REVIEW: Oculus (2013)


Oculus: C-

There’s this mirror that kills people. Ghosts also come out of the mirror and fuck with people. The mirror can also “possess” your reflection (which, I guess “possesses” your body too) and make you do bad things to yourself or others. It’s a lot like that movie Mirrors, which also focuses on mirrors that do the aforementioned mirror bullshit in almost the exact same manner.

The Oculus mirror can do a few tricks that the Mirrors mirrors can’t, including:

  • Inducing hallucinations
  • Playing stupid pranks on people
  • Fucking with space-time

Oculus switches between two stories and then squishes them together.

The past (10 years ago): One of the stoners from Dazed & Confused is married to Starbuck and their kids don’t like the new mirror in daddy’s office. There are ghosts and escalating scenes of confusion and terror culminating in the double murder of the parents.

The present: The kids are all grown up and have SOMEHOW tracked down the mirror, the supernatural potential of which they plan to assess. There are ghosts and escalating scenes of confusion and terror culminating in a predictable ending to a horror movie about a killer mirror.

The stories start overlapping and you see adult characters interacting with their child selves. Time and location become ambiguous. There are mirror ghosts everywhere.

The “research” one character does on the mirror is impressive. She single handedly traces the mirror’s ownership back centuries and manages to deduce all of its ghost-trick powers.

There’s this one scene where a character bites into an apple, which turns out to be a light bulb, which then turns out to actually be an apple. This sequence is the perfect embodiment of this movie; it’s one long dream within a dream within an “oh, it wasn’t a dream!” within a dream. And then someone wakes up. Within a dream. Times infinity. First there’s a ghost, then nope, it’s just a crazy person, BUT WAIT, a ghost that makes the person crazy, then a flashback, then characters displaced in time, then someone wakes up, then everyone is a ghost, then no one is… or are they? I swear this cluster-fuck was created by writers throwing darts at a board full of plot points.

Produced by WWE and yet there is not a single wrestler cameo. I was hoping Rowdy Roddy Piper would be a mirror salesman or Scott Hall would be someone’s stepdad or something. No one even gets hit with a folding chair. What a wasted opportunity.


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: Dream House (2011)

Dream House


Dream House: F

The only thing “Dreamy” about this movie is Daniel Craig. I mean, seriously, his eyes alone are Dreamy as fuck. They’re like two cobalt planets made entirely of virginal arctic ocean. Two shards of a warm autumn sky, just for you. Dim crystal tunnels that spiral to a world of passion where their cold gaze steams from an inferno of desire.

The rest of the movie is an pitiful labyrinth of horse shit…

Actually, there is a lot of good acting in the movie but the convoluted story and quintuple “twists” are simply too much and thus build the aforementioned maze of excrement.

Daniel Craig and his family move into the Dream House and they are happy. Then there’s weird dudes staring at the house all the time and some things going bump-in-the-night. Craig gets curious and he starts digging around in the past to figure out why people are malevolently staring at his house instead of lazily staring into his two azure skull-portals.

Cliche alert: You’ll never guess where his detective work leads him… TO A CREEPY-AS-FUCK MENTAL INSTITUTION!

Well then we have to ask ourselves if Craig might be a patient in the mental institution. Perhaps the Dream House is nothing but a delusion cooked up by that brain hiding behind Craig’s glamorous, flirty, cornflower whirlpools.

Go ahead and hold that thought for a fucking nanosecond because before you have time to explore that possibility, in comes Naomi Watts to spoil everything. Now the Dream House Fantasy is looking more like a Dream House Criminal Conspiracy or a Dream House Small Town Cover-Up.

“Well okay,” you think to yourself. “Maybe it is just a case of -”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” bellows the movie. Suddenly: ghosts. And fire. And hired assassins. And revenge killings. And duel-layered cases of mistaken identity. And ambient music. And more mental institution. And murderous psychos. And benevolent ghosts. And more coincidences than snowy flecks of white in Craig’s sexy sapphire marbles.

What a goddamn mess.

REVIEW: The Conjuring (2013)



The Conjuring B+

Take my word for it-whenever you round up a bunch of 8-year-olds and sit them around a table to do a dramatic reading of The Crucible, they will all mispronounce the word “conjure” and all of its variants. They all put the emphasis on the second syllable: “con-JURE”. It’s infuriating and they do it every time the word comes up, every time I have one of my table-reads!

So I…correct…them.

I can only imagine that all over this great nation, there are young Americans telling each other: “Let’s go see The Con-JURE-ing! It looks scary”.  They will have no realization just how dumb they sound. But not the ones whom I helped; they know better.

So I DID do some good. Take that, Officer Beetleson.

Why am I writing about The Crucible? Because Fuck You, that’s why. But there are some things that connect both works. First, they’re both true stories with real people and events shown EXACTLY AS THEY HAPPENED. Second, the ghosts and demons in The Conjuring are tenuously connected to the Salem Witch Trials, which lends credence to the “true story” claim.

Norma Bates and Nite-Owl are demonologists.  They get a request from the wife of the Office Space guy. She wants them to check out their fucked-up new house. Weird things started happening the first day they moved in. Things like: the dog won’t come inside, there’s random fart smells at night, and other stuff. And the mom has been getting weird bruises (all over) which she first assumed came from banging Office Space too hard. But they didn’t. Then things got worse.

This is a solid haunted house movie. It’s creepy, disturbing and has some non-telegraphed scares and smartly puts the lives of Office Space’s 5 daughters in mortal danger. I suppose I shouldn’t say “smartly” because that credits the writers and director but they didn’t have to do shit because this really happened.

One thing I like to see in a movie is something I’ve never seen before. We’re all familiar with that hallmark of American cinema called the “musical montage”. Like the “training montage” or the “learning montage” or the “they’re going to bang after this song is over” montage. You know.

Well this movie has a “setting up the scientific paranormal investigation equipment all over the house” montage. And it makes that seem exciting. There’s lots really involved equipment like black lights and bells on all the doorknobs so they can be heard opening. Now I realize why all my neighbors hang bells on their doors at night. They’re scared of ghosts!

I have some silly paranoid neighbors! This movie would freak them out!

This movie is nothing great, but there’s nothing it fails at either. See it if you like haunted house movies. You won’t feel cheated or pissed or ashamed or ugly on the inside if you do. Now, if you feel that way going in, you’ll probably feel that way coming out. Movies don’t solve your problems. Believe me.

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: Ghosts of Mars (2001)


Ghosts of Mars (2001): D+

The Transporter and Natasha Henstridge play some cops in the future who have to go to colonized future Mars because future Ice Cube, a real badass future criminal, is awaiting an interplanetary transfer to another futuristic prison. It’s directed by John Carpenter and takes place in the future.

The future cops and Ice Cube have to team up to fight some disembodied spirits of an ancient Martian race that have been possessing some colonial miners, turning them into self-mutilating murderous psychos.

What could go wrong, right? Entertaining cast and an awesome director, right? Well Natasha Henstrisge doesn’t do any sexy-violent stuff, The Transporter doesn’t roundhouse kick anyone, and Ice Cube doesn’t rap or have any cool one-liners. The pace is boring as fuck and the possessed miners look like The Crow with infected botox injections in their foreheads and a bunch of dumb hieroglyphics burned on their cheeks. They look like Marilyn Manson if he conditioned his hair and stuck his head in a waffle iron.

I have heard the film described as a misunderstood homage to Carpenter’s own Assault on Precinct 13, which I think is a pretty superficial stretch. Maybe I am “misunderstanding.” Sure there are cops being attacked by a seemingly endless army of bad guys, but that’s where the similarities end as far as I can tell. I think it shares more with Pitch Black (which was released only months before) where the future cops have to team up with future Vin Diesel to battle the army of scary aliens on the foreign planet.

The Martian spirits are a malevolent cloud of dust that floats out of a subterranean door. Even if you kill one of the possessed motherfuckers, all you really did was release the Martian spirit dust so it can go possess someone else. The not-possessed people learn this rule, yet they continue to bust lethal caps in the Martian assailants. They decide to blow up the dust and the ending is basically one big drawn out “run away from the explosion we started” followed by a Shyamalanian zinger that you probably won’t care about.

REVIEW: Haunted High aka Ghostquake (2012)


Haunted High aka Ghostquake: D-

Jesus what the fucking fuck-fuck?

The ghost of an evil teacher and his demonic minions haunt a high school full of stereotypical horror movie teens who are trapped on campus. Their only hope is janitor Danny Trejo who, I shit you not, is trapped in the broom closet for 90% of the movie. There are heinously low budget kills (this is a Sci-fi channel original production, I think) involving CGI that makes Garfield 2 look like real life.

There are deaths in the weight room, home ec. room, locker room etc. Plenty of great one liners; one character is getting electrocuted by possessed defibrillators while MC Gainey laughs and shouts “I really get a CHARGE out of this!” and “You are quite a SHOCK, gal!” So many cop-out deaths and off-screen implied kills, though. One guy gets his soul ripped from his body and trapped inside the trophy case. Another chick’s head explodes, but you only know this because you watch her CGI shadow in the wall. All in all horrible, but would be fun to watch with friends; it’s one of those bad-good movies that is so terrible it is good.