Remakes have a lot to live up to. They need to capture the feel of the original, but instead revitalize it for the audience they are intended for. Not very often do we see a remake done by the director of the original, and that’s what we got in this 2004 remake of Ju-On: The Grudge. Did Takashi dumb it down too much for an American audience?
Starring: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown and Ryan Shoos
Reviewed by: Brendan Graham (Phantomhour)
Do you have school spirit? Neither do I, but some folks do, but in this case, this High School has a real one. His name is Charlie, and one day, 20 years ago, he died during a stage production of “The Gallows” after a prop noose goes haywire and literally hangs him on stage. Now, the school plans on doing the show once more to honor him, but the high school jocks Reese and Ryan (Played by Reese Mishler and Ryan Shoos) are not having any of that. Does the ghost let the show go on? Or do the jocks get their way and cancel the show? I kinda wish they got it cancelled…
Starring: Lin Shaye, Dermot Mulroney, and Stefanie Scott
Reviewed by: Brendan Graham (Phantomhour)
When the first Insidious came out in theaters, James Wan proved that just because a horror film is PG-13, doesn’t mean it’s rubbish. It was intensely frightening and it created a series of films that took audiences into a hellish descent, into a ghostly work called The Further. This time around, Leigh Wannell (James Wan’s friend and a star from Saw and Insidious) took over the director’s chair for this prequel chapter in the franchise. How does it stack up?
Yes, yes I know. This movie has been out since August, but what better way to start of this year’s HorrorAthon than with a sequel to a fantastically creepy film, plus it’s still out in theatres for a lot of you, so it’s a win win. In this sequel to the chilling hit from 2012, Sinister 2 picks up with another family that has been marked for death, and it’s up to an investigator to save them from the paranormal force, known as Baghuul.
I always have incredibly high hopes for horror films, and most of them lately have seemed to disappoint me. I want to be frightened. I want to care about the characters and their safety, and I want to sink into my seat with dread. Is that too much to ask? Not anymore, with the release of the magnificent, Oculus.
In the film, A young woman (Dr. Who’s Karen Gillan) tries to destroy an antique mirror with her brother (played by Brenton Thwaites), that has caused countless deaths to all of it’s previous owners, including their own parents.
I’ll start out with how phenomenal the cast is. A movie of this kind could have easily been taken as a silly story and acted as such, but the cast is so professional and likable, that the movie just flows beautifully. Major props to the younger versions of Kaylie and Tim, who are put through quite a bit of hell, and emote it amazingly, kudos to them.
The way the movie jumps between two time periods is also genius, and it keeps the audience on their toes around every twist and turn. This isn’t one of those movies you can text your way through, if you don’t pay attention, you’re not getting the full benefits. The script is tightly put together and the scenes are edited well, the movie doesn’t drag at all, it’s a solid ride.
The sound design is phenomenal and creates some of the finest tension along side with the amazing cinematography. I can’t recall the last time I actually felt this legitimately frightened for the characters, as the movie went on, I gripped my chair tighter and tighter. Scary? Absolutely.
What Doesn’t Work:
There are a few bits that proved problematic for the experience, and it mostly involves the previews for this movie. Avoid them if possible, because a lot of the greatest bits get slightly spoiled. Which is a shame for sure. The film is also full of moments where if you blink, you’ll miss some of the better bits.
Smart, Vicious and genuinely scary, Oculus is a horror fans dream come true, and if you haven’t already bought your ticket for this paranormal fright fest, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. 9 out of 10.
Paranormal Activity, well the first one anyway, scared the hell out of audiences in 2007 after it got released to the public. The found footage film which was made for only $16,000, went on to gross millions all over the world. So naturally, it became a franchise. But it’s been a fun franchise, except for Paranormal Activity 4, which was just plain awful.
But how does a franchise that’s been losing steam film after film, get its mojo back? With additions that take things a little differently, and that’s what Marked Ones came to do.
In Order for these films to work, the audience has to be latched onto the story, and to the characters. The main reason Paranormal Activity 4 didn’t work, is because who really gave a crap about this teenage girl and her pervy skype friend? That’s right, no one did, so anything terrible happening to her is not really important to the audience. In Marked Ones, we get a group of kids in Oxnard, California, living in a typical ghetto of gangs and drugs, but are a good bunch of kids. They draw on eachothers faces with marker, use their GoPro cameras to do stupid stunts, they actually feel like real people with real relationships, so the audience does care for them, and that makes what happens next work for the film.
I will applaud Marked Ones, because they take the time to answer questions. How do people get chosen to be taken? How do the witches get around? How does the transformation in the marked person occur? It does a pretty good job of making the story connect with all the other films and make it work, while refreshing it and making it frightening again. Speaking of frights, there are a good chunk of them here, and they do take you off guard at times. The tension built throughout the movie is kept up, keeping the audience on edge, another win for Marked Ones.
Also worth noting, the ending is brilliant and quite a surprise, don’t let anyone spoil it for you.
What Didn’t Work:
One of the biggest problems with this series, is the pacing is usually pretty off. For short films of an hour and a half, this is a big problem, shorter films have to be tightly cut in order to keep things running smoothly. There are some distractions mid-plot, and some slow reveals that make the audience start to feel impatient at times.
I did applaud the scares earlier, just not all of them. A lot of the scary reveals and surprises are repeats of the other films, and are pretty predictable. The camera work, although it feels more realistic this time around, can be nauseating since we have teens controlling the action in the film, and they obviously didn’t get into film school.
Overall, I found Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones to be a step in the right direction for this series that was slowly going stale. Packed full of fun surprises and very creepy visuals, plus finally a group of friends that are relatable, Marked Ones, proves that this series may have more life in it, if the next film is done like this one, I’m in. 7 out of 10.