The Shrine, Makeupalooza

The Shrine

The Shrine has earned my respect as a horror movie by relying heavily on makeup effects. Factoring out the Evil Dead remake, you don’t really see a lot of that, y’know? Sure, it looked cheesy, but that’s the fun of it! Retro-glamor with a dash of horrific mutilation and tides of blood. The premise of the movie is really neat, and the scares are viable whether you laugh or scream at goofy looking monster masks.

The ShrineCarmen is a journalist looking to find her next big scoop. She thinks she already has it; several disappearances of European tourists in the Polish village of Alvania. After acquiring a journal from one of the tourists and being haunted by his bloody-eyed visage in a dream, she decides that she’s going to Poland. Not without conscripting the aid of Sara the intern and Marcus the estranged boyfriend first, of course.

In Alvania, they find an enormous patch of dense, dark, unmoving fog, as described in Eric Taylor’s journal. The locals don’t take very kindly to the presence of strangers, and are quick to turn them away from the fog. Carmen notices that the fog is the only part of Alvania that the townsfolk are safeguarding, so naturally, it must be where the tourists are. The team sneaks over to the fog to investigate, and Carmen and Sara go on in. Marcus stays back, because fuck that noise. It’s spooky.

The ShrineIt’s all downhill from there. The townsfolk capture the lot and murder Sara with a ritual that involves hammering a mask with large iron spikes where the eyes would be into her head. The same masks had been seen earlier in a room full of corpses. Clearly the fog has some greater significance if it would incite such an occult reaction. On the brighter side of things, I was relieved to find that the Alvanians didn’t function as a one-dimensional antagonist force due to the snazzy twist near the climax. Horror movies don’t have a lot of room for fluid morality; you have to appreciate the little things. Anyway, we’re nearing spoiler territory, so I’m gonna have to cut this short.

Overall, I’d consider The Shrine a decent horror flick. It’s not radically original, but it has its own unique charm, particularly with the horror evoked by
the iron masks. That could just be personal preference talking, but faceless masks always seem to get under my skin.

The ShrineHorror Movie A Day thought The Shrine had a tactically boring startup with a scare-fest second half, and I’m inclined to agree. As far as pacing goes, setting your audience up with low expectations and then bringing out the big guns works wonders. That specifically may or may not have been planned, but it works all the same. Here’s the alt review for a more detailed look at The Shrine:

Lovely Molly, Attack of the Ghost Horse

Lovely Molly

I’ll explain the title momentarily.

Speaking of titles, Lovely Molly was originally going to be called The Possession, you know. Considering the title “The Possession” is about as original as all the Paranormal Activity spinoffs out there, I’d say Lovely Molly is a better choice. Though not intended, I interpret the title as a sort of sarcastic jab at Molly’s descent to madness throughout the film. Seriously, you’ll have a laugh too once I explain everything. Ahem!

Lovely MollyFirst of all, the real reason Molly is so “lovely” is because her insanity orbits around sex and ultraviolence. Mainly sex. You’ll see Gretchen Lodge nude often enough to wonder if the director was recovering from an overdose of Viagra while filming. It’s all part and parcel of demonic horror movies, really. Everyone knows Satan loves him some booty.

As far as backstory goes, Lovely Molly sits right on the border of interesting and meh. The premise is that Molly and Hannah were sexually abused by their scumbag father up until Hannah killed him. Not content to leave the world early, the evil in his spirit brought him back as a demon, and he haunts their family home in an attempt to exact revenge by driving them mad. Simple but effective, right?

Lovely MollyI said “Attack of the Ghost Horse” because scumbag ghost dad is a horse demon, thus clops around when he walks. Having seen pictures from Molly’s childhood that contain horses, I was under the impression that perhaps something had happened to her pet horse as a kid and it was coming back to wreak havoc. That would have been absolutely hilarious, especially when done in this movie’s dire tone. But hey, Rapey Undead Demon Dad works too. But not as well as Vengeful Ghost Horse, let’s be honest with ourselves.

Right! Now to actually explain the story! Molly and Tim are newlyweds, and they have moved into Molly’s old family home because they’re broke. Tim is a truck driver, so he doesn’t get to spend much time with his darling wife who also happens to be a recovering heroin addict. Lovely lovely! Soon, creepy things start happening, and Molly slowly begins to flip out. Most of her madness involves seduction and cannibalism, which would be much more entertaining if the malevolent entity was just a horse. Instead of all that inane would-be creepy singing, there could be whinnies and neighs. Lovely Ghost Horse made me do it, officer.

Lovely MollyIn short, the only reason you need to see this movie is to understand all the jokes I made while reviewing it. See? It’s kind of like an entrapment scheme. Now that you know my glorious sense of humor has shone light upon this horsey booby spectacle, you have no choice but to view it by whatever means are available to you. I used Netflix, just so ya know.

Ryan Turek of ShockTillYouDrop offers much tamer and less spoiler-filled review of Lovely Molly. Isn’t it a shame that you’ve already indulged in my sparkling potpourri of goofy horse oriented opinions? Read different words about the same thing right here:

Sinister and Mister Boogie


Sinister is a once-off horror movie. That’s kind of the issue with jump-startle heavy movies. You enjoy the ride the first time around, but after that, you know what to expect and when to expect it. It’s a damn shame, too. Sinister had a lot going for it. It had an overall eerie tone that built up the jump scares, the visuals were simple but effective, and the acting was pretty darn good. Had some good characters in there.

Ellison Oswalt is a writer of true-crime books, and for his most recent project, he has moved his family into a home close to a crime scene. Rather, four murders and a kidnapping took place in the backyard. He makes a point to avoid telling his wife and two children this, however, as he thought it would disturb them. It does more than that, to say the least.

Ellison discovers a box in his attic containing a projector and several super 8 film reels. These morbid home movies contain footage of families being executed in terrible ways, from being hung from a tree to being tied to a lawn chair and drowned. According to the dates on the reels, these films all happened in a sequence of what appears to be related murders. In all cases, a single child was found to be missing.

SinisterAfter converting the films to digital files, he begins to notice a strange, recurring symbol, and finds a strange-looking person in the water of the murder pool. He prints several pictures, which leads the audience to discover that creepy-face is going to be the antagonist.

The startle-fest begins before that, though. Their son, Trevor, has night terrors, so he’ll get you first. After Ellison chats with the occult criminologist about Bughuul, it all goes downhill from there. Startle-wise, I mean. The projector starts turning on in the middle of the night, and Elly-baby starts seeing some freaky shit. Eventually, things get so bad that he decides to drop his new project entirely. He burns the reels and projector, then moves his family back to their old home.

Bughuul follows and provides their attic with extended cuts from the morbid morbid movies. The criminologist guy mentioned that Bugpool liked to possess children and lure them into his dimension through captured images. Ellison asked him if getting rid of the images would stop Boggle from coming, and received no legitimate answer. As it turns out, the answer was no. That basically spoils the ending, but you’re in it for the startles, not the plot.

SinisterAnd that’s about all there is to say about Sinister. A 110 minute jump-fest with some snazzy special effects and far too many late-night exploration gimmicks. I have two issues with Sinister, however. The first is that the use of musical cues makes the scares too obvious. It sets them up well, to say the least, but it also gives them away. This leads into my second issue, which is the use of noise to amplify the startles. When a jump-scare happens, the music will get ten times as loud.

I almost feel inclined to provide you with a jump timeline. I’m not gonna do that, though. As I mentioned, Sinister is only good for one watch. Once you know when the scares are going to pop up and the music is going to go DUNNN, then you have nothing to fear from this flick. It’s a great movie, don’t get me wrong, but now it’s out of theatres. If anything, rent it or check it out on Netflix.

John Campea of TheMovieBlog thinks Sinister ruined itself by showing one of the tension builders in the trailer, and I’m partially inclined to agree. I only say partially because Sinister is creepy from the get-go. They start off by showing the hanging of a family, and the creepy projector comes soon after. Regardless of what the trailer shows, a shocking spree it be. If you sit down and watch, you won’t care about the ending. You’ll be more concerned about the musical score’s elevated tempo. In fact, by the end, you won’t even want to watch it again. Probably. Here’s the review link:

Doom: The Game: The Movie

Doom in a nutshell
? Doom: The Game: The Movie. Yeah, it’s got some high-up actors, but they just run around and shoot things. Everyone has their shot at being a badass, and most people die. The key difference between the game and the movie is that the cause of the outbreak in the former is, well, demons. The latter is a result of… You know what, I’ll get to that in the synopsis. Kind of a spoiler.

An eight-man team of space marines called the RRTS (Rapid Response Tactical Squad) is preparing to go on leave when they’re called to investigate a Level 5 breach in a research lab on Mars. A little plot beforehand; John “Reaper” Grimm is told by Sarge (Dwayne Johnson) that he should stay behind. Reaper’s sister works on the station they’d be transported to, and they’ve had a bit of a falling out. Reaper being Reaper, he decides to come anyway.

Mission parameters? Eliminate any potential threat, secure the facility, and retrieve all UAC (Union Aerospace Corporation) property. They travel through this gooey portal system called the Ark, and begin to explore the facility. They quickly locate the scientist who made the call, Carmack, and find that he’s so deranged that he tears his own ear off. They store him in the medical area and begin to search the facility. During a sewer run, Goat, the religious marine, is maimed by a grody looking Imp creature and stabbed in the neck with a tongue.

DoomBy the time they get him to the medical area, Carmack has vanished, and Reaper has discussed some research business with his sister, Dr. Samantha Grimm. Apparently, the dig site on Mars yielded the skeleton of a human with 24 chromosomes, and that the creatures that attacked the squad were actually human. Well, once. They were altered by that very chromosome. Apparently, this Martian genetic twister can either grant the infected individual superhuman abilities (enhanced physical regeneration and strength), or it can turn them into a twisted monster. This all depends on their capacity for evil, which is determined on a genetic level by the Martian chromosome.

Mac, Destroyer, and Portman, three mostly irrelevant squad members, are slaughtered by Imps, leaving Sarge, The Kid, Duke, Reaper, and Samantha Grimm. Shit hits the fan when a Hell Knight (huge freakin mutant) breaks through the Ark defenses and teleports to Earth. Sarge starts to go a little power crazy when The Kid locates a group of uninfected survivors, ordering their execution. The Kid winds up executed because of his refusal to kill innocent civilians. Zombies take out Duke, kidnap Sarge, and cause Reaper to take a bullet to the gut. In order to save him, Samantha injects him with chromosome 24.

DoomSpoilers end here! Shit gets REAL after this point. They even go to a 1st person shooter mode as a tribute to the Doom games. It’s hilariously overdone and visceral-violent; likely the most enjoyable sequence of scenes in the movie. I mean, let’s face it. Who’s gonna watch Doom for an in-depth, complicated plot? Who would complain about violence in such a movie? You know what you came for, so enjoy it to its fullest, damnit. Overall, a mediocre movie, but still worth its weight in ground up innards.

Joshua Tyler of CinemaBlend’s review actually gave me a hearty laugh. Absolutely correct is the claim that if it weren’t an epic cinematic reproduction of the 90’s game of the same title, it would be a steaming pile of plotless, ultraviolent shit. That’s accurate to the point of being hilarious. Yes, Doom is a terrible movie, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try playing Doom and watching it at the same time. Am I right? Anyway, here’s the link to the review:

Spirited Away, a Miyazaki Masterpiece

Spirited AwayHayao Miyazaki never makes a bad movie. Let me say that again, just so you know how serious I am. I’ll even italicize some of it for emphasis. Hayao Miyazaki never makes a bad movie. Sometimes he makes one that sort of shoots for the moon and hits mediocre. This is not one of those movies.

Spirited Away is a mix of folklore and modern perspectives that makes a sweet story enjoyable by almost anyone. It has fantastic characters, amazing art, astounding scenery, and many other overwhelmingly positive traits that will quickly drain my pool of flattering adjectives. Maybe a general description of the plot will help expand your understanding.

Chihiro is a young girl lacking in self-confidence and burdened by skepticism. She, her mother, and her father, have recently moved to a new house far away from her old home. She’s not too pleased with this, considering she’s leaving all of her friends behind. Her parents are sympathetic, but also eager to see Chihiro welcome the idea of a new school and life more openly. It takes a little more than an inspiring speech to pull that off.

Spirited AwayOn the drive there, Chihiro’s dad tries to take a shortcut, which leads them into an old train station, then into what looks like an abandoned theme park. Their curiosity getting the better of them, Chihiro’s parents decide to explore a bit. Then daddy’s bloodhound nose catches wind of a delicious meal (a lot of food), ready to eat. As they pig out, Chihiro is shouting for them to cut it out and come back, but to no avail. A few minutes of exploration later, the plot hits her like a truck full of bricks and shovels.

A strange boy in strange garb appears and tells Chihiro to leave quickly, before it gets dark. He blows what looks like blue flower petals from his hands, calling it a distraction while Chihiro attempts to make her getaway. To her horror, her parents have been turned into pigs. The boy, called Haku, finds her soon after and tells her to get a job at the bath house by asking the boiler man, Komaji. This is where her awkward and perilous adventure begins.

I’m pretty sure I don’t need to justify the art style or quality. Hayao Miyazaki never disappoints when it comes to breathtaking visuals. I never thought I’d use “breathtaking” when describing a movie’s aesthetics for fear of sounding insincere or corny, but the only visual comparison I can offer is that of Vanillaware’s games.

Spirited AwayThe characters are great, too. They manage to cram a lot in there, but they each play their own separate part in the bittersweet story of Chihiro and her stay at the bath house of spirits. No-Face, Zeniba, Ubaba’s kid and pets, the frog, the three green heads… I’m not telling you who any of these characters are, though. Plot essential, you see.

It’s 125 minutes, but it’s definitely not a short movie by plot and action standards. There isn’t a whole lot of filler, if any at all, but that’s not surprising considering that it is a Myazaki movie. I think I should point out that while normally spamming the maker’s name isn’t any solid reassurance of quality… I won’t lie, it actually is in this case. This movie is good because Miyazaki made it, and because I’m reviewing it having watched it over twenty times and agreeing. Can you dig it?