t really sound quite like the real June Carter. Reese won an Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal as June and Joaquin was nominated for Best Actor. He didn’t win, but I think he should have. He did however win a Golden Globe for his performance.

There are some inaccuracies in the film. I only know about the few that I’ve read about; I don’t really know much about Johnny Cash’s life, although I do like his music. The portrayal of Vivian didn’t sit well with Rosanne Cash and Kathleen Cash (daughters of Vivian and Johnny). I don’t know how their other two daughters felt about the film, but Rosanne and Kathleen were the most outspoken when the film was released. John Carter Cash, son of Johnny and June, was executive producer for the film. After the criticism from his half-sisters, he understood where they were coming from, but that the point of the film was to tell his parent’s love story.

Overall, it is a great film and one that I don’t mind watching all the time. It is kind of long, about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Even if you don’t like country music, I still highly recommend it.

Evil Dead

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Warning: Contains some spoilers

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“The Evil Dead” 1981 poster

At the beginning of April, the film “Evil Dead” was released. For those that do not know, this film is actually a remake of a film from 1981: “The Evil Dead” Now, if you have seen both films you will notice some similarities, but overall they are kind of two completely different films. The original one was made on a low budget, about $350,000. The film was directed by Sam Raimi who would go on to direct major films such as Spider-Man (2002) and starred Bruce Campbell who has acted in a couple of cult classic films, some of them B-movies, but he has remained a popular actor, especially among horror film fans. The Evil Dead was released in 1981 and all these years later it has become a cult classic. There’s even an Evil Dead musical. The acting in the film is…not that great. Some scenes are overdone. It’s supposed to be a horror film, but seems more like a comedy. Also, the make-up on the possessed characters is not the best; there are moments where you can see the actor’s real skin color. There’s a scene where the character Cheryl has been possessed and the other characters proceed to get her down into the basement. Before they close the door of the basement one of the male characters is beating up Cheryl and you can clearly see it’s a dummy. That scene made me laugh so hard. However, these faults are kind of what make the movie. I mean, most cult movies tend to be movies that didn’t do well in theaters, but gained popularity among a certain group of people. I watched the original Evil Dead film on Netflix the other day and even though it was by no means the best movie I’ve ever seen, I do know that I will be watching again in the future, possibly around Halloween 🙂

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“Evil Dead” 2013 poster

Now, time to talk about the new Evil Dead film. Like I said in the beginning, there are a few similarities between the old and new movie, but overall they are different. The new Evil Dead is more of a reboot than a remake. One of the main things that makes this movie so different from the original is the violence. This movie was disgusting. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, it just had a lot of scenes that were really bloody, graphic, and gruesome. There are definitely people who will watch this that will be scared and grossed out. If you don’t get scared you will at least be a little grossed out by at least one scene. The movie starts out with a group of 20-somethings on their way to a remote cabin. Now, unlike the original where it was just a group of people going to a cabin for a fun weekend, in the new film the characters are there to help out their friend, Mia (Jane Levy) who is a heroin addict. During this film I found myself not really caring about the characters, I didn’t really care if they died or not. The characters are, David (Shiloh Fernandez), Mia’s brother, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas), and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), David’s girlfriend. The character Eric was not that interesting and he especially annoyed me when he began to read from the Book of the Dead aloud. If I remember correctly, wasn’t Eric a teacher? Shouldn’t he be smart enough not to be reading out of a book where someone has clearly written in it saying not to read the book at all?? Natalie seemed out of place to me. She was just David’s girlfriend, she wasn’t really friends with those people. At first I kind of felt bad for her because if she wasn’t with David, she wouldn’t be there and end up dead, but then I got to the point where I didn’t really care about her anymore. I didn’t really care all that much for Olivia either. Overall, it just seemed that most of the characters lacked any common sense/intelligence and as the audience we weren’t really given much of an opportunity to really get to know the characters. Although, Mia and David didn’t really bother me that much compared to the other characters. One thing I think could have been done differently was the opening scene. I felt like it kind of spoiled what was going to end up happening to Mia. In my opinion, that scene should have appeared later on in the film. When David and Eric discover the basement with cats hanging from the ceiling and the burnt wooden post, as I’m watching that scene all I could think was how it wasn’t anything new or creepy because as the audience we already know what happened down there–it was the very first scene in the movie! To have the audience connect better with the characters when they are discovering the basement and feel creeped out like the characters and have us wondering what happened there, the opening scene should have maybe happened when Eric starts looking through the Book of Dead as a flashback scene. However, this movie is really fast-paced. Bad stuff starts happening somewhat early on in the film. The make-up of the possessed characters is top-notch and those yellow eyes…real creepy! Is this a movie I’d watch again? Yeah, I think I will watch it again sometime. If you don’t like bloody, gory movies don’t watch this film. There are multiple gruesome scenes–there’s a scene where a character tries to cut their face off. The tagline on the poster says: “The most terrifying film you will experience”…more like “the most gruesome film you will experience”
One last thing that I thought was interesting…the first letter of the names of the characters spell out the word DEMON.