Category Archives: Halloween Horror

You know, skellingtons, Frankensteins, and stuff.

Saw III (2006) Movie Review

This review of Saw III is part of the Saw Franchise Retrospective series in anticipation of this month’s release of Jigsaw.

Saw III might be the most dull installment of the torture porn franchise. Directed, like with the first sequel, by Darren Lynn Bousman, this seeming end to a trilogy sees the final waning days of John Kramer (Tobin Bell). Kramer is an aging man with terminal brain cancer. He is also an eccentric serial killer known as Jigsaw.

saw-3-movie-review

While needing critical brain surgery (he kidnaps a woman and forces her to operate to solve this issue), Jigsaw has another crazy plot Continue reading Saw III (2006) Movie Review

The Babysitter (2017) Movie Review

McG’s new film, The Babysitter, is immediately abrasive. Within the first five minutes, we find ourselves in four different locations. Cole (Judah Lewis) is introduced as too squeamish to accept a shot from the school nurse. A strange introduction, to be sure.

the-babysitter-2017-movie-review

Cole is your stereotypical high school nerd. He stutters his way through conversations. He is bullied by the stereotypical bullies. He has a massive crush on his babysitter Bee (Samara Weaving).

Bee is a great babysitter. She is down to earth, sees things on Cole’s level, bends the rules. Did I say bend the rules? I meant Continue reading The Babysitter (2017) Movie Review

Saw II (2005) Movie Review

This review of Saw II is part of the Saw Franchise Retrospective series in anticipation of this month’s release of Jigsaw.

Is Saw II genius for its opening scene, which alludes to the horrifying opening to Luis Bunuel’s surrealist masterpiece Un Chien Andalou? Is Darren Lynn Bousman making some commentary on how art repeats itself, making a bold self-reflexive statement about where the Saw franchise was headed back in 2005?

saw-2-movie-review-horror-amanda

No. Okay, just checking.

Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) is a father and a cop. That’s about all you need to know of his character. Lucky for him (?) he stumbles on Continue reading Saw II (2005) Movie Review

Them (2007) Movie Review

This review of David Moreau and Xavier Palud’s Them is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

The premise of Them is exceeding simple: a couple (Olivia Bonamy and Michael Cohen) is trapped inside their isolated home in the country when unseen assailants torment them from the outside.

them-movie-review-2006-new-french-extremity

And that’s it. The short, not-quite-80-minutes-long film comprises this one conceit (and a cold open that accomplishes the exact same conceit but in a well-paced, taut nine minute span). The tension of this home invasion plot is Continue reading Them (2007) Movie Review

Martyrs (2008) & Martyrs (2016) Movie Review

This review of Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs and its 2016 remake is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

Note: This review goes into spoilers for both films. You’ve been warned.

Pascal Laugier’s 2008 film Martyrs is perhaps the crowning achievement of the New French Extremity, as it ties together the disparate themes and generic components of the movement in the most cohesive and intriguing way.

The American remake of the film, directed by Kevin and Michael Goetz and distributed in part by Blumhouse, is not in conversation with the films and filmmakers of the New French Extremity. It is entirely removed. As such, it is merely an exploitation film.

martyrs-remake-2015-review

Now, Laugier’s Martyrs is no walk in the park when it comes to excessively violent subject matter. But for most of its running time it doesn’t feel like an exploitation film. It is a film about Continue reading Martyrs (2008) & Martyrs (2016) Movie Review

Demonlover (2002) Movie Review

This review of Olivier Assayas’ Demonlover is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

The premise of Olivier Assayas’ 2002 film Demonlover sounds like that of a sleazy exploitation film: business suits battle over the corporate control of violent online pornography, some animated and some far too real. It is a similar premise to the 2008 American thriller Untraceable. One could call Gregory Hoblit’s film a remake if the cold-hearted white collar types where replaced with agents of the law.

demonlover-2002-movie-review

But Demonlover is much more fascinating without the white hat of the law. In the film, the law is so far removed that it feels as though these executives could do whatever they needed to Continue reading Demonlover (2002) Movie Review

Saw (2004) Movie Review

This review of Saw is part of the Saw Franchise Retrospective series in anticipation of this month’s release of Jigsaw.

The first image we see in James Wan’s Saw, now somewhat of a perennial torture porn classic, sets up the illogical world that this series is grounded in. A fitting introduction, one might say. We see Adam (Leigh Whannell, who also serves as screenwriter) underwater in a tub with a key dangling in front of his face. He is holding his breath, but also unconscious. When he wakes, he yanks open the drain and the key disappears forever.

saw-movie-review-2004-shawnee-smith-amanda

How long was he out? How could he be alive after Continue reading Saw (2004) Movie Review

Gerald’s Game (2017) Movie Review

A sexually frustrated married couple, Jess (Carla Gugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), travel to a vacation home in the forest to spice up their sex life. Two pairs of handcuffs (the real ones, not those fuzzy novelty ones that break when you really get going) trap Jess to the reinforced bedposts of a queen-sized bed.

gerald'sgame-netflix-2017-horror-movie-review

Jess stops Gerald as the sex game goes to far and starts treading into a rape fantasy that she was not expecting, but of course it can’t simply end there. As they fight about their broken marriage, Jess repeatedly asking for him to uncuff her, Gerald Continue reading Gerald’s Game (2017) Movie Review

The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) Movie Review

Over the past decade, The Poughkeepsie Tapes has become an artifact of horror fandom lore. Initially set for a 2007 release, John Erick Dowdle’s mockumentary profiling of a serial killer was pulled from the release slate and faded away.  In 2014, the film received a light VOD release and vanished again.

On October 10, 2017, The Poughkeepsie Tapes was given, for the first time, a proper release. It is currently available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

the-poughkeepsie-tapes-2017-movie-review-horror-found-footage-film

In retrospect, the film feels like the found footage love child of The Blair Witch Project and V/H/S. Talking head interviews frame the story of a serial killer who Continue reading The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) Movie Review

Sheitan (2006) Movie Review

This review of Kim Chapiron’s Sheitan is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

The abrupt open to Sheitan is an utter delight. The first image is a closeup on a man’s shocked face. He asks if we’re ready. There is indistinct noise, perhaps in protest, from outside of the frame. He asks again. Then, he begins scratching a turntable, and we are introduced to a rowdy night club that presents us with the energy of the film. Text appears on the screen that reads: “Do not forgive them, for they know what they do.”

sheitan-satan-movie-review-2006

In this night club are three men who are quickly thrown out for one of their transgressions against patrons. The transgressor, Bart (Olivier Barthelemy), has some issues with anger and sexual aggression toward women (and apparently bad breath).

Before being kicked out, however, they meet Eve (Roxane Mesquida), who invites the three men and Yasmine (Leila Bekhti) to her eccentric home in the country, which is filled with Continue reading Sheitan (2006) Movie Review