REVIEW: Unfriended (2015)

"LOL bro you are like totally dying right now! OMG!"

“LOL bro you are like totally dying right now! OMG!”

Unfriended: C-

As a business model, this is the best horror movie I have ever seen. It apparently cost nothing to produce and in fact, it seems like the conception itself made money before the film even hit theaters. In an MTV Production where every kill is off-screened or shaky-cammed, where virtually 100% of the movie is framed in big-name product placement, where the actors are all unknown teens with very undemanding roles, I imagine the cash flow pre-ticket sales to be somewhere between epic and unimaginable.

The plot is a cross between I Know What You Did Last Summer and, featuring a handful of morally dubious teens who collectively LOLed at the gruesome suicide of a cyber-bullied classmate all coming together to Skype and talk shit on the anniversary of her death. Their chat session becomes “haunted” by a paranormal chatroom presence and then the teens are systematically killed while the #poltergeist ROFLs.

I’ll pay the movie another compliment by acknowledging that it the most original flavor of “found footage” that I have seen probably ever. Since The Blair Witch Project, pretty much all FF movies (sex tapes not included) took the same approach with the only innovations being that they were tied to various genres. Monster movie? Cloverfield. Superhero movie? Chronicle. And so forth. Same story frame: Footage is found and played back with all of the grain, shake, and terror. Unfriended is different. The grit and immediacy of FF is there but it is rebooted for the Cell Phone Video Age; you’re not watching video footage found in a dead teenager’s handy-cam, you are watching a Skype session unfold in real time on a teenager’s laptop, with each of the chatters dying off one by one. It was as clever and fresh as a gimmicky twist on a now gimmicky genre can be.

The fun stops there. For all the novelty in the setup, I felt incredibly unentertained for all 88 minutes. I suspect this was because every character was sitting at a desk or laying on a bed for the entire movie. There is a kind of sedentary feel to the whole thing. I never feel like the haunting is “pursuing” the characters, if that makes sense. The deaths are all abrupt with little or no buildup, all off-screen implied kills. The shaky-cam cop out is updated to buffering. It gets fucking old.

I also don’t think the movie is going to age well. Imagine someone made a mediocre (that is being kind) Myspace-based slasher flick ten years ago. It would probably be a joke now. The “skin” that this movie wears is Skype and a bookmarks bar full of Millennial-friendly brand partners. I just see people ironically laughing at this movie a few years from now, un-ironically laughing years after that, and finally sighing dismissively until the end of time.

Ultimately, I’ll give this movie props for trying something inventive with found footage, but when you get past the shtick-ish shell, it is an incredibly cheap and uneventful slasher drone with nothing to offer other than the continued implication that you should download Spotify.

REVIEW: It Follows (2014)


It Follows: A+

This is the scariest movie I have seen in a long time. Even if you have little problems with the bold styling of the film, you have to give it credit for keeping you in a constant state of dread from beginning to end. I am trying to remember the last time a film had me searching every detail in the frame as intensely as I did with this one.

Everyone wants to talk about is the soundtrack, so let’s do it: The soundtrack is killer. It’s virtually all synths that will immediately endear the movie to John Carpenter fans and any viewer with a soft spot for 70s-80s horror films. It’s a meticulous refurbishing of the same beloved sounds that were the backdrop for decades of horror movies. I still have the end credits’ song stuck in my head.

Strangely, the best moments in the soundtrack are the monotonous arpeggiating Carpenterian ones because they parallel the film’s monster, who can only walk very, very slowly in a straight line. It’s a shapeshifting ghost that is always walking in your direction. There is no origin story; if it catches you, it kills you in the worst way and no one knows why. The movie opens with a graphic demonstration of this and then shifts to a group of lazy suburban teens who get tangled up in the following. The only way to lose the curse is to “pay it forward” through sexual intercourse. Then the ghost follows whomever you banged. The ever-problematic horror movie teenage sex drive is now actually a relevant plot device instead of a thoughtlessly inserted slasher trope.

You can walk, run, or drive away, but the ghost will just steadily walk to wherever you are, disguised as a friend or family member, hungry to fuck you up. This is what had me searching every shot. Is that guy in the background walking slowly toward the protagonist? What about her? Is she acting weird? What was that little shadow in the back corner? I was so involved in the terror of the movie I completely forgot I was in the theater.

There are nods to 70’s and 80’s horror in ways I have never seen. The soundtrack is one thing, but the movie takes other horror totems and cleverly repackages them. The time period is ambiguous; maybe it’s in the 80’s, maybe not. There are some new cars, but no cell phones. It feels like the same era as Monster Squad and Lost Boys, but you know it isn’t. I mention these two movies because the terrorized teens in It Follows form a sort of fellowship where they try to analyze and defeat the ghost. There are boobietraps and everything.

The idea that teen sex is tied to horrific death is a tired convention of slasher flicks at this point. We all know that Jason is going to come eviscerate whichever teens are bragging the loudest about boning. But in It Follows, sex can literally be used to assign certain death to other characters and the protagonist is not a chaste bookworm who gets an advantage through abstinence. Now, she has an incentive to have the same thoughtless sex that was taboo for 50 years of horror movies. The thing we have been taught to dread takes on a new dimension.

I can’t say much more without giving up certain scenes/twists, but this is one you have to see…

REVIEW: Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

paranormal 2

Paranormal Activity 2: B

Have you checked out the trailer for that Jurassic Park sequel, Jurassic World? Holy shit, man, they’re finally taking it to the next level! You don’t just have a theme park in the making, you have a functioning theme park with tons of visitors (read: more victims). You’ve got some big-ass prehistoric Hainosaurus (which is not technically a dinosaur, learn your paleontology, son). You’ve got some sort of genetically-altered super smartass dinosaur. You’ve also got tame velociraptors.

Yeah, I know, that might sound strange. How can you tame a velociraptor? Well, do you own a dog? Check this shit out: that motherfucker is really a wolf! I shit you not. Genetically speaking, it’s a direct cousin of that fuckin’ beast that ate up Little Red Riding Hood’s stupid bitch of a grandma. And you own it. And you pet it. And you pick up its shit.

Oh, but Richard, you’re saying, that took like, what, ten thousand years for wolves to become dogs! This new Jurassic Park movie doesn’t take place that far into the future! Well, asshole, maybe you might want to use the Google and read up on the domesticated silver fox. It was an experiment done in the former Soviet Union where they selectively bred foxes for tameness, and you basically went from vicious little beasts to pet foxes in just a few generations! Now apply that same shit to velociraptors. It’s been proven (in the first Jurassic Park movie) that those bastards can figure out how to open a door, and that’s when they’re at peak wildness. How many wolves do you know that can open doors? What, like maybe a few of them, at best? I believe I’ve made my point here.

By the time you’re reading this, the movie may have already come out and it might suck a dirty piece of ass. But that’s not my point. My point is that it did something different with the same concept.

Paranormal Activity 2 is basically the same movie as the first one, only it adds a little twist to the end. It’s not as impressive as having HD cameras in the 1980s like the third movie does, but if you liked the first, you’ll like this shit too. If you hated the first, nothing’s gonna change your mind. Me? I liked it. Wasn’t bored for a minute.

But I’m still craving for some kind of an interesting twist to the whole ghost/demon thing. Maybe in the (what are they on now?) next installment, we could learn that the demon is really the hero, and these stupid people have been doing all kinds of fucked up stuff when the cameras were off that we weren’t privy to in the first few movies. Like maybe they were screaming his name while masturbating, and when he’d show up to help them, they’d just laugh and continue to pleasure themselves.

REVIEW: Annabelle (2014)


Annabelle C-

The Clown is back with you for Halloween week and went to see The Annabelle Movie!

The Annabelle Movie is a movie about a doll with a creepy face that seems to be able move around and do dastardly shit. It also gets mad when you try to throw it away. I’ve never seen this idea before, so I was thinking okay…how bad can it be? Also, something about having The Annabelle in your house makes the machines in your house (like the sewing machine, the TV and the stove) come on and turn off by themselves and be dangerous. Another classic brand new idea.  So I was really impressed by the writing of whoever wrote it and just kept thinking “man…this guy was really in the Zone!”

So it’s supposed to be like kind of a prequel to “The Conjuring” which I reviewed HERE. But what’s weird is “The Conjuring” was based on a 100% true story, and this seems totally made up.  Well, more than likely I’m missing something because those two things don’t make sense together.

But anyway, it’s never really clear who’s “in” the doll because there’s this lady named Annabelle at the beginning who kills her parents and then draws a blood symbol on the wall and then dies ‘cause the cops shot her and she bleeds into the eyes of the doll. But also, there’s a demon who’s trying to use The Annabelle get a soul or something.

Then there’s this lady who just had a kid. Her name is Mia. She names the baby Lia. And she goes around and several times actually says “I’m Mia, and this is Lia”.  And Mia and Lia and her doctor husband who works too much end up with The Annabelle in their house for some reason. He’s working all the time so Mia and Lia are alonesies with The Annabelle a lot.

Weird dangerous things happen but (luckily) there’s a wise older black lady that owns a bookstore who (luckily) lives in the same building and (really luckily) knows about demons and shit. And they figure out that (if they want weird shit to stop happening) they’re supposed to kill the baby so that The Annabelle can have a whole life force and the demon can be free.

But they don’t want to kill the baby and that’s the conflict, which is a real important part of making the plot in a story. I told you this writer is good. He should write more movies…maybe something about a weird guy on an airplane who sees some shit.

See The Annabelle Movie if you REALLY have nothing else to do. But I bet you could think of something if you tried, you fat fuck.


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.