REVIEW: The Sacrament (2013)



The Sacrament: B

This is a found footage film that follows a couple of journalists who make their way into an isolated Jonestown-like settlement, triggering its implosion, red Kool-Aid and all. There are some chilling moments of cult fervor and some scenes that capture what some parts of Jonestown life must have been like with a sociopathic “Father” watching your every move with Orwellian enthusiasm.

The movie is produced by Eli Roth, but it is different from his other movies. This film isn’t the torture porn of Hostel or the splat-stick of Cabin Fever; the fear in this movie is psychological and it really builds up to a fucked up ending.

The cult leader is played by the gas station owner from No Country for Old Men who, for this film, impressively transforms from a cowardly redneck into a part-evangelist faith-healer, part-Kim Jung Il terrifying idol. The guy kills it. He dresses like a Florida retiree and he wears tan aviators that magnify his eyes to an almost amphibian golem-level.

The monologues are mesmerizing. “Father” has this fucked up delivery that is a mixture of southern drawl and game show host while he peers though his shades and quotes psalms to justify the way of life in his compound. You feel like he could start drooling at any second but that he also has a 250 IQ. He does these great shifts in and out of creepiness; one sentence will sound like your kindly old grandpa telling you a joke, and the next sentence sounds like Chairman Mao ordering your execution.

My biggest beef with the film is that is takes a little too long to get moving and the end takes overly-elaborate pains to insist that what you just witnessed was a documentary and not manufactured fictional “found footage”. They really lay the exposition on thick to make sure that you know you are headed into a Jonestown situation with seriously brain-washed people. And the montage of “found photos” at the end is fucking lame. After it gets rolling though, you won’t be able to look away.

There are some cool found footage tricks in this one. People drop the camera or have the camera taken away from them. Sometimes, the protagonist is filming. Other times, you get footage from the bad guys’ point of view. Actors sometimes set the camera down and you get these long takes that are framed really well. Sometimes there is ambiguity about whether or not someone is filming at all.

It was a fun watch and the best found footage flick I’ve seen in months.


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: Grave Encounters 2 (2012)


Grave Encounters 2 (2012)

Grade: C+

Meta:  A term, especially in art, used to characterize something that is characteristically self-referential.

This is all Wes Craven’s fault.  First he made A New Nightmare (1994), where Robert Englund plays not only Freddy Kreuger, but also himself, haunting real-life Heather Langenkamp, best known as Nancy, the original “final girl” of the Elm Street series.  He then perfected the concept with 1996’s Scream, a horror movie where the characters allude to other horror movies and knowingly behave according to their “rules.”

“Meta” horror took off, culminating with today’s subject, Grave Encounters 2.  Why do I write “culminating”?  Because the answer to the question: “How much more meta could a horror movie get than Grave Encounters 2?” is “none.”  None more meta.

As Bloodcrypt’s resident found footage guru, I have to admit I got a little half-mast chubby during the first 10 minutes of the film, where random horror fans name drop the titans of the genre: Blair Witch, Rec, Paranormal Activity.  They do so while discussing the original Grave Encounters with varying degrees of rapture and disdain.

The protagonist, a scrawny little turd named Alex, becomes convinced that Grave Encounters (about a ghost-hunting t.v. crew who set up shop inside an abandoned mental hospital) actually happened.  Like, those were real people, and some producer acquired the footage, gave the victims “actor” names on imdb, and even created the name “The Vicious Brothers” as auteurs of the film.  Of course, the Vicious Brothers wrote the film you’re currently watching, Grave Encounters 2.

See what I mean?  No more fucking meta could this shit be.

Adding to Alex’s case is that he keeps getting comments on his YouTube posts from “DeathAwaits666” which direct him to the site of the hospital featured in the film.  If what you’re thinking right now is, “Loomis, don’t tell me a fucking demon signed up for a YouTube account and posts comments on scrawny little turds’ video blogs to lure them to their deaths,” well, I’m sorry.  I have to fucking tell you that.  Thankfully, unlike other shitshow horror flicks that have tried to make the internet a conduit of supernatural evil (FeardotCom limps lamely to mind), it’s not a central plot point.

I’m making this all sound pretty terrible, but it’s actually executed pretty well.  Anyway, Alex and his crew make it to the hospital, and I’ll be honest: It’s nice to see the ol’ girl again.  It really is a creepy fucking building.  The couple scares Grave Encounters 2has are pretty derivative of the first film, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  If it were, then fuckwits like me wouldn’t have sat through all those Friday the 13th sequels, now would we?

There’s a nice bit in the middle where you think the film’s taken a crazy turn, and an easily predictable (if you’ve seen the first one) appearance toward the end by one of original “cast” members.  Other than that, it’s only the concept that’s especially memorable.

So.  Much.  Meta.

REVIEW: Grave Encounters (2011)




Grade: B


Don’t worry about the retarded-sounding title. It’s meant to sound retarded. It’s actually the name of the cheesy Ghotshunters-style television show that works as the very clever premise of this solid little Canadian flick.


What’s clever about it, you ask? Well, Dr. Loomis is your resident found footage expert around these parts. And while I dig the genre, even I must admit that it has its limitations. In basically every film from the sub-genre, there’s that shit-gets-cray moment when you say, “Ok, nobody would still be filming this.”


Grave Encounters has that angle pretty well covered. The characters are cynical-as-fuck documentarians who take their cameras to supposedly haunted places and look for ghosts and shit. Their latest expedition leads them to an old, closed-down mental hospital, where they have a caretaker lock them inside for the night, you know, for the extra drama that the fucktards who watch these shows like they’re National Geographic specials eat up.


The film starts pretty slowly, lots of backstory and “let’s get this over with” dialogue. Their incredulity turns to frustration as morning dawns (at least according to their cell phones), but all the exits they try are either blocked up or lead to other corridors. The way events commence mildly (a rolling, empty wheelchair) and get increasingly dicey (bathtubs of blood, demons) is executed well, and there’s some very cool Cukoo’s Nest shit going on. Best of all, since they’re there to record supernatural shit (even though they don’t really believe in said supernatural shit), that’s enough excuse to keep the cameras rolling, despite the fact that demons are writing “hello” on people’s backs amongst other inconsiderate demon behavior.


It’s not a great movie, by any means, but I’m bumping it up to a B because I’d never heard of it before seeing it recommended to me by Netlix instant, and it was a pleasant fucking surprise. You don’t encounter those often, ya feel me? Of course, this means you’ll watch it and be all like, “Loomis, that was nowhere near as good as you said it was, you fucking quack. And your lame-ass puns suck all the dicks.” Then I’ll give you your money back, you ungrateful cocksuckers.


REVIEW: Sinister (2012)



Sinister (2012): B+

The crazy thing about watching so many horror movies is that after awhile, you forget why you started watching them in the first place.  You watch for the death scenes, the gore; you hope for nudity.  The fact that the whole premise of a horror flick is supposed to be, you know, scary, is usually an afterthought.

That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised with Sinister, which, despite having a semi-recognizable star (Ethan Hawke) in the lead role, went pretty under-the-radar in theaters.  Yeah, it has all the usual tropes: creepy kids, late-night bumps in the night, “gotcha” moments driven by explosions of sound intended to make you jump.

This one works, though, because of a somewhat unique invention.  It combines the best elements of linear, narrative storytelling along with some genuinely horrific found footage.  Hawke’s a “true crime” writer who moves his family of four to a house where the previous family of four were all hung from a tree in the backyard.  The murder was never solved, and Hawke thinks he’s caught a break when he finds a box of Super-8 reels, along with a functioning projector, in the attic.

Sure, there are all the usual genre plot holes.  For instance, Hawke doesn’t tell his wife that the house’s last inhabitants met with a rather gruesome demise, and even though she knows what he does for a living, she doesn’t clue into this fact until their daughter starts drawing creepy pictures of the scene on the walls.  It’s an excuse to have a big, dramatic domestic altercation and for the wife to be the voice of the audience: “Get the fuck out of that house, morons!

However, the movies themselves (shot from the killer’s POV) are legitimate nightmare fuel.  The footage of the group hanging in the backyard tree (replete with bags over the victims’ heads and fruitless kicking at the air as they rise off the ground) sets the tone from the opening credits, and we’re then treated to four other similarly twisted mini-movies as Hawke reviews the evidence, whiskey in hand, eyes bulging with revulsion and terror.

The last is the most unsettling; it involves a lawnmower.  I’ll leave it at that.

As usual, the resolution isn’t as satisfying as the buildup, although it’s not bad.  The case could be made that Sinister is a mashup of other horror films that have done all of this better.

Still, there’s a test that any veteran horrorphile gives a thriller: If you’re watching late at night, and no one else is awake (the optimum way to watch, imo), and you’re even a teensy bit afraid to go into another dark room, and you jump at even the most benign noises, then the damn film has done its job.  I tensed as a stair creaked when I walked downstairs.  My heart leapt when I heard my infant daughter cry out in her sleep from the other room.  And when my wife, asleep in bed next to me, made this weird smacking sound with her mouth just at the film’s climax, I nearly squealed out loud.

Well, maybe you’re a fucking pussy, you say.

Well, maybe.  But I’ve seen lots of this shit.  I hope for a couple good “jump” scares per movie, and I’m usually let down.  This one had me unsettled from the beginning and pretty goddamn creeped out by the end.

Your scare mileage may vary, but it’s my review.  So fuck off.

REVIEW: V/H/S (2012)


V/H/S: B

I’m usually not into found footage movies, but this one was incredibly charming and had a clever design. The film manages to use the found footage model to engage one of my favorite types of horror movies: The Creepshow/Tales from the Crypt frame narrative.

Instead of a Crypt Keeper or a comic book, the outer frame of the story involves three criminally pathetic hipster-misfits who like to engage in Clockwork Orange type behavior like smashing stuff and terrorizing women, which they also film so they can LOL about it later. They are hired to break into some old guy’s house to steal a rare VHS tape. When they get there, the dude is dead, rotting in front of an obelisk of static filled televisions and a mound of VHS tapes. The hipsters decide to watch the tapes and each one is a miniature found footage horror movie. I thought that shit was clever! In between each tape, creepy shit starts happening at the house and it escalates to a tasty climax after they view the last tape.

Tape 1 is about three super irritating frat-type bros who get fucked up by a vampire/succubus after a long and annoying night of partying. They drink their faces off, snort some blow, and take some babes back to their hotel room. Man, after like 20 minutes of a seemingly pointless bro-odyssey through the annals of the dive bar scene, it is so much fun to watch them get maimed/eaten. The girl who plays the monster does a great job. With minimal effects and delicious gore, this was my favorite vignette.

Tape 2 sucks. It’s about a couple who go on their boring 2nd honeymoon only to be stalked/molested by a mysterious and also boring switchblade wielding woman in between their boring bickering and yawn-inspiring escapades. Really anti-climactic. Oh, and boring.

Tape 3 is about some buddies who decide to go camping in the woods. They didn’t decide to get murdered by a fucking specter, but that’s not typically something one gets to decide. There’s some funny gore and typical irresponsible teen behavior in the forest a la Friday the 13th. One girl almost pulls off a Schwarzenegger from Predator as she slows down the antagonist with booby traps. The ending is pretty cool.

Tape 4 is about a woman who has a strange bump on her wrist that shows up about the same time a tribe of midgets starts haunting her house. Instead of a camcorder, this footage is found from her Skype convos with her BF, who strangely doesn’t seem to like her investigating the midget phenomena. This tape ends with a “twist” that you sort of see coming, but I’ll bet you can’t guess the specifics.

Finally, Tape 5 follows some friends who go to a Halloween party only to be terrorized by a bunch of poltergeists. Meh. It’s okay.

I heard they are already making a sequel. I hope they call it L/A/S/E/R/D/I/S/C.

REVIEW: Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)


Hellraiser: Revelations: D-

When will people learn that putting “revelations” after your movie title will not generate mystique for your piece of GARBAGE? There aren’t even any fucking revelations in this movie!
Two bros (Nico and Steve) from upper-middle class suburbia head to Mexico to abandon their unfulfilling lives of privilege, drink brewskis, and to see a donkey show. Instead, they find the Hellraiser puzzle box and force the audience to watch half of the film through the perspective of their shitty handi-cam that they took with them on their road trip. Both bros are subjected to the extradimensional erotic torture of the cenobites who are led by a Pinhead who has three chins and looks about as scary as a substitute teacher. In between dimensions, the pair slaughter hookers in Mexico for a while, including a Filipino girl who might be 13 in real life. One of the bros betrays the other in a “twist” that is so predictable it will somehow make your dick hurt. Or fallopian tubes or whatever.

Back in America, Steve’s sister is molesting the puzzle box (who cares how she got it), summoning a now demonized Nico (disguised as Steve; how? Shut up) to his parents’ house just in time to interrupt a swanky dinner party and torment both bros’ families. Nonsensical Scooby-Doo-esque panic ensues while the yuppies attempt to get to the bottom of the boy’s strange return. The phone malfunctions, the cars disappear, and the viewer suffers through soap opera acting and absolutely nothing even close to being scary or interesting.

Forget about emergency cell phone calls or the internet or anything else based in logic as you watch this movie. The stranded family begins to learn the truth and finally, the cenobites appear and murder/meat-hook people. I counted three faces being ripped off, one throat being ripped off, two faces getting hooked, a shotgun to the guts, and four off-screen implied kills. I’m not counting any of the stuff we saw in handi-cam vision because it looked how you would expect Blair Witch 5 to look and was a pathetic grope of the “found footage” trend.

The film was supposedly made in two weeks, but I would believe you if you told me two days. Once again, saved from a UV because of how amusingly pathetic it is.