“My Hero’s Shadow” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***** out of *****.

My Hero’s Shadow (2018), the debut feature from writer-director Justin Young, is a fascinating, intimate and in-depth documentary. It explores the themes of family, forgiveness, judgment and perspective to masterful effect. Utilizing one-on-one discussions and a quietly poignant style that works wonderfully for the endeavor, Young crafts an arrangement that is as thoughtful as it is absorbing. There is also a distinct message of unyielding love, and that no one is purely noble or nefarious, at the heart of the piece. Such welcome notions make the exercise evermore timely and resonant.

Young’s configuration is a meditation on the man who struck Nancy Kerrigan with a baton in 1994, Shane Stant. His private accounts, especially when addressing what led him to engage in such an action, are certainly eye-opening. Yet, the brilliance of the film emerges from the story being reflected through the compassionate viewpoint of Shane’s sister, Maile. She was only three years old when the incident took place. In so doing, her memory of her brother is shaped from who Shane became after the previously stated occurrence. The foundation of the undertaking is erected when Maile meets with Shane 20 years after the attack. This is to openly converse on what transpired that day at Cobo Arena.

Such is an undoubtedly gripping topic. It is one which Young handles in a manner that finds poetry in simple sights and communions. For instance, there is a memorable sequence where Maile speaks of an individual who found growth and tranquility in watching a sun rise for 142 days in a row. The glimpses into Shane and Maile’s childhoods that course throughout the project are just as harrowing. Such insights allow audiences to leave the 78-minute venture with a well-rounded sense of who these two people are personally. The bits that go into Shane’s public perception are just as well-done.

With its economical length, efficient pace and technically skillful construction, Young’s exertion is a surefire triumph. Its alternately melancholy and inspiring tones deepen the picture of Maile and Shane that Young thoroughly paints. This is also true of those who have impacted the lives of the duo. In turn, Young formulates an incredibly illuminating composition; a tour de force that compels viewers to see the humanity in others. My Hero’s Shadow, which is currently seeking distribution, is a must-see!

(Unrated).

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“Hide in the Light” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***** out of *****.

Hide in the Light (2018), the debut feature from co-writer and director Mikey McGregor, is moody, spectacular supernatural horror. The efficient and well-mounted 80-minute film effectively utilizes the time-honored device of the sinister being lurking unseen in the darkness. This is most noteworthy in the tense and exciting second half of the arrangement. Yet, the feature is so well-made, paced and tense that it never ceases to feel fresh and exciting. Richard Albert’s wonderfully creepy music, McGregor’s brilliant behind the lens work and Gonzalo Digenio’s rich cinematography only make the production evermore haunting and memorable. These qualities are enhanced by the stunning performances present throughout the endeavor. For example, Eric Roberts offers a phenomenal depiction as Father Wes. Additionally, Jesse James is terrific as Todd. The same can be said of Lindsay Lamb’s engaging depiction of Becca.

McGregor’s movie tells the tale of a group of thrill-seeking friends. They break into the fictional Saint Petersberg Orphanage in hopes of exploration. In so doing, they find themselves being stalked by paranormal forces. Eventually the credibly etched and relatable protagonists on-screen unveil that they can only find safety by doing as the title suggests. The symbolism of such an act, especially in a religious sense, is applied intriguingly to the project. This is without the notion ever being overdone.

Such a solid narrative foundation calls to mind David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out (2016) in its concept. Yet, McGregor’s fabrication is comparable to James Wan’s modern haunted house masterpiece The Conjuring (2013) in its ability to unnerve. This is evident in the chilling five-minute prologue of the endeavor. It is set in 1966. In turn, McGregor and his fellow scripters Cynthia Bravo (who deftly plays Karen) and Digenio craft a tale that is as scary as it is entertaining. Hide in the Light is imaginative and harrowing; an instant genre classic! It will be released by High Octane Pictures later in the year.

(Unrated).

“Hell’s Kitty” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.

Hell’s Kitty (2016), the 98-minute sophomore feature from writer-director Nicholas Tana, is an affectionate and wildly hilarious sendup of the ardent bond between owner and pet. It also successfully operates as a loving parody of the horror genre. Particularly, the compositions of literary maestro Stephen King. Additionally, sly references to classic films rooted in this genre abound. Nods to Ghostbusters (1984), Poltergeist (1982), Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988), Halloween (1978), the Friday the 13th franchise (1980-present), The Fog (1980) and The Omen (1976) are all cleverly woven into the fabric of the narrative. Yet, the most brilliant of these bits is a black and white lampooning of the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Psycho (1960). It occurs near the one-hour mark. Heightening the enjoyment of this factor is an all-star cast of categorically related cinematic veterans. All of whom have small roles throughout the picture. They are also frequently named after personas from the opuses of terror mentioned above. Nina Kate’s amusing representation of Dr. Laurie Strodes is a wonderful example. Similarly, Doug Jones (2017’s stunning The Shape of Water) is terrific as Father Damien. Dale Midkiff (1989’s Pet Sematary) is engaging as Rosemary Carrie. Continually, Lynn Lowry is a delight to watch as The Medium. Courtney Gains is exceptional as Mordicia. A late sequence that kids the original adaptation of King’s Children of the Corn (1984), which Gains appeared in as the antagonistic Malachi, is another memorable highlight of the exercise.

Based on both the web series and the comic book of the same name, the production is inspired by Tana’s own personal experiences with his cat, Angel. Such is a moniker shared by the feline cited in the title of Tana’s tale. In the affair, Nick (in a lively and charismatic depiction from Tana), is a Hollywood screenwriter. He is one whose attempts at romantic entanglements are constantly cut short. This is by Angel’s violent outbursts when women are around him. As these murderous eruptions increase in number, Nick believes his cat has been possessed by a demon. Seeking help from a variety of individuals, Nick attempts to stop the body count by getting his beloved companion exorcised.

Such is a fun and inventive concept. It also works tremendously well. This is especially evident when combined with the proudly tongue-in-cheek execution of the exertion. Tana’s witty, heartfelt and skillfully paced script makes the most of this idea. The arrangement is complete with felicitous humor and dialogue. Correspondingly, the characters are just as smartly crafted and relatable. Furthermore, the sharp storytelling abilities in Tana’s screenplay are made increasingly alluring. This is via Tana’s charming and stylish guidance of the project.

Assisting matters is the visually impressive opening and closing credits. Richard Albert’s music, with supplementary material from Wolfgang Lackner, is certainly tone-fitting. The most memorable and side-splitting of these selections is a number that sounds like a moggy-driven rendition of Jerry Goldsmith’s “Ave Satani” (1976). The playful effects, striking cinematography, excellent sound and proficient editing enhance the immersive pleasure derived from the undertaking.

Produced by Denise Acosta, Hell’s Kitty is grand, 1980’s influenced entertainment. The intermittent sequences of gore are effectively constructed. Still, the labor is never overly reliant on these instances. This can also be said of the spirited scares Tana compiles throughout the endeavor. In so doing, Tana erects an impeccable atmosphere that mixes laughter with the paranormal. It is one that never wavers from commencement to conclusion. Highly reminiscent of Tim Burton’s timeless Beetlejuice (1988) and Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners (1996) in both quality and sheer rewatchability, Tana’s configuration is destined to be a cult classic! I recommend checking it out when it arrives on video on demand on March 13th, 2018.

(Unrated).

“Curse of the Witch’s Doll” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: **** out of *****.

Curse of the Witch’s Doll (2018), the debut feature from writer-director Lawrence Fowler, is an ambitious and frequently surprising 98-minute horror film. It is one which largely defies the stalk-and-slash expectations of the killer toy sub-genre. Still, what is just as noteworthy is how often Fowler changes the setting and categorization of the piece. For instance, the presentation commences with a quick, but gripping, bit that takes place in 1660. Afterwards, Fowler fast-forwards to the year where the bulk of the action in Fowler’s endeavor resides: 1942. The early sequences in this time frame beautifully flesh-out the bond between our heroine, Adeline Gray (in an always compelling turn from Helen Crevel), and her daughter, Chloe (in a mesmerizing enactment from Layla Watts). They are attempting to escape the bombing in their home town. This discharge leads them to an ominous mansion in the woods. Taking refuge in the domicile, the movie effectively plays like a gothic haunted house work for the first half of the presentation. Paired along with this strong element is the air of a missing person narrative. Such occurs as Chloe suddenly vanishes near the 20-minute mark. Eventually, the grief-stricken Adeline comes to believe that this disappearance was caused by the creepy title object.

Fowler handles this initial portion of the affair aptly. There is an atmosphere of mystery to the manner the proceedings found in this segment unfold that is both tense and interesting. Such an approach makes the alluring plot of the production evermore captivating. But, the exercise loses some momentum when the location of the action shifts after this stage. From herein, the new position for the chronicle becomes a time-honored cliché. This is disheartening after the earlier arrangement. Despite this previously stated disappointment, and the fact that some of the sequences in this latter phase can be a bit too dialogue-heavy, the undertaking still endures as focused and absorbing. Strengthening this aspect is that the project ends with a satisfying nod to the found footage technique. It is rooted in the present day.

What is just as enjoyable in Fowler’s presentation is the minimal use of its skillful effects. Such a decision adds a classic demeanor to the entirety. It is one that splendidly compliments the chill-inducing tone of the exertion. Helping matters is co-producer Geoff Fowler’s stunning doll design. Liz Fowler’s costume work is similarly stellar. The same can also be said of Lawrence Fowler’s seamless editing. His writing is sharp, character-driven and smartly paced. Likewise, his guidance of the project is claustrophobic, stylish and superb. The cinematography, make-up and sound contributions are masterful. Furthermore, Claire Carreno is excellent as The Witch. Philip Ridout’s depiction of Arthur Harper is brilliant. Neil Hobbs’ representation of Detective Nolan is terrific.

Spanning over 450 years, Curse of the Witch’s Doll is a success. Though it suffers at times in its later phases, the High Octane Pictures release remains admirable. This is especially true when considering the variety instilled in how Fowler tells his tale. There is a finely tuned sense of menace throughout that is addictive. Furthermore, the on-screen personas are relatable. Fowler’s stalwart concentration on Adeline’s plight heightens both the dramatic sensibilities and the underlying suspense of the project. Audiences are with Fowler’s lead through every painful step in her journey. Because of this, the Northampton, England recorded exertion fluently balances both emotional and physical terrors. The result of these high-functioning qualities is a well-crafted cinematic excursion. It is one that is unafraid to take risks and proudly surpasses presumptions. I highly recommend seeking out Fowler’s latest arrangement. It will arrive on VOD on February 2nd and on DVD March 6th, 2018.

(Unrated). Contains violence and adult themes.

“Butcher the Bakers” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.

Butcher the Bakers (2017), the third full-length feature from writer-director Tyler Amm, is a uniquely entertaining and spectacularly inventive medley of humor and horror. Part contract killer tale, part buddy comedy and part slasher saga, the 94-minute arrangement is pure fun. Much of this endless enjoyment derives from Amm and Virginia Campbell’s sharp and briskly-paced script. Filled with well-timed gags, smirk-inducing dialogue and retro (primarily 1980’s influenced) terror elements, Amm and Campbell’s previously stated contribution also winks at audiences with a few genuinely inspired self-referential moments. One of these is a nod to Amm’s debut picture, River City Panic (2015). There are also subtle alignments to numerous big screen classics wisely placed throughout the affair. John McTiernan’s action masterpiece Die Hard (1988) and Steven Spielberg’s timeless science-fiction epic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) are the most easily perceptible of these allusions. There is also a frenetic and infectious energy the likable cast radiates throughout the undertaking. When unified by the stellar performances that only continue to reflect these terms, the rousing success of Amm’s latest genre crossbreed is increasingly distinguishable.

Amm chronicles Dragomir ‘Drag’ the Reaper (in a stupendous turn from Mike Behrens that drips old-fashioned macabre). Having recently lost his job, Drag begins the arduous process of killing members of a small town. The reason for his behavior is to collect souls. Why he needs to amass these internal mechanisms is an answer that Drag keeps to himself. Soon bakery shop laborers Sam and Martin (Sean Walsh and Ryan Mathew Ziegler respectively) are hired to permanently disrupt Drag’s massacre. Because of this, the lead villain of Amm’s effort finds it progressively difficult to keep his plans and reasoning for his wicked measures to himself.

It’s a great set-up. Such is one that is molded with crowd-pleasing flare from its commercial-like opening, which is spliced with flashes of tense brutality, until the satisfying conclusion of the exertion. The narrative is given further life by Amm’s stylish and efficient guidance of the project. His editing is just as proficient. Adding to these qualities is Zach Shaw’s alternately rich and appropriately gritty cinematography. Billy Niebuhr’s music beautifully echoes the offbeat, grim and gut-busting tone of the piece. The camera work is exceptional. Moreover, the special and visual effects enhance the joy of the enterprise. This is with their decidedly antiquated veneer. Nicholas Swartz’s costume design is terrific. The sound department work is top-notch. Relatedly, Lisa Wojcik is remarkable in her portrayal of Pat. The post-credits sequence is hilarious. It brilliantly expands upon the commencement of the story.

Co-executive produced by P.J. Starks (2015’s Volumes of Blood), Amm’s exercise has its share of exceptionally crafted instances of gore. Yet, it is never overblown. The same can be said for the sum of Butcher the Bakers. Amm’s endeavor is daring, delightful and unabashedly tongue-in-cheek. Still, it hardly ever feels excessive. Such is a fine balancing act. It is one of the various essentials of Amm’s opus that I admired throughout its trim runtime. Another constant source of esteem would be Amm and his filmmaking participants’ palpable chemistry. It resonates through every merry frame of his most current outing. These high-functioning components combine to form a wonderful B-movie. Such is especially evident when considering the several smartly done twists which encompass the labor. Recorded in Ottawa, Illinois, this Petri Entertainment distribution release is brimming with the glorious, can-do spirit of independent cinema. I highly recommend seeking out Amm’s cleverly titled flick. It will be unleashed on select digital platforms in the U.S. on January 16th, 2018.

(Unrated). Contains scenes of graphic violence, adult language and adult themes.

“Cold Moon” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***** out of *****.

Cold Moon (2016), from co-writer-director Griff Furst, is an absolute joy to sit through and contemplate. This is for both the avid cinephile and fellow thriller fanatic. Based on Michael McDowell’s novel Cold Moon Over Babylon (1980), the eighty-eighty-minute venture has a delightfully unyielding, bleak atmosphere. It also exploits a simultaneously ominous and elegiac veneer. Such a look is much in the vein of a skillfully polished, yet appropriately gritty, piece of celluloid from the 1970’s–early 80’s. Additionally, there are subtle Hitchcockian touches delicately placed throughout the affair. Hitchcock’s immortal adaptation of Robert Bloch’s Psycho (1960), my personal favorite work from the master of suspense, frequently came to mind. Furthermore, there is a tremendously executed sequence of death in the first ten minutes. It is so visually stunning and mesmerizing that one cannot help but draw comparisons to Italian horror maestro Dario Argento. This sentiment is held onto and echoed in many other similar moments throughout the arrangement. Likewise, the supernatural episodes that occur later in the configuration are handled just as deftly and effectively. A hypnotic scene in a graveyard near the one hour mark is surefire evidence of such an assessment. This previously mentioned bit also slyly brings forth a snake-like creature. This entity is reminiscent of an otherworldly beast spied in another ethereal masterpiece McDowell co-authored. Such is the Tim Burton helmed Beetlejuice (1988).

Correspondingly, Furst toys with gothic genre sensibilities in a manner that is worthy of an alignment to a Hammer Film Productions release from the 1960’s. The characters, most of whom are small-town archetypes, are wonderfully realized and credible. Jack Snyder, Furst and McDowell’s highly-intelligent, gorgeously mounted and impressively structured script, which is full of life-mirroring dialogue, remembers the cardinal rule of the most enduring scary stories. In so doing, Furst keeps the personalities on-screen at the forefront. All of this is worthy of top-tier praise and recommendation. Regardless, one of the most striking components on display is how our villain, when revealed, isn’t shone exclusively in a wholly loathsome light. This is an error far too many features highlight and proudly display in their protagonist. This is again another telltale aspect of Furst’s ability to allow audiences to understand the motivations and inner-mechanisms of even the most sinister of those who dominate the narrative.

Recorded in Louisiana, Furst chronicles a fatal tragedy in a southern municipality. It is one which interrupts the daily goings-on of the Larkins. While local law enforcement attempts to solve this murder, the victim returns as a ghostly presence. Albeit, one that is bent on serving up her own sense of post-death vengeance. This is to the individual responsible for her demise.

It’s a naturally intriguing concept. Such is one that Furst makes increasingly terrific. This is with his enigmatic and quietly unnerving treatment of the material. Even if the plot is familiar in hindsight, Furst avoids traditional trappings of dread at nearly every avenue. As the picture plays, it becomes gradually darker. Nonetheless, it also amplifies its inventiveness. But, it never loses its genre-mashing style and boldness.

Relatedly, Furst’s opus never becomes desperate to augment or cheaply punctuate its scares with unnecessary jumps. Because of this, Furst establishes a perfect symmetry of plot and organically erected instances of fear. The endeavor could easily have become overblown. This is especially true of the finale. Instead, the exercise utilizes this aforesaid balance to grand consequence. This is until the eye-popping imagery which commences the concluding credits is spied. The saga also ends on a perfect note. It is one that brings about as many questions as it does answers.

What also adds to the sheer brilliance of the demonstration is the all-around exceptional performances. Christopher Lloyd steals the show as the wheelchair-bound James Redfield. Candy Clark as Evelyn and Chester Rushing as Jerry Larkin are both captivating. They fit comfortably into their roles. This is while making them distinct. Madison Wolfe as Mandy, Josh Stewart as Nathan Redfield and Laura Cayouette as Ginny Darrish are also magnificent.

The movie also benefits from Thomas L. Callaway’s astonishing, mood-laced cinematography. Furst’s editing is seamless. His overall guidance of the project is inspired. It is also refined and mature. This can also be said of Nathan Furst’s haunting, proficient and remarkable original music. The effects, make-up and sound are spectacular. Jayme Bohn’s costume design is superb.

Furst has crafted a brilliant effort. It is an astonishing exhibition of the strongest attributes of both the categories of crime, drama and paranormal revenge. The no-nonsense excursion is also layered, full of dimension and insight. It wraps bystanders up in its mysteries and memorable terrors from the first frame to the last. Having not read McDowell’s source literature, I cannot state if it is faithful to the original telling of the Florida-set endeavor. Yet, I can declare with complete certainty that the labor stands triumphantly on its own merits as one of the best white-knuckle shockers I’ve witnessed all year. I highly recommend checking out Cold Moon. It will be distributed in theaters and on video on demand October 6th, 2017 through Uncork’d Entertainment.

(Unrated).

“It Comes at Night” – (Capsule Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: **** out of *****.

It Comes at Night (2017) is claustrophobic, ominous, well-acted and beautifully made. Additionally, writer-director Trey Edward Shults successfully builds an unsettling atmosphere. This he wonderfully institutes alongside a slow-burn pace that works terrifically from the first frame to the last. The problem the 91-minute horror outing faces is that the story, which concerns a man who is attempting to protect his family from an enigmatic sickness which wiped out most of the world, has become routine in recent post-apocalyptic genre offerings. This is also true of the general chain of events found in the narrative. Such tired ingredients greatly dilute the overall interest and effectiveness of this otherwise solid, character-oriented film.

(R).

Available to buy now at Amazon.

“Death Waits for No Man” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.

Death Waits for No Man (2017) is riveting in concept and execution. Additionally, writer-director Armin Siljkovic’s debut feature is an unpredictable, taut, stylish and endlessly intense thriller. Clocking in at a lean 77 minutes, the slow-burn picture is effective and efficient. Though the work is essentially a three-person tale, audience care and understanding is equally distributed among our leads. Such is a courtesy of the way Siljkovic slyly makes these individuals look like protagonists and antagonists of the venture. This is at differing moments throughout the effort.

The plot itself is a masterclass in storytelling. Siljkovic commences the affair on a deceptively simple note. It concerns a woman, Lily (in a layered and commanding portrayal from Angelique Pretorius), asking a man, Uzal (in an excellent enactment from Bradley Snedeker), to kill her husband, Sinclair (in a gripping depiction from Corey Rieger). To say anymore would be to give away the sheer delight of watching Siljkovic build on this idea. This is with one credible, ever-darkening twist after another. Best of all, the tale ends just as well as the rest of the largely one-room movie deserves.

This is a courtesy of Siljkovic’s sharply honed contributions to the project. His authorship of the material is every bit as skillful and harrowing as his general guidance of the endeavor. Siljkovic’s characters are initially enigmatic. This works to further erect bystander intrigue in the early passages. When the exercise concludes, the on-screen personalities arise as suitably developed. Such an attribute is even more evidence of how well Siljkovic handles the material.

Furthermore, Joseph ‘Sloe’ Slawinski offers brooding, hypnotic and emotionally resonant music. Ted Hayash’s cinematography is moody and immersive. Isabel Mandujano’s costume design is superb. The make-up and sound fare just as magnificently. The result of all these afore-mentioned components is a full-throttle masterpiece; an absolute bulls-eye.

Death Waits For no Man is scheduled for release in fall of 2017.

 

The 78 Best Horror Films of 2017 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

I am proud to present the best horror films of 2017 so far. The article contains 78 full-length titles as well as my favorite genre-related documentary. Also included herein is a section on the top-tier short films in this category. Furthermore, there is also a passage considering my highest-ranking guilty cinematic pleasures from the afore-mentioned time frame. It is my intention to continue to add to the piece until the end of the year. This is with the hopes that by December 31st I will have a complete list of 101 genre works. Please check back and see what gets added and what gets changed.

78. The Atoning
Director: Michael Williams.

77. Ghost Witch
Director: Joseph Lavender.

76. The Gracefield Incident
Director: Matthieu Ratthe.

75. Sacrilege
Director: Paul Catalanatto.

74. Gremlin
Director: Ryan Bellgardt.

73. Phoenix Forgotten
Director: Justin Barber.

72. Don’t Knock Twice
Director: Caradog W. James

71. Psychos
Director: Sandy Chukhadarian.

70. Galaxy of Horrors
Directors: Dennis Cabella, Javier Chillon, Todd Cobery, Andrew Desmond, Benni Diez, Marcello Ercole, Richard Karpala, Justin McConnell, Antonio Padovan, Fabio Prati, Ethan Shaftel, Marinko Spahic.

69. The 13th Friday
Director: Justin Price.

68. Demons
Director: Miles Doleac.

67. Patient
Director: Jason Sheedy.

66. Whispers
Director: Tammi Sutton.

65. Pool Party Massacre
Director: Drew Marvick.

64. Life
Director: Daniel Espinosa

63. The Belko Experiment
Director: Greg McLean

62. Open Water 3: Cage Dive
Director: Gerald Rascionato

61. Bornless Ones
Director: Alexander Babaev.

60. Darkness Rising
Director: Austin Reading.

59. WTF!
Director: Peter Herro.

58. XX
Directors: Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, St.Vincent, Jovanka Vuckovic.

57. The Wicked One
Director: Tory Jones.

56. Inner Demon
Director: Ursula Dabrowsky.

55. Hunting Grounds
Director: John Portanova.

54. Ghosts of Darkness
Director: David Ryan Keith.

53. Circus Kane
Director: Christopher Ray.

52. Ghost Note
Director: Troy Hart.

51. 7 Witches
Director: Brady Hall.

50. Pitchfork
Director: Glenn Douglas Packard.

49. Besetment
Director: Brad Douglas.

48. The Covenant
Director: Robert Conway.

47. Getting Schooled
Director: Chuck Norfolk.

46. The Creature Below
Director: Stewart Sparke.

45. Residue
Director: Rusty Nixon.

44. Jackals
Director: Kevin Greutert.

43. Watch Over
Director: F.C. Rabbath.

42. Heidi
Director: Daniel Ray.

41. Demon Hunter
Director: Zoe Kavanagh.

40. Beacon Point
Director: Eric Blue.

39. Annabelle: Creation
Director: David F. Sandberg.

38. Bonejangles
Director: Brett DeJager.

37. Bethany
Director: James Cullen Bressack.

36. The Ice Cream Truck
Director: Megan Freels Johnston.

35. Devil’s Domain
Director: Jared Cohn.

34. The Black Room
Director: Rolfe Kanefsky.

33. Split
Director: M. Night Shyamalan.

32. The Girl with All the Gifts
Director: Colm McCarthy.

31. The Demonic Tapes
Director: Richard Mansfield.

30. Peelers
Director: Seve Schelenez.

29. Clowntergeist
Director: Aaron Mirtes.

28. Get Out
Director: Jordan Peele.

27. Personal Shopper
Director: Olivier Assayas.

26. It Comes At Night
Director: Trey Edward Shults.

25. We Go On
Directors: Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton.

24. The Evil Within
Director: Andy Getty.

23. VooDoo
Director: Tom Costabile.

22. The Dark Tapes
Directors: Vincent J. Guastini, Michael McQuown.

21. Hounds of Love
Director: Ben Young.

20. Cold Moon
Director: Griff Furst.

19. Asylum of Darkness
Director: Jay Woefel.

18. The Blackcoat’s Daughter
Director: Oz Perkins.

17. The Void
Directors: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski.

16. Prevenge
Director: Alice Lowe.

15. The Domicile
Director: Jared Cohn.

14. It Stains the Sands Red
Director: Colin Minihan.

13. It
Director: Andy Muschietti.

12. We are the Flesh
Director: Emiliano Rocha Minter.

11. Berlin Syndrome
Director: Cate Shortland.

10. The Transfiguration
Director: Michael O’ Shea.

9. The Lure
Director: Agnieska Smoczynska.

8. Alien: Covenant
Director: Ridley Scott.

7. The Devil’s Candy
Director: Sean Byrne.

6. Kuso
Director: Flying Lotus.

5. A Dark Song
Director: Liam Gavin.

4. Mother!
Director: Darren Aronofsky.

3. A Cure for Wellness
Director: Gore Verbinski.

2.Raw
Director: Julia Ducournau.

1.Long Night in a Dead City
Director: Richard Griffin.

 

Favorite Horror Documentary of 2017:

Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Semetary
Directors: John Campopiano, Justin White.

 

Favorite Short Film of 2017

“Alone”
Director: Tofiq Rzayev.

 

Guilty Pleasures:

Evil Bong 666
Director: Charles Band.

Land Shark
Director: Mark Polonia.

Sharknado 5: Global Swarming
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante.

“Annabelle: Creation” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***1/2 out of *****.

Annabelle: Creation (2017) is a skillfully executed bag of time-tested horror tricks. It is also carefully structured and paced. Likewise, the New Line Cinema and Atomic Monster release is character-driven and fun. This latter stated attribute is especially true of the climactic last half hour. This is when all hell breaks loose.

Director David F. Sandberg and screenwriter Gary Dauberman tell the origin story of the demonically manipulated title plaything. The aforesaid object spends most of the 1950’s set film terrorizing a group of children who have recently relocated from an orphanage. These young girls are now residing in a home owned by a dollmaker, Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia), and his bed-ridden wife, Esther (Miranda Otto). With this noticeably thin plot, Sandberg and Dauberman fashion an ambitious spinoff of the Conjuring series. Though their respective contributions are certainly a case of style over substance, it works well for the material.

Correspondingly, Lulu Wilson’s turn as Linda, Talitha Bateman’s depiction of Janice and Stephanie Sigman’s embodiment of Sister Charlotte are extraordinary. They help make their lead personas unique, memorable and layered. The effects, animation and sound are just as impressive. Furthermore, Maxime Alexandre’s cinematography is moody and beautiful. When combined with Benjamin Wallfisch’s same said music, Sandberg’s atmosphere becomes increasingly unnerving, palpable and hypnotic.

What is just as admirable is the restraint that hurtles the 109-minute project forward. Such a factor also lends a wonderfully old-fashioned feel to the proceedings. Continually, the middle and post-credits bits implement supplementary smirks from the audience. In the end, what Sandberg’s picture lacks in imagination, it makes up for in sheer craft.

(R). Contains adult content and violence.

Annabelle: Creation is now showing exclusively in theaters.