Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vanished (aka Oyayubi Sagashi) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Five classmates reunite 8 years after their friend disappeared, while playing a supernatural game, only to be picked off one by one.

Review: This is another instance of wasted potential, and it sucks too because the story was really interesting up to a certain point. For some reason the film decided to start introducing pointless red herrings and made a simplistic story needlessly convoluted. This isn't to say the movie is inherently bad, as there were a great deal of cool ideas and an imaginative plot, but they lost focus at one point and the ending is seriously lackluster. In fact, the ending manages to pull off that weird scenario where you didn't see the twist coming, yet was strangely predictable nonetheless, and instills a big "meh" reaction; hopefully you get what I'm talking about in this regard.

I'll try and sum the film up coherently as there are multiple tangents that serve no purpose. Eight years ago, six friends, roughly age 12, were playing some urban legend-esque game called "oyayubi sagashi." The game is sort of like a ritual where you are transported to a mysterious room in order to find the thumb of a dead girl. In the room there will be a candle that you can blow out to escape the room. If you find the thumb of the girl then you will have a wish granted, however, if you are grabbed on the shoulder by the dead girl you must not turn around or you will be trapped in the room forever. While playing the game, one of the friends, Yumiko, disappears and her loverboy, of sorts, had vowed to find her if anything should go wrong. The cops simply think Yumiko ran away from home, but the kids think the game trapped her. In present day, the old friends meet back up in some kind of makeshift class reunion. Having grown distant, and trying to forget the incident, the group has moved forward except for loverboy, Takeshi, who still blames himself for not finding Yumiko. It doesn't help that he has stayed in close contact with Yumiko's mother who comes off as a bit unusual, though, I can't blame her. The movie implies the group plays the game one more time to humor Takeshi, but they don't actually show it. I also want to mention that the dork of the group, Chie, is pretty damn cute, played by Ayumi Ito. But perhaps more relevant to fangirls out there, one of the other characters, Tomohiko, is played by none other than L himself, Kenichi Matsuyama; he doesn't do much so don't get your hopes up.

Shortly after playing the game once more, Takeshi is attacked by a ghostly hand, minus a thumb, that throws him down a stairwell. At the same time, the douche of the group is killed with the thumb removed from his body. The police get involved and recall the group's association with the Yumiko disappearance, but I feel as though they didn't take the douche's murder very seriously; not sure what was up with that. A lot of shenanigans go on for a time, but I will clarify some things. The main way information about the urban legend has spread is through an anonymous person sending in notes to a radio show. Since they can't confirm that source, the group looks into the story themselves and uncover something about a girl named Saki. The film goes back and forth regarding what became of Saki, but this seems to be the source of most of the red herrings. Essentially, the real story of Saki was that, 30 years ago, she was a little girl going off the deep end and was talking to her thumb (okay, I didn't know that was a thing but sure). Her crazier dad cut off her thumb as a response and no one did anything about that for whatever reason. This led to the kids in town making fun of and bullying the poor girl. In a completely unrelated incident, and brushed over like hell, Saki's father suicided the two of them...somehow. Ah, I don't know! This led to the same kids that fucked with Saki to invent the "oyayubi sagashi" game where you look for the thumb and the mysterious room is her house (I think).

So another one of the friends is killed, seemingly by a ghost, as Chie slowly comes to the realization that maybe most of what they remember about their incident playing the game has become warped through the imagination of being a kid and the time in between. Chie has hazy memories of Yumiko quitting the game and talking to her about Yumiko's unspoken crush on Takeshi. In other words, she wasn't really trapped by a ghost and that perhaps something else happened. When Takeshi and Tomohiko go back to the place where they believe the game teleports you, the police get surveillance footage showing the identity of the anonymous person that has been contacting the radio show about the game. At over an hour into the film, with only the flimsiest of scares, you should easily predict that the anonymous person is, in fact, Takeshi. There is no ghost, the game was all in their imagination due to sketchy memories, and everything supernatural the audience has been seeing is in Takeshi's head. Takeshi would pretty much go into psychotic episodes triggered by his guilt of never finding Yumiko. I guess he was set off by Yumiko's mom moving away coupled with the reunion with people he was angry with, believing they gave up on their missing friend. Chie shows up to try and help them understand what really happened as she recalls that Yumiko had hid in an air vent and her body was probably still there. Takeshi goes apeshit and cuts off Tomohiko's thumb before trying to kill Chie. Chie manages to rip open the ventilation pipe and inside is, of course, Yumiko's dead body. Coming to terms with the fact that nothing he believes is actually real, and that he's killed people, Takeshi decides to take that beloved swan dive out a window. For some inexplicable reason, Chie decides she too wants to take the dive but Tomohiko stops her. The film then ends with Chie and Tomohiko making peace with their dead friends and kind of being happy. No final zinger or anything. Wow, I have to give them a little credit for that.

Eh, while I liked the abrupt and slightly unorthodox change to the genre--from horror to mystery-thriller--it felt shallow somehow. I guess I'm disappointed they had an interesting urban legend and threw it away carelessly. At the same time, a lot of the themes touched on, like memories, are not explored in depth when the potential was all there. And like I mentioned, there are a shit ton of red herrings in the plot making things overly complicated; keep in mind, the story does not come off as clearly as I wrote. Red herrings simply work better as characters because they are usually incorporated into the plot, but red herrings as plot devices go nowhere, waste time, and feel stupid unless a lot of effort is done to make the information feel relevant to the story; that was not the case in this instance. Despite this, I think there are enough good aspects to make this worth at least one viewing. The story is still cool and keeps you intrigued for a fair amount of the film, the acting is decent, and there appeared to be an effective use of a low budget. If you can find this somewhere on the fringes of the internet, give it a shot with an open mind.

Notable Moment: When Tomohiko mindlessly throws his weapon down just to get his thumb cut off. Yeah, not very L like that's for sure.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Conspiracy (2012) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: While creating a documentary about a conspiracy theorist, who mysteriously disappears, two filmmakers decide to investigate whether he was on to something.

Review: I suppose we could lump this under the found-footage category since I've never liked the usage of "mockumentary," and the comedic context that accompanies that label, when referring to non-comedic genres. However, this is still very much a fake documentary in presentation, with certain aspects presented as if an audience is viewing it, while other moments are intended to be cut footage that only the real audience (you and I) can see...if that makes sense. Another thing to consider is various portions of the story are completely fictional while other plot lines discussed are based in truth with still other plot lines are based on speculation. In other words, a film like "Paranormal Activity" is fiction from start to finish, but this film incorporates real events sporadically. I just want to point this fact out so people can distinguish that clips like the first President Bush talking about the new world order are, in fact, real. Okay, so I'm rambling already before I've even touched on the film. I did like this film quite a bit, but it's certainly flawed and kind of loses its focus along the way. As someone who does not trust my government (or any country's government for that matter), I see more truth than fiction in the film which I would have preferred they played up. To tell you the truth, I don't know if the makers had a clear sense of the message they were trying to convey. They definitely weren't trying to make conspiracy theorists look bad, but the mixture of truth with fiction dilutes any kind of warning that the events depicted could be real. I wonder if perhaps they were afraid they'd have a defamation lawsuit against them, although, I don't see how it could be considered libel when political and corporate figures should be ripe for satirical purposes. And, well, they're mostly scum anyway so fuck them.

There's actually not a lot to the story as they probably were trying to not to veer off into endless tangents. Basically, two filmmakers, Aaron and Jim, stumble upon this guy they've nicknamed Terrence G. Terrence is the cliched kind of guy the media tries to portray as your typical conspiracy nutcase as he roams around with newspaper clippings and a megaphone screaming at the sheep public. When trying to figure out what makes him tick and what his accumulation of knowledge means, Terrence suddenly disappears and his apartment is ransacked. Deciding to pick up where Terrence left off, and to bring more closure to their documentary, Aaron and Jim piece together the information. Aaron slowly becomes more obsessed as he painstakingly looks into the patterns Terrence was seeing. Just when Jim thinks Aaron has fallen too deep into the rabbit hole, Aaron realizes all the major wars in the world have started shortly after meetings with a shady group called the Tarsus Club. The two guys, along with their unnamed camera crew, make a connection with a guy named Mark, the only person who ever publicly wrote about the Tarsus Club; Mark's only caveat to a meeting was that the two men remove any mention of the Tarsus Club they have posted.

After speaking a few times with Mark, Aaron and Jim realize the Tarsus Club is a secret society pulling the strings of most of the world's major players...even implying they invented the handshake originally. As this goes on, the two guys realize they're starting to get in over their heads with a black SUV shadowing their movements and Aaron notices the same suspicious man that had tailed Terrence is following him. Somewhat going against their better judgement, since Jim had a newborn at home, the two decide they want to take this documentary all the way and infiltrate a Tarsus Club meeting with help from Mark. Through manipulation, armed with cameras in their ties, and with assistance of one of the groundskeepers, Jim and Aaron manage to sneak into the meeting which starts off as nothing more than old men rubbing elbows. Later on, however, the group prepares for a ceremonial sacrifice they perform dubbed "the running of the bull." New initiates are asked to come forward, which Jim and Aaron are pretending to be, as they go through a preparation process to receive a mask representing their status as a "raven;" the film implies there's a hierarchy of animal masks with lion being on top. Jim goes ahead first and is eventually confronted by a man, seemingly overseeing the ceremony, who corners Jim in a room with his wife and newborn. At the same exact moment, Aaron goes through his initiation, but he is wary as he saw Mark unexpectedly show up to the meeting. Instead of a raven mask, Aaron finds he was given the mask of the bull, thus, signifying he is the sacrifice for the ritual. Aaron then notices the crowd of Tarsus members running after him armed with ceremonial daggers. Managing to escape momentarily, Aaron retreats back to the fallback position he and Jim planned should anything go wrong; this was an old shack on the outskirts of the forest near the Tarsus Club. Seeing Jim inside, Aaron approaches when he notices Tarsus members waiting inside who attack immediately. Aaron is stabbed repeatedly until he dies, but we see someone editing this footage out of the documentary. Jim is then forced to lie that Aaron was so traumatized by the incident that he disappeared rather than being murdered. We also see a bunch of Tarsus Club flunkies rattling on about how the group is not nefarious and that they just want to make the world better...through a one world government.

I do want to clear up a few things regarding the ending that people seem confused on. Jim was not always a member of Tarsus. He was obviously controlled and probably had his family threatened in order to betray Aaron. His skepticism at the beginning was simply how most everyday people would react to someone claiming they see a pattern in newspaper clippings. Also, Mark clearly set them up and his piece about the Tarsus Club is meant to be the trap for anyone digging too deep. This is why he was mostly concerned with controlling the fact that all knowledge of Tarsus be reduced to his fake article so that anyone searching will meet him as a gatekeeper. Not sure why these plot lines weren't apparent to everyone, but I want to throw it out there so there's no confusion.

In a lot of ways, the conspiracies themselves were streamlined for casual viewers with little detail expressed to why they were all connected; although, saying every conspiracy ever is connected to one another is a huge stretch. They do throw in a few poignant facts that I hope will get people to take a second look at many staged incidents in history, along with nearly endless government lying, but I think this movie will actually cement to many that your crazy to think this way. It's kind of funny really, because most people ignore that bullshit official stories are typically a conspiracy theory unto themselves. If you consider that fact, your next logical thought would be "well do I trust the version from the guy screaming on the street or my government?" Your typical person usually picks the government, but I don't understand why. The government is like that abusive husband that's always saying "sorry, that was the last time" then that same night is beating your ass again. I don't know why people find it so hard to accept they would lie about big events when they are constantly lying about inconsequential events. Take it from Hitler's propaganda: if you tell a big enough lie, and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed. Alas, normal people keep assuming those individuals with absolute power, influence, and money would, for some reason, be bound by the same moral code. The movie tries to highlight these notions, but it is mostly a retelling of a guy named Alex Jones infiltrating a place called Bohemian Grove that has their own "mock" human sacrifice. You can look into that incident and its parallels to this film if you feel so inclined. My only thing about Bohemian Grove is that the people that attend it are not the people running the show. It's probably more of a recruitment process where it lightly introduces prospective people to the weirder aspects of the NWO flunkies. Looks as though I'm back to rambling, and I said I wouldn't get serious on this blog!

Overall, the film is entertaining and definitely serves as an intriguing thriller. I don't think you need to know a damn thing about conspiracy theories nor believe in a single one to still be able to sit back and enjoy the story. You are given a taste of the real information perhaps in an effort to force the viewer to seek out the rest of the information on their own. At the same time, the film doesn't completely humor the conspiracies in the fact that it doesn't say anything was real and simply shows a made up organization that is lurking behind the curtain. In other words, the makers don't exactly take sides on the debate and focus on their own story instead of alienating anyone. The acting is also decent from guys that were essentially playing themselves. I'd say give this one a shot, now that it has been promoted on Netflix streaming, but don't expect it to blow your mind away with revelations you never thought possible.

Notable Moment: When Aaron emerges as the bull. I suppose it was a bit predictable, but you could almost feel his fear when he looked in the mirror and saw what mask had been given to him.

Final Rating: 6/10

Friday, July 25, 2014

Forbidden Siren (aka Sairen) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A girl and her family visit an island where the inhabitants disappeared mysteriously 30 years prior.

Review: Similarly to the "Twilight Syndrome" films, this was another promotional movie to coincide with the release of the video game, "Forbidden Siren 2," from the "Siren" franchise. I never played those games, but I did watch someone play the third entry, and it was decent enough with heavy emphasis on survival horror. Surprisingly, this is actually an atmospheric little film with a lot of great imagery. The mystery is most certainly engaging, intriguing, and possessing nearly endless potential. Unfortunately, the ending is terrible and nearly drags down the entire film in the process with a completely nonsensical twist that seriously does not fit the film's established continuity.

The story begins in 1976 when it is discovered that all the residents of a small island off Japan have mysteriously disappeared. The film cites the Roanoke incident along with the Mary Celeste ghost ship as an implication that these events are all connected; other books and films have incorporated this plot line before, but I'm perfectly fine with its usage here. What I'm not okay with is the usage of a video camera that records this discovery...Japan or not, nice try. Unlike those incidents, there was one lone survivor of this disappearance, but he is a raving lunatic that keeps claiming you have to hide when the siren sounds. We then skip ahead 30 years later with the main character, Yuki, her brother, Hideo, and her father coming to the island for questionable reasons to say the least. Something about the dad doing work or to help the son get over an illness never addressed--hell if I know. I should mention Yuki is played by the cute Yui Ichikawa whom I mentioned in my reviews for "Ju-on: The Grudge" 1 and 2.

The current island residents are mostly assholes with only a nice doctor, who is some kind of colleague of the father, and a milfy next door neighbor. The family is warned to stay indoors should they ever hear the siren sound as the original disappearance has turned into a superstition of sorts; the source of the siren is a large air raid tower high atop a hill. While Yuki and Hideo explore the island a bit we obviously get the idea something is not right with the residents appearing to be in some kind of cult; one of them is old man Isao Yatsu, who I've mentioned multiple times at this point, in yet another bit role. At one point, Yuki is separated from Hideo and attacked by the crazy survivor from the disappearance and she gets a hold of his diary. Reuniting with Hideo, Yuki comes across a little hottie dressed in red. And what's this? The girl in red is played by, Mai Takahashi, who you may remember was our friend from "The Present" segment of "Kazuo Umezu's Horror Theater." I was wondering if we'd ever see her again! We'll get back to her later in regard to the ending.

Later that night, Yuki hears the siren sound but is lured outside by that idiot Hideo who has wandered off yet again. The father was also outside when the siren sounded, ignoring the warnings, when he appears to be attacked off screen. The next day Yuki goes to find the father with the help of the doctor when she thinks she finds the father's dead body. By the time Yuki can get the local police, the father's body has, of course, vanished without a trace. It doesn't matter though, because pops is already back at home but is acting abnormal. Yuki decides to investigate what the hell happened on this island and finds a convenient website that tells the audience everything and more. There is something about a legend that the island's people had a disease and ate a mermaid to cure this disease and gain immortality. But somehow the mermaid cursed the island and it's implied that is why the people disappeared. They show a picture of the mermaid who greatly resembles the girl in red, and this website has that bullshit video from 1976 uploaded. This is when Yuki realizes that guy that attacked her is the survivor, but he hasn't aged in 30 years and the website claims he committed suicide.

While trying to find Hideo, again, Yuki finds him hanging out with the girl in red when the siren goes off again. Yuki ends up running into the lone survivor again as he explains that when you go out with the siren sounding you can get attacked by zombie-like creatures (called "shibitos" in the game). This part is kind of cool with the shibitos peeking through various little holes in the survivor's house. Somehow they kill the lone survivor as Yuki and Hideo casually escape. You will probably begin to notice Yuki carrying Hideo a lot in this film which is kind of funny with that brat serving more as a backpack than a real character. When Yuki gets back home they gather their things to flee to the boats, but she is distracted by a hidden room in the house that reveals the current residents are actually the ones that originally disappeared who have turned into these shibitos. Most disturbing of all is that the doctor too is one of the original inhabitants and, thus, a shibito as well. Before Yuki can reflect on this, a shibito version of the father goes apeshit as the lights go out and he tries to catch his kids. This part is pleasantly intense due to the impressive house design and the lighting effects.

Yuki and Hideo manage to escape the father and head to the siren tower to destroy it believing that will end this nightmare. When they climb the giant tower Yuki is attacked by the shibito version of the lone survivor but he fails. At the top, Yuki notices the horizon has turned red in an almost apocalyptic image as she destroys the siren. This does nothing as Yuki realizes the siren is still sounding almost as if it is in the air itself, but she is interrupted by a non-shibito doctor who ruins the entire film. He tells Yuki that the siren sound is only in her head and is a side effect of her mental problems due to her inability to cope with the death of Hideo some time ago. We see a montage of scenes from the film from the perspective of others seeing Yuki talking to no one and that the doctor was trying to treat her. For some reason, the doctor becomes a shibito and Yuki decides to swan dive off the tower but magically survives; and I must emphasize the degree of magic in this miraculous feat. We then skip to the doctor talking to the father about Yuki's condition, and he says that the original disappearances were actually a crazed guy who killed everyone on the island claiming it was because of a siren; it was this act that made the islanders suspicious of anyone claiming to hear the siren. Noticing part of the lone survivor's diary sticking out of Yuki's ridiculously flat butt, the doctor pieces it together with the half he had to learn that the guy wrote about a fourth siren sounding (there had been 3 in the film). All of a sudden, another siren sounds and Yuki is armed with a knife ready to kill. The final shot is of the girl in red standing in front of that same apocalyptic image with the red horizon. Umm okay.

So I want to stress that up until the reveal that Hideo is dead this movie is awesome. The atmosphere is spot on with tiny tidbits of information coming in to gradually introduce and explore the mystery. But just when the pieces of the puzzle are about to fall in place we get this "it's all in your head" kind of bullshit. But you see, it doesn't add up anyway. First off, the whole 1976 plot line happened no matter what and the lone survivor simply killing everyone makes no sense since they didn't find the bodies (or at least it's never mentioned). We'd also have to assume that Yuki imagined the entire website; yeah, it was a contrivance, but I find it hard to believe she imagined it. Plus, why mention the Roanoke and Mary Celeste incidents if they have no connection to the plot? Then there were the photos in the house--what, she imagined those too? What was imagined and what was real is too ill-defined. And what are the odds that two crazy people with the same insanity would coincide on the same damn island? I'm going to say virtually impossible. You could argue Yuki was influenced by reading the diary, but that's seriously reaching. That leads me to the entire existence of the girl in red. If none of it were real, then why the final shot and why have her in the film at all? And yes, she was real as we see a flashback of the girl in red seeing Yuki talking to the imaginary Hideo. In fact, the girl in red is useless to the plot entirely unless she is supposed to be this mermaid. I don't know about all that. What I do know, however, is that Ms. Takahashi voiced one of the characters in the video game and there was a character vaguely like the girl in red so maybe this was intended to bridge the two stories. Or...maybe they had a different ending planned altogether but it was altered for the game (or vice versa) at the last second. In my mind I'm going to simply believe Yuki failed, became a shibito, is seeing random bullshit as a result, and that the woman in red is destroying the world or something.

If you can ignore, or somehow, appreciate the ending, this movie is much better than you'd imagine especially as a mere promotional film. Come to think of it, video game movies are notorious for sucking, yet these low budget promo films from Japan have been exceptionally good considering the little effort that appears to go into them. The scenery is beautiful and the set designs were nice especially with the house Yuki stayed at; speaking of which, the cute girls were a nice touch. The air raid siren has become played out, especially after "Silent Hill" monopolized the use, but it's still effectively unsettling. The film's story and direction appeared to be faithful to the games right down to the red-vision POV shots from the shibito. Overall, this was a great film that I believe fans of the games will enjoy as well as J-horror fans in general. The ending does blow chunks, but the rest of the story manages to save the overall experience.

Notable Moment: When Yuki peeks behind a corner, the lightning flashes, and her zombie father's face suddenly meets hers. I was actually momentarily startled so I have to give them credit for that.

Final Rating: 6/10

Ms. Takahashi as the girl in red (not sure why the photo is so blurry though):

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: This time something totally amazing happens...oh, wait, no, another idiot summons Pumpkinhead.

Review: Arrrggghhhh. I know there were only four of these movies, but it was hard to get through them. Honestly, the only more insufferable franchises I can think of are "Puppetmaster" and "Witchcraft." But at least "Puppetmaster" became self-aware at one point, and, well, "Witchcraft" might actually be the worst horror franchise in existence so that's not saying much. As far as this film goes, it was seriously testing my patience, and I could only tolerate, at most, 15 minute intervals at a time spread out over three days; even "Asian School Girls" and "Howling VII" I was able to finish the same day! My god, I need to make sure next month I watch nothing but movies I already like, because the recent level of shit I've watched is making my left eye twitch or something.

The story is beyond stupid combining a wannabe "Romeo and Juliet" plot with the Hatfield and McCoy conflict (a moronic incident unto itself). Don't ask me how any of this still has to do with the town from part one, because they claim it does. That fucking witch is still running around trying too hard to act mysterious except even she sees the ghost of Ed now. Hell, everyone sees the ghost of Ed now. Okay, it sort of made sense in part 3 since he was the host for Pumpkinhead, but what the fuck? I think it also goes without saying this has absolutely nothing to do with the events of part 3 which you'd think people would have remembered Pumpkinhead, right? There is a subplot about the town sheriff having a run in with Pumpkinhead but who cares? The idiot in question that summoned Pumpkinhead was angry his sister died due to this stupid family conflict. By the way, Pumpkinhead is just a plot device yet again and looks like shit, but there was slightly less CGI so there's that. There are too many stupid moments that it becomes impossible to address them all. One of the worst is when a wedding gets crashed and when they burn down a house. I couldn't remember who characters were, yet again, since there were too many fucking inbred cousins to keep track of. Speaking of which, what is with these damn 1800s rejects? While I'm sure there are weirdos like this roaming the USA somewhere, I've yet to run into anyone flat out living and dressing like it's 1850. "Best moonshine in the county!" fucking moonshine in the county, asshole? Oh good lord help me! The movie tries to play up the drama, but it's hard to care about these people when they're this stupid and annoying. The only consolation is that most do die gruesomely, but it wasn't enough to satisfy me since, like I said, I didn't know who the hell half these people were. They also brought back that horrible dubbing that makes each scene that more excruciating to endure. Pumpkinhead dies the same way as he always does when the person summoning him gets killed. I guess he falls into a well that leads to hell or something...whatever.

Finally, by the mercy of Rika, this nightmare ends. I mean, what can I say? The first movie was merely okay--not good but not bad. The second film was terrible but it had one of my goddesses, Ami Dolenz, to sweeten the situation a tad. Part three managed to be even worse, but Pinhead appeared to be taking the role seriously so there was at least one saving grace. But this film has absolutely nothing except a few decent gore effects. You know, if you want to have all these stupid inbred freaks from the 1800s, why not finally make a "Pumpkinhead" sequel that explains the origins of the damned creature! Wouldn't that have made for a better film? You could even have a twist where you realize the last survivor is the woman that would become the witch. Hell, I'd write the stupid script myself if someone paid me, but I sure as hell don't care enough to do it for fun. In closing, I hate these movies.

Notable Moment: When some stupid old lady is screaming for help in a burning house. How about you shut the fuck up for two seconds and walk out the door!

Final Rating: 3/10

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: More idiots summon Pumpkinhead or whatever.

Review: I thought part two was bad, but at least that had Ami Dolenz's hotness to hold your hand through the experience. As for this film, oh man, it was painful to say the least. I guess this was made for TV and created for the godforsaken Sci-fi channel. This fact alone should clue you in on the level of quality (or lack thereof) you should expect. What happened to that channel? I remember it used to be the main thing I'd watch as a kid. Oh well.

They did try to create continuity between this film and the first, but I must emphasize the try part. It doesn't matter though because the story is a fucking mess. There's something about the dumb mountain people from part one all grown up and stealing organs. Honestly, this movie doesn't even know what it's trying to say. I'm going out on a limb here and declaring that the kid that helped Ed in part one (his name was Bunt) is now the main character although that is questionable. Bunt and the other flunkies work for Pinhead, aka Doug Bradley, who plays a guy named Doc. Their stupid little scheme is something along the lines of they run a crematorium and are taking organs from the recently dead and selling them for drugs followed by dumping the bodies randomly...I guess. It seriously doesn't add up, and I highly doubt that the writers gave it any thought at all. So let me get this straight...they take organs from the dead, which would also be dead and useless, trade them for drugs, then take the time to dump the bodies rather than cremating them to hide the evidence? On top of that, the guy they give the organs to is a middleman yet we never hear jack about what he does with it and he lives out of a hotel where nobody notices him cooking meth. Ughhh. The characters themselves laugh at how stupid this scenario is at one point.

Anyway, the flunkies are caught by some random dude roaming the woods at night and try to kill him in an overly roundabout way. This leads to the stupid townspeople discovering the situation and are rightfully angry. By the way, the town doesn't look anything remotely similar to part one. Wanting revenge, a group of four summon Pumpkinhead after that dumb witch from part one realizes they mistook Ed's body as one of the dumped corpses. Big shock, the Pumpkinhead effects look like shit with horrendous CGI; they couldn't afford to do the walking typhoon effect I'm guessing. Shenanigans ensue as Pumpkinhead kills Doc's flunkies while Doc realizes that if the ones who summoned Pumpkinhead are killed it will defeat Pumpkinhead. Another stupid thing going on during all of these antics is we see the ghost of Ed taunting Bunt which is stupid since Lance Henriksen is so old-looking now. Wait, let me guess, his ghost has been aging like fine wine in hell? Blah blah blah, pretty much everyone dies but the last summoner jumps into the crematorium once again killing Pumpkinhead. The only survivors are Bunt, and some dude I could never keep track of who the hell he was, just as the least believable FBI agents show up. The witch then shows up conveniently and takes the charred body of the last summoner and uses her as the next host for Pumpkinhead. Okay, that was cool in the original but not here.

This movie sucks. It's not even opinion at this point--it's a fact. There is this horrible dubbing to the dialogue probably due to the horrifically fake country-bumpkin accents. No one can act to save their miserable life, and the emotionless line delivery is atrocious. There were also like a million characters accompanied by lots of failed background drama that no rational person would care about. The story is nonsensical with one of the most brain-dead schemes in recent memory that doesn't even appear to make money or have a goal. There are blatant plot holes and glaring continuity errors for a film trying desperately and failing to follow the original's mythos. Pumpkinhead looks like shit and hardly does anything; this is inexcusable as he's the point of the franchise. Adding to this are the laughably bad special effect moments like when Doc is seemingly blown up. Everything is horrible. Why was this made?

Notable Moment: I was going to say the best moment was when we see a few Lament Configurations lying around Doc's office, but that was greatly overshadowed by a scene of Doc flying through the air. Pitiful. Just pitiful. Besides, don't tease the audience with an idea that would have made for a better film: Pumpkinhead vs Hellraiser.

Final Rating: 3.5/10

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A group of idiots inadvertently summon Pumpkinhead who seeks revenge for a murder 35 years prior.

Review: While I didn't care for the first film, it at least had it's good moments and Pumpkinhead looked cool. Unfortunately for this film, it lacks those positive aspects. As a trade-off of sorts, this film stars my '90s darling, Ami Dolenz, which is pretty much the main reason I'm even bothering with this franchise. I wish I could say she salvages the movie, but, alas, her beauty is nothing more than a diamond resting upon a pile of shit. It's also important to note that "Pumpkinhead" had a small theatrical release and therefore had an actual budget backing it. Part two was made specifically for the rental store era and there is a stark contrast between a rental from the '80s and one from the '90s. It's hard to explain, but if you've experienced both types you should detect these weird nuances of quality.

Having pretty much nothing to do with the first film, the story opens with a deformed boy getting murdered by a group of guys calling themselves the Blood Wings. It was kind of amusing that there was a "run Forrest, run" equivalent moment since "Forrest Gump" had come out only a few months earlier. 35 years later, a man returns to this particular town to become the sheriff along with his troublesome daughter, Jenny (Ms. Dolenz). Hmm, a "Forrest Gump" reference and a character named Jenny? It doesn't take long before Jenny comes across the self-proclaimed badasses of the town. That's pretty damn funny--I think I could beat the shit out of these four misfits no problem. One of them looks like fucking Waldo at one point and another is Punky Brewster herself all grown up. Yeah, total badasses...psh. After cutting school (oh no, such rebels!), this rabble of retards decide they will go joyriding later that night in which they accidentally run over the local witch; keep in mind, this isn't the same witch from the first film. Reluctantly checking to see if the witch survived, they come across the workings of a spell to resurrect the dead. The leader of these losers, Danny-boy, really wants to complete this spell for no discernible reason to the point that he beats the witch up in order to steal some vile of blood. This part is painfully contrived, as you may have guessed, as they honestly take the time to dig up a grave for the ritual. Even if you were drunk, who would go to this much trouble? Anything for the lulz, right? In typical dumbass fashion, the witch ends up burning down her own house distracting the losers long enough to not notice the spell's success as Pumpkinhead arises.

Eh, the way Pumpkinhead works in this film is a bit different than the first so I'll try to explain it the best I can. He still does the whole walking typhoon shit which you'd think would block his ability to sneak up on you, right? Wrong. Now he also has predator-vision for whatever reason and loves doing this lunge at the camera as if to say "what?!" In fact, they do a lot of stupid camera angles when dealing with him. The creature looks much shittier with a few horrendous moments that demonstrate this especially toward the end. Anyway, the wannabe badasses try and pretend nothing happened as Pumpkinhead picks off a douche we met earlier. It would seem he's hunting down the Blood Wings since the host for Pumpkinhead is that deformed boy along with that vile of blood belonging to him. In the first movie everything happened in one day, but in this film Pumpkinhead appears to be taking breaks between kills for dramatic purposes. I mean, come on, we couldn't have a scene of him ridiculously running around in the daytime! It's also strange that a bunch of pretty boys somehow grew up to look just like those mountain people from the first film. I don't know about you, but I don't exactly care for rejects from the 1800s.

Moving along, Pumpkinhead kills another rejected hillbilly who was oddly fucking Linnea Quigley who is completely wasted. To my greatest annoyance, the film keeps forcing the notion that Jenny likes Danny-boy despite the fact that he's been an absolute asshole for every second he's on screen. We learn that the sheriff met the deformed kid when he was a boy and he actually saved the kid's life. They want to emphasize the deformed boy was just a regular kid, but, seriously, a theme of acceptance in a movie like this? Uhh nice try. Then Pumpkinhead kills a few more mountain folk including one played pointlessly by Kane Hodder. Since everyone in this movie is a complete imbecile, the sheriff and his flunky need the witch to hand-hold the entire plot. The witch explains that the deformed boy was magically the son of Pumpkinhead, the Blood Wings killed him, and he's knocking them all off before he goes after the wannabe badasses. Okay, how the fuck does Pumpkinhead have a kid? That is beyond idiotic. Conveniently, the last Blood Wing is Danny-boy's father and of course Pumpkinhead goes after him at the exact same time Danny-boy is having a party. Thankfully, Pumpkinhead kills everyone until only my dear Ms. Dolenz is left standing when the sheriff reminds Pumpkinhead that he saved the deformed kid. Pumpkinhead of course spares Jenny just as more hillbillies show up to shoot Pumpkinhead to death. Psh...taking notes from the "Halloween 4" book of defeats I see. I have to emphasize how terrible this scene looks with nothing more than squibs going off on an obvious ragdoll Pumpkinhead. Plus, I thought the only way to get rid of Pumpkinhead was to kill the summoner? The film implies that it still counted the witch as that role and she died okay. The film ends with them going through the rubble and there's no Pumpkinhead, but they do find a toy that belonged to the sheriff. Aww, such a tender ending. Good lord...well, at least I'm laughing a lot thinking about this movie.

I should probably clarify that the first film simply felt bland and as a means to show off special effects. This sequel, on the other hand, is nothing more than trash. Everything is plain stupid without having a cool Pumpkinhead to serve as a buffer. Definitely slouching on the special effects was a major detriment when it should have been a highlight. Making matters worse was the bad acting, bizarre cinematography, lack of continuity, and general sense of low-budget problems and limitations. Yes, my dear Ms. Dolenz helps ease the pain, but I'm always surprised how often she shifts into the background for whatever reason. The movie is most certainly not told from her perspective and would have benefited from her taking a larger role I think. Oh well. Hop on those blood wings and let's fly onward to part three.

Notable Moment: When that son of a bitch, Danny-boy, finally dies. I was really starting to get worried he'd survive the movie, and I certainly couldn't tolerate that.

Final Rating: 4.5/10

My little pumpkin, Ms. Dolenz:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pumpkinhead Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After his son is accidentally killed, a man asks a witch to summon a demon to exact revenge for him.

Review: Time now to take a look at the "Pumpkinhead" franchise which consists of four films (so far). I can't say I ever really liked these movies, even as a kid, especially when compared to the other '80s horror icons (to which Pumpkinhead barely qualifies as). There was a general shittacularness to the films, and part 3 and 4 only came out a few years ago anyway so they hardly count toward shaping the image of the character. In light of this, I am willing to torture myself one more time for the reviews while noting that the main draw for me will become clear when I go over part two. The first movie is pretty much the only tolerable entry and that's not saying much. I simply saw the film as a way to show off a cool monster concept with little else offered. I can understand why fans do enjoy this film and see it as something of a cult classic, but it simply doesn't cut it for me; maybe it's the annoyed kid in me who wasted a rental on this shit that's still bitter.

As you may have easily guessed, the story is paper thin and my plot summary almost completely explains the events of the film. Lance Henriksen plays the father, Ed, who starts off the movie seeing Pumpkinhead when he was a child. Later on when Ed and his son open up a store they own, they cross paths with wannabe yuppies or something who decide they will go dirt bike riding right then and there. Ed steps away for a second as the son is accidentally run over by the biggest douche of the yuppies. Upon the revelation that the kid is fucked up, the douche takes off claiming he's not going to jail for it. The other yuppies do seem genuinely concerned which is worth mentioning considering the order of deaths. Instead of calling the cops or anything, Ed simply takes his son home where he dies. Then he figures, well, I might as well conjure up a demon--I mean, come the fuck on, of course that's the only logical step to take! After Ed talks to some mountain people from the 1800s, they warn that it's a mistake (even they're smart enough to realize this a dumb plan!) but one of the kids tells Ed about the witch that can summon Pumpkinhead.

Eventually, the witch combines the blood of Ed, the dead son, and some mummified baby or whatever to create Pumpkinhead. Ed is totally cool with everything until the first yuppie dies and Ed experiences what Pumpkinhead does. Of course I must stress how annoyed I was that the first person to die was the yuppie that tried to help the dead son and was the only one that stayed to take the consequences; he should have lived instead of the losers that do survive. Ed comes to realize that part of himself is within Pumpkinhead and he regrets his actions...pretty much because he has to come to terms with Pumpkinhead's actions firsthand rather than hanging out at his cabin twiddling his thumbs. This movie has the best sense of morality. Pumpkinhead kills more yuppies until there are only two left who are aided by that same mountain kid that helped Ed earlier. Just to give you an idea of how retarded this kid must be, he couldn't put two and two together enough to realize that Pumpkinhead's appearance and Ed going to the witch had a connection. Really, dude? Ed tries to kill Pumpkinhead but the two end up merging completely meaning that the only way to kill Pumpkinhead is to kill Ed...which one of the yuppies obliges in an anti-climactic finale. The film then ends with the witch magically having a mummified version of Ed which she will use for the summoning of the next Pumpkinhead. That's actually not too bad of a way to end things.

Overall, Pumpkinhead himself is kind of cool with decent effects to bring him to life, and there were a few interesting ideas and sets, but that's all there really is going for the film. The deaths are boring and hardly utilize the possibilities a giant velociraptor like Pumpkinhead could accomplish. And why is Pumpkinhead a walking effect shot? Every time he appears we have strobe lights and fans going into overdrive like he's a walking typhoon or something. Calm that shit down! Also, every single time something happens there is this overly dramatic music spike that makes me want to crane kick someone; a lot of films do this, but they aren't this blatant with it. The story is surprisingly boring and feels pointless especially when you factor in how easily Pumpkinhead is dispatched with. I get the feeling Pumpkinhead was designed first and a movie was made around him rather than any other scenario. I know a lot of fans like this film, but I can't imagine casual viewers giving a damn about the effects and that is this film's only real draw besides Mr. Henriksen...or the off chance you want to see Blossom, Mayim Bialik, in a bit role.

Notable Moment: When Pumpkinhead nonchalantly passes by the cabin window. They delayed the stupid music cue as well which almost made this a genuinely creepy shot.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Knowing Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After his son receives a mysterious letter from a time capsule, a man believes the letter foretells future calamities.

Review: This may be a bit unusual, considering the hype behind numerous movies over the years, but I think this film was my most anticipated. Back in early 2002, I remember looking through, and they had a section regarding movies stuck in production hell (which I'd recommend checking out) with "Knowing" being one of them. I was intrigued by the plot synopsis and thought it sounded original with a lot of promise; I would often check back to see if anyone was ever going to bring this bad boy to life. Seven years of waiting later, it finally happened and, thankfully, turned out more or less as I had hoped. Surprisingly though, this film has had a huge, polarizing effect on audiences and critics alike. I'm not really sure why this would be a love it or hate it kind of situation, but I can say a lot of critics clearly could not follow the plot judging by many of their complaints; I'm not saying this film doesn't have flaws but many gripes are unwarranted. Hopefully I can clear up some confusion, perhaps, allowing others to give it a second look and realize this is a genuinely great film with one of the more ballsy endings out there.

I absolutely love idea behind the story as it seriously sucks you in with nearly overwhelming intrigue and you want to know more. It's 1959 and an elementary school has decided to create a time capsule that will be opened in 50 years. The idea is that the students will create drawings for the kids of the future showing them what they imagine that said future will be like. The little girl that suggested the time capsule's construction, Lucinda, instead writes a letter comprised of a giant series of numbers that we see her frantically trying to finish before the teacher stops her. Later on, after the time capsule has been sealed, Lucinda disappears until she is discovered scratching the rest of the numbers into a door. We then skip to 50 years later with a father and son combo, John and Caleb, who serve as the primary protagonists. John is played by Nicolas Cage...yeah, needless to say, I was worried when he was first cast, but it turned out exceedingly well. Mercifully, Mr. Cage gives us, perhaps, the most subdued performance in his entire career which is saying something. In fact, this is the rare instance where I think he really shows off his range by simply playing a regular guy coping with the loss of his wife and estrangement with his father. Anyway, after a wonderful shot of John-boy listening to the second, and more famous, movement of Beethoven's 7th symphony, we cut to an important plot point of the film most critics appeared to forget about: John is a professor at MIT, and he discusses how he believes the events of the universe are random or "shit happens" as he says.

Caleb conveniently goes to the same school as Lucinda and also coincidentally receives her letter when the time capsule is opened on the 50th anniversary. That night, John ends up spilling alcohol on the letter when getting drunk and catches notice of a pattern. Investigating the numbers more thoroughly, he realizes that it lists the date 9/11/01 and the victim amount that died on that day. John then copies all the numbers from the letter and feverishly traces their dates and victim counts to find it is a comprehensive list of disasters that have occurred over the past 50 years. However, the truly frightening aspect to the letter is that it lists 3 more disasters that have yet to happen. After talking it over with his skeptical friend, and pointing out that all the numbers don't add up, Johnny checks to make sure there is no way it could be a hoax by talking to Lucinda's teacher, in which we discover Lucinda is dead, and by investigating the janitors that pulled out the time capsule. At this point, strange men begin to appear to Caleb as John focuses his vigil on the day the next disaster is supposed to occur. When going to pick Caleb up from school, John has the epiphany that the remaining numbers unaccounted for were actually the coordinates where each disaster occurred and quickly comes to the startling realization that the next disaster will be right where he's at. Shockingly, a plane ends up crashing nearby with John-boy attempting to intervene somehow.

Now completely convinced that the letter is a warning of doom, John tracks down Lucinda's daughter, Diana, played by that insidious milf, Rose Byrne. You know, this could have turned into a romance flick at one point very easily with Johnny taking advantage of Caleb's flirtations with Diana's daughter, Abby. Also, let me say, I love that the actress playing Abby, Lara Robinson, plays Lucinda and Diana when they were kids (that must count for something surely). Back on track--John comes on too strong just when he had Diana interested (oh, I could tell), and wants to know if Lucinda had special powers. Of course Diana doesn't like this fiasco and runs away, but John explains to her who he is and what Lucinda wrote is coming true with 2 more disasters left. On the date of the next disaster, John again attempts to intervene when a train derails in a subway leaving massive devastation with him powerless to do anything.

Coming to terms with the truth, Diana is waiting for John when he comes home, and they proceed to get to the bottom of the situation with one disaster left...a date that Lucinda claimed Diana herself would die on. This is where a lot of critics missed a big part of John's character. He explains that one of the disasters on the list is when his wife was killed. He believes that if had this list earlier he could have saved her and can't accept that things are set in stone; Diana too appears to agree with that sentiment. They, along with Caleb and Abby, visit Lucinda's house she had in the woods only to realize that the victim count for the last disaster was a misunderstanding--it was thought to be 33 but was actually EE or "everyone else." Oh shit the whole world is coming to an end! The creepy men from before appear again, mess with the kids, and disappear with a flash of light. Abby and Caleb tell us that they speak telepathically and obviously Lucinda was hearing their voices.

John realizes a mega solar flare is headed toward Earth and will obliterate all life. He and Diana try to cope with the notion that they will all die and John has trouble accepting the numbers were a warning of something that couldn't be prevented. With another epiphany, John recalls the teacher saying that Lucinda was carving numbers in the door at the school and believes Lucinda knew the one safe location for the last disaster. Sure enough, the door is still there and does reveal that the last set of coordinates were at Lucinda's home in the woods. But before this revelation is realized, a panicked Diana grabs the kids and tries to take them to random caves she think could protect them from the solar flare. As John tries to catch up, a global emergency warning is issued by the government sending people into a frenzy. The creepy men appear and take Caleb and Abby, but Diana dies in a pursuit to catch them. John realizes that the creepy guys are also heading to Lucinda's house and finds the kids unharmed. We learn that the creepy men are actually aliens who plan to take the kids away from the planet before it is destroyed, but they don't want John to come since he never heard their voices...which they claim was a prerequisite to being chosen to live. In a surprisingly heartfelt goodbye, the kids fly away in a spaceship as the creepy men take an angelic form. John pulls himself together and heads home to his remaining family members where they die together as we see the Earth incinerated by the solar flare. The film then ends with all the chosen humans dropped off on a new world where they will start over in an overly obvious Adam and Eve allegory.

Okay, let me address a few of the more common complaints. I'll start with John and the fact that he represents the audience or the everyday person. People say John is stupid for running into the disasters, but you have to realize he's obsessed due to his wife's death. He absolutely refuses to accept that he cannot change things and even says this. John may be a scientist, but his rational thinking goes out the window when his beliefs are challenged and he's powerless. There are important things to consider like John believing the message was specifically for him and that surely a warning means it can be stopped. This is one of the reasons why the aliens didn't want him...he's selfish like most humans. The warning was never meant for him and his attempts to stop the inevitable demonstrate the folly of man struggling against forces he cannot hope to comprehend. John is actually a much deeper character than he appears on the surface level, and it's a credit to Mr. Cage for pulling it off without going all wicker man on us. As for the aliens predicting the disasters, it's complicated since it would mean they're so far advanced they can see the future--through remote viewing perhaps or a way to map out time itself. I know it's hard to fathom, but it's not out of the realm of plausibility as they discuss determinism. Critics confuse the numerology with this determinism interpretation of time, but the movie never once indicates that the aliens actually used the dates to know the future. They imply the numbers were a broadcast of sorts so I interpreted this as the aliens sending a signal of all disasters they saw in order to help the chosen humans avoid those moments. Keep in mind, the individual is the one who interprets the message so we don't know what the aliens really were saying; this is why Lucinda translates the numbers into dates and coordinates an American would understand. We see further evidence of this by the implication prophets of the past heard the signal and incorporated it into paintings. We also don't know why someone has the ability to detect the signal so it may simply have a connection to why the aliens even care in the first place. And no, Abby and Caleb were not the chosen "white" saviors of humanity. There were other ships all over the world and we don't know how many people were saved, but human diversity was maintained. As far as how many times the aliens may have done this or for what purpose, your guess is as good as mine. The aliens taking human form was so they could monitor the chosen people with little notice. At the same time, they went about things in a roundabout way, because they wanted the humans to come willingly rather than being taken away. The whole angels are aliens aspect has been around for a long time now so I don't see the problem. It's kind of weird, because I've heard both the argument that this film is anti-religion and overly-religious. The fuck? I see it as neither--just a sci-fi tale of the universe and forces that make us look like ants in comparison.

With that much said, there are certainly some flaws. The acting from the kids can be shitty at times, and you can tell Mr. Cage is trying desperately not to throw a tantrum during a lot of scenes. A few plot points are glossed over and could be seen as wasting time in an already 2 hour film. The creepy guys turning out to be aliens was predictable. There are certainly a lot of contrivances even if factoring for the notion that certain events were meant to occur due to the nature of the film. And I definitely have my own problems with the determinism proposed in the film since most time-related topics focus on the big picture instead of the mundane; the mundane aspects typically being how you could prove these theories wrong. What do I mean? We say, oh no, you can't change time, because somehow the unknown forces of the universe would still create the outcome since it's predestined. Okay, but this would mean the universe itself places value on events which either wreaks of human-centric logic or that there's an actual thinking force to the universe that is a retard. Think of it like this: if you knew tomorrow you'd eat cornflakes for breakfast, are you telling me that future couldn't be altered? Of course it could! You sleep in or eat Frankenberry or whatever. Knowing the future fundamentally means it can be altered as a default. Take the disasters in the only works because the details are omitted and because it focuses on huge outcomes. But if you knew a true vision of the future, the devil is in the details leading up to that future. If you knew the events of a single day, at each step you could alter it and in the end alter the final outcome. To say only the final outcome matters also leads back to my point about placing value to specific events. Get what I'm saying? Time altering in films always breaks down to big things, because they're movies, but realistically nothing should be able to be altered if time were set in stone which includes every tiny facet of that moment. Either the events of the universe are predestined and there's no way to time travel or know the future--or--the universe is malleable and time travel and future knowledge is possible. I hope that made sense.

I realize this was a more long-winded review than I'd usually give, but I figured with all the waiting I did for this film I might as well give it a thorough breakdown and address as much material as possible. I really enjoy this movie despite my problems with it. There is a great mystery, even if it loses its way at one point, and the intrigue is impressive in how much you become immersed in the experience. You can't deny that there is a lot of creativity and imagination in the plot. The music is awesome and helps enhance the scenes and tone. There was a surprising amount of believable sentimentality in the performances and events of the film. And, of course, that ending leaves you both kind of happy yet caught off guard that John failed and the world was destroyed; I'd say that was pretty risky and certainly not your typical Hollywood conclusion. Overall, this is one of the better recent sci-fi films, and it has a lot more going on than I think people give it credit for. I love conversations on this shit so feel free to contact me, but try not to almost crash your car when discussing the topics like my friend almost did on opening night. Yes, the end of the world can happen and is inevitable even if it's a billion years from now! Silly boy.

Notable Moment: When John hits a baseball bat up against a tree and says, "You want some of this?" Oh just couldn't go an entire movie without at least one over the top outburst, could you?

Final Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Unborn (2009) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A woman believes she is being haunted by the ghost of her unborn twin.

Review: DAT ASS! Oh dear lordy, you know it's a desperate marketing ploy when, not only do they feature that ass-shot more than once in the actual film, it's also on the movie poster and featured in the trailer. In case you couldn't tell, there's actually a ghost kid on that poster too. It's as if the producers were like, "Dude, we have to make a movie about that tease's ass from "Cloverfield!" Oh, who am I kidding...that's the perfect inspiration for film making! Fucking unborn. Ughhhh...this movie was sooo stupid. My god. The damn ghost wasn't even unborn!

The story is your typical collage of cliches mixed with a shitload of predictability. So yeah, you have the "Cloverfield" tease herself, Odette Yustman, as the main girl, Casey, who is seeing visions of a creepy little boy wherever she goes along with various hallucinations. She learns that she had a twin brother that died in the womb apparently being strangled by her umbilical cord. But rest assured, this is simply a stupid fake-out to get the plot rolling. Casey's mom committed suicide when Casey was a kid and conveniently left behind clues on the off chance she would come to discover them years down the road. Thanks mom. Through nothing short of contrivances, Casey discovers her long lost grandma that was like "fuck having a family" and has been chilling out at the best old folk's home I've ever seen. It would seem the ghost is not actually the unborn brother, but was Casey's uncle, the grandma's brother, who was killed as a part of an experiment with the Nazis. Yeah, I wish I were making that up. And get this--they were trying to do an experiment to give everyone blue eyes as the thing that killed him. Shaking my head on that one. Anyway, the death somehow allowed a dybbuk to take hold of the boy's body. A dybbuk is an evil human spirit from Jewish mythology that tries to possess people; keep in mind this is different from a demon or non-human entity. Magically, the grandma got rid of the dybbuk back then, but it haunted the family through the generations and is after Casey now. Blah, blah, blah, people die, shenanigans, and Casey convinces a rabbi to do an exorcism on her. With the help of pointless fodder, they do perform the exorcism and seemingly get rid of the spirit, but Casey's boyfriend dies (boo hoo) in the process. The movie ends beyond predictably as we discover the reason the dybbuk chose now to appear is because Casey is pregnant...and with twins to boot. Oh really? I NEVER would have seen that coming! I would have actually been surprised if they didn't end it that way.

Now I want to run down all the stupid things. First off, like I said, the fucking ghost wasn't even unborn! In fact, who the fuck was the ghost?! He keeps taking the form of the uncle but why? And what exactly about these idiotic Nazi experiments allowed the ghost to possess the dead body? If he can possess dead bodies, isn't it feasible the ghost had opportunities to come back a lot more often than once every 20-30 years? Worse, the movie keeps referring to the dybbuk as "Jumby." Jumby was the nickname for Casey's unborn brother so why the hell would the dybbuk refer to itself as that while taking the form of the uncle? Who the hell nicknames their kid before they're born anyway rather than thinking up the actual names? Yeah, let me get on that shit. Hey Rika, I want our future twin girls to be nicknamed Kayako and Natre...hope you don't mind, dear! It's like they forgot halfway into the movie that the ghost wasn't supposed to be Casey's brother! Actually, is the dybbuk even a ghost? They talk like it's a demon from a different dimension...which would make this creature not even a dybbuk. Oh for fuck's sake. If the dybbuk can easily possess, hell, pretty much anyone, why is he fucking around with Casey at all? I mean, what the hell?! Plus, he has all these awesome powers and seems like he can do whatever he wants--what exactly is the rush to be a regular human? That's great grandma was able to beat the ghost back in the day when she was a little to tell us how you pulled that one off? Wouldn't that have made for a better movie--a little girl fighting her possessed dead brother while trapped in a concentration camp? The scares are moronic too and consist of nothing but sudden growls at the screen and horrible CGI of upside down heads. The movie also teased me at one point with the death of a super annoying brat but then makes him survive through magic. That's unforgivable. There are a lot of likable actors in this film like Gary Oldman, Idris Elba, two people from "Dexter," the original Silk Spectre (mega milf Carla Gugino), etc. and they're all wasted to my greatest dismay; characters merely come and go on a whim with little effort put into making them integral to the plot. What, did they just call in every favor they had for this shit? And perhaps the most egregious offense of them all, Casey's boyfriend is played by Cam Gigandet. Arrrgh. You remember him from my review of "The Roommate," right? That douche who can't stop smirking in every goddamn scene with the absolute most punchable face in the world! At least he dies though (now I get to smirk, bitch). He was so pointless too and didn't do jackshit as if we're supposed to be all caught up in their romance. That's funny.

Honestly, if you take away the ass-shots, what is really left? I guaran-damn-tee you the majority of people who ended up watching this shit did so because of that enticement. While it is a sweet ass, it's not even close to being worth it to put up with this movie. Too many cliches, lameness galore, an incoherent plot, and leaves you with the sobering realization that you're time could be put to better use. Other than decent cinematography, I can't really think of anything else good to say. Despite that, this isn't the worst movie out there. I would say this simply falls under the shitty rental category with perhaps that inkling of potential that a few people might enjoy it.

Notable Moment: When they honestly try and make a scare out of a glory hole scene. Really? A fucking GLORY HOLE?! Okay, let me collect myself for a second...are you fucking shitting me here?! I have no words for this...

Final Rating: 4.5/10

Friday, July 11, 2014

Black Night (2006) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A collaborative horror anthology of three tales from Hong Kong, Japan, and Thailand.

Review: I do love it when countries work together to make a film, but this was not the best example of that unity. Something felt amiss in the presentation and the stories are really lame and forgettable. It was like they simply took a few scripts collecting dust and threw them together for a movie. I think there may be some truth to this notion as the segments each felt rushed, like material was cut, seriously lacking character development as if we already know these people, and with a ton of wasted plot points that appear to have no purpose. Also, I've criticized anthologies in the past for being too lazy to link their stories, but I'm not sure if the half-assing here was a better alternative; they try and pull off this water motif, but it fails miserably. Oh well, let's take a look.

Next Door: A strung out-looking chick returns home to her boyfriend after going abroad for whatever reason we never learn; it honestly doesn't matter one bit. It's Chinese ghost month as well which I guess is meant to be their excuse for why the events of the film occur in the first place; although. this was completely unnecessary and is merely a plot device or contrivance realistically. There's something with a ghost boy and a retarded marble, but I don't care. The main chick was gone for months and the boyfriend sort of moved on, I guess, as we get the impression the main chick is something of a hipster-loser forerunner. The two bang immediately, but the audience realizes the boyfriend was about to bang his neighbor instead before this unexpected appearance. The neighbor is seen as a ghost roaming about here and there trying to do her best impression of a waterlogged Kayako. We start to get love triangle bullshit between characters we don't know or care about like it's dramatic. Apparently the boyfriend is a detective, yet looks like a kid, and he handcuffed the neighbor earlier that night to be kinky. This led to a roundabout death when she fell in the tub and drowned like a fucking moron; they kind of imply that dumb ghost boy and the marble were responsible too. In fact, a lot of this segment comes off borderline comedic and over the top, but I seriously doubt this was intentional. Waterlogged Kayako tries to act tough and chases the main girl and the boyfriend around until she appears to try and kill them; I say "appears" because the scene is so dumb I'll touch on it as the notable moment. The boyfriend ends up shooting himself and the main girl and him jump out a window, but the ghost saves the main girl as a promise to the dumb boyfriend before he dies. We then cut to the main girl, cleaning herself up and actually looking kind of hot, as she seems to steal the neighbor's identity and plans to go to New York as the neighbor was originally going to do. Yeah, sure, totally legit...Asians can't tell Asians apart apparently. The segment ends with her giving the marble back to ghost boy who is just chilling out. Uhh...okay. I know this is going to sound sad, but this was actually the best of the three! The Kayako clone looked okay and could have been scary in the right hands, but, other than that, this segment is dumb, full of cliches, and clearly lacked focus.

Dark Hole: First we have ghost month and now we have Christmas. Yay. Don't get your hopes up though, because it has absolutely no point to the segment! This time the main girl is Yuki, played by Asaka Seto aka Misora from "Death Note," who is utterly insane. She is having strange hallucinations and dreams so she meets up with a therapist to figure this shit out. We learn that when Yuki was a kid she allegedly had a monster for a pet that killed the people in her life that were hurting her. I think the movie wants us to believe the creature could be real, but, at the same time, it goes out of its way to clarify it's all in Yuki's head; the pet is kind of her alter ego--a split personality that kills those who would harm her. We do see the creature, as shitty as it looks, but I never got the idea the audience is supposed to believe it's real. I suppose you could make an argument for it being real, but I always got the idea that it was how she imagined things playing out rather than coming to terms she killed those people. And if it were real, that means the creature can materialize in a puddle, magically become invisible when Yuki's mom goes to look at it, and have a psychic link to Yuki so she knows when it's coming. Yeah...umm, no, I think I'm sticking to it all being in her head especially given her guilt, motive to want them all dead, and her reactions with the therapist. Nice try though. Eh, all three of these segments have pretty much the same flaws and they are the ones I mentioned at the beginning so simply keep that in mind.

The Lost Memory: No holiday this time around, but they did save the worst for there's that going for it. This segment also has the privilege of making the least sense. We have yet another crazy chick and another fucking love triangle too. The main girl was in some kind of car accident with her son and her memories are hazy which is stupid considering she probably wouldn't have been let out of the hospital if this were the case. Needless to say, the stupid kid is a damn ghost and a horribly acted one to boot. My understanding is that the main girl caught her husband cheating with her best friend, drove off in a frenzy, and crashed resulting in the death of the son. The husband tries to help the main girl at one point, but the ghost son throws a tantrum once they realize he's a ghost and tries to act tough. Shenanigans abound as they try to stop the brat resulting in the main girl being run over by a car. The segment ends with the husband now seeing the ghosts of both the wife and the son as if this is cool. Ugh, The drama is especially painful here as if we have a clue what is going on. Just like the first segment, the love triangle is meaningless and pointless when we don't feel the betrayal between the characters. On top of this, the presentation to this segment in particular is a mess and it feels disjointed from start to finish.

At least they managed to make the problems in each segment uniformed. They all have bad drama the audience doesn't have time to care about, lame characters, messy story lines, contrivances, and a general sense of pointlessness. You kind of have to see it for yourself to fully grasp the oddity to how the tales come together, but I wouldn't recommend you wasting your time though. In all honesty, this could have been decent with a different direction to the tales. The segments aren't necessarily terrible, but they are certainly mediocre and nothing we haven't seen before. I think I will give this an average rating for the effort and the collaboration aspect, but this is generous. I would definitely say pass this up and pick any number of better anthologies to watch.

Notable Moment: During the "Next Door" segment when the ghost is killing the boyfriend. The main girl says to take her instead which the ghost does. What makes this so exceptionally stupid is then the boyfriend does the same damn thing of asking the ghost to take him instead. My god, either the ghost wants these fucking people dead or not...enough with the bargaining! Nobody thought this made no sense while filming? Ugh, love triangles...

Final Rating: 5/10

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Prince of Darkness Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A priest enlists a group of scientists to study an ancient relic that may contain evil itself.

Review: Probably one of the most underrated horror films of the '80s--and definitely John Carpenter's most underrated--I was never surprised "Prince of Darkness" did poorly when it was released. I mean, this was the golden age of slashers after all and this movie was borderline Lovecraftian in nature. I don't want to sound pretentious, but I think this is a rare instance where the audiences simply didn't get it. The concepts of the film are complicated and need a certain open-mindedness to fully grasp and appreciate. But, to be fair, for every fantastic idea implemented there is an equally stupid moment to counterbalance the situation...which is kind of ironic considering the themes of the film.

I'll run through the storyline a bit and then try my best to explain what it all means. After a priest dies, he passes a key onto another priest played, a bit over the top, by Donald Pleasence. The key unlocks the basement to a random church that has been closed down for quite a long time. In the basement is a large, metal canister containing a swirling green liquid. Believing the canister to be something malevolent, yet beyond human understanding, the priest asks for the assistance of a physics professor who then recruits many of the (allegedly) finest students in the university to help him study the object. While this is going on, we kind of get the perspective of the main character, Brian, as he has a crush on his classmate, Catherine. The two are hitting it off well enough when both are asked to help study the canister. Also, there is the indication that weird occurrences are happening in the area (or the world) as there is a strange and lingering unease people occasionally notice. Anyway, once everyone is assembled at the church, they quickly realize they are dealing with something extraordinary. The canister is estimated to be 7 million years old and gives off signals that are interpreted as advanced and abstract mathematical formulas. More so, there is a chill and presence to the canister as if it is a living thing that has awakened suddenly. Homeless people nearby become enthralled by the canister's signals as they mindlessly circle the church in order to prevent anyone from leaving; there is a similar effect on nearby insects as well.

A linguist expert interprets a unique bible kept beside the canister that has been rewritten multiple times leaving some of the explanations confusing. This bible explains that there was once a powerful being banished to a different dimension by, what we can assume, is human's understanding of god. Before this occurred, however, the being left his son behind in the canister as a means to one day bring itself back to this plane of existence. So to speak, the canister would be our interpretation of the devil, and the being that created it is referred to as "Anti-god." At one point in time, an alien, who humans referred to as Jesus, tried to warn the humans of what they had on their hands but he was killed for his efforts. Despite this, Jesus' disciples established a sect hidden within Christianity that guarded the true secrets of the religion and hid the canister away until a day would come that people would understand what it all meant. As the scientists try to fathom whether any of this could be true or not, droplets of liquid from the canister have been seeping out and shoot into the mouth of one idiot who becomes yet another thrall for, what I will refer to as, the devil. The crux of the situation is that the devil is escaping his canister, seeking a body to inhabit, and to release his father, Anti-god.

People get picked off here and there with some being enthralled and some just dying. The group discovers that if you sleep within a certain proximity of the canister you will have the same dream over and over. That dream entails a vision of the church with a dark figure at the doorway accompanied by a narration, using a distorted voice, explaining that you are not dreaming, but, in fact, this is a transmission from the future as a warning. A female scientist had noticed an odd bruise on her arm earlier that has formed into a strange symbol as she is to become the host for the devil. With a significant amount of the group either dead or enthralled, the remaining liquid in the canister is put inside the scientist with the symbol. The remaining scientists are separated as a day-long gestation period occurs for the devil to merge with the host. Finally, after completion, the thralls try to kill the last of the group as the devil attempts to use mirrors as a doorway to unleash Anti-god. With everyone either fighting or dying, the priest tries to kill the devil but he/she regenerates any damage. With a large enough portal opened to release Anti-god, Catherine manages to push the devil and herself into the mirror. But before the devil or Anti-god can escape, the priest breaks the mirror and closes the portal trapping Catherine. The thralls then die and the homeless people go back to normal with their connection to the devil severed. Brian is heartbroken with Catherine's sacrifice and everything appears to be over. Later, Brian dreams of the future transmission from before but instead of a dark figure in the doorway it is now Catherine. We get a little dream within a dream bullshit as Brian awakes to find a devil-looking Catherine next to him but then wakes up for real. The film ends with Brian moving his hand toward the mirror in his bathroom.

Okay, so what does all this mean and why do I think people don't get it? Well, for one, the film takes a scientific understanding of how these beings exists and their capabilities. It's not that these creatures are spiritual, simply that their powers were beyond human understanding and we called it magic or supernatural. The film greatly implies that they used technology to have the powers they appear to have (like telekinesis) and that we cannot fully understand how they can do what they do. For example: the canister itself and its durability, the math equations, the dimensional openings, the liquefied form of the devil, etc. Jesus being an alien that came to help humans cements this notion as perhaps the canister was familiar to him or from a species his kind had encountered. The reason this feels Lovecraftian is because humans are dealing with immense forces that they cannot hope to understand, but, at the end of the day, they're still regular creatures that merely appear godlike to human minds due to their power. To sum it up, the religions exist as humanity's way of trying to explain the unprecedented forces they encountered in the past. Another confusing aspect is the future transmissions since this appears to cross fantasy with sci-fi which doesn't always mesh. But if you understand that this isn't the devil, only what we call him, and that these things aren't supernatural, the film itself is technically more sci-fi in nature. My personal interpretation of the future transmission is that we're dealing with multiple timelines now. In the timeline that created the original transmission, events must have led to the release of Anti-god (the shadowy figure) with this fleeting warning as a means to alter that future. But, since we know that the future transmission was targeting the canister and those around it, that means the warning has been influencing everyone that experienced it for possibly hundreds or thousands of years. In other words, simply viewing the transmission has gradually altered the events that led up to that original timeline. This leads me to the ending and why the transmission changed. You see, not hearing the full year the transmission came from is important in my theory as to why I believe time was altered. Throughout the film, the transmission only says from the year 199X before cutting off so that it is deliberately ambiguous as to when it will happen. I believe the reason the full date isn't revealed as 1999 until the end is because Carpenter wanted to leave the validity of the final dream as debatable and so you wouldn't know for sure if time altered or is predetermined. But think of it like this: Brian would want to save Catherine and this would now possibly create a timeline where he releases her, but she is possessed by the devil or Anti-god. The new transmission was now sent specifically to him as a warning of what will happen instead of being sent to the surroundings of the canister. I also believe the final shot of him touching the mirror is to imply his interest in trying to find a way to get Catherine back. could have all been a dream thus why there was a dream within a dream. It gets you thinking though, right? I hope my ramblings made sense too.

While there are a lot of cool things going on here, I can't deny the reasons people call this movie stupid aren't legitimate. The plotline is farfetched, no doubt about that, and can come off overly preachy as an anti-religion message. I'm okay with Jesus as an alien, but you also want me to believe he came here solo, knew what the canister was, and didn't call for backup? The fuck? And what the hell was with the strange feelings and changes to the world? I can accept the devil and Anti-god are powerful, but you're telling me they can warp reality too? Yeah, I'm calling bullshit on that since it looked like the devil was having trouble breaking a door at one point! There was a major lack of focus when it came to dealing with the characters, and the romance was not planned properly. Catherine's sacrifice didn't have as much impact as it should have. If more time was spent establishing Brian and Catherine's relationship this would have appeared better. There are a lot of bad jokes in the film especially from an unnecessary comedy relief character who doesn't even get killed. I could not stand the implication that the homeless people were more easily enthralled due to mental problems. It was like a big fuck you that the scientists were too smart to be enthralled naturally and had to be physically controlled. This leads to another problem in the fact that these guys are mostly just college kids, and I don't buy that they're practically experts already as the one professor claims. They sure don't act it that's for sure; reminds me of those fucking idiots in "Prometheus." One of the weakest moments is the climax. Come on now, you can't have an entire day pass just to allow for the devil's transformation, and the audience is expected to believe everyone just sat tight and did nothing; this was a bad idea plain and simple. Lastly, there was a general sense of cheesiness to many moments like the lame taunts from the devil on the computer and Brian's moustache to name a few. It's hard to explain, but this film suffered from many of the negative aspects that '80s movies would typically employ; it's a certain nuance you pick up on.

Overall, this is going to be a film that has a divided audience whereby it falls into the love it or hate it category with little grey area. I, for one, enjoy this movie for its creativity and imagination to tell a unique tale unlike anything else. On top of that, the music is good, the effects are decent considering the tight budget, and the ideas are interesting with much to consider. While there are numerous flaws that do detract from the experience, they can be ignored in favor of the greater presentation at hand. If you've overlooked this one, give it a chance or maybe a second chance if you hated it upon an initial viewing...maybe considering a few things I've mentioned.

Notable Moment: That ending scene with Brian waking up to an evil Catherine. Although it is a decent jump scare in its own right, I'm mostly taking note of it due to the sheer amount of "gifs" it has spawned.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Keitai Kareshi (aka Cellular Boyfriend) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The bodies begin to pile up after girls play a new dating simulator for their phones.

Review: Let me preface this by saying there are apparently four of these movies and they have many alternate titles as well. IMDb lists their chronological order as "Cellular Boyfriend," "Cellular Girlfriend," "Cellular Boyfriend+," and "Cellular Girlfriend+." I don't know if I'll ever get to watch the rest since this was just on youtube with barely intelligible subtitles. I really wanted to see "Cellular Girlfriend" with Airi Suzuki, but it doesn't have subtitles (womp womp). So anyway, you may be wondering, with a ridiculous title like that, is this a chick flick? Thankfully not, although, it does try to be a romance horror or a horror that emphasizes a cheesy romance. If anything, I would say this is the typical kind of J-horror we've come to expect in recent years: schoolgirls being picked off by a rumor that turns out to be true. Although I liked a lot of the basic principles, and there was a hint of originality, the film plays out in cookie-cutter fashion doing little to differentiate itself from the movies it's trying emulate.

The story focuses on Satomi and Yuka, best friends that end up playing this weird dating simulator/game we will simply refer to as cellular boyfriend; amusingly, the company that created the game is called "I-Scream." The way the game works is that you pick your ideal looking guy and start off with 50% romance points or whatever. Your goal is to flirt with or fall in love with your little boyfriend to get the points up or ignore him and lower the points. If the points hit 0 you die...if they hit 100% you die! Isn't that swell? Okay, they don't know that at first, but you get the gist of it. The other thing that happens is that you can pass your boyfriend on to another phone, but you can't take the same one back, have more than one at a time, or give it to a male. I'm no expert on teenage, Japanese girls' thoughts, but would a game like this really be popular to the point adults would play it too? Something that annoyed me early on was that the girls were getting so specific with the game yet they acknowledge the fact that they think it's automated responses; like one of their friends die and they're asking the game does it know what happened. Really, hun?! So after their friend does get killed, the girls begin to hear rumors that the game is like a standard J-horror curse, but they don't necessarily believe it until a second friend dies.

At this point, detectives become involved--and who's this delicate little beauty? Oh Mari Hoshino...what are you doing in this? Last we saw of you, you were dressed up as a boy in "Dead Ball." As you may have easily guessed, the boyfriends are the ones that are killing the girls and Satomi tries to explain this to the police, but they don't believe it. Even if you play the game normally, the boyfriends still will turn deadly no matter what, and Yuka becomes scared with her boyfriend losing points. Yuka wants to pass her boyfriend to Satomi, but she rejects this notion, however, Satomi does take the boyfriend from a different girl's phone once she sees that it looks like her lost love, Naoto. There is this whole back-story we get all movie long showing flashbacks to Satomi trying to woo this dude who she thinks was her first true love. This plot aspect comes off super corny, but I suppose it's standard fare for this type of film; get used to it too, because it comprises a good chunk of the movie. Apparently there was an incident regarding a group of rapists who were all burned alive along with their victim. Among the suspected rapists found dead was Naoto, but I don't think you need to be psychic to guess he wasn't one of them. Yuka and Satomi go to great lengths to rid Yuka of the boyfriend including trying to get a new phone and finally forcing it on to Satomi's bitchy boss. Hey, she's a bitch--she surely deserves death, right? Morality. Satomi learns her borderline milf mom was also playing the game but doesn't die. Despite all they've seen, including phantom boyfriends, they feel relieved that the deaths were just a coincidence and there is no curse...well, until they discover that bitchy boss did die. Totally didn't see that coming.

It would seem that only certain boyfriends are cursed as Ms. Hoshino decides to take the bitchy boss' boyfriend (alliteration!) after Satomi once again warns them that the game is responsible for the deaths. Only hours later, Ms. Hoshino manages to score 100% with the boyfriend. Oh, I bet you would know just what to say my dear! Unfortunately, this leads to an untimely death for Ms. Hoshino as she blows her own brains out. The remaining detective, now convinced of the curse's existence, realizes that the boyfriends match those of the bodies found in the rapist fire. The detective also comes the conclusion, which they should have easily figured out, that Naoto died trying to help the people get out of the fire since he worked in the building. Uhh, why didn't his employers disclose this fact?! So the reason why Satomi's mom lived was because she didn't have one of those guys and why you don't have like half of the Japanese female population dropping dead. Satomi and the detective go to break into the I-Scream building while Yuka, unaware of what is going on, is in the process of being killed by her boyfriend. For some contrived reason, the girl that gave Satomi the Naoto simulation pops up to conveniently take the detective out of commission supposedly at the behest of another boyfriend she chose to take on. After she is easily dispensed with, Satomi tries to destroy the servers at I-Scream, which, surprise surprise, are located directly above where the rapists were killed. Naoto explains that their spirits were transferred into the network after being killed and somehow he was caught up with them. Of course Satomi manages to delete the programs, destroy the boyfriends, save Yuka, and free Naoto and the ghost of the girl that was raped. Naoto bids his farewells and tells Satomi to move on. The movie then ends with Satomi and Yuka coming across a guy falling out a window who had a cellular girlfriend that looks just like the girl who attacked them at I-Scream. Oh no, sequel!

For the most part, this film is nothing new we haven't seen hundreds of times before and done better. You've got almost all the cliches except for a long-haired ghost girl. The romance plotline does feel cheesy, but I wasn't expecting anything less. Nevertheless, the movie was mostly entertaining and never tried to be more than it offered. Sure, it was predictable and lame, but it had enough original aspects to stand out and entertain in its own right. I don't imagine they had much of a budget, but things mostly looked good. The girls are cute enough with Ms. Hoshino balancing things out nicely. Overall, this is one of those movies that if you have your expectations in check you should be satisfied. On the other hand, this is just a slightly above average film mostly geared toward those who appreciate J-horror so be aware of that facet.

Notable Moment: When the one boyfriend is doing a stupid licking-lips gesture. This movie needed more creepy shit like that. I mean these boyfriends are supposed to be the ghosts of a gang of rapists after all.

Final Rating: 5.5/10