Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Vincent Price at Tee Villain

You can never have enough glow-in-the-dark Vincent Price shirts. Available today only (6-29-16) at TeeVillain.com.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Conjuring 2 ~ Review

If one word could be used to describe The Conjuring 2 it would be a-harrowing-ordeal. It is unrelenting, surprisingly moving and a fascinating portrait of a family in peril with the famous demonologist and psychic Ed and Lorraine Warren at the center. Like its predecessor, this movie is incredibly well cast and written with enough jump scares to satisfy causal audiences and disturbing images to cause even seasoned horror fans nightmares.

After apparently swearing off horror movies, James Wan is back behind the director's chair for Conjuring 2. He's brought his arsenal of tricks with him – quick reveal cuts, artful framing, topsy-turvy camera swings, and those prolonged pauses on darkness where the audience strains to see something in the pitch black. What he doesn't bring is anything new. By now, audiences can anticipate his next move and the overly familiar plot doesn't help matters. However, he compensates by changing the timing of the scares. They're never when you think they should be and this is how he builds suspense. One mesmerizing scene starts with a faux startle with a painting, and then is so patiently sinister you have time to realize how much your anxiety levels are rising. The effect is maddening.

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farming's performances as Ed and Lorraine Warren once again ground the film and give it a profound depth. Even with its long running time (2h 14min), you can't help but be mesmerized by their chemistry. Also, the film spends a great deal of time with the Hodgsons family drama, making their subsequent agony much more resonant. This kind of patience reminds me of 70s haunted house films that focused on characters before the horror. Caring about the characters makes you more invested as an audience, which makes their plight even more frightening. (Stay through the end credits to see pictures of the actual family and actual recordings of a possessed Janet.)

It's rare for a sequel to measure up to the quality of the predecessor, and this is definitely a solid film. It is exhausting, consistency ratcheting up the dread, and then pummeling you with sudden abject terror – everything a horror film should be. It's also rare (and slightly odd) when an audience claps at the end of film, but I joined in when the audience at my screening burst into applause.



Sunday, June 5, 2016

Outcast ~ Pilot Review

I'll admit that Cinemax's new series, Outcast snuck up on me. I knew it was based on a comic book from Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead, but did not realize that it was a bonafied horror show. The story is set in a small town in West Virginia under attack by demonic forces. At the center is a loner (Patrick Fugit) who seems to be connected to the mysterious possessions, and a reverend (Philip Glenister) who helped him as a child.

The casting is spot on to the comic book, and the pilot which follows the source material almost frame by frame is genuinely creepy, dark, and expertly directed by Adam Wingard (the up-and-coming horror director who helmed You're Next, The Guest, and the upcoming The Woods). And even though the protagonist is brooding and the surroundings are bleak, the pilot moves along swiftly and is action-packed. Being on paid cable, they definitely aren't holding back on the gore, supernatural elements, or the unpleasant abuse of young people (to be fair, one is possessed).

The show does raise a few questions. So far it sounds like The Walking Dead with demons instead of zombies, right? Production wise, there is much attention to detail, and the world they are creating is fully realized. This lends a supernatural series much-needed gravitas. Will this pace continue throughout the series? Probably not, but there's enough mystery to draw you in, and the characters are genuinely likable. Does it feel groundbreaking? Not exactly, but when something is done right, even the mundane stuff seems intriguing. I'll will be tuning in Fridays at 10pm on Cinemax to find out more, and the meantime you can stream the entire pilot for free here: https://youtu.be/IBRe2ITyMxw