REVIEW: Absentia (2011)



Absentia:  C+

Low budget flicks like this are hard to gauge.  Should you give it credit for overcoming a shoestring budget?  Or should you note that its limitations don’t quite allow for a fully-formed film?

In this case, I went with the latter, but if you talked to me on a different day, I could be convinced to bump it up into the “B” range.  Ultimately, it falls in the category of “nice little film” that could’ve been a helluva lot better with a cash infusion.   It’s the kind of movie where you find yourself muttering, “Was this shit funded by Kickstarter?” and then you go and look it up, and sure enough, this shit was funded by Kickstarter.

What works: An intriguing plot about a woman living in the L.A. valley whose husband has gone missing.  No note, no body, no clues as to where he fucked off to.  Just…gone.  It’s been  seven years, so she’s having him declared legally dead “in absentia.”  This lady’s much hotter younger sister comes to stay with her to help her through the transition, but maybe she’s just there because she’s a druggie with no options.  Some good sister drama there.

The malevolence revolves around this pedestrian tunnel near their house.  Hot Younger Sister goes jogging through it an encounters an apparent homeless man in rough shape.  She stops to check on him, and he’s amazed that she can see him.  He cries “It must be asleep!” as she retreats the fuck  out of there.  Nice hook.  This, of course, makes Thing in the Tunnel suspect #1 in the whole “What happened to my husband?” mystery.  Complicating matters, the detective who’s been investigating the dude’s disappearance has impregnated the wife.  He’s also a woefully shitty actor.

Which brings us to what doesn’t work.  I can’t see any of these actors making a living doing this, with the possible exception of Hot Younger Sister.   It has one of those let’s-cast-our-friends-who’ll-work-for-snacks vibes.  Then there’s the problem of Thing in the Tunnel.  It’s apparently not confined to the tunnel, as there’s some creepy happenings inside the nearby house.  But you never really get a sense of what the thing is.  It’s always in the shadows, and the director employs all those quick cuts that you have to use when you don’t have the special effects budget to build something scary on camera.

You could do worse than checking this out on Netflix streaming, but you’ll probably be left with the same decent-but-not-great feeling I had at the end.   I was left wondering what the director (Mike Flanagan) could do with a bigger budget, but Bloodcrypt Keeper has your answer.  Maybe the bargain bin is where Flanagan should stay.


REVIEW: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006): B+


Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon: B+

As if you needed more evidence that Scream is one of the most influential genre films ever, Behind the Mask is yet another example of meta-horror floating in Wes Craven’s wake.  Mask takes place in a world that not only acknowledges Freddy, Jason, and Michael, but treats their stories as if they were inspired by true events carried out by real killers.  However, instead of examining the horror movie tropes and rules from the victims’ perspective, a la Scream, it takes us…behind the fucking mask.  Duh.

Leslie Vernon is a mass murderer in training, but he’s also an affable guy who’s letting a broadcast journalist intern named Taylor (Macauley Culkin’s sister in Home Alone) and her two camera guys trail along as he prepares to massacre semi-innocent teens at a remote cabin.  The film crew looks on with a mixture of curiosity, awe, and trepidation as Leslie shows them how to select and stalk one’s “survivor girl,” do cardio to “make it look like you’re walking while everyone else is running their asses off,” and foil victims’ escape routes and defenses by blocking exits, cutting tree limbs, and sabotaging potential weapons.  Such is Leslie’s charm and humor that even though he’s describing terrible things, he’s exceedingly likable.

So is his mentor, played by Herschel from The Walking Dead.  The crew visits his house for a sausage cookout, but first they have to un-bury him from the backyard where he’s practicing the art of appearing to be dead.  He later regales them with tales of the truly great, enduring slashers and derides “one-hit wonders.”

Most of the movie is shot documentary-style until the turning point when the film crew decide to break the fourth wall and insert themselves into Leslie’s murderous scheme.  There’s a pretty sweet plot twist, a couple nice boobies, and a buttload of homages to horror flicks.  Robert Englund is an “Ahab,” the Dr. Loomis archetype (the dude from Halloween, not me) who knows Leslie’s past and is trying to foil his plans.  His character’s name is Doc Halloran, which almost assuredly has to be an allusion to The Shining, amiright?  There’s also an appearance by the “This house is clean” lady from Poltergeist (who knew that dwarf bitch was still alive?), and an awesome end-credits sequence that features Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees) over the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer.”

Good stuff.  But to be truly great, you’ve gotta have a sequel.  So get with it, Leslie.

REVIEW: The Innkeepers (2011)


The Innkeepers: C

It’s a haunted hotel movie, but The Shining it ain’t.  To its credit, it doesn’t try for cheap, “gotcha” scares; it tries to earn them with silence and atmosphere.  To its detriment, it’s not fucking scary.  At all.  It’s not a bad film by any stretch, but there’s just not enough going on here to recommend it.

The Inkeepers centers around an old hotel, open for one last weekend.  Sara Paxton (who is fantastic in the far superior Last House on the Left remake) plays a hotel clerk.  This doofus she works with has a website which “documents” supernatural activities at the inn.  He’s got all that nonsense ghost-finding equipment, but he doesn’t really believe there’s anything supernatural going on until the chick records a piano playing a few notes by itself.

That’s about the extent of the horror.  Sure, there are some Shining-esque ghosts who’ve committed suicide and are unsettled and all that.  But there are virtually zero chills and no real plot twists.

Actually, the most horrifying aspect of this film is the appearance of Kelly McGillis as a psychic who stays in the inn.  She was an ‘80s icon, frenching with Tom Cruise in Top Gun and providing jerk-worthy footage to a young Dr. Loomis as an Amish mother seduced by Harrison Ford’s smoldering charm in Witness.  She’s unrecognizable here: a greying, flabby shell of her former hotness.  Suicidal ghosts have nothing on the ravages of Father Time.

REVIEW: Martyrs (2008)

martyrs 2008


Martyrs (2008): B

I changed the grade on this flick three or four times.  I started in the “C” range, but the more I thought about it, the more I had to admit that there was a bunch of stuff that stuck with me, and that counts for a lot.

I was made aware of this French indie on one of those “movies that shouldn’t be viewed” lists, and there is certainly a large segment of the population to which Martyrs would be UV (Unviewable).  This movie is fucking brutal.  However, unlike something like Hostel or other “torture porn” of that ilk, there is something to the pain that’s inflicted on the two unfortunate “martyrs.”  It’s done for a purpose, not for sadist enjoyment.  I finally settled on a B because the film’s ambition is laudable, and it earns points for doing things I’ve never seen before, some of them I wish I could un-see.

The film starts by chronicling the escape of a young girl (Lucie) from a lair where she is imprisoned on an iron chair with a hole cut in the seat to piss through.  She’s force-fed a disgusting gruel and beaten savagely by faceless assailants.  However, she‘s not sexually abused, which makes the motives of her captors unclear.

She ends up in a foster home, where she befriends another youngster, Anna.  However, Lucie is attacked in the night by a fearsome female apparition that is capable of inflicting physical harm on her.

Meanwhile, we jump to a seemingly normal family of four, sitting around the breakfast table, about to start a seemingly normal day.  The doorbell rings, the father answers it….and a grown up version of Lucie blows him away with a shotgun and proceeds to wreck shop on the rest of the family, including two teens who beg for their lives.  Lucie calls Anna to tell her that Lucie has finally found the people responsible for her childhood trauma.

To go much further would veer into spoiler territory, but I can say that if agonizing, repeated onscreen violence perpetrated against women is a deal-breaker for you, you’re gonna want to give this one a pass.  What ultimately happens to the protagonist is one of the more unsettling acts of naked brutality I’ve ever witnessed onscreen.  However, the philosophy behind the torment elevates Martyrs beyond simply torture porn into some form of art.  It’s not art that everybody can appreciate, which is ok.  We simply can’t all be this fucked up.


REVIEW: Hatchet (2006)



Hatchet (2006)

Grade: B-

If you like your kills gory, your villains deformed, and your nudity gratuitous, Hatchet will probably do ya just fine for 90 minutes.  The producers were clearly going for an old-school ‘80s slasher vibe here, and they mostly succeed.  But there’s absolutely zero innovation.

How much of a retread is Hatchet?  Well, one of the guys killed in the opening scene is played by Robert Englund.  Yup, Freddy Krueger himself.  The titular character who metes out the pain (sometimes, but not always, by hatchet)?  Kane Hodder, who played Jason in the Friday the 13th flicks.

The film is set in New Orleans, which allows us some early glimpses of nubile mardi gras boobies.  A bunch of bros are partying on Spring break, but one of the bros is being a total buzzkill because his girlfriend just dumped him or some shit.  As if that’s a reason to be down on alcohol and seeing young boobies.  Lemme ask you, faithful Bloodcrypt readers, has there EVER been a situation in which you’d pass up the opportunity to drink beer and lustfully eye college-age chicks flashing their still-immune-to-gravity college-age titties?  Freddy and Jason could run a train on my mom that ended with her brutal disembowelment, and the cure to that horrific shit would be a 40 oz and some college-age titties, STAT.

Where the fuck was I?  Oh yeah, so this dude wants to go soak up culture off the main drag (where all the boobs and beer is at); as a result, he drags his reluctant bros to a shady shack advertising a haunted swamp tour.  The proprietor?  The fucking Candyman, I shit you not.  Anyway, they must’ve only had the budget for five minutes of the Candyman, because he sends them on down the road to this Asian tour guide with a ludicrous Cajun accent.

Off they go on their doomed excursion, accompanied by various other tourists, including a super pissed off younger chick who won’t interact with anybody, an old married couple, and a dude who’s basically shooting “Girls Gone Wild: New Orleans” with these two semi-attractive porn starlets whom he frequently prompts to flash the camera and make out with each other.  One of them is Harmony from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so that’s a plus if you’re a Buffyphile like me.

After the boat crashes (of course) the surly bitch flashes a .45 and tells everyone they’re screwed because this is Hatchet’s neck of the woods, and she came here to kill him (Freddy Krueger was her dad, and she wants revenge).  Why she thought taking a handgun on the New Orleans equivalent of the Disneyland Jungle Cruise ride was an effective plan for battling an unkillable supernatural evil is unclear, but it was a miscalculation.

Turns out this Hatchet dude (real name: Victor Crowley- how old school is that?) is a mutant from birth who got made fun of by the other kids.  One night they pulled a prank on him that set Victor’s cabin on fire, and in the process of trying to save him by chopping down the door, his dad accidentally…well, dude’s named “Hatchet” for a reason, amiright?

So Hatchet kills most of these fools one by one in fairly entertaining fashion.  Not only is he good with tools, but he’s also super strong and can rip limbs off and shit.  I’ll be honest; I’m not even sure what happened at the end because I was pretty drunk by then.  However, there are two other Hatchet flicks, so I’m pretty sure that whatever victory achieved over him is short-lived.

REVIEW: V/H/S 2 (2013)



V/H/S 2: B+

Although I’m the resident found-footage expert at Bloodcrypt, I let Bloodcrypt Keeper have a go at reviewing the original V/H/S because I was busy buttfucking a hobo.  He did ok, though.  Although I probably would’ve gone B-/C+ with the first installment, I couldn’t quibble too much with his assessment of the film’s vignettes.

Usually, when a sequel comes out within a year of its predecessor, it’s a rushed hack job, intended to capitalize on the success of the previous installment (lookin’ at you, Saw franchise).  V/H/S 2 actually improves on the formula it established.  First of all, the narrative arc binding together the found footage on the tapes is more intelligent and scarier than the first movie.  A private investigator and his partner are investigating a teen’s disappearance and enter a seemingly abandoned house with a bunch of computers and vhs tapes.

The original had five mini-movies; this one opts for quality over quantity with four.  The characters in the film sit down to watch them, and just as before, they’re a mixed bag.  But a better mix this time: more peanuts and cashews, and fewer almonds.  Almonds suck.

The first short is about a dude who has ocular surgery due to losing his sight in an accident, and a permanently-running camera implanted in his eye documents his every waking move (cleverly sidestepping the found-footage Achilles heel of “why are you still filming this?”).  He starts seeing creepy dead people, and this chick who saw him at the hospital comes over and tells him she had an ear implant (cokeular?…cochlear?…cockular?) and sees the same fucked up shit he does.  She tells him not to pay attention to them and then strips off her shirt and rides him, beautiful breasts bouncing.  Some other stuff happens after that, but that’s the high point.  Anyway, pretty good: B(oobs)

The second vignette puts a unique spin on the current zombie craze.  It’s shot almost entirely from the p.o.v. of a mountain biker’s  “Go Pro”-style helmet cam.  He runs into a bleeding woman in the woods, stops to help, and whoops!  He’s a zombie.  A zombie with a helmet cam.  He and other fellow zombies attack hikers/bikers and then a kid’s birthday party.  Flesh-eating ensues, but from an original perspective: B+

In the third clip, shit gets bananas.  A t.v. news crew goes to Indonesia to do an exposé on a cult with one of those charismatic leader types.  It’s got an underground bunker, classrooms full of creepy kids getting indoctrinated, and, of course, mass suicide.  It’s completely bonkers in the best way, and the climax is splendid, when the thing the cult has been worshipping manifests and brings doom.  Fucking phenomenal: A

The final story is about some clichéd-looking aliens who invade a slumber party.  It suffers from the usual “why are you still filming this?” problem much more than the other vignettes.  I have no idea why the filmmakers chose to end with this relative dud, but it robs the movie of a lot of its momentum.  It’s still better than the worst stuff in the first V/H/S, but I would’ve put it earlier to get it out of the way: C

According to the main plotline, though, watching the tapes in a certain order is imperative, so maybe the worst one HAD to be last, I dunno.  At any rate, this franchise is starting to earn some serious horror street cred.  Who knew old tapes could be so scary?  Well, other than the ‘90s hairstyles (both above and below) from those old pornos I can’t seem to let go of…

REVIEW: The Bay (2012)


The Bay (2012): A-

Y’all know Dr. Loomis has a found footage fetish.   So when I became aware of the fact that Barry Levinson (Diner, The Natural, fucking Rainman!) directed one, I bumped it to the top of my Netflix streaming queue.

I’m here to tell you to do the same.  Like right fucking nowThe Bay isn’t just a found footage movie.  It isn’t even just a horror movie.  It transcends genre.  Best of all, it’s terrifying, and the scares ain’t cheap.

The film takes the unique approach of being told from the perspective of a reporter who witnessed and survived the events of the film.  She watches the spliced-together accounts of different sources from a small Maryland town on the 4th of July, 2010 and re-lives the horror of that day, providing perspective and foreshadowing the fates of the poor fuckers onscreen.

I actually didn’t think I was going to like the movie in its early phase, because the trouble starts with boils.  I’m not scared of boils, blisters, or rashes.  This is why I hated that stupid-ass Cabin Fever.   Turns out the boils are just a symptom of something much worse.  Loomis don’t spoil shit, but let’s just say lots of the corpses (and there are fucking scads) end up with their tongues chewed out.

I won’t tell you what’s doing all the damage, but the delivery system is what gives the film its frightening scope.  Remember how Jaws had everyone afraid of going into the water because you might get eaten by a giant fucking shark?  The Bay takes that concept and doubles it the fuck down.  It’s not just swimming that can get you killed.  See, the water’s polluted.  The officials of the town chose the profitable chicken factory over the purity of their coast…and their drinking water, since it comes from a desalinization plant.

Before any of you Ted Nugent motherfuckers starts with, “Aw fuck, Loomis!  This is some kind of faggot tree-hugger message movie?  I ain’t watchin’ anything Obama wants me to” just know that while the film deals with eco-horror, It’s not heavy-handed.  What creeps me out so much about this flick is that the gruesome phenomenon is examined with scientific precision; the first thing the doc does at the local hospital is call the CDC- they’re fucking useless.  It really does feel like something that could happen to any town in any part of the world.

The environment’s generally pretty resilient, but what if it gets fucked with in exactly the wrong way, under exactly the wrong conditions?  That’s the haunting question that arises amidst the nightmarish carnage of The Bay.  If you don’t care about the answer, then you’re probably a fucktard who should stick to Kevin James movies.

REVIEW: Mama (2013)



Mama: B-

Everybody has that one thing that makes them shit their britches. Bloodcrypt Keeper’s is creepy old women, so he asked ol’ Dr. Loomis to review this flick and let him know if he could handle it as long as he had his blankie.

The answer: probably yes. Mama is the creepy-but-flawed story of two young girls who are kidnapped by their psychotic father (Kingslayer Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones) after he caps their mom. They end up in an isolated cabin, where he’s about to complete the family holocaust by pulling a George on his eldest daughter’s Lennie when a floating, wraith-like presence makes off with him.

Fast-forward a few years, and the Kingslayer’s brother (who is just the Kingslayer with a different haircut) has hired some dudes to find his nieces and presumably his brother, but he’s not the point because he’s a wife-killing piece of shit. The girls get found in the cabin, where they’ve apparently been living off cherries and dust bunnies. They’re also not terribly well-adjusted, because they’ve been raised by the aforementioned wraith bitch, whom they refer to with a mixture of love and terror as “Mama.”

The Kingslayer and his girlfriend (the CIA Chick who got Bin Laden) bring them home to live with them, and CIA Chick is not totally on board. She’s this punk rawk gurl and doesn’t dig kids all that much, much less kids who snarl and gnash at the breakfast table. Shit gets worse for her when Mama moves into the kids’ closet and pushes the Kingslayer down the stairs one night, hospitalizing him. Of course, this enables CIA Chick to find her inner nurturer, and the central conflict of the film is the allegiance of the two girls to choose between CIA Chick, who has great boobs and makes them macaroni n’ cheese or Mama, who flies them all around their room and kills whomever gets in the way.

There are some good scares here, although the Mama from the short film that inspired the feature is scarier than the one they ended up using. It’s also not totally clear what, exactly her powers are: blunt force, soul-sucking, haunting, all of these? The younger girl is actually probably the most frightening thing in the film; she’s like a combination of a feral cat and that dude James Bond chases at the beginning of Casino Royale.

There’s also a subplot with a psychologist who hypnotizes the girls that doesn’t really make sense, but I’m willing to admit that could’ve just been the gin talking and not a flaw of the film itself. Ultimately, it’ll scare folks like the Keeper just enough, but their britches should stay shit-free.