If you’re looking for a traditional horror film, check out The Skeleton Key (2005). Here’s my review: www.hauntjaunts.net/hoodoo-of-sacrifice-the-skeleton-key-conjurs/
The Nun (2018) Conjures Up Largest Opening Weekend for Franchise
The Nun raked in $53.5 million over its opening weekend—far exceeding projections. Filmed on a shoestring budget of $22 million, The Nun is a financial success; however, it failed to excite critics and fans alike.
Friday night’s episode “Damaged” on The Dead Files was more believable than the latest offering in the Conjuring franchise. The movie opened with the all-to-cliché disclaimer: “Based on a true story.” Unfortunately, it isn’t. There are more effective ways to insinuate a true tale of horror. Instead, the producers decided to lie. Horror audiences aren’t that gullible.
The film follows Father Burke, played by Demián Bichir, the Catholic Church’s “Miracle Hunter” who has been assigned the uninitiated Sister Irene (played by Taissa Farmiga) as they travel to the isolated Carta Monastery in Romania to investigate the suicide of one of the cloistered nuns. The year is 1952.
Narrative and jump scares propel the film forward. The backstory is complicated as Father Burke and Sister Irene pick up Frenchie, played by Jonas Bloquet, who provides much needed comic relief. The story is slow in places; the jump scares predictable in others.
However, it’s important to stay until the end.
The 96-minute horror movie is rated R.
5 Things I Learned from The Nun
Ghost Team (2016) Offers Up Campy Fun
A man who is trapped in the monotonous cycle of adulting seeks to become the newest member of a fictional TV paranormal team. After assembling a team, they trespass onto a large, seemingly abandoned farm searching for evidence of paranormal activity. Sometimes we all need campy fun, and Ghost Team delivers.
Jon Heder stars as “Louis,” a man who realizes that his adult life is not the one he envisioned. He owns a single location copy shop. He chain smokes and dreams of being more, much more. He wants to be a paranormal star—like Jason Hawes and Steve Gonsalves (from the real TV show Ghost Hunters) who make cameos. One day property owner “Mitch” enters requesting 15 laminated “No Trespassing” signs for his “creepy” property that looks like it’s haunted. Louis assembles his team singing to “Dream Weaver” and hoping to hit the paranormal jackpot. Unfortunately, all they have is a crackpot, played by the wonderfully refreshing Amy Sedaris.
Admittedly, this is not a blockbuster film to the caliber of Poltergeist. It’s a low—seriously low—budget film that began streaming a month before its limited release opening. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that with all the emotionally draining news and mega-blockbuster film releases, it’s nice to clear the clutter in our brains by just watching an innocuous film. This is the film to watch.
Okay, so the reviews are weak; the Tomatometer is green. Go in with low expectations, and you will not be disappointed. The irony is that this film nails the boredom and tediousness that paranormal investigations entail. The movie may have received more “star” ratings had a paranormal investigator reviewed it because there are more laughs than reported.
Fair warning, though: IMDb.com places this movie’s genre as merely “Comedy.” Running 83 minutes and rated PG-13, Ghost Team is streaming on Netflix.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014) is a Kiwi Delight
The BBC created a listing of the top 100 greatest comedies of all time. They polled 253 film critics from 52 countries compiling a comprehensive international list. What We Do in the Shadows came in at #62. Not too shabby for a low budget New Zealand production. This kiwi vampire mockumentary entertains and delights.
A film crew follows three vampires as they adjust to modern living with roommates, assign chores from the chore wheel, and navigate the singles scene in Wellington, New Zealand. Filmed for $1.6 million dollars, the film grossed over $6.9 million in the United States alone. The film is probably one of the most financially successful horror/comedy films Americans haven’t heard of. That is until now. Amazon Prime is streaming the film for free.
The three lead actors are large stars already. Taika Waititi, “Viago,” recently directed Thor: Ragnarok. Jemaine Clement, “Vladislav,” is the writer/actor responsible for Flight of the Conchords (TV series 2007-2009 and now a major motion picture opening in 2018). Jonny Brugh, “Deacon,” is a series regular on 800 Words, playing on US PBS stations, as “Monty.”
A mockumentary is “a motion picture or television program that takes the form of a serious documentary in order to satirize its subject.” Rob Reiner coined the term during press junkets for the film This Is Spinal Tap (1984), probably the most successful mockumentary film produced. Other examples are Best in Show (2000) and Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999). They are also called fake documentaries. Comedy is a key genre to a mockumentary films success.
Critics enjoyed the movie. Roger Ebert gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars. It has a 7.6/10 rating on IMDb and a 96% Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score. Rolling Stone Magazine’s Peter Travers says it best: “But when the vamps hit the town to party with werewolves, zombies and the strangest creatures of all, you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face. A good sign.” Actually, it’s a fantastic sign for the B-movie.
Taiki and Jemaine secured $1.4 million dollars for a spin-off of this film. It will be a 6-episode 30-minute situation comedy (sitcom) tentatively titled Wellington Paranormal. It follows police detectives Mike Minogue and Karen O’Leary reprising their roles in What We Do in the Shadows as they investigate paranormal phenomena. The website Gizmodo calls it “like the X-Files but with zombies and werewolves.” Stay tuned for US access.
Netflix Delivers a Super Bowl Surprise: The Cloverfield Paradox
Variety dropped the bomb less than 2 hours before Super Bowl LII’s kick-off. Netflix was releasing the highly anticipated The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) early. As in directly after the game ended early. What a nice surprise!
The Cloverfield franchise was named to confuse movie audiences. It was a spoof for the 1st installment simply titled Cloverfield (2008). The sequel, 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), maintained the overall theme but took the narrative in a new direction. The 3rd installment, The Cloverfield Paradox, links the films and is set in the 2008 time frame.
Be warned: This is not an Aliens copycat. It remains true to the tone and tempo in earlier films—all the way up to the end.
The Cloverfield Paradox is currently streaming on Netflix. Its theatrical debut was scheduled for April 20th. Not currently rated, the movie runs 1 hour and 42 minutes.
Update: The movie is rated TV–MA.
Insidious 4: The Last Key
Chapter 4 in the popular Insidious franchise opened a month earlier than expected this past weekend. Still, there was plenty of time for movie critics to review and to thoroughly trash the film. Filmed on a meager $10 million-dollar budget (considering the entire franchise has brought in over $378 million), the film takes parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier back to her former home to investigate strange phenomena. The film is expected to pull in $26 million in the US and land in 2nd place behind Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. From the reviews I’ve read, I’ll wait for the film to stream.
The first Insidious (2010) made $97 million worldwide. This was a huge margin of profit considering the estimated budget was a paltry $1.5 million. The initial film was the strongest and best; however, Chapters 2 and 3 grossed more. The production company rubber-stamped a Chapter 4 and seems fine with the lackluster film. [Note: The films should be viewed in their story order which is 3, 4, 1, and 2.]
The Guardian gave Chapter 4 2 stars. Jordan Hoffman likens Elise’s sidekicks Specs (played by screenwriter Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (played by Angus Sampson) to the Scooby-Doo gang with their Mystery Machine van. Hoffman bluntly states that the film “squanders its opportunities to get interesting.”
Although NPR’s Scott Tobias enjoyed the interplay between Lin Shaye’s Elise with Specs and Tucker, he tired when the film enters the predictable “The Further.”
RogerEbert.Com’s Simon Abrams warns viewers to bring a friend. He writes that the films really are improving but some viewers may miss the subtlety. He writes: “This one is almost good.”
Insidious: The Last Key’s release date was moved up in anticipation for February’s highly anticipated Winchester starring Helen Mirren as the haunted heiress to the Winchester gun fortune and the Irish film The Lodgers which has garnered solid reviews. If you’re a monthly moviegoer, see all three; however, if you must select one, choose The Lodgers.
#9: The Arrival (2016)
The Arrival blew me away. Although this film is strictly science fiction and not a horror film, it made it onto my viewing list because I wanted to watch something with more substance. Many science fiction movies transcend into the horror genre. So I took a chance this one might. It didn’t. The Arrival is a science fiction/drama but worth watching!
#8: Black Butterfly (2017)
Not another Misery in the woods film, Black Butterfly is a fantastic rainy day film that’s long on thrills and less on blood and gore.
A successful, though aging, Spanish writer (Antonio Banderas) is convinced to move to the US to ramp up his career. He finds himself living in the backwoods of a town with an abundance of mysterious disappearances. Searching for inspiration, Paul invites a hitchhiker, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, to stay awhile.
Based on the French film Papillon Noir (2008), Black Butterfly was filmed entirely in Italy. This thriller runs an hour and 33 minutes and is rated R for violent content. Black Butterfly is surprisingly good.
#7: Poltergeist (2015)
Remaking a classic is difficult. If it cannot be better, then it should not be made. Don’t waste your time on Poltergeist (2015) because I’m not wasting mine in writing a review. Pass.